Chris, who goes by the name Queens of the South Age on the site, is 18 points ahead of his nearest challenger in the overall rankings going into the next wave of Gameweek 26 fixtures.
After a flirtation with the top 1k for much of the first half of the campaign, Chris made his move over Christmas, rising from an overall rank of 1,439th to 1st in just five Gameweeks.
A phenomenal start to 2020 (including a triple-figure score in Gameweek 22) saw him rack up 354 points in January, which only four Fantasy bosses across the globe could beat.
Armed with all four of his chips heading into the final third of the season, Chris is one of only two managers in the top ten who has yet to use his Triple Captain chip.
Chris was kind enough to give up some of his time to answer our questions on Thursday, in an interview you can read below.
Scout: For the legions of us who will never be world number one at any point in our lives, what does it feel like to be top of the pile? What is the overriding emotion?
Chris: It’s definitely a bit strange to see the number one against my name in all of the leagues I’m in. There’s normally a target you are chasing, whether it is trying to top your mini-league or chasing top 1k/10k etc, but never trying to stay top overall. I’m trying not to let it change how I’ve played the season so far, though, and I’m just doing my own thing and not letting other players influence my own team.
Scout: It sounds like a daft question but would you, with 12 Gameweeks still to go, say settle for a top ten place? Or is it first or bust?
Chris: I’d happily settle for a finish in the top 1k, to be honest, as that would be my best finish! I’ve hit a huge amount of luck recently with some player and captain choices and that has been the difference. The week I went top, my captain, Sergio Aguero, scored a brace and my goalkeeper, Nick Pope, saved a Jamie Vardy penalty, so that was a big points swing against the Vardy captainers. I’m well aware that luck can and probably will change at some point soon. The blanks and doubles will also play a big part in the closing weeks and if that goes wrong then there could be a big rank drop.
Scout: You mention luck, there, and much is made (mostly by those of us trailing in your wake) of the part that good/bad fortune plays in FPL. How much has luck favoured you this season?
Chris: There is a good amount of knowledge and judgement involved, whether based on the eye test or stats, but it just takes a good bit of luck for things to go your way to help climb to the top. It’s one thing to pick your own players that do well but another to have popular assets you don’t own do nothing at the same time.
Scout: Will reaching the summit – or has it already – changed your approach/outlook to FPL? Are you looking more at your nearest rivals, for instance?
Chris: Nope. I’m still trying to do my own thing and ignore what anybody else is doing. I wavered a little bit when it was the Double Gameweek for Liverpool. I was close to getting Sadio Mane in but I didn’t really want to and was feeling pressured into it. In the end, I stuck to my own plan and it worked out as I would have triple captained him had I brought him in. Instead, I captained Mohamed Salah and still have the chip to use.
Scout: Talk us through a normal week of managing your FPL team. Do you follow a usual routine in terms of research/transfers etc?
Chris: After the games, I tend to have a look at any potential transfers but I’ve been more patient this season and waited closer to the next deadline before making any. I only really make an early one if there’s a move I definitely want to do and I only have the exact funds to do it. I’ll keep an eye on the Fantasy Football Scout website or FPL subreddit for any injury news etc but not much else.
Scout: Have you done anything different this season to what you have done in the past?
Chris: The biggest change this season is trying to just play my own game and not be influenced by the “template” team and who I should be captaining. I’ve done that in the past and would find myself annoyed sometimes at some of the players I have in my team that I don’t actually want.
Scout: You still have all four chips left remaining for the second half of the season. Is this normal for you to have a full complement at this stage and what are your thoughts on chip strategy for the run-in, with many of the blanks and doubles still undetermined?
Chris: I think I had all the chips this time last season too but the one before I wasted my Free Hit early on. As of yet, I haven’t really thought of how I’m going to play them. I’m still waiting to get some more information about who is playing who and when.
Scout: You’ve taken three hits this season at a total cost of -12 but not one since Gameweek 14. Do you typically adopt a patient approach to transfers?
Chris: It’s a new approach this season. I’ve been very prone to a hit or two in the past but yeah, I’ve calmed down a bit this year. It kind of goes together with the high rank for most of the season, though. I’m less inclined to take hits when the team is doing well and getting the points in already.
