Gameweek 31 proved a glorious week for one manager, who became the first to enter the Hundred Club in a single gameweek. It also saw the first leg of the Gentlemen's Trophy Quarter Finals, while the two-horse title race drew ever closer.
After the high-scoring drama of Double Gameweek 31 thanks to the unlimited transfers available, FPL settled down slightly this week. Most teams went with what they had, making only minor changes, although Wildcards were used by a select few, rejigging the squad ahead of the highly-intense run-in over the next four weeks.
In the League of Gentlemen, the stasis remained in four of the five sections of the division, bar Flash breaking into the Chasing Pack. Everyone remained in the position they occupied at the start of the gameweek, except for between positions ten and sixteen, where every team bar one swapped places. Much of that was down to a simply inspired performance from Ginger Ben, who turned the formbook on its head to smash his way into the Hundred Club – the only manager this season to achieve this feat in a single gameweek. It’s been a rough debut season for Ginger Ben, but performances like this show he is getting to grips with the challenge, and he’ll be one to watch next season.
Up at the top of the division, Jockin’ Jeeves pulled away from Deadly Daz, seemingly-cementing his position in the top four. A gap of 42 points may prove too much for the Dazzlers to make up over the final seven gameweeks. They will keep on fighting, as they hope to conclude a remarkable season with a statement ahead of next year’s competition. Frustratingly for Jeeves, he saw Hitman Hodgson extend the gap to third by four points, though both closed the gap on the top two slightly. However, neither will be able to make up the huge gap to King Ding, who continued his battle to claw back Big Steve by making up another two points. With an average of just under five points a week to make up, the possibility of a sensational comeback win remains on the cards for the King.
In the Gentlemen’s Trophy, the first leg of the Quarter Finals took place, with three of the four matches finely poised with no more than five points separating the six teams. In Match Four, the Butcher looks to have cemented his semi-final position, following a resounding first-leg victory of 25 points. With Jie languishing in seventeenth position, it’s hard to see him making up such a big difference over the division’s runaway leader. The Juggernauts, Dinga’s Ringers, Geord’s Lords, The Dazzlers, Walney Utd and Really, however, will all fancy their chances of getting the points required to advance. There is a real opportunity for Wooden Spoon Helling to defy the form book and make the semi-finals, with undercover reporter Jez Messing of the Weekly Bullshitter able to reveal that Deadly Daz has already taken an eight-point hit, giving Walney United a four-point advantage going into their second leg with the Dazzlers. With four Bench Boosts, a Free Hit, a Wildcard and a Triple Captain between the six teams poised so tantalisingly, it remains to be seen whether any manager opts to give themselves an advantage to secure a semi-final spot.
Quarter Final, Leg One results in full:
Jockin' Jeeves 80 - 76 Geord's Lords
Deadly Daz 56 - 52 Wooden Spoon Helling
Big Time Birkett 70 - 75 King Ding
Jie 48 - 73 Big Steve
Exciting times in the League of Gentlemen, and with this coming week featuring the conclusion of the Quarter Finals, the excitement levels will only rise. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how fortunes changed in Gameweek 31.
The League of Gentlemen:
No changes in the bottom section of the division, although it was a midweek of minor achievement for Mikey P, who took only one hit and saw his faith rewarded with the highest score in the bottom eight. With the gap to avoid the wooden spoon now only 26 points, he now has seven more gameweeks to exercise restraint as he hunts down Metal Marc. Jie’s second gameweek without managing his team suggests he has abandoned his team until next season, while Metal Marc, Tits Up Thompson and Wooden Spoon Helling have been long absent, and will not return. Despite this, Wooden Spoon remains in a great position in the Gentlemen’s Trophy, especially given the eight-point hit Deadly Daz has taken for Gameweek 32.
The fall continues for Who Horner, one of last year’s brightest stars, and this season’s biggest disappointment. They called him Mr. No Hits due to his consistency in the transfer market, never incurring a four point penalty, though even breaking that rule on a single occasion has not been enough to prevent his shocking decline. His 57 points was the lowest in Lower Mid-Table and, with a 25-point gap to the Tiptoppers, time is running out for White Warriors to make their season respectable. From the highest score in Gameweek One to fifteenth in the table, it has been a steady decline for the Tiptoppers, who dropped another place after scoring 60 points. Slick Rick’s Spurs reliance means his season is always dependent upon the form of the Lilywhites; this season, they have let him down badly. With only four points needed to catch Iceman Newton, a man who has stormed out like Sol Campbell, the season could yet end with a flourish.
