“It’s only Fulham. It’s only Watford…”

So the last session of Season 10 came, and I was pushing for silverware on two fronts: the League, and the FA Cup.

I’ll reveal now that the League was a washout. I dropped too many points in the last few matches for even the most generous league table scripting to help me out.

Fulham emerged as the runaway league leaders – and the eventual Champions, nudging Chelsea and my Coventry and Huddersfield out of the way. I know, life in this made-up 2028 sure is bizarre.

I actually met Fulham in the 3rd-from-last league match of the season, when I still had a mathematical chance to overtake them. They were 8 points ahead of me. So I needed to win to reduce the deficit to 5 points and then win my last two matches as well whilst hoping for a generous dollop of help from the scripting. Stranger things have happened.

I didn’t win. Fulham thumped me 3-1. It was another really good match, as the matches against Huddersfield and other ‘lesser’ opposition have been so far this season. PES in the current era is better with relatively few star players on either side. There’s no 1000mph pinball. You can stop and think and enjoy whatever’s happening. You can think ‘no way Stewart Downing!’ (Downing is one of Fulham’s star men).

Fulham went on to win the league by 9 clear points. 10 points clear of me. I finished in 3rd, securing my Champions League spot with a last-day 1-0 win away to Arsenal.My players did the slow walk of semi-shame. No league title for us, again, when it was really within our grasp for much of the season. I had been well positioned just behind the leaders for most of the race, but I couldn’t get enough of a sprint on to overtake at the end, unlike Seb Coe in his pomp (shoutout to all fans of the 1980 Moscow Olympics).Just before the above scenes, there was the small matter of the FA Cup Final to play.

I have not won a single thing in PES2019 so far. Unless we’re counting the Championship Playoff Final as a thing.Watford were the opponents, and in retrospect, it might have been better if I’d come up against one of the big boys. We all know how tricky the lesser teams can be in PES. I remember Sunderland being my bogey team for several editions in a row back in the PES6-PES2011 kind of era.

Things started well. Things started great, with me scoring a great goal after 7 minutes. Here is the goal, one of the most satisfying I’ve scored in PES2019. Forlan with a power volley from 24 yards:

Get in that net. Incidentally, note right at the start of that clip how I win the ball back with a frontal sliding tackle. I HATE that way of winning the ball back – so video-gamey. Shouldn’t be allowed. But it’s the kind of possibility that has to be included because the online multiplayers demand it.

Scoring like that after 7 minutes in the FA Cup Final in which lowly Watford were the opponents – this was the worst thing that could have happened to me.

I conceded an equaliser straight from kickoff while I was still mentally exulting over the Forlan power volley. And from then on I barely got a look-in. Watford got another goal. I pushed for my equaliser with too many men committed forward, ‘because it’s only Watford’ – and they got a third.

Final whistle. Defeat. Still no trophies.Some end-of-season business. The team ranking reflects my high-placed league finish and my journey to the FA Cup Final:And the Team of the Season featured the dependable Benat, and the amazing Mascherano – one of the few players who still feels like an individual in this emulsioned nuPES patchfest:

And so to Season 11. As ever with nuPES, regrettably it ends up in a place where I want to see the Master League through to a conclusion of sorts, rather than keep exploring the game as a whole. So PES2019 still has a season or two left in it.

Shuddersfield

I have only played 4 matches since my last update. This is how things might be for the remainder of PES2019. Things have reached the stage of all nuPES editions where less is most definitely more. It’s now obvious, in retrospect, how the game has subtly changed over the seasons.

I’d still take Seasons 1-6 gameplay over any version of PES of the last 10 years, and I mean that. I’d have given PES2019 9/10, easy, based on my experiences until December.

Seasons 7-10 gameplay? Ehhhh… Better in parts than previous nuPES editions, but overall, much the same as them. No AI fouls. 1000mph pace. Limited sense of player individuality. The usual gripes I’ve always had about PES’s Bronze Age, really. I’ll be marking PES2019 way down for this.

In this group of 4 matches I played Huddersfield away. They’ve been the Season 10 pace-setters and league leaders nearly all season so far. It’s interesting to look at their starting line-up below.I’ve speculated before that somebody on the PES dev team may have inserted a ‘Leicester wildcard chance’ into Master League, to give lesser teams the potential to raise their game and compete at the top.

I was 3 points behind Huddersfield. This was a definite 6-pointer.

I lost 3-1. It was a good match. They were tough, but not in the way the Man Citys and Chelseas of this league are tough. Dogged effort seemed to be how Huddersfield played.

I went 1-0 down, then pushed too hard to get the equaliser and left myself open to the counter-attack, and went 2-0 down. I switched to 4-2-4 and played very well to grab a goal, making it 2-1 with 10 game-minutes left. While pushing I left myself open again for them to snatch another on the counter. 3-1 it finished, and Huddersfield probably just about deserved to win. No complaints.

Which left me 6 points off the lead. I wasn’t too downcast, because I knew I’d be kept in the title race no matter what, thanks to Master League’s rubber-band scripting. I knew that Huddersfield would lose their next match. I only had to win my match and I’d be right back behind them.

I only managed to draw my match, but Huddersfield duly lost, as I knew they would (thumped 4-1 by Brighton).

The table with 7 matches of the season remaining:With 7 matches left I have set myself the target of not losing any more, and taking at least 17 points from them, i.e. 5 wins and 2 draws. I have a strange feeling that this will go to a last-day scenario of some kind…

Finally today a couple of notable moments from recent matches.

