The A.I. That We Fleed

A few days off work meant a lot of rapid progress in my Master League on PES2019. The above is the exact moment I got Castledine straight-red-carded in a calamitous defeat.

I’ve had a couple of proper ‘9/10 enjoyment’ sessions on the game. As I type up this post on this fine Friday morning, I’m aware that it’s FIFA19’s official release day. For many diehard PES fans of long-standing, the PES2019 AI experience is unacceptable, and they are quite rightly seizing on the appearance of what sounds like the most promising FIFA for years.

I’m enjoying PES2019, on the whole. I get no AI fouls, and I’m still sure that long-rangers have generally been nerfed in a way I profoundly disapprove of. But overall? It’s good for me.

Season 2 is 15 matches old at the time of writing. That means I’m almost exactly one-third of the way through it.

This is the current table:

Much better than this stage in season 1. My goal is to finish in the top half of the table at the very least.

Those 3 wins were welcome, but there should have been more.

And 6 draws is frustrating. I’m constantly fiddling about with formations trying to turn all the draws into wins and the defeats into draws. Here is the latest 4-1-3-2 (promptly abandoned):

After seeming so great initially, Rice has declined more or less to averageness. That Rising Shot of his continues to be an enigma. Such an intoxicating new skill, in a series that used to be justly famous for its satisfying long-range shooting. But no Riceing Shot has yet to lead to an actual goal.

SPEAKING OF LONG-RANGE SHOOTING – as detailed in comments on the previous post, I did finally get my long-sought-after PES2019 long-ranger.

Here it is again for those who have not seen it:

Some say these types of goals from that sort of distance are fairly common in PES2019. They’re rare enough for me. This was my first after a hundred attempts. And I haven’t had one since, despite many more attempts.

I did, though, score this R2 curler from about 30 yards with Lincoln – yes the keeper flubs it in, but I’ll take it:

Not quite another long-ranger – a few things count against it, not least the R2-use. A classic PES long-ranger should be a laces-driven cannonball. And then there’s that keeper flap.

It’s the first thing of note that Lincoln has actually done. He’s still ripe for transfer come January, though.

In general, though, I now play a touch more conservatively in attack. Instead of always blazing away from distance, I try to work more optimum opportunities. Goals have picked up slightly, and I am proportionally higher up the table because of it.

Defending can still be a nightmare. The PES2019 AI, for all its many faults, can find fiendish ways to grab a goal when it puts its virtual mind to it. At least 4 of my 6 draws could and should have been wins for me, but I have this habit of succumbing to 90th minute equalisers.

Better players will help. I’m looking forward to the mid-season transfer window with a hunger for new players that I haven’t ever really experienced in nuPES Master League.

I need another top striker to play up front with Necid. After a promising opening few matches, Dentinho has wilted into anonymity, for the most part.

My semi-House Rule is ‘show me individuality or I will show you the door’. Dentinho has done enough, though, to earn a stay of execution until at least the end of the season.

And so have most of my other players. Even the weirdly forgettable starting Default Karlsen has sprung from the bench a couple of times to perform supersub heroics. I find Karlsen plays best as an SS directly behind Necid.

I’m a big fan of Visual Fatigue. We’re so accustomed to playing with our fingers curled lovingly around the R1 button, we don’t realise we’re doing it.

Visual Fatigue punishes R1-use in the late-game. Making the right substitute at the right time is now deeply meaningful, rather than something worth doing just for the sake of it. Fingers crossed that this isn’t patched out.

Hi, I’m Clippy, and it looks like you’re taking a Rising Shot

I’ve come to the end of Season 1 of my PES2019 Master League.

I’ll start today, though, with yet another sign of where the Konami priorities lay.

I’ve been trying to score a long-range goal in PES2019 ever since I got it – and failing to do so.

Here I am with a long-range shooting opportunity, with Rice. I keep plugging away with him and his Rising Shot in the hope that one day, by the law of averages, one of them will actually go in.

Here is what happened in my latest attempt:

My wifi connection temporarily dropped while the shot was mid-flight. The game thought it was important enough to interrupt the single-player action to tell me about it.

As ever, the Rising Shot did piss-all. 10 fantasy bucks to anyone who can post any footage of a long-range Rising Shot actually going into the net. (Footage from the PES2019 promo, back in our now-long-dead summer, doesn’t count.)

So the season ended and I finished a creditable second-from-bottom:

One peculiar thing from the end of the season – the last two fixtures were in JUNE:

Very Konami-like, this whole PES thing, lately, isn’t it?

In the close-season I have sold a few of the Defaults and signed a couple of new players. I have also played the first few matches of Season 2. Progress speed is picking up.

DENTINHO is so far proving a revelation in the SS role just behind Necid. He oozes individuality, by nuPES standards, and seems to have altered the dynamic of the attack.

Also, I am focusing on creating optimum scoring chances now, rather than blazing away from distance all the time. The long-rangers are just not ever going to go in.I’ll cover my opening to Season 2 in detail in Friday’s post, but things have already slightly picked up.

An ML Season 1 quickly becomes a write-off for me in terms of promotion, and is therefore best used as a settling-in season – a time when I get to know my players and the nature of the new PES. I have certainly learned that long-range shooting is sub-optimal in PES2019, to put it mildly.

But I also learned that PES2019 is a surprisingly subtle edition in lots of ways. The last few years’ more arcade-oriented approach hasn’t done the series, or my muscle-memory, any favours. Build-up play in PES2019 seems to need to be slower and more considered. The best route to goal isn’t route one, or even route two. I really like the way they’ve nerfed the ‘blind forward pass from defence’ that always used to find my attacker in midfield, and spark an easy counterattack – that pass now goes, more often than not, to an AI player.

