In a gameweek where he became the most Triple Captained player in history, Salah delivered in spectacular fashion, with a record-breaking impact on the League of Gentlemen. Meanwhile, the Eliminator came to a thrilling conclusion.
For many Gentlemen, this was the gameweek we’d been waiting for. Arguably the greatest FPL asset of all time, with arguably the greatest pair of fixtures in a double gameweek of all time. Mohamed Salah, at home to both Norwich and Leeds. This was the most anticipated Triple Captaincy of all time. All we needed was Salah to do his part, and boy, did he deliver.
Fifteen Gentlemen went with another player as captain, and found themselves hiding behind the sofa. 27 managers, through design or inexperience, did not have a Triple Captaincy to play. Two managers played their Triple Captain on another player, a huge gamble that brought mixed fortunes, with Big Steve suffering the horror of seeing Alexander-Arnold absent from one fixture, while Stone Cold Stephen Levins saw Mane strike two late goals to salvage the situation. For the twelve managers who trusted the Triple Captaincy to the best player with the best fixtures, the result was glorious. 84 points from a single player. 84 points that, in all reality, should have been far, far more, but 84 points that we may well have to wait years to see equalled or bettered.
With such an imperious performance from the main man, the League of Gentlemen gameweek score record was decimated this gameweek, with King Ding’s score of 138 points beaten by an unbelievable seven competitors. The King himself was one of those record-breakers, but he no longer holds the highest-score accolade. Neither do Private Parvesh, the Rough Rider, Ash the Bash or I, who all exceeded the previous benchmark. The record gameweek score is now shared by two unfancied names, who have written their name into League of Gentlemen folklore. Those two managers are Stone Cold Stephen Levins and Uncaged Bage, who both finished with final gameweek scores of 144 points after hits were deducted. Gameweek 26 also saw another record set, with twenty-one managers entering the Hundred Club in a single gameweek. Every manager who used the Triple Captain chip on Salah was in that number, and they were joined by another nine managers to manifest a collective achievement that will surely be unsurpassed by the conclusion of these chronicles.
For the Lords, it was a gameweek that will live long in the memory. Inspired by Salah’s incredible score, my team hit home 150 points in the gameweek, though it was taken back under the new record score by virtue of taking an eight-point hit. With my previous double-hit gameweek yielding disappointing results, and removing the opportunity for the high-point switches between Bruno and de Bruyne due to my funds being tied up in Ronaldo, there was trepidation about taking another eight-pointer just four gameweeks later. With the disapproving tone of King Ding haunting my thoughts, I acted upon my impulse. I can’t win this title playing like King Ding, I have to play my own way. It was a decision that proved spectacularly correct. Ronaldo, the over-expensive anchor weighing down my team potential, was jettisoned for Weghorst, who outscored the Manchester United man by thirteen points. I used the extra transfer funds to replace the injured Jota with Son, who brought home twelve points. The final transfer felt like an indulgence, but it’s one I permitted myself, replacing Coufal with Robertson. Though Robertson missed the first of Liverpool’s matches, when the West Ham teamsheet came out, Coufal was absent from it. The Liverpool left-back then lived up to his potential in his team’s second fixture, banging home thirteen points thanks to a clean sheet and two assists. The substitutes who would have replaced the injured players, had I not taken a hit, scored just three points between them, leaving me a massive 36 points up on my transfer dealings.
Despite having much to celebrate, the gameweek was not without disappointment. Livramento’s twelve points wasted away on my bench, though there was never any chance of him starting, and Bowen hit the woodwork and finished with just a single point. Meanwhile, Pogba and Ramsey, two somewhat-differential players in my starting eleven, both scored just two points, leaving me regretting the decision to take a chance on Pogba when so many others went with Saka. The biggest disappointment was seeing van Dijk and Zaha plunder three stoppage-time goals between them for Ginger Ben, securing him a huge nineteen points against all the odds. When you factor in his captain, Bruno, did the same last time out and secured three bonus points in the process, that’s thirty-five points he has made up on me purely through goals scored after the ninetieth minute in two gameweeks. Without those, he’d be down in fourth place, and I’d be 49 points clear of Go Cartin. Because of those goals, it is Ginger Ben who is in second place, and the gap is only 28 points.
