Fantasy soccer isn’t as fun as it should be, and that’s always bothered me.  I have numerous die-hard soccer friends, but almost none of them play fantasy soccer.  Meanwhile, even the most casual fans of (American) football get into fantasy football.  I personally have been watching and playing soccer for more than 20 years but have never been able to find a fantasy soccer game that’s as enjoyable as fantasy (American) football games.  I watch and care about soccer ten times more than I watch and care about football, yet I’ve always found myself more interested in my fantasy football games than my fantasy soccer games.  It’s never made sense to me.  So I set out to understand what’s wrong with fantasy soccer.

 

Before I get into the details, I want to clarify that this is not going to be a discussion on gambling versus games of skill.  That is a completely separate issue that I’m not going to try to address here.  What’s discussed below is strictly about user enjoyment and engagement.  Also, this post isn’t an attack on any particular company or website but rather a challenge of the way fantasy soccer is played.

 

Fantasy soccer suffers from 3 fundamental problems: 

  1. Real-time individual player stats are complex and not prevalent on match day broadcasts
  2. There are too many different ways to score fantasy points
  3. The game flow in soccer makes it nearly impossible to predict what’s going to happen

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

 

  1. Real-Time Player Stats

When you watch a soccer match, other than goals and assists, how many times do individual player statistics come across the screen?  Maybe once or twice and maybe they’re discussed at halftime.  For the most part, individual stats are non-existent in match broadcasts.

Second, the complexity of soccer stats is infuriating.  Do you know what a successful dribble is?  If a cross is played on the ground, is it still a cross or just a pass?  If a cross is massively over-hit, how is that categorized?  If a player passes the ball out of bounds, is that a dispossession?  What if the pass was deflected by the defense and the team still retains possession? What is a key pass?

As someone who is a devoted soccer fan and watches at least 5-10 matches per week, if I can’t understand these stats, how is someone else who has a serious or casual interest in soccer supposed to understand?

I think soccer stats are very useful for analytical purposes post-match.  I love reading articles about stats and analyzing the game in a different way than just on the surface.  BUT, when I’m watching a match and one of my fantasy players is in the game, I don’t want to have to rely on checking my computer or phone to know how my fantasy team is doing.  I want to know that an action taken by my soccer player either has a fantasy value or doesn’t.  And I want it to be simple.

In fantasy football, I know when my running back has a 4-yard run, I get 0.4 fantasy points.  In fantasy soccer, if my right winger takes 5 dribbles and hits a lofted pass, I have no idea if that is going to mean fantasy points for me or not.  That’s a problem.

 

  1. Number of Scoring Attributes

The second issue with fantasy soccer games is the fact that games can have anywhere from 10 to more than 30 different ways for players to score fantasy points.  And, depending on what platform you’re using, these scoring attributes can differ greatly.  It’s tough to keep it all straight and understand how many points your players are scoring. 

This is related to the issue above. But let’s assume you’re able to understand all of the different stats discussed in point 1 above.  On a less complicated fantasy soccer site, your player’s fantasy scoring may look like this:

Steven Gerrard – M

33 points

1 Goal

10 points

2 Assists

10 points

3 Shots

3 points

2 Shots on Goal

4 points

2 Fouls Won

2 points

2 Fouls Committed

-2 points

1 Successful Dribble

4 points

5 Crosses

5 points

1 Dispossession

-1 points

1 Yellow Card

-2 points 

*Stats and fantasy points are for illustrative purposes only and do not represent any specific website or app 

 

To reiterate, this is a simple fantasy scoring line.  Now add in the other 7-10 players on a normal fantasy team.  It’s tough to keep straight.

I agree and accept that these scoring elements are needed to generate scoring and variability in fantasy games, but the complexity makes it incredibly difficult for fans watching a match to keep everything clear.  Here’s what ultimately ends up happening: I watch a match or handful of matches without much focus on fantasy.  Then, I check my fantasy scores at the end of the matches and hope I did well.  For a game that’s supposed to act as a second-screen experience, that’s a problem.

 

  1. Game Flow

It is almost impossible to predict what is going to happen in a soccer match at any given moment.  This is what makes the sport so great to watch but also so tough to play as a fantasy sport.

When I turn on a game, I want to be able to root for a specific action as it relates to my fantasy team.  What makes NFL RedZone, the whip-around cable TV channel covering NFL games on Sundays, so amazing is the fact that fantasy football games make it painfully simple for users to understand the fantasy implications of what’s happening on the field. 

When RedZone flips to the Cowboys vs. Eagles game, I can recognize both teams, and immediately identify that I have an Eagles receiver on my fantasy ream.  When the Eagles quarterback (Wentz) drops back to pass, I want him to throw it to my receiver.  I want my receiver to at least catch the ball for positive yards and hopefully score a touchdown.  If Wentz turns around and hands the ball off to a running back, I know that there will be no fantasy impact for me on this play. 

