As the most popular captain failed to fire, the Gentlemen curse their missed chance to make up ground. Meanwhile, Jez Messing's shocking revelations sees one competitor leave the division.
A shocking turn of events has seen the League of Gentlemen lose a competitor this gameweek, with the Chancellor resigning in disgrace following revelations of his collusion in nefarious activities designed to cheat his way to the title. His actions were so heinous they brought scorn from all quarters, with even notorious villain Grinchy Vogt decrying his actions. Indeed, were it not for the sterling undercover work of Jez Messing, the entire season could have been undermined.
It all began in Gameweek 24, when The Ox and Who Horner were ruthlessly targeted by the infamous FPL Hackers, decimating their chances of rising through the ranks. While most were understandably appalled by the turn of events, the Chancellor began searching the Dark Web for the perpetrators. He found who he believed the man responsible, someone going by the name Sheikh Ayershi bin Rodniman.
In a series of emails produced to the League of Gentlemen authorities by Messing, the Chancellor offered a huge financial incentive to the Sheikh to hack into the League of Gentlemen transfer files and repeat his trick on the managers featuring in the upper reaches of the table. 'The entire Elite, plus King Ding, Big Steve and the Dragon, must be taken out,' read the request. The Sheikh agreed to the terms set out by the Chancellor, saying that the League of Gentlemen would be taken out as soon as the agreed remuneration had been provided in cash.
After arriving at a Marbella brothel, which the Sheikh assured the Chancellor was a front for a money-laundering operation, the Chancellor was taken to a back room. The Sheikh offered him coffee, which the Chancellor declined. As the Sheikh poured his brew from a crystal cafetiere, the Chancellor repeated his request for the division to be hacked, then handed a large bag of money over to bin Rodniman. At that moment, the gig was up. As the room filled with Spanish police officers, bin Rodniman removed his keffiyeh to reveal a shock of white hair. 'Will that do?' he said, speaking into the lid of the cafetiere. Entering the room, Messing pocketed the hidden microphone that had recorded the exchange. 'Yes, Hot Rod,' he said. 'That will do.'
Once the evidence was presented to him at the station, the Chancellor requested a phone call. He rang the Weekly Bullshitter, who were about to publish the shocking exposé, and asked Jez Messing to include the following comment in his report: "It was always my dream to compete in the League of Gentlemen. Sadly, my greed and lust for glory has resulted in that dream becoming a true FPL Nightmare. I will regret my actions until my dying day, for few men get the chance to enter the World's Greatest Mini-League, and now, I have spoilt it for myself." He then officially resigned from the division.
The Chancellor's resignation led to a spate of green arrows before a ball was kicked, as everyone from fifth-place down rose one place in the standings. By the gameweek's end, only six Gentlemen finished with a fall in the rankings, four of which were caused by the success of Professor Storey's Free Hit, which gave him a seven-place rise. Sirloin Sean's huge 28-point hit caused him to drop a place, while the sixth red arrow was for Ginger Ben, whose eight-point hit backfired and has left him without Salah in his squad.
It would have been even worse for the Ginger One, had it not been for the abject failure of Wout Weghorst in front of goal. All three of his main title rivals captained the Burnley striker, lured in by his fourteen points in Gameweek 26 and him being part of the only team to play twice. It was a feat he could not repeat on this occasion, scoring just three points across two games and leaving Go Cartin, Jockin' Jeeves and myself frustrated at not being able to steal a greater march on the Mackem Messiah. That was the only good news for Ginger Ben though, as Jeeves and Cartin's Free Hits meant they outscored him by thirty points or more. Indeed, the Ginger One's hits meant he emerged from the gameweek with just 35 points and needing to use his free transfer to draft Salah back in, circumstances which have dealt a severe blow to his title chances.
While the failures of Weghorst were frustrating for me in terms of points, in terms of the title picture, the Dutch international proved vital. Without his second game, I would've been left naming Son as captain. While that decision would've brought in an extra six points, Cartin and Jeeves would likely have gone with Kane, knowing I was unable to secure his services. Doing so would've meant they clawed back further points on my lead, so while Weghorst's outcome was disappointing, in the context of the title race, I am left grateful that the three of us were seduced by his extra game. Indeed, only two managers who owned Weghorst in the whole division gained extra points by not captaining him, with both Red Hot Rob and Big Steve captaining the Tottenham big-hitters, so nothing was lost through my captaincy. Indeed, it could well be that my rivals are left cursing their own lack of courage in backing a single-gameweek player, which could well impair their decision-making process in the double gameweeks to come.
With two of the biggest threats to my chances of completing the King's Quest playing their Wildcard, it was always going to be a gameweek of damage limitation for the Lords, and despite being outscored by Cartin and Jeeves, I have emerged in a stronger position. My cushion over second place has extended from 28 points to 42, I have an extra free transfer to play in Gameweek 28 and I have an extra Free Hit in the bag to my three closest rivals. How I use that extra Free Hit will dominate my thoughts until the transfer deadline, with different chip strategies offering different potential advantages. With Chelsea now playing twice in Gameweek 28, I am tempted to play one of my Free Hits immediately, stuff my team with nine players playing twice, Alexander-Arnold and Salah and really push to widen the gap to those behind me. Doing so would mean burning a transfer, however, and that is something that needs to be considered, especially following a gameweek where the only team playing twice performed abysmally.
The Wildcard remains an option, especially with a Free Hit to play in Gameweek 30, but I would imagine I'll dead-end my team into Gameweek 29, Free Hit in Gameweek 30 and Wildcard in one of the subsequent gameweeks, retaining a Free Hit and my Bench Boost for the run-in. With so many possible strategies and so much immediate upside, however, anything could happen between now and the deadline. I feel the chips will prove pivotal in determining the destination of the League of Gentlemen trophy, and I won't be the only title contender burning the midnight oil in an attempt to craft the perfect strategy.
