Category: DMF

The Faraway Back Three

3rd-kit-hoodoo-brokenMost regular readers will know that I have a special fondness for the DMF position in Pro Evolution Soccer. My best experiences of this entire series have come in Master League. My best Master Leagues have always featured a standout DMF.

PES5’s Mathieu, naturally, is the lead example. PES5 has the best of everything.

But there’s also Prieto (also from PES5). Neeskens (PES2012). Coynborough (PES2013). Pizarro (PES2014). Plenty I’ve doubtless forgotten that’d have an honourable mention. Even Donadel from PES2008.

I struggle to remember individuals in any position from last year. But I do remember promoting a certain MILLIGAN from my Youths early on in PES2016. A very Duffy-like player, he was my first-choice DMF in that game for a few seasons.

He’s reappeared now in PES2017, albeit as a 32-year-old already at another club:

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160928131944But why even hang on for a young Milligan in my Youths today when I know I’ll be able to afford much better players more quickly? This non-dilemma addresses the great contradiction of PES2017. It’s far too easy to completely replace your entire starting squad very quickly.

It’s a great PES, like none we’ve seen arguably since the patched PES2014, or PES2011 (for the PES2014-phobic), but it persists with the same structurally weak ML that we’ve seen for the past few years.

I’m very tempted to institute House Rules for the first time in nearly 10 years (since PES2008!) to stave off an inevitable romp to a team of Galacticos in a few seasons. I dunno, though. Just thinking about it.

I welcome PES2017’s beefed-up fouling model. I never thought the PES makers would go even as far as they have done. It’s nice to have at least one match per session that finishes with about 3 or 4 fouls apiece.

My only wish is that the fouling dials could be turned up even more. Essentially, I’d like to see a football game where any tackle that doesn’t win the ball is a foul unless there is a clear and obvious advantage. 10 fouls per side would be about right.

‘But the game will be stopped every few seconds!’

Yes, that’s the point. We’d have to find ways to defend in football games that don’t involve squeezing three buttons and waiting for the game to win the ball back for us. The defensive technique I call sprint-clamping is still very much a thing in PES2017, unfortunately.

Here’s a decent goal I scored with Yankov, a goal that was notable for FOUR distinct reasons. First, here’s the goal:

And here are the reasons:

One, it’s possibly the first time I’ve beaten the AI defenders with an aerial through-ball. They usually get cut out.

Two, it’s the type of finish that used to be a PES staple for me in the PS2 days, but has become comparatively rare in all the games since. I do always notice when I get a ‘rifled from the corner of the area past the keeper into the opposite corner’ goal (that name won’t catch on).

new-ccfc-3rd-kit

Three, it was a rare instance of me doing the AI on the counter-attack. Catching the AI full-back out of position with Yankov – by no means the quickest player – was very rewarding.

Four, it was the VERY FIRST GOAL I had managed to score whilst wearing my 3rd Strip. I was beginning to develop a true footballer’s-style superstition about this kit. I was wondering if having the PES Chronicles sponsor logo plastered across the chest in such a self-regarding and masturbatory fashion had swaddled my digital players in bad karma or something. The Pro Evo equivalent of saying ‘Macbeth’. Glad I broke the goalscoring hoodoo, anyway.

So there’s a lot going on in that seemingly rather straightforward goal. It has multiple layers of meaning and hidden reward – the very essence of the appeal of Master League.

In the wider context of my progress, well, there isn’t a great deal. I’m only averaging 3 matches per day, due to real-life factors out of my control. That should settle down soon. You’ll see me cruising past in the fast lane to my customary 10+ seasons. Hopefully.

The beginning of the end?

