Category: league table

Lescott said, Son is mended

pes2017-season-3-just-won-it

Season 3 has wound to a finish. I dashed for the line in the end, playing the last 12 or so matches across two sessions close together. Setting aside some growing concerns about where the mature PES2017 gameplay is headed, I enjoyed an exhilarating run-in where I was nip-and-tuck with Aston Villa at the top of the table for the last few matches. I never managed to overhaul them, but kept getting close. Of course on the last day it was still all to play for, as it so often is in Master League.

I have a tradition in PES of going up in 2nd place, and for the longest time it seemed that would be how it’d go again. I met Cardiff in the last match and they were tough. I was behind twice, and fortunate to come away with the draw.

At the final whistle my team celebrated and I knew I’d won the league. A special feeling, particularly as it’s something I rarely do. 90% of my promotions in PES have been in 2nd, so this was special.

pes2017-season-3-final-table

I was festooned with garlands:

pes2017-season-3-lavished-with-praise

The roll of honour

season-3-roll-of-honour

Look at the kerning on GALLARJO between the R and the J. Shudder.

Only 3 players in the Team of the Tournament, though – about right, I’d say. Rice was a great performer for me again but he missed about 7 matches through suspensions.

pes2017-season-3-tott

That £18m of made-up money I spent on Friday pre-season was money very well spent.

pes2017-season-3-top-scorers

And finally some highlights from my run-in – can you guess what my favourite goal is from these? It’s not the one you think…

No, it’s not the Son rasper from 30 yards, although I liked that too (his first contribution of note since returning from that December training injury). Lescott’s scissors kick (and it is a scissors kick, not a bicycle kick) is also nice, but not something I felt particularly exultant over. Him kissing the screen was a surprise though.

My favourite goal in this clip is Cahill’s slotted finish from 0:55. It seems so straightforward, but I needed a goal like that. It came at a time when I was getting really pissed-off with Top Player’s fast and furious nature. I just wanted to put my foot on the ball and play a killer pass, and I did so.

I do end Season 3 on a high – with some misgivings, but on a high. This Master League is the best we’ve had since PES2012.

I’m looking forward to the Premier League, and to what will probably be an immediate transition to Superstar.

I’ve decided not to spend any more time on Top Player unless I have to.

I only moved up from Professional to Top Player mid-season, so my switch up now to Superstar is sudden – but necessary.

I’ve found Top Player to be extremely fast and furious, making PES2017 seem a lot more like PES2016 than I ever want it to be.

From that mid-season point onward, fouls all but disappeared completely from my game. Around 60% of my matches now end with no fouls against me at all. The remaining 40% end with a token 1 or 2. I never have any matches with more than that now. Rivals matches are the worst for this, as I believe the game represents the famous ‘referee showing a bit of common sense’ and hardly awards any fouls at all.

Low-fouls and no-fouls matches are typically insane, frantic, end-to-end affairs that have little deep interest for me. I never finish a fouls-free game thinking ‘what fun that was! the action neva stopped!!!’

I want and need PES2017 to go back to being the stellar 9/10 game I was playing a season or so ago.  The means a game that can be fast and slow. That features regular stoppages in play. Where I’m discouraged from sprint-sliding all over the place as my number 1 mode of defence. I’m hoping the Premier League on Superstar will make the second half of Season 3 on Top Player seem like an anomaly.

You do not talk about myClub

pes2017-season-3-after-31Moving up to Top Player has brought a little bit of pain. Results have wobbled. I just completed three matches straight where I failed to score a goal. I’ve fallen off the pace at the top of the table, inevitably.

I’m delighted about it. I would have romped clear on Professional. Moving up to Top player has made every match matter. It’s deepened my relationship with my players. Including a certain Mr Friday:

pes2017-season-3-the-goal-king

The very next match after this menu-screen blurb appeared, Friday stopped scoring. It’s been about 6 matches since – still no goals.

It’s as if the game knows that real-life players go on these runs of not doing whatever they were formerly doing rather well (cf. the real-life Ibrahimovic, Stones, Schmeichel, et al).

Rice had 3 games off following a straight red card. He hasn’t felt quite the same since his return. Son Heung-min hasn’t been the force he was before his brief injury lay-off. I’m loving this aspect of this ML.

Also very welcome is playing against an AI that does unexpected things. They won a free kick about 20 yards out. I prepared myself for the customary shot on goal. Instead, the AI free kick taker chipped the ball horizontally to a team-mate, who proceeded to execute a lovely Le Tissier-style chest-and-volley. I was almost disappointed when my keeper caught the shot with ease.