The Cup Chronicles
The Gentlemen's Trophy got under way this gameweek, and the first-leg results left us with some intriguing situations ahead of Gameweek 28. In the triple-threat ties, Wooden Spoon Helling and Slick Rick hold shock advantages, while Grinchy Vogt has a slight lead despite missing the transfer deadline and fielding just nine players without a captain. Jockin' Jeeves has a small lead in the clash of the Elite, though Mighty Mouse's captaining of Cancelo keeping the advantage down. Red Hot Rob and I have decent advantages ahead of the second leg, Gladiator Glen has Kane to thank for a twelve-point lead over Deadly Daz, while Professor Storey, Uncaged Bage and Brad the Lad all played their Free Hit, scoring very similar and leaving their tie finely poised.
In the straight head-to-head clashes, Sirloin Sean somehow holds a one-point lead despite a 28-point hit, Big Steve is ten points up on The Ox, and Terminator Tris is twenty points up on Daredevil Daisy, who scored just eighteen points. Go Cartin, Dan the Dragon and Private Parvesh have some breathing room in their ties, with enough of an advantage over their lower-ranked rivals to relax a bit. Meanwhile, Big-Time Birkett vs Hitman Hodgson and Killer Kev vs Lionheart Lamb remain firmly in the balance, with less than two points between the teams. With the extra fixtures in Gameweek 28, anything could yet happen in Round One, and even those with the biggest advantages will have to be wary of a well-played chip.
Gentlemen's Trophy, Round One, First Leg scores
A rare green arrow next to both Wooden Spoon Helling and Lethal Lee's names this week, with the Chancellor's resignation meaning the vast majority of teams rose in the rankings. Helling made up 38 points on his rival for last place, narrowing the distance between the two men to 34 points. Glorious Gaz, Who Horner and Daredevil Daisy all failed to reach twenty points, which meant Maverick Mikey's twenty-point hit went unpunished. Uncaged Bage, Professor Storey, Private Parvesh, Killer Kev and Brad the Lad all rose multiple places after using a Free Hit, with Brad the Lad now finding himself up to twelfth in the table. Level on points but a place behind on transfers made is Grinchy Vogt, who survived his deadline disaster without too much damage and even managed to close the gap to the top ten, having outscored the hit-taking Dragon by eight points. Rising three places to the top of the Irrelevants is Red Hot Rob, who secured the fourth-highest score of the gameweek without needing to use a Free Hit. He now finds himself just a point away from the Elite, and will be aiming to take that next step in the coming gameweek.
It was a tough gameweek for King Ding, who ended up with only eight players and scoring just 31 points. The four-time champion has found the League of Gentlemen tough these last two seasons, with motivation being a key issue having become the first man to win the title in successive seasons in 2019-20. Indeed, had it not been for the resignation of the Chancellor, the King would have found himself back in the Irrelevants; as it is, he remains one of the Elite by the skin of his teeth. He was overtaken by Hitman Hodgson, who moved three points clear after scoring 47 points, who also closed the gap to Terminator Tris to 27 points. The Terminator's fine run of form came to an end this week, with his 38 points not enough to prevent Mighty Mouse moving ahead by fourteen points, and with Mighty Mouse holding a two-chip advantage, you have to expect the veteran of nine top-100k finishes to extend that lead in the gameweeks to come.
Whether that would be enough to catch Jockin' Jeeves remains to be seen, with the two-time league champion now 89 points clear in fourth after a Free Hit score of 66 points. Even with a Triple Captain in hand, the task facing Mighty Mouse looks more difficult by the gameweek, though with so many variables in the fixture list ahead, anything is still possible. Jeeves, though, will only be looking at those teams ahead of him. He made up considerable ground on third-place Ginger Ben, outscoring him by 31 points to cut the gap to just seven points. Giving the Rap Rob Roy even more confidence is seeing the Ginger Goliath sell Salah, while the Wildcard advantage he also holds could well prove pivotal. It was this stretch of the season which curtailed the Mackem Messiah's chances last season, and he will have to show remarkable foresight and courage to stay in the hunt when Jeeves plays that Wildcard. Only a point was made up to second place for Jeeves, with Go Cartin also playing a Free Hit, but the Townhead Gunner ends the gameweek closer to second place than he began, and that will feel like a success, even if the points gain will disappoint him somewhat.
The Man Who Would Be King
For me, this gameweek was simply massive. It was a huge gamble to not only refrain from a Free Hit, but to roll my free transfer to give myself a better chance of attacking next week, and it's one that has paid off. Careful squad management meant I was able to field eleven players, and though they weren't the best options available, they did enough to extend my lead to 42 points. With an extra Free Hit to my three closest rivals, I now have an advantage in a future gameweek; with an extra free transfer, I have an advantage next time out. Entering Gameweek 28, I have four players that double-up, as does Cartin, while Jeeves only has three. Jeeves and I share two players, while Cartin and I have three of the same doublers, which feels like a strong platform for me to push on. However, I cannot get complacent. Double gameweeks bring great opportunity, but they also hold great danger. One bad captaincy call could see my advantage decimated; one brave transfer window could see somebody soar through the field and take me out. The pressure grows every gameweek, and with it, the potential for the most heartbreaking FPL Nightmare I've ever endured. I've risen to 33,469 in the overall rankings after a brave Gameweek 27. I can only hope that my position is even stronger in one gameweek's time.
That concludes the round-up of Gameweek 27, which saw the Free Hits land some telling blows, which saw my advantage and hopes continue to grow, and which saw the Chancellor decide that he had to go. Ahead of Gameweek 28, 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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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.