2017 has been a great season so far. After several seasons of struggle and then a weird period of outright mediocrity, I seem to have turned the corner. I’m far from comfortable yet, and a long way from expecting to win every match. But I’ve started scoring more goals and winning more matches. Close to the middle of the season, I’m top of the league and looking good for the title. Which is almost scary. After all this time—my longest in any Master League without even challenging for the title, never mind looking like winning it—I don’t want to blow it.

winning-run-2017

The screenshot is blurry, but it does its job well enough. You can clearly see the long row of victories (each signified by a big fat O), punctuated by occasional draws (triangles). There’s just one solitary defeat (X) showing—the one I suffered way back in the second match of the season.

topafter14-2017

It’s an impressive and unexpected sudden appearance of form. If it keeps up, I will win the title. Finally.

I think I’ve discovered the secret of goal-scoring in PES2009. It’s taken me a long time. But, as I always insist, I am only an average PES-player—always have been, and probably always will be. Last season I was scoring roughly 1.5 goals every two matches, which isn’t nearly good enough. This season, however, things are different.

I’ve discovered what most seasoned PES veterans probably discovered months ago. PES2009’s much-derided eight-way directional movement is the key to unlocking the opposition defences. Running diagonally with the ball, simply initiating a 90-degree direction-change to the other diagonal—north-east to south-east, and so on—whilst not pressing the R1 sprint button—beats the CPU defenders almost every time. Mostly they just stop and stand there while you sprint off into space.

This is probably not a good thing, really. I have an awful, gnawing feeling that PES2009’s lifespan has shrunk by several months. I have found myself scoring goals almost at will, at times. It feels uncomfortably like PES2008 when that happens. In ‘next-gen PES2008’ (remember when that phrase was the repository of all our hopes, pre-October 2007?), if I wanted to score a goal, I almost always could. That’s why it was such an abysmal video game overall and such a terrible, epoch-ending excuse for a PES game. Any hint of this in PES2009 is bound to cause me worry. I’ll be keeping a close watch on how this develops.

I’ve started doing well not just in the League. There’s also the Division 1 Cup. I’ve still not won a major trophy in PES2009. For all my talk of the game suddenly seeming easier, the trophy cupboard is conspicuously bare.

In the Cup quarter-final I was up against it in the second leg. I’d won the first leg 1-0 at home, but was 0-2 down in the second leg away from home. All I needed was one goal—an away goal—to go through. I pounded away at the opposition but it seemed the goal just wouldn’t come. Then I had a corner, and this happened—a classic ‘DMF moment’ for me:

In the mid-season negotiations I picked up two new players. I’ve felt a bit light in defence and midfield at times this season. I’ve built up a nice stash of cash after a few negotiation periods without spending anything. So I went hunting for quality, and found it. I tried for CANNAVARO to bolster my defence, but his club just wouldn’t negotiate.

However, I did sign NEDVED and SHAW. Both of them are exciting, skilful AMFs who can also play up front if necessary. I think these two players are the final pieces of the puzzle for me. A League and Cup double is mine for the taking in the second half of this season—and then, next season, the Treble. I hope these aren’t (in)famous last words…

Dietrich or treat

Not picking up any new players in pre-season means I start with the same bunch of players that almost got me relegated last season. BUT DIDN’T. I pulled away from the dropzone almost at the last minute. It was an exciting season for me. Going into season 2015, I could do with at least a veteran striker—and Lord knows I tried to get one—but you play Master League with the team you have, not the team you want.

My first league fixture was against Everton. I beat them 2-1. I played in my away kit for the first time, the new yellow one, and enjoyed it. I’m a grown man, and I enjoyed playing a  football computer game with my team wearing a new yellow kit that I designed myself. Life is a bit peculiar, when you think about it.

Lazio were next and I braced myself… This would be a tough game. Surely?

I played in my new home kit, and enjoyed it again. This is why seasonal kit-changes are so effective in Master League—the feeling of difference, of freshness. In the actual game I raced into a 3-0 lead in the first half, with my third goal coming from a corner. Ever since I started playing PES2009 I’ve been trying to score a goal like this one:

Dietrich was the scorer. I passed it low along the ground straight from the corner. The ball hugs the turf all the way to Dietrich, lurking outside the box. He fires it first-time into the top corner of the net. My poor mobile phone clips never do PES replays justice. This goal produced an involuntary SHOUT when it flew in.

