The League of Gentlemen caught fire in Gameweek Nine, with three Hundred Club entries, 27 scores of eighty or more points and a new league leader, after the Grinch’s great gamble backfired in spectacular fashion.
After nine gameweeks, the chickens came home to roost. A season of hubris, manipulations and shenanigans caught up with Grinchy Vogt in Gameweek Nine, as the FPL Gods delivered the karmic retribution the Gentlemen have been waiting for. Whether it was boredom, greed or a bit of both, he opted to give the captaincy to Vardy in a gameweek where Salah was the only option. As Vardy went off injured at half-time with a single point to his name, the Grinch’s cheeks clenched. Bar Wildman Whitfield, everyone else in the top twenty had named Salah as captain. His position at the top of the table was under threat like never before. He prayed to the FPL Gods for salvation. His desperation pleas went unheard, as the heavens closed their doors and sent him down the highway to Hellier.
Even before Sunday’s games, Vogt was in trouble. Saturday’s results had seen Carl ‘the Chancellor’ Hellier move into first place on points, though the Grinch knew Livramento’s nine points would rise off his bench to keep him top. He needed Vardy to produce, yet the Leicester legend injured himself in the warm-up. At that point, Vogt believed the Gods were on his side. His vice-captain was Salah, and his promotion to captain would save the day. Then the news came through: Vardy was going to give it his best shot. With his head in his hands, the Grinch saw the top-scoring striker struggle for mobility and involvement, as his injury limited any attempts to influence proceedings. At half-time, Vardy was withdrawn from action, his race run, his points total just one.
The Grinch knew he was in trouble, given the inspired form of Salah and the shambolic state of Manchester United’s defence. Nobody could have predicted how wrathful the FPL Gods would be. With vengeance wrought from the Old Testament, they delivered unto their prophet one assist, three goals and twenty-four points. Everyone chasing the Grinch saw their totals boosted by forty-eight points as Magic Mo’s total was doubled, and when Alexander-Arnold provided a further ten points, the FPL Nightmare was completed. The Grinch was displaced at the top. The one man the Grinch can’t influence, the non-contactable Chancellor, had more than doubled his score. The Grinch’s twenty-eight-point lead at the top became a twenty-seven-point deficit, with three other Gentlemen within ten points of his second-place score. His aura has been shattered. His confidence has been broken. With one bad decision, the sense of inevitability of his eventual supremacy that had grown since last Christmas vanished. The FPL Gods love a sacrifice, and Grinchy Vogt’s arrogance is the greatest one they have ever received.
Such an outcome will have seismic repercussions throughout the division, with the entire division now filled with the belief that they, too, can get back in the hunt with just two or three key decisions. A fifty-five-point swing for the Chancellor demonstrates to the rest of the Elite how close they really are to top spot. His sensational ascendancy to the apex of the table marks him as the man to beat, with the side-effect of the confidence boost to the chasing pack. He will have to delve deep into his red briefcase to fend off the wolves on his tail, yet he has already thrived in the face of adversity this season. With the division-high score, a Hundred Club entry and a comfortable cushion over his rivals, the pressure is on the Elite to stop the Chancellor flying off ahead like a Bat out of Hellier.
It’s a pressure I am feeling strongly, with the last three gameweeks proving a real struggle to maintain my position. Though Salah and Alexander-Arnold’s performances led me a Gameweek Nine total of ninety points, they were points that all my closest non-Vogt rivals also gained. The rest of my squad’s efforts resulted in a second-successive gameweek of being outscored by Go Cartin, while this is the fifth time on the bounce Jockin’ Jeeves has ended the gameweek with more points than the Lords. The only two things keeping me in the mix are my strong opening gameweeks and my absence of transfer hits, and it is proving tough not to sacrifice four or eight points and reinvigorate my squad, especially given the way the division came alive this gameweek. With £6.4m in the bank, the option is there to take a four-point penalty and upgrade Benrahma and Gray to Foden and Son, and with Crystal Palace and Manchester United the opponents for those potential signings, the allure of the shiny new toys is strong. However, walking the King’s Road has led me to my best start ever, and despite my disappointing scores over the past month, I am inside the top-200k and still in the title hunt. This is my final opportunity to complete the King’s Quest, and to have a chance, I have to play the game differently. The old Lord Geord would’ve already taken the hit, and probably an extra one to switch Rudiger to Chilwell. This time, I simply must refrain. The plan was to only consider hits in the event of an injury crisis, a blank gameweek or a double gameweek. The FPL Gods have filled my heart with temptation. I feel my only hope of success is to resist, for one hit will become two, and before I know it, I’ll have transferred my title hopes away. Let others take the gambles; for me this season, consistency must be my greatest differential.