So PES2017 is a roaring success, right? It’d be churlish to deny that it’s a great PES. I think it is.

But doubts linger.

The fouls issue is bugging me massively at the moment. For a couple of weeks, fouls have been in steady decline as I’ve got used to the game and my usual pass-and-move approach to PES has taken shape.

PES2017 has always been a low-fouls match for me, but I was prepared to accept that as an improvement on PES2016.

The sad outcome is that I get entire clusters of matches with no fouls at all. Like this one:

pes2017-season-3-no-fouls

Seriously – I get two or three matches in a row where I have no free kicks at all. Not even PES2016 was guilty of that.

This was a supposed Rivals match, away to Birmingham. Look at the fouls/free kick count. Zero fouls against me and I only conceded one myself. That was with me playing a full-on thrash-metal style, a la PES2016. A horrible match, 1000mph, end-to-end crap. Everything that’s wrong with modern football gaming.

The annoying thing is that there were approximately 8 instances apiece that should have been fouls, but weren’t given as such. Had they been given, this shit match – and this was a proper shit match – would have been a great match.

The matches in PES2017 that have what I consider an acceptable amount of fouls — 4 per side or above is acceptable to me — are very, very rare now, in fact so rare that I cannot recall when I had the last one.

Fouls are not ‘fixed’ in PES2017. They never really have been.

Serious representations need to be made for the inclusion of an optional ‘Strict Referee’ setting in PES2018.

I want to see every single instance where a foul could be given, given.

Every. Single. One.

You often see the animation of a player holding out his arms in the universal ‘ref! ref!’ gesture. I want every one of these given as a foul and a free kick.

Yes, I know this would mean sometimes 8+ fouls per side per 10-minute match. That’s exactly what I want to see happen. I know exactly what I’m asking for, because that’s how things are in the greatest football game ever made, PES5.

If we have a Strict Referee setting in PES2018, there’ll be no need to discombobulate the online players. The current no-fouls model can still be the default setting. Those of us who want to actually play a football game, rather than a button-mashing rhythm-action game based on football, would have to go into a sub-menu and enable ‘Strict Referee’.

It could work very well. Everyone would get what they want. Us single-players would get proper matches properly punctuated with fouls and free kicks. The online players would still be able to enjoy their Real Munichelona cartoon blurs.

But it will never happen. Konami depends on shiteClub, as I wittily call it, to generate the kinds of extra revenue via microtransactions that probably make Pro Evolution Soccer viable as a commercial concern.

No shiteClub, no Pro Evo. And so there has to be the possibility that single-players will migrate to online play. Giving us single players a Strict Referee setting would probably seal most of us away from shiteClub forever, and Konami do not want that…

Everything bad that has ever happened in football gaming over the past 10 years can be laid at the door of online gaming.

  • frantic end-to-end pace (retaining player interest: the ‘MTV principle’)
  • the dumbing-down of player individuality (‘balancing’ for equally competitive online play)
  • the neglect of single-player modes (seriously, just what happened to Master League after PES2011?)
  • the gradual year-on-year reduction of fouls and free kicks (the fewer interruptions, the better)
  • the omission of injuries from in-game play in Master League (because in-game injuries not only interrupt play, they force the player out to the Squad screen – a mega-interruption)

I hate online football gaming.

I really hate it. I really mean this. I don’t hate anything else in the world. I don’t hate injustice or disease or death or suffering or anything else of that nature. Those things are inescapable features of a phenomenal world and there’s little or nothing we can do about them.

I hate online football gaming. I bitterly resent its baleful influence on the football game series that I love.

It is time for PES online and PES offline to go their separate ways. If not in the form of wholly separate games, then in the form of a Strict Referees setting for PES2018.

It is time to make PES truly great again.

The stars are bright

Not much time to write a long post today, but I have got a longish compilation of some recent notable goals. My two main men — Friday and Rice — being very much to the fore. Two stars in the firmament.

The main news is that I’ve moved up to Top Player and the quality of the game has taken a proportional leap forward.

Professional was only tolerable so long as I was being handicapped for lowish Team Spirit. As soon as I started waltzing through matches with little challenge from the AI, it was time to move up before that positive ‘PES2017 feeling’ stagnated.

Top Player has been a shot in the arm. I find the matches very competitive, with an intriguing step up in headed opportunities, as today’s clip will show. I’ve gone to about 1 in 8 chances being headed now. This is close to me having to agree that, yes, PES2017 is a header-friendly edition of the series.

