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A text about FPL from my book
(This is an essay about FPL from the book "I want to be like Jürgen Klopp: and other strange thoughts about football" and I thought it would be fun to share it here!) submitted by Oscar-Oberg to FantasyPL [link] [comments]
I have always loved fantasy worlds. It started with JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, continued with the utopian PG Wodehouse world, and then all literature that made me wander to more exciting places than Umeå. Maybe it's some kind of escapism from a cold and hard reality, but I'm not going to do a Freudian analysis on myself and dig deeper into that. To make it simple: it’s just fun to occasionally live in a fantasy.
So, it wasn’t unexpected that I took the chance to join Fantasy Premier League for 8 years ago. FPL (as I will call it in the future) is a free online game where participants choose an imaginary squad consisting of two goalkeepers, five defenders, five midfielders and three attackers, with a budget of £ 100 million which then can increase or decrease depending on whether the player's value goes up or down. Before each round, you select eleven players from your squad (and a team captain), and you will then receive points (double points for the team captain) for them based on how they performed on the field, i.e. if your players have scored, made assists, kept clean sheets or received any magical bonus points calculated by the sports company Opta.
Without digging into all the rules it should be mentioned that the game is so dynamic, that if you forget to change formations for two weeks, there is a big chance that you have spoiled all your chances of a reasonably good finishing position when the season is summarized in May. It is a harsh climate, but for those who make the effort the reward is pretty awesome. You can get top 4 in your league. Or go to the fifth round of the Cup. Both epic achievements.
Let’s look a little bit at the history of the game: It grew popular sometime in the mid 90's, and since then FPL has only grown in popularity – right now it's more than 3 million frustrated geeks that each season try to put together their ultimate squad. And of the three million, there are also a lot of so called "celebrities" who realized that this game is more than just a game – it's a lifestyle (first exaggeration – there will be more). Last year, the British tennis star Andy Murray mentioned that "I have won my league 2 out of 3 times, and I plan to win again this year. We also have a trophy awarded each year with the winner's name on it; right now it stands in my trophy cabinet, in front of all my tennis trophies.” On asked about if it even stood in front of his Olympic gold medal he replied with a short and distinct "Yes".
And speaking of British people: when Tony Blair was Prime Minister of UK, he let teachers know that Fantasy football was a good tool to help young people learn math: "Fantasy Football is perhaps imagination, but the math is real. Dealing with the weak math results we have had recently is one of our priorities right now. To incorporate something that young people can relate to we believe can make a big difference." Tony Blair saw, which too few have given him credit for, clearly the relationship between FPL and genius kids.
But even people from other parts of the world see the greatness in FPL. Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia once called George Gillett, Liverpool's former partner, to get some inside info on Steven Gerrard: "I remember that I once called George Gillett, the owner of Liverpool – I wanted to know if Steven Gerrard would play that weekend's game, because I had him on my fantasy team. I said, "Can you find out if Gerrard will play?" He said he would do his best. I often try to find out what happens. I have many friends who give me information about the players and hopefully I will have access to even more information in the future."
You understand? This is important. But there is a small problem that you might already have figured out….and that's when Premier League players themselves create teams, something that is already a fact, and which blurs the line between fantasy and reality.
In January 2013, it was revealed that large parts of the Stoke City team had their own FPL league. The leader of the league was Peter Crouch with his team Longpins Longballers, followed closely by Ryan Shotton’s FC Shottinho, and Jamie Ness’s Nessinators. The interesting thing about Peter Crouch's team was that he had selected himself until he noticed that he was in a slump – he then swapped to Demba Ba, a transfer that either demonstrated bad self-confidence or an extraordinary self-awareness.
The same year, during the autumn, it also was revealed that Leon Osman was a confirmed FPL player when his team-mate Leighton Baines, after a win against West Ham where he made two goals, told the interviewer: "Ossie [Osman] had taken me out of his fantasy football because I was not producing enough amount of points, so I told him I would make some goals. I kept my word. "
But it gets stranger. West Bromvich goalkeeper Ben Foster was faced with a difficult choice when his team were up against Manchester United, because United had at the time the most popular of all FPL player: Robin van Persie, a player that Foster himself had in his FPL team. So that there wouldn’t be an uncomfortable situation Foster told the Sun that he had to replace Van Persie: a loss for his FPL team, but probably a must in order to not be split in interested in his "real" life.
Is there a conflict of interest in the above examples? Yes, definitely. Do you still think it is possible to justify that Premier League players participate in FPL? Yes, definitely. Some would compare FPL with betting, which in that case would be prohibited, because players isn’t allowed to bet under the FA's rules. However, there is a difference: first, they don’t compete for any visible money. But above all: FPL is so much more fun than betting. It would be awful to prohibit the Premier League player this unique opportunity to create happiness in their lives.
