Going for Trebles in PES can be a nervy business. The league is strangely the easiest component of the three. Once you’re good enough to be going for a Treble, you’re usually good enough to be able to win enough games over a long season to take the title.
The trickiest part of the Treble is making progress in the two Cups.
Even in PES2008, you can’t afford to have a bad Cup game. If you do have a bad game, it’s better to have it in the first leg of the tie, so you get one more game in which to put it right.
If the bad game comes in the second leg of the tie, you’re out, and that’s the Treble gone in a puff of smoke, instantly. No second chances. It can be hard on the nerves.
I’ve played the first legs of the two Cup semi-finals. I had two fairly bad games in both of them.
First was the Division 1 Cup: Chelsea at their ground. The final score here was 2-2. I was lucky not to lose it 2-1; Mattsson popped up with an equaliser towards the end. The return leg at my ground should be tense, but with those two away goals under my belt I’m confident things will go my way.
If you’re going to have a bad game in the Cup, it’s better to have it in the first leg, and it’s even better if it’s away from home. That way, any goal you score in the otherwise bad game is an away goal. Any goal(s) that the other team scores aren’t away goals. Many’s the time I have been kicked out of Cups in PES because I conceded an away goal or two in a bad first leg game.
Which is why I’m shaking in my virtual football boots over the result of the other semi-final. The ECC semi-final against the mighty Real Madrid finished 2-2 as well.
The difference here is that it was at my ground. Real Madrid have two away goals. I will have to score at their ground, and it will be tough. Real Madrid were all over me for much of this first leg. They played incredibly well. I had to exert all my, uh, exertions just to keep up with them They took the lead, I equalised, they took the lead again, and I equalised again near the end. It was a strangely (even suspiciously) similar game to the Chelsea one.
As for the League… it’s hardly worth mentioning any more. Liverpool 2, Coventry City 5. Coventry City 6, Bolton 1. And plenty more. I’ve all but won it. I’m 7 points ahead of Man Yoo with seven games left to play. They might as well call a halt to it now and hand me the trophy. If I manage to lose enough games not to win this title, I’ll give up PES for good.
Well, this is one way to put your bogey team in their place.
Nine goals in one game isn’t unprecedented for me in PES. I managed it once or twice in previous years. I remember one game in PES5 that I won 9-1. I had Veron in my team back then and he scored four of the goals. But…
In regards to PES2008, for the past several weeks I’ve had a certain sinking feeling lurking at the back of my mind and in the pit of my stomach.
While I was still getting to grips with the game I read forum posts on PESfan and elsewhere saying that the game was too easy and it was routine to get 5+ goals in every game. I never took much notice.I’m just an average player, I thought. I’ll be all right.
If this turns out to be the norm – if I discover that scorelines of 4-1, 5-2, 6-3, 9-0 etc. are commonplace for me in PES2008 – then the game might as well be dead to me. The only way I could continue playing Master League would be to handicap myself with some pretty restrictive house rules. I’ve kind of done this before, back in PES4. I also found that game relatively easy for a PES title.
But all of this is somewhat jumping the gun. I’ve had one 9-0 result. One swallow does not a summer make, and so forth. At this relatively early stage the jury is still out, but it’s walking toward the jury room door and Henry Fonda has nothing to say…
Back at that Sunderland game, Schwarz scored six of my 9 goals. Here’s his sixth goal, set up by a nice back-heel from Andy Cole:
In two other league games from this period I beat Arsenal 2-1 and Helsingborg 5-2. I all but sleepwalked through the latter match. Hmmm.
It’s frustrating not to have hit top spot again yet. Manchester United simply refuse to lose. As soon as they do, with my formidable goal difference, I’ll be there.
Man Yoo, myself, and Arsenal are slightly pulling away from the rest. I’d prefer a two-horse race to the title. It’s more clear-cut. It’d leave me some spare attention to concentrate on the Cups. Speaking of which…
The final match in the pre-tournament ECC qualifying group ended PSV 0, Coventry City 1.
It was a tight, tense game. I knew a draw would see me through, but a defeat would be disastrous, and while it was 0-0 I was always in danger.
It stayed 0-0 until the 80th minute. Every time PSV attacked I thought: this is it, PES2008 is about to mug me. But I held firm. Mattsson soothed my nerves in the 80th minute with a firm headed goal from a corner. I finished top of the group in the end. I would have qualified in second place on goal difference even if I had lost the PSV game.
