Just when it looked like his title dreams were fading, Go Cartin put his foot down and stormed back into contention, overtaking his rivals with a sensational performance.
The fear I had entering Gameweek 24 was that not owning de Bruyne would come back to haunt me. So it proved, when the Belgian midfielder scored eleven points that the four Gentlemen chasing me down saw doubled, due to placing their captain's armband on him. Having removed my captain's armband from the eleven-point Bowen at the last minute, this felt like a true FPL Nightmare unfolding at the worst possible and most predictable time.
That proved not to be the case, as my captain, Jota, scored twice to secure me 32 captain's points. As the only man in the top twenty to entrust the armband to him, it felt like a vindication of my decision-making abilities. I was feeling somewhat confident. Then I looked at the league table, and I saw that my lead had been slashed to just eighteen points. 'How can this be?' I thought. 'I've outscored Jockin' Jeeves and the Chancellor, and Ginger Ben only beat me by three points.' Then, I looked at the name in second place. Having started the gameweek in fifth place, Go Cartin had smashed home ninety-nine points, with five players grabbing double-figure hauls and three of our title rivals leapfrogged. My key differentials of Gray, Salah and Ronaldo had produced a combined total of three points. His key differentials of Robertson, Gabriel and Coutinho had fired home thirty-six. No wonder my lead was decimated.
It is testament to the ability of Go Cartin that he has debuted in the World's Greatest Mini-League and not been over-awed by the competition. His historical record marked him out as a potential title challenger in pre-season, with two finishes just outside the top-100k in the last three seasons and a personal best last year, but many contenders have entered the fray and fallen apart under the intense scrutiny of every decision. Some Gentlemen, like the Dragon last season, are able to rise to the challenge and thrive under the pressure, and Go Cartin is proving he belongs in that category. He has taken four hits in the last six gameweeks, and three of them have led to green arrows. This gameweek's hit was to sign de Bruyne and Robertson for Bernardo and Alonso, a direct gain of 25 points. At this crucial time of the season, he is taking chances and reaping the rewards of his risks.
While Cartin took a chance that paid off, I also took a gamble of my own, choosing to roll my free transfer in a gameweek where two of the top five took hits and two played Wildcards. Though Cartin echoed the huge leap of Ginger Ben from Gameweek 22, I managed to outscore the Wildcarding Chancellor and the double-hit-taking Jockin' Jeeves, while only losing three points to the Wildcarding Ginger Ben. With a Free Hit and a Wildcard advantage over the Mackem Messiah and three chips in hand over the Chancellor, I have an opportunity to move clear of them later in the season, when I am arguably better-equipped to handle the fixture fluctuation. Jockin' Jeeves and Go Cartin, like myself, retain every chip available, and the deployment of those weapons will have a huge impact on who emerges as the final champion of the FPL Nightmare Chronicles.
Gameweek 24 belonged to Go Cartin, in large part because of my decision to eschew signing de Bruyne so that I could bring in Ronaldo. It's a gamble that has not paid off so far, with the Manchester City man having outscored his local rival by 25 points in the last three gameweeks. However, Gameweek 25 is what I signed Ronaldo for, and it is this gameweek on which he will be judged. He will have my captain's armband for his two home fixtures, and he will be expected to deliver. I expect most of my rivals to bring in Bruno for de Bruyne and to give him the captaincy. I shall not be doing so. I do not expect them to have the Portuguese plunderer, and if they do, they will have to take hits to get him. This gameweek's captaincy differential of mine paid off, with Jota outscoring de Bruyne by ten points. I need Ronaldo to produce a similar result next time out.
The Cup Chronicles
In the Eliminator, Go Cartin comfortably made it through to the semi-final. It was a close-run affair between Maverick Mikey, Jockin' Jeeves and myself for the final two places. The Maverick looked under real threat, right up until his double-Arsenal defence of Ramsdale and Gabriel brought home 23 points on the last night of the gameweek. That meant I had to outscore Jockin' Jeeves to stay in the competition, a situation complicated by each of us having three of our differential players score just one point. With Ramsdale and Broja wasting away on my bench, I needed Jota to produce the magic, which he did. However, I needed him to produce seventeen points of magic, and he was only able to produce sixteen. Had Ronaldo started, had Gallagher or Coufal avoided their soft bookings, had I started Broja or Ramsdale or had Laporte received a bonus point rather than Cancelo, I would've sealed qualification at the last. Sadly, though hits meant Jeeves's gameweek score ended below mine, hits don't count in this competition, and the Rap Rob Roy snuck through by a measly, rotten, stinking single point, condemning me to become the latest victim of the Eliminator.