I have to mention the Great Controversy over the AI. As I remarked last night in a comment on the previous post, if I hadn’t heard so much about the AI online – here and on the forums – I would never have had any real reason to question it. A gobsmacking, and faintly ludicrous thing to say for all those who are suffering what they are undoubtedly suffering, but for me it is the straightforward truth. I don’t see Low Cross Spam. For me the big issue is the AI forwards’ ‘running away from goal’ thing, but even that is so rare it’s not a problem either. The PES2019 AI… is generally not a problem. Strange, I know.

All in all, PES2019’s score after one season of Master League would be 8/10. Which isn’t bad. Add a few long-range goals into the mix and things could get better than not-bad.

–——————————-

EDIT added on the Tuesday evening of this post:

I got a long-ranger!

El Necid

36 matches played of Season 1 and this is the state of play. I’ve actually picked up a few good results since my last posted league table.

I’m at the stage now with my ‘Defaults-plus-a-few-Decents’ where I can usually give the AI a good game on Top Player.

But the overall trend is one of defeat. Sometimes, abject defeat. I can receive proper thrashings, as that Goals-Against column indicates.I was pleased and surprised to see a couple of my players make it into the March Team of the Month.

Both places were merited. Jarvis scored a couple of goals, and has started playing well for the first time this ML.

Vasilj netted himself a lovely angled free kick (replay at bottom). Bit of a dodgy keeper moment, but I’ll take it.

I’ve added a new 3rd kit to the club, courtesy once more of PESFX impresario Paul.

This swish black kit is a necessary addition, as my first two kits often clashed with all the opposition’s options. My first two kits are Sky Blue and white. It’s amazing how many Championship teams play in some variety of blue and white – and how many of them seem to have a similar 2nd kit (and no 3rd).

I’ve eased into that first-season mode now where I am comfortable in most matches, until momentum shifts via some incident and suddenly the AI is all over me. ‘Momentum’ being nuPES-speak for ‘scripting’.

This all sounds grouchier than I actually feel.

I’m toddling along quite happily in my own PES-playing bubble, trying my best to party like it’s 2003. Giving PES2019 a score right now, I would give it a solid 8/10. Maybe an 8.5/10. I remain very concerned about long-range shooting.

Also, that thing the AI does where it turns away from goal, is one of the worst AI behaviours imaginable in a sports video game. How the hell did it get through QA? Needs patching, pronto.

But I’m having a great time assembling my team, getting to know who is worth keeping and who will be stepping through the next available Exit door.

I’ve decided to observe an informal House Rule this year: no identikit, clone-style, nuPES players.

New signings must feel like true PES individuals within half a season, or they’re out.

Today’s couple of goals: first that free kick from Vasilj, and second a goal scored by Necid from a low cross put in by me. Hoisting the AI with its own petard.

Necid seems to have come good, after a worryingly anonymous start. He might have a chance of making it through the individuality filter. Currently he has his nose just above the waterline. I’ll drown him without a qualm if he lapses back into anonymity.

Worry and Rice

January of Season 1. I picked up two tasty-looking Free Agents: Tomas Necid, and Siem de Jong. Not as first-tier as I could have got, if I’d only had the wages, but they’re more than adequate.

Necid is a name that has been mentioned on this blog before, albeit in a different game. Football Manager 2010 being the game. Necid was my big signing in one of my first FM2010 Premiership seasons, and bagged a load of goals that kept me up. The big clubs came calling and he sulked until I let him go, after which everything disintegrated and I was sacked.

Here in PES2019 he is on the freebie list along with a mouthwatering load of other players. My wages bill ended up on minus-200k until I moved a few other players out – Arcas and Goios among them.

I ended up selling Goios (not-Coutinho) before the window closed, so this screenshot is already out of date. I brought in a Youth striker named VINER to cover.

Other than that difference, the above is the formation and squad that I will be using to scrape some points together – hopefully – in the second half of the season.

Results continue to be awful.

I had a session last night that was one of the best nuPES sessions, all told, that I have ever had.

The AI was brilliant, frankly. Hassling and harrying me, launching waves of varied and inventive attacks. Positionally in defence, it’s the tightest AI PES has ever seen, I think. The PES2019 AI has such a poor renown that many a befuddled PES2019 player will be shaking their heads and wondering if I am taking the piss. I am not.

The only sign of the infamous Low Cross in my game is a GP award given to me for pulling off a low cross in a game. (Double-tap the cross button from out wide.)

Necid and de Jong haven’t really set the ML world alight yet. Necid has done adequately, netting three goals since his arrival, including a debut header with his very first touch, which bodes well. De Jong has been totally anonymous and I am starting to worry.

I have more or less settled on the view that there is no point persisting with anonymous, identikit players in nuPES anymore.

A squad of proper individuals, even if they are poor overall and don’t win me anything, will be preferable to the rotating door of samey-feeling players that besmirched the likes of PES2016.

I had a fatigue situation in one match that forced me to play with a lone striker up front and two wide forwards/wingers. I thought this formation was a 4-5-1, but the game says it’s a 4-3-3. I was very interested to see how it played out, but no, it didn’t really do anything special. And it did feel like a 4-3-3 in practice.

A brief little highlights clip now. Necid’s debut header is here. There are some brave attempts at shooting from Rice – finishing with an actual goal from Rice, from distance, that won me the World Class long-range shooting trophy. Still not a proper long-ranger though…

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