In a topsy-turvy gameweek, it was those who have struggled so far who hit the biggest scores. Meanwhile, Matchday One of the Gentlemen's Classic saw some shock results.
Just when you think the season is becoming predictable, the FPL Gods intervene with a gameweek that inspires the slow-starters and reminds the pace-setters just how much further the competition has to run. The top six gameweek scores came from the Irrelevants, with Terminator Tris finally announcing his arrival in the division with a score of 89 points, which featured five players hauling. The defending league champion, Dan the Dragon, was the second-highest scoring manager, with his 78 points raising him to the Elite for the first time this season, and sending a message that he will not give up his title without a fight. Gladiator Glen, Ash the Bash and the Mack Daddy also ended the gameweek with scores to be proud of, though there is still work to be done before they can threaten the upper reaches of the table.
The big story, however, was that of the Masterchef. Having been banned from the Facebook press conferences due to some questionable humour, he has struggled to engage in the opening gameweeks, a situation that left him sixth-from-bottom at the end of Gameweek Four, with a squad that looked poor on paper and even worse in practice. Determined to make an impression in the final chronicled season, he timed his Wildcard for the start of the Gentlemen's Classic, where he faced league leader and braggadocio Grinchy Vogt in the toughest of opening games. It was a tight match, that was neck-and-neck throughout the gameweek, and ultimately it came down to squad depth. With Torres playing zero minutes, both men turned to their substitutes, and Vogt found his bargain-basement approach to his bench lacking, with nobody able to step in. The Masterchef saw Livramento rise to the occasion, taking the field and bringing home five crucial points to turn defeat into a shock victory, one that truly highlights the flaws in the Grinch's game and reminds the rest of the Gentlemen that, for all his big talk and his bright start, Shameless Simon has weaknesses to his game that could well prove costly over the cold winter months.
Of course, those weaknesses are very well-hidden at the moment. The Grinch managed to extend his lead at the top to 23 points, pulling further away from his nearest challengers and climbing back into the top-1k overall. Equally as satisfying for the Grinch was seeing another six Wildcards played, including one from Jockin' Jeeves. While five of those Wildcards brought great joy, the sixth was played by the Masterchef, and was a critical factor in the Grinch's Gentlemen's Classic campaign getting off to a losing start. Shameless Simon also lured five managers into taking transfer hits, and what he found most enjoyable was convincing Maverick Mikey to return to his old mega-hit ways. The Maverick took a -40 this gameweek, dropping himself fifteen places in the table and undermining all his good work so far. The hardest thing in this game is changing habits, and now the Grinch has caused the transfer addict to relapse so destructively, it's hard to see the Maverick recovering.
I speak with authority over the dangers of transfer addiction because I am a recovering addict myself, and it is paralysing me somewhat in the transfer market. For the second gameweek in three, I was left with a challenge to field a full team due to injury, which meant the retention of the cursed Harvey Barnes for yet another gameweek. I took a chance and started Tsimikas, and while I was rewarded for my courage with a clean sheet, the unexpected absence of Alexander-Arnold saw a whole host of my rivals receive the benefits of substitute budget defenders who had secured returns, rendering my gamble irrelevant. I opted to use my transfer to replace the injured Dier, rather than Wilson, and I brought in Semedo, thinking his attacking threat in a defensively-sound team offered the most hope of a haul. Alas, Wolves found themselves on the wrong end of a hiding, while Toney, who I sold last time out instead of the injured Wilson, fired in twelve points. It was a poor gameweek for me, scoring only 55 points and falling fifteen further behind the Grinch, so I have deviated from my masterplan and activated my Wildcard a gameweek early. I do so because I have no intention of replacing Salah or Ronaldo, so it makes more sense to gain an extra gameweek's boost from the supporting cast than trundle on with a bunch of players I no longer desire. Hopefully, it's a gamble that pays off better than the one I took on the woeful Harvey Barnes at the start of the season. It's time for the Lords to step up a gear, and the Wildcard is the perfect way to make that happen.
The Cup Chronicles
It was an exciting start to the Gentlemen's Classic Group Stages, with the Masterchef's victory over Grinchy Vogt the highlight. There were several other wins for lower-seeded teams, with King Ding's close-fought success over defending Classic champion Hitman Hodgson the other main headline grabber, while The Ox, Red Hot Rob and Sirloin Sean were other competitors to beat opponents seeded higher in the draw. Perhaps the most intriguing result was in the game between Big Steve and Deadly Daz, with both men scoring 55 to split the points. A tied game is rare in this competition, and when one appears, it tends to blow the group open. Meanwhile, league champion Dan the Dragon got off to a winning start, defeating the Chancellor quite comfortably. Sirloin Sean's one-point victory over my team means that the three managers who began the gameweek in the medal positions lost their opening matches, though there is still plenty of time to recover.
