Four Three Three

A new era has begun for me on PES2015 – well, probably.

First things first, my new home kit is nothing extraordinary: just a plain all-sky-blue, with a lighter sky blue section on the back of the shirt and the shorts, which appears as a brighter white lozenge on the players as they run around on the field – like this:

Season 11 new kits

Not an intentional effect. This was one of my quickest and laziest-ever new kit designs. It does me.

The big departure for season 11 is in my new swashbuckling formation.

After 10 seasons of struggle and hard graft that saw me actually use the much-hated (by me) 4-5-1, which was serviceable but uninspiring (exactly like the real thing), it occurred to me that I had yet to try an all-out, swashbuckling approach as in PES of old.

Of course, there are many variants of 4-3-3. Here’s the narrow 4-3-3 formation I finally went with – I remember playing PES2010 with something similar:

PES2015 Season 11 formation

That screenshot is taken from the middle of a match where I’d already picked up yellow cards. Crouch and Forlan are CFs. Robben is an SS.

That young midfielder on the right there isn’t yet my first choice, but as ever in PES he’s a great, great player. Gerrard has only ever been a continental-class player in real life (and even that’s possibly overstating it), but in PES, every time I’ve had the fabled Stevie G, he’s been phenomenal, truly world class, always living up to the hyper-idealised image that every Liverpool fan has of him.

PES2015 is no different.

A new star for PES2015

The only slight niggle at the moment is that I’ve yet to score a typical long-range Stevie G screamer with him. It’ll come. He’s a Regen and still only 20 or so.

Back to that new 4-3-3: I’m now experienced enough with PES2015’s defensive system to have some measure of confidence fielding just one DMF. That would have been suicidal in my early-to-mid seasons. Nowadays most of the threat comes from the game disabling my defenders’ reactions. Good defensive work comes from anticipating the nerf and compensating in other areas. It’s about knowing when it’s right to swarm the ball-carrier, or when to stand off and cover passing lanes, or when to just slide in and take the bugger out (accepting the card, whatever colour, that follows).

This 4-3-3 is lots of fun to play with, and surprisingly often seems to work like a 4-5-1 (spit), with Robben and Forlan often popping up in deep midfield alongside Pirlo.

When the attacking bonus kicks in, I get the occasional match where the momentum swings to me and stays with me. Then I run absolutely rampant over the opposition. Such as here in the Europa League, away to Valencia:

Season 11 thumping Valencia

And here in the League, at home to Chelsea:

Season 11 Thumping Chelsea

Two unprecedented results. In previous seasons I rarely scored more than 3 goals in any match.

Alas, it’s not all goals and action. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, the game clamps down and produces the same kind of gritty 0-0 or 1-1 that I grew to know so well.

Here was the table after 12 matches of the 4-3-3 – look at my puny goals-scored column:

Season 11 after 12

That was before my 6-0 against Chelsea. My goal difference is much healthier now.

That table is not going to make me declare that the 4-3-3 experiment has been a success. 4-3-3 has never really worked in PES since PES2010.

I’ve been at or near the top of the table at this stage in every recent season of PES2015, and fallen away. Having played a session or two after the above screenie, I can report that the game is already closing me down in lots of ways. 4-3-3 is not going to be a procession by any means.

At least I’ve made it to the Europa League Round of 32. I’m still in the FA Cup. I’m near the top of the table with mid-season coming into sight. I’m hopeful. That’s all that can be said at this stage.


  1. ouch that formation looks narrow not-Greg – does it not make the gameplay horribly cramped and pressurised? And is the dig at Gerrard another attempt to smoke out Paul after the PES2014 chat failed?

  2. I always tended to favour wide 4-3-3 formations over the years – my PS2-era 4-3-3s were all super-wide. Something changed on the PS3 and PES2010 was the last time I got one to work, and that was a narrow 4-3-3 after uch experimentation at the time. 4-2-2-2 became the new 4-3-3 from PES2011 on. Now I find that 4-2-2-2 doesn’t work on PES2015, and 4-5-1 is like I said, serviceable but uninspiring. I could probably eke out a title or even a Treble by grinding to 1-0 here and 2-1 there with 4-5-1, but I feel like trying this for now. The narrowness of this 4-3-3 is a reflection of PES2015’s unique properties, where having players close to one another for triangles and give and gos and the like is far more optimal than wingplay and crossing.

    As for Gerrard, there’s a lad at my office who becomes comically enraged (genuinely angry, but comically so to everyone else) whenever he’s reminded that Stevie G never did anything at all International level and is effectively an unknown name to most fans around the world who don’t slavishly follow the Premier League. I think we can take Paul’s silence on this as full agreement.