I didn’t know that Dietrich had it in him. He doesn’t have the Middle Shooting special ability, without which a DMF isn’t a real DMF for me. His overall stats are still on the mediocre side (he’s a Youth player). I like to impute personality and motivation to my players in Master League. I like to think that since my acquisitions of Hamann and Bradley, both of them serious competitors for his DMF role, Dietrich’s performances have improved. It doesn’t really matter. That DMF position is destined to be Bradley’s for at least the next dozen seasons (or it’ll be shared with Prieto, if I ever get him). I think Dietrich will end up playing for me as an AMF (it’s one of his alternate positions).

Lazio came back at me in the second half—of course they did—and scored early to make it 3-1. I then got another, with Ordaz this time (he’s still hanging around), to make it 4-1. Now was when I started worrying about PES2009. Is it starting, I thought. Is it starting to get easy? Will I end up despising this game in the same way I ended up despising PES2008 after its similar early promise?

It’s far too early to tell. Lazio got another goal late on to make the scoreline a slightly worrying 4-2. Worries aside, it makes the early league table very nice viewing. I’m top, albeit only on goals scored:

The win-win scenario?

Last night I had a few games on FIFA09. They were my first games on FIFA09 for about ten days. And I had a great time. It was on the Xbox360 (I’m still waiting for the PS3 patch). I only meant to have one quick game, just to see, but ended up playing two Exhibition games and two games in my Atletico Madrid MM career. I was amazed and enraptured all over again by just how good a football game FIFA09 is. But I was most surprised by being able to slip back into the FIFA09 style of gameplay so easily after all this time playing PES2009.

Several weeks ago when I first tried to switch from one game to the other, I was worried about ‘contamination’ in both directions. Trying to play PES2009 as if it’s FIFA09 and FIFA09 as if it’s PES2009 does both games a great disservice. But last night I barely tried to ‘PES it up’ at all. Later on I did, but that was when I was behind late on in a match, and getting frustrated. I think all of us who ‘grew up’ on ISS/PES will never be able to stop ‘PESing about’ to some degree for the rest of our natural lives, in any football game. (We’ll probably still try to play Space Soccer 2023, or whatever, with our fingers firmly gripping R1…)

FIFA09 is a sublime game. I’m really looking forward to playing it regularly again on my PS3 when the patch comes. And it looks now as if I will be able to play FIFA and PES, together, this year. That initial period of strangeness when it felt impossible for me to play both games might be over.

In a very peculiar and unexpected way, this year might be one of the best possible years to be a football gamer. How strange is that? The win-win thing, finally. It’s still early days yet (I’m thinking about January again) but how strange, and how great, would that be?

——————-

Season 2010-2011 in my PES2009 Master League has come to an inglorious end. After picking up those few extra players in the mid-season negotations, I won a couple of games and things looked rosy. But I haven’t won a game since. The season dribbled to a close with a couple of feeble draws and a final shattering run of six consecutive defeats.

And so I’ll spend another season at least in Division 2. Maybe in the dim and distant ML past I’ve had worse starts to a career, but if I did I don’t remember them. I think this is the worst I’ve ever done. For that reason alone, PES2009 is already a remarkable game.

The one crumb of comfort I can take from this new failure of a season is that my youngsters are starting to blossom. Jackson is turning into a reliable player at CB. His current development isn’t that great, but it’s still coming along nicely. Another season or two and he’ll be a proper defensive giant.

And then there’s Dietrich. A young superstar-in-waiting DMF, he’s just about to start bossing midfields in the manner of great PES DMFs of the past (Mathieu & Bradley & Prieto & co.). I’m expecting great things from him in the future (a few goals would be particularly nice). Here’s a fairly gratuitous picture of Dietrich, appropriately bathed in a celestial glow:

And now here’s this season’s final league table. Yes, it was another bad season, but who’s that team in bottom place?

It’s not COVENTRY CITY in 12th place, that’s for sure. At least I’m off the bottom and things are moving in the right direction. The only way is up…