The Iceman may have melted away, but one man who refused to give up is Ginger Ben. His debut season has been very tough, with many mistakes made – no more than in Gameweek 12, when he forgot to select Wildcard and incurred a 36-point hit. Many would have given up on the game, but Ginger Ben has worked hard, stayed committed, is learning how things operate and has been rewarded in sensational fashion, becoming the first manager in this season’s League of Gentlemen to enter the Hundred Club in a single gameweek. His defence provided the platform, with Pope, Wan-Bissaka, Digne and Alexander-Arnold combining for an incredible 46 points – every one of them hitting double-figures. Kane, Jimenez, Traore and captain Salah helped fire them to 90 points, with de Bruyne and Kante providing the final ten points required in the gameweek’s final match. A wonderful achievement, one Ginger Ben can be very proud of, and which saw him leap three places to thirteenth.
Ahead of him lie The Ox and Private Parvesh, and at only seven points ahead, the Ginger One will be looking to claw him back this weekend. The Ox’s final gameweek score of 58 points was partly caused by the bizarre decision to start Maupay over the in-form Jimenez, a decision that resulted in losing ten points. With 48 points needed to escape Lower Mid-Table, it looks like The Ox is condemned to disappointment; his first goal is making up the 36 points to Private Parvesh, who dropped into Lower Mid-Table after being outscored by Flash to the tune of 28 points. After a brief return during the week of unlimited transfers, Parvesh resumed his long absence from the game, and it remains to be seen whether he will be back at all. The Ox will be hoping he stays away as he looks to finish as high as possible.
The Chasing Pack
After a long, arduous fight to escape Lower Mid-Table, Flash achieved just that this week. A gameweek score of 92 points, inspired by hat-trick hero Martial, saw him leapfrog Private Parvesh into tenth and close the gap on Big-Time Birkett by 22 points. Big-Time has a cushion of 28 points still, but Flash will feel that is very catchable, especially after such a resounding result this week. Big Time will have to avoid being distracted by the many challenges on his plate. In addition to fighting off Flash, he needs to make up a six-point gap to Boom Xhakalaka, while also making up a five-point deficit to King Ding in the Gentlemen’s Trophy. With a Bench Boost still to play, Big Time will have to ensure any decision to use it is based on strategy rather than panic. Boom Xhakalaka remain in eighth position, despite rising briefly through the gameweek. All Star Vogt used his Wildcard this week, but looked on in horror as the Manchester United duo he opted for, Bruno and Pogba, returned only six points. In comparison, the cheaper options of Rashford and Martial brought in 30 points between them. Those 24 lost points would’ve launched Boom Xhakalaka up to joint-sixth, as opposed to losing ground on seventh, rendering this week a massive disappointment for All Star.
Pulling a point further away in seventh was Lord Geord, who also recovered from a poor start to end his first leg just four points behind Jockin’ Jeeves in the cup. The FPL Nightmare for him this week came from rushing his transfer as he woke up, forgetting all about first-choice signing Ritchie until it was too late, and watching actual signing Lascelles score seven points fewer. Those seven points could well be the difference between reaching the Gentlemen’s Trophy semi-final and elimination, and the temptation will be high to deploy his Bench Boost, despite poor fixtures, in order to see his team over the line. Despite this, it was a fifth-successive green arrow since his Gameweek 27 Wildcard, a run that has seen Geord’s Lords rise over 898k in the Overall Rankings. If it wasn’t for such a disastrous start to the season, one which saw him languishing at 4m+ in the rankings after Gameweek 10, the Lords could have made a real impact this season. As it is, with a strong run-in and a bit of luck, they could find the 200k rise they need to secure their highest-ever Overall Ranking. To do so, they will need to haul back Hugh G. Rection XI, seventeen points ahead in sixth. The Masterchef used the Free Hit to cover some troublesome absences this week, securing a gameweek score of 69 points. How to replace Aguero remains his biggest headache, and it may be he uses a hit to ensure the most benefit to his squad. He will start the new gameweek just fourteen points behind Deadly Daz if Jez Messing’s revelations prove correct, and he will be hoping whoever he brings in to spearhead his attack will lead his team back to the Title Contenders.