Scout: You’ve had a premium, £10.0m+ forward all season (either Harry Kane or Sergio Aguero). Have you always favoured a heavy hitter in attack and is this a strategy you can see continuing in the run-in, with value options elsewhere?
Chris: Yeah, I tend to always have a premium forward in and try to find value alongside him, a bit like Danny Ings and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are doing for me at the moment. When Aguero is fit, I always look to get him in as he’s my favourite Premier League player. There were some doubts at the start of the season due to the Copa America but I got him in a Gameweek 4 Wildcard and kept him till he got injured. I was always planning on getting him back in as soon as he was fit again. Kane was just holding his place! I’m an Atletico Madrid fan so there was a time a few seasons ago where I went all-out premium up front with an ex-Atleti front line of Aguero, Diego Costa and Falcao – and that didn’t work out at all!
Scout: You’ve had Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne for the entirety of 2019/20 but never owned Sadio Mane or Jamie Vardy. Did you ever waver on those premium options or come close to getting in the other pair, particularly when they were bang in form?
Chris: Nope. I never doubted that Salah would come good and never had the luxury of a spare free transfer to do the sideways move to Mane anyway. I’ve been there in past seasons, chasing points between the Manchester City midfielders, where the best option was just to pick one and forget – so I’m trying to adopt that strategy. Vardy is a different story. I’m not fond of the manager so I’m just boycotting Leicester players. It started off as a bit of a mini-league joke but I had to stick to it and it was brutal when he was scoring big nearly every game for a while.
Scout: Nick Pope has been your set-and-forget goalkeeper since Gameweek 1. Was this always your intention or have there been other fires to fight that stopped you making a goalkeeper transfer?
Chris: There were plenty of weeks before his recent heroics that I was trying to transfer him out but couldn’t manage it. I either only had one free transfer and couldn’t afford a change to Dean Henderson or yeah, there was a different transfer I had to prioritise. He’ll likely stay now until I Wildcard.
Scout: You have captained eight different players this season, with Gameweek 26 being the first time you have skippered Kevin De Bruyne. How do you approach your captaincy decisions and was there a reason for avoiding De Bruyne to date?
Chris: There’s been no real in-depth thought to it, really. It’s as simple as just who I fancy will score the most points that week, as stupid as that sounds. I’ve not been trying to second guess who anybody else might be captaining and just going with my gut. I nailed a cracking differential Marcos Alonso captain earlier in the season just for a bit of banter with a work colleague. I felt like a goal was coming and didn’t fancy any other options that week. I tend to stick with the forwards for captaincy, though, and if I am going to be able to watch the game live that will sway my decision too as I like getting to see my captain play. I wasn’t too sure on Aguero this week but still wanted City so ended up with De Bruyne. I pretty much couldn’t make a decision and thought I’d go with him for a change.
Scout: Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson was your Liverpool triple-up in Double Gameweek 24 but you’ve since ditched Robertson. Without giving away your transfer plans, can you see yourself revisiting the triple-up at some point and what do you think is the optimum trio?
Chris: Definitely. I’ll likely be getting Mane in soon which was why I got rid of Robertson. I wanted to have that spot free already but I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do it yet. Alexander-Arnold, Salah and Mane have got to be the optimum trio for potential points but it does hurt your team elsewhere, so I don’t think I’ll have the triple-up for too long.
Scout: Who do you think might be a breakout FPL asset in the final third of the campaign?
Chris: Son Heung-min hasn’t done as well as I’d expect yet this season and I brought him in this week for Riyad Mahrez, so I’m hoping that changes.
Scout: Is your fantastic overall rank now common knowledge amongst your family and friends?
Chris: It would have been a waste of time telling my partner as she wouldn’t have cared! We have a mini-league in the office and they all knew about it. I also received an FPL goody bag for finishing in the top ten managers for January, so the T-shirt was worn with pride one day to the office and I make sure to stand up often when taking a drink out of the mug or water bottle just as a reminder!
Our thanks again to Chris, who we wish the best of luck for the remainder of the campaign.
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