Category: First XI

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.

Brought to heel

Hmmm, a stylish backheeled goal:

I enjoyed seeing that go in, but such goals are merely occasional sugary treats. No intent of mine caused that backheel flick. Anxiously stabbing the shoot button prompted a contextually-fired special event, nothing more.

I’m happy that we can score goals like that in a football game, but I don’t revel in them. They’re not what PES is about. I’m pretty glad they’re not more common than they are.

That goal from Rafael helped position him near the top of the top scorers’ chart, just behind a certain celebrated player with a most unfortunate name. Please, no Jimmy Savile jokes:

I have forged ahead and passed through the mid-season transfer window in season 2. All is going well, and I remain up near the top of the table, within striking distance of the promotions spots.

I’ve had enough of the made-up Konami teams now, and I want out of Division 2. I’m pulling out all the stops to get promotion. I remain on Professional difficulty, zero-bar passing.

The games are fascinating  and my passing game has come up to speed. God knows what the big teams of the Premier League would do to me, and I cannot even think about Top Player or Superstar difficulties right now.

For large swathes of the PES-playin’ nation, the honeymoon may be over (the phrase itself seems to be spreading like some kind of contagion), but not for me it’s not.

Each PES2013 play-session is composed of goodness, and each session is too short. I could happily play on and on for a lot longer, every time.

Zero-bar passing is no longer something I am struggling to cope with. Instead, it is now something that I feel a growing sense of accomplishment with. This has been a huge part of my early enjoyment of PES2013.

There’s my entire squad and First XI on the right.

Mehmeti and Rafael are my solid first-choice partnership up front. Minandinho is very much second-choice.

In midfield, Castolis, Zerkovic, Niellendner and Gellazca between then take care of my attacking threat.

Further back, I’ve moved my trusty dual-DMFs slightly forward to offer more of an attacking threat. I believe I have got the CPU in my pocket whenever it tries its notorious central through-ball. Can’t even remember the last time I got caught out by that one.

Coynborough is a solid DMF, but I sold his mate (begins with V? Vollekauwioc?). His replacement, Berenguer, is a decent French DMF with the Long Ranger shooting ability.

I also picked up a right-back, Mano, and sold Fizzlebender or whatever his name was.

Once again, I deliberately avoided getting as many players as I could have got. I want to leave myself as generous a financial cushion as possible for the post-season.

This team is slowly, but surely, taxiing along the runway. I’ve got some ‘Stage 2’ strikers, and I’m starting to fill out the rest of the team.

I’m thinking hard about promotion this season, How can I not think about it? I’m really tired of Konami’s stupid made-up Division 2 teams and players. They don’t inspire me.

I’d need two or three really good players to help keep me in the Premier League. That’s a long way off though. I’ve actually got to play better and pick up more positive results down here first. Too many late-conceded goals are costing me valuable points.

Book before you leap

Work on PES Chronicles: The Book has been going well lately. I’ve added a separate section to the blog to deal with news and information about it. The fabled day approaches when it’ll be available in the Amazon Kindle store starting at 99p a pop. Cha-ching!

The new section is called simply THE BOOK. It lives ^up there^ beneath the site’s header image, next to the FAQ tab.

A sample of the work-in-progress is now available: 9 chapters plus illustrations, coming it at roughly 9000 words. That’s the rough equivalent of about 35 printed pages. A sizeable chunk, but nothing that’d take too long to read. Perfect timing if you’re getting a Kindle or iPad for Christmas.

All download links for the various formats (pdf, doc, mobi, epub) are on the new page.

I won’t mention the book here on the ‘proper’ blog very much from now on. It’ll nearly all be dealt with in that special new section. Nice and neat.


Meanwhile, in PES2012—the latest iteration of the game series that the book is notionally all about—I’m re-settling back into Regular difficulty. I was chased away from Professional difficulty with my tail firmly between my legs. It really was unexpected. I thought I’d fit right in on Professional as a matter of course.

And life in the Premier League is not all that easy on Regular, truth be told. In my promotion run back in D2, I would win about 5 or 6 matches, then maybe draw or lose a few before getting back to winning ways again. Here in the top flight, it’s a struggle to get any kind of run going. The first batch of Chairman warnings have started popping up.

I think I’ll be okay. But it just goes to show that the old Master League principle of moving up a difficulty level after promotion just does not apply any more. Not for me, anyway.

As I neared mid-season, the game had a few amusing moments for me.

First, came the World Footballer of the Year 2015. The winner: Andy Carroll. I shit you not. The runner-up was Benzema. The player in third place was Hulk.

Neither of them could topple the master from his perch.

As if that wasn’t strange enough, I scored a delicious reverse header that went in off the underside of the bar. I don’t remember scoring a goal like this before on any PES, ever.

Or at least I think I scored it. The ball seemed to rebound from an invisible force-field around Doyle’s head:

They all count.

So I won a few, lost a few, and drew a few. My bad start on Professional, coupled with indifferent form back on Regular, means that I’m stuck in the lower-mid-table dodlrums. I’ll do well to finish in the top 10 this season.

I spent a couple of in-game months frantically scouting and placing bids on numerous players. I need to beef up my squad. And hey, I’ve got cash to burn.

In the Premier League I get a whopping £900,000 per home game for a win. Even if I lose I still get a cool £700,000. It’s wonderful. And it all adds up. Money worries may be almost a thing of the past.

Don’t worry, Jacobs isn’t my first-choice keeper. Clarke is usually a bench-warmer too.

I only managed to land two new players, but they were decent ones. Brivio, a quality left-back; and Lamah, a stylish midfielder with a lovely left foot. They bring some more reassuring gold numbers to the squad pic, and strengthens that weakened left side of the team. I’ll have every position looking golden by this time next season, I expect.