First, it’s common to see keepers pat the ball down and let it bounce before they claim it or a defender hooks it away. It’s rare that one of your players even gets close to the bounced ball.

And second is a rasping 36-yard (THIRTY-SIX-YARD) long-range drive, a low one, from my growing-in-stature young DMF, Mascherano. It’s always a quintessentially PES feeling to see your DMF hammer one in from distance.

It’ll all be over by Easter

How’s this for a Season 10 Premier League Top 4 heading into the final third of the season?That’s the top of the Premier League at the back end of the year 2028. I like my goalscoring this season, although my defending still needs work.

My recent real-life bets haven’t gone very well (thanks, Liverpool, for being crap now, etc.), so I won’t be rushing out to put a bet on these teams being in the real-life top 4 in a decade’s time.

But, if we’re all still alive cometh 2028, it’ll be interesting to compare. Hey, if the blog’s still going, I’ll do a special post on it. #remindme

Speaking of my blog posts… in an idle moment this morning I counted how many posts there should be on this blog between now and the release of PES2020.

Assuming I stick to twice-weekly posts all year, and taking September 1st as a rough PES2020, release date there should be 52 posts between now and PES2020.

In how many of those 52 posts will PES2019 be a live and going concern? I’d guess at about 20-25 posts, but we’ll see.

Recent weeks have seen me grow very gloomy about the overall tendency of all things football gaming. It’s over for us single-players, isn’t it?

I’m very gloomy about the future of PES again. I suspect that Keith Konami would like to quietly take the single-player game out the back and drown it in a bucket, but he doesn’t want to have to put up with all our crying and complaining, so he doesn’t.

After yesterday’s combined DLC and gameplay patch (a patch that was fully annotated and publicised, as all actual non-imaginary software patches are) I played a few matches. Difference? None noticeable. In fact, things seemed a tad worse.

I’m through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup. I emerged victorious from a tough Quarter Final vs Spurs, who played hyper-fast and pinbally, all the time, like all the big teams in PES2019.I have to get past Chelsea in the semi, which will be tough, and if I get to the final, I’ll face either Arsenal or Watford. In this ML, at this time, anything’s possible.

I’ve got a great chance of the title this season, but I will also be treating the FA Cup as a major priority. I still have no trophies in PES2019, remember. (Invisible trophies, of course.)

I’m looking forward to this ML winding to a close. I think two more seasons after this one and I’ll be ready to bring things to a close.

I won’t wind it down prematurely, though. One thing I’ve learned, if there’s unfinished business with an ML, the worst thing I can do is try to walk away. I’ll only end up coming back.

Regarding AI fouls, league table scripting, and super-duper free kicks

Almost at the end of January now, in Season 10. The wages bill is dire again, so there’ll be no new players. The AI fouls count per match for my most recent session of 4 matches went like this: 0,0,3,0. One of those matches was better than all of the others. Can you guess which match that was?

The lack of AI fouls count is the canary in the coalmine for a single-player football game. A football game without AI fouls can never be great.

Yes, you can still have a good experience without fouls. But it’s the difference between pastime and passion. Given how great the experience is with AI fouls, it makes no sense at all to eliminate them in the way Konami have done. All I will say to Keith Konami, if he’s reading, is well done, Keith, well done. Golf clap, etc.

The current table:I started yesterday’s session in 4th place and lost the first match of my session. All the teams above me also lost. It was nice of them to do that.

Then I drew my next match. You won’t believe what happened… All the teams above me also drew! Can you believe that? Incredible!

So what happened was, I won my next match – and all the teams above me also won! This was truly astonishing!

My next match was against one of those teams above me – Fulham – who were as tough as a weirdly-ascendant Fulham in the year 2029 could only be. I got a draw out of that match, and was lucky to get it. That draw had to haul me up the table, of course.One of the reasons Master League remains compelling, despite the table massaging and the no-fouls, is the very real and very deep connection with individuals. R JARVIS is in serious decline now. 69OPR and he often plays like it, unfortunately, in my team of top players. But he still gets the odd important goal and the game recognises what he is to me.

I have made it to the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup for the first time in this PES. This match was a proper war of attrition. The game so far has seemed not to want to let me progress in the Cup.Finally today, a monster free kick. Their recent scarcity adds much value here. PES2019 on release and for some months after was very free-kick-friendly, even for me – but it has not been so for some time now.

Here’s a free kick from around 34 yards, it looks like to me. I’ve tried a few like this before and got close. I was stunned when this went in:

Yes I know: the GK, standing in the middle of his goal, should get it, but he doesn’t.

Also note the weird phenomenon in the replay – spotted by commenter abbeyhill a few weeks ago – of the pitch stripes switching from horizontal to vertical.

It’s my favourite free kick of nuPES, but not my favourite free kick of all time.

Any excuse to post the greatest free kick ever scored in a football game – my Georghe Hagi, back in PES2012:

That looks like around the 37-40 yard mark, a good few yards farther out than Benat’s whopper.

A few things make Hagi’s a better free kick. It’s an outswinger, it hits the perfect postage-stamp corner, the keeper is not so much at fault, and it came in a less free-kick-friendly edition of the series – a Silver Age PES game. As good as PES2019 has been for me and still is, it certainly belongs to PES’s Bronze Age, and the series’ agonising descent into multiplayer button-mashing hell.

(You can browse some of my PES2012 Hagi goals here.)