  3. Ha ha, agreed!

    shame about the lack of width on PES2015. For all its many virtues FIFA15 has appalling crossing and headers, virtually all of my goals come through the middle. So I was hoping my next footy game would be the antithesis of this, with lots of wingplay and towering headers

  4. By christ I had the PES session of my life last night.
    Two games, one to make the top 4 then a Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

    The first match was against an average Sunderland outfit who proceeded to score in the first 5 mins via an awful pass out of the back from my usually reliable right back, Rafael. Having equalized they then took the lead again just before half time. At around 60 mins I equalized once more through Martial again but knew I had to score a third (and stay solid at the back) as City started the day two points behind me in fifth and had a home banker against Cardiff (plus a sizeable GD advantage).
    I kept going and going, hitting the post and skewing wide on a couple of occassions. Heading into the 90th minute I had 5 forwards on the pitch and two attacking midfielders. By sheer force of numbers I squeezed the ball through to Martial who leathered it against the shin of an opposing centre half, causing the ball to trickle into the corner. I went f8cking mental.

    However, that was just the taster.
    In Big Cup a ridiculously good Bayern Munich hit a volleyed first in the fifth minute and followed up scoring with another horrendously defended cross in the 45th.
    I feared a pummelling at this point!
    Midway through the second half I scored against the run of play and suddenly it was on. I was all over the buggers… but still no goal.
    So I did something i normally resist, i brought on an underperforming squad player because of a red form arrow – an attacking midefielder called Meyer.
    In the 89th (I think) minute he took the ball and dribbled into the area before lashing home into the top left corner.
    But the bugger wasn’t done, taking the ball out wide, in the 95th minute (again, I think) he cut inside and smashed a thunderb*stard home.
    And I won 3-2, screaming like a girl and dancing round the room.

    Given that was the culmination of my 4th season and my first on superstar, it certainly feels like one of my greatest achievements in any footy game and one of my finest experiences on any game.

    I’ve saved the replays of my goals but need to setup a Youtube account.

    Probably bored you all rigid but, right now, I don’t care!!! What a game!

  5. abbeyhill – PES2015’s not completely lacking in wingplay and crosses, just not enough to make it worthwhile focusing on. As for FIFA15, I remember crossing and headers (particularly the falling-backwards, head-back-across-the-goal sort) being awesome. And frequent. What’s happened?

    Chris – epic. Sunderland in mine have got Regen Ronaldo and are pretty decent.

  6. Nice Chris. Sounds like Fergie Time is working in your favour at the moment.

    Pre-season team building for my B’ham on FIFA, but I’m not feeling the love for the team. Considering whether to start a new career with Bournemouth…

  7. not-Greg – yeah, it’s a mystery. I remember you enthusing about these sort of headers when you were playing FIFA15 but despite playing the game exhaustively for months and sending in countless crosses from all over the pitch I only ever score the very occasional header from a corner. So either headers have been affected by an update, or I have a massive flaw in technique. Do you score any headers Chris99?

    why is everyone playing as ‘fairytale’ Bournemouth now?

  8. Lloyd – must be getting close! And what a touch at the end there on your 2nd vid. Never seen that on the game yet.

    abbeyhill – I have a feeling headers were nerfed in a FIFA15 update. Shame if so as they were so satisfying. I still hope to get back to FIFA15 at some point. A Treble in PES2015 might draw a line under the game. But will it ever come?

    Chris99 – Bournemouth are the universal new plucky underdogs?!

  9. NG – my season this year is a similar tale as I find myself 1 point behind Liverpool with 14 games left. With my new tactical preperation pre-match I thought I had it sussed and won 6-0 in the Champions League followed by a 4-0 in the league and then as you say the game clamped down on me and I am grinding out results.

    I was having a mixed time too with crosses but have started using the L2 button that is used for manual passing when I am in a decent crossing position and the crosses are more accurate as I found most of them going straight to a defender.

  10. Headers seem to be reduced from open play, but there are still plenty to be had from corners.

    I live in Bournemouth, so it has been a big thing in the town. Their community work is good too, and they have strong links with my son’s school.

  11. NG – 4 games left and 4 points clear of Spurs who I’ve got next. In League Cup Final against Spurs and drew 1-1 with Galatasaray at home in the CL semi 1st leg. Whisper it…… the Treble is on.

  12. Lloyd – wow you have some stunning goals there!!!!!!

  13. Bugger, RLOD!

  14. 3-2-1 and I’m back in the game 🙂

  15. a miracle, Chris99! What did you do?

  16. The three g’s. Googled, gave up, Game

    Got a pre-owned and swapped the disks.

  17. Drew 1-1 with Spurs. 3 points clear of Man Utd with 3 to go. Through to CL Final after 2-2 away draw and have Man Utd in the Final. Man City up next in the League. Onwards.

  18. A point in the last game will secure my first League title. Cup Final up next.

  19. Chris99/abbeyhill – the FIFA15 header nerf would worry me as they were one of the game’s great strengths in the early weeks when the comments on Paul’s blog were buzzing with how good the game was. At some point before 2016 games arrive I will get back to FIFA. I’ve alway said this every year and it’s never happened, but it will this year. 5 seasons on CM under my belt already.

    Lloyd – I’m expecting to wake up Sunday morning to news that the citadel has finally fallen. (The citadel being a Title on Superstar 0-bar.)