The Cup Chronicles
Matchday Five of the Gentlemen’s Classic gave us some answers as to the qualifiers for Stage Two, with six of the Gentlemen who will advance confirmed. The Ox guaranteed his progression with a resounding thirty-point destruction of Grinchy Vogt, and should he avoid defeat by seven or more points in Matchday Six, he will top Group A ahead of fellow qualifier Ginger Ben. Hitman Hodgson’s narrow victory over the Iceman sees last year’s winner into Stage Two, and if both he and the Iceman win in Matchday Six, he will pip the other Gentlemen to advance from Group B, Jockin’ Jeeves, to top spot via head-to-head record. Big Steve and Sirloin Sean have both made it through from their respective groups, and the only question that remains is who will join them. Despite a dismal run of form in the league, the Classic fixtures have fallen kindly for Group C’s Deadly Daz, and his victory over Flash Funk keeps his hopes of progression alive after Red Hot Rob was defeated by Big Steve. My elimination from Group D was confirmed after the Chancellor’s sensational performance, a result which takes him into a straight shoot-out with league champion Dan the Dragon in Matchday Six. The new league leader needs a victory of fifteen points or more to complete the great escape, and with four players featuring in Gameweek Ten’s final match, it’s a result that will hang in the balance right until the last ball is kicked.
Gentlemen's Classic results, Matchday Five:
The Ox 81 - 51 Grinchy Vogt
The Masterchef 85 - 85 Ginger Ben
King Ding 82 - 94 Jockin' Jeeves
Iceman Newton 84 - 88 Hitman Hodgson
Red Hot Rob 79 - 85 Big Steve
Deadly Daz 57 – 44 Flash Funk
Sirloin Sean 96 - 85 Dan the Dragon
The Chancellor 106 - 90 Lord Geord
Matchday Six permutations:
Group A: The Ox and Ginger Ben have both qualified.
Group B: Jockin’ Jeeves and Hitman Hodgson have both qualified. While Iceman Newton could match the Hitman’s total, he would still miss out on head-to-head record.
Group C: Big Steve has qualified. Red Hot Rob will qualify if he can get a win or a draw against Flash Funk. For Deadly Daz to qualify, he must beat Big Steve and Flash Funk must beat Red Hot Rob.
Group D: Sirloin Sean has qualified. The Chancellor must defeat Dan the Dragon by fifteen points or more to qualify. Any other result will see Dan the Dragon advance.
The Eliminator claimed a further two victims in Gameweek Nine, with the struggling Slick Rick finally succumbing to the inevitable after scoring a measly 36 points. Deadly Daz skirted close to disaster once again, only to be saved in the final match of the gameweek by the assist of Alexander-Arnold. Instead, the second man to leave the competition was the biggest name so far, with Grinchy Vogt’s FPL Nightmare solidified by his shock exit after a dismal 55 points. His departure serves as a warning to the rest of the Gentlemen, who now have the starkest example yet of how one poor decision can result in their Elimination from FPL’s most arduous competition.
The only two chips played in Gameweek Nine came in the Irrelevants, and the contrast in results showcased the importance of timing the deployment of these weapons correctly. Maverick Mikey played his Bench Boost, a decision which looked terrible from the start given the weakness of his substitutes, and which ultimately yielded just four extra points. In contrast, Private Parvesh’s Wildcard produced sensational results, with his Hundred Club entry seeing him rise 1.5m places in the overall rankings. Deadly Daz continues to fall in the table, and Jez Messing can report that he has taken a huge transfer penalty to reshape his squad completely ahead of Gameweek Ten, in the hope that sacrificing points now will lead to improved performance in the gameweeks to come. There is still much volatility in positions in the Irrelevants, something Gladiator Glen and Terminator Tris have taken advantage of to climb to fourteenth and thirteenth respectively after Wildman Whitfield’s decision to captain Mane over Salah went horribly wrong. King Ding’s struggles to reach the Elite grew harder as he dropped a place to twelfth, though it could’ve been far worse, with captain Alonso’s omission from the Chelsea team meaning vice-captain Salah’s huge haul was doubled. The Hitman replaced him in eleventh place, while Mighty Mouse finally dropped out of the Elite and into ninth place.
