So here we are, barely a breath taken since King Ding became the four-time champion, and the new season of the League of Gentlemen is upon us. A campaign that promises so much yet, for at least 21 players, will provide nothing but heartbreak and FPL Nightmares. Without doubt, King Ding enters the competition the favourite; two back-to-back titles and a final position of 7,044 out of 7.6 million last time out underlying his credentials and firmly cementing him as the man to beat.
As it stands, 22 men have entered this year’s competition. There are seventeen players who the King vanquished last year who want another crack at the crown, while four new combatants have entered the fray: Sam ‘Wildman’ Whitfield, a veteran of five campaigns who posted his highest-ever overall ranking last season of 305,693; Mikey ‘Mack Daddy’ McMahon, embarking on his debut FPL campaign and opting to swim with the sharks in the world’s greatest mini-league; ‘Sirloin’ Sean Banks, another five-season veteran who is attempting to rebound from his worst-ever overall ranking of 2,171,717; and Dan ‘the Dragon’ Hodgson, brother of the Hitman, who saw the improvements his brother made last season after joining the League of Gentlemen and hopes to take his own game to the next level. With a career-best finish of 243,150, he will prove a real threat.
With the exception of Metal Marc, Tits-Up Thompson and Jie, every other manager from last season has returned. King Ding’s greatest challengers, Big Steve ‘The Butcher’ Allison and ‘Jockin’ Jeeves will be the favourites to challenge the King, while Deadly Daz, Hitman Hodgson, Lord Geord and All-Star Vogt will all be hoping to build on impressive campaigns last time out. The Masterchef, Big Time Birkett, Private Parvesh and Flash will look to bounce back after disappointing ends to the campaign, and they all know that, with a good start, they could find themselves right in contention. Who Horner, The Ox, Slick Rick, Ginger Ben, Iceman Newton and Mad Mikey P all enter the season looking for redemption; with some desperately-underwhelming results last time out, those six men perhaps offer the most dangerous threat of all, that of unrealised potential that could manifest at any time. Also entering is ever-present Wooden Spoon Helling, who promises to set-and-forget a horrible team and compete for last place all season long. It’s where he has made his home, it’s where he is most comfortable, and he performs an invaluable role as the League of Gentlemen’s mascot.
In addition to the League of Gentlemen itself, we also have three cup competitions, which operate at various times throughout the season. These are The Eliminator, the Gentlemen’s Trophy, and the first competition of the season, the Gentlemen’s Classic. Here is a run-down on how they all work.
The final of the Eliminator will be held in Gameweek 26, one gameweek before the Gentlemen’s Trophy begins. It will provisionally begin in Gameweek 6. However, should there be any last-minute entries to, or departures from, the League of Gentlemen, this date may change. The starting date will be confirmed as soon as possible.
In every round up to the semi-finals, a tie after two legs will be settled by the Tiebreaker – again, see below. In the Grand Final, if any of the three gameweeks end in a draw, it will be settled by the Tiebreaker.
Top Seeds: King Ding, Big Steve, Jockin’ Jeeves, Deadly Daz.
Second Seeds: Hitman Hodgson, Lord Geord, All-Star Vogt, the Masterchef.
Third Seeds: Big Time Birkett, Private Parvesh, Flash, Who Horner.
To determine the Qualifiers, there will be four mini-competitions held over Gameweeks One and Two. Three will be contested between last year’s League of Gentlemen competitors, increasing their chances of qualifying. The fourth will feature every new manager to the division. These will work as follows:
Qualifier One: The Ox, Mad Mikey P, Metal Marc.
Qualifier Two: Slick Rick, Wooden Spoon Helling, Tits Up Thompson.
Qualifier Three: Ginger Ben, Iceman Newton, Jie.
Qualifier Four: Wildman Whitfield, Mack Daddy McMahon, Dan the Dragon, Sirloin Sean
Qualifiers One to Three have been grouped according to league finish last season, with each of them featuring a manager that has not yet signed up for this season. Qualifier Four features every new manager. Should Metal Marc, Tits Up Thompson or Jie decide to compete, they will go straight into their respective Qualifier; should any other new manager enter, they will go into Qualifier Four. The qualifiers are simple – whichever team in each Qualifier scores the highest total points over Gameweeks One and Two will make it into the Gentlemen’s Classic proper. In the event of a tie at the end of Gameweek Two, the Tiebreaker will be used – see below.
