With the first gameweek in the books, five Gentlemen began the season by entering the fabled Hundred Club, while it's clear the Gentlemen will do whatever it takes to triumph this season, and that handling the Grinch's games will be crucial to any success.
As the first gameweek deadline of the season passed, Grinchy Vogt sat back and waited for the website to update. Weeks of banter, mind-games, misdirection, false information and challenges had brought him to this moment, and as he waited to see if anyone had fallen for it, he felt confident in the playing of his own Triple Captain chip. In the final instalment of the FPL Nightmare saga, the Grinch is prepared to do whatever it takes to triumph over the 41-person field, and to give the trilogy the darkest ending imaginable. There is no provocation, dirty trick or mental war-game too low for Shameless Simon, and the Gentlemen will have to be wise to his manipulations to emerge triumphant.
As the opening teams were revealed, Vogt grinchily cackled, unable to disguise his delight at what he saw before him. He had led Lamb to the slaughter, overwhelming the Lionheart's senses to the point where the debutante had used his Triple Captain chip on Lukaku, who had been announced as unavailable due to quarantine. Vogt's use of an old headline to convince his rivals that Salah was ruled out through Covid had proven unsuccessful, but his 'Twitter inside track' claim of Lukaku receiving a special exemption from quarantine had worked a charm. Though vice-Triple Captain Wilson scored to prevent a true FPL Nightmare, the damage was done, and the winner of some bootleg fantasy competition understood intimately what a step-up in calibre FPL is, and the level of challenge that awaits in the World's Greatest Mini-League.
Rubbing salt in the wound for the rest of the Gentlemen was the Grinch proving correct with his call for Triple Captaincies. With only ten of the forty-one competitors not captaining Salah or Bruno, everybody else would have achieved the sort of score you dream of for your Triple Captain. Last year's highest-scoring Triple Captaincy was my Gundogan, with 57 points; the year before saw Salah's 48 points give Jockin' Jeeves and The Ox the best score. Bruno would've proven the highest-scoring use of the chip in League of Gentlemen history, while Salah - captained by twenty-six Gentlemen - delivered the third-highest score for the chip of all time. Only one man entrusted the treble-armband to Magic Mo, and that man ends Gameweek One thirteen points clear at the top. That man, clear at the top of Mount Crumpet, is Grinchy Vogt.
With no cup competitions beginning until Gameweek Three, the opening salvo in the division was all about league position, and it was a great start for newcomers Go Cartin and the Chancellor, who occupy the bronze and silver medal positions. Go Cartin was identified as a serious contender before the season began, and he lay down a marker by being the highest-scoring manager not to use a chip. The Chancellor, who has long-dreamt of being offered a chance in the League of Gentlemen, has seized his opportunity in stunning fashion to go second, though the waste of his Bench Boost could well cause problems later in the season. The other hotly-tipped newcomer, Mighty Mouse, ends the gameweek in joint-sixth, falling just a point shy of the Hundred Club. He shares the position with the usurped King Ding, who will be desperate to prove last season's shambles was a fluke. The King has never gone two seasons without winning the title, and his ninety-nine points are a message to the rest of the division that the King is back, outscoring the ninth-place defending champion, the Dragon, by four points.
Also notable this gameweek are the first entrants to this season's Hundred Club, with five Gentlemen breaking a century. Joining Go Cartin, the Chancellor and Grinchy Vogt in scoring three figures are Red Hot Rob, who was expected to challenge for the title last season before taking too long to adapt, and myself, Lord Geord. It's been a long summer of planning and pontificating as to how to approach this season for me, knowing that it is my final chance to complete the King's Quest in the chronicles. After two disastrous starts on the bounce, it was essential that my opening gameweek kept me in the hunt. I sacrificed the likes of Raphinha, Bamford and Jota to ensure a flexible, balanced squad with no clashes between attackers and defenders, and it paid off with 101 points and a joint-fourth position. With it possible to reach Gameweek Five with no transfers needed to avoid player clashes, my squad is well-set, and there is no need to panic in the transfer market. It's a different way of approaching the game for me, trying to play smart rather than with my heart, and this early success is a great boost.
Whether I can keep my cool remains to be seen, but if I want to have any chance of ending the season as champion, I simply must do so. This is the strongest, deepest and most challenging field in League of Gentlemen history, and any panic will be punished, any slip-up will be seized upon, and any mistake could mean the end of my dream. As it is for me, it is for the rest of the division, which we will now look at in more detail.