Every play in football is an opportunity to root for some action. I can quickly understand the fantasy implications of what is happening.  In fantasy soccer, I have no idea when my player is going to be near the ball and if he is going to take a scoring action when he gets on the ball.  Once my player gets on the ball, there’s so many different actions he could take that may or may not have fantasy scoring implications that it ultimately leaves me frustrated and confused most of the time. 

This unpredictability also forces me as a fan to commit to watching one soccer match at a time.  It doesn’t make sense for me to switch between matches I’m viewing when scoring events happen randomly.  Since no one can predict when fantasy scoring events will occur, I’m stuck observing random fantasy scoring events occurring that may or may not be applicable for my fantasy team.

This unpredictability and game flow makes it tough to follow your fantasy soccer game and understand what to root for.  That is a problem.

 

The items above were incredibly frustrating to me and led me to completely rethink the way fantasy soccer should be played.  These frustrations were the reasons I created Fan Futsal. 

Fan Futsal is a completely free daily fantasy soccer website where users select 5 clubs instead of individual players for their fantasy team.  Only three scoring elements are used – goals for, goals conceded, and the result of a game (win, loss or draws). Even with simplified scoring, Fan Futsal still offers the strategic elements that make fantasy soccer so interesting, like aligning your fantasy team in different formations.

If you want to experience a revolutionary way to play fantasy soccer that provides an enjoyable, innovative second-screen approach, check out Fan Futsal now at www.fanfutsal.com.

- Dave, Founder of Fan Futsal

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Posted on Oct 17, 2016 09:23 AM

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New Form Rankings to keep you company during the international break:

 

EPL

Arsenal maintained top spot in the EPL with a road win, but Tottenham swapped places with Man City after beating the Citizens 2-0 at White Hart Lane.  Liverpool remained in third and Bournemouth climbed one spot to 5th.  Man U had a pretty far drop (from 5th to 12th) after drawing against Stoke at home.  Stoke was able to climb out of last place with the draw.  Palace and Southampton were able to climb a few places, but all the other clubs remained fairly static.  

EPL Form Ranking

 

Bundesliga

In Deutschland, Leverkusen were the big movers as they handled Dortmund easily.  Köln drawing Bayern on the road was enough to move them into second place.  Bayern, while they haven't lost are victims of being so much better than their opponents that it's tough for them to gain ground in these rankings.  Leipzig's home victory over unimpressive Augsburg actually dropped them a few places in the rankings.  Schalke were the big movers after they finally got a victory in a 4-0 thumping of Borussia M'gladbach.  Freiburg were also big movers as they climbed 4 places.  The only other notable change was M'gladbach's six place fall to 14th after their heavy loss.

Bundesliga Form Rankings

 

La Liga

Atleti is predictably at the top of the Spanish rankings as they are on a serious roll.  Celta de Vigo's high-scoring win over Barca vaulted them up to 2nd.  The loss dropped Barca to 3rd in our form rankings.  Madrid continued their slide down the form table after yet another draw.  Málaga were the big gainers after a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao.

La Liga Form Rankings

 

Serie A

Milan had a fantastic comeback victory over Sassuolo to jump to the top spot of the Serie A form rankings.  Napoli's first loss of the season only knocked them back to 3rd and Juventus held strong in 2nd.  Though Torino won, the other clubs' performances knocked them back to fourth in our rankings.  Atalanta got a big boost with their shutout victory over Napoli to jump from 17th to 6th.  The biggest fall was Udinese from 12th to 17th.

Serie A Form Rankings

 

Ligue 1

Nice took back their top spot after briefly seceding it to Toulouse last week.  Monaco and PSG climbed back into the top of the rankings as well.  The first 5 clubs in our form rankings match the Ligue 1 table at the moment.  Lyon had a big climb from 14th to 5th after the 2-0 home win over Saint-Etienne.  Lorient actually rose in the rankings with their narrow defeat on the road to high-flying Nice.  Metz's 0-7 demolishing by Monaco dropped them from 10th to dead last.

Ligue 1 Form Rankings

 

MLS

DC and Seattle are unsurprisingly atop these rankings, though it is a bit surprising DC (who've won 3 in a row) is above Seattle (who've won 4 in a row).  DC's opponents have been tougher and their performances as it relates to Fan Futsal scoring gives them the slight edge.  NYCFC, Colorado, and Montreal all got back into the top 10 after all had shutout victories.  The mid to bottom half of these rankings are a big of a surprise with some playoff bound teams really struggling for form as the season winds to a close.

