myClub’s mad at me

It is true. myClub. I am playing it. For a few days at least.

myClub.

Me!

For many years I’ve ritually disembowelled the very concept of playing online, and in particular myClub (a.k.a. ‘shiteClub’ in my personal lexicon of Infamy).

Monday’s PS3 YLOD has prompted this dabble in the dark and choppy waters of all things online.

Look at the evidence of the screenshot above. That’s me, that is, playing with that lot.

Note the high Team Spirit – I used a few ‘items’ within the game world to get it up from the low 70s.

Also note that the team is still a 1-star outfit.

And the presence of all those Defaults.

One of the attractions of this little fling I’m having with the dark side is the ML-like progression of players, and of the squad/Club as a whole.

The four or five non-Default players I currently have are ones I got from ‘spins’ and things at the start.

As you can see, none of the newbies are anything special. The team remains a 1-star team.

I am now pretty much skint.

I have just a few thousand remaining from a starting bounty of 80,000 GP (the mode’s in-game currency, which runs parallel to the it-can-be-paid-for-but-I’m-never-going-there Coins).

I need to change formation. I am finding the locked 4-5-1 of the starting manager surprisingly agreeable – you can tweak the various positions, but not change them. I’ve got the two wide men pushed up as far as possible, making it a quasi 4-3-3 with ATT/DEF maxed out. I’m saving for a new manager.

I got rid of Usain Bolt straightaway in the best way possible. You can convert unwanted players into Trainers, who can then be assigned to other players, giving them a one-time EXP boost. You can chain these Trainers together to slingshot your players up a few levels.

It’s an intriguing mechanic. Early days though. I will need to see a palpable difference on the pitch from all these overlapping mechanics, if I am to be impressed.

I believe I will have time before Monday/Tuesday (when I get my new PS3 set up) to play a complete Division 12 season, plus a few offline COM fixtures.

And what happens then? I return to my mid-flight Master League, of course. But do I drop myClub completely? Maybe, maybe not.

What prompted this madness?

I was just musing a while ago that it’s been a few years since I actually played anything online. Then, whilst getting into PES2011, I was reading up on some of the lore that surrounds that game.

Like every decent PES instalment, a considerable body of nostalgic lore accompanies PES2011 everywhere it is still talked about online (including here).

I stumbled across a discussion somewhere about Master League Online, the prototype for myClub, and how good it (MLO) was. That planted a seed in my mind. That seed has now flowered.

But is it a weed, or a gorgeous red rose?

So much depends on other people.

You see this screen above before every encounter. You check it from the Formation setup screen (and get some GP for doing so the first time). It’s a snapshot of how players play.

Look at my sliders on the left, and my opponent’s on the right.

The arrows show what kind of players we are, in a graphic equaliser-style presentation.

I’m all about Possession. He’s nearly all Counter-Attack.

I mix it between short and long passing (something I’m actively trying to do). My opponent is nearly all about short passing.

I favour All Out Defence when defending. He’s more aligned with Frontline pressure– but not overly so (nearly all online players have the full dark alignment).

I’m exactly midway between Aggressive and Conservative. He is also midway, but just tilted toward Aggressive.

You can see at a glance what kind of match you’re in for. This opponent was one of the ‘better’ ones who seemed to want to play some PES.

I doubt many opponents look at this screen. I also have never seen any opponent (including this ‘better’ one) change the ATT/DEF levels in a match, or use a d-pad strategy. Nor does anyone at all shoot from outside the box, except me, natch.

Of the 6 online opponents I have so far faced, 1 was truly obnoxious. A total jerk, sprinting at me all the time like a homing missile, and running in straight lines down the middle of the pitch himself when he had the ball. I always wonder if these kinds of players actually have any love for the game. They seem merely to be playing an online game, rather than playing PES online. The two approaches strike me as very different, qualitatively speaking.

Another 3 were semi-obnoxious. 1 was fine. And 1 was actually bloody decent, and a great player too (he’s the 5-0 winner in the screenshot below).

After that fearful drubbing on game 1, I steadied the ship and lost the next 3 quite narrowly, I thought (defended well, then conceded more whilst chasing a goal).

Then I won my first point in my 5th match.

That Real Madrid player had a FOUR STAR team. I’d got fed up waiting several minutes to be paired with another newbie, and changed the matchmaking criteria to ‘Any’.

I was penned back by wave after wave of attacks. I am a good defender online. I didn’t panic, but held firm, and was very sparing with the old sprint-clampy double-pressure. He had Benteke and Ronaldo up front, and seemed bewildered when his usual go-to approach plays weren’t working out. I was rewarded when, on a break, a Giorza through-ball found Coutinho free on the edge of the box. I slotted it in with all the aplomb of my thousands of matches of ML experience. Scoring that equaliser, too late for him to do anything about it, was a deeply, deeply satisfying moment.

There are about 5 days before I’m back up and running on a new PS3. My PES2011 ML career will be restored to full working order, thanks be to backups.