Given the depth of the Irrelevants this season, it will be a fight for any of them to receive mentions in the round-up. To do so, they will have to be memorable, noteworthy or just good banter, because nobody wants a run-down of 33 average performances.
It was a rude awakening for fourteen of the seventeen newcomers to the division, who already find themselves trapped in Irrelevants. Twenty-three Gentlemen, including Hitman Hodgson, Ginger Ben and the Butcher, Big Steve, failed to break the eighty-point barrier, leaving them over forty points off the pace already. Just outside of the Elite are Uncaged Bage, Deadly Daz and the Dragon, while it was a sensational start for the League of Gentlemen's youngest-ever competitor, Daredevil Daisy, who smashed home ninety points to leave far bigger names in the dust and end her first gameweek in twelfth, just a point off her father, Deadly Daz. In a comforting development, the foot of the table is already occupied by the division's mascot, Wooden Spoon Helling, who scored a miserable 36 points. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
It was a promising start for Jockin' Jeeves, King Ding and Mighty Mouse, who all fell just short of beginning the season in the Hundred Club. It was an especially impressive result for Jockin' Jeeves, who was the highest-scorer to not own twenty-point Bruno Fernandes. The gamble on omitting last season's top-scorer in order to afford Mahrez and Son failed to pay off, with Bruno outscoring the pair by eight points single-handedly, and with Mahrez failing to impress and Bruno up against a team he vanquished 9-0 last season, it provides the first opportunity to see whether the Rap Rob Roy will continue with his aggressive transfer approach that has cost him so dearly in recent years. Mighty Mouse has similar issues with Grealish's underperformance, though the price tag paid for the midfielder, combined with the greater squad depth at Mighty Mouse's disposal, should see him given another gameweek.
King Ding faces a dilemma with how to approach Iheanacho making only a cameo appearance, and though he is normally patient in the transfer market, the wealth of options available to him and the long-time Ringers favourite Ings facing a Newcastle defence that conceded four goals could see him make a move. The King will be pleased that differential pick Sarr scored nine points, and though Tierney and Shaw only brought in a point apiece, their high chance creation numbers bode well for the future. Above him, all five teams reached the Hundred Club, with myself and Red Hot Rob scoring the same amount of points despite sharing only four starting players, underlining how there are many avenues to points in this game.
Ahead of us are the new boys, John 'Go' Cartin and the Chancellor, Carl Hellier. Go Cartin made his intentions clear by naming his team 'Dragonslayers FC,' and his designs on succeeding last year's champion were helped with a fantastic 108 points. With strong cover on the bench, the veteran of two top-120k finishes in three seasons has showcased the potential that marked him out as one of the new intake's serious threats. The Chancellor is one of the League of Gentlemen's biggest fans, and his dream of playing in the division has been realised this season. It was a fairytale start, with him finishing Friday night atop the division, evoking memories of Carlisle United memorably doing so back in the old Division One. Carlisle's moment of glory remains undiminished by their subsequent relegation, and whatever happens to the Chancellor now, he can always say that, for one night, he topped the World's Greatest Mini-League. Given the cheap options available, his gamble on a Gameweek One Bench Boost had merit, but with only five points gained it's a decision that could well come back to haunt him. Flying on the wings of fantasy can do strange things, however, and perhaps the Chancellor can provide the greatest upset of them all.
The Man Who Would Be King
Every hero needs a villain, and the forty chasing Gentlemen have the greatest villain of them all to hunt down. Thirteen points clear after a successful Triple Captaincy is Grinchy Vogt, who saw Salah get him 51 points, Bruno bring home twenty points and West Ham duo Benrahma and Antonio both haul for a further 25 points. Had Amartey and Tsimikas started over two of Raphinha, White and Shaw, the Grinch would've been a further ten points ahead, which really underlines the threat he poses to the title. Having gone on an unprecedented run of form post-Christmas last season, the Grinch has begun this campaign in the same vein, and his rivals simply must not allow him to pull clear. With his mind-games and dirty tricks already having an influence, it is not just on the pitch where Shameless Simon must be bested; to defeat him this season will take real mental strength and outstanding judgement. His 122 points see him end Gameweek One ranked 2,536 in the world, and mark him down as a critical player in this unfolding saga.
That concludes our round-up to Gameweek One of the League of Gentlemen, which saw five managers enter the Hundred Club, which saw Wooden Spoon Helling go straight to the bottom, and which saw the first victim of the table-topping Grinch's shenanigans. Ahead of the Gameweek Two deadline at 11am on Saturday, 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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All Lawes wants is to win The League of Gentlemen, yet the FPL Gods are bastards that conspire against him.
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