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My Cup Runneth Empty: My Thrill-Ride Through FPL’s Head-to-Head Tournament

After seven rounds of head-to-head play, I crashed out of the FPL Cup tournament over the weekend. Are you still in?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s annual press conference Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

If you’re one of our readers who plays Fantrax but not FPL, you may not be aware of a sub-competition within FPL called the FPL Cup. The Cup is a head-to-head, single-elimination tournament that starts mid-season and then weeds out half the players after every round until only a single player is left standing. FPL explains the tournament this way:

“The top 4,194,304 ranked teams in Gameweek 16 will enter the first round. If there are more than 4,194,304 qualifiers then there will be a random draw amongst the lowest scorers to see who qualifies.

Each qualifying team will be randomly drawn against another in the first round. The winner (the team with the highest Gameweek score minus any transfer points), will progress to the second round and another random draw, the losers are out! This process continues until the final round when the two remaining teams contest the cup final.”

In the end then, it’s just like the immortal Scottish swordsman Connor MacLeod says in the ‘80s movie Highlander:


My Gameweek 16 score of 62 ranked 2,370,417, so Team David Brian made the cut for entry into the Cup. Below I’ll detail my journey through the tournament. Be aware that I grabbed the screenshots over the weekend, and FPL flags players red or yellow based on their current availability even when historical lineups are displayed. Also, based on the names of the owners of the teams I played against, I’m fairly confident that all of my counterparts were male. Therefore I’m going to take the liberty of referring to them using masculine pronouns.


Round 1 (GW 17)

For the first round of the competition I drew AlTaweel United, who was ranked 921,785 with 866 points overall. I was ranked 879,091 on 868 — only two points more than him — so I knew this would be a tight match. This was the lineup he fielded:

He captained Jamie Vardy, who scored, and he also got strong performances from Kevin De Bruyne and John Lundstram as well as a clean sheet from Nick Pope.

But like him, I also had KDB and Lundstram, so I negated those returns for him. My captain and my GK outscored his, plus I got a clean sheet from Trent Alexander-Arnold. The result was a tight 69-62 victory for me. My lineup is below:


Round 2 (GW 18)

So on to Round 2 I went! This time my opponent was Jiraiya Lovers. He didn’t start playing FPL until Gameweek 15, but he clearly knew what he was doing: He crushed his first-round Cup opponent with a score of 101! For Round 2 he played his Wildcard chip to get to this team:

Fortunately for me, his Wildcard squad flopped with a measly 33 points. Meanwhile, the team below returned 52 for me. Round 3, here I come!


Round 3 (GW 19)

For the third round I drew Jugaadi Jatt. He was ranked 230,347, while I was far behind him in 611,410th. He also had a team filled with FPL heavy-hitters like Pope, Lundstram, Jack Grealish, KDB, Mohamed Salah, Vardy, Marcus Rashford, and Harry Kane.

I fgured it would be a close fight, and I was right. I defeated him by only 4 points, pretty much solely on the strength of TAA’s ridiculous 24 point jackpot:


Round 4 (GW 20)

So thanks to the brilliance of Liverpool’s right back, I was through to Round 4. My opponent this time was Neville Wears Prada (I love that name!) who was ranked 240,824 on 1077 points. I was 427,717th on 1056. This is the team he rolled out against me:

He presciently captained KDB and got nice returns form TAA, Sadio Mané, and Marcus Rashford. But so did I! And my other two forwards also produced, which was enough for me to take the round 77-67:


Round 5 (GW 21)

Much to my surprise I had made it all the way to the fifth round. Next up for me was Mohamed Ayman, who did not start playing FPL until Gameweek 5. But he scored 85 in GW 20 (#17,642 for that week!) to advance to Round 5, so I knew he was capable of big returns. And he got one in Round 5. This team generated a tidy 71 points due largely to excellent performances from Andrew Robertson, TAA, and Ayoze Pérez:

But I had my own big performances from James Maddison, Jack Grealish, Mané, and Soyuncu, as well as clean sheets from TAA and Kasper Schmeichel and a goal from Tammy Abraham. This result was a very narrow 73-71 win for me:


Round 6 (GW 22)

On to Round 6! This time my opposition was Restored. At first I was startled (and pleased!) to see that he was ranked 5,528,269th with an overall score of 886, since by now I was #161,712 with an overall score almost 300 points higher than his. But a little research showed that after a rough start to the season, he had not scored less than 50 points since Gameweek 10. He stayed true to form in Gameweek 22 as well, as the team he put out against me returned 65 points on the strength of 4 clean sheets and attacking returns from all of his forwards as well as KDB:

But I got 4 clean sheets too, plus I had the armband on Rashford for his brace. The result? A sixth consecutive Cup win for Team David Brian, this time 69-65:


Round 7 (GW 23)

So it was on to Round 7! At this point only 1.6% of the players who started the Cup tournament still remained, and I knew whoever I drew was going to be tough to beat. One reason victory gets harder as the tournament goes deeper is that the remaining teams tend to start looking more and more alike, with fewer and fewer players differing between opposing managers.

I was therefore surprised to see this team from my Round 7 opponent, Walton’s Wanderers:

I actually grabbed this screenshot after Jamaal Lascelles had already auto-subbed in to replace no-show Michael Keane, who Walton’s Wanderers had started. So between those two players as well as Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jorginho, he had four players with ownerships under 4% as starters and a first sub! Talk about differentials!

Also curious was the fact that although he actively rotated among starters and bench players each week, he hadn’t executed a transfer since Gameweek 5 and invariably (like, always) captained Salah. Strange indeed!

Unfortunately for me, his unusual tactics also happened to be quite effective. He got a goal and a clean sheet from Virgil van Dijk, clean sheets from Robertson and auto-sub Lascelles, a brace from Rául Jiménez, and a goal and a clean sheet from Salah, whose points were doubled by the armband. That was more than enough to bring my Cup run to an end, as my team returned only 40 to his 65:


So after 7 weeks of nervy head-to-head competition, I am now among the 4,161,536 managers who’ve been cut from the competition. But I was proud to get farther into the Cup than 98.4% of my peers, and it felt great to receive support from the NMA community as I progressed from round to round.

By the way, there is at least one NMA manager still alive in the Cup competition: 1998jjb won his Round 7 match-up, so he’s now one of the 32,768 managers left to battle it out in Round 8. That puts him in the top 0.8% of managers, so be sure to congratulate him and cheer him on as he attempts to be the last man standing!

And while you’re doing that, let us know how you did in the Cup. Are you still alive? If not, how far did you get before you crashed out? Did you even qualify? Let us know in the poll and comments below!



How far did you get in the FPL Cup?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    I’m still alive (Congrats and tell us who you are in the Comments so the rest of us can cheer you on!)
    (4 votes)
  • 25%
    First Round
    (7 votes)
  • 22%
    Second Round
    (6 votes)
  • 3%
    Third Round
    (1 vote)
  • 11%
    Fourth Round
    (3 votes)
  • 7%
    Fifth Round
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Sixth Round
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    Seventh Round
    (1 vote)
  • 11%
    I didn’t qualify
    (3 votes)
27 votes total Vote Now