How this competition works is simple. There are four groups of four teams – a Top Seed, a Second Seed, a Third Seed and a Qualifier. Between Gameweek Three and Gameweek Eight, each team in the group will play each other in head-to-head fixtures – so, for example, in Gameweek Three, the Top Seed in each group will go head-to-head with the Qualifier, while the Second Seed goes head-to-head with the Third Seed. Whichever team scores the most points in each match will be awarded two points. In the event of a draw, each team will score one point. After six rounds of fixtures, the top two teams in each group progress to Round Two. In the event of a tie between teams after six matches, a Tiebreaker will be used – see below.
Round Two will have two pots of seeds – the Group Winners and the Runners-Up. These will be randomly drawn into two groups, each containing two Group Winners and two Runners-Up. These two groups will then be contested in the same manner as the groups in Round One, with Round Two beginning in Gameweek Nine and being concluded in Gameweek Fourteen. At the end of Gameweek Fourteen, the two group winners will progress to the Grand Final. In the event of a tie after six matches, the same Tiebreaker as Round One will be used.
The Grand Final will be a two-legged head-to-head tie, contested over Gameweeks Fifteen and Sixteen. In the event of a tie, a one-legged replay will be held in Gameweek Seventeen. In the event of subsequent ties, one-legged replays will be held each Gameweek until we have a winner – there shall be no Tiebreaker in the final of the Gentlemen’s Classic unless we, somehow, reach Gameweek 38 with the two finalists scoring the exact same points every week. In that absurdly unlikely scenario, we will use the Tiebreaker – see below.
- First tiebreak: the Substitute's Shoot-Out.
- Second tiebreak: Goals Scored.
- Third tiebreak: Goals Conceded.
- Fourth tiebreak: Coin of Destiny
The Substitute's Shoot-Out works as follows:
In a two-legged tie, only the substitutes in the second leg are counted. If one team has used a Bench Boost, they officially have fifteen starting players, so all their substitutes are classified as having scored zero points, irrespective of how many the players that occupy the substitute players score that gameweek.
- Whoever scores the most between the first outfield substitute of each team scores one point.
- Whoever scores the most between the second outfield substitute of each team scores one point.
- Whoever scores the most between the third outfield substitute of each team scores one point.
The only deviance to the Tiebreaker is in the Gentlemen’s Classic Group Stages. In the event of two teams scoring the same amount of points, the first Tiebreaker will be head-to-head record between the two teams, with the Gameweek score of both matches added together. If that is a tie, the second Tiebreaker will be Goals Scored throughout the entire group stage, with captain’s goals counting double. If that is even, the third Tiebreaker will be Goals Conceded throughout the entire group stage, with captain’s goals conceded counting double. If that is even, we move to the Substitute’s Shoot-Out, based on the teams selected in the second match between the teams that are tied. In the event of a three-or-four way tie, the Substitute’s Shoot-Out will be based on the teams selected in the sixth group stage match. If it is to determine one qualifier, the highest score qualifies. If it is to determine two qualifiers, the lowest score is eliminated. If it is not settled based on the sixth group stage match, then we go back to the fifth group stage match, then the fourth, and so on. If that, somehow, fails to produce two clear qualifiers, then we will turn to the Coin of Destiny.
The Tiebreakers may sound complex, but trust me to get them right, as I did last season. It is very unlikely they will be needed; if they are, they will be explained clearly as it happens. The same goes for the three cups; once they are written up in the weekly round-ups, any confusion will quickly vanish. You don’t have to pay any attention to them if you desire not to; they exist to aid the FPL and League of Gentlemen experience, and to give meaning to each and every gameweek. If they prove too much a distraction, you lose nothing by ignoring them completely. For those who participated last season, I think we’d all agree they added to the drama and excitement; now the cups have been refined, defined and outlined, they should further cement the League of Gentlemen’s legacy as the greatest mini-league in all of FPL.
Enjoy the new season, my friends. And to King Ding, watch out, because we’re all coming for your crown, and to take that magnificent trophy forged by The Ox from your hands. To those who have competed in the League of Gentlemen before, you know what an exciting year we have ahead of us. To the newcomers, strap yourselves in, because this will be the greatest rollercoaster of your life. Ahead of Gameweek One, may all your squad selections be successes, may all your captains get hat-tricks, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.