Varsity’s top 10 FPLers of 2023/24.BEN CONWAY for VARSITY

It seems that last season’s top FPLers struggled with a touch of “second season syndrome”. My prediction last August - that none of the 2022/23 top four would place in this season’s top ten - came true (Harry Robson led the pack in 19th this year). Unfortunately for me, however, that was the best of my prophetic ability all year as I crawled to a 25th placed finish in this year’s Varsity FPL league.

Fortunately, there were some extremely impressive performances amongst the 131 league members. Eventual winner Alex Dakin recorded a spectacular overall rank of 6058 out of nearly 11 million players. Third placed Tom Brookes at one stage broke the elusive ‘top 1000’ barrier, sitting in rank 530 at the close of Gameweek 24. Indeed, the Varsity FPL league had ten ‘top 100k’ entrants this year, as tenth placed Kris Bhargava crept into rank 97871.

So what are the secrets to a good FPL season? Many cite utilising FPL content creators. Alex “tuned into FPL Raptor’s deadline stream every week” and Tom used Ben Crellin’s Twitter feed to forecast blank and double gameweeks, which “helps massively when making transfers in the second half of the season”. FPL Twitter accounts serve as “a useful aggregator of FPL news” according to Kris, with BigManBakar being his personal favourite. With the rise of FPL content creation, it appears that many keen FPLers select one or two FPL pundits to supply a weekly lowdown.

The true skill is not in obtaining this information, but rather in what you do with it. Kris said “I don’t like to copy/always take their advice as I think that ruins the fun of the game”, and a feature of the top performers has been their willingness to go against the grain with high-risk, high-reward picks. Alex’s season highlight was a Jarrod Bowen hat-trick in gameweek 26 after the forward’s “long point drought”, and silver medallist Magnus Bannerholt mentioned a Mo Salah 16-pointer in gameweek 20 “where most people went for Son or Haaland for captaincy”. Tom explained that being “willing to dump Haaland and avoid Salah when they were out of form allowed me to make gains a lot of others missed”.

Who were the MVPs for our star players? Tom commended his selection of “Ollie Watkins for so much of the season”, and both Ryan Convoy (sixth) and George Crawley (seventh) heralded their early transfer-in and subsequent season-long hold of Cole Palmer, who proved a revelation in Chelsea’s otherwise inconsistent campaign. Ryan also credited his “double Arsenal defence towards the back end of the year”, as they kept clean sheets in 11 of their last 15 games even in the midst of their annual crumble.

The top score of any of my interviewees was George’s monstrous 155 in Gameweek 37.


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While my successful prediction from earlier heeds to the element of luck within FPL, this year’s top performers asserted the central role of skill in FPL success. Most of them have played the game for many years (as many as 11 in Alex’s case), acquiring helpful habits that amateurs have not yet developed. Magnus split skill and luck as “around 70/30”, which is perhaps generous to the luck component given his own consistency, as he also placed 10th in 2022/23’s Varsity FPL league. Alex claimed that “over the whole season, using the data will definitely give you a statistical advantage”. Ryan similarly invoked the idea of skill differences materialising in the long term, analogising FPL with poker. He said “there’s a reason why the best in the world tend to be there repeatedly. If you play the odds, over the long haul you will come out as the winner”. Tom echoed this and told me “the only way to really prove skill is important to anyone is to beat them year after year until they believe you!”.

I asked what it means to the competitors to place so high in the Varsity FPL league. The quote in the headline of this article is actually from Kris, who was delighted to mix with the best in his debut season in the league. Alex was “very happy” with his victory, Tom congratulated Alex, Magnus wanted to push for the top spot next season, George said that he “might go and buy myself a plastic medal from Tescos”, and Ryan was “just happy to beat Conway” (thanks, Ryan). Finally, extra plaudits are in order for 4th placed Tim Dalgleish for also winning the Varsity FPL cup. Congratulations to all of the top players, enjoy the summer, and see you all next year!