This year was meant to be glorious.
Sometime last season, I realised just how much I hate Fantasy Premier League (FPL). My Gameweek History says I’ve been playing it since 2013, but I first started playing in 2011. I wasn’t a fan. I found managers not picking consistent teams irritating, I found it hard to stay invested in something that took so long and, well, it all seemed a bit pointless. I gave it another shot in 2012/2013, and my feelings hadn’t changed; if anything, they just grew stronger. I didn’t play in the 2013/2014 season, and I found football far more enjoyable. But then, for some bizarre reason, I decided to create a team in the 2014/2015 season. That’s when the FPL Nightmare really began.
History of the League of Gentlemen: 2014/15 – 2017/18
The way a lot of serious FPL players approach the game, they aim to finish as high up the overall rankings as possible. For me, the game was never about that. It was all about beating Dinga and Jeeves, and our mini-league, the League of Gentlemen, gave me the opportunity to do just that. Perhaps the League of Gentlemen existed before 2014, but this was the year in which it first mattered, with both Dinga’s Ringers and Geord’s Lords entering the fray. In 2014/15, rather than losing interest and finding it pointless, I resolved to give it my all. I was going to show those two just who the boss was. The problem was, in that season, I finished miles behind them: Geord’s Lords finished with 1,910 points, for a final overall position of 541,393; Jeeves’ Juggernauts finished with 1,968 points, for a final overall position of 308,948; and Dinga’s Ringers finished with 2,110 points, for a final overall position of 45,827 – to this day, the highest any of us have finished. The situation deteriorated in 2015/16, where I dropped further away than ever, finishing with 1,828 points for a finishing position of 1,643,524, compared with Jeeves’ 2,077 points for a position of 299,514, and Dinga’s 2,059 for a position of 366,398. This was not going according to plan at all.
There was a key differential in 2016/17 – Newcastle had been relegated. As someone particularly prone to bias towards Newcastle players, our years of struggle had cost me dearly. Relegation was awful as a fan, but it liberated me as an FPL player. For once, I didn’t have mixed feelings when my players scored against Newcastle – there was none of that twisted, “at least it was him that scored”, thinking that infuses every FPL player. This time, I could be objective and, without my built-in biases clouding my judgement, I could attack the League of Gentlemen. I also changed the team name, from the cursed Geord’s Lords to the Lawes Disorder. To quote many a Liverpool fan, this was our year.
Final Rankings, 2016/2017:
1st: Dinga’s Ringers: 2,183 pts., 86,109 final position.
2nd: Jeeves’ Juggernauts: 2,059 pts., 364,993 final position.
3rd: the Lawes Disorder: 2,022 pts., 507,997 final position.
Well, that didn’t go according to plan. Despite my highest-ever points total and final position, and closing the gap on Jeeves’ Juggernauts, nobody could touch Dinga. Finishing 161 points ahead of me and 124 ahead of Jeeves, he achieved the second-highest finish any of us have achieved, with his second top 100k finish cementing his nickname of King Ding. Never mind me; not even Jeeves, the former winner of the League of Gentlemen, could touch him; his personal best overall position of 299,514 just a speck of dust on the rear-view mirror of Dinga’s Rolls-Royce performances. His no-hits policy, his forward planning and his budget defenders and goalkeeper approach were paying off in spectacular fashion; in contrast, the many-hits-to-get-the-best-team approach was costing the Lawes Disorder dearly.
2017/18 started with a lot of promise, but by the end, the story remained the same: the Lawes Disorder finished third (2,039 pts., 880,133 final position), with Jeeves’ Juggernauts (2,127 pts., 360,886 final position) sneaking a memorable victory over Dinga’s Ringers (2,102 pts., 479,464 final position) courtesy of a stunning turnaround in the last two gameweeks of the season. Jeeves had finally adopted Dinga’s forward planning approach, and it paid off with a gameweek 37 bench boost giving him 14 players with two games. Had it not taking him 30 gameweeks to stop taking 3 or 4 hits a week, maybe he could have finished with his coveted top-100k finish; as it was, he had the consolation of joining Dinga as the only two-time winner of the League of Gentlemen. All was not lost for the Lawes Disorder though, with 88 points being the smallest margin of defeat, and with victories over both Dinga’s Ringers and Jeeves’ Juggernauts in head-to-head leagues. As positives go, they were only small, but they gave a glimmer of hope for the future.
Not only was 2018/19 going to be my year, I was going to retire at the end of it. Win the League of Gentlemen for the first time, then retire from this bastard game as a champion. As dreams go, it was a good one. Sadly, the dream was to turn into a nightmare …
To see how season 2018/19 has gone for Lawes so far, please see The FPL Nightmare: The Story So Far (Part Two).