Tag: squad

Master League 2017

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919111328

PES2017 acquired: check.

Exhibition/Tournament ‘getting-to-know-you’ matches played: check.

Sumptuous Option File installed: check.

Master League: commence.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919003033

First, I put the finishing touches to my hybrid Option File installation. No matter how fiddly and frustrating this might be, figuring it out and then finishing it is always a strangely satisfying task.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919003848

Then I edited PES United into Coventry City. I’m not impressed with either of the 2016-17 kits. There’s a grand tradition in particular of terrible Coventry City away kits. 2016-17’s away kit is one of the worst.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919110156

There were other odds and ends I could have added, but didn’t. The Portuguese League. Celtic and Rangers.

Without wasting any more time, I got going. You can spend so much time setting up that it creates a peculiar sort of anxiety about whether you’re truly ready to begin. Down the years I’ve always leapt into Master League with the paint still drying on the figurative walls. The experience is usually all the better for it.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919105008

How considerate of the PES2017 makers to make the Default formation exactly the same 4-2-2-2 formation that I use. The only difference being that instead of two DMFs I like one CMF and one DMF.

I offloaded a load of players whose names I don’t remember now. I bought two players – a goalkeeper, STRAKOSHA (68OVR), very solid so far; and a LB/AMF, BABANCO (72OVR), both on free transfers. I’m eyeing the wages/salary budgets with caution, remembering financial brushes with disaster in many a Master League of years past.

I poked around in all the new parts of Master League. I don’t think the various innovations that surfaced last year realised their full potential. Perhaps they were hitched to a football game in PES2016 that didn’t really do them justice. There wasn’t much incentive to toil through the menus to expand the margins of performance when just about every single player was a high performer.

It’s too early for me to say anything more about PES2017’s Training except to welcome it back and acknowledge that I know it’s there. We shall see what it actually does in practice. I like the look of the position retraining, needless to say.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919114107

Since when has Castledine been white? I’m calling this Casteldinegate.

This is quietly one of the biggest scandals ever to engulf a computer game, and precisely no one will care about it but me.

Castledine in PES2017 is the latter-day avatar of the Castello-Castolo-Cinalton-Castledine entity.

Whatever you think about The Myth Of Castolo, there’s no denying that he has – and deserves – the status of ‘iconic’. One thing each instance of this Eternal Champion has had in common is that they’ve all been black. I’m not going to be laying down in the middle of an airport runway in protest, but the whitening of Castledine seems a strange, pointless, self-defeating move. Castolo is as famous and celebrated as Master League itself. He’s locked deep into the lore. Why is he suddenly not black anymore? Could it be an oversight type of mistake?

Coutinho(CF) and Arcas(SS) are good enough for my front two. Will they match up to last year’s stellar pairing that bore those names? Do I want them to be as good as last year’s?

NO, is the short answer to that question. I do not want any echo of PES2016 in this game at all. PES2017 will stand or fall according to how unlike PES2016 it is. (I’ll say again that I don’t think PES2016 was a bad football game. It was a good game of computer football. But it was definitely a bad Pro Evolution Soccer game. There’s a difference, and it’s a telling one.)

Straight into the action, and I opened with a creditable 0-0 draw against Reading. Chances were very few and far between. I still find myself automatically trying to use last year’s routes to goal, which are happily blocked off.

Classic Players ON

The only real blot on PES2017’s landscape right now is that I don’t find there are as many fouls and free kicks in Master League as there were in Exhibition and Tournament games. Which is a staggeringly stupid thing to happen, if you ask me. I believe that as my team improves, and as the seasons roll by and stakes increase, fouls and free kicks will naturally occur, as they occurred in other modes.

But still… I will remain worried until I start to see the fouls in Master League. Konami is perfectly capable of pushing out a PES game with what it thinks is a crowd-pleasing absence of fouls in the most popular mode(s).

It’s significant that we’ve yet to hear much by way of moaning from the online players. If they were having fouls in the quantity that they should be having them, we’d have heard the wailing from within a soundproof room at the bottom of the ocean. But there’s a strange silence. Which indicates to me that there are still few fouls online.

There’s a lot at stake here. Fouls and free kicks enhance a football game’s gameplay, rather than diminishing it. They enforce a kind of seriousness that used to set PES apart from the herd. They need to start happening, in numbers, and soon, or the fabric of the gameplay that looked and felt so good in Exhibition and Tournament, will be fatally undermined.

PES2017 feels very much as if it’s the series’ last chance to hang onto itself, if that makes sense. i don’t want Pro Evo to disappear down the fast-flowing-arcade-fun-bullshit drain that it’s been circling for a year or two. It might already be too late to stop that happening. On the PES forums lately, I hate how PES is occasionally referred to, in passing, as the game that ‘was always fun’.

No, it definitely wasn’t. And I can prove it too.

