After two rounds of group stages, it all comes down to this. Two teams, two gameweeks and one Grand Final, all to determine who will become the inaugural Gentlemen's Classic winner out of Flash Funk and The Hitman.
The Tale of the Tape
Flash Funk - Mings and Ings Things:
Current League Position: 3rd.
Current Points Total: 852.
Current Overall Ranking: 358,245.
Final League Position, 2019/20: 11th.
Highest Final Points Total: 2,173 (2018/19).
Highest Overall Ranking: 382,532 (2018/19).
Highest Gameweek Score, 2020/21: 86 points, Gameweek Eleven.
Lowest Gameweek Score, 2020/21: 36 points, Gameweek Three.
Chips Still Available: Free Hit, Triple Captain, Bench Boost, Wildcard x 2.
Last Five Gameweeks: 315 points (40, 86, 59, 63, 67)
Hitman Hodgson - Does It Mata?:
Current League Position: 13th.
Current Points Total: 770.
Current Overall Ranking: 2,054,578.
Final League Position, 2019/20: 5th.
Highest Final Points Total: 2,225 (2019/20).
Highest Overall Ranking: 204,616 (2019/20).
Highest Gameweek Score, 2020/21: 80 points, Gameweek Three.
Lowest Gameweek Score, 2020/21: 30 points, Gameweek Thirteen.
Chips Still Available: Free Hit, Triple Captain, Bench Boost, Wildcard x 1.
Last Five Gameweeks: 274 points (47, 67, 63, 30, 67).
After fourteen gameweeks, one qualifying round and two group stages, we have made it to the Grand Final of the Gentlemen's Classic, and what a final it promises to be. The in-form Flash Funk, now up to third in the league table after a brilliant run of gameweek scores, versus last season's fifth-place manager, Hitman Hodgson, who won his Stage Two group with a sensational last-day comeback. Flash Funk enters the final as the slight 1/2 favourite with the bookies, while the Hitman, despite his disappointing league position, has been priced at Evens.
Whoever wins the Grand Final will claim their first-ever trophy since joining the League of Gentlemen. For Flash Funk, a long-time veteran of the division, this match represents the culmination of a nine-year odyssey to become a Fantasy Football master. In his first five seasons, he only entered a team twice, with Overall Rankings of 2,632,159 in 2011/12 and 2,236,544 in 2013/14 a huge wake-up call to the quality of the opposition. Following his second season, he took a two-year break from active participation, honing his skills away from the glare of public eye in smaller Fantasy competitions. He returned to the League of Gentlemen in 2016/17, demonstrating the extent of his development with a final overall ranking just outside the top-1m. He broke the 2,000 point barrier for the first time two seasons ago, achieving a final tally of 2,173 and a career-best overall ranking of 382,532. After a disappointing season last time out, which saw a regression in overall ranking despite exceeding 2,000 points for the second season in succession, Flash Funk has made a strong start to this campaign. Currently third in the league and leading the race for December's Manager of the Month, Flash Funk has both the form and experience to ensure that the Gentlemen's Classic is not only his first trophy win, but the launchpad to success in the Eliminator, the Gentlemen's Trophy and the League of Gentlemen itself.
Hitman Hodgson comes into the final in the middle of his toughest season to date. A prodigious FPL talent, he made his debut in 2016/17 and finished 419,096 overall, breaking the 2,000 points barrier at the first time of asking, before building on that with 2,118 points for an overall ranking of 401,714 in his second season. Following a slight regression in 2018/19, which saw a dip in his overall ranking despite his highest points total to date, the Hitman joined the League of Gentlemen and recorded his best-ever totals, with a points tally of 2,225 giving him an overall ranking of 204,616 but seeing him pipped to the Bronze Medal on the Final Day of the season. His big disappointment was in the Gentlemen's Trophy, where he suffered an embarrassing first-round exit to Tits-Up Thompson, who was so poor at the game he hasn't returned this season. That defeat left the Hitman vowing to make amends in the Gentlemen's Classic this season, coming through the two most difficult groups and eliminating four-time League of Gentlemen winner and current back-to-back champion, King Ding, and then-league leader Ginger Ben on the way. While Flash Funk has the edge in form, it is only a poor Gameweek Thirteen that has stopped the Hitman from being right on his tail.
