Hang the DJY

Season 7 dawns, and with it a decisive moment in my Master League history. Which way to go with my squad? Do I spend the money on new and better players, or stick with what I’ve got and see if can get them to the pinnacle of PES?

I could go the spend-spend-spend route. I have silly money in the bank – currently close to £100m. And I have received a bid of £160m for my inconsistent and stamina-challenged Lobato. My wages budget would easily handle a couple of superstars coming in.

Which way do I turn?

There’s no decision really. I have chosen to continue on my way. I’ve had plenty of PESes where I’ve spent my way to glory. This ML will be something different. The squad you see below is the squad that will finish this ML. Defaults and Journeymen and Youths (DJY).

I’m counting the big-name Regens as Youths, because that’s what they still are. I have 3 Youth Regens out on loan who will return at the end of the season. Vardy, Arnautovic, and Romero. I’ll decide then which ones to keep, if any, and move the others on.

Regen van Persie is really coming good now. See his Goal of the Month contender in the clip below. He currently starts most games in place of either Lincoln or Lobato, as one of them is invariably unfit or off form.

The Europa League got underway with a win in my opening fixture. True to my word.I started well in last year’s attempt at getting somewhere and doing something in this tournament, before it all fell apart when I met the big boys of the group. This year I’m in a group with Borussia Dortmund. I want at least 4 points against them. I’m still on Top Player so I feel confident.

Here is the current league table after just 4 matches –I played another match after this screenshot and won it, so I’m up in 2nd now.

All the talk in recent weeks about the PC version of the game and the endless modding possibilities that it offers. With all the delights on offer on that open platform, some might have wondered why I’m still perservering with the PS4 console version and all its limitations. There are many reasons why I still love the PS4 and still feel the urge to finish my ML on it before moving on (and we’ll see how that goes).

Here’s a little compilation vid of 4 moments from my recent session that sums up why I’m still a committed console PES gamer right now:

First we see Casteldine performing a lovely bit of skill. Then Lobato scoring what must be my lowest-ever free kick from that close in. Then Regen van Persie’s sublime outside-of-the-boot finish into the top corner from 23.5 yards. And finally Schone scores his first goal for me with a beaut of a half-volley.

I hope that whenever Peter Drury’s wife asks him if the postman has been yet, the answer is: ‘He’s delivered all right!’

The True Home of the FA Cup

Totally genuine. Not a two-minute knockup in Photoshop at all.

Yes, Season 6 has ended and I have retained the FA Cup. That’s back-to-back Cup wins for the first time in the nuPES era, I think. And so in Season 7 I will get another crack at the Europa League (my Master League bogey competition), which I am eagerly looking forward to.

It was a tough FA Cup Final. Not only were my opponents Manchester City, as souped-up and hyperactive as they can be, but for the final I moved back up to the dreaded Superstar.

Somehow in PES2020 they’ve brewed an extra-special concoction of bullshit for Superstar. It’s not enjoyable most of the time. The least enjoyable Superstar ever!

I find that I can cope with the AI’s excesses, most of the time. No-fouls on Superstar are just the same as no-fouls on Top Player or Professional. I tend to be shoulder-charged and clipped and scythed to the ground on every difficulty level without a foul being called, so it’s no different to see it (not) happening on Superstar.

My Superstar problem is that I just cannot seem to score. I played two league matches on Superstar prior to the Cup Final, as a warmup, and scored 0 in both. It did not bode well.

The Final was tight and tense. Here is the decisive action. We come in with the score at 0-0 in the 80th minute, and a foul given on the edge of the box…

The full match is there if anyone wants to click back and watch the whole thing.

I played well, apart from the periods when I got sucked into the AI’s frenzy.

Then it’s important to take a breath, take your time, and deliberately slow the game down. A hectic melee of turnovers and tackles and barging only helps the AI.

Part of the challenge of this era of PES is imposing your own vision onto matches. PES Prouctions want us to get sucked into the hurdy-gurdy, button-mashy nonsense that the Useless Anti-PES Focus Group Bastards tell them to make.

I suspect the existence of at least one Fifth Columnist in PES Productions. One or two individuals, aware of the series’ rich single-player heritage, who want to make a game that’s true to the series’ origins. They sneak in a few things every year for us. Hence all the demos we get loaded with single-player goodness. Summertime demos full of fouls and goodness might not just be a cynical marketing ploy. #IchoosetoBelieve

Here’s my avatar leading a post-match Macarena:The league was as ordinary and mediocre as it gets. I finished 10th with a perfect 0 goal difference.I scored precisely 1 goal per game. I did play about 2/3rds of this season on Superstar, in the end.

So to Season 7. The big question is, what do I do with difficulty? Top Player is just that bit too easy for me now, but Superstar is a good bit too shitty-hard. I’m reluctant to make my big move to PA0 at this stage (which would enable me to play on Professional), as I want to ‘complete’ a PES2020 ML on my standard settings first.

Decisions, decisions.

A wild unicorn appears

A great session yesterday morning has gone a long way to restoring some of the polish to my view of PES2020.

I’ve been up-front about my disappointment at the lack of great goals in PES2020 for me so far. I don’t believe that will change much, if at all, anytime soon. This era of PES is firmly under the jackboot of online multiplayer. Long-range goals are Not Allowed, generally.

