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Smells Like Team Spirit

A proper shellacking in MyClub

Well that hurt.

Easily my heaviest-ever defeat in any football game in any mode, ever. At half-time it was 0-8, so I did well to limit the damage in the second half and even grabbed a cheeky consolation goal with my one flowing move of the match.

It was an unexpected setback in my MyClub journey, as immediately prior to this match, I’d WON my first match.

It was a solid 1-0 win against a player rather like myself — a patient passer and mover. Judging by his username, which ended in 1965, he was an oldie like me. Perhaps that says a lot.

Then I met the player above: a 100% sprint-pressurer, and down-the-middle run-and-gunner. He blew me away completely. I can’t even pretend that I had given up after 7 or 8 goals. I was playing and defending all the way. Nothing was working.

Every single one of his goals was scored inside the penalty box, needless to say. He never even tried shooting from outside, not even when he was a million goals up. This lack of shooting from distance disappoints me more than anything else online.

But MyClub is a really good mode. I cannot ever see myself liking the way people play it online, but the supporting infrastructure is interesting and worth getting to know. I was never convinced by Master League Online and mostly ignored it bar a token few matches every year, but MyClub seems to fill in the blanks.

Success is all about the Team Spirit. Look at this side-by-side comparison of my average online opponent (the team on the left) and my own Best XI (on the right) — arrayed in an attacking 4-3-3 in this instance, as opposed to my usual 4-2-2-2:

Team Spirit Them And Me

I’m on a measly 62 TS, and that’s with everything tweaked and tuned to the best of my ability. It’s suicidal to head online with anything less than 80, from what I can gather, and 90 is considered optimal.

I’m bad at playing football games online, but I’m not that bad. For all my downplaying of my online skillz, it’s been quite rare over the years for me to be completely thumped.

I’ve been taking thumpings over and over again in MyClub, and lack of Team Spirit is why. Passes don’t connect, defenders don’t cover, the ball constantly bobbles, and easy shots miss.

Shellacking tale of the tape

I still got the most possession. But look at that passing %. That’s partly due to my opponent’s insane pressuring, but it’s mostly due to the low Team Spirit.

I go on. I’m loving the refreshing change after the rigours of Master League.

FIFA15 is still there waiting to be fired up again. This blog isn’t about me being a faux-journalist, and providing even-handed coverage to all football games, and giving FIFA15 a go because I feel I have to. I do hope to get back to FIFA15 before PES2016 arrives. But if I don’t, tough Titty Town.

These go up to 11

Jenkeys Front End

My old problem of the Jenkey-patched PES2013(PC) crashing unexpectedly might have returned. I tried adjusting the AI-Human balance tofavour the AI—to make a hard game even harder, as a test—but the system wouldn’t have it and kept crashing to desktop. Permissions problems are the usual culprit with things like this. The solution is to reinstall the game in an entirely user-controlled directory. Sigh. I’ll get round to it.

So I played a short session using the same settings that I was starting to tire of last time. And with PES being as generally perverse as it is, I had a hard time.

Out of the Cup

First I got knocked out of the Cup, in extra time, losing 1-2 to a good AI side that barely gave me any space, limited chances to half-chances, and sucker-punched me just after I’d equalised.

My main focus in this session was not getting any players sent off. This meant only tackling when I was sure I’d get the ball. I played nicely, with discipline and restraint, and it was wonderful. And then the CPU got a player sent off.

CPU red card

I love my weird-faced player in the background looking at the red card too.

I finished that match with 10 men as well after going in hard to stop a breakaway at 1-1. The CPU scored in the next passage of play anyway., so the sacrifice was in vain.

Back in the League I had to field a team with several blue-arrowed players, as I had FIVE first-choice players sitting it out due to suspensions. This time, I thought, I’ve got to finish a game with 11 players on the park.

The Free Kick

And I did. And I won it too—1-0, with the last kick of the game. I got the ball knowing the whistle would go as soon as I lost possession. I jinked and turned on the edge of the box and put in a floaty cross—and who was there but Lukaku Junior to nod in at the far post.

All in all a much better session than last time, which didn’t seem so straightforward all of a sudden. Very satisfying indeed.

Oh—Xbox One, PC Two. Just thought I’d get that one in. Nonplussed and underwhelmed with these new consoles, I am.

 

PES2011 retires, again

PES2011 inside the goal

Season 1 of Master League, on my 2013 revival of PES2011, playing on the PC, using a sumptuous 1.6GB PESEdit patch, as an eerily lifelike 2010/11-era Coventry City FC that came packaged with the patch… (draw breath)… has come to an end.

Season 1 ended with promotion to the Premier League—by the skin of my teeth:

PES2011 in 2013 season 1 final table

The final and decisive game saw me needing to win. If I did that, no matter what else happened, I’d be promoted.

It was against QPR, who were a long way out of the race near the bottom, but I knew that wouldn’t matter. I knew it would be as tough a match as any all season. And so it proved.

I took a 1-0 lead with a jammy rebound goal. After half-time I eased into a 2-0 lead with a well-crafted team goal of the sort that the would-be-purist football watcher is supposed to love the most.

(I’m evidently not a purist, as I don’t love ‘team goals’ the most. I don’t even like them all that much. When somebody sidefoots in from 0.5 yards and the football commentators and pundits start wetting themselves over the latest team goal from Barca or Swansea or Arsenal—or whoever the Great Passing Team of the passing moment is—I’m bemused, it’s fair to say. Give me a brutal piledriver into the top corner from 30 yards any day of the week before any ‘team goal’. Same with snooker. Yes, I said snooker. Snooker commentators go mad with delight over frames with huge breaks in them, but I prefer the scrappy frames with long periods of safety play, one player trying to get a snooker, ‘foul and a miss’, etc. etc.)

