Let’s hear from the FPL Cup Finalist for 2017/18

FISO member, Joshhhua, beat off millions of other entrants (over 5 million people entered FPL in 2017/18) to reach the final of the FPL Cup where heart-breakingly he lost by the finest of margins (a 78 to 78 draw but he had fewer goals scored so finished 2nd on the tie-breaker). Here in his own words is how his season went:

‘Hi guys, after having a bit of time to look back at last season, wanted to write a summary of my run in the Cup, hoping it could be useful for someone in the next seasons.

What can I say about this crazy run in the FPL Cup? As Jürgen Klopp once said: “Giving your best will not guarantee success, but it is the only way to achieve it.” Ok, maybe I shouldn`t have listened to someone who lost 5 of his 6 finals, but think he does have a point with that one. Brendan Rodgers, with all his flaws, said: ”I only concentrate on the things I can influence and not wasting my energy on the things I can`t change.” Don`t worry, this was the last quote from managers, but quoting them like they are some brilliant minds of humanity would be disrespectful to somebody like Nelson Mandela, who said: “I never lose. I either win or learn”. Now I`m done with quoting, really. The reason I`m risking being seen as a philosophical nerd with too much spare time on his hands is that those three statements were the foundation of my approach of playing FPL and crucial part of that FPL Cup run.

I`m sure some will say I was extremely lucky and they wouldn`t be wrong. In one round I had a GW rank of 3.9 million and was lucky enough that my opponent was worse than me that round and there is absolutely no question about it that luck is needed to win so many H2H matches in a row, but you give your best shot and hope for the best.

Although my rank was not that bad in the previous seasons I still felt it was not good enough and tried to find out what other managers do better and what things I have to change so I found Fiso and read some very interesting theories supported by plain facts and what I liked the most about Fiso was there were often questions how and why and not only talk about which player from which team as it is on every other FPL related site. It was clear this is the place where I could become better manager, but what surprised me the most was how people were friendly and helpful which is such a rarity nowadays where abuse on internet became almost a normal thing.

I should probably say right away that I didn`t care for the Cup at all when it started. I think there were rounds when I even forgot to look at my opponent`s team before the deadline as I was just concentrated on getting as much points as possible every GW (was aiming for those 66 points per gw on average) and getting into the top 10K and later top 1K. Two rounds I even did -8 as that was better for my team overall. Maybe that is important to note, as if I was making transfers with H2H in mind, maybe my team wouldn`t be in that good position for almost every GW during this long run. What also helped is that I found reasonable the theory about not letting less powerful chips (TC and especially BB) influence the decision when the most powerful chip (WC) should be played and wildcarded in GW28 when I thought it was the best time for my team looking at form and fixtures as I made 12 or 13 changes what ensured continuity in H2H match-ups.

I only started looking at the Cup games in more detail in the last couple of GWs, but that still didn`t influence my transfers and strategy until QF. Even in QF, the only different thing I did because of H2H is captaining Salah who my opponent didn`t have as I was sure it was the only way to beat him as he had his BB chip left, but didn`t use it in the end.

In the SF, I took a look at the other teams still in the Cup and saw that the team that eventually won the Cup, was favorite in the SF and in much better shape for the final round than my team and that I got the easiest opponent in the SF, so after going through many ideas and lot of tinkering decided that not playing TC chip will give my team the best chance of winning the Cup. I knew it would raise a few eyebrows, but the idea looked so good I just had to go with it. It worked out perfectly with double United CS on the last day of DGW handing me the ticket to the final.

The final day was a proper emotional roller-coaster. It started very well with Kane and Salah scoring early, but in the end Arnie`s goal and Robertson scoring late sealed it and I went down on the goals scored. The bonus points system also didn`t help as although Kane scored two goals, the same as Vardy, with the second one being the winning goal, it still wasn`t enough for the 3 BPs and also the story of this season with Salah not getting any BPS for a goal and an assist, but I don`t want to moan.

What I learned from the final is that I should have been more proactive, but after I kept my cool in the SF by not getting Sterling nor Jesus in and not using the TC chip, it was very difficult for me to change the approach that got me there in the first place and that was a mistake. You get to play in the final once in a lifetime and after it is finished you shouldn`t have any regrets. My approach to the final match-up would be sensible for every other GW, but not for this one. I knew which transfers my opponent made and saw he spent 4 points and I didn`t react. Funnily, all the transfers I had in mind would have gotten me the title: Maguire to TAA, Maguire to PVA, Pogba to Arnautovic. I was 99% sure he got Arnautovic in, so if I did the Pogba to Arnautovic transfer, we would both start with -4 and it would be my Kane, Salah against his Alli and better defence.

So, if someone who reads this happens to reach the finals, forget all you know and just go for it. It is one-time opportunity so don`t let it slip because you were too cautious. We can talk about me being unlucky, Zanka`s yellow card in the last minute, Arnie`s “assist” or Pogba coming on for the last 5 minutes preventing Milivojevic to be subbed in, but it is a fact I didn`t rise to the occasion as I should have. One holy man once said “luck is nothing more than a manifestation of your spiritual frame of mind” (literary translation would be “manifestation of your inner spiritual state”) and I forgot that for a moment and was too cautious and too fearful to have luck on my side.

I assume someone will think I want to present myself as know-it-all or elite FPL manager, but I just wanted to share my experience as it is pretty rare to go this far, hoping maybe this would help better managers than myself to win it if they reach final rounds of the Cup. The thing is, the moment you start to think you are great at something is the moment you will stop getting better at that very thing and the regression will kick in.

So, in the end, none of this would be possible without great people here on Fiso. There is no other place for FPL where it is possible to hear so many original ideas and so sensible at the same time. Talk about transfers, captain decisions and game strategy was the most important part of this Cup run as only when I wrote down my ideas and talked about that to someone who knew what he was doing, only then I had a feeling I “gave my best shot” and after the first feeling of disappointment because loss in the final, I felt very happy I had an opportunity to be part of such a great community which helped me realize my flaws and made me a better manager and I would like to think, better person in the end.

I would like to say thanks to all the people here as even if I didn`t directly talk to a lot of you, I was reading your blogs and your comments which also influenced my decision-making. Also, if I offended or upset anybody, please forgive me!

Thank you Fiso!’