Tag: negotiations

The wacky world of PES2014

PES2014 Season 11 Away Kit

Subotic in Season 11 Home kit

Season 11 of Master League in PES2014. New Away kit above. New Home kit to the right here.

If, back in December 2013, you had told me that I would end up playing 11 seasons (and probably one or two more to come) of ML on PES2014, I would have… I would have… hmmm, what’re the kinds of things people say they’d do in constructions like this one? Called you mad? Laughed in your face? Decapitated you with a blow of my Cloud-from-FFVII sword? One of those things.

But here we are, and this is happening. PES2014 is a viable football game. Its Master League is very playable, despite being desperately poor in terms of features — as nearly every Master League always has been, it should be noted. I can only think of two editions of Master League (PES2010 and PES2011) that could reasonably be called feature-rich.

Season 11 must bring silverware. Either one of League, FA Cup, or Champions League will do. I cannot bring myself to think of another season of failure. I’ve probably got as good a team as I’m ever going to have in PES2014. The time is now.

Transfers. An interesting pre-season in many aspects. Here’s the Starting XI and Squad I’ve ended up with:

PES2014 Season 11 starting XI and squadI picked up two oldies, breaking my usual policy of building for the future. I wanted a top-rated keeper, and got the 39-year-old Shay Given on a free. It’s his last season before retirement. He’s the highest-rated keeper I could find who was willing to come to me. In any other PES I wouldn’t touch a 39-year-old player. But this is PES2014. We’ll see how he performs and whether he makes a difference.

Also there among the oldies is Subotic, a 33-year-old CB whom I picked up for a nominal fee. Again, not my usual policy, but again, this is PES2014 and we will see what happens. He played brilliantly in my opening game. A big, lumbering centre-half. The proper PES individuality is there with this one.

I also picked up another of the young guns — Stefan Kiessling. (The B-like letter in his name is a feature of German-language orthography that I will be rendering as double-s on the blog, because the Internet tells me I can. I might go in and edit his name if I remember, or I might just leave it like that. Somehow, having a player with a non-standard letter in his name is just part of the wonderful wacky world of PES2014.)

I thumped QPR 6-1 in my opening match. Robbie Keane hat-trick. The table after 1 match:

PES2014 Season 11 after 1

Needless to say, that’s how I’d like the table to be at the end.

I’ve played on far enough to see my Champions League qualifying group. Which is:

JUVENTUS

MALAGA

MOTHERWELL

COVENTRY CITY

There are no certainties in this game, I have learned. 92 points last season only got me 4th place. But with the squad and experience I’ve got I should emerge from this group.

Silverware. That’s the target. But will PES2014 allow it?

Doing surprisingly well back at Atletico Madrid or something like that

PES2014 Torres arrivesI’ve passed through the mid-season transfer window in Season 9 of my Master League in PES2014. I’ve emerged the other side with a stronger squad on paper, but a slightly weaker one in terms of Heart, and that’s proved costly. I committed the cardinal error of introducing too many new players too quickly. Results have suffered. In my most recent session – Thursday morning – I drew 2 and lost 2. That’s with the gentleman pictured immediately above at the head of my forward line.

Whatever happened to Fernando Torres? A peculiar question for me to ask, as real-life football is none of this blog’s business. Pro Evolution Soccer, and even the rarely-played FIFA (and the even-more-rarely-played Football Manager), will always be more interesting, vital, and relevant to my life than so-called ‘real life’ football ever will be again. The simulated copies long ago surpassed the original.

I’ve been a football-crazy fan at times in my life. Those times ended when I started noticing that so-called real-life football is a game in which core rules are applied whimsically and contextually, which makes the whole enterprise feel meaningless and arbitrary to me – but I won’t go there now.

My indifference to (so-called) real-life football means that it takes getting Torres in PES2014 to make me wonder just what happened to his (so-called) real-life counterpart. And then I almost immediately forget the question, because I’m uninterested in the answer.