  20. Lloyd – congratulations very well done

    NG – it is a comnon theme with Fifa games as the crossing and heading are superb to begin with then the on-line lobbyists declare that the heading is overpowered and then it is nerfed.

  21. Lloyd – BRILLIANT. Surely the greatest Treble ever on PES? Superstar, 0-bar. I’ll never get back to 0-bar on the game now (will stick with 2-bar for the duration). My view of PES2015 is that it is objectively the hardest one ever on higher levels.

    Darryl – back in October the very first patch for FIFA15 seemed to nerf things to a degree. It was loads faster and a lot less subtle – exactly how the onliners like their football games to be. I’ll see what it’s like now later in the summer when I get back to it.

  22. NG – definitely the hardest and greatest. Very tight finish with a penalty save winning the league and a last minute CL winner.

  23. Well done Lloyd. Sounds like there was more blood, sweat and tears involved than in the construction of Paul’s fabled chrome and ocelot kitchen.

  24. NG – I watched my first full televised football match in over two years today and understand why you moan so much about the state of todays game and shirt pulling and wrestling in the box as the play off today was as bad as I have ever seen it. For Beckford’s opener from a whipped in free kick the defender blatantly just pulled on his shirt and as a result I thought justice was done when a goal was still conceded and he got clattered when falling. This continued all match. Does this happen in every game now? I do watch the odd low end non league game and it really is not like that? Why the difference?

  25. Darryl – grappling in the box at corners and free kicks is now a completely ignored and mostly accepted part of the modern game, yes.

    It reached its apogee in the World Cup last year when it was a proper eye-opener to see how the world’s referees just wave play on at the clearest and most blatant fouls in the penalty box you will ever see.

    There’s an unwritten rule in football that big decisions like penalties cannot be given more than once or twice per match, which is just crazy, as it permits the exploit that professional players have now discovered: just foul as much as they want and they’ll get away with it.

    The referees will sometimes give a few, of course (and be called ‘brave’ by commentators and pundits, which tells you something), but the few they do give are so few in proportion to the many that could and should be given, that it makes the risk worthwhile for defenders.

    Defenders are allowed to push, pull, grapple, grab, nudge, and generally do anything they want in the penalty area. Football fans, if they can be persuaded to notice the problem at all, tend to smile and wave it off on the grounds that ‘they all do it, so it balances out’ and/or ‘but you’d have 30 penalties per match if they were given’.

    The game is finished while this kind of thing goes on. I just watch MOTD to follow the meta-story of football these days. The actual action on the pitch is secondary – and it’s best consumed in the 6-minute highlight packages that MOTD puts together anyway.

    Before I started feeling this way I often used to say and think that I almost preferred PES to real football. That ‘almost’ is no more.

  26. …and as for that scummy lady stealing Beckford’s shirt from the young lad who got it, and then trying to sell it online, words fail me….

  27. Abbeyhill – indeed so but nothing surprises me anymore.

    Have 5 big games later this morning as the misses and little one are out. I am 5 points behind Liverpool in 2nd and level with Man Utd with four left to play (including both Liverpool and Man U). I also have a cup final against Chelsea. Love it.

  28. Snook a quick game in and it could be on. Am now 2 points behind Liverpool. Tough ask though with Chelsea away, Liverpool at home and Man Utd away.

  29. Darryl – Beat Liverpool at home and get two 0-0s away and you’ll most likely be crowned! I have to say I’m feeling left behind now with all these titles being given out…

  30. NG – it is still going to be a tough ask and don’t forget I am still on World Class albeit probably for not much longer. For the first time in the game I feel I have a solid defence with only conceding 24 goals so far.

  31. Lloyd – Congrats on a well earned treble mate. Surely that’s a mic drop moment, the game well and truly beaten. Time to enjoy the summer break and come back refreshed for PES 2016?

    No PES for me for a few weeks now, I’m engrossed in FM 2014 again carrying on with my old Livorno save. Currently top of Serie A after two-and-a-half seasons.

  32. Nope not this time. Won 3-2 away at Chelsea having been two down at half time but then played really bad and lost 4-1 against Liverpool. Consolstion came in the cup though and added another trophy to the cabinet.

  33. Darryl — that’s pretty gutting considering that Chelsea result and how tough it is to come from 0-1 down on PES2015, never mind 0-2 down (think I’ve only done it once). Like you say though you now have two PES trophies. I think must now assume some kind of Grail status for you.

  34. NG – I think that was the problem as the blood was still pumping through my viens after the Chelsea game, which was a classic as Chelsea had a goal disalowed at 2-2. Against Liverpool I made an error when equalising in the second half as I forgot to set my numbers in defence back to many and they went straight back and scored. Yep 2 trophies is certainly the holy grail for me but the final felt a bit flat.

  35. congratulations though Darryl on the trophies you did win. At the start of the footy game season you said this would be the year you buckled down, applied yourself and at last won some PES silverware, and you have achieved exactly that! And there’s always next season for the league

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