February? I’ve said it before, but—what is happening to time lately? Weren’t we greeting the arrival of PES2010 and FIFA10 just last week or something?
Now it won’t be too long—two months? three months?—before the buildup to the 2011 games begins. The World Cup this year may alter the publicity calculus a little. Will Konami and EA start the hype earlier or later than usual? They could go either way, I suppose. A lot depends on whether they’ve got a World Cup game to promote as well. We know that EA definitely will have a WC game.
When the PES2011 and FIFA11 hype machine does get going, certain things are guaranteed. We’ll see underwhelming screenshots. Then there’ll be the now-traditional, utterly pointless FMV video of Messi or somebody doing a trick or—if we’re lucky—tricks. Plural! Why do football game makers insists on trailing everything about a football game EXCEPT what we most want to see—i.e., ordinary gameplay? Why must we sit through several months of flicks and tricks and nutmegs and lollipops and crap like that, instead of seeing (for example) just a few seconds of ordinary gameplay, say a passing move through midfield leading to a standard shot on goal? Does any other game genre gloss over its core experience so thoroughly for so long during its pre-release cycle?
Anyway. Season 10 in my Master League. PES2010. Here and now.
Last time, I was lightheaded at being top of the table and looking fairly good after 12 matches. Here we go with the next stage of the season. I’ve played another 10 matches, and I’ve passed through the mid-season transfer window.
I experimented with a new formation. 4-3-3 has been my favoured formation in PES for 10 years now (where does that time go?). But this year I’ve found goals harder to come by than before, and it is with regret that I finally acknowledged the 4-3-3—with wide AMFs, and widely-spaced CFs—has run its course. I needed an alternative.
I played 5 of the next 10 matches using a 4-5-1 (pictured left) and then with a version of 4-4-2. The experiment did not go well.
I lost 3 and drew 2—my worst run for a few seasons. I scored just 1 goal in those 5 matches. My rise up the table has been built on pass and move, patience, and being willing to defend 1-0 leads for long periods. With the new formation, I couldn’t pass, could barely move, and I seemed to be defending all the time anyway, whatever the circumstances. Everything that had hoisted me up to the top of the table felt missing. There was no flow.
I had to take remedial action before my fledgling title challenge was seriously compromised. (As it was, I’d do well to recover.) I soon went back to a version of 4-3-3, albeit one tempered by my experiences. The new formation can be seen below at the top of the new squad picture. It handles very much like a 4-5-1 at times, with lots of bodies in midfield. Although it looks narrow, in practice it doesn’t play that way. I adjusted my sliders to favour width. My players seem to go wide when I want them wide, and go narrow when I want them narrow. I had instant success with the new 4-3-3, to counterbalance the poor results. I’m still a bit short on goals, though. The 4-5-1 experiment is by no means over. Long-term, I believe I’ll settle for a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield. For now I’ve got the above 4-5-1 mapped to a strategy button, and I still activate it for long periods when I feel I need to calm a game down.
My possession stats lately have been extraordinary. In one match against River Plate I had 75% possession at half-time, but ended the match with ‘only’ 69%—and I conceded a typical late goal. But that’s PES for you.
In mid-season I indulged in quite a bit of activity. I bought yet another WF/SS hybrid player, SCOKLANT, for a few hundred thousand. I got rid of my calamity goalkeeper, Jan Kun Mu, who brought in £1.5m. I replaced him with a lanky Free Agent keeper called ZUBERBUHLER, who I negotiated with back in the first weeks of the season. He’s been great since his arrival.
Also in the Free Agents list I found a CF, 85 OVR, named ZAKI… I’ve had nothing but great players from the Free Agents list recently. Why do I even need to look at the proper transfer market? Is this a slight flaw in the new Master League? Only more time will tell. As I (hopefully) get more successful and accumulate more money over the next few seasons, I’ll be able to buy top players on the regular transfer market—if I want to.
The failed experiment with 4-5-1 cost me a few league places, but look here: after 22 matches, almost 2/3rds of the season, I’m still in 4th place, and just 2 points behind the leaders. After everything that’s happened in this long old career, I’ve got to be happy with that. And I am happy.