To me, Fernando Torres is 5% a real personage in a real sport, and 95% a digital commodity in a football computer game that, I’ll say it again, long ago surpassed the (so-called) original. I’m not touting this stance as one that anybody else should take. Just reiterating that this is not a football blog at all, but a football game blog. Wherever the (so-called) real Fernando Torres is now, I wish him the best, but I don’t care where he is and what he’s doing.

I’m bemused by the PES forums every August when you start seeing those long, long pages of screenshots of player faces posted by users. Sure, it’s nice to have them. The kits too. There’s nothing like authentic-fake-authenticity to get my pulse racing. But I wouldn’t be very bothered if they were all blank-faced mannequins.

Torres was superb in PES5, a real goalscoring powerhouse. In that 40+ season career I had him twice, I seem to recall. Once the first time around in ‘real time’, and then as a Regen. I don’t recall having him in any PES since PES5. Ten, more like eleven years ago now. How time flies.

I’ve got him as a Regen this time around as well. He’s one of the superkids of PES2014. In the mid-season window I helped myself to Torres, and added Di Natale too. I shipped out a few of the oldies who were no longer developing.

I left the squad dangerously light at one point. 18 players isn’t something you want to take into the second half of a season where you’re still theoretically competing on three fronts. I’ve got Bayern Munich coming up in the Champions League.

I topped up from the Youths. This means that my squad is somewhat top-heavy.

My current Squad (not the First XI, as there were a few suspensions at the time of this pic):

PES2014 Season 9 post-transfer SquadI’m not happy with this squad. I felt rushed into filling spaces by the foreshortened nature of PES2014’s transfer window – a very old-school rolling 4 weeks, and then that’s it over. I actually prefer this vision of an ML transfer window. It makes for uncertain outcomes, which this is.

Look at the weakness I’ve left for myself at CB. I had a chance of Regen Joe Cole, which would have been a neat echo of (so-called etc.) real life, but he turned me down twice during the window despite being an 83% chance both times.

Onto the pitch with the newbies, and things were predictably awkward and hesitant. I hadn’t exactly been intuitive and flowing before the window. In fact I’d often been stumbling to hard-won results rather than sweeping to victory (and that’s the way we like it in ML, isn’t it?).

But now… Since the start of the second half of the season I’ve won one match, a somewhat less than stellar 1-0 win over Leicester away. All the others, as indicated above, have been points dropped or lost completely. I think it’s time to acknowledge that the league will be out of reach this season.

PES2014 Season 9 After 22I’ll keep going, keep plugging away. That’s the Pro Evo way, after all. And we all know exactly what’ll happen if I can stitch together an unlikely sequence of, say, five wins in a row.

I heart Heart

PES2014 Season 9 early doors

Season 9 of PES2014 has got off to a relative flier. Two wins and a draw in the League. Sailed through the first round of the FA Cup – an early-season match that always seems designed to trip up the unwary. I was wary, and played the tie – vs lowly West Ham – as if my life depended on not conceding. I beat West Ham 2-0 quite comfortably. The Champions League draw has taken place. Juventus are the team to watch out for, and in PES2014 that tends to mean something.

All in all, the stage is set for what should be a fascinating season. I’ll be happy with one trophy and a good run in the Champions League. I’d love a Double of some kind, and would be ecstatic with an unlikely Treble. My ‘PES sense’ tells me that I’m at least one more season from being ‘allowed’ to mount a challenge for all three major trophies. There are too many signs that the game still doesn’t want to let me ‘get away’. We all know what I’m talking about here. Any PES game tends to level up as you level up – but then once you hit a certain level, it seems to level down. It shows you its neck and invites you to sink your jaws in.

Transfer market. I said I wanted a top striker to go with Robbie Keane and a world class defender or goalkeeper. And any other miscellaneous others that take my fancy,

I swooped for another Regen wonderkid in the form of Nimeley. Yes, Kofi Nimeley. He’s only 23 in real life. But players retire early in the world of PES2014. My Macovshire just announced he’s bowing out at the age of 30. So Nimeley’s reappearance as a regen wonderkid isn’t that strange.

He’s straight into the team. Which means I have two wonderkids up front as my main strikers. Which means that this ML is by no means a standard sort of ML. That’s regrettable in one aspect, but in another, I find myself not being overbothered.