Note how Camacho has displaced Irjescu in that CMF slot. Camacho has stealthly crept up to 76 OVR. Apart from having a truly wretched, weak shot (almost as bad as season 1’s Ettori), Camacho is turning into a top, top CMF/DMF. I still want him to have that booming shot again, though, just like his unforgettable cannonball shot in PES2008(PS2/PSP). If only I could train him up on shooting or get him a skill card… Sigh.

It’s a rich man’s world

So I got promoted to the Premier League in my PES2012 Master League career. It took me 4 seasons, mostly playing on Regular difficulty. I’ve enjoyed PES2012 so far, but now comes a test both for the game and for myself: Professional difficulty, in the top flight.

I will see how it goes. I’m not above dropping back down to Regular if it all proves too hard for me. I’ve also set aside a fallback gamesave in case of the sack.

First of all, I created a couple of new kits with which to grace the Premier League. There they are on the right—the Home kit on the left is modelled by my stalwart front man, Doyle; and one of my new players, a Malinese striker named Samassa, sports the Away kit on the right.

The striped Home kit is one of my favourite types of kit over the years. I think I’ll hold onto it for 2 seasons, and just change the Away kit next season. I’ll see how I feel when the time comes.

Next up, transfers, transfers, transfers. I wanted new players and considerably better players, and as many as possible. Team harmony be damned. There is no player currently on my books whom I wouldn’t sell for tuppence in exchange for an 80 OVR striker with a hint of awesome about him. My existing players are good, but none are really great. Not even Irjescu.

But I couldn’t operate properly in the transfer market until August 1st. The game didn’t recognise me as a Premier League team until that date. It’s a perennial issue with the logic behind Master League. You get promoted, but the game world doesn’t ‘know’ you’re no longer in Division 2 until the actual start of the next season, which is August. So, for the few months after winning promotion, you have to put up with players not wanting to sign because they “don’t want to drop down a level”.

So I was handicapped in the transfer market, unable to sign many players because they thought the club was still a Division 2 outfit. Piss.

What I did have was plenty of money. After all the sums were recknoed up, I had something like £5.5m to spend. That’s after existing wages. Wow.

Before I started hunting, I decided I wanted a CB, an AMF, and a top CF, plus two or three others as cover. I got the three players, but they weren’t as good as I wanted them to be. They’ll do for now. Sadly, though, I just didn’t have time to get anyone else. Time ran out, thanks to that problem I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. Not good, Konami, not good at all.

These are the three new players:

J. FUNES MORI (CB/SB, 73OVR)—a worthy addition to stand alongside Bikey in the heart of defence. Cotsload and Jaric will understudy for them both.

J . COOK (SMF/WF, 70OVR)—a two-footed versatile midfidler, no relation to the Cook I had in season 1 who left on a  free

SAMASSA (CF, 74OVR)—a Mali international, with a good turn of pace to offset his disappointingly weak shot.

Only one of them, SAMASSA, was a transfer in. I paid £600,000 for him. The others were Frees.

I’ve yet to land a front man with a truly lethal bullet of a shot. I find myself looking hard at two stats: shot accuracy and power. If either are below 70, I’m not looking at that player any longer (unless they’re a Youth). Ideally I want one of them above 80.

I had many transfer near-misses, of which a couple were worthy of discussion.

I nearly signed Regen Frank Lampard, currently 17 years old and just 56 OVR. I found him while searching for players with the Long Ranger skill card. I made him an offer, which he accepted, and I got all excited. Then I saw his wage demand. He wanted £800,000 a year. I couldn’t believe it. I made a counter-offer of £350,000. That was still extortion, but at least I could afford it. He broke it off.

Next was some great AMF off the Free Agent list. I forget his name. He wanted a salary of—I almost had to lie down when I saw—£3,845,000 per year. Three million, eight hundred and forty-five thousand pounds per year. This was after the calendar had ticked over to Season 5, by the way. The game-world ‘knew’ I was now in the Premier League, and I think it had scaled things up accordingly.

So I didn’t sign him either.

I put a load of players on the transfer/loan market, and got no offers for them. Not even an enquiry to take my young CB, Mandelli, on loan, which was disappointing.

I had 27 players in my squad and had to release a few. Well, I didn’t have to—the finances were still very healthy—but I didn’t want too large a squad with players moaning every week about not playing.

I released Ruskin and Do Prado. Ruthless of me, I know, and I should even have released a few more. Jaric and Clarke will be next to go in mid-season, I think.

And I hate to say it, but Irjescu’s best days may be behind him. So far in the Premier League, on Professional, he’s not the same player he was in Division 2 on regular. He’s even lost a point of OVR, down to 69 now. He’s the only Default player left in my First XI, which is as seen in the image above. (Except for Jacobs in goal. Ahmet has taken over as my permanent no. 1 keeper.)

It was the eve of September and I still had £4m in the kitty.

I upgraded my Athletic Coach to Level 3, and the Doctor to Level 2. I upgraded the Fan Club and Marketing budget to levels 2.

I kept a million in reserve to spend in mid-season. I might be able to line up a really big player by then.

After all the fun of pre-season it was onto the matches themselves. When I saw the opening fixtures I thought it could have been worse:

Two tricky away games and a single home match.

I lost the first two matches, away to Blackburn and Newcastle respectively. The games weren’t bad. I more than held my own most of the time. I had feared being overrun on Professional. I went down to odd goals, losing both 1-0.

But I beat Wolves at my place 2-0. All in all, not the worst start to the season.

The real test will come when I start playing the big boys. Then I’ll get some idea of how life on Professional difficulty in the top flight is going to treat me. And also how PES2012 will shape up as we get closer to the year 2012.