Let’s see what happens.

Two online goals to finish. First, a tidy Sessegnon goal from a raking cross-field aerial through-ball. This was my first online game in 3 years, played as a warmup prior to myClub. I picked Fulham. My opponent picked Spain. That goal was the winner.

Second, a nothing-y sort of goal scored against a Barcelona team in myClub. Note the Defaults in his team – he even has A REDMOND (56OVR) out playing, which is a step too far even for me.

Ibrahimovic is playing in mine. He was a loanee that the game gives you for 6 matches. He was rubbish and I didn’t miss him when he left.

NB: I initially called my myClub team ‘SINGERS FC’, which was Coventry City’s original name. I changed it back after this match. You can change your team name as much as you like in myClub. In many aspects, the mode is strangely solipsistic.

I’m decked out in the custom kits made for my Master League career by a regular commenter, and fellow myClub enthusiast, Paul. It’s nice to take that little bit of ‘home’ with me on my online travels. Whether the other online players can see those kits is still an open question.

I have seen the Yellow Light

Monday morning, 4th June 2018, started like any other. It’s my cherished Monday morning tradition to have a leisurely breakfast and then spend an hour or two on whatever football game I’m playing at the moment. In recent years, Monday morning is often my first footy gaming since at least the Friday before.

I’m playing Master League in PES2011 on the PS3. I am in the middle of Season 3. It’s been a wonderful experience so far, going back to play a PES that was not made with the online player uppermost in mind.

My first order of business was to decide whether or not I was going to get Old Forlan in the mid-Season 3 transfer window, I’ve been dithering about it for a few sessions now.

I also put a very cheeky bid in for the ageing Drogba, who is currently at Stoke in my ML world. Drogba was way out of my price range – £16m.

I decided not to get Forlan. My squad, such as it is, is a settled one. And Old Forlan is not as old as I thought. I thought he was about 36 going on 37. Turns out he’s actually 34. So he’ll be 35 in Season 4. I’ll get him then, and enjoy a season with him. Or so I thought…

My first match after the transfer window happened to be against Stoke, and Drogba happened to be their pre-match screen representative.

I went into the formation screen, checked that all my First XI were on their customary positive form arrows (the benefits of investing in quality backroom staff).

I clicked Kick Off.

The loading screen started to go through its paces.

I was fiddling with my phone. I let the loading cutscenes continue without interruption for longer than I usually do.

I was still looking at my phone when I heard my PS3 make a peculiar sound – or rather, make the absence of sound. It was the sound of silence.

All consoles make noise. There’s an ambient wheeze in the room at all times. When that wheeze suddenly goes silent, you know something is up.

This was the sight on the TV:

Just that. Nothing else.

Frozen.

I waited for a minute. Then I sighed, and pressed and held the power button on the PS3 for several seconds, an attempt at a hard reboot – but it did nothing. Eventually I had to unplug the PS3 at the power socket. I still wasn’t too worried. We’ve all done this hard-hard reboot of a games console several times. The kind of scenario where the console gives you a gentle bollocking at the next power-up. Nothing to be greatly concerned about.

I waited a polite minute for the capacitors to discharge or whatever, then turned it back on.

Three sharp, loud beeps. Again, this was nothing to worry ab-

Oh.

A Yellow Light.

Oh.

And that was that. My PS3 had gone for the old Yellow Light Of Death. I knew what to do, what to try. All the unplugging of leads, and blowing into vents, and whatnot. I did them all.

This has happened to me before – way, way back in April 2009, my original 60GB backward-compatible PS3 died a similar death.

From August 2009:

Nobody expects the Yellow Light Of Death

(I’ve only just discovered that I can place snippets of previous posts like this. Click the title to read the whole thing.)

On that occasion I sent the PS3 off to a firm called ConsoleDoctor for a repair, which cost £70. Which was well worth it. I got many more months of use out of that PS3 before it died its final death in April 2010:

Requiem for a PS3

The brand new slim PS3 that I describe myself buying and setting up in the above post, is the PS3 that has now died, 8 years later.

It hurts, it’s annoying, but not as much as you might imagine. I am completely backed up on EVERYTHING.

I have a full clone image of the PS3 hard drive stored on an external HDD, which includes all the PES2011 Option File images — but not the most recent saves, unfortunately.

Fortunately, I renewed my PS+ a few weeks ago. My most recent saves should all be safely stored online.

It won’t take much for me to get back up and running. At worst, I think I will lose a session’s progress.

But of course for that to happen, I need a functioning PS3.

I am not getting a brand-new one. I will check the prices on eBay and Amazon, and also in physical stores. I will also check to see if a ConsoleDoctor-type repair is more financially viable. (It’s looking like it’s not.)

So there we have it. At best it’ll take me several days to get back on my feet and resume PES2011 on another PS3. I think it might be a week or more, though, as there’ll be lots of faffing around to do with restoring the clone image from the external HDD to the new PS2 and so forth. That’s a few hundred GB of data. And I have to actually get the new PS3 first.