Some of these goals were on Professional, but most came after the move up to Top Player:

I did a good bit of business – my Most Important Player has signed a new contract for the next 3 years:

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161101191136

The question is, where will the team – and Rice – be in 3 seasons’ time? Will he sign a new one? As the above video shows, he’s very important to the team. A kind of Bryan Robson-Coynborough lovechild.

pes2017-season-3-halfway-pointI’m fielding a starting formation without an official DMF for the first time since… ever. In practice both Rice and Bartual (new signing) function very well as DMF-style CMFs, but it makes me uneasy. Expect this state of affairs not to last long.

After a match that saw me storm back from 1-0 down to win 1-3 away from home – on Top Player, that’s a great win – the post-match blurb made interesting reading…

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161101183853

…because it makes absolutely no sense at all.

The table after 26 matches:

pes2017-season-3-after-28

And here is the current top scorers’ chart. That £18m was imaginary money well-spent:

pes2017-season-3-top-scorers-after-28

AND FINALLY TODAY – THIS HAPPENED:

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161031183242

He was back during December, none the worse for his brief ordeal.

 

The Prodigal Son

pes2017-a-streakI’m going to stick my neck out and predict a Season 3 promotion. I win nearly all the time now. My 4-2-4 attacking formation purrs.

The game is still chucking the occasional bafflingly hard match at me, where I’ll fail to score, concede a dubious one myself and lose 1-0, or only get a draw, or something. But the overall trend is heading just one way.

Here’s the table after 17 matches, a few weeks short of the mid-season window:

pes2017-season-3-after-17

I could do with scoring a few more goals. And so far, PES2017’s reputed avalanche of headed goals has yet to materialise for me. I have scored a few headers more than before. But it’s a case of going from 1 header in 15 goals to 1 header in 10 goals. Something like that.

And it’s not for want of trying. Some matches I’ll get an early goal or two, perceive that the AI isn’t going to offer any threat, and spend the rest of the match pinging crosses from all angles at my strikers — whose number now also includes Tim bloody Cahill. Except he’s still only a 17-year-old Regen, and contributes little for now.

A prediction here: Tim Cahill is going to be a big player for me in this ML. I’ve already seen enough of him as a general striker to convince me of this — and he’s even got himself a couple of headers.

I’ll also predict that my eventual Premier League-winning side, in however many seasons that takes, will feature Rice-Friday-Cahill in some manner.

Team of the Month for November is interesting for a couple of reasons:

pes2017-season-3-november-team-of-the-monthFirst, it’s got Lobato up front alongside Heung-min Son. Ever since I said that Lobato’s days are numbered, he’s been pretty decent actually. Bagged a couple of goals, a couple of assists. He’s stood out more.

A similar thing happened with Friday last season. He only sparked into life after I’d agreed to sell him.

I have yet to make any kind of move toward shipping out Lobato, so I will see how he does.

And then there’s Heung-min Son, an £8m import from Spurs that might be one of the best bits of business I’ve ever done in any ML. He’s brilliant as my RWF, and can step up to play SS when required. Playing a 4-2-4 requires observing player positional discipline, which means keeping my fingers off the sprint-clamp buttons. Nothing worse than unconsciously bearing down on the accursed buttons and suddenly seeing your players playing all over the place. Refraining from sprint-clamp enables me to notice how effectively, or not, players play their positions. Son is a hard-working, skilled wing-forward.

Oh, and he has scored a goal that I might be able to regard as my first true long-ranger. Here it is:

I’ve been enjoying nurturing Rice, the one Default I kept on who seems to be going somewhere.

I regret shipping out many of the Defaults now, before they had a proper chance to shine. How many other Rices might be among their number? Probably not many, to be fair, but undoubtedly there must be some.

I recall that just before I sold R JARVIS, one of the Default strikers, he started showing a bit of form. So I’ve thought about bringing him back, and considering the last season a loan spell.

When I went looking for Friday after selling him, the asking price was £18m. Jarvis’s new club are asking for slightly less:

looking-at-bringing-back-jarvis

I’ll easily find the cash to complete that deal from somewhere, and Jarvis will be back.

And so I head towards promotion. I have a feeling it’ll be something of a procession now. So I’m tempted to step the difficulty up to Top Player in January, but maybe that’s an experience I’ll want to savour in the Premier League. I’ll see just how straightforward (or not) the next 5 or so matches are for me on Professional before making up my mind.

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