Best EPL Fantasy Competitions of 2013/2014

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Blindside Sport’s Official review of EPL Fantasy Competitions for the 2013/2014 Barclays English premier League season is here!

Check out our EPL Fantasy Defender AnalysisEPL Fantasy Midfielder Analysis Part IEPL Fantasy Midfielder Analysis Part II, EPL Fantasy Forwards Part I and EPL Fantasy Forwards Part II for the upcoming season!

This article is the first of many pertaining to the upcoming English Premier League season and gives an insight into the array of Fantasy competitions available for the upcoming 2013/2014 season.

In recent years, fantasy competitions have moved from being a niche hobby to a near-compulsory way of life. Enhancing the depths to which you understand the game or just providing an extra-incentive to spend your entire weekend watching the greatest league on the planet, participation in at least one of our highly-rated competitions is a must.

To determine which competition best suits you, we’ve split our rating criteria into four very different but equally relevant considerations, depending on what you’re looking for. They include:

  • Scoring Systems
  • Transfers
  • Prizes
  • Private League Systems

Official Fantasy Premier League 2013/2014

Official bodies in professional sports general facilitate some form of Fantasy competition, and the Premier League is no different. One of the more basic systems, fantasy.premierleague.com is incredibly accessible for football and fantasy enthusiasts of any level of expertise.

Scoring System: Whilst making minor changes to their scoring system several years ago, the Official Fantasy competition, in its attempt to appeal to the majority, had settled on what should be considered an adequate yet unimpressive scoring model – until now. In offering points for goals (dependent on position), clean sheets and assists, the scoring system lacked depth, however with the awarding of points based on Man of the Match performances, another dimension was added which ensured fantasy managers with a superior understanding of football are rewarded, even if it was in a minor way. For the upcoming season, a bonus point system has been adjusted in order to reward and penalise players for a vast number of events on the pitch. From losing the ball to winning the ball, laying tackles, making errors which lead to scoring chances and missing the target, there is nothing simplistic about this system anymore. Players don’t receive the points directly, but the top 3 players in a match with be awarded 3, 2 and 1 point respectively.

Transfers: The archetypal transfer system. One free transfer per week with subsequent transfers costing 4 points, this model should be used more broadly across all sports as it rewards effective selection initially, yet provides the opportunity for a complete overhaul if needed. You may also stockpile a maximum of one trade to use the following week and the presence of a ‘wild card’ means that in a Gameweek of your choice, you may make unlimited trades. Automatic substitutions are another typical feature to assist in managing your 15-man squad, whilst dynamic prices once again assist in rewarding those managers with a keen eye for improving players.

Prizes: For a competition of this breadth and magnitude, the prizes are frankly dismal. A ‘football experience’ in London for the overall winner is accompanied by minor prizes for winners of weekly and quarterly leaderboards. As opposed to other seasons, there is no pre-requisite to be an English resident to be eligible for the prizes, even though participation in this competition is unlikely to be driven by the potential for winning prizes anyway. That is unless you’re planning on participating in the new Pay-To-Play game format. Details aren’t forthcoming as yet but we’re predicting it to be based more on The Sun system more so than the Metro system of paying to participate in individual leagues.

League Systems: Competitors are automatically admitted into three leagues; overall and smaller leagues classified by country and team supported. You are able to participate in a further 3 public leagues and 15 private leagues with the option to compete head-to-head each Gameweek or on overall scores.

Overall: As the Official Fantasy Premier League, www.fantasy.premierleague.com provides an essential and reliable fantasy system. With participation free of charge, it might be worth it to make a team, even if it is only for the impressive statistics provided on each individual player. With new game modes being introduced and the scoring system finding a new complexity, what was once a default choice for your Fantasy league now appeals on merit, not just popularity.