The Title Contenders
A desperately disappointing week for Deadly Daz, who finished with the lowest score outside of the Also-Rans. The hit taken to secure Ings and Saint-Maximin failed to pay off, as despite coming close to securing returns, both men finished with just two points. Three one-point scores in his team resulted in a post-hit score of just 56 points, one which gave him the slightest of advantages over Wooden Spoon Helling in the cup, but saw his chances of catching Jockin’ Jeeves recede. The 42-point gap to fourth is not unassailable, though extending it to fifty points with a double-hit makes it a real challenge, especially given Jeeves’ notoriety for a strong run-in. Still, this should not take anything away from Deadly Daz’s performance this season, which is only his second appearance in FPL ever, and one which follows a two-year absence. Pulling away from him was Jockin’ Jeeves, who ended the week with a net eighty points and a four-point advantage over Lord Geord in the Gentlemen’s Trophy. An excellent gameweek for the Juggernauts saw nine players secure returns, with Bruno also securing six points by being captain. The signing of Nketiah looks an interesting one, with the Arsenal youngster both cheap and having started ahead of Lacazette in five of the last six gameweeks. He remained on the Juggernauts bench this week, and Jeeves faces a difficult decision as to whether to trust the youngster with a starting berth next time out. Despite an underwhelming league campaign, Jeeves was the winner of the LoG Cup, has the first-leg advantage in his Gentlemen’s Trophy Quarter-Final and is well on course to secure his highest-ever Overall Ranking, meaning this season could still end up a positive one for the Juggernauts.
Ahead of him in third is Hitman Hodgson, who deployed his Wildcard and secured 84 points this week, pulling away slightly from Jeeves in fourth and cutting the gap to second by nine points. The FPL veteran was hotly-tipped to perform strongly in his first League of Gentlemen season, and he has not disappointed, justifying the low odds offered by the bookies to elevate himself above the two-time champions The Juggernauts. It seems inevitable the Hitman will smash his previous highest Overall Ranking, his being 262k ahead of his old record showing how the competition of the League of Gentlemen drives players to better performances. Out of the cup and 75 points behind King Ding in second, it appears third is his limit this season, but what a season that would be. For the King, however, only the title will do. The gap to the top was only cut by two points this week, but those two points could yet prove the vital ones needed to topple Big Steve. The FPL Nightmare for the King, however, comes from making the wrong decision. Entering Tuesday afternoon, he was torn between one of two combinations: Richarlison and Rashford, or Calvert-Lewin and Martial. He opted for the former, a decision that cost him eleven massive points. The decision to start Saint-Maximin and Ings over Ritchie and Traore cost him a further ten points, increasing the feeling of lost opportunity. With different choices, he’d be just eleven points off the top right now, and a repeat of those mistakes simply cannot be afforded over the last seven weeks. That being said, for the King to still be in contention to retain his crown is remarkable, given he was over a hundred points off the top at one stage. Given the historic quality of the Ringers over the final few weeks of the season, this year could still end up with the greatest of glory.
The Man Who Would Be King
Another week closer to the title for Big Steve, but also another defeat to King Ding in the head-to-head points. The gap is now down to 32 points, and Big Steve has only one higher score than the King in the last six gameweeks. With a Wildcard and a Free Hit to play, the advantage remains in the hands of Dumb and Dummett, but with mass overhauls comes increased risk, and Big Steve will have to get the selections right. One false step at this stage and the dream could be over. Indeed, it might be that The Butcher chooses not to carve up his team, making only two or three changes with his two chips to cover injuries or difficult fixtures. A resounding victory in the Gentlemen’s Trophy means his semi-final spot is all but assured, allowing his sole focus to be on his title charge. Despite the doubts that are arising, Big Steve remains on course for the greatest season in League of Gentlemen history, and his first-ever championship crown.
That concludes the Gameweek 31 round-up, one which saw Flash come flying out of Lower Mid-Table, which saw the Gentlemen’s Trophy Quarter Finals first legs set up for some nerve-shredding second legs, and which saw Ginger Ben become the first single-gameweek Hundred Club entrant. Gameweek 32 promises to be even more thrilling, as we find out who the Semi Finalists are, and we see the next twist in the titanic title struggle. May all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green and, as always, may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
'The FPL Nightmare: How to Lose the World's Greatest Mini-League in 38 Simple Steps'
Available now on Kindle and the Kindle app on smartphones, only £1.99: