Football has certainly evolved over the past couple of decades.
After the inception of the Premier League (originally called the Premiership) in 1992, the footballing landscape changed forever. Television rights started to become centre stage and money which was never seen before in the game began to dictate the shape of the league. This started the modernization of football as we know it today.
The money involved in player transfers became eye-watering amounts, with signing-on bonuses and agent fees becoming standard. Player sponsorship deals skyrocketed, with every Premier League footballer endorsing some sort of product. The advent of social media allowed more engagement between fans and their heroes on the pitch.
Then, in the mix of all these developments, came Fantasy Football. Something which brought a whole new narrative to the beautiful game.
What is Fantasy Football?
Fantasy Football, or Fantasy Premier League (FPL) which is the most popular version, is a points driven game based on the real-life statistics of English Premier League players, whereby points are awarded to players based on their real-life performances. Your team will get ‘FPL points’ every game week based on the individual performance of each of the players in your team.
Most points are awarded to players who score goals or make significant contributions to a goal being scored. Points are also awarded for keeping a clean sheet or being the man of the match. However, a player can also lose points by missing a penalty or receiving a yellow/red card.
Two decades of FPL
While Fantasy Football was around long before the arrival of the internet, the official FPL game came to prominence in the 02/03 Premier League season, when 76,000 users competed against each other.
Naturally, there has been a strong transition from the FPL of the 02/03 season to the FPL today, with the popularity of the game being the most noticeable change. There are just under 9 million users registered for the current FPL season. Quite a jump from the total number of users registered in 2002.
A game that was created purely for leisure, fun, and to bring another level of enjoyment to the sport for football fans has exploded into a global and social phenomenon and become more than just a game.
What fantasy football has managed to do is bring a whole new demographic to the world of football, one which may not necessarily even enjoy sports. The statistical basis of the game and the strategic levels that have been incorporated down through the years allow Fantasy Football to be enjoyed by both football and non-football fans alike.
You would be forgiven for thinking that Fantasy Football is all just for fun, and success in the game only garners respect amongst your fellow FPL players. However, the overall prizes are nothing to be ignored.
The winner of FPL is showered with gifts, which include a 7-night break in the UK, including VIP hospitality at two 2022/23 Premier League matches, which includes travel and 7 nights’ accommodation, Hublot connected watch, and a copy of the latest FIFA and a games console to name just a few of the prizes.
The runner-up and third-place prizes are not bad either, not to mention weekly prizes for being the highest scoring manager of the week. While there may be strong competition, an official EPL match-ball, worth $60, isn’t a bad incentive.
The seismic rise in popularity has led to an extensive international array of websites, forums, YouTube channels, TV shows, and social media accounts covering Fantasy Football and FPL. People have quite literally dedicated their lives to the game.
These websites, podcasts, and channels supply FPL users with guides and strategies to get the most out of their fantasy team. These strategies cover a range of aspects which include, when to play certain ‘chips’, when you should sell and transfer in specific players, and which players you should captain in certain game weeks (a captain scores double the points than that of a regular player).
On top of tips and tricks, these sites also provide ‘tools’ for FPL users to help them maximise their team’s points tally. These ‘tools’ include an overview list of injured or suspended players, an analysis of upcoming fixtures and their difficulty for each team, and predictions of possible EPL lineups for each game week.
These tools decrease your chances of having an FPL player on your starting XI who won’t be playing in real-life and therefore won’t score you any points. Pretty crucial information if you want to be climbing league places on a weekly basis.
So, if you have been going crazy constantly listening to work colleagues around the office, or friends in the pub, going on and on about Fantasy Football and have wondered what the fuss was about, here it is.
Why not get in on the conversation and join up today?