Gentlemen's Classic results, Matchday One:
Grinchy Vogt 70 - 74 The Masterchef
Ginger Ben 62 - 68 The Ox
Jockin' Jeeves 60 - 56 Iceman Newton
Hitman Hodgson 65 - 67 King Ding
Big Steve 55 - 55 Deadly Daz
Flash Funk 28 - 55 Red Hot Rob
Dan the Dragon 78 - 64 The Chancellor
Lord Geord 55 - 56 Sirloin Sean
In the Eliminator, division newcomer Killer Kev's 28 points meant he never had a chance of survival. The bigger shock was the second name to fall, as last year's sixth-place finisher Flash Funk scored just 32 points, becoming Gameweek Five's second competitor to fall at the feet of the most gruelling competition in all of FPL.
As those in the Irrelevants continue to jostle for position, the need for progress is becoming critical. Everyone from fifteenth down is now more than a hundred points off the pace, and even at this early stage of the season, title dreams are beginning to be written off. Killer Kev drops to the bottom of the league this gameweek, while the Maverick was the manager who fell the furthest, with his forty-point hit nothing more than madness. Terminator Tris was the biggest climber, moving up to seventeenth spot following a division-high score, while League of Gentlemen veterans the Masterchef, Sirloin Sean, the Mack Daddy, Iceman Newton, Hitman Hodgson and King Ding all ended the gameweek higher than they began. Deadly Daz and Big-Time Birkett both fell from the Elite to the Irrelevants, but they - and King Ding - are within one return of reaching the Elite. As experience starts to show, expect the veterans to keep climbing in the ranks in the coming gameweeks.
The Elite ends Gameweek Five in two distinct groups, with the chasing pack of Ginger Ben, Dan the Dragon, Mighty Mouse and Jockin' Jeeves all within ten points of each other. The signing of Bamford was what enabled Ginger Ben to leapfrog Deadly Daz into eighth place, a situation that was extra sweet for the Mackem given his assist came against Newcastle. The Dragon's decision to roll his transfer proved astute, with his 78 points the second-highest in the division and with two free transfers now available to push even harder next time out. Mighty Mouse took a hit to replace Calvert-Lewin and Kane with Bamford and Ronaldo, a move that left him five points better off and with a stronger squad, though his 55-point total limited any positional advantage, while Jockin' Jeeves used his Wildcard to secure sixty points and move up to fifth.
A twenty-five point gap emerges to my team in fourth, and I was grateful for that cushion after a poor gameweek by the standards I have set so far. I ended with 55 points, but it was an uphill struggle all gameweek, with only three players securing returns. Without the haul of captain Salah, I'd have been in big trouble, but his twelve points makes it four hauls from five captains so far and keeps me in a good position to build on with my Wildcard. Go Cartin's own hit improved his score by ten points, seeing him climb to third even with two players scoring zero. The pre-season predictions that he would be a dangerous contender are coming true, though I would be very disappointed if my Wildcard squad doesn't make up the one-point difference in Gameweek Six. The Chancellor's fairytale start continues, and though the gap to the top has extended by six points, he will be grateful for Rudiger's stunning fourteen-point intervention in the final match of the gameweek, a haul that keeps Grinchy Vogt within touching distance.
The Man Who Would Be King
Despite his Gentlemen's Classic defeat, Grinchy Vogt will be delighted with Gameweek Five. Jockin' Jeeves' use of the Wildcard prior to the deadline, and my activation of the same chip emerging from the gameweek, means none of his closest rivals have their Wildcard in hand, something he will feel helps his cause. Not only that, he extended his lead at the top by six points, taking him to 417 points and 730 in the world in the overall rankings. It's the third gameweek out of the opening five he has finished inside the top-1k, and while those behind may have their Triple Captain chips remaining, even emulating the Grinch's extra seventeen points from his Gameweek One gambit would not be enough to overhaul him. While he has not matched his January 2021 form of 421 points from five gameweeks, his performance has been exquisite, and since last season's How Grinchy Vogt Stole Christmas story, when he was officially rebranded after the curmudgeonly character, nobody has come close to his levels of performance. Whether he can maintain them for another thirty-three gameweeks remains to be seen, but he is well and truly the man to beat, and it will take a heroic performance for a contender to rise and save the FPL Nightmare saga from such a villainous ending to the tale.
That concludes the round-up of Gameweek Five, which saw the Masterchef create a Classic upset, which saw the Gentlemen Terminated by Tris, and which saw Grinchy Vogt tighten his grip over the title race. Ahead of Gameweek Six, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods be in your favour.
Gentlemen's Classic fixtures, Matchday Two:
Grinchy Vogt vs The Ox
Ginger Ben vs The Masterchef
Jockin' Jeeves vs King Ding
Hitman Hodgson vs Iceman Newton
Big Steve vs Red Hot Rob
Flash Funk vs Deadly Daz
Dan the Dragon vs Sirloin Sean
Lord Geord vs The Chancellor
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