While we knew the stakes were high, what we could not predict was how low-scoring the gameweek would be. Entering Sunday morning, King Ding had the early advantage, securing sixteen points on Saturday compared to the Butcher’s eight. What gave the Butcher hope was he still had seven players to take the field, compared to the King’s five. As Sunday drew to a conclusion, the King had extended the gap by a single point, leaving both men with heavily-featured players in Manchester United versus Southampton on Monday: the King with Rashford, Ings and captain Bruno; the Butcher with captain Bruno, Wan-Bissaka, McCarthy and the in-form Greenwood. With both teams scoring twice, the Butcher’s two defensive players were rendered meaningless; both managers captaining Bruno meant it was a straight shoot-out between Rashford and Greenwood, with Greenwood needing to out-do the School Meals Saviour by two returns. Rashford’s early goal added another nail to the coffin; the early substitution of Greenwood meant that the King not only closed the gap to the top of the table, but emerged from the gameweek as the inaugural Gentlemen’s Trophy Winner.
Gentlemen’s Trophy, Grand Final score:
King Ding 44 – 37 Big Steve
In poor week for fans of high scores, only six teams in the League of Gentlemen managed to achieve a final total that broke the half-century. The biggest surprise was that Mad Mikey was one of the few teams to do that, receiving his just reward for his restraint in the transfer market. The biggest success story of the week was Big Time Birkett, whose foresight in bringing in Sterling and Antonio paid off in remarkable fashion, with those two players providing seven goals and 47 points between them. Hitman Hodgson, another owner of Antonio, moved into the driving seat in the race for the bronze medal, which goes to show the value of having players fighting for their lives over the last few weeks of the season. The prescience of the Hitman gives him a fifteen-point cushion over his rivals, while for Big Time, it gives him the unlikeliest of opportunities to secure a spot in the second seeds for next season’s Gentlemen’s Classic.
While it was a low-scoring week in the League of Gentlemen, the drama was as high as ever. Let’s see how the fortunes changed with four weeks to go.
In thirteenth place is The Ox, who had one of the worst Free Hits of the season. Leaving six-point Garcia on his bench, he saw starting defender Soyuncu lose his mind, getting sent off for violent conduct and finishing with minus three points. While Patricio, Fernandes, Jimenez and Rashford secured returns, they couldn’t overcome the handicap of Soyuncu, leaving Oxsmorons 22 points off the White Warriors. Who Horner is the man presently occupying the final guaranteed place in next year’s Gentlemen’s Classic, and he took one step closer to that following a four-return gameweek score of 39 points. His position is by no means secure, with injury problems, competing teammates and some tough fixtures making the coming gameweek a real challenge. It’s one those chasing him hope he fails, with Slick Rick, Ginger Ben and The Ox all within touching distance of that crucial twelfth position. Comfortably ahead of them all is Private Parvesh, who extended his cushion over twelfth by two points to 51 this week. Had it not been for the incredible week of Big Time Birkett, Parvesh would still be in the Chasing Pack; now, he faces a real struggle to get there in the last three gameweeks, especially with Henderson and Soyuncu out for the rest of the season.
Moving back ahead of them were Geord’s Lords, who got back in the green arrows following a dismal Gameweek 34. The returns of Jimenez, Henderson and Boly supported the double-figure hauls of captain Bruno and Martial, bringing in 56 points for the Lords and closing the gap on those above them. Frustratingly yet somewhat inevitably, after taking a four-point hit to replace the underwhelming Rashford and Jota with Ings and Greenwood, Lord Geord saw both his new charges blank, while the players he sold both scored. Such is the way in this game, with the FPL Gods loving their little jokes at the expense of the competitors. The Lord will have to hope that those lost points don’t prove crucial, with only two points behind him to the Masterchef and a nine-point hurdle to clear to catch All-Star Vogt. Though the Lord will be looking past the Clifton Sol Campbell towards his brother, nineteen points higher in the Title Contenders, he will need to catch Boom Xhakalaka first. It will not be an easy task, with All-Star moving into a defensive transfer strategy, bringing in the big names of the Lords to limit their impact. This week’s sideways transfer of Pogba to Martial proved beneficial, with the latter’s big score not damaging Boom Xhakalaka in the way it would’ve done. Despite this, Soyuncu’s madness cost All-Star a half-century and kept him very catchable, and the question now is whether Arsene Whinger consolidates in sixth with more defensive transfers, or whether he develops some cojones and tries to attack the Title Contenders.
Ahead of him is a man that can be very proud of his efforts this season, Hitman Hodgson. One of only two players in the division to own Antonio, he benefited hugely from his GW34 signing’s massive 26 point total. Further returns from Mendy, Mahrez, Vardy, Rashford and captain Bruno gave Does It Mata a gameweek total of 71 points, the second-highest in the gameweek. With the top two out of reach, the Hitman’s focus is on ensuring he doesn’t slip from the bronze medal position; the fifteen-point gap established over the teams behind him could prove critical. Remaining in the silver medal position, at no risk of being caught due to the 102-point advantage, is the Gentlemen’s Trophy winner King Ding. Despite his success in the cup and closing the gap at the top, the King will be very disappointed with his performance this week. With only four players securing returns, a glorious opportunity to decimate the distance to the summit has gone begging. With Aurier and Saint-Maximin doubts for Gameweek 36, the King will have to be shrewd in the transfer market. He retains his Free Hit, which could be invoked, but the seasoned observer predicts the King will delay using this until at least GW37. A trophy secured, the gap to the top cut and three weeks to go; that the King will be disappointed with that shows just how high his standards are.
That concludes another exciting, if low-scoring, week in the League of Gentlemen, one that saw Big Time Birkett blow away the rest of the division, which saw King Ding claim the inaugural Gentlemen’s Trophy, and which saw Mad Mikey P take a massive step towards avoiding the Wooden Spoon. Gameweek 36, the third-last week of the season, promises to up the ante even further. As always, may all you transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.