Season 2019 in my never-ending Master League had already got off to a flier with massive wins that left me top of the table with a hefty goal difference. My aims for this season are threefold: win a Treble of League, Cup, and European Cup; remain unbeaten all season in the League; and concede less than 20 goals all season in the League. If I continue as I started, I should sweep the board in all three categories.
Ah, but Pro Evolution Soccer is a canny mistress. At all times she knows exactly what you want and how to stop you getting it. Anybody who has played PES, and Master League in particular, for any great length of time knows precisely what I’m talking about. The suddenly impregnable AI defence. The suddenly useless world class players on your team. The superhuman AI goalkeeper. The magnetic posts and crossbar on the AI goal. Yes, yes, yes. All of this is so well-known that it’s hardly worth going on about.
Often the best matches on PES are when the game is blatantly out to stop you, but you win through regardless. My next league game was against Recreativo de Huelva, a surprise package over the past few seasons who were even now lurking just below me in the table on goal difference. Perhaps this was an early six-pointer against a new power in the league. (My old adversaries, Valencia, were down in mid-table. I’m not fooled by that.)
The Recreativo match was tough, but somehow not as tough as it could have been. I won 3-1. It was one of those matches where you struggle to get the first goal, but after it comes it’s as if the CPU just wilts, and you dominate the rest of the game. As ever, the CPU scored itself a consolation goal late on. If I’m going to fulfil my aim of conceding less than 20 goals this season, I’ll have to find a way to stop the CPU grabbing these ‘auto-goals’ as I call them.
After Recreativo I met Basel, and the CPU was still in its funny mood. Again it was a struggle to get the upper hand. It was 0-0 for a long time and Basel were a constant threat. By the 75th minute I had more or less settled for a draw in my mind when I brought on Giggs as a substitute (he’d not been fit enough to start). I had the ball with Bradley in the centre circle and played a raking pass out to the left wing towards Giggs. I decided to hit the ball first-time with him. The moment I hit it, I knew it was on its way into the net and that I would then hold on to win the match 1-0. PES2008 has a lovely side-footed shooting animation that never fails to delight—especially when the shot results in a great flighted goal, as it did on this occasion.
My next game was an almost routine 5-0 hammering of Sevilla. I’ve played five games and won five games. I’ve scored 23 goals and conceded just 3 goals. I’ve had superb starts like this before and gone on to have disappointing seasons, so I’m not fooled. I’m being careful and I’ll try to remain careful.
Below me, Deportivo la Coruna—who have done nothing in this Master League so far—are also on a 100% run. The current third-placed team, my old adversaries Valencia, will be my next opponents.