In a remarkable turnaround, Dan the Dragon's seemingly-impregnable lead has been overhauled in just two gameweeks. Can anybody assert their authority on the League of Gentlemen?
Well, we never saw that coming. At the conclusion of Gameweek 18, Dan the Dragon had a 61-point lead, was on a run of great form and had a great hand to play. Now, at the conclusion of Gameweek 20, the Dragon has been captured, 25 points off the top and ensnared in the trap Ginger Ben so carefully laid down.
While last week may have been a double gameweek, the scale of this comeback from the Ginger One cannot be overplayed. Wildcarding in Gameweek Eighteen looked a gamble, especially when he elected not to play his Bench Boost in the double gameweek. What looked an even bigger gamble was making new signing Sterling captain, when the most obvious choice - the one the other top ten active managers made - was to go with Bruno Fernandes. Fortune favoured the brave, with Sterling's captaincy being worth eighteen more points than Bruno's, and with Ginger Ben outscoring the Dragon by 86 points over two gameweeks to regain the top position.
While Ginger Ben will be buzzing with his achievement, what he has also done is made the situation a little trickier for himself. A fortnight ago, the managers chasing top spot were sat doing the mental calculations, working out how many points-per-week they needed to make up over the second half of the season to have a chance. Now, no more. The Ginger One has proven to everyone that two great gameweeks can turn it all around, especially if one of them gameweeks is a double. With at least three double gameweeks to come, and a huge blank gameweek that will leave managers begging for a Free Hit, everyone will now believe they can still win this title. In storming back to the top in the manner he has, Ginger Ben has proven that those beliefs may not be unfounded.
What happens next is anyone's guess. With the double-ankle injury picked up by Kane this week, one big dilemma facing managers is who to replace him with. It's an especially tough call when the two strikers with the best fixtures, Calvert-Lewin and Werner, are both horribly out of form, and the most in-form strikers have horrible games. We may even see some managers elect to carry the injured hotshot, in an effort to preserve value and cash in on the multitude of cheap midfielders now approaching top form. With Alexander-Arnold getting two returns this week, thoughts may even turn to him as a replacement for Kane in the starting XI. It's an interesting predicament, and how successfully it is managed will be a determining factor next time out.
The Cup Chronicles
Compounding his misery at being displaced at the top, the Dragon was also knocked out of biggest endurance test in FPL. Truthfully, it was never even close, with Dandee United trailing their rivals by a considerable margin throughout the week. Relying on heroics from Son, Kane and Salah in the final match, the Dragon was devastated to see an early goal-assist combo from the Spurs men harshly ruled out by VAR, then had to watch as Salah contributed nothing while Mane, the Senegalese Sniper, secured a goal and two assists. The Dragon finished nineteen points behind his closest rival, confirming this gameweek as a true FPL Nightmare and leaving him the latest victim of the Eliminator.
Eliminated from the FPL Cup: Maverick Mikey, Deadly Daz, Dan the Dragon.
Still in the FPL Cup: All-Star Vogt.
A great effort from All-Star Vogt, who is the only manager from the League of Gentlemen to make it through to Round Five of the FPL Cup. He faces a tough challenge against the impressive 2 Girls 1 Cup, whose name suggests a managerial duo who specialise in knocking them out. With 205 points in two gameweeks and ranked 31,617 in the world, they'll be a sturdy challenge for the All-Star, who will have to be at his very best to advance.
The League of Gentlemen:
Private Parvesh managed to cut the gap to Maverick Mikey to 95 points, following the Maverick's reversion to his usual transfer-heavy approach. Jez Messing reports that these transfers were actually made ahead of the second part of Double Gameweek Nineteen, with some confusion as to the transfer deadline date. Whatever the reason, Parvesh, who is on 818 points, is now closer to Mikey than he started the week. Mikey's disaster also enabled the gap to third-bottom to grow to 55 points, with Wildman Whitfield occupying the place ahead of the Maverick with 968. A four-point gap separates the Wildman from the rising Metal Marc, with Mack Daddy McMahon a further three points clear. It's then 49 points to the falling Masterchef, in nineteenth on 1,024, with Wooden Spoon Helling moving three points clear following a sixteen-point haul from captain Wood. Thirteen points ahead in seventeenth is Big-Time Birkett, with Who Horner a place higher on 1,058 points.