MLS Form Rankings

 

Liga MX

After an 11 match unbeaten start, Tigres finally lost to drop them into 4th in our form rankings.  Leon's win over them was enough to power them to top of the Liga MX form rankings.  They are on fire in league play since they changed their manager.  There's not too many other surprises in these rankings.  Teams are starting to stabilize and find their rhythm.  The only other noteworthy move was a 4 place fall for Chivas from 6th to 10th even though they won.  This was a result of their 3-0 away victory over America a few weeks ago no longer factoring into our rankings.

Liga MX Form Rankings

 

What do you think of these rankings?  Let us know in the comments section.

 

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Posted on Oct 04, 2016 06:33 PM

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It's time to round up this weekend's key matches from leagues on Fan Futsal.  

 

EPL

Tottenham came out to play and showed they are legitimate title contenders by handing City their first loss of the year.  Teams that are able to retain their core have a stable foundation to build for the current and future seasons.  Tottenham fans should be very excited about what's going on with their club.  In other matches, Liverpool came back to defeat Swansea, who then fired their manager and hired the first ever American to manage a top flight club in the Premier League.  Welcome to the Prem Bob Bradley.  There were 6 draws in the league with Man U most notably drawing at Old Trafford against lowly Stoke.  Arsenal and Chelsea took care of business on the road with clean sheet victories.

 

Serie A

Another week and another shutout win for Juventus, making it three consecutive as they extended their lead atop Serie A.  Napoli suffered their first defeat on the year, losing to Atalanta.  Roma defeated Inter to climb into 3rd place.  Roma has alternated wins and losses in their 5 most recent Serie A matches.  Inter, meanwhile, continues their inconsistent form as they adjust to their new manager and slip to 9th place.  Torino continues their climb up the table after their second straight win and fourth match in a row unbeaten.  Lazio put together an impressive 3-0 victory on the road against Udinese.  Crotone remains winless at the bottom of the table after losing 1-2 to Cagliari.

 

La Liga

La Liga had a few surprises this weekend with Barcelona trailing 0-3 at halftime on the road to Celta de Vigo.  They fought back valiantly, but couldn't overcome the deficit, ultimately losing 3-4.  Maybe they do miss that Messi character?  And the other surprise was Real Madrid drawing at home against Eibar.  In the most unsurprising news of the weekend, Atleti earned a clean sheet victory.  The win moved them top of the table on goal difference ahead of their cross town rivals Real.  Sevilla picked up a win to leapfrog Barca.  At the foot of the standings, Granada and Osasuna remained winless, but Osasuna's draw moved them into 19th, while Granada's loss sunk them to 20th.

 

MLS

In MLS, the results were predictably, unpredictable.  In a league where road teams typically struggle and match weeks are generally filled with multiple draws, there were 4 road wins, 6 home wins, and no draws.  Seattle is absolutely en fuego as they have won 4 straight and climbed into 5th place in the strong Western Conference after pretty much being written off from the playoffs.  DC is the other hot team with 3 straight wins to climb from outside the playoffs into 4th in the East.  The other hot team to highlight is the New York Red Bulls who have not lost in 14!! league matches.  In a parity driven league like MLS that is something truly special.  The teams seriously competing for the playoffs that are really struggling right now are Portland, Real Salt Lake, Philadelphia and Toronto.  Toronto and Real Salt Lake can relax a bit as they will both make the playoffs (RSL isn't technically guaranteed, but it would take something special for them to miss).  Portland and Philly are in tougher times.  Portland is now on the outside looking in with 2 tough games to close the season.  Philly has it a bit easier playing at home, but their form does not instill much confidence in this squad who hasn't looked right since Vince Nogueira's sudden midseason departure.

 

It was another great weekend in soccer.  What else did we miss?  Let us know in the comments section.

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Posted on Oct 03, 2016 05:58 PM

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We have another full weekend of matches before the international break.  Let's talk about some of the most interesting matches coming up.

 

Serie A

The top 2 clubs (Juve and Napoli) are both on the road against opponents in the bottom 1/4 of the table.  It'd be a surprise if either club didn't get the full 3 points.  The big match of the weekend will be 4th place Roma hosting 3rd place Inter.  Roma has alternated wins and losses in their last 4 matches, while Inter is unbeaten in 5.  Another intriguing match will be Fiorentina visiting Torino, as both are in a decent run of form.  Other good matches to keep an eye on will be Milan vs Sassuolo and Bologna vs Genoa.

 

La Liga

There's still 3 undefeated clubs in Spain (Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, and Villareal).  All are in action on Sunday.  Second place Barca are on the road to face Celta de Vigo as they continue to cope without Messi for a few weeks.  They seem to be doing just fine in his absence.  At the bottom of the table, Granda and Osasuna are still winless, but have home fixtures this weekend.  Neither would be favored to win, but they each have a decent chance to break that streak.

