Footstock 101: Picking Your Fantasy Team
Picking a team for a Footstock Tournament can be a daunting task. Should you load up on players from one team? Should you use your best cards or stick with the cheaper ones? What kind of players tend to do well on Footstock Tournaments?
Well, be daunted no longer. In the second instalment of our Footstock 101 series, Footstock veteran and community legend Girty explains how to pick the best possible fantasy team. As the current leader of our £10k freeroll competition, the guy must know something about this stuff.
Should I use my best players to enter a Tournament?
‘Best players’ is a sweeping statement. We shouldn’t simply assume that the highest star rating or most expensive players are the “best” when it comes to Tournaments. I’m a big believer that you should have realistic expectations of every single player you select in for your fantasy team: they all have their own job to do. By giving consideration to every player we select, we can learn which players cost us the pot and improve future selections.
The alternative is picking Pepe every week and being surprised when he costs you the prize pot.
A balance of risk
One strategy is to balance your lineup with high and low risk players. Too many low risk players can result in regular small wins along with lots of near misses. Alternatively, too many high risk players might yield the occasional win, but can easily find you at the bottom of the pecking order too. With the right balance, you’ll find yourself selecting the high risk players you’re most confident in and supplementing them with some steady scorers to push you up the leaderboards.
4 players who can score 15+ points each are relatively easy to predict, whereas if you’re chasing goalscorers for 30+ points you’ll find them hit & miss, often costing you valuable points. Gems for this approach tend to be players from the top teams who aren’t the obvious picks and usually cost less than £3. I wouldn’t be surprised if the likes of Henderson, Gundogan and Ndidi regularly beat out players like Firmino, Aguero/Jesus & Vardy in combined scores.
Of course, this does leave you open to vulnerability. With a higher points ceiling, there will be occasions when omitting players of Aguero’s calibre is going to be punishing. They’re rarer than you might think though.
Should I focus on players from one side or diversify my fantasy team?
This will depend on how many matches the Tournament consists of. An easy way to explain this is to consider the extremes: 1 Game vs 10 Games. The influence this variable has will lessen as the number of matches reduces.
In single games you almost certainly need to back players from the winning team. Entries with a mixed lineup are often left hoping their losing players can nick a consolation goal/assist to outweigh the win points which will send other lineups above them after the final whistle. Though mixed lineup selections can be fruitful, this is mostly down to the reduced likelihood that you’ll need to split the pot if you do end up in the money. A fine illustration of how bold a strategy a mixed line-up really is.
Once you’ve predicted your outcome you need to select your players. If you expect goals in the game, pick those who will be involved in goals. Otherwise, pick those players who will be rewarded well even without goals. (These usually are not #9-type players! I’ll get on to that later.)
The single tourney rankings will often be decided by your lowest scoring cards, so don’t make any selection lightly. Even once you’ve run out of players you expect to be involved in the goals, you now need to pick ‘the best of the rest’. These are usually players who are heavily involved in play despite not necessarily racking up goals and assists. They might well rack up multiples of the heavily weighted ‘Contest Won’ stat on Footstock: otherwise known as take-ons or dribbles past an opponent.
When translating this to the multis we are still rewarded for backing the winning teams, however we can spread the risk. By doing this, one bad call will not necessarily render your whole lineup useless by 14:30 on a Saturday afternoon. But a word of warning: if you spread yourself too thin that’s a sure-fire way of ensuring you don’t maximise your win points. In short, your confidence in results should help make your decisions.
Now you might be thinking ‘great, I know Arsenal will win this weekend so I’ll pick a lineup full of their players’. Firstly, you’re a clown. Secondly, unless the team you are backing proceeds to win 4-0 with multiple players registering goals and assists, you might well pick up a good score, but you’re very rarely going to rack up a great score.
To be clear, this isn’t necessarily a bad strategy. For example, never winning a Footstock Tournament doesn’t mean you won’t make yourself a tidy profit from them. Secondly – and this is important – you don’t need the best possible score to win a Footstock Tournament. You just have to beat the other entrants.
So your approach here has to consider multiple variables. Namely:
– How certain are you that the team you’re backing is going to win?
– How certain are you that another team won’t win by a more convincing margin?
– What players are you sacrificing because of your commitment to focusing on just one team?
In general, spreading the risk across 2 or 3 dominant teams is a safer way to play.
The players that tend to perform well in Tournaments
Now we have an idea of what we want our team to achieve, we can look at the players who might meet these requirements.
In my opinion, the Footstock scoring matrix heavily rewards the exciting moments in a Football match. That might be the battles between a winger and their opposition fullback (tackles: 1pt, contests won: 2pts, crosses: 0.5pt, yellow cards: -2pt) or, arguably the most important aspect of a match, Shots on Goal! Both keepers and attackers are rewarded heavily for these moments (shots: 1pt, saves: 2pts).
We then have what I like to call the ‘game-changing moments’. These are much tougher to predict but will pay off heavily (or punish!):
Goals: 20pt (Goals Conceded -1pt Midfielder & -2pt Defender)
Penalty conceded: 5pt
Red Card: 8pt
Clean Sheet: 10pt GK, 5pt DEF, 1pt MID
Lastly, we have the 6pt win bonus a player gets if they are on the winning team. This may seem minor when compared to the other scores up for grabs, but those 6 points can make a huge difference to your ranking. Especially in low scoring Tournaments.
Knowing the scoring matrix is one thing, but using it to influence your team selection is another. I’ve created a few profiles to help you set reasonable expectations for your team.
Let’s start with the players you should find in every tournament entry. These are mainly attacking wide players, but sometimes they can play centrally. They tend to have a play style which is heavily oriented around dribbling past opponents and putting in crosses. Not only is it common for them to pick up a score of close to 20 points in a 0-0 match, but they’re also highly likely to be involved in any goals too. The only obvious downside to these players is that they are more vulnerable to rotation.
Consistent but limited
These are players who are extremely unlikely to peak above 30+ points. They can be great assets, but picking too many in one line-up will greatly limit how high your team scores. The obvious players who fall into this category are goalkeepers and defensive/deep-lying playmaking midfielders. They lack goal-threat, but will frequently touch on other scoring metrics throughout a game.
This category of player is unlikely to have a complete blank. If they’re on a winning team, you can be fairly confident in an 18-point score for doing what many will see as not a huge amount.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you must chase clean sheets when selecting a goalkeeper on Footstock. 5 saves = 1 clean sheet and they don’t lose points for conceding.
A note on number 9s
The old-school strikers who rarely roam from the centre of the pitch can be your biggest hero or cost you dearly. Chris Wood, for example, might only see a handful of touches in a game if Burnley are being dominated, which doesn’t fly with Footstock’s scoring system.
However, the number 9s are an absolute must-have if you really want to hit the peak scores necessary to win tournaments with high entry numbers. A prime example is Aguero: he can score you 70 points just as easily as he can score you 2 points. Most other players won’t get close to those scores, at either end of the scale.
Remember the tournament’s entry requirements
Some tournaments will restrict the number of top quality players you’re allowed to enter. These restrictions give newcomers to the platform a fighting chance in Beginner tournaments. Here’s a breakdown of a Footstock tournament’s player entry requirements.
Knowing Footstock’s Tournament scoring system is only part of the predicament faced by Footstock managers. The aim is to use that information to properly risk-assess the value of each player you choose. The nature and the number of fixtures included in the tournament, as well as the amount of entrants you expect to compete, should always be factored in when picking your side.
Ultimately, remember to have fun and learn from your mistakes. We all make them – even now – and that’s all part of the process.