I also treated myself to Emre as a wonderkid. I think I could have got more, but PES2014’s inbuilt limitations brought a halt to my wheelerdealering until the January window at least. I did get one veteran player, Dasaev, in goal.

Here’s my Full First XI and Squad for the coming season (the first half of it at least):

PES2014 Season 9 Squad

PES2014 Season 9 with Heart

And here on the right is what that First XI looks like with Heart. Heart and Form, what they mean, and how they interact, is one of the big debates around PES2014.

It’s an open question as to whether Emre at CMF, for example, is a better player with a bright red glowing Heart and a blue Form arrow, than Mena at CB with a yellow chest and an orange Form arrow.

My personal impression is that Heart supersedes Form in PES2014, but I confess that it’s all about the feel of things with your own hands on the game over a long period. One of the most common critiques of PES2014 is that Heart was half-baked in various ways, and I do think that’s unfortunately true.

But still. It seems to work for me, and having most or all players with at least yellow chests and preferably red ones, seems to bring results more often than the Form arrows.

PES2014: Season 8 gets underway

welcome wunderkind RobbieSeason 8 has begun on PES2014, and with it the serious business of trying to actually win things. Until now I’ve just been squad-building and finding my feet in this new-old game. I’ve even recently had my first wobbly session, in which the game seemed like more work than pleasure.

That ‘wobble factor’ is an intrinsic part of football gaming when you indulge in the pastime as much as I do. There’ll always be stretches when you’re just not that into it. I always remember the late Terry Wogan saying his then thrice-weekly chat show had to be bland and routine sometimes, because that’s how things become beloved.

I play nearly every day and that kind of routine has to generate a wobbly session or two. Time passes and a football game matures in your hands. It’s unavoidable.

The more wobbly footy games show themselves through a sustained kind of dispirited disinterest that the Internet age renders as ‘meh’. So far that has not been the fate of PES2014. I’ll make a bold prediction that it won’t happen to PES2014 at any stage.

Looking back, the ‘meh’ factor has arguably never happened to any PES game until long past the stage of ‘completion’, when I might have played for a season or two too long. It tends to be the FIFA games that get the ‘meh’ treatment. But I have digressed.

PES2014 season 8 new Home kit

A new Home kit for Season 8, and a chance to try out one of my favourite homebrew types of kits: the chequerboard pattern. (Or the Croatia-style as I still think of it, thanks to those classic early 2000s strips.)

Those shorts and socks are not black, but very dark blue.

I left the Away kit alone. It’s a rare match when I get to play in my black-and-orange kit, and it’ll take another few seasons for it to start to seem old.

Onto the transfer market, and I had a pleasant surprise,. After 7 seasons of scrapping for journeymen, I was pleased to see that some useful players want to play for me now. My 5th-place finish and Europa League qualification obviously counts for something.

I treated myself to one of PES2014’s Regen wunderkinder. I could have had a few more of them, but I don’t want to give my team – and this PES – an artificial feel. You know, no more of an artificial feel than something made of pixels, plastic and imagination could possess, anyway.

Robbie Keane was the wunderkind. A former real-life Coventry City player, of course. Our record signing at the time. I wasn’t actually there at Highfield Road in 1999 when the stadium announcer proudly introduced him as ‘…Roy Keane!!!’, but I wish I had been. Wonderful days.

My List of Targets was suddenly populated with great players. Loads of players rated 85 and above with a better-than-80% chance of signing. I rubbed my hands with something like glee and got down to business.

I didn’t go crazy. I have team spirit and Heart and all that stuff to consider. And I wanted to save some cash for mid-season. I might get there and need another top striker urgently. I settled for a couple of established 25-year-olds, Bianchi at AMF and Ceballos at CB. Plenty of cash in the bank for a mid-season transfer raid if needed.

Here’s my full Season 8 Squad and preferred First XI:

PES2014 Season 8 squad and First XIThis lot have got to be good for a Champions League finish, and good progress in the Europa League, I’m thinking. Famous last words…