But… but, yesterday I scored a goal from about 28 yards! Not a true long-ranger in my book, for reasons that will be clear upon viewing… But technically, it is one, and I’ll take it.

It’s the very first goal in today’s mini-compilation, which also includes two other unicorns of PES2020: headed goals from crosses. All 5 of these goals came in that great session yesterday:

King Castledine and Prince Jarvis dominating proceedings there.

And yes, I have gone back to my traditional Wide camera.

The dearth of spectacular goals – goals that look and feel great in their own right, rather than being ‘only’ contextually great – is a PES2020 trait. I foresee me marking down PES2020 next August because of it.

But the rest of the play… setting aside the grouches… it’s pretty bloody good.Over in the League and Cup in general…

I’m into the FA Cup final for the second season running after a wonderful comeback against Liverpool in the semi final where I was 0-2 down before half-time. I stormed back to make it 2-2 at 90 minutes. The goal that started the comeback was a fine opportunist header from Jarvis, who quietly has a bit of the David Speedie in him. A little guy with a knack for headed goals. That was a great match.

Also great was the match versus Chelsea, away, where I dug in grimly from an early setback and came back to win 2-1. That match was remarkable for the amount of AI fouls in it. There were 7 (SEVEN), a complete anomaly for me in PES2020. If only every match was like that.

I’m still holding on mid-table. 10th after 32 matches of Season 5, with 32 goals scored and 31 conceded. My 1 goal per game average is an improvement on my 0.65 goals per game or whatever it was on Superstar.

I wonder if I will ever go back to Superstar now, but I think I will when I have the players to cope.

And I wonder if I will ever upgrade this squad much past the point where it currently is.

I fancy more or less shutting up shop now, letting player development take its course, and sticking with what I’ve got to the end. It feels too familiar and predictable to follow the route of bringing in new players until I’ve got a team of galacticos. My excellent PES2019 campaign, where I pretty much did exactly that, is still fresh in my mind.

I don’t know what or where the end-game scenario is for this ML career. I used to always regard the first Treble as the natural culmination of things. This year it’s probably a time-limited ML, as come January/February-ish, I believe I will want to give the PC platform a proper go.

So there’s about 10-12 weeks left in which I will see what I can do with a halfway-house squad of journeymen, Defaults, and one or two big name Youths. Should be interesting.

That man and Robin

Today is all about Robin van Persie, specifically, my Master League Regen version of him in PES2020.

The story so far with my Regen version of Robin van Persie:

I am always looking for the classic ML experience of bringing in a ‘name’ player whilst young and developing him into a personal legend. It has happened to me so many times over the course of my Master League life that I could fill a hundred posts with tales of the great and memorable players I’ve had through all the eras of PES.

Stoitchkov in PES3. George Best in PES4. Bergkamp in PES5. Raul in PES6. The list goes on, past the Golden Age era of PES, all the way through the Silver PS3 and Bronze PS4 years. It is the foundational principle of Master League. There is an Eternal Champion who must be found – usually more than one.

Master League retains this essential aspect of itself. No matter how blighted the current PES era is with all those appalling concessions to multiplayer (no fouls, no long-rangers, no headers, no penalties, etc.), the magic persists.

Last year in PES2019 it was Forlan. This year, I’m still holding out hope that Robin van Persie could be the man of PES2020.

So far it hasn’t looked good. He arrived in the first transfer window of Season 2 as a raw 16-year-old.

It’s currently the latter half of Season 5. RVP is now still only a raw 19-year-old and it shows. He’s scored only 3 (THREE) goals in three (3) seasons – until now.

Away to Manchester United – decent in PES2020, but beatable – a combination of injuries and poor form meant I had to play van Persie up front as an out-and-out CF. Here is a 90-second clip of his highlights in the match:

I was happy, it’s fair to say. Both great finishes with his favoured left foot, with the first one being especially satisfying.

The problem after this was something I have always noticed in nuPES: the dreaded Next Match Nerf.

RVP’s form arrow was firmly down for the next match. How absolutely aggravating is that when it happens? In what footballing universe is a young player who’s just scored two match-winning goals in a big game, not considered to be on form for the following match?

Or are the arrows supposed to signify other things? Injury during training? I don’t think so – the arrows exist solely to indicate morale and form, as far as I am concerned, and as far as I am concerned, RVP’s form arrow in the match immediately after the one above should have been glowing bright and pointing UP. But it wasn’t.

Yet another balancing method from online that has infected offline.

I’ve focused on one player and one theme in today’s post for two reasons:

1) Nothing else really happened worth mentioning. PES2020 is still not a PES of great goals in their own right for me. And I’m still ticking over in mid-table. I can’t post yet another picture of me in 9th. I just can’t.

2) The potential Story of RVP is representative of the spirit of PES and ML. This is what makes the series and mode distinctive and still worth playing year after year.

Oh, and 3) I’ve spent the week playing a bit of Death Stranding in the time I would have otherwise spent playing PES2020.

I’ve decided I will give Regen van Persie another 4 seasons. That’s all the way to Season 9. By then he’ll be in his mid-20s. I want him at least on the same level as Jarvis – a striker who is as deadly in PES2020 as any other striker I’ve yet to play with. If PES2020 ended right now, it’s Jarvis I’d remember. Let’s see if RVP – or any other contender – can change that.