But I will do it. PES is worth it. PES2011’s ML was just getting going, really. I have to see where it takes me.

What do I do in the meantime? Obviously I am not going to play any other Master League and risk disrupting my immersion in PES2011.

But I have to play something.

FIFA17 or FIFA18 on the PS4? But what mode would I play? Ultimate Team? World Cup?

Or are there any devoted PES2018 myClub players lurking out there who want to seize this opportunity to persuade me that it’s worth giving a chance to? Don’t be afraid to tell me how mistaken I am, and how good it all is.

This little hiatus from the flow of events is most unexpected.

Normal service will soon be resumed, I am sure.

Shimizu take a bow

Onward to mid-season, where it seems I might struggle to lay my hands on Old Forlan after all. In the space of half a season his transfer fee has mysteriously risen from £5m to £7m. I can only afford £5m. Entering into further negotiations over the fee only knocked off a few hundred thousand.

£5m is all I have in the bank. So I’m about £1.75m short of the final asking price. I could make up the extra cash by selling a player or two, but my squad is already quite threadbare as it is.

I’ve got the whole transfer window to do some sort of wheeler-dealering, but it’s not looking good.

This is the greatness of old-style ML, right here. These decisions really mean something. Old Forlan’s guile and goals might make the difference between a relegation scrap and a mid-table finish (or even better than that). But to get Forlan now I’d have to offload a good player (or players), and none of them are expendable. (I’ve still got Baumann and El Moubarki knocking around, but I’d be lucky to get half a million for them combined.)

Decisions, decisions.

Here is the table at the halfway stage:

Not far off the relegation places. I can hold my own against the supposedly big boys, but I keep getting thumped 3-0 by the likes of Swansea and Sunderland. Same old PES, of course.

I’m in the semi-finals of the FA Cup! It would be massive to win this trophy this season. I beat CSKA Moscow 3-1 in the quarter finals. Two of my goals were from the little magician, Shimizu. Both good goals too – here they are:

First a swiping half-volley, lofted over the keeper, from an aerial through-ball that I delayed and delayed until Shimizu’s surging run was just far enough advanced to enable the chance.

Second, a proper Bobby Charlton-style howitzer into the postage stamp corner, from 25 yards. Boom.

Shimizu in PES2011 might be the best Shimizu since the very first Shimizu I remember, which was in PES5. I’ve always thought Shimizu since that game was weak and lacked shooting prowess, but this PES2011 one, for some reason, goes on strong runs and has the kind of shooting power that is more than adequate for an AMF in one of my lineups.

So it’s official. I now love Shimizu.

Rooing the day

Part of the allure of Master League is being part of your own individual instance of a fantasy footballing world. It’s interesting to see what happens to the big-name players over time, particularly in their twilight years. E.g. the 39-year-old Messi at Sunderland and the like.

It’s only season 3 in my PES2011 ML, the equivalent of real-life season 2012-2013. In this alternate universe, Rooney has already set off on his travels and is now at QPR.

He played pretty well in this match, which I lost badly, thumped 3-0. Still only on Professional difficulty too.

The AI in this match had an odd habit of shooting often from long-range (with Rooney, and without). Football game AIs shoot from distance far too seldom, normally. More please.

The PES2011 AI in general has impressed me more in the Premier League than it did in Division 2, where it often seemed so passive and plodding that I actually feared for the long-term future of this segment of my sentimental journey into the PES past.

Matches in the top flight are tighter, and the AI more aggressive. You would expect this to be the case, and it is.

I still feel gratified at the many touches in this ML – reckoned by some to be the best-ever – that really make a difference to the experience.

E.g. after a victorious home match, you’re rewarded with a useful few £££s. These few £££s add up over the course of a season, and that sum really means something substantial. Hiring more and better backroom staff crucially affects your team’s form and fitness, and the better backroom staff are very expensive. It’s £1 million for a basic one, £3 million for a middling one, and £5 million for the best ones. There are 5 positions to fill. I think it will take me several more seasons to populate each position.

I’ve been toddling along with basically the same squad for a season now, because I’ve spent most of my money on backroom staff. So the £30k I got for winning the match above, if repeated with lots of other wins of course, all adds up, and all means something.

A few defeats have sent me down the table, but overall I am not struggling for results when I really focus on getting them.

I’ve made a decision about the difficulty level. If I’m still in the top half of the table come mid-season, I will graduate to Top Player and remain there for the rest of PES2011. (There was no Superstar level at this point in history.)

My goalscoring is still awful, so I need to invest in a striker come mid-season. Iaquinta and Pinilla have so far not delivered the goods in the top flight, and Schwarz is still very much a Youth in development.

Come the transfer window I’m favouring Old Forlan, as per my previous post, for various reasons. The personal satisfaction reasons being the main ones.

© 2017 PES Chronicles Frontier Theme