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Fantasy Super Rugby – A Manifesto (kind of)


Last years highest average points scorers, and MVP Damian McKenzie

So, whilst we’ve been working out where we’ll ply out Fantasy Super Rugby trade this year (which is going to be The Rugby Magazine, more on that soon), we’ve been reflecting on the good and bad of Fox, and come up with a wish-list of things we’d like to see in a Fantasy Super rugby format. For what it’s worth, it’s below, and this is standard salary cap format, not draft.

  • Salary Cap: So let’s start with the basics. As a fantasy sports nerd I want something that’s going to challenge me. There need’s to be a tough salary cap that forces me to make difficult decisions – i.e. if I want to pick a world class back three, with premium wingers and full back, where do I need to compromise; where’s the bargain picks at the start of the season that are going to help me get the best points per $ team on the field.
  • Player Pricing: This is very much tied to the above. Over the long term, player pricing needs to trend in the same direction. For instance, with Fox, generally a players’ price trended towards their average points x10 – i.e. if McKenzie averaged 50 points, he was about $500k. However, I want two things. I want there to be miss-priced players at the start, that’s kind of part of the fun. I also want a pricing system that is predictable, with decent variation, and probably some lag in terms of pricing catching-up with performance. It stands to reason right, just because you have one great game, doesn’t mean as a player you’re instantly worth $500k. But, consistently putting in the performance over 3 to 5 games, then your worth goes up. Two years ago prices were like a roller coster in Fox. The last year they made some tweaks and I think flattened the pricing moves too much. There’s need to be enough in it for you as a manager to make some decisions not entirely based on performance, but potentially picking up a player for a couple of weeks because you think their price will go up, and maybe in two weeks time you can sell them for some $$$ and upgrade one of those kak guys you were forced to pick on day 1.
  • Transfers: So if I’ve basically got a dynamic market for player prices I want the ability to take advantage of that. Transfers are fundamental, and again, it’s about finding that balance. You should have enough – 2 to 3 – so that with the salary cap, player pricing changes, you can spend hours agonising over which combination of changes is best for that particular week. There’s an argument to say, with injuries on the up, and squad rotation, that actually the three transfers fox gave you last year was too little. I like the concept which is being used across a few formats, of getting the minimum number of transfers, and then having to pay points to get more if you need them.
  • Squad Management: Really this is just a combination of salary cap, player prices and transfers, so a lot has already been said, but I want the opportunity to gamble on match-ups from week to week, and to be a tinker if that’s my style. Or, as you can do, if you pick the right 15, then probably 10-12 of those you don’t need to worry about week to week, and you just worry about filling the gaps. Options, basically I like optionality. I also like what fox did of only locking down transfers and starting team as each game went live. It did give you a small window to take a flyer on a player in an early game, and if they got a mega score use one of your transfers to bring in someone who wasn’t playing so that the flyer started. Again, this gave you choice about short term points gain, versus most likely longer term squad weakening through short term tactical transfers.
  • Scoring: This is one area that’s improved a huge amount over the last years. Sure, you want premium players and positions, like hooker, backrow, back three. But you need to point system weighted so that all positions can make a contribution. Fox had done a pretty good job with this, in terms of replicating a players ability to change a game, and translate that into points. It wasn’t all about tries and penalty kicks, but pretty much any player could put in a performance from week to week. Basically, I like the Fox scoring, whilst sometimes ridiculous at the top end, I don’t think it was too far away from what it needs to be.
  • Live Point Updates: This is key. There is nothing quite like sitting there, watching a Super Rugby game, seeing Folau cruise past 3 players, side-step the last to touch down for a try, and a few mins later see your score pop up by 30 to 40 pts. If you’re lucky enough to be watching in person with someone without Folau, then Christmas has come early, otherwise it’s straight onto WhatsApp to Lord it over those less fortunate and explain in detail about how you knew Folau was going to break out of his scoring funk in this particular game. I also quite like the points update once the gameweek is over. Adds an extra edge to never being 100% sure where you’ll finish. Sometimes I think it
  • Captain, Vice Captain: Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be a fantasy game without the captain, vice-captain mechanic. With Fox you obviously had the opportunity to frig that choice. I didn’t mind that so much, it added another layer of strategy to the game and by the end everyone was doing it. You’d take a gamble on the early players, see if they posted a good score, and if not, pick a banker. I think it keeps you engaged in all the games, all weekend, if you want to, it just needs to be part of the actual rules.
  • Injury Wildcard: Obviously the captain, vice captain mechanic in part exists so that if your captain gets hit by a car just before kick-off, or happens to be suspended, you have another shot at not missing out on double points. However, there are sooooo many times when this blows up, for instance, Izzy Folau as your vice captain picks up an injury 20mins into the game. That’s about 10 points total. Great. Throw laptop at TV. Now I think there needs to be an injury wildcard, possibly 1 or 2 playable during the season, in a defined window of time, where if you’ve got a player who picks up an injury in the first quarter of the game, you have the option to bring on your bench player to get their points instead. This means you need to work harder to have decent scoring bench players, just in case. But it mainly removes the frustration of gambling your week on a player, only to see them concussed in the first 5 mins. Would love to see this somewhere.
  • Transfer Wildcard: Like the above, if the balance of transfers, player prices and squad management isn’t right, it can lead to only fielding 14, 13 or even 12 players, which happened a couple of times last year. Everyone loves a wildcard, one opportunity to sell as many of your players at current market value and bring in new ones without incurring any penalty. It gives you a shot if your super unlucky with injuries, bye weeks and suspensions. It gives you a shot to go mega-match-up crazy one week. But it also helps the less experienced players, who maybe start the game with a load of shit players, and very quickly need to change them out. Make it happen !
  • Bench Boost, Triple Captain and anything else you can steal from Fantasy Football: I think these are interesting things to play with once the format is established. If you get 1 to 9 right, then I don’t think you need to worry about 10 for a little while, but it does add a little spice into things. oints. However, there are sooooo many times when this blows up, for instance, Izzy Folau as your vice captain picks up an injury 20mins into the game. That’s about 10 points total. Great. Throw laptop at TV. Now I think there needs to be an injury wildcard, possibly 1 or 2 playable during the season, in a defined window of time, where if you’ve got a player who picks up an injury in the first quarter of the game, you have the option to bring on your bench player to get their points instead. This means you need to work harder to have decent scoring bench players, just in case. But it mainly removes the frustration of gambling your week on a player, only to see them concussed in the first 5 mins. Would love to see this somewhere.

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