The Treble is still alive. I did my level best to sabotage the campaign before it had properly started. I have dug myself out of a giant hole that was all of my own making. Never again. I’ve got a very welcome run of just one league game per week for a couple of weeks, and then I’ll start playing in a new group in the ECC competition proper, and the next round of the D1 Cup will also get underway. I plan to take great care.
My performances in the Cups so far have been eccentric to say the least. I played the first three games of the ECC thinking I had won just by turning up. I wasn’t just flirting with disaster – I was French-kissing it whilst stroking its thighs. Never again.
(p.s. I have to work over the weekend so we’re back to one post per day until Monday – then it’ll be two/three posts per day through to the big finish!)
The league is still going well. Played 4, won 3, drawn 1. Beat Club Brugge 5-0 with a hat trick from Orellano (a PES stalwart who is just starting to come good). Thumped Everton 4-0. A tough 1-1 draw at Newcastle. I’m second in the table and well-placed to maintain the title challenge.
There’s a but, though.
The crowded fixtures list here at the start of the season is not doing me any favours (getting the excuse in early…).
I’m kind of prioritising the League, making sure to use Schwarz and Shimizu, Felipe and Mattsson, Bradley and Kaiser in particular solely for those games. The rest can fill in for the Cups. I’m not operating a formal Second XI system as I tried so unsuccessfully to do last season.
As good as I think my squad is, I’m struggling to cope with the Cup games using my squad players.
In the Division 1 Cup, I have played the first leg of the opening fixture against Newcastle. It was at my ground, and I lost painfully 2-3. So not only am I behind going into the second leg, but I shipped three away goals. Oops. That’ll be a testing return tie at Newcastle’s place.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was worse to come.
First up in the ECC (the PES version of the Champions League) were Marseille. The game was at their ground. Home field advantage doesn’t seem to make much difference in PES – or, indeed, in any football video game. Has anyone ever noticed anything different?
Having said that, despite me taking an early lead and bossing most of the first half, Marseille went into overdrive in the second half. They played as if they were being spurred on by a vociferous home crowd. They double-whammied me with two late goals and won 2-1. I shouldn’t have tried to chase the game after their equaliser. I should have shut up shop and settled for a 1-1. This is a group setup, after all. Taking the point would have been the smart thing to do.
Toulouse were next. I went into this one full of confidence, on the back of handing out that 5-0 thrashing to Brugge in the league. I fielded what I thought was a great side: Shaw played, Beerens played, Andy Cole played, Traore played. It was at my ground. Any home field advantage that may be modelled in PES should make this an easy win. Right?
Wrong. Coventry City 1 – 3 Toulouse.
I can’t even complain about scripting – not too much, anyway. Toulouse just seemed to play better than me. My players were sluggish and I failed to take many good chances to score.
Played two, lost two in Europe is not Treble-winning form. In the last of the first games against the other group hopefuls, I played PSV. This was a titanic game. I took the lead, then I gave away a stupid goal, then PSV took the lead, then I equalised. Then PSV scored a third. There were about ten minutes left. Damn.
I went into full-on panic mode. My season was disappearing in front of eyes, right here, right now. I charged all over the place. My finger barely left R1 (I know...). PSV were playing keepball. Then I got Mattsson sent off.
2-3 behind and down to 10 men, in the last seconds of stoppage time I raced forward with Beerens, more in desperate hope than any kind of realistic expectation. Lose this game and kiss goodbye to the Treble, I was thinking.
I skinned a PSV midfielder with Beerens and went on one of those long, looping, semi-circular runs that people who play this game online seem to do all the time. I burst down the wing and sent over a cross… and there was Reyes on the penalty spot to head the ball in. 3-3, and the final whistle blew straight after their kick-off.
So, I salvaged a morale-boosting point right at the death. But will it be enough? I’ll have to win all three remaining group games to be sure of finishing in the top two and progressing to the ECC tournament proper. These are worrying times.
This season, for me, is all about the Treble: League, Cup, European Cup. Winning one or two of them without the third would be a failure.
In real life, the rivalry between Coventry City and Aston Villa football clubs is mostly one-way. We care about beating them, and we used to beat them very rarely in the English top division. Villa don’t care about beating us, and they used to beat us a lot. There’s some kind of lesson in there somewhere.
In PES – the 2008 flavour, or any other – there’s a definite forlornness about the whole local rivalry thing. The FIFA series has all the real-life licenses, and has always modelled local rivalries particularly well. In PES, you more or less have to imagine it for yourself. This is something I have always done with gusto. Whenever I finally make it into the top division I always look through the calendar and make a mental note of the two league fixtures against the Villa. Then I start preparing for them a couple of games in advance, resting key players, and licking my lips…
I made a fantastic start. Literally, the stuff of fantasy: two quickfire goals in the first 10 minutes from that man Schwarz. I was punching the air here in my sad little room.2-0 up, then, and almost guaranteed to be in a winning position. You’d think. But this is PES2008.
