Category: MyClub

Smells Like Team Spirit

A proper shellacking in MyClub

Well that hurt.

Easily my heaviest-ever defeat in any football game in any mode, ever. At half-time it was 0-8, so I did well to limit the damage in the second half and even grabbed a cheeky consolation goal with my one flowing move of the match.

It was an unexpected setback in my MyClub journey, as immediately prior to this match, I’d WON my first match.

It was a solid 1-0 win against a player rather like myself — a patient passer and mover. Judging by his username, which ended in 1965, he was an oldie like me. Perhaps that says a lot.

Then I met the player above: a 100% sprint-pressurer, and down-the-middle run-and-gunner. He blew me away completely. I can’t even pretend that I had given up after 7 or 8 goals. I was playing and defending all the way. Nothing was working.

Every single one of his goals was scored inside the penalty box, needless to say. He never even tried shooting from outside, not even when he was a million goals up. This lack of shooting from distance disappoints me more than anything else online.

But MyClub is a really good mode. I cannot ever see myself liking the way people play it online, but the supporting infrastructure is interesting and worth getting to know. I was never convinced by Master League Online and mostly ignored it bar a token few matches every year, but MyClub seems to fill in the blanks.

Success is all about the Team Spirit. Look at this side-by-side comparison of my average online opponent (the team on the left) and my own Best XI (on the right) — arrayed in an attacking 4-3-3 in this instance, as opposed to my usual 4-2-2-2:

Team Spirit Them And Me

I’m on a measly 62 TS, and that’s with everything tweaked and tuned to the best of my ability. It’s suicidal to head online with anything less than 80, from what I can gather, and 90 is considered optimal.

I’m bad at playing football games online, but I’m not that bad. For all my downplaying of my online skillz, it’s been quite rare over the years for me to be completely thumped.

I’ve been taking thumpings over and over again in MyClub, and lack of Team Spirit is why. Passes don’t connect, defenders don’t cover, the ball constantly bobbles, and easy shots miss.

Shellacking tale of the tape

I still got the most possession. But look at that passing %. That’s partly due to my opponent’s insane pressuring, but it’s mostly due to the low Team Spirit.

I go on. I’m loving the refreshing change after the rigours of Master League.

FIFA15 is still there waiting to be fired up again. This blog isn’t about me being a faux-journalist, and providing even-handed coverage to all football games, and giving FIFA15 a go because I feel I have to. I do hope to get back to FIFA15 before PES2016 arrives. But if I don’t, tough Titty Town.

Everybody Loves Ronaldo

Online debutant

So as July becomes August, I embark upon a new venture. Exploring a strange, undiscovered country, populated by natives with one thing and one thing only on their minds: running in almost-straight lines and scoring goals that they give every indication of not really caring about. More on that later.

Earlier this week I wrapped up Master League for another year. Most years I then give FIFA a desultory try that fizzles out after a week or so, my juice having been all used up by PES.

Every year, at some point, I do play PES and/or FIFA online, even if it’s just a couple of matches in one single session on one single day.

This year so far, I hadn’t done so. Before I removed the PES2015 disc from my PS4 for good, I decided to rectify that. I played a couple of Online Seasons matches, which weren’t bad at all. The opponents were the familiar exhausting all-action types that you only ever meet online, but it was a novel experience. I was trounced in all 3 matches but I enjoyed myself. Crafty, determined human opponents are something fresh.

And so for my next trick…

MyClub main menu

MyClub. The team name is: CHRONICA. I was going to name it after the blog, but decided that was too cheesy, so this version of it will do. (Unless anyone has any better suggestions? In MyClub you can change your team name as often as you like.)

Way back in November I actually set this mode up, created a team, and played one single match against the AI. And then promptly forgot all about it – something that would benefit me hugely in the form of a bounty of GP (the mode’s currency) that was waiting for me when I logged in this week:

Give me that lovely booty

Take a look at the scrollbar on the right of the above screenie. All the messages in this Inbox were delivering a bounty of GP.

My GP and Gold

At the time this screenshot on the left was taken I’d already spent about 60,000 on players, including DIDA and XAVI. So my starting bounty was something close to 200,000 GP.