Sorry, where was I. Yes, I was 2-0 up and cruising. Or so I thought. The AI sucker-punched me straight from kickoff to make it 2-1 instantly. Damn. We know PES has that move in its arsenal. We know it’s more likely to happen than not. But it just keeps on happening. Straight. From. Kickoff.

And that prompted a hurricane of AI super-pressure and aggression. I was hanging on and hanging on. I needed that third goal to restore my cushion—and I got it. Pavone, a journeyman Argentine striker I picked up in mid-season, supplied the finish:

3-1 it ended. And thus, promotion.

I’ve really settled into PES2011 now. I’ve picked up its unique rhythms and adopted techniques to cope with its many individual quirks.

But, as I mused on Friday, I hear the call of PES2013 once more. The prospect of a non-development ML fascinates me too much. I want to satisfy my curiosity more than I want to stick with PES2011.

So this is the end of PES2011, at least for now.

PES2011 - halftime or fulltime

I’ve had a great season on the game, and really improved my opinion of it. Which is a very good thing indeed, because I’d always nursed a sour memory of the game from its original heyday.

Wednesday I’ll be back on PES2013, and back on the PS3 to boot, where I’m at my most familiar and comfortable. (The notion hasn’t gone away of getting a gaming PC instead of the PS4/Xbox720 in the future. It’s just that the PS3 is here for me, right now, and very convenient.)

I haven’t yet decided what team to play as, or in which league/continent, and won’t be drawn on them until then. It won’t be any version of Coventry bloody City, though.

Getting Things Pun

One of my Master League traditions, year after year, is to take a truly fearful hiding from the CPU at least once. So it happened again this year, in a recent session.

Man Utd beat me 7-1. Evra scored four of their goals. Towards the end it was a case of them scoring with every attack they mounted.

In mitigation, I did have a player sent off early. But I’m usually pretty good with 10 men. And I put up some stout resistance for a while, but soon collapsed. It ended up as one of those ragged, undisciplined performances where you’re basically just playing out time until the final whistle:

I did have a lot of shots despite the scoreline. Also, it is nice to see the CPU outdoing me in terms of possession—52% to my 48%. One of the very few individual instances of it doing so.

My team continues to grow, uh, organically around the framework of the starting Defaults and Youths. So far this year I only have two transfers in who are any good—Mehmeti and Zerkovic.

They both helped inspire me, a few matches after the Man Utd disaster, to one of my finest ever wins.

Game against Spurs, one of the league’s high-flyers, one of the most fast and skilful and throughly annoying CPU teams going.

I was 2-0 down after twenty minutes. Here was where a different attitude showed itself as the determining factor in PES2013. Where I was weak in the Man Utd game, I stayed strong.

When behind and playing badly, it helps to have a target, a short term goal that you can aim for and then reach. A kind of self-help, Getting Things Done regime for PES. One step at a time.

My aim here was to get one goal back. Just one goal. Not two goals, you understand—I wasn’t thinking about the match result, not yet. My aim was just to get one goal back, preferably by half time.

I seriously laid off the sprint button—that’s the one you tend to squeeze, hard, when trying desperately to get back into a match. The point is not to try desperately, but to think and behave like a footballing assassin. Guile and cunning, instead of the attempted brute force that sprint abuse is all about.

I kept the ball. And I kept the ball some more. If I saw a forward pass that looked even slightly risky, I just passed sideways or backward, and kept the ball. After a few minutes of this, I got my reward with a trademark Mehmeti finish from the edge of the box. In off the post, like so many goals in PES2013.

Just after half-time, I got the equaliser. Then the match looked like petering out to a 2-2 draw, which I’d have been more than happy with after that terrible start and some recent poor results.

But on 85 minutes, I worked the ball wide to Niellendnder. He makes lots of darting runs past the full-back into space out wide. It’s often a waste feeding him the ball, because the poor lad cannot shoot. In an edition of PES that’s noteworthy for its shooting power, he’s a boy amongst men.

So I would normnally have held it up and waited for support. But I had a feeling. I dribbled with Niellendner into the box, and rifled the ball smartly past Cudicini (remember him?) in the Spurs goal.

A stunning 3-2 win that I’d hardly have believed possible at 2-0 down early on. This was one of my best performances in the whole ML campaign. I did everything right against Spurs that I did wrong in the Man Utd game.

The current table:

Man Utd’s goals-scored column has been artificially boosted by their 7 goals against me in that one match.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual. It’s already clear that this won’t be a repeat of my Season from Hell on Top Player a while back, when I was ignominiously relegated. I’m going to survive, and thrive, on Superstar. Which is exactly how I want things to be.

A quick odds-and-ends: I’ve been training up Nouhei as a DMF since the start of the season. I have a vision of him becoming the new Mathieu.

Progress is slow, as I hardly ever actually play him at DMF, which lengthens the training period considerably.

The main reason I’m trying to make Nouhei a DMF is his strength and great shooting. I rarely show myself missing goals, but here’s Nouhei really connecting first-time with a shot that would have been a great goal, if it had gone in the net:

That’s the promise of Nouhei as a DMF, I feel. Alas, I don’t think the effort’s going to prove worthwhile.

What lets Nouhei down as a DMF, and means I’ll probably only ever use him there in an emergency, is his poor passing. It really is a centre-back’s passing: slow and weak, and most importantly  not very accurate. It could be remedied with a bit of training and some proper boots/items, I suppose. But he’s already a world class defender. Ultimately, I think that’s where he’ll stay.

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