The First Leg
The teams are in! This is how they line-up, ahead of the biggest gameweek of their season so far.
Flash Funk (3-5-2): McCarthy; Dias, N.Williams, Matip; Grealish, Salah©, Son, de Bruyne, Ward-Prowse; Bamford, Calvert-Lewin.
Subs: Martinez; Zouma, Welbeck, Justin.
Hitman Hodgson (3-4-3): McCarthy; Konsa, Dias, Cresswell; Harrison, de Bruyne ©, Bruno, Ward-Prowse; Kane, Calvert-Lewin, Bamford.
Subs: Patricio; Neto, Walker-Peters, Justin.
Interesting selection choices from both managers there. They each start with six of the same players, meaning Flash has Matip, N.Williams, Grealish, Son and captain Salah as his match winners, while the Hitman looks to Konsa, Cresswell, Harrison, Bruno and Kane to give him the edge. Flash also owns the Hitman's captain, de Bruyne, meaning that any damage is limited, while for the Hitman, Flash's captaincy of Salah against whipping-boys West Brom could prove fatal. The Hitman has also taken a four-point hit in the transfer market, handing Flash an immediate advantage.
Match One: Leicester City vs Manchester United.
With both managers having Justin as their third substitute, the only player from either team in this match is the Hitman's Bruno, which offers him an immediate opportunity to not only make up the starting four-point deficit, but to lay down a marker. It's an opportunity he takes, with an imperious performance from the away-day king resulting in a goal, an assist and three bonus points, though a needless yellow card denies the Hitman a further point. Flash will be hoping that moment of stupidity comes back to haunt the Hitman.
Flash Funk 0 - 8 Hitman Hodgson.
Matches Two and Three: Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace; Fulham vs Southampton.
Two games being played simultaneously, with both managers having three starters and one substitute involved in this double-header. Both managers start McCarthy and Ward-Prowse, meaning that it is Grealish for Flash and Konsa for the Hitman that can give them the edge. McCarthy and Ward-Prowse pick up a combined nine points following Southampton's nil-nil draw, but despite no returns for either manager in the other game, Flash steals a point back after Konsa only plays 45 minutes. The big frustration for both comes from their own selection; while McCarthy picked up six points for Flash, he could've gained an extra four had he opted for Martinez. The Hitman, meanwhile, finds himself bemoaning Konsa's 45 minutes; not only did he miss out on a clean sheet, he also kept Walker-Peters' eight points firmly stuck on the substitute's bench.
Flash Funk 11 - 18 Hitman Hodgson
Match Four: Arsenal vs Chelsea
No starters for either manager in this match, though Flash has Zouma on his bench. Given the surprise selection of Neco Williams in his starting line-up, the points of Zouma could yet be crucial, should the young Liverpool defender continue to miss out. If that is the case, it won't be much help to Flash, as Arsenal's resounding victory leaves Zouma with just one point.
Flash Funk 11 - 18 Hitman Hodgson
Matches Five and Six: Manchester City vs Newcastle; Sheffield United vs Everton.
This is where it starts to get really interesting. While both managers have the same three players involved in these two games - Dias, de Bruyne and Calvert-Lewin - Hitman Hodgson has given the captaincy to de Bruyne, against a Newcastle team low on form, ability and confidence. This is a real chance for him to establish a big overnight lead over Flash, and whatever happens, the Hitman will lead entering into Sunday's games. Dias and Calvert-Lewin combine to bring in seven points between them for both managers, but Manchester City, despite complete domination, fail to show any real cutting-edge. De Bruyne ends the game with three points for Flash and six for the Hitman, giving Hodgson a ten-point overnight lead. With Flash's captain Salah to play West Brom tomorrow, however, that lead could be eradicated single-handedly by one player.
Flash Funk 21- 31 Hitman Hodgson
Match Seven: Leeds United vs Burnley.
Both managers own Bamford in Sunday's first game, but the Hitman's advantage will surely increase after Harrison makes the starting XI. Bamford scores a penalty and claims two bonus points to give both managers eight points, while Harrison secures a clean sheet point to push the Hitman another three points ahead.