All matches for me at the moment in Master League seem to follow the same pattern. Taking a 2-0 lead is almost guaranteed to invite a response from the CPU in the form of a cheeky goal that it seems you are powerless to prevent. Aston Villa got themselves a corner, and I braced for the inevitable.
Recently. I have started to be able to defend corners with about 95% success. I had been automatically trying to defend them using the method from the last couple of PESes. In PES5 all you had to do was stand a defender in the sweet spot on the corner of the six-yard box; in PES6, the sweet spot was a yard or two deeper.
I got hold of my defenders in the box and dragged them over to stand on the Villa strikers’ toes. Over came the corner. The ball was dropping directly at my defender, Mattsson. There was no way the Villa attacker – who was not only smaller than Mattsson, but standing behind him relative to the ball’s approach vector (bear with me here) – was ever going to get his head on that ball, right? Right?
I waited until the appropriate time, and then pressed for Mattsson to make the kind of routine clearance that I have been routinely performing for many dozens of games now, ever since I discovered how to do it. Mattsson didn’t move, and somehow the ball went over his head, onto the Villa attacker’s forehead, and into the net.
1-2, and I would have fumed if I had any fumes left with which to fume. PES2008 has almost completely defumed me. Bless its little heart.
At this stage, things can go several ways. The CPU will maintain its supercharged drive forward to get a goal. What you need is another goal yourself, to kill the game off.
I got it. Again it came from Schwarz, completing his hat trick:
The game ended that way: 1-3. I was happy to have bested my virtual local rival on their own patch. I resisted the urge to soil a sheet of toilet paper and send it to the real Villa Park along with a rude note (again). I’m way past that.
I moved onto the next games with increased confidence. It seemed I was through the bad patch. I beat Fulham 3-0 despite the CPU once again being in perma-God Mode. I’ve discovered – or rediscovered – how to cope with God Mode in PES2008. It’s simple: remember that you’re playing a game, not locked in a life-or-death struggle for your family honour. When you feel your fingers cramping up as though you’re trying to strangle the joypad, you’re doing it wrong. Pause the game for a few moments, take literal and figurative deep breaths, and then resume.
I played the return leg of the Division 1 Cup tie against Spurs. It was at their ground, and it ended 1-1. It was a hard match but I held on to go through on the away goal. It’s my Cup and they’re not taking it off me.
The session concluded on a downbeat note with a mammoth encounter against Arsenal. It ended 3-2 to them after I had been 2-1 up at half time. They got the equaliser on 70 minutes from a penalty that I thought was a blatant dive. Referee!
I quite like the inclusion of diving in PES2008. Like it or not, diving is a feature of the real-life game. Any football video game that aspires to represent the sport must include diving, however unsporting it is. Q.E.D. What’s next, then, an objector might, er, object. Hooliganism? Point taken, but diving in PES2008 enriches the game, in my opinion. It leads to contentious moments, exciting scenarios, fair and unfair outcomes. I’ve tried it myself, off and on, with almost zero success. But it’s still early days.
When Arsenal clicked into their turbo mode in search of a winning goal I started to ignore my own advice. I could hear the joypad creaking under the pressure, but I never let up. I was clamping again: pressing R1+X+Square. Will I never learn? Clamping doesn’t actually benefit you a great deal. All it does is drag players out of position, tires them, and send them into a virtual panic. While your players are hurling themselves pell-mell all over the place, the CPU delves into its box of tricks, with this kind of result:
Oh, the pain.
Going into the mid-season negotiations period, I’m still holding steady in fourth place, but Chelsea at the top of the table are starting to pull away. They’re 7 points clear of Man Utd in second place, and 12 points clear of me. It’ll be difficult for anyone to catch them now. I wasn’t expecting to challenge for the title this season, though, so I’m not disappointed. What I wanted from this season was to avoid relegation. I will avoid it, I think, so a top-6 finish and qualification for next season’s European Cup is now my new ‘bonus’ target.
Another bonus: at the moment, Schwarz is second in the top scorers’ league. He has 12 goals. Rooney, in first place, has 15. I’d like to get Schwarz to the top of this list by season’s end. He deserves it.
I’ve always said to anyone who will listen (i.e., to no one) that the greatest PES striker ever was PES5’s Dennis Bergkamp (after he had regenerated, of course). Schwarz in PES2008 isn’t quite there yet. But he’s a contender.