How Popular Game Can Win You Special Trip To EPL Stadium
The EPL is termed the biggest and most-watched football league in the world, with a cumulative audience of over 3.2 billion people.
For football fans around the world, especially in Kenya, visiting a stadium for your favourite English Premier League (EPL) team happens to be on almost all bucket lists. Watching a match in that stadium surrounded by thousands of other fans just adds to the spice.
The EPL is termed the biggest and most-watched football league in the world, with a cumulative audience of over 3.2 billion people. To put it into context, the world's population as of now is projected to reach 8 billion on November 15, 2022, thus would be about three-eighths (3/8) of the global population.
Over the years, the competition has grown in leaps and bounds and has allowed a little-known game to sprout into the limelight, one whose winners have enjoyed VIP trips to live Premier League matches. This is the Fantasy Premier League (FPL).
The FPL, according to details from its official website, is an online game in which players collect points based on how real-life footballers perform each week. Simply put: you choose a virtual team of Premier League footballers, and if their real-life counterparts do well, you get points.
A collage showing how Fantasy Premier League is played. /GOAL.COM
In layman's terms, say you pick Mohammed Salah into your team and the real Salah scores a goal for Liverpool, you will be rewarded with points. If you have David De Gea as your goalkeeper and the real-life Pickford keeps a clean sheet (doesn't concede any goals), you get points, whilst the same goes for a defender, and you get extra points if that defender also scores a goal.
To however play the game which has been rapidly gathering momentum with Kenyan football fans owning smartphones, you need to fill your team with all the positions a real team would have as you're not allowed to simply buy 11 strikers who score goals every weekend. You need goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders too, plus one substitute for each position.
Viral Tea takes you through how the FPL game works, ranging from points system to transfers to bonus chips, which are designed to give you an extra edge over your competition.
As explained earlier, each position on the pitch comes with its own points system.
The goalkeepers and defenders are most commonly rewarded for key match moments such as saving a penalty (5 points) or keeping a clean sheet (4 points); midfielders for setting up a goal (3); and strikers for scoring (4). However, players in different positions can be rewarded for different aspects, thus there is a need to check how much each real-life action is worth.
For instance, a defender can also score in real life as aforementioned, though in rare circumstances, and this is reflected in the points (6, instead of 4) a defender will earn if his real-life counterpart scores.
A midfielder, meanwhile, also plays a part in defending and will earn points for that too. They aren't quite as important as the defenders in that regard, however, and only get one point if their team keeps out their opponents.
It's also worth noting that players can lose points for negative moments in real life, such as getting sent off (-3 points) or missing a penalty (-2).
Your captain, which you select each week will get double points. So if your captain is your striker and he scores, he will get eight points for the goal instead of the usual four. Your vice-captain will take over should your captain not play for some reason.
Buying and Selling Players
Before every Premier League season, you are given Ksh14.5 billion (£100m) to spend on your team, a cost that caters to all 15 players (including subs), so you are advised to carefully pick players for your team.
You cannot simply buy the best players as that will be too expensive. You, therefore, need to balance your team with hotshots and cheaper buys, with the option of asking the game to "auto-fill" you with a team to get you started.
Each week, you are allowed to make a transfer by selling a member of your squad and buying a new one. Each player has a value, based on how many points they tend to score.
However, you must remember to replace a striker with another striker, or a defender with another defender. If you make a transfer and have money left over, the amount will be kept in your bank balance for the next time you make a transfer.
Liverpool's Mohammed Salah during a past Premier League game. /PREMIERLEAGUE.COM
A reason to make a transfer might be that one of your players gets injured; is sold to a foreign team or isn't being picked to play very often. Making transfers is not mandatory.
You can make more than one transfer each week if you like to bring in better players, but it will cost you points (four per change) if you make more than one. When you're competing in a mini-league of your own, such loss of points can be dangerous, especially if the race is tight.
The bonus chips form the biggest weapon of any FPL player, but patience is key when using them. Players might be tempted to use them at the start of the season but it is not an advisable strategy.
There are four bonus chips which you can use once each throughout the season. These are as follows:
Wildcard: This lets you permanently change your entire team without incurring any points deductions. It is best saved for when you are at least a few weeks into the season and have a better idea about who is performing well and who isn't. Usually, there are two wildcard chips every season.
Free Hit: This works exactly the same as the Wildcard, except your changes will only last one game week. Your team will go back to how it was before once that game week is complete.
Triple Captain: Does exactly what it says on the name– Triple-captaining a player will get three times more points that week, instead of two times more.
Bench Boost: By activating this chip, all players on your bench (who don't normally score points unless a member of your starting XI misses the match) all score points as well for one game week.
For the 2022/23 season, there will be two unlimited transfers instead of one; The first before the start of the Premier League season and the second between Saturday, November 12 following the Gameweek 16 deadline and before the Gameweek 17 deadline on Monday, December 26 when the Premier League season has been adjusted to accommodate the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
There might be blank gameweeks much later in the season, so having free hit chips during the blank gameweeks and triple captain and bench boost to use in the doubles is going to come in handy.
Tips To Note
Approaching the start of the season is the most crucial part of playing FPL. It is where FPL players have the least information about players, especially new signings into the team, thus making this period the most difficult time to pick a player.
According to experienced FPL players in Kenya who spoke to Viral Tea, it is advised to players who are assured of starting the first game, are proven FPL assets, and play for teams who have good opening fixtures.
Having a bad start not only puts you behind the pack but it leads to more bad decisions as you fix your mistakes. The start of an FPL season is the riskiest one as it can be lost within the first few weeks.
- Pick players who are first-choice starters for their teams and avoid rotation risks.
- Do not select any injured players or players who haven’t had a full pre-season and are doubts to start the season. Again, players who even miss one game week will fall in price rapidly.
- Resist the temptation to pick players who didn’t play regularly for their teams last season, or young players who are breaking into their teams.
- Try to avoid any players from promoted teams.
Also, it is advised not to play the game while chasing points and make transfers from kneejerk reactions, that is temptations to transfer in a player who scored a brace (two goals) while ignoring who they are removing.
Always wait as late as possible before making transfers as waiting for long means one will have gained the most information available. In a typical season, there will be midweek games, injuries and illnesses, therefore, holding out until all the press conferences are done gives you an advantage.
Target players with multiple sources of points, especially those playing in full-back positions who also attack towards the goal. Some good examples would be Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold, Chelsea's Reece James and Manchester City's Joao Cancelo, who feature in teams which defend well.
Historical data has shown that fixtures most definitely matter even for the best players in the world. Pay very close attention to fixtures and target good and proven players for teams who have a good run of games.
The most important rule while playing FPL is leaving club loyalties behind. To play the game to your best, you will have to pick players from your fiercest and most hated rivals. To make it easier for you, try viewing the players as stocks or shares that give you a certain value.
The overall winner of the FPL competition across the world gets a seven-night break in the United Kingdom(UK) including VIP hospitality at two 2023/24 Premier League matches, a week’s worth of experiences at popular tourist attractions, inclusive of travel and seven nights’ accommodation, among other prizes.
The runner-up gets VIP hospitality at one 2023/24 Premier League match that includes travel and 2 nights’ accommodation, among other prizes.
An image of Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club. /SPORTS ILLUSTRATED