After countless hours of plotting, Lord Geord thought he had the perfect plan. However, a colossal blunder has left his title dreams hanging in the balance.
Gameweek 34 was the pivotal gameweek of my season, the one in which I would activate my second wildcard and set myself up for the remainder of the season. So close to completing the King's Quest and earning my right to retirement, the magnitude of the moment was not lost on me, and I threw myself into the deepest research and strategy-planning session I think it's possible to have. Between watching videos, analysing my opponents, reading articles, factoring in the statistics, discussions with my advisors and formulating several potential masterplans for the remaining five gameweeks, I estimate I put about thirty full hours into designing the perfect Wildcard. At 6am on Saturday morning, five hours before the transfer deadline, I looked at the Gameweek 38 team each strategy would leave me with, chose which one I thought was strongest and made the transfers, then I closed my laptop and went to bed, exhausted but confident with my decisions.
At 9.30am, I was awoken by the screeching sound of my feline assistant manager, Lord Sven Honey-Crumpet, howling and pestering me to awake. I tried ignoring him, so needed was my rest, but the wailing continued. I tried using the language of the sailors to get him to depart from my private chambers, but still, the wailing continued. Eventually, at the peak of my frustration, I got out of bed and let him out of the house, before stomping back up the stairs, furious at the selfishness of my trusted advisor. I barely got another two hours' rest before I awoke, just in time for the team news to come in. As I loaded up LiveFPL.net to analyse the developments, the true horror Lord Honey-Crumpet had tried to alert me to became apparent.
My team selection had not saved, and Ronaldo was my last substitute.
Whether it was fatigue, complacency or the nefarious actions of a vengeful Grinchy Vogt, I cannot say for sure. All I know is that my most expensive player, the one I had sold both Son and Robertson to be able to afford, was no longer able to procure any points for my team. Not only that, but Amartey was in my starting XI, Pukki started over Nketiah and my captain was Salah, rather than Mount. I frantically refreshed the page, hoping it was some sort of blunder. I pinched my arms, hoping I was still asleep. I showed my squad to my partner, praying for her to notice something I had missed, but it was all in vain. My key man was on the bench, and there was no chance he was going to play.
I watched in resignation as he inevitably scored against Arsenal, my heartbreak abated only by the thirteen points of Saka, thirteen points I only secured because I sold three-point Son. I saw Amartey had been benched by Leicester, which brought new frustration that Nketiah's goal had been disallowed. I needed Pukki to somehow outscore Ronaldo with a full game fewer in the gameweek, and sat in frustration as the team I support gave their most accomplished performance of the season, nullifying Pukki entirely. My anguish grew as James missed the first game of his gameweek following a post-deadline injury, and the man I considered selecting instead of him, but ironically dismissed due to the uncertainty of his selection, secured an assist and a clean sheet. My pain was exacerbated by watching Robertson, whom I gambled on going without for two gameweeks to steal a march with Ronaldo, both score and keep a clean sheet. The pre-game rumours of Salah and Trent being absent were proven falsehoods, removing that last sliver of hope from the equation and denying me an accidental Saka vice-captaincy turning into 26 points. Following James somehow failing to secure any attacking returns despite a dominant performance, while Ronaldo inevitably denied him a clean sheet with a goal, the torture was over.
At the worst possible time, I made the biggest mistake possible. For the second gameweek on the bounce, I had blundered with a chip, leaving me ruing the missed opportunity and keeping the door ajar to the most devastating FPL Nightmare imaginable. My rivals still had to capitalise, however, and my position was helped by both of them taking transfer hits. Go Cartin authorised one transfer hit, swapping Son and James for Salah and Burn and coming out six points better, although captaining Salah over Havertz cost him a further two points. Jockin' Jeeves made four transfers for an eight-point penalty and lost points on the move, with the sold Chalobah matching the combined scores of the newly-signed Davies and Cancelo, with the added cost of Davies being left on the bench and his six points going to waste. Indeed, had Jeeves made no changes to his squad, he would be five points better off right now, so there is a definite sense of an opportunity missed. However, had I confirmed my team selection, he would be 95 points behind, rather than 83, so it was a definite win for him this gameweek, and now he has more players that he wants for the run-in. He also now holds a chip advantage over me, a Free Hit, which gives him more options for the two double gameweeks to come, with the possibility of having eleven players playing twice in Gameweek 37 a possibility for him that I do not have.
With four gameweeks to go, it is still all to play for. My rivals have gained some ground, and they both still have a Free Hit in hand. With two double gameweeks directly preceding the Final Day, it may seem as though Gameweek 35 will be the calm before the storm, but it's those gameweeks that have the potential to spring the biggest surprises, and I must be alert. I have already selected my team, and will be checking it fastidiously until the deadline. I really hope I can hang on and claim the title, because if I lose it after the Ronaldo Incident, I don't think I'll ever forgive myself.
The Cup Chronicles
We entered the second leg of the Gentlemen's Trophy semi-finals on the brink of the first-ever brother versus brother knockout clash in League of Gentlemen history, with both Hitman Hodgson and Dan the Dragon holding the advantage in their semi-final ties. Slick Rick stood firm with his Spurs-heavy approach, bringing in Romero as a surprise Doherty replacement and getting nine points out of it. Schmeichel and his other new signing, Anderson, added further defensive returns, but the attack let him down, with every single one of his midfielders and strikers failing to secure any returns. It left the Hitman needing only 24 points to guarantee a place in the Grand Final, a score Saka, Robertson and captain Salah ensured he far surpassed.
