With the Premier League on an indefinite hiatus, Lord Geord reflects on the story so far, while Jez Messing has another exclusive from inside the Juggernaut camp.
When these FPL Nightmare diaries started, they were to serve two purposes. The first was to rekindle my passion for FPL. Years of mis-steps, getting 50-50 decisions wrong and failure to triumph had taken their toll; retirement beckoned. In a last-ditch attempt to find some motivation, to give the game meaning beyond endless frustration, I began chronicling my journey as I navigated the final months of last season. I hoped to throw my rivals off their game; I hoped to speak success into reality; I hoped to find some enjoyment in my devastation.
This season was the first full season of the FPL Nightmare journals. While my frustrations at my self-destructions remain, a simple joy has emerged from them. The League of Gentlemen has morphed into something bigger, something more than a simple game of transfers and points. It has become a story, an epic tale of the trials and tribulations not just of Geord's Lords, but of twenty other teams as well.
We have seen Mikey P show how a season can be thrown away through the extremes of excessive transfers, and we've cheered as he keeps on fighting to rise from the depths, to end the season anywhere but bottom. We've seen Wooden Spoon Helling, the man who prides himself on finishing last, be unable to overcome the madness of Mikey P, and finding himself stranded 185 points away from his coveted bottom spot. We've seen Ginger Ben and Jie in a heated battle to escape the Also-Rans, one that swings backwards and forwards every week. We entered the season expecting the six-year battle between King Ding and Jockin' Jeeves, with five titles between them, to dominate the top of the table, and marvelled at how the Butcher blew them both away, spending the majority of the season between 50 and 120 points ahead of them both, smashing his way into the top 10k in the entire world. We cheered as the new entrants to the league, the likes of Deadly Daz, Hitman Hodgson, The Masterchef and All-Star Vogt, rose and fall as the weeks went by, their refreshing and different approaches to the game creating unpredictability, breaking the tedium and giving them all varying degrees of success. We've followed the old guard, the likes of Lord Geord, Who Horner, Big-Time Birkett, Flash and The Ox, as they dealt with the new challenges this season has brought, and their struggle to remain relevant and competitive. We've seen Private Parvesh, Iceman Newton, The Ox, Metal Marc and Tits-Up Thompson show how league campaigns fall by the wayside when you become an absent manager. We've seen it all happen in the League of Gentlemen, the greatest competition in FPL history.
Adding to the drama of the league was the introduction of several smaller competitions. The Manager of the Month trophy was won a single time by Who Horner, Slick Rick and Lord Geord, while the Butcher and King Ding showed why they are first and second in the league, winning it twice. The winner of the League of Gentlemen Cup was determined by who survived the longest in the FPL Cup, the winner proving to be Jeeves' Juggernauts. The Gentlemen's Trophy, a two-legged head-to-head competition, had just got underway. We'd already seen Tits-Up Thompson eliminate Hitman Hodgson, and he stood on the precipice of adding to his giant-killing following a first-leg win over The Butcher. We saw a sensationally-close tie between Lord Geord and Who Horner go to the tiebreaker situation, following an erroneous bonus point being added to Calvert-Lewin an hour after the completion of his game. Three of the four Title Contenders - King Ding, Deadly Daz and the Masterchef - were behind going into their second-leg tie, with Iceman Newton, All-Star Vogt and Wooden Spoon Helling on the brink of headline-stealing upsets. It was shaping up to be a fantasy footballing festival of unparalleled drama, yet, with the suspension of the league, it may never be completed.
As it stands, FPL is due to resume in Gameweek 36. We have a contingency plan for the Gentlemen's Trophy, even every remaining fixture is played during Gameweek 38, so that should be completed. If the season resumes, the sense of anticipation will be palpable. Imagine Big Steve having to select a team for Gameweek 38, knowing they had to be successful over nine or ten matches for him to be crowned champion. Imagine if his captain went down injured in the first match, and he had to defend his 61-point lead over defending champion King Ding with no captain and only ten men. At the other end of the table, with Mikey P unable to self-sabotage through transfers, just how high could Suicide Squad rise? It would be a season finale unlike anything we've ever seen before, with managers helpless to affect momentum or make changes. The effects would reverberate long into next season too, as managers who normally make too many transfers are forced to see how their team perform with no transfers possible. It would be a fascinating time, one that would keep everyone on the edge of their seat. Whoever emerged from such a situation as the League of Gentlemen champion or the Gentlemen's Trophy winner would have proven themselves in unprecedented circumstances. For the sake of curiosity, the league season needs to be completed.
