For the second gameweek running, one of the slow starters hit the highest score. As the Gentlemen's Classic heated up, Grinchy Vogt cemented his hold on top spot.
After an attacking blitz in the opening gameweeks, the high-scores have eased off over the last couple of gameweeks, with Gameweek Six's highest score being just 64 points. That total would have left the Gentlemen cut adrift in the opening fortnight of the division, but with the initial burst of energy tailing off as the season settles down, returns have been like gold dust, with every one having greater impact for the scarcity.
It was the second gameweek running where the highest score came from a newcomer languishing in the Irrelevants. While last gameweek's main man, Terminator Tris, built upon his strong performance with a solid 49 points this time out, it was his bandmate who hit the highest notes. Stone Cold Stephen Levins, whose only transfer was to switch between the two Watford goalkeepers, saw his faith in his outfielders rewarded. Though his defence brought in just six points from four players, his attack - led by captain Vardy, who secured 22 points - carried him to the top of the gameweek standings, five points clear of second-place Mack Daddy McMahon, who relied upon his Triple Captain chip. After a tough start to the campaign, Stone Cold's performance sees him rise five places in the table and closes the gap on those above him considerably. It's a moment to savour for the newcomer to the division, but the bottom line is that greater consistency is required if he is to continue his climb.
At the top of the table, Grinchy Vogt's grip on first place tightened after securing the third-highest gameweek score in the division. Now 34 points clear at the top and over a hundred points away from all but twelve of his rivals, the Grinch's confidence is growing, as is the aura around him to the newcomers to the division. The veteran managers know that it is far too early to celebrate, something which is backed up by history.
In 2019/20, the Butcher was 73 points clear at this stage. He lost the title race by 27 points. In 2020/21, Slick Rick was top of the table at this stage. He finished sixteenth in the final league table. Of further interest to the chasing pack is what has happened in Gameweek Seven over the past two seasons. In 2019-20, the runaway league leader, the Butcher, scored the second-lowest total in the division, with his Spurs defender scoring minus-two points, a result which saw him drop out of the top-1k. Given Vogt's ownership of Reguilon from Spurs' misfiring defence and his own top-1k overall ranking, the possibility of lightning striking twice is strong - especially when Gameweek Seven last season was titled 'Benchmark of Success,' due to the amount of top players that were absent, forcing a reliance upon substitutes. Vogt's squad has three injury doubts and two players out-of-favour, and with his bench deliberately weakened, he could well struggle to field eleven players. If that turns out to be the case, we could well see a repeat of his performance from that gameweek, where he was thrashed by several managers with stronger depth in their squads.
The inexperienced managers in the division will see Vogt pulling away a little further, and may start to think this season will turn into a procession. The more experienced know that the World's Greatest Mini-League isn't won in Gameweek Six, and that any manager is capable of putting a short run together based on a couple of shrewd decisions. To be a champion involves mastery of the transfer market, and so far, that is where Vogt is suffering. His first signing, Coufal, scored just one point and was sold a gameweek later. His second transfer, Bamford, was injured the same gameweek and hasn't been seen since. In the gameweek he used his Wildcard, his overall rank was doubled after some poor choices, like Torres, who has played just 63 minutes in three gameweeks since. As the season becomes more intense and more decisions have to be made, the signs are there that the Grinch - who has already used two of his chips - will see the cracks in his game widen to chasms.
The question is whether anybody will be able to take advantage. Mighty Mouse has already slid down the table, now in eighth place after another poor gameweek, and while Jockin' Jeeves continues to climb the table, his transfer addiction has been well and truly reignited, with twelve points' worth of hits either side of his Gameweek Five Wildcard. His hit to sell Raphinha this gameweek backfired, with the Leeds man scoring just one fewer than his replacement, meaning the move cost the Rap Rob Roy three points, adding to the six points lost with his Gameweek Four moves. It's still early, but the signs are already there that Jeeves could well transfer his way out of contention again. With the Chancellor leaving two six-point players on the bench, and both King Ding and Big Steve still stranded in the Irrelevants, the Grinch may well be able to surf the wave for a few gameweeks' more. If he can ride out this initial storm, his title credentials will appear much stronger.
For the Lords, the difference between an average gameweek and a great one came down to one decision: whether to start Alonso or Cancelo in the big Chelsea vs Manchester City match. I went with the man with more historical attacking returns who was playing at home, only to see Cancelo find an assist and twelve points compared to Alonso's one. It was one of those outcomes that is as irritating as it is inevitable, but I'm satisfied with the thought processes that led me to the decision. It wasn't an optimal Wildcard result, but the returns of new signings Sarr and Saint-Maximin ensured my score was twelve points higher than my non-Wildcard team would've been, with a much higher team value and a squad I believe is set up well for the gameweeks ahead. While obviously hoping for a better result, I'm back up to third in the table and back inside the top-100k, so it's a positive result for the gameweek.
The big decision is whether to stick with Ronaldo or switch to Lukaku, and with both options having real merit, it's a decision that could go right to the deadline. It's a dilemma that many of the Gentlemen share, and it's one of the big choices that will greatly influence the eventual destination of the League of Gentlemen championship. With the Grinch likely to make the switch, could consistency prove the greatest differential in FPL yet again?
The Cup Chronicles
Most of the focus in Matchday Two of the Gentlemen's Classic was on the Clash of the Champions between King Ding and Jockin' Jeeves, holders of six of the eight league titles contested in the division's history. In a close-fought affair, the difference proved to be King Ding's faith in his Manchester United players, with Shaw and Bruno's zero-pointers costing him the tie. Hitman Hodgson got his first win of the campaign following a beautiful lob by Maupay with just thirty seconds of the gameweek remaining, while Grinchy Vogt and I also did enough to secure our first victory at the second attempt. Deadly Daz and Big Steve both leapfrogged Red Hot Rob in Group C following their own victories, while Sirloin Sean made it two wins from two thanks to substitute centre-back Pinnock's goal. One man unable to secure back-to-back victories was the Masterchef, whose stunning triumph over Grinchy Vogt in Matchday One was followed up with a lethargic loss to Ginger Ben. With four matchdays to go, and with the top two seeds in each group meeting twice in the next two gameweeks, there is still everything to play for in the Gentlemen's Classic.
Gentlemen's Classic, Matchday Two results:
Grinchy Vogt 56 - 46 The Ox
Ginger Ben 49 - 42 The Masterchef
Jockin' Jeeves 53 - 45 King Ding
Hitman Hodgson 39 - 37 Iceman Newton
Big Steve 50 - 36 Red Hot Rob
Flash Funk 27 - 36 Deadly Daz
Dan the Dragon 49 - 52 Sirloin Sean
Lord Geord 51 - 45 The Chancellor
Group Stage tables
Two Gentlemen with nothing to play for right now are Glorious Gaz and Private Parvesh, both of whom are languishing in the depths of the division and failed to qualify for the Classic. Adding to their woes are their scores of 23 and 31 points respectively, totals which see them become the latest two victims of the Eliminator.
The major story gathering pace in the Irrelevants is the continuing struggles of Flash Funk, who finished sixth last season but has now dropped to 32nd after another woeful gameweek. Rising from the dregs are The Ox, Lionheart Lamb, Professor Storey and the division's top scorer of the gameweek, Stone Cold Stephen Levins, while above them, strong performances from Sirloin Sean and Mack Daddy McMahon saw seven teams fall, including Daredevil Daisy, who made no transfers and could well have given up after forgetting to play her Wildcard. While Deadly Daz fell to eleventh, other risers were Terminator Tris, Big Steve, Ash the Bash and Big-Time Birkett, who shares ninth spot with King Ding. Both men are just three points off the Elite, and will hope to get there next time out.
The struggles of Mighty Mouse to maintain his high position continue, with Gameweek Six making it three red arrows in a row. While his record of nine top-100k finishes suggests he'll recover, his squad is not doing the business, and holding out on his Wildcard for any longer could cost him. He was overtaken this gameweek by both Ginger Ben and Dan the Dragon, who are both on green arrow streaks and have quietly worked their way back into contention. Veltman's late assist proved crucial for the Ginger Goliath, while the Dragon being one of only two managers to own Saka proved pivotal to his success. The defending champion may be 76 points off the top, but this steady growth is how he won the title last season, and it's far too early to write off his chances of going back-to-back.
Jockin' Jeeves maintained fifth position, closing the gap on all three of the members of the Elite above him. While his transfer hit may have backfired, he was the only member of the top five to start a Wolves defender, a decision that enabled him to close the gap to fourth-place Go Cartin by nine points. Cartin's double-up on Watford goalkeepers continues to prove a mistake, with no clean sheets in six games limiting his scores. Choosing to captain Ronaldo was another mistake, one the Chancellor and I also made, although my preference of Sarr over Go's Traore saw me climb a place in the table and establish a six-point cushion. It also meant I closed the gap to the Chancellor to six points, after he, too, opted for Traore, leaving two six-pointers on the bench. The Chancellor is only nine points ahead of me now, and my immediate goal is to overhaul those points as quickly as possible.
The Man Who Would Be King
Still at the top is Grinchy Vogt, who extended his lead to 34 points over the Chancellor and 43 over myself despite securing his worst score of the season. In low-scoring gameweeks such as these, even the odd point or two gain can feel a huge victory, and he will receive a huge psychological boost from grinding out yet another success. His score of 56 points also saw him rise to 578 out of 8.3m people, giving him some breathing space to tackle the injury and selection issues creeping into his team. Never shy of taking a hit, the Grinch now has the leeway to transfer his way out of trouble, which adds to the pressure on his chasers. He will be aware of the historical results of league leaders from this position, and rather than be daunted by them, he will seek to write a new history by proving it is possible to lead the division for an entire season. His FPL Cup run last season shows he has the capabilities of long-term consistent performance, even though his transfer decisions thus far have been woeful. While the parallels with Big Steve from two years ago will linger around him throughout the campaign, the Grinch has a self-belief that the Butcher did not. It is his greatest strength, but if the shield of arrogance can be pierced, it could well turn into a fatal weakness. It is up to the Elite to break through his defences, and thus far, they have been unable to. Until they do, the Grinch's stranglehold at the top of Mount Crumpet will remain, and his sensational run will continue.
That concludes our round-up of Gameweek Six, which saw Jockin' Jeeves win the Clash of the Champions, which saw Stone Cold Stephen Levins shatter the glass that encaged him, and which saw Grinchy Vogt continue to prove the dominant force in the division. Ahead of Gameweek Seven, 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 Seven:
Grinchy Vogt vs Ginger Ben
The Ox vs The Masterchef
Jockin’ Jeeves vs Hitman Hodgson
King Ding vs Iceman Newton
Big Steve vs Flash Funk
Red Hot Rob vs Deadly Daz
Dan the Dragon vs Lord Geord
Sirloin Sean vs The Chancellor
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