For reference purposes, the cost of a top player is 10,000 GP. I believe it takes some time to accumulate that amount of GP in the normal course of things.

So I had money to spend and a team to set up. At first you get a squad of no-name, low-rated players who would make the ML Defaults blush. But in ML, the Defaults were at least decent and capable. The MyClub defaults are terrible in MyClub.

After a few matches and cashing in some of that lovely GP, I had XAVI and a couple of decent strikers. I went with 4-2-2-2, for which I needed the relevant manager:

MyClub squad

That Ultimate Team-like display does little for me. Much better understood in the traditional view:

MyClub formation

Unlike other online modes, you can’t set up extravagant formations in MyClub. The mode simply won’t let you. It’s a deliberate corrective to the tendency for 1-1-8 formations and other lunacies. You have to stick to orthodox formations with very little room to move players around. You can still set up a swashbuckling 3-4-3 or 4-2-4, but you need the relevant manager.

There’s a whole other range of factors involved, of which Team Spirit is the most important. This is not a potted overview of MyClub – I doubt I’ll be playing it much at all beyond the next week or so.

The main thing is, as ever, the playing of the matches – and it’s here that online football gaming falls down flatly on its arse.

The game online bears little resemblance to the single-player game I love. ISS and PES as I have played them for almost 20 years are one thing. PES online as it has evolved over the past 10 years is a completely other thing. The latter is barely football at all. Competitive controller-squeezing would be a more accurate description.

There are points of similarity between offline and online football gaming, but in essence they are wholly separate entities.

Goodl old Titty Town

The human players simply don’t play football. It’s a soulless, abstract exercise in the manipulation of pixels on a screen, with the desired result of occupying higher positions on some leaderboard somewhere. There’s nothing wrong with that, in and of itself, but it’s not what floats my boat.

“The AI only plays one way!” is one of those ‘what everyone says’ things, and a traditional cry heard from the online lobbyists at the start of every PES year.

One glimpse of how most online players play shows the strange truth that is the opposite of ‘what everyone says’. Online players only play one way.

Even the poorest performance from the PES AI has more variety, subtlety, and football to it than any online player I’ve ever come cross.

Post-game stats MyClub

It’s human players who only play one way. Without exception they favour a central dribbling style that favours one or two star players. Minimal deviation from a straight line to goal. Maybe a couple of one-twos, maybe a floated through-ball to the fast star man, and bang – it’s a goal, always scored from about the same spot inside the penalty box.

The opponent above actually played a lot out on the wing – he had Ronaldo (everybody’s got Ronaldo) and liked to score thumping headers. A hat-trick of them in this case.

All 14 of the others played the straight-down-the-middle sprinting style that I call ‘run and gun’.

In 15 games played online at the time of writing, I have never seen any opponent attempt a shot from outside the box.

In 15 matches, I must have conceded 40-45 goals (averaging 2-3 conceded per match), and not even once has any opponent showed any sign of wanting to watch the replay.

Perhaps that’s the strangest thing of all for me, coming from a single-player background.

In a typical session of Master League, I’ll score at least 1 goal (usually 2 or 3) that makes me pay attention to the replay. Such behaviour is Forbidden online.

Yes, yes, I accept that this skipping-replays thing is an evolved custom. The players are trying to be polite to each other by skipping their replays. I know that. That skipping-replays custom started up in the days of PES5 online, and I was there to see it.

But there was also the custom of, every now and then, being allowed to sit back and watch a replay of something special.

About 10 of the 45-ish goals I’ve conceded looked special to me. Not one of my opponents wanted to watch them. I’ve often wished I could communicate with my opponents in some meaningful way and ask them: “Are you actually enjoying this? Do you enjoy this game? Do you like scoring these goals? What’s the point of this, for you? What are you getting out of this?”

The experiment goes on. MyClub is a swish mode, an enticing take on Master League. I want to explore more of it. I want to actually win a match. I want to see what the matches handle like with top players in every position in my team. Maybe my experience so far is just what happens to a new player turning up with a poor squad. We shall see.

——-

POSTSCRIPT:

Half an hour after putting this post to bed, tucking it up, and bestowing a creepy kiss upon its imaginary forehead, I won my first online match.