However, not all managers share this sense of anticipation. Jez Messing reports on a furious bust-up at Casa del Juggernaut, with Jockin' Jeeves politicking behind the scenes to have the season declared null and void. A source close to his assistant manager Hot Rod - a source so close that it is, in fact, Hot Rod himself - says Jockin' Jeeves is beside himself at his use of the Bench Boost in Gameweek 29, declaring the game a farce if other managers are able to use such a powerful chip for, essentially, a quarter of a season. Messing reports that, when Hot Rod tried to reason with him, saying an early Bench Boost was always a gamble, the virus had been impending for weeks and that Jeeves needed to 'get real,' Jeeves threw a laptop through Hot Rod's cafetiere cabinet, smashing them all. With the only thing more shattered than Hot Rod's cafetiere's being Jeeves' championship dreams, it's understandable he wants the season voided. Messing reports that similar sentiments were shared by All-Star Vogt, who declared Boom Xhakalaka had been mistreated by the league, and that if this turn of events was allowed to stand then he would 'quit the game for good.' When pressed for a quote, reigning champion King Ding said to Messing, in his typical droll style, "It's only a game."
While the only thing blacker than Hot Rod's coffee is the mood of some managers, for Lord Geord, these events represent the ultimate triumph. The second purpose of the FPL Nightmare journals was to record his journey as he attempted to become the best, to finally win the League of Gentlemen. While he has not achieved that, and looks unlikely to do so this season, he has achieved something far greater. Lord Geord placed his faith entirely in the FPL Gods, following their sending a vision of Saint-Maximin's Gameweek 29 goal in his sleep. In Gameweek 30, that faith was rewarded. Though the circumstances are contentious, the fact remains that, for one, glorious gameweek, Geord's Lords were the number one team in the entire world. While some may have equalled this remarkable achievement, none of the 7.4m players globally were able to surpass the total Geord's Lords put on the board. While Jockin' Jeeves languished at 6,965,276 in the world for Gameweek 30, Geord's Lords were 1. One. Top of the world. No-one better. It's been a remarkable journey for Lord Geord, from the depths of despair when beginning his chronicles, to somehow falling further as he plummeted into the Also-Rans in October, to potentially finishing the season as the final gameweek's finest player. If the season never resumes, if Jockin' Jeeves is successful in his lobbying attempts, then the story ends in a way nobody could have imagined.
The FPL Nightmare has become the ultimate dream-come-true. Now, we must wait for news from the FPL Overlords as to what happens next. Does the season resume in Gameweek 36 or 37? Is it cancelled forever? Or do we end a remarkable season with the biggest, most intense gameweek ever, one that encompasses half the season and almost the entire Gentlemen's Trophy? Only time will tell, but rest assured, whatever happens, the FPL Nightmare chronicles will be right there, telling the story of our failures and successes, our crushed dreams and redemptions from catastrophes. It is, in its essence, the most human story of all: people striving to prevail, as best they can, in the most extraordinary circumstances. Until we speak again, may all your families be safe, may all your lungs be healthy, and, now more than ever, may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
The potentially-final League of Gentlemen rankings
The Butcher, 1732 points.
King Ding, 1671 points.
Jockin' Jeeves, 1633 points.
Hitman Hodgson, 1605 points.
Deadly Daz, 1602 points.
The Masterchef, 1573 points.
Lord Geord, 1545 points.
Big-Time Birkett, 1543 points.
All-Star Vogt, 1532 points.
Private Parvesh, 1518 points.
Iceman Newton, 1491 points.
Flash, 1488 points.
The Ox, 1481 points.
Who Horner, 1477 points.
Slick Rick, 1459 points.
Ginger Ben, 1453 points.
Jie, 1446 points.
Wooden Spoon Helling, 1364 points.
Tits-Up Thompson, 1310 points.
Metal Marc, 1218 points.
Mikey P, 1179 points.
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