Replacing Mighty Mouse in the Elite is Big-Time Birkett, who used his two free transfers to replace Lukaku and Pogba with Aubameyang and Tielemans for a seventeen-point gain. Those extra points saw him become Gameweek Nine’s second Hundred Club entry, closing the gap to top spot to 65 points and reminding everyone of his ability after a woeful 2020-21 season. His immediate target is to find the extra nine points that will see him move ahead of Ginger Ben and Dan the Dragon into sixth place. Ominously for those above him, Big-Time is the only manager in the top eight who still has a Wildcard to play, though we have already seen that Wildcards can be both destructive and advantageous, and Birkett will need to time it correctly for maximum impact. It continues to tighten up at the top of the Elite, with only ten points separating Jockin’ Jeeves in fifth place from Grinchy Vogt in second. The big relief for those ahead of him is that Jeeves chose to bring in de Bruyne, rather than Foden, from Manchester City’s midfield; had Jeeves opted for the England starlet, he would be second right now. His patience in James through his injuries was rewarded with a thirteen-point haul, and both he and Go Cartin will believe Gameweek Ten is the time to rise in the table, with both men having outscored my team over both of the last two gameweeks and with Grinchy Vogt looking vulnerable. The rise of panic in the Grinch’s ranks makes it difficult to predict how he will react to his FPL Nightmare; with the sharks below him having caught his scent, Gameweek Ten could well become a bloodbath.
The Man Who Would Be King
The Grinch’s eight-week streak in first place was ended in Gameweek Nine, with the Chancellor smashing home a division-high 106 points to take top spot in spectacular fashion. In a game defined by FPL Nightmares, Carl Hellier’s third season in the game is what dreams are made of. Having stumbled across the first FPL Nightmare book ahead of his second campaign, he followed the League of Gentlemen from afar last season, hoping that, one day, he might be afforded the opportunity to test his skills in the World’s Greatest Mini-League. When the invitation was extended in pre-season, he embarked upon a period of intense study, knowing this would be his only chance to make a mark on the division before the book trilogy is completed. His hard work came to fruition this gameweek, with his Hundred Club entry more than doubling the gameweek score of Grinchy Vogt and taking him 27 points clear of his nearest rival. After finishing last season ranked 1.8m, the Chancellor now finds himself 34,425 out of 8.5m players worldwide, his seventh gameweek out of nine inside the top-100k. It’s a remarkable performance that has been earned through hard work and research, with his faith in Foden’s underlying statistics the key factor in this being the gameweek of his ascendency. The challenge facing the Chancellor now is that the element of surprise is gone; no more will people overlook him because of his historical record, no longer will people expect him to fade away as the season unfolds. The target is now on his back, and how he deals with that pressure will define his role in this story’s climax, especially now he has proven to his rivals that one great gameweek can turn it all around. Whatever unfolds between now and Gameweek Thirty-Eight, the Chancellor’s name will always be remembered, and the story of the underdog that displaced the Grinch with a 55-point thrashing will never be forgotten.
That concludes our round-up of Gameweek Nine, which saw six of the eight qualifiers for Stage Two of the Classic confirmed, which saw three Gentlemen enter the Hundred Club, and which saw Grinchy Vogt’s FPL Nightmare set the Gentlemen off on the Highway to Hellier. Ahead of Gameweek Ten, 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, Gameweek Ten:
The Masterchef vs Grinchy Vogt
The Ox vs Ginger Ben
Iceman Newton vs Jockin’ Jeeves
King Ding vs Hitman Hodgson
Deadly Daz vs Big Steve
Red Hot Rob vs Flash Funk
The Chancellor vs Dan the Dragon
Sirloin Sean vs Lord Geord
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