A gap then emerges to King Ding, who is still in fifteenth on 1,094 points. There had been some rumours the King was going to go wild on transfers during the second half of the season, but in a sit-down interview with Jez Messing, he said that he intends to stick with his usual strategy. It may not bring success this season, but this season is an anomaly, and four league titles can't be denied. Better to practice good habits is the King's philosophy. It would only take a couple of good gameweeks for him to rise in the rankings, with Deadly Daz just six points ahead in fourteenth, The Ox 22 points ahead in thirteenth and Slick Rick 31 points ahead, in twelfth on 1,125, all of whom the King outscored this week. The powerful Soucek performance saw the Hitman rise up to eleventh on 1,132, closing the gap to Iceman Newton in tenth to just one point. Rounding off the Irrelevants is Sirloin Sean, who saw Soucek, Gundogan and Alexander-Arnold hit double figures to take him to within eight points of the Chasing Pack.
The Chasing Pack
To get there, he'll need to overhaul the leader of the Appleby Assassin's Guild, Big Steve. A second woeful performance in three gameweeks has seen the Butcher fall well off the pace, with only Dias and Stones scoring above two points this time out, while non-playing substitute Wilson matched the scores of Martinez, Justin, Foden, Bamford and Kane himself. Indeed, his four substitutes were just two points off matching the total of his entire starting XI. With star striker Kane getting injured, you have to wonder if the Butcher will use his Wildcard to try and maximise the spending power generated from replacing the Spurs hitman. Whatever happens, he needs a reaction from his team this weekend. Moving 23 points ahead of him is his Appleby Assassin's Guild underling, Red Hot Rob, ensuring the AAG are neatly grouped together. A strong gameweek score of 68 points was maximised by the hit taken to bring in Sterling and Cancelo, who smashed home 27 points between them. With Saka scoring 13 and Soucek 15, it kept the momentum rolling for Red Hot Rob, who has recovered from a woeful start to secure eleven green arrows in fourteen gameweeks. Injuries to Kane and Walker-Peters present transfer dilemmas, and he'll need to get those decisions correct to keep climbing the rankings.
Moving up to sixth place, just three points ahead on 1,167 points, is good ol' Grinchy Vogt. The League of Gentlemen's sole survivor in the FPL Cup has been on his own great run, with thirteen green arrows in sixteen gameweeks and ten in the last eleven. He also took a hit this week and, while the signing of Gundogan for de Bruyne paid dividends, bringing in Kane for Watkins did not. Had he refrained from that second transfer, he'd be in the Title Contenders right now, rather than facing the prospect of bringing back a player he has just sold. Even within his squad, the move made little sense, as all Kane did was prevent thirteen-point Saka from taking the field. He won't be able to afford mistakes like that if he wants to continue his FPL Cup exploits, but his main priority will be overtaking Lord Geord, who drops out of the Title Contenders on transfers made. While the Lord's transfer hit to bring in Gundogan and Grealish for El Ghazi and de Bruyne brought a seventeen-point profit, his big mistake was starting the out-of-form Bamford ahead of fifteen-point Soucek. Incredibly, the Lord left a man with perennial threat and six goals as his third sub, a remarkable mistake from a manager in such good form. His final score of 46 points is disappointing, but he'd have bitten your hand off to be here a few gameweeks ago, so he can't be too downhearted. How he deals with the Kane injury is his big concern, with Jez Messing suggesting the plan is to keep Kane in the squad this week, while bringing in one of three shortlisted defenders for Coufal and going 4-5-1 in Gameweek 21. It would be a brave call, and time will tell if he does that or reverts to the safe option of signing Calvert-Lewin. With things so tight both above and below him, that one decision could have drastic consequences on his success this season.
