Fantasy Leagues

Image Credits: Srbija Danas

Where Spectators Are Players!

Saquib Ziya tells us about Fantasy Leagues and how they’ve been helping the youth satiate their sports cravings

Fantasy Leagues need no introduction to today’s youth. If you haven’t played it, you have surely heard about it. But, what’s so fascinating about these leagues? What is the concept behind it? Why have they caught the attention of the youth from across the globe? Let me elaborate it for you.
As children, most of us dreamt of making it big in the sports arena. We would often get lost in our reverie of living the life of the iconic sportsmen that we watched on television. While we all agree that these ambitions usually go unfulfilled, fantasy sports provide a one-of-a-kind platform for die-hard sports fans across the globe to experience sports in a versatile dimension. The concept of enabling players to select and play with a virtual set of real-life athletes across various teams has today turned into an industry in itself.

What is a Fantasy League?
Fantasy League is not an actual sporting event. It is simply a virtual league wherein, individuals compile virtual teams of existing real-life players. These virtual teams then compete on the basis of the stats of the players selected by the individuals in actual sports. The performance of these players is converted into points that are aggregated according to a rota (list) selected by the manager of each fantasy team. Fantasy League managers have to pick a team of 11 with one captain. The captain is like a trump card which provides double the points to the managers. So, selecting a good captain can turn the tables for a manager. Winners are finally selected as per the top rankings in the rota. Another point to note is that the Fantasy League industry is a whopping multi-billion dollar one, and it’s no surprise that the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) is immensely
popular. You will be surprised to know that Fantasy Leagues are a raging craze in several countries across various sports, predominantly football. Almost 40% of this industry is comprised of football, with millions of fans playing fantasy football leagues every year. Other sports such as cricket, basketball, baseball, boxing and auto racing aren’t that far behind either. Football fantasy leagues are the leading pack in the USA and Europe, while cricket is the number one fantasy sport in India.

Fantasy League for Dummies
In case you are wondering what all that noise is about the Fantasy leagues, we give you a brief idea about how to play it.
1. Join a league public or private as some play for fun and others for money. Make sure you understand the type of league you will join and its rules as this will set the tone for everything.
2. Before drafting the fantasy team research about all the players available and rank them to your preferences. Learn about the league’s scoring system to make the perfect strategy. Most fantasy leagues are drafted online or it can be done with friends or colleagues in person. A budget is set and each player has their price so in your budget you must buy the players and form your league, do choose wisely.
3. As real teams face each other and get real-time points, they are in turn converted into your fantasy team scores. If your players are not performing well, then you can drop them or replace them. You get 40-50 moves to replace or modify players in your team during each tournament so be careful with each decision.
4. A major difference between cricket and American football is that in cricket the players can be shared by many teams whereas in football once a player is chosen by any league you have to choose the next player available.
5. At the end of the fantasy season, the team that has the highest points will win.
6. Fantasy leagues have expanded, in scale and lucrativeness offering cash prizes when they’re running contests/promotions.
The very first question that pops up in the mind is that, are these fantasy leagues legal? Aren’t they a form of gambling? No, they are not. They are completely legal and they do not qualify as gambling. Any Fantasy Sports game played in online mode is considered a game of skill and participants in India receive a specific exemption from the Public Gambling Act of 1867.
In today’s times, some of the most famous fantasy leagues in the sporting world are as follows:
* Fantasy Premier League (Soccer)
* Fantasy Liga (Soccer)
* NBA Fantasy (Basketball)
* IPL Fantasy Championship (Cricket)
* NFL Fantasy Football
* CBS Sports

Daily fantasy sports – The new “Contest” in town
As the name suggests, these are fantasy sports played on a daily basis. Daily fantasy sports are accelerated versions of the traditional fantasy sports that are conducted over relatively shorter periods, maybe a week or a single day, contrary to those that are played across an entire season. Daily fantasy sports are typically structured in the manner of paid competitions typically referred to as a ‘contest’. Winners receive a share of a pre-determined pool funded by their entry fees.
This form of fantasy sport is gaining widespread popularity in the corporate world. Corporate IPL contests are a good example of this, wherein one has to form a team of 11 players (5 batsmen, 1 wicket-keeper, 1 allrounder, and 4 bowlers, along with a chosen a captain) from all the IPL franchises within the pre-determined stipulated budget. The employees with top performing players in the league are rewarded according to their ranks. In case your organization hasn’t started off with this fantasy league contest, do suggest the idea in your next appraisal meeting.

Recently in the news
Tapping the Indian youth market of sports enthusiasts, the Indian Super League (ISL), launched a fantasy football section in September 2015. Here, the budget allocated to players was of Rs 100 crore (in the form of fictional cash) to pick a 15 member squad and a head coach representative. The portal received over a whopping 28,000 registrations! As per the data shared by ISL, its fantasy football players are a mix of Indian, Nepalese, Bangladeshi and European, with nearly 86% of the traffic coming from mobile phones. However, ISL is far from being the first ever Indian fantasy sports site. Fantasy sports in India also include other games such as cricket, hockey, and kabaddi.
Today, a large section of youngsters are playing fantasy leagues from their smartphones. Fantasy leagues have proven to be an innovative way of enjoying the sports we love as they give us a sneak peek of what it actually feels like to be a sports manager, albeit fictionally.



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