Flash Funk 29 - 42 Hitman Hodgson
Match Eight: West Ham United vs Brighton & Hove Albion.
Disappointment for the Hitman, who sees Cresswell in the West Ham team at centre-back, limiting his attacking potential while ending any real hope of Walker-Peters' eight points coming off the bench. Flash has no starting players in this game, but will be hoping Welbeck produces something in case he's needed off the bench. The former Manchester United and Arsenal striker fails to score or assist. The Hitman has cause for celebration despite Cresswell losing a point for conceding twice, with the West Ham man producing a late assist to extend his lead by a further four points.
Flash Funk 29 - 46 Hitman Hodgson
Match Nine: Liverpool vs West Bromwich Albion.
This is where it gets nervy for the Hitman. While he has a seventeen-point advantage, he only has Kane left to play in Match Ten, while Flash has three Liverpool lads, including captain Salah, up against West Brom with Son still to come. In worrying yet predictable news for Flash, Neco Williams is left on the bench, meaning Zouma's one point could yet come into play. It looks ominous for the Hitman when Matip gets an early assist, with the floodgates sure to open against the team with the worst goal difference in the division. Yet, there is one thing Flash forgot: the new manager of West Brom, the Ultimate Spoiler, Big Sam Allardyce. West Brom somehow fail to concede a second goal, while Matip goes off injured after 59 minutes, mere seconds short of a second appearance point and four clean sheet points. While his seven-point total helps cut the gap, Salah's blank and Neco Williams non-appearance means Flash gets just one point from Zouma and four from his captain. The Hitman breathes a sigh of relief, knowing Big Sam may just have won him the Gentlemen's Classic.
Flash Funk 41 - 46 Hitman Hodgson
Match Ten: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Tottenham Hotspur.
So, for the first leg advantage, it comes down to Flash's Son vs the Hitman's Kane. Flash has the advantage of knowing Son gets an extra point for a goal, and a point for a clean sheet, while the Hitman has Spurs' penalty-taker at his beck and call. As it turns out, neither men add any returns for their managers, although Son does sneak in a cheeky clean sheet point after being substituted just before the Wolves equaliser. There is some cause for relief for Flash Funk, with Neto's six points remaining firmly on the Hitman's bench, but he ends the first leg four points behind and with some work to do to end his decade of disappointment.
First Leg, Final Score:
Flash Funk 44 - 48 Hitman Hodgson
The Second Leg
As we enter the second leg, it's still all to play for. Both managers missed opportunities of points by leaving big-scoring players on the bench, but in somewhat of a quiet Gameweek Fifteen, the scores remain quite close. Indeed, the only player of either team to achieve a double-figures score was Flash Funk's substitute goalkeeper, while both captains failed to get any returns. With the final poised on a knife-edge, anything can happen in Gameweek Sixteen, the deciding gameweek of the Gentlemen's Classic.
As the deadline passes, the teams are in, and there's some huge developments that could have drastic implications. Hitman Hodgson has taken a four-point hit in the transfer market, meaning the second leg begins with an overall score of 44-44! It will all come down to who scores the most points in Gameweek Sixteen, and Flash Funk has deployed his first Wildcard at the last possible moment, meaning it was impossible for the Hitman to prepare accordingly. Whether it gives Flash the edge remains to be seen, with Wildcard weeks veering from the sublime to the ridiculous for the Gentlemen this season. Here's how they take the field in this, the final gameweek of the competition, the gameweek that will settle the score once and for all:
Flash Funk (3-4-3): Meslier; Robertson, Taylor, Coufal; Salah, Son, Bruno, Soucek; Watkins, Bamford, Kane ©.
Subs: Johnstone; Zouma, Balbuena, Lookman.
Hitman Hodgson (3-5-2): McCarthy; Justin, Dias, Cresswell; Harrison, de Bruyne, Bruno, Salah ©, Neto; Calvert-Lewin, Bamford.
Subs: Patricio; Walker-Peters, McGoldrick, Konsa.