The Title Contenders
Level with the Lord on 1,170 points but ahead on transfers made is Flash Funk, who played his Wildcard in an attempt to recover from last week's disaster. It was ended up a solid week, and his new signings did outscore the outgoings, but it feels like a missed opportunity for Flash Funk to really push on, especially with £6.6m left in the bank. The choice to start Lookman over Soucek cost him twelve points, but why he signed Lookman over Grealish, Barnes or Maddison, only Flash knows. The goalkeeping options of McCarthy and Johnstone also appear weak, especially when Pope is in such fine form and Martinez has games in hand, and the decision to sign two other Manchester City defenders over seventeen-point Cancelo will stick in the craw. With his Wildcard now used, Flash will have to negotiate the remainder of the season with only free transfers and hits; you have to wonder if the decision to Wildcard at this stage will come back to haunt him.
Moving seven points further clear in third is Jockin' Jeeves, whose only transfer was to bring in Gundogan for de Bruyne, which paid off to the tune of fourteen points. With Soucek bringing in another fifteen and Dias and Stones another twelve between them, the Juggernauts having six players that didn't return wasn't too damaging. Expect a big week in the transfer market for Jeeves this week, with Rodrigo, Bamford, James and Brewster all at risk of departure. Having closed the gap to the Dragon to 61 points, there will be disappointment within the ranks that Ginger Ben is back on top, and Jeeves is likely to go on the offensive to crank up the pressure. After a run of four red arrows in six weeks, the Juggernauts have secured three greens on the bounce, and will be looking to turn that good run into the fabled Juggernaut momentum.
Devastation for the Dragon, who has seen eighteen weeks of quality dissipate inside a fortnight of misfortune. In a week where everything that could've went wrong did, five of his players scored two points, while five scored just a single point. Meanwhile, first substitute Soucek equalled the scores of those ten players himself, yet did not get onto the field. The only starter to get a return, new signing Stones, was outscored by eleven points by the Dragon's other possible defensive signing, Cancelo. In all, the Dragon emerged from the gameweek with just 23 points, his worst score of the season and in the bottom 410k for the whole world this week - including all the dead teams and the silly teams created for a single week to try and fluke the gameweek world number one. A true FPL Nightmare, possibly the biggest of the season, given the circumstances, and one which sees a 61-point cushion at the top two weeks ago become a 25-point deficit. An 86-point swing in two gameweeks - it only goes to show that you can take nothing for granted in this game.
The Man Who Would Be King
After weeks of being doubted, weeks of his fall down the table being predicted and weeks of his impending doom prophesised, Ginger Ben could be forgiven for feeling a little smug right now. Defying all the odds, his team have climbed right back to the top, with a 109-point gameweek followed up by a 77-pointer this week. The only active manager in the top ten to avoid giving Bruno the captaincy, he compounded his gamble by bringing in the unfancied Sterling and giving him the armband, meaning his captain scored eighteen points more than all of his rivals. The decision to bench his other new signing, Cresswell, was a strange one, and was punished with his five points wasting away on the bench. Owning Cancelo and starting Soucek, however, proved a masterstroke, with 32 points coming from those two men. Up to 30,725 in the world now, but with all chips bar his Bench Boost used, the challenge ahead will prove tricky; the Ginger Goliath, however, is showing all the signs of a potential champion. 1,273 points and 25 clear at the top of the League of Gentlemen, his first FPL season may have been the worst, but his second could well be the best. If this carries on, he'll need a chest razor for next season. Fantastic.
That concludes our review of Gameweek Twenty in the League of Gentlemen, one which saw Bruno blank despite being the highest-captained FPL player ever, which saw the Dragon give a masterclass in how to throw away a comfortable lead, and which saw Ginger Ben assert his authority over the division yet again. Given the state of play these last few weeks, anything could happen next time out. As always, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
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