Most of us mere mortals will be playing for mini-league glory or a landmark rank as the final Gameweek of this drawn-out season approaches.
For a handful of Fantasy bosses, however, there is the carrot of finishing ahead of every single other FPL manager in the world.
There are few of us who will ever be in with a shout of clinching an FPL crown, with chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen – the current world number four – among them this year.
Top of the pile after Gameweek 37+ and two points ahead of his nearest challenger is Fantasy Football Scout user, Chris McGowan.
Chris, who goes by the name Queens of the South Age on the site, had first reached the summit in Gameweek 23 and reclaimed top spot in Gameweek 36+ after a brief wobble.
We previously interviewed him back in February when he was kind enough to discuss his meteoric rise, strategy, captaincy, chip usage and more.
Armed with his Triple Captain chip and a slender lead heading into Gameweek 38+, Chris has again generously agreed to answer more of our questions in an interview you can read below.
Scout: First things first – how are you feeling? Is there nerves, excitement or a bit of a Zen attitude to the whole thing?
Chris: To be honest, I’ve been pretty chilled about it up until now and just taken things however they have turned out. I never expected to be going into the last Gameweek in first place, so there’s definitely some excitement creeping in to see how it turns out.
Scout: Last time we spoke with you after Gameweek 26, you were number one in the world but said you’d settle for a place in the top 1k. At what point did it become an all-out tilt at the title?
Chris: Probably in Gameweek 35+. I had a terrible run after the restart and watched others do great week after week. That week got me right back into the mix and in with a decent chance. I would happily take a top-three spot as I’ve been up there for so long this season that it would be disappointing to finish without a prize – but obviously, I’m aiming for number one now.
Scout: You were determined to “do your own thing” when we last spoke and not pay too much attention to your nearest rivals’ teams. Has that approach changed at all with one Gameweek to go? And if so, who are the managers you are paying the most attention to?
Chris: That mindset pretty much worked up until Gameweek 36+. I then spent too much time thinking about what Joshua Bull [the current world number two] might do and was convinced he’d play his Wildcard or Free Hit – which he didn’t.
Up until an hour before the deadline, I was set on getting David Silva in for Riyad Mahrez and captaining him. I ended up going for Phil Foden instead as I was sure Joshua would have Silva and I was trying to be different. It caught me out, that one, but then again Foden scored the week after and Silva didn’t play at all so I’m not sure how my team would have looked as I wouldn’t have had the money to get Chris Wood in for Aaron Connolly, like I did.
Scout: Are you much of a social media user and have you given it a bit of a wide berth this last week to clear your mind?
Chris: Not at all, really. I don’t have a Facebook or a Twitter account so I’m never on them. I’ll check the FantasyPL Reddit and sometimes comment on posts in there.
Scout: You still have your Triple Captain chip remaining – what was your main reason for keeping it for Gameweek 38+?
Chris: Two reasons for that. The first is that I stupidly didn’t use it on Mohamed Salah in Liverpool’s Double Gameweek 24. After that, I’ve never really settled on a week and, as it got closer to the end, I liked the idea that I might win it thanks to an amazing Triple Captain haul on the final day!
Scout: We’re not going to ask the obvious and get you to reveal your exact choices for your team. But who is on your candidate long-list for the Triple Captaincy?
Chris: The top players I have are obviously Raheem Sterling, Sadio Mane, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford but those Manchester United picks have looked jaded in the last couple of games. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has run them into the ground but they do have a few days’ rest before Sunday’s game, so are still an option. If they needed a win they might be more enticing but a draw is good enough for them now so they might not be as attacking unless they go a goal down.
I think still having the chip makes it worse for anybody chasing as, if they are guessing my captain, then is it worth them having or bringing in the same player just to get single or double points versus my triple? If I was chasing on a Free Hit, I think it would play on my mind and affect my team choice.
Scout: Your chip strategy was interesting: Free Hit in Gameweek 30+, Wildcard in Gameweek 33+ and Bench Boost in Gameweek 34+. What were your main motivations for overlooking the unlimited transfers ahead of Gameweek 30+? Was it a case of liking the look of your team already or a long-term mistrust of the likes of Villa and Arsenal?
Chris: I’m still against that ‘free Wildcard’ that everybody was given for the restart as I was in a good position and it gave people the chance to overhaul their teams even if they had already used their second Wildcard. I liked my team for Gameweek 31+ and didn’t want to commit to doing the unlimited transfers for Gameweek 30+ and then Wildcarding straight away.
The Wildcard in Gameweek 33+ was forced a bit down to the poor scores I had since the restart and I needed to try and get back on track. The Bench Boost was just a kind of “it needs to be played so just get it done”. The fixtures weren’t too bad but it was a poor return, as it turned out.
Scout: You were 52 points adrift of then-leader Joshua Bull in Gameweek 33+ but a spectacular double-up on Raheem Sterling (c) and Michail Antonio in Gameweek 35+ saw you come back into contention. What prompted you to sell Kevin De Bruyne for Sterling that Gameweek?
Chris: It was at the stage of needing to make differential changes as there’s no point in having all the same players.
There were some rumours that De Bruyne was getting a rest and that just swayed me to go for Sterling. He had been looking sharp and I just got extremely lucky with that one.
Antonio was in my Wildcard team and he had been looking good, too. Four goals was just ridiculous luck though. Sometimes it just lands in your favour and that was definitely one of those times.
Scout: Do you reckon you’ll take a hit in Gameweek 38+ or will it be simply a use of your free transfer?
Chris: I’m undecided as yet on whether I will take a hit it but if I do, it will be because I am Triple Captaining one of the players I bring in. It’s such a tough decision as I’ll be kicking myself if I make changes for a hit and they do worse than what I had. It’s a one-off chance and not something that can pay off after a few games.
Scout: Has team/player motivation (eg being ‘on the beach’ or chasing the Golden Boot) been a factor in your picks in the run-in?
Chris: A little. West Ham were fighting for safety up until now so Antonio was good. I brought Danny Ings back in after the manager’s comments saying he wouldn’t be rested and pretty much play as much as possible to chase the Golden Boot.
Scout: Onto the big day itself. Will you be logged on at 2.55pm hoping for any early team news hints or will you have made your transfers long before the last-minute carnage?
Chris: I’ll definitely be hoping for that last-minute news. The worry with that though is that everybody else is doing the same and we have experienced FPL servers being unable to cope before.
Scout: Where/how will you be watching the action on Sunday?
Chris: I’m not actually sure if I’ll get to watch the games live yet. Afternoon kick-offs rarely get watched as I’m normally busy with the family at the weekends during the day. That’s why I’ve enjoyed the last few weeks as I’ve been able to watch a lot more games at night.
Last season was the same and I was leading my mini-league going into the last game, with second place pretty close behind. I switched off all alerts and WhatsApp group updates and managed to avoid everything to watch Match of the Day without knowing any scores. I might have to do the same this time – but the suspense would be killing me!
Our thanks again to Chris, who we wish the best of luck for Gameweek 38+.
You can hear from the world number three, Aleksandar Antonov, on our Scoutcast below:
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