Flash's Wildcard means that there are only three players shared by both teams, those men being Salah, Bruno and Bamford. With the Hitman giving the armband to Salah, Flash finds himself in the unusual position of needing his most expensive player to get no returns at all. The signing of Meslier is a gamble, with only five clean sheets all season, but the game against West Brom is a favourable one. His biggest gamble may well be captaining Kane, who has now gone three gameweeks without a return. For the Hitman, Dias and Calvert-Lewin could well cancel each other out, though that is his only real clash of players. By captaining Salah, the Hitman also ensures that, entering the final match of the gameweek, he holds a huge advantage - Flash simply needs to be ahead by then. With the scores level, these ten games will determine our first Gentlemen's Classic champion.
Match One: Crystal Palace vs Leicester City.
No representation from Flash in this match, which gives the Hitman the chance to lay down a marker. It's one that isn't really taken, with Justin only securing two points for the Hitman. A slow start to the second leg, but two points that could yet prove crucial if, as expected, managers rotate their teams due to the quick turnaround in fixtures.
Flash Funk 44 - 46 Hitman Hodgson
Match Two: Chelsea vs Aston Villa.
Chelsea become the first team to deploy mass rotation, with six changes made including Zouma being rested completely. Flash seemed to anticipate this move and had left him on the bench, although this may be partly strategic with him starting Watkins up front. The Hitman's only player is third substitute Konsa, who picks up a steady two points. In a disappointment for Flash, Watkins fails to fire, bringing in just two points himself to bring the scores back level with ten players each to go. This final is going to go all the way.
Flash Funk 46 - 46 Hitman Hodgson
Match Three: Everton vs Manchester City
Catastrophe for the Hitman, as Everton and Manchester City is called off at the last moment! Three of his top players - Dias, de Bruyne and Calvert-Lewin - were due to feature, and though there was a clash between Calvert-Lewin and Dias, the Hitman will have been targeting between fourteen and twenty points from this match. It means he is going to need all three of his substitutes to play, and that two points from Konsa, at first so seemingly inconsequential, could now prove crucial to his chances. Walker-Peters has a good game against West Ham, which could well see him secure the points expected of Dias. The big problem for the Hitman is McGoldrick replaces de Bruyne, and McGoldrick has only completed 90 minutes four times this season. The Hitman needs him to repeat his two-goal heroics from the Manchester United match against Burnley, but right now, he'd probably settle for him playing 60 minutes and getting two points. What's especially unfortunate is that, had it been called off earlier, new signing Salah could've replaced de Bruyne and Kane could have been retained with a minus-four averted. As it is, the Hitman's chances of glory have taken a huge hit. Flash must have had a moment of prescience when selecting his Wildcard team, because he had already replaced the same three players the Hitman has with Bruno, Kane and Robertson. They say you need a touch of fortune to win any trophy, and Flash has received a huge amount here. While the Hitman gains a two-point overnight advantage as Konsa comes into the team, it is Flash who will sleep easier on Monday night.
Flash Funk 46 - 48 Hitman Hodgson
Matches Four to Seven: Brighton & Hove Albion vs Arsenal; Burnley vs Sheffield United; Southampton vs West Ham United; West Bromwich Albion vs Leeds United.
The most condensed timeslot of the gameweek sees four matches played simultaneously, with Flash having five players and one sub in action and the Hitman having four starters and two subs involved, though given the Everton vs Manchester City cancellation, all Hitman's subs will take the field. After the drama of the abandonment, the Hitman needed his remaining players to produce, and he got everything he could've wished for. McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Cresswell, Harrison and Bamford all secured returns, while McGoldrick completed 90 minutes for a two points that were by no means guaranteed. His total of 38 points from these four games was a huge gauntlet laid down for Flash, who was dealt a huge blow with both Coufal and Balbuena left out of the West Ham starting team. With neither playing a single minute, he needed his other four players to respond, but they failed to do so. Bamford's eight points was eight points the Hitman also acquired, Meslier was outscored by the Hitman's McCarthy to the tune of three points, Soucek only managed an extra clean sheet point while Taylor went off injured early on for just a solitary point. From despair last night to a huge advantage this evening, the Hitman has turned it right around.
Flash Funk 64 - 86 Hitman Hodgson
Match Eight: Manchester United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers.
