Back to the substitutes’ bench where your goals were stolen

The interactive movie called PES2019 Master League: Season 12 is heading towards its predictably dramatic conclusion. With 9 fixtures remaining, I’m a point off the top spot. My form is such that I can predict with reasonable certainty how the last 9 league matches will go. I’ll get about 5 wins. There’ll be about 2 defeats and 2 draws. However they go, plus-minus a win or loss here or there, my results will be matched by the teams around me to create Last Day Drama.

Forlan scored all four goals in a demolition of Palace. It was a stunning return after he spent about 6 matches on the subs’ bench following an awful run where I barely knew he was on the pitch.

I also met Arsenal in what was always going to be a 6-pointer. I eased to a 0-2 win, at their place, after a tense first half of minimal chances for both sides and a few close shaves at my end.Look at the fouls count above. I’m passing through a period of matches with a respectable amount of fouls for both teams. 2 AI fouls against me is abou average at the moment – which is of course pathetic by classic PES standards. But for nuPES, it’s pretty good, and the quality of the matches is higher as a result. The only appreciable fly in the ointment being that when the game wants to steal a goal, it just takes one.

The table:I think it’s between the three of us up there now. The gap to 4th place is too far for Tottenham to make up the distance. One of the top 3 would have to collapse. That could be me, of course, but is unlikely to be – and the other two teams will of course more or less match my results. So yes, a three-horse race.

The Team of the Month for February reflected a good month for my strikers:Forlan and Gomez were absolutely dominant up front, with Benat excellent in support. Castledine also had a great month and was unlucky not to make this team.

In other news, one of my long-ago Youth promotees has been around in my First Team long enough to pick up a quirky Konami nickname.

The jury is still very much out on whether this sort of thing is anything more than cosmetic mood-music.

Certainly I sometimes believe that the likes of Castledine and Forlan are meeting my expectations of what Master League players should feel like. I’m always looking for that classic ML feeling in my PES sessions. Always. But nuPES has coarsened our palates so much in recent years that I could never put my hand on my heart and say that players feel different, or my team feels different, after these milestones come along.

I have played the first leg of the first knockout fixture in the Champions League. Opponents: Real Madrid.

It was tight and tough, and ended 0-0 at my place. My main aim was to stop the away goal and see if I could snatch one myself. A fair result on the balance of play. It was a proper filthy match with the fouls count ending 4-7.

I’ve got the rest of this week off work. There will be some epic PES sessions over the next few days. Friday’s post will definitely be the end of Season 12, with whatever honours it brings or doesn’t bring. They’d be my first in PES2019.

Come, Armageddon, come

The ship has steadied in my Master League progress. A lovely-looking goal to start off with:

That is a graceful 33-yard free kick from Forlan. From that far out, if you get the power and placement right, they will pretty much always go in, so I am not claiming this as any great demonstration of ‘muh skillz’ – just a nice aesthetic spectacle. A Hagi free kick, I think of them as. And note the weird change of the pitch’s strip patterning from horizontal, as seen in the build-up to the free kick, to the vertical, as seen in the pitch-level view above. Explain that, Konami.

Results in the League have been middling. Some notable wins, including a massive 1-0 against Man City. But some defeats and costly draws too.

The ML table scripting gods are kind as ever. If I could hit a button to fast-forward to the inevitable last few matches of the season where it’ll all be decided, I would hit that button and get it all over with. But I have to run the whole race.

Below are January’s results – fairly representative of my results this season as a whole.

The second result in this list was the FA Cup Quarter Final. I battered Liverpool for almost the whole match, but ultimately lost to their only two shots on goal.

The Treble chance is gone, and maybe for good in PES2019, if this is my final season.The current table:Yes, the game really is bending over backwards to keep me just 4 points off the top with 13 matches to go. 8 defeats for Manchester City and 6 defeats for Arsenal is undoubtedly the script making sure they don’t run away from me at the top. Their dodgy results have matched mine.

I’ve got a few days off work next week, so expect a sprint to the finish line. By this time next week, PES2019 could all be over. The end of days may be in sight.

What happens at the end of this season depends very much on whether I have any sense of unfinished business. Past experience has shown me that I cannot walk away from an ML career that is in any sense unfinished.

At the moment, I feel that if I don’t win one or other of League and Champions League – if I end the season empty-handed – I will have that sense of unfinished business, and there will be a Season 13.

Or I might feel that way even if I win one, or both trophies.

It’s a difficult business, to forecast how you’re going to feel about a football game. So I’ll leave it until the actual end of this season, and decide then.

One touch such much

I won the final match of my Champions League group to squeak through to the knockouts. Last season I got all the way to the final, so it would have been awful to be eliminated at the group stage this season. All the other made-up teams in my imaginary world would have laughed at me. But in the end, needless to say, I had the last laugh.

