Month: December 2012

Woodwork is an eight-letter word

Season 6—my first full Superstar season—has come to a close. The last few sessions brought a mostly positive flurry of results and performances that saw me clinch a Europa League spot.

The final table:

I’m disappointed not to have finished in the top 4. I had the opportunity to do so, but a ruinous defeat against Chelsea and a couple of even more costly draws put paid to that hope.

The draws were the absolute worst. In both matches I went 1-0 up and then had all the possession and all the chances, hitting the post or bar multiple times. Then I conceded the equaliser to the CPU’s rarest of attacks, usually with 10-15 game minutes left, and couldn’t get the ball back long enough to mount another serious attack of my own.

In the Europa League I was knocked out in the Quarters by a late, late away goal in similar circumstances. I had all the play, all the possession, all the chances. Then the one magic spell of CPU possession was decisive.

I wasn’t too fussed about it all. None of it. My PES sessions are so truncated right now that I’m usually just happy to be playing, whatever happens. It’s taken me over two weeks to get through this season. I don’t anticipate that rate of progress speeding up anytime soon. If anything, it could get even slower.

Here’s the top scorers chart for the season:

I’m disappointed not to see Nouhei there. He ended on 9 goals for the season—all headers from corners. He’s the only player who scores from corners from me now. I cannot remember the last time a different player scored from a corner for me.

The Team of the Season:

That’s about right, from my point of view. Plenty of other players had good seasons, but the three I got into the TOTS here all had excellent ones. My keeper in particular has come into that mature place that many PES keepers get to, where it’s a very rare day indeed that they drop a clanger. I actually conceded more goals than any near rival, but ML’s rating system is as arcane as ever.

Note Marc Albrighton up there. Him and Stephen Ireland at Villa are among the two most annoying CPU players that I ever meet. Both are capable of the most mazy Messi-Maradona-style dribbling runs at any time.

Here’s my best goal of the last few sessions—Minandinho again, finally coming into his power for me:

That animation of the keeper flapping at the ball while diving backwards is one of my favourites. I’m a lot less enamoured of the woodwork goals lately, but this sort still thrills me.

In this match, there were 3 goals. I scored 2 of them, and both went in off the woodwork. My first goal had cannoned in off the post. Then the CPU equaliser nicked in off the post. Then there was a truly farcical period where I hit the post or bar (without scoring) FIVE TIMES. Then I scored the above winner, in off the bar.

Oh yes. PES2013 might well be remembered as ‘the one where you always hit the woodwork’.

You just haven’t earned it yet, Bébé

After Monday’s ‘concept post’, back to business: where the big news is that I’m probably going to finish in the top 4. Well, I say ‘probably’ with great optimism and some reservations. Here’s the current table with a handful of matches remaining, which shows how tight things are in the vicinity:

I played a real six-pointer against top-of-the-table Spurs just before this picture was taken. I lost 0-1 at home in a dreadful, heavy, scripted-feeling encounter. If I’d won that match I’d be on 64 points, Spurs would be on 66 points, and I’d be dreaming of the title. Which might still happen, mathematically, but at this stage I have to be realistic and look at a top 4 finish in the best case.

I base my feeling that I could and should finish in the top 4 on how I’m playing in general. I’m playing great, and the matches are feeling… rather untroublesome.

They’re not easy as such—rarely are they easy—but they’re not hard either.

The hardest match I’ve had in the past few sessions was against Manchester United. It started at 100mph and stayed that way—that’s not my favourite thing about the current era of PES, this variable speed factor for big games. I went behind, equalised quickly, and despite some epic back-and-forth from both teams looking for a winner, that’s how it finished. Probably a fair result.

Bébé has emerged as a great player to bring on and grab a vital goal with. Two recent last-minute winners that have helped me stay in contention. But he’s still a long way away from a starting role. Ahead of him in the pecking order are Mehmeti, Wroughllen, and Minandinho, and I’m looking to blood a new young striker as well—Saviola, whom I picked up from the Youths in mid-season.

With Monday’s post being all about the boots issue (I’m still getting a new pair after every win), I didn’t get to cover my new signings in the mid-season window. I signed up Saviola and Rio Ferdinand from my Youth squad, and that was it. There was nothing else going on the wider market.

Here are three blockbuster long-range goals. First from Bébé (one of his trademark late strikes), and then two almost identical strikes from Minandinho in back-to-back matches. The final one against Manchester City clinched a massive 2-1 win for me. Yes, Konami, on these occasions I did thrill to the sound of the ball hitting the woodwork…

All in all, all is well.

I know that many ML players are experiencing a bottoming-out of the difficulty. I’m currently ‘only’ experiencing a flattening-out, if anything. PES2012 was an epic year, and is exerting a powerful gravitational pull, so to speak, on this year. Coupled with the way that PES2013 equips you with so many great players so quickly, it’s hardly surprising that the difficulty feels considerably nerfed.

Boots

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Boots! Boots!

Boots boots boots!

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Boots.

Boots.

Boots.

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Boots.

Straight from Dickov

So here’s my current First XI and squad, coming up to mid-season in Season 6. The only player just out of sight at the bottom is Lincoln—or Blue Lincoln as I call him. On account of him always being blue. Blue-arrowed, that is.

Mehmeti owns that left-sided CF slot—one of the best journeymen strikers I’ve ever played with.

Wroughllen and Minandinho swap around a lot on the other side. I prefer Wroughllen in the right-sided CF role. He’s got the most wicked left foot I’ve seen in PES since the likes of Stoichkov in PES3, Schwarz when he was great, and Hagi from last year.

Poor old Bebe hasn’t had a look-in, really, since arriving at the start of the season. He makes sub appearances now and then, and gets the occasional goal. He’s the Paul Dickov of PES2013, right now.

Castolis would be good enough to walk into any other team. But he has to sit out when Niellendner and Zerkovic can play.

Of course, a First XI is only an idea. It’s a rare match indeed where the First XI seen above is the one that actually takes to the field.

One huge reason for that is stamina. A long league campaign, coupled with a Europa League campaign and frequent International call-ups, means it’s a very, very rare week indeed when I have a fully fit and in-form First XI to call on.

In general I no longer seem to have a problem with form arrows. Most players are at least green-arrowed for most matches. Sometimes the game throws me a curveball and purple-arrows a couple of the lads for no apparent reason. But mostly I get to field a proper team. The days of being forced to play with blue- and purple-arrowed players are—fingers crossed—seemingly behind me.

The form situation is always helped by getting good results, of course.

I’ve sailed through the first stage of the Europa League. If what we hear is true and the real-life competition is due to be scrapped in favour of an expanded Champions League, it might be best to enjoy this PES version while we can.

No problems at all. I was convinced I’d lost a match in there somewhere, but seemingly I hadn’t.

In the league, I’m still hovering just outside the top 6, and in with more than a shout of emulating last season’s Professional-difficulty-level 4th-place finish. I’m happy enough to be in the top half of the table, though, Superstar is unforgiving at times.

Especially when a large proportion of the CPU’s goals against me occur straight from its various kick-offs.

What is it with PES2013’s straight-from-kickoff thing that always catches me out? I never seem to be ready for it. Time and again, the CPU brazenly just gets me.

I always think, no way, they can’t be doing it again? I concede more unstoppable goals straight from CPU kickoffs in PES2013 than I ever did in PES2012. It really is one of my least favourite aspects of this game. So demoralising when it happens.