Rating: 8/10

Sky Sports

Sky Sports is one of the most profitable of all fantasy sites and for a system once defined by inadequacy, it now holds its head high in the world of fantasy football. Initially lacking any form of complexity or providing remotely accurate depictions of a player’s contribution to their sides performance, Sky Sports made up for deficiencies with their superior prize pool. In 2013/2014 however, the improved scoring system renders prizes as not just a redeeming factor, but a bonus.

Scoring System: Similar but on a smaller scale to the Official EPL Fantasy game, Sky Sports have introduced bonuses for players completing 60+ passes, 4+ tackles or a goalkeeper making 5+ saves (a new feature), an interesting novelty which, despite being rather arbitrary, provides an extra consideration when selecting your team.

Prizes: With £70,000 in prize money alone on offer, British residents should enter a team regardless of how backward and mind-numbing they find the other elements of this fantasy game.

Transfers: Your ability to select two teams initially with a budget of £75 million each in one of 5 formations provides a rather liberal starting point for your 2013/2014 fantasy experience. After the commencement of the EPL season, you’re provided with 40 transfers for the season which can be used at any time (a change from the 30 transfers with no more than 5 per month implemented two seasons ago). Informed selection at the start of the season is rewarded but the ability to use trades without limitation also opens the door for those not doing pre-season research on www.blindsidesport.com to catch up to the experts relatively quickly.

League Systems: Sky Sports presents a less developed private league system to Yahoo! and the Official Fantasy Premier League, however prizes would be the main objective for pundits pursuing this site and therefore this doesn’t deduct from the score in any significant way.

Overall: Whilst the site is easy to navigate and the fantasy system employed by one of Britain’s leading sport networks is no longer primitive, there are still some weaknesses, namely the prize eligibility for British residents only.

Rating: 7/10

Metro Sports

Arguably one of the most under-utilized EPL fantasy competitions available for this coming season, Metro Fantasy Football provides a private league system not seen since Can You Kick It, custom prizes to be determined by yourself and a thorough and advanced scoring system. In every way, it is the ultimate fantasy system for the experienced fantasy manager.

Scoring System: Most fantasy systems find their deficiencies in their inability to comprehensively evaluate the contribution an individual makes to their teams performance in any particular match. Through the introduction of points for passes completed in the final third, interceptions, tackles, blocked shots and more bonuses than you can poke a stick at, this scoring system isn’t just complete, but has a complexity otherwise not attempted by their rivals.

Prizes: It is here where Metro really separates itself and provides a somewhat more difficult fantasy experience, but one thoroughly worth it for the passionate managers. Prizes are completely determined by you, as the manager. Instead of having a prize pool inaccessible to almost every coach in a given season, Metro allows you to enter leagues for small fees and compete for a larger pool. Each and every week you have the opportunity to compete in either ‘high’ or ‘low stakes’ games against others with similar managerial ambitions for prizes. The private league and cash league elements will be explored in the ‘leagues’ section below. If that wasn’t enough, there is a further £30,000 on offer for free team entries through a combination of overall and weekly prizes.

Transfers: Similar to the Official Fantasy system, coaches are given 1 free trade per week with subsequent trades costing points. No trades may be stockpiled meaning that your initial 15-player squad, £100 million squad needs to be up to scratch if you’re to compete for the prizes.

League Systems: As mentioned above, Metro offers both free private leagues and cash leagues. Private leagues operate on a similar basis to their counterparts on other websites, however private leagues are unique in the sense that once an entrance fee is paid (high, medium or low stakes), you’ll compete against the other teams in your league to nab a top 3 spot by the end of the season and win a portion of the prize pool.

Overall: High stakes for the highly educated, Metro isn’t for the lighthearted, nor is it for those new to the fantasy game, but for experienced players and pundits of football and the Premier League, Metro Sports Fantasy is the perfect system for you to ply your trade under in 2013/2014.

Rating: 9/10

Yahoo! Fantasy Premier League

Undoubtedly the most comprehensive scoring system and the most intense EPL fantasy experience you’ll have this season, Yahoo! is for those managers with an extreme level of skill who value private leagues above all else.