There was a development in the Irrelevants this gameweek that sent chills through the entire division: the infamous FPL Hackers came to town. They have gained notoriety in the wider world of FPL in recent gameweeks for hacking into accounts, making hundreds of transfer hits and leaving teams filled with no-hopers. It's a situation which destroyed enough seasons to force the creators of the game to impose a twenty-transfer maximum per gameweek, yet it had not surfaced in the League of Gentlemen until the run-up to the Gameweek 24 deadline, when The Ox and Who Horner were both infiltrated and annihilated. While The Ox was able to play a Wildcard before the deadline, minimising the damage to his team, Who Horner was not so lucky. He was left with a 76-point transfer penalty, his Bench Boost activated and only six of fifteen players taking the field. His final score of -57 points saw him drop seven places to 36th, and at time of writing he had not returned to the game. The threat of the hackers now hangs over the entire division, and will surely leave managers reticent to play their second Free Hit in case their team suffers such a cruel fate.
While most teams immediately behind Who Horner rose in the rankings as a result of the situation, Daredevil Daisy has now dropped to 33rd place, with the debut season for the youngster proving a chastening experience. More notable were the 80+ point scores of Deadly Daz, Sirloin Sean and Ash the Bash, who climbed to nineteenth, fourteenth and tenth respectively. Ash the Bash is level on points with Grinchy Vogt, who fired in a huge 91-point total but remains in eleventh due to having made more transfers. The Dragon remains at the top of the Irrelevants, but his gameweek score of sixty points meant the Elite moved 32 points further away.
That was a result of Terminator Tris firing in a huge 92-point score, one that closes the gap on the teams ahead of him considerably. While he remains 116 points off top spot, his recent form has reignited his hopes of glory, and he will keep fighting until the season is over. His immediate priority is catching Mighty Mouse in sixth, now just fourteen points ahead. Though Big Steve lies between the two, the Terminator will see the two-point difference as marginal enough to ignore. For Mighty Mouse, it's a long way back to the top five, but he closed the gap on the Chancellor in fifth-place by seventeen points, despite the Chancellor using his Wildcard. Though 55 points still separate the two, Mighty Mouse has a Wildcard and Bench Boost in hand to make up the gap, though the Chancellor does have an extra Free Hit.
It was a deeply disappointing gameweek for the Chancellor, who scored just 68 points on his Wildcard and dropped a place as a result. Also falling in the table was Jockin' Jeeves, who finds himself in fourth place after his eight-point hit backfired. Two of his new signings, Digne and Edouard, secured just a single point each, and while the third newcomer, Ramsey, scored fourteen points, Jeeves had left him as his second substitute. It meant Ginger Ben moved six points ahead having used his own Wildcard, but he was denied second place by the huge 99 points of Go Cartin, who now lies just eighteen points off the top.
The Man Who Would Be King
Despite losing twelve points of my advantage, I end Gameweek 24 feeling grateful. Had Jota not grabbed a brace, and had de Bruyne grabbed another return, I would have found myself in second place right now. Heading into the final fixtures of the gameweek, I was in big, big trouble, with Robertson also capable of knocking me off my perch. Still, when I needed him most, Jota came through for me. My initial instincts had favoured Bowen for the captaincy, but trapped in four minds over who to give it to, I decided to follow the statistics. Jota backed them up at the crucial time, leaving me with just a little breathing room. That's twice in three gameweeks now that someone has hit a huge score to climb into second place, and if I can't find an answer, it's a matter of time before someone else takes top spot. I'm hoping Ronaldo is that answer. I need him to be, I'm trusting him to be, and in what promises to be a pivotal gameweek, I'm backing him to be. The nerves are jangling, but I still managed to climb to 50,428 in the overall rankings, I have two free transfers to strengthen, and I have all my chips in hand. Fourteen gameweeks to go.
That concludes the round-up of Gameweek 24 in the League of Gentlemen, one which saw the hackers decimate the Irrelevants, which saw the Lords defeated in the Eliminator, and which saw Go Cartin put his foot down and close the gap to first considerably. Ahead of Gameweek 25, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods be in your favour.
And, if you haven't already done so, change your FPL password.
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The FPL Nightmare: How to Lose the World's Greatest Mini-League in 38 Simple Steps
The FPL Nightmare II:
The Crying, the Hits and the VAR Probe
The FPL Nightmare III:
The Lawes Rank Redemption
The Complete FPL Nightmare Trilogy:
The Epic Quest From A 4.8m Rank To A Top 0.1% Finish
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All Lawes wants is to win The League of Gentlemen, yet the FPL Gods are bastards that conspire against him.
This column provides weekly updates of Lawes' dismal attempts to best his rivals.