Still, I can’t complain too much. A last-gasp goal from Norgaard of Brentford ensured my only having Ramsdale, in a gameweek my rivals had two or three Arsenal defensive players, did not punish me, and with Hwang and Pepe on the scoresheet in the Arsenal vs Wolves fixture, it meant my owning just one player from the gameweek’s last match did not damage me in any real way. Heading into Blank Gameweek 27, I have eleven players I can field, although Livramento and my two Manchester City defenders are always rotation risks, and I have a free transfer that I may well roll over. In contrast, Ginger Ben has only nine available starters, of which one of his attackers plays one of his defenders. I also hold an extra Free Hit and a Wildcard advantage over him, which means I am in a position I could only have dreamt of being in at the start of the season. It all looks good on paper, but football rarely works out the way we imagine, and I still need some good fortune to strengthen my position next time out.
The Cup Chronicles
The Eliminator came to a stunning conclusion in Gameweek 26, with both finalists entering the Hundred Club as they duelled for glory. Maverick Mikey again took advantage of being unrestricted by transfer hits to make six transfers, while Cartin had to act more conservatively in the transfer market due to his league title aspirations, which meant he made just two signings. While Cartin was unable to operate as freely as the Maverick, he had the huge advantage of having his Bench Boost and Triple Captain chips available. As Salah smashed home point after point, Go Cartin cursed his decision to deploy his Bench Boost, a move which cost him fifteen points. Ultimately, though, the Bench Boost proved irrelevant, merely adding gloss to the scoreline. In a gameweek where both starting XIs scored remarkably similar, Cartin’s Son outscored the Maverick’s Odegaard to ensure an advantage, and then his new striker, Weghorst, outscored the Maverick’s Jimenez to ensure there was little hope for the underdog to defeat the title contender. The Maverick’s only hope was for his Wolves defensive double-up to produce a miracle, but Arsenal’s two late goals consigned him to defeat. It was a fantastic run from Maverick Mikey, who retained the support of the neutrals throughout and who can hold his head up high at knowing he was the final man to succumb to the Eliminator. However, the plaudits must go to John ‘Go’ Cartin, who has survived the constant grind of the toughest endurance test in all of FPL to ensure his debut League of Gentlemen season ends in glory. Congratulations on a fantastic achievement.
With the winner of this year’s Eliminator now determined, it is now time for the most exciting of all the League of Gentlemen cup competitions: The Gentlemen’s Trophy. The unseeded nature of the knockout cup ensures huge drama throughout all five rounds, from the four two-legged affairs to the best-of-three-gameweeks grand finale. With 41 teams entering, nine of the sixteen Round One ties will feature three teams, making the challenge even harder and the luck of the draw so very crucial.
In such a high-scoring gameweek, much volatility was expected in the Irrelevants and so it proved, with only five of 33 managers ending the gameweek in the same position they began. Two of those were basement-dwellers Wooden Spoon Helling and Lethal Lee, although both closed the gap on the falling Metal Marc. Record-breaker Uncaged Bage climbed above Daredevil Daisy, Maverick Mikey and Wildman Whitfield into 31st, while the Rough Rider’s 141 points saw him climb six places to 24th, creating several red arrows in his wake including that of Deadly Daz, whose 47 points were the lowest in the gameweek. Iceman Newton was another six-place riser, climbing to 22nd after scoring 120 points, which is some achievement when it has been ten gameweeks since his traditional abandonment of his team. The Masterchef climbed to 21st despite being one of three managers whose Alexander-Arnold captaincy gamble failed to pay off; the other two – Killer Kev and Big Steve – both fell in the table. For the Butcher, it was a devastating outcome; a five-place fall which sees him firmly ensconced in the Irrelevants, now just one position and eight points ahead of record-breaker Stone Cold Stephen Levins, who is showing some real courage in his decisions and is being rewarded with a rapid rise through the rankings.
Grinchy Vogt crowed loud and hard about his decision to Triple Captain Salah in Gameweek One, but the chickens came home to roost when he was unable to use that chip this time out. It cost him only eleven points in the end, given he was still able to captain the Liverpool man, but his twenty-point hit and the lack of such a crucial chip meant he was always in trouble this gameweek. So it proved, with a three-place fall to thirteenth. Above him in the table, only one manager failed to reach the Hundred Club, although a triple-figure score wasn’t enough to prevent Dan the Dragon falling to tenth, overtaken by his brother, the Hitman, who ends the gameweek a point and a place ahead after a three-place rise.