Scoring System: There are no less than 23 different scoring categories taken into account in Yahoo! Fantasy Premier League. That’s 23 different factors to consider when purchasing a player and countless different player combinations which become viable. Gone are the days when goal-scoring attacking midfielders were your only star players, with tackles, interceptions, fouls and crosses all taken into consideration, players lacking value in other competitions come into their own.

Prizes: What? There aren’t prizes?! That would be a detriment however with so many other options out there if you’re pursuing the unlikely glory of defeating thousands of other coaches, Yahoo! can get away with this. Their incredible scoring system and accessible private league system means that there isn’t any need to provide further draw cards.

Transfers: Whilst the usual 15-player, £150 million squad does little to distinguish Yahoo! from the competition, the intricacies of its transfer system present more difficulties than you’d assume from a competition which allows unlimited transfers! If you pay £13.07 million for Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, he will remain at the value whist in your team, however if you sell him and then want to buy him back, you’ll have to pay his revised market value adjusted on performance. Complicated? That’s what is so appealing.

League Systems: As mentioned above, Yahoo! is perfect for running private leagues. It is accessible, incredibly comprehensive and the ease of trading means that players who get off to poor starts are never completely out of the running.

Overall: With one of the most detailed statistical databases you will find anywhere, it is worth building a team simply to make use of the insights and information so readily available.

Rating: 7/10

The Sun

One of the more iconic brands of Fantasy Premier League, The Sun find themselves somewhat in the middle of the road in 2013/2014 after trying to rival the competition in almost every department, yet surpassing none of them. As a result, they’ve provided a competition many will enter, yet none will see as their primary fantasy team.

Scoring System: Previously identical to the Official Premier League Fantasy system however has fallen miles behind given the former’s development for this season, The Sun offers nothing unique in this department and falls considerably behind every other rival.

Prizes: The Sun’s redeeming feature is its astronomical prize pool of £500,000! £80,000 of which is available to ‘free’ managers, a further £120,000 is available for their predictor competition (£5 to guess the correct score of 4 games for a chance at £6,000), whilst the remainder only comes into question if you’re a premium manager and have paid £10 or £25 for their managerial packages. None of that is to be scoffed at, however be prepared to lose interest if you fall off the pace early.

Transfers: 11 players, £50 million in one of three formations. It sounds easy doesn’t it? Wrong. There are only 4 transfer windows throughout the season in which you’re allowed to make a maximum of 3 trades. That means that not only are initial selections vital, but you’re going to need a lot of luck on your side.

League Systems: The league system isn’t anything spectacular simply because if you’re not playing for prizes in this competition, you may as well not be there. On the other hand, if you create a league with more than 9 other managers, you automatically go into the running for a prize of £10,000. It seems like a lot but when you see the number of prizes this competition offers, you just seem to lose track a little. Oh, and we forgot to mention, all entrants must be residents of the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland. 6.5/10

Overall: Whilst The Sun offers a superior prize pool to its competitions, you’re likely to lose interest in it because the interface isn’t engaging and in no way does it test your knowledge of the Premier League. Inferior to almost every other game but finds its saving grace in an enormous prize pool.

Rating: 6.5/10

Unlike previous years, many international competitions aren’t offering prizes as part of their promotion, including Fox Sports in Australia. This essentially means that if you’re playing in these competitions, you’re doing so in a private league with friends, in which case you may as well join one of the more established, comprehensive and aesthetically pleasing sites more highly regarded for Fantasy Premier League.

Over the coming weeks, www.blindsidesport.com will be posting our tips and teams for the upcoming season so make sure you join our various leagues in the competitions outlined above!

Also, don’t forget to participate in our forums or ask your fantasy questions in the comment section below.

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On twitter @rombarbera. Australian sports by day, international sports by night. Co-founder of Blindside Sport. Fantasy sport addict.

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