So, how does your team produce, Oscar? My team, Stekiga Renen FC, with the Darth Vader-inspired all-black outfit that I have tried to popularize, has been a successful team in many ways. Sure, I had a dip 2009/2010 when I only finished 1,917,421, but it was because I gave up after seven games when I noticed that my Chelsea-hating strategy didn’t work out. Otherwise, Stekiga Renen FC has delivered. The peak came the 2012/2013 season when I managed to sneak in to place 14,517, which was a feat compatible with sailing around the world in an e-dinghy.
In Sweden we have this forum called Flashback were people (usually trolls) can write about anything, and of course Flashback has its own thread about Fantasy Football. Since I'm in Flashbacks own league, I show up in this thread on the forum occasionally to see how my teammates feel. From time to time I look at this thread and sees some interesting patterns in the conversation:
A) The most common comment is to express disappointment for how useless the gameweek went.
Example: "Damn what a bad week for me ended at 38p L"
This is expected because most people who play this game lives in an illusion. We think we can somehow play god and control the output of each gameweek, and thus get 100p week after week. When we discover that Wayne Rooney once again let us down, we are obviously upset, which we like to point out to the other forum members.
B) Anxiety before every game seems to be virtually mandatory.
Example: "Have anxiety before the gamweek. My team: Boruc - Jagielka, Coleman, Hangeland - Lallana, Yaya, Ramsey, Ozil - Aguero, Costa, Giroud. Subs: Olsson, Whittaker and Albrighton. Almost all players face one another, looking to throw in Olsson instead of Jagielka and just take a shit-round and then save my change to next week. Any suggestions? "
Example 2: "Have a hard time to make a decision, hope some clever person can help me: Have had a pretty shaky start in the FPL with a lot of injuries and such, but now the squad is as good as healthy (except Silva), but needs help!"
These two examples clearly shows how important it is to find the right starting lineup before the gameweek starts – with the wrong formation the disappointment will be great, as in example A). To minimize the chance of making a fool of yourself, it might be good to follow Prince Abdullah's advice, i.e. to do thorough research regarding injuries and trends, and have an eye on the game schedule (both short- and long-term) so you don’t end up with three players that have an away game against Manchester City.
C) Who will wear the captain's armband (the C) is also a frequent topic of discussion.
Example: "For the third week in a row my captain underperform ... Nasri this week, Benteke last week and Hazard the week before...."
Answer to the previous example: "Bumbibeer, you're not alone. Sturridge naturally managed to stay away from all four goals for Liverpool. It is the third week in a row that my captain only make 2 points. Amazing..."
The captain’s points is counted twice. Now you understand why it hurts when you fail in your choice of captain. Life feels heavy. But when you see Giroud score a hattrick and you know that there is a (C) under his name in the lineup, all the previous pain is out weighted by the sheer joy. Life feels like a gift once again.
D) Finally, there are also those who want to tell you how amazing team they have.
Example: "I feel pretty happy with the team I have. Mignolet - Bertrand, Fonte, Hangeland - Ayew, Payet, Ozil, Sanchez – Vardy, Aguero, Ighalo. Subs: Fabianski, Richards, Mahrez, Hutton. Feels like good players that all can bring me some points. Saints face Leicester home the next round, a good chance for two of my defenders to keep a clean sheet. And I also expect my Arsenal trio to keep getting points. I mean, I don’t see how they wouldn’t against Watford.”
To brag about your team is little bit un-Swedish….but I fully understand those who do. I have to admit, I’m also guilty of this sin (or virtue). There is something beautiful in telling the world that you have solved all the mysteries: you have formed the perfect set-up based on the scarce resources to begin with; you feel like Gandalf sitting with all the answers; you've found the bug which everyone is looking for.
But let's not go into more examples now – it's time to make some sort of conclusion about this fantasy world. Listen: You know these things in life which is really fun when you make them, but afterwards you feel they were kind of unnecessary because they didn’t give any value for your future. To sit for an hour (or two ....or four) in front of the FPL and ponder the lineup when you used the wildcard provide exactly that feeling. But I'm not sure I want to abandon this activity, because there is almost nothing better than to achieve a total score of 100 points, while after a phone call find out that your friend only got a sad 27 points. Suddenly, your full time job as FPL player is worth it.
And somehow I think that all this fantasizing is good for us, because this is a game that benefits the player with good knowledge of human nature – those in the top has a clear sense of how teams and players are feeling at the moment, and can thus, to some extent, predict the future: Therefore, the more you truly understand other people, the better you perform in FPL. So, and this may be far-fetched (it is probably far-fetched), I imagine that FPL not only makes us better mathematician as Tony Blair said earlier, but ultimately to more understanding and better people ...... huh? You heard me! I stand by my somewhat shaky final theory and now leave this text to go and check my lineup.
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