Hop into the nearest DeLorean. Go back to 2004 or so. Ask the average FIFA fan of the year 2004 if he thinks PES is fun. A scornful laugh will be your answer. FIFA players back then hated PES – because it wasn’t fun. PES was hard work to them. Then double-check this finding by asking the average PES fan, in 2004, if he thinks PES is fun. A scornful laugh will be your answer. We loved PES because it was a lot more than ‘just’ fun. A whole lot more. This paragraph contains the most truth about PES that I know how to express. I’m scared about how easily it’s starting to be forgotten.

This post has turned out to be a lot more hand-wringy and ‘State of PES’ than intended. This is because there is potential in PES2017. Big potential. If this game flowers as it might, PES might just have saved itself from the fast-flowing-arcade-fun-bullshit drain that I mentioned.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919184053Table. A nice spread of results.

I knocked Brighton and Hove Albion out of the Cup with this fine goal, which I’m thinking of as my first long-ranger of 2017:

Hettich with the strike. Hettich has always been the poor man’s Irjescu.

I’ve scored a pleasant range of other goals as well, all bread and butter types. No worries there.

You get a feel for how sturdy a football game is pretty quickly, and my feeling is that this AI, defensively at least, is a decent one. Up front, things are also encouraging.

So Master League 2017 is up and running. As Peter Drury remarks in his opening day spiel, a rollercoaster is getting underway.

Somewhere In Added Time

FIFA16 Season 2 After 10

My FIFA16 Career Mode is back on. I’m back playing as Coventry City, safely ensconced in the Championship.

I had fallen foul of the board expectations, which, as several commenters pointed out, were indeed too stringent: win the league, it turned out, was the culprit.

Having ‘only’ achieved promotion via the playoffs, the board dismissed me. Not something that would happen in reality, but as I often say, football gaming is superior to reality.

I overturned the verdict thanks to my PlayStation+ subscription. I never play anything online, so the annual subscription has to earn its keep through the free monthly games and the automatic online backups of savegame files. Worth every penny.

I resumed with about 3 matches left of Season 1 in League 1. I fiddled about with simming at first, but that didn’t work out, so I had to play some of the matches. I left it on Professional difficulty for honour’s sake.

In the last match of the season, with the last kick of the ball, in the last seconds of added-on time, I scored the goal that won me second spot and automatic promotion.

But would it be enough to satisfy the board?

The board wasn’t happy, but I kept my job.

Post-season, I had to say goodbye to my star loanee, Marcus Rashford. He’s a promising youngster in FIFA16.

I tried to buy him outright, but couldn’t afford the £5m asking fee. I signed him on another year-long loan.

BIG screenshot of my First XI and squad:

FIFA16 Season 2 squad

I haven’t played enough of FIFA to know if this is a good or bad squad for a season n the Championship on Professional difficulty. My record indicates that I’ll have a tricky season sometimes, but it should be OK overall. I am considering making a move up to World Class.

The board target for this season: mid-table finish.

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?

Chiptune Mozart

Deco about to strike

My new CMF strikes the winning goal from the penalty spot in Game 1 of Season 10.

Pre-season 10 of PES2014. Before I even dreamed of Deco, first on the shopping list was a bloody reserve keeper.  After the last transfer window’s proper howler, it was the very least I could do. Then a quality midfielder – Deco popped up, and I got him. And a quality defender or two wouldn’t hurt either…. I’ve got enough strikers. Here’s the outcome of everything:

PES2014 season 10 starting squad

Wellington at CB is already proving himself. And that new reserve keeper, Barbera, is called Hanna in my head for obvious reasons.

But Deco is the headline acquisition. He’s a young super-Regen, of course. The super-Regens have now been around in my ML world for several seasons. Deco is 20 years old. At this stage it’s starting to seem less cheesy to get them, particularly when you factor in the difficulty that PES2014 is throwing my way on a regular basis. Going 1-0 down in this game is usually trouble.

So I’m happy that my squad now looks as a Season 10 Master League squad should. Quality from back to front. The defence only looks weaker in comparison to the strong midfield and very strong forward line. I should win things with this squad. In any other PES I’d have won something with what I already had for the last few seasons. Time to get some silverware on the shelf.

The only weak area, really and truly, is my subs’ bench. PES2014’s shortened and limited transfer window means I’ll have to look at strengthening that bench in mid-season. For now, this squad is the army I go into battle with. I like ’em.

Finally a bonus item — the highlights from my opening day 4-0 demolition of Bolton Wanderers. They finished just below me last season and were tough opponents, so this was a good win.

Idiosyncratic as ever, PES2014’s highlights engine decided we needed to see Robbie Keane’s goal 6 times from different angles. Maybe because it was a bit of a curiosity, to be fair (like the game itself). I’d raced Keane in from the wing and rather overdone the R1 tapping. The ball ran slightly ran away from him as I pressed shoot – resulting in a rather bizarre, ground-level, sliding scissors-kick.

I won the next game as well, to make it two wins out of two… I’m not saying anything. It’s like when a snooker player pots two reds and two blacks. Doesn’t mean a 147 is on the way.

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