Also rising three places was King Ding, who surpassed his previous record score with a 142-point performance, with the signings of Weghorst and Triple Captain Salah so pivotal to his success. It’s a familiar story of steady progress for King Ding, who will be hoping this entry to the Elite provides the foundations for further rises. As someone traditionally stronger in the run-in, his sights will be set on Mighty Mouse, the only manager in the top twelve to fail to break a century. Poor squad planning left the veteran of nine top-100k finishes with far fewer minutes on the field for his squad this week, and it is surprising he wasn’t more active in the transfer market, given the high stakes of the situation. He now finds himself 142 points off top spot, and also a place lower in the table, having been displaced by Terminator Tris. Opting for a Free Hit instead of his Triple Captain chip was a brave move, but one that paid off with an improvement of over sixty points on his non-Free Hit squad – even allowing for the signing of Salah. With no Wildcard or Free Hits remaining, the Terminator will have to box clever during the run-in, but he has raised himself to a fine position and will fancy himself to make up further ground.
To do so will be a tough task, with Jockin’ Jeeves 75 points ahead in the table and with all chips remaining, bar his Triple Captain. Despite the disappointment of Reguilon playing zero of his side’s 180 minutes, the Rap Rob Roy will be pleased to have outscored the three teams directly above him. The gap to the Chancellor, who fell to fourth, is now just fifteen points, while the Eliminator champion, Go Cartin, is just two points further ahead in third. Cartin rolled the dice last time out, playing his Wildcard to set up for a Bench Boost this time out. It was a brave move, though while it has brought him cup success, he has surrendered momentum in the title race. He only made five transfers on his Wildcard, and one of the players sold, Gallagher, outscored four of his new signings single-handedly. Meanwhile, one of those new signings, Saint-Maximin, suffered an injury, though that worked out nicely, with Weghorst replacing him and scoring twelve points. What really stung was Norgaard’s late goal, which wiped fifteen points off his Bench Boost score, and ensured that the gamble, ultimately, did not pay off, and he would have been best place taking hits to get Salah in his squad. That’s what Ginger Ben did, and though he relied on three stoppage-time goals to augment his score, the sixteen-point penalty ultimately ensured he put 21 points between himself and third place. He was already in profit from his transfers before Salah was factored in; with him, it was a simply sensational transfer gambit. With only a Bench Boost and one Free Hit remaining, however, he may find himself forced to take ever-greater transfer risks in the gameweeks to come, a predicament he would rather have avoided.
The Man Who Would Be King
This was a gameweek I so desperately needed. After clinging on to top spot in recent gameweeks as my rivals threw their chips on the table, I needed to find a way to change the momentum, and outscoring my four closest rivals feels huge. Ginger Ben’s stoppage-time serendipity means my cushion only grew by ten points, but to end such a high-scoring gameweek with an extended advantage feels really massive. To be in this position at all feels like a great achievement; to have done so with all chips bar my Triple Captain in hand feels monumental. This is my eleventh consecutive gameweek inside the top-100k of the overall rankings, and I’m also now ranked 38,512. The last time I was inside the top-50k was after Gameweek 21, where I finished just inside the top-42k. That was followed by an overall rankings drop of nearly eighteen thousand places the following gameweek, which is a fate I need to avoid in Blank Gameweek 27. More importantly, though, I need to ensure my position at the League of Gentlemen’s apex remains strong. When writing a book series about striving to win the division, you dream of being in such a position. To have declared in pre-season this was my final attempt at the King’s Quest, and to be where I am, so close to the dream finale to the trilogy, it is the stuff of fantasy. I will never get a better opportunity to win this division. If I fail from here, it will be the greatest FPL Nightmare it is possible to endure. The pressure is so great, and the stakes are so high. I must remain calm. One gameweek at a time.
That concludes the round-up to Gameweek 26, which saw Mo Salah deliver a Triple Captaincy performance which will never be forgotten, which Go Cartin Eliminate all his cup rivals in spectacular fashion, which saw Uncaged Bage and Stone Cold Stephen Levins shatter the glass ceiling and establish a new benchmark of gameweek greatness. Ahead of Gameweek 27, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods be in your favour.
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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
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The Lawes Rank Redemption
The Complete FPL Nightmare Trilogy:
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All Lawes wants is to win The League of Gentlemen, yet the FPL Gods are bastards that conspire against him.
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