Basel had nothing to play for. I dominated the match and ran out a 3-1 winner. Their goal was an auto-goal, scored straight from kickoff after one of mine. It might have been their only shot of the whole match.

Bayer Leverkusen had to lose their final fixture for me to progress. When the final whistle went in my match, I waited to see what my players would do. Plenty of times in this ML I’ve had the scenario where my team has all sunk to the grass and sobbed salty tears of failure. This time… they didn’t do that. They cheered and cavorted.

No idea yet who my first knockout opponent will be. For now, I’m just enjoying the very real prospect of a Season 12 Treble.After losing 3 matches and with a negative goal-difference, I had no right to qualify, really, but the Master League gods are kind as ever. I have two interesting goals from the Basel match to show at the end of the post.

In the league, it’s a case of seeing what mood the game is in from match to match. I usually know within a few minutes of the start whether I’m going to be allowed to play or not. Some may say that this is wrong thinking, a self-fulfilling prophecy, or whatever, but I know different. When your 30-goal-a-season striker is clean through and repeatedly either drags the shot wide or sees the GK pull off miracle saves, you know something’s up. The purpose of the Master League macro-script is to keep the league competition alive for the duration of the season. It is doing its job.

The current table after 19 matches:Onto those two goals from my final Champs League match.

The first is a flowing one-touch affair that I know many a football gamer would think is a great goal. I enjoyed seeing it come together in real-time – but I don’t think these types of goals are great goals. I know from the online footage I’ve seen over the last 8 years or so that such ‘ping-pong football’ is the hallmark of the online abomination.

The second goal is rather more to my liking. An R2 distance curler! There was a time when I used to score these for fun, but they were hit with the nerf-hammer sometime in November, and have been so scarce ever since that I literally shouted out loud when this one went in. I knew it was going in the moment I hit it.

Exciting times!

Well, exciting in a way. In a very Master Leaguey sort of way…

No, the game was never going to ‘allow’ me to romp to the league title.

The game was never going to let me have a lead at the top of the table for long. After my stellar 7 straight wins, I have had a mysterious run of dodgy form. The game suddenly, across two sessions, transformed itself into one where I was fighting the controller to get control of players who had obediently danced to my tune only the session before.

This exciting result hurt:

And this result hurt just as much:

And those were just the worst exciting results of a bad November. Nearly every result hurt.

Here are the results for November:

The only bright spots there were the league win at Everton, and the Champions League win at Leverkusen – a great match in which I was allowed to compete, because I was in trouble in the tournament overall, having lost 2 matches. That 0-1 win away at a hostile European ground was as tight and tense and joyful as they come. Despite my later narrow defeat at the hands of Atletico, I am still in with a mathematical chance of qualifying from the group, in the last fixture at home to Basel. Leverkusen will have to lose their fixture against Atletico Madrid though. I’ll play that next week now.

The league is my priority, where I am still well in the hunt. My terrible little run of results was mirrored, of course, by results around me, giving us the kind of exciting table that the Master League programmers/exciters clearly want to happen:

Nice to see Manchester City also contriving to lose 4 exciting matches during my run, leaving me only 2 exciting points off the top!

Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace, who both thumped me 3-0 at my place, are way, way down this exciting table, of course.

(Look at Arsenal’s goal-scoring vs goals-against, and their resulting GD. Bit of an anomaly there.)

I’m waiting for the game to relent and let me play again in the league.

It’s very palpable and obvious, the way I’m being stifled at the moment. Every time I lose the ball, the AI cannot be dispossessed until they have at least had a shot on goal. It’s guaranteed. Every time.

In a match against Newcastle (that I lost 1-2) I decided, out of interest, to purposefully hack and slash at the opposition the whole time, just to see if I could actually stop them that way. I would take the yellow and red cards…

…of which there were none, because no matter how violent and aggressive I got, I literally could not get near them.

It’s a definite change from how things were in my first 8 matches. I’ve never really seen PES2019 get up to scripting shenanigans at this level before. In previous seasons I’ve always been the one playing catch-up from mid-table, and so the script has never really had to come into play. Interesting to see it all laid out so bare and obvious.

Needless to say, the great goals that I was scoring for fun have all dried up. My goals at the moment are all boring-as-shit Arsenal-Barca team goal sidefoots from two yards.

This ridiculous goal won me a tight away match at Burnley:

Boom! Get in that net!

I’m still enjoying it all, even so. The game is throwing everything at me to keep the title race ‘exciting’.But it’s part of the package. I wonder if anyone at all ever romps to the title in Master League these days on Superstar or higher? The game seems as if it would never allow it.

Onward, and by next Tuesday’s post I should be way past mid-season. And hopefully still in the Champions League with a bit of exciting luck.