 

Ligue 1

The last remaining undefeated team (Nice) takes on 17th place Lorient.  Nice will look to continue their stout defense against a club scoring 0.6 goals per game.  Monaco vs Metz and PSG vs Bordeaux will be two great matches with all clubs in the top 6 of the table.  We're also watching on Sunday to see if the two Olympique's (Marseille & Lyon) can get their form corrected to climb back up the table.  Marseille faces Angers on the road, while Lyon plays Saint-Etienne at home.

 

EPL

On the British Isles, the most exciting matchup of the weekend is Tottenham hosting Manchester City.  These are the top 2 clubs in the table and the last 2 remaining undefeated teams in the league.  It should be a very entertaining match.  The second most interesting match is Southampton at Leicester.  Southampton has gotten on a little roll with two straight wins.  Leicester seems more concerned with Champions League play than with the EPL season, but they are figuring out how best to use some of their new players.  The only other match that holds some neutral intrigue is Everton vs Crystal Palace.  Palace is on a three match win streak and Everton had won 4 in a row before losing their most recent game.  Most of the other matches are big clubs playing clubs in the bottom half of the table.  No match is easy in the EPL, but it's tough to expect any of these to be exceptionally entertaining.  

 

Should be another great weekend filled with soccer and Fan Futsal.  Let us know what you're watching in the comments section.

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Posted on Sep 29, 2016 11:39 AM

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Here are your Fan Futsal Form Rankings after last weekend's matches.  Keep in mind that these are based on a club's performance as it relates to their Fan Futsal fantasy scoring and takes into account their opponent's strength.

 

EPL

Even after Liverpool's 5-1 victory over Hull, they dropped 2 spots in our rankings because of Arsenal's big victory over a strong opponent (Chelsea) and Man City's 2 goal road victory (away results are given a higher weighting).  Burnley and Bournemouth had big jumps after their home victories.  Meanwhile, Stoke is languishing at the bottom with West Ham.

EPL Form Rankings

 

La Liga

Unsurprisingly, Barca and Atletico top our first La Liga form rankings of the season.  A bit surprisingly Real Madrid sit 5th after two consecutive draws.  Though Sporting Gijon sits 14th in the table, they're dead last in our form rankings as they've lost 3 straight matches, the most recent of which was a 0-5 home loss to Barca.  Ouch.

La Liga Form Rankings

 

Liga MX

Tigres maintained top spot in our Liga MX rankings as they stayed undefeated on the season.  Pachuca had a big jump to second from 10th after their 5-1 road victory and 2-0 home win in the last week.  Puebla had a large jump from 17th to 8th after they picked up 2 wins in the last week as well.  Chiapas stayed rooted to the bottom of our rankings, though they have picked up 2 draws in their last 2 matches.

Liga MX Form Rankings

 

Ligue 1

Toulouse jumped to the top of the Ligue 1 form rankings as they are riding a 3 game win streak and defeated powerhouse PSG in their most recent match.  Table toppers Nice comes in at second in our rankings, while Monaco dropped to 5th after suffering a midweek defeat last week.  Caen climbed out of the basement simply by picking up a draw and Lille assumed the unwanted title of last in the form rankings.  Lille is on a 4 match losing streak and are winless in 5.

Ligue 1 Form Rankings

 

MLS

Seattle claimed a big road W against a strong LA side to vault themselves top of the MLS form rankings.  Former number 1 New England slid to 5th after they lost to Columbus.  New York Red Bulls moved up 1 spot to 2nd after defeating seriously struggling Montreal.  Chicago, San Jose, Orlando, and Montreal are the bottom 4 teams in these rankings and there can be very little argument on their position.  All four have hit a rough run of form recently.

MLS Form Rankings

 

Serie A

In our first Serie A form rankings, Napoli edges Juventus as their superior goal difference gives them that slight boost.  Torino, who picked up a very nice 3-1 win over Roma, comes in at third.  The Milan squads round out the top 5.  To no one's surprise, winless Crotone is at the bottom of our rankings with Empoli and Sampdoria sitting just above them.

Serie A Form Rankings

 

Bundesliga

RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund both sit in front of Bayern in our inaugural Bundesliga form rankings.  Bayern pays the price of being the heavy favorite in most matches, but RB Leipzig has truly earned their place at the top of these rankings.  Not too many other surprises here as our rankings virtually mimic the Bundesliga table right now.  We'll keep an eye on Schalke in the coming weeks as they are the only pointless team in all of the big 5 leagues in Europe right now.

Bundesliga Form Rankings

 

What are your thoughts on these rankings?  Let us know in the comments section.

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Posted on Sep 27, 2016 05:35 PM

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