The question was whether the Dragon could do his part, and with a 25-point advantage, he was the heavy favourite. However, things did not go according to plan for last season's league champion. He left three of his five highest-scoring players on the bench. Those he started failed to produce. All of his attackers blanked except Salah. Only new signing Matip exceeded six points, and his eight points cost four points to bring in. All in all, it left the Dragon with just forty extra points to his total, and Brad the Lad had activated his Wildcard. When captain de Bruyne brought in 18 of the seventy points required, the Dragon was reeling. When all three of the Lad's Liverpool players secured returns, the Dragon was stunned. He still had the lead, but he was helpless as Mount took the field for the second time, knowing he had no players left to play. It needed one of Mount's famous hauls, but despite being central to wave after wave of Chelsea attacks, Mount could not add to his score. It left Brad the Lad ruing his Wildcard choices, knowing that going for Alonso over Cancelo would have seen him in the final. It leaves the rest of us excited by something we thought might never happen: Brother Versus Brother, best two gameweeks out of three, in the Gentlemen's Trophy Grand Final.
Gentlemen's Trophy, Semi-Final results:
Grinchy Vogt's desperate attempts to achieve notoriety look like paying off, with last place virtually assured unless he changes his mind again. He's now only 22 points clear of Lethal Lee, who will surely surpass him in Gameweek 35. Beyond the Grinch's fall, the only change in the bottom ten was Daredevil Daisy climbing above Slick Rick into 31st following a 74-point salvo. Professor Storey fell three places to 25th, while Big Time Birkett dropped out of the top twenty after several weeks of straddling the halfway mark. He was replaced in twentieth by Dodger Rodgers, while Sirloin Sean, Deadly Daz, Killer Kev, Private Parvesh and Gladiator Glen held their positions, from nineteenth to fifteenth respectively. Brad the Lad's Wildcard could not save him in the cup, but it did lift him above Big Steve into thirteenth, while Terminator Tris hit the gameweek's highest score to replace Stone Cold Stephen Levins in eleventh. Ash the Bash and Red Hot Rob both remain on the cusp of the Elite, and both men closed the gap to eighth spot this week, but there's is still a 28-point cushion Red Hot Rob needs to make up to escape Irrelevants before the end of the season.
It was a tough gameweek for King Ding, who saw comfortable victories for Newcastle and Manchester City occur with his three assets from those teams failing to play any part in proceedings. While substitute Dennis did manage to secure an assist, it was slim pickings elsewhere for the four-time champion, who lost both twenty points and seventh place to Hitman Hodgson. The Hitman enters Gameweek 35 with a cup final to prepare for, and he will know that success in that final will also aid his league standings, with the Dragon only eighteen points away in fifth place. Separating the brothers is Mighty Mouse, and while all three of those Gentlemen have a Bench Boost to play, Mighty Mouse also retains his Triple Captain chip. With King Ding holding the Wildcard and Bench Boost double-up, however, this four-way battle for fifth place has many more twists and turns to go.
Ginger Ben's 58 points was the lowest of the top four, but he has a 46-point lead over the fifth-place Dragon, his squad seems well-prepared for Double Gameweek 36 and he still holds a Free Hit in hand, so his focus will be on trying to close the gap to the medal places. Gameweek 34 makes that challenge harder, with Go Cartin now 72 points ahead and also with a Free Hit to play, but Ginger Ben has shown his proficiency in double gameweeks before and he will fancy his chances of selecting the right differential players to make up the gap. As ever, though, he will live or die by the hits he takes, and a minus-eight to remove fifteen-point Ward-Prowse served as another example of the inherent risks of such an approach. Robertson's goal briefly put Go Cartin back into second position, until Jockin' Jeeves's three Chelsea doublers and captain Havertz moved him eight points clear in the silver medal position. Crucially, he also closed the gap to top spot by five points, and though there was some fortuity in that outcome, if he finishes the season in first place, only one man will remember that this was a gameweek where Jeeves should have lost further ground.
The Man Who Would Be King
That man, of course, is myself, and should I lose the title from this position, those twelve lost points will play on my mind for a long, long time to come. Making the wrong decisions, like choosing Alexander-Arnold and James for seven points over Robertson and Alonso for 34 points, that can be forgiven, because nailing the variance in one gameweek is a difficult challenge, and it could easily have gone the other way. Forgetting to save my team, however, is a tougher pill to swallow. The human error brought on by obsession was laid bare this week, a cautionary tale to any reader who gets too obsessed with the game. Indeed, of the final three masterplans I concocted, any one of them would have seen my lead extended at the top. The only way I could have lost ground was through a stupid mistake, and for the second gameweek running, I have made that mistake. Some are saying I am becoming Pep Geordiola, overthinking the process in the biggest moments and costing myself the biggest prize, and there may have been an element of truth to that. The only relief is that the masterplan would have been successful, had I not made that error, and that gives me faith going forward. There is no reason to overthink these final four high-pressure gameweeks, because I have my plan, with the possibility of a hit or two accounted for should injury or suspension strike. I know what I'm doing. I know the transfers I am making. It's a very good plan. I just hope it can see me through. I'm down to 15,507 in the overall rankings, seventeen points off the top-10k and forty points off the top-5k. I will need a lot of luck to achieve those targets, but while they would be nice, this is all about winning the League of Gentlemen. I'm 83 points clear. Four gameweeks to go. One gameweek at a time.
That concludes our round-up of Gameweek 34 in the League of Gentlemen, one which saw Lord Geord's technical mishap open the door, which saw the Hodgson brothers get the results required to give us a brother versus brother Grand Final, and which saw the brutal variance of fifty-fifty decisions highlighted right when the Gentlemen will need to make several key choices. Ahead of Gameweek 35, may all your transfers be successful, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods be in your favour.
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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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