It’s not going to get any easier for Flash Funk in this match, and it’s looking like the Hitman is going to secure the inaugural Gentlemen’s Classic. While both men have Bruno, the Hitman also has Neto within his ranks, meaning that – bar a red card, missed penalty or own goal – his lead will be extended even further. Bruno popped up in the dying seconds with an assist that gives both men six points, but the FPL Gods are shining on the Hitman now, with Neto having been subbed-off while a clean sheet point was secured. Flash Funk goes to sleep 25 points behind; he simply needs Kane and Son to fire tomorrow, and for Salah to blank. Luckily for him, they are two of the most deadly players in this year’s competition, Kane is his captain, and he also has Robertson against a tragic Newcastle team in a wretched run of form. His dream is still alive, even though most people, they think it’s all over.
Flash Funk 70 – 95 Hitman Hodgson
Match Nine: Tottenham Hotspur vs Fulham.
It is now. Complete and utter disaster for Flash, as the FPL Gods intervene and force a last-minute cancellation of Spurs vs Fulham. Flash, a man who has been getting so many decisions right recently, made an uncharacteristically huge error in naming both his captain and vice-captain from the same team. With both Kane and Son no longer in action, Flash is left with no captain at all, twenty-five points behind, with only Robertson and Salah to play and knowing that the Hitman has Salah as captain. Flash’s only hope, his last slim chance of solace, the only thing keeping him going now, is the thought that Salah could miss two penalties, score an own goal and get a red card before the 60th minute to give the Hitman’s captain a final total of minus-sixteen points, while Robertson finds ten points or more. Given his assist potential and Newcastle’s bluntness, Robertson could easily score ten points. The minus-sixteen for Salah is somewhat less likely.
Flash Funk 70 – 95 Hitman Hodgson
Match Ten: Newcastle United vs Liverpool.
Robertson has done his part for Flash, with his nine points ensuring that, at the very least, should Salah secure the minus-sixteen for the Hitman, Flash will get another chance in a Gameweek Seventeen replay. His heart sinks when Salah finds himself one-on-one, only to see Darlow pull off an incredible save. In the battle of wits between Liverpool’s star man and Newcastle’s second-best keeper, there is only going to be one winner tonight. Roll on the penalties, he cries. Alas, Newcastle manage, against all the odds, to look like a coherent unit for the first time in weeks, defending resolutely and without blunder. No penalties are given away – there isn’t even a VAR check for any incident – and, even if they had been, Milner had started the match, so Salah would not have had the opportunity to miss anyway. At the start of the gameweek, Flash dreamed of Salah blanking. Now, even the blank is enough to condemn him to defeat.
For the Hitman, this is a tale of redemption. Having been eliminated from last season’s Gentlemen’s Trophy in humiliating fashion, going out in the first round to the third-worst team in the division, managed by a Gentlemen who cared so little he barely managed his team and did not return this season, the Hitman has shown what he is all about this time out. Battling through a Stage One group that included the then-League leader, the four-time and current back-to-back champion and one of the wiliest veterans in the game, he then showed the fortitude to pip the then-League leader on the final day of Stage Two to make the Grand Final. He took a huge chance in the transfer market ahead of the second leg, only to see it all go horribly wrong when three of his star players saw their game abandoned. Yet, Does It Mata refused to give up. They kept fighting, they kept plugging away, they found a way to get six returns on the board despite their star defender, midfielder and striker being ruled out in unforeseeable circumstances, and they did their manager proud. Forged in his spirit, driven by his character and reflective of his quality, the Does It Mata squad produced the goods when it mattered most, in the decisive gameweeks of both Group Stages and, most importantly, in the Grand Final.
There are three cup competitions in the League of Gentlemen. Now, there are only two left to play for, as the one man who knows he is ending the season with a trophy is determined. The winner of the inaugural Gentlemen’s Classic, the first man into the Honour’s List and the man who ends the trickiest of years on the highest note is Ben “Hitman” Hodgson.
The Gentlemen’s Classic, Grand Final result:
Flash Funk 82 – 101 Hitman Hodgson
Hitman Hodgson is the Gentlemen’s Classic Champion.
'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: