Category: PES Chronicles

The Armpit and the Pantheon

Sometimes in PES it’s not the spectacular goals that impress us, but the ordinary goals that look so perfectly lifelike.

I’ve been very vocal about decrying the way so-called ‘team goals’ are salivated over. A team goal is where there are 20 or 30 passes that culminate in somebody side-footing the ball into the net from four yards. Then you have to listen to the commentators squeeing over it afterward.

Sometimes you have to watch the whole thing again with a numerical counter in the corner of the screen racking up the passes. Yawn.

I see team goals as being ordinary goals. Yes, buildup is important and satisfying and an integral feature of a good goal and so on. But the real defining moment of any goal is the manner in which the ball is dispatched into the net. And so, for me, any 25-yard howitzer is a better goal than any four-yard-finish team goal by many orders of magnitude. (A team goal that was finished with a 25-yard howitzer would, I admit, be a truly great goal. Has there ever been one?)

But ordinary goals can be deeply satisfying too, in real life and in PES, depending on context.

Here is such an ordinary goal. The scene is thus: 1-1 in a tight Ligue 1 encounter, in my second season with Saint Etienne, using a severely underpowered House Rules squad, having escaped relegation by the skin of my teeth in my first season, and now trying my best to do something in season two – challenge for the top 6, get a cup run going, anything.

A corner on the left. Peter Crouch lurking in the box.

Yes – in PES there is something spookily lifelike about a glancing near-post header that flashes across the goal and creeps inside the post on the other side, isn’t there? Especially when it’s delivered by a beanpole like Crouch (who then wonderfully ‘armpits’ his much-smaller teammate during the celebration).

I don’t often show my ordinary goals on the blog – my bread-and-butter goals – but as you can probably imagine, they do comprise 95% of all my goals scored. And most are satisfying in their own ways.

Crouch’s glancing near-post header secured a 2-1 win. I’ve won and drawn enough to be in mid-table, lurking on the shoulder of the top 6, Seb Coe-style.

Realistically, I’ve probably got two more seasons – this season and one more after it – left in me before PES2017 collapses like the Blues Brothers’ car when they stopped outside the Cook County building. Enough will be enough.

So it’d be nice to take Saint Etienne back into Europe before I finish with them and PES2017. In that light, my number 1 target for this season must be to qualify for Europe in some way, via the League or Cup.

Every match is a battle, as is only right with a squad like this. I am currently still very much loving life in the slow lane with Saint Etienne.

No danger I’m a stranger to a PES2017 long-ranger

No time for any real kind of text-based post today. I’m in the midst of a logistic re-jig of my living arrangements and there are bits of computers and consoles scattered everywhere.

I have played one short, solitary session of PES2017 since Tuesday. It yielded yet another in a surprisingly long line of PES2017 long-rangers. Without checking, I believe this is the 6th or 7th true long-range goal I’ve scored in this game. Is there anyone out there who still hasn’t got one?

A first-time hit with the player’s wrong foot. Ziyech is a leftie. Hmmm. Not happy with that. But oh my days – the moment when the ball went in! You expect to see the ball fly past the stanchion, or be  batted away by the keeper. So it was astounding to see the ball ‘captured’ by the net. My entire PES-year of labour, repaid, right there.

My generally indifferent start to the season continues. The above goal was one half of a much-needed 2-0 win that’s lofted me to mid-table. I do believe I’ve got another few seasons left in me at Saint Etienne, and would like to get back in Ligue 1 contention even with this threadbare House Rules squad.

Quiet randomly during my domestic rearrangement, I played a match on the modded PC version of PES2013. This was the PESJP Patch that allows the player to adjust referee strictness and ball weight and the like. I played one match in Master League on Professional with a heavy ball, found it ludicrously tough just to complete a pass, and didn’t get a single shot on goal. I had Coynborough straight-red-carded for an innocuous double-X tackle that wouldn’t even have stopped play on PES2017.

No, I’m not about to flip-flop to PESJP PES2013 on PC. I just thought it was interesting. The PC platform might be Pro Evolution Soccer’s only real long-term hope of escaping the ghetto of online multiplayer.

I’ve bought a new holepunch and everything

PES2017 with House Rules gave me a very decent Season 12. Season 13 has begun with the game feeling oddly becalmed.

Well, I say ‘becalmed’, but that’s not the right word. What I mean is that the game has gone into full-on manic mode. Every match in my most recent session motored along at 1000mph, with lots of mashing and thrashing and sliding about – the awful, lowest-common-denominator, ‘flowing’ gameplay that PES has sadly become rather noted for in recent years.

Session variance is to blame, I am sure. Session variance – that staple ingredient of PES’s secret sauce, which so many on the forums seem to be bizarrely unaware of, particularly around patch times.

My full squad and First XI for Season 13:

My veteran CB of last season, Antonnson, hit 81 OPR, and under the terms of my House Rules, had to be sold.

I only brought in two new players over the summer, both of them 30-something veterans in decline. DOUGLAS at CMF and ZIYECH at AMF. I couldn’t get any more. I’ve got £31m in the transfer kitty, but a salary budget of just £13k. I can’t even sign any Youths. I’ll get by with a squad of 21 players until mid-season at least.

Cristiano Ronaldo was a remarkable teenage player in real life. In PES2017, aged 18, he’s currently nothing at all, I’m half-unhappy, half-pleased to report. Ronaldo on the pitch or on the ball is the same as any other Youth player, maybe even a little worse.

The pleased side of the equation comes from being able to keep Ronaldo until he does start getting good – or gets to 81 OPR, whichever comes first.

In my real life, the recent spell of busyness is settling down. I am able to report that a reorganisation of my computing life means I will soon be able to switch a PC on and off with the same causal ease as a console.

Which is a fancy way of saying that I’m setting up my computer desk in a different, uncluttered room. I’m setting it up for dedicated use. No longer will I have to move a load of junk from the computer desk to the bed to get at the PC (and then have to move everything back again afterward – a powerful disincentive to use the thing). Those days are gone!

My aborted attempt to play PES5 a few weeks ago ended partly because of the fiddliness (at the time) of PC gaming.

But the main reason why it didn’t really take off was my feeling of unfinished business with PES2017.

What I’m saying here is that before this summer is over, I will be re-revisiting PES5 in a more concentrated fashion. Or one of the other old PES games. Probably not until August, though, as I do still have the unfinished-business feeling with PES2017.

For now, Season 13 with Saint Etienne is up and running. I started with two draws and a defeat. I don’t think I’ll be leading them back to the summit of Ligue 1 this season.

Make benefit glorious nation of New Zealand

Season 2 of my time with Saint Etienne has yet to get going. I’m also now the manager of New Zealand, and there’s a summertime tournament to play – the Asia-Oceanian Cup, no less.

I’ve played the two opening matches. Drawn one, lost one, as above. Thumped by Uzbekistan – the shame. In my last few friendlies before this tournament I seemed to get into the groove playing with the New Zealand lads, scored a few goals, and got a few good results. But it all went to pot come kick-off here.

Here’s the Group Table with one match remaining, against Qatar – victory will see me through:

I’ll be playing that over the weekend.

It’s the perfect real-time time of year to be playing this new-to-me segment of Master League. The sun beating down. June. No domestic football. That latter one is a huge bonus. PES – and even FIFA – long ago overtook ‘real-life’ football in relevance for me.

This time next year we’ll be watching news footage of fans being tear-gassed and baton-charged in Russia – I predict the Russian police will win every single one of those encounters – and when the matches take place, I’ll be fulminating about the unpunished penalty-box grappling that has all but destroyed football as a legitimate sport. About 30 penalty-box infringements will take place per match. but there’ll be maybe 1 penalty awarded per match – if the referee feels like it. Usually none of them will be awarded. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this phenomenon isn’t that it completely destroys football’s credibility as a sport (which it emphatically does), but that precisely nobody really cares about it. I know exactly how that kid felt when he announced that the Emperor was in the buff.

But I’ll save that rant for next June. Now, today, I’ve got a one-time effort to stay in the Asia-Oceanian Cup.

I’m also searching for new players for my forthcoming Saint Etienne campaign. These are my current search criteria:Using my squad of average players (Peter Crouch and Regen Ronaldo and others are in the high 70s, but all others are high 60s/lower 70s), I need to take Saint Etienne back to the big time. When I pitched up a season ago they’d just won Ligue 1 and were in the Champions League. I avoided relegation with them on the last day of this season. In real life I’d have been sacked. Here and now, in fantasy life (fantasy life is best life), I get to go on and see if I can turn the ship around.

Just before the season ticked over to the next, I was offered the manager’s position at Watford. They were relegated from the Premier League last season. I admit I was tempted at the notion of another battle to get out of the Championship and then take on my old club in the Premier League. My finger hovered over the accept button…

But I backed off making another move. I’m all about stability in Master League. I felt that to move again now would only invite the devil in, and then I could easily find myself moving on at the end of every season.

Besides, I’ve only just got to know my players here at Saint Etienne. And having led them to the brink of disaster, I feel like taking them back to the top.

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