Interviews

4 months ago

FanTeam EURO 2020 Winner Pocketing €200K: Differentials, Emotion, Analysis

We had an opportunity to catch up in Skype with FanTeam's EURO 2020 champion TTriBL right after his return from a mini-vacation. FanTeam's #1 player had a great tournament winning more than €250,000 and solidifying his lead in the overall profit chart. We would like to thank TTriBL for his willingness to share his thoughts, emotions and hints with the European fantasy community.

First of all, congratulations on you magnificent victory! Tell us how much did you prepare for EURO 2020 in the first place.

— Thank you very much! To be honest, I knew what most of the footballers participating in the Euros were capable of due to my long-time involvement with various fantasy games in different European leagues. That made me rather confident, but at the same time, I was really dissatisfied with how I approached the tournament. Knowing so much about most players, I lacked the motivation to sit down and crunch numbers, putting it off till just a few days before the tournament start. Eventually, I ran out of time and wasn’t pleased with the overall quality of my lineups at tournament start. I had to rush at the end and many of the teams I entered were identical.  
 

Did you pick many differential players in your teams?

— It’s important to have a few differentials in tournaments like that for sure. Players that would be owned about the 10% mark, maybe even less. You shouldn’t squeeze them in at all costs, though. You have to get into the head of an average player and try to predict who he’s going to pick, how he will build his team. 

For example, I didn’t rate England from the get-go due to their assets’ steep pricing and uncertainty of starts. Kane, Stones and Pickford were the most nailed, but they were rather expensive. I decided to pick them as differentials as I thought most players would ignore them for the reasons described above. It turned out Kane was nearly 50% owned at the start of the tournament! Mistakes in predicting ownership happen, you have to assess how differential a pick someone is going to be. A complete disaster would be picking an average player hoping he would fly under the radar only to find him 15-20% owned. 

Bale ended up being 20% owned (not that he is average), so I went for Ramsey and James as my differentials, who both had ownership around 1%. Makes little sense in picking ultra-differentials like your random defensive midfielder. Second-tier players from average teams, who would play for 90 minutes and could get on the scoresheet, I targeted them mostly.

How do you predict player ownership and how important is it?

— It all comes down to the analysis of player ownership figures in previous slates and player performance in his last game. Salah and Mane is the proverbial example. Sometimes Salah would be 40% owned in a DFS slate while Mane would sit in 15% of the teams. Salah does nothing the next game while Mane scores a brace and their ownership is the same next week. Then it would revert to the 40/15 again. Sometimes you would be totally wrong – one of the top-regs sees the same pattern and wants to take advantage. He picks Mane in all of his 100 teams instead of Salah screwing up your ownership predictions. 

Overall, ownership is important, but treat it with a pinch of salt. If you are to choose between a better player with potentially higher ownership and a player with a lower ceiling and lower ownership - go for the former. The quality of your team is what matters most and will give you the advantage. Enter solid teams with quality players, don’t overthink it.  

 

Back to Euros, the very culmination. You and 'gaffel' had a lead on everyone else with a couple of teams in top-10 each before the final. What was your plan?

— Gaffel had a very strong tournament, I was really impressed by his teams in the quarter-finals and semis, his bold moves. It was clear he was focused on that 1st place only. I kept an eye on his entries during the tournament but was focusing rather on my own game and my teams.

Before the Final, though, I spent nearly all day assessing the value of each captaincy move I and my opponent could make. It was a unique situation with the first 4 teams (two owned by gaffel and two by me) capable of a 1st place finish. According to my calculations, gaffel’s best team sitting in 2nd, 9 points behind my team, could still end up 7-8 points ahead. Other teams were a few points apart with both having a lot of potential based on the players left to play. Again I had to compliment my opponent for assembling such balanced teams, both of which had a good chance to win. I spent a lot of time figuring out who he was most likely to captain and made my decisions based on that assessment. Then I was content and thought I had a 60% chance to win given a little point lead I had going into the final.

Read more: What is FanTeam's 1 Million Game

Describe your emotions while watching the final?

— I watched the final in a little town next to lake Baikal while traveling. The hotel where I stayed is squeezed in between the mountains and the largest freshwater lake in the world, I was stuck between the elements in a true place of power, so to speak. I am not an emotional man, but that night was some experience. The match started at 3 a.m. local time, and I do believe the other guests and the hotel staff still hate me). But all the cheering was worth it in the end. I checked out of the hotel at 9 a.m. before anyone could complain about the night events). 

 

Did you keep checking your phone every minute to see how your teams were doing?

— As someone who plays poker, I believe it’s a bad habit that does nothing to help your game, so I never check the results while the slate is in progress. All it affects is your nerves. It was a special day though, so I kept my emotions unchecked and I allowed myself to steal a few glances at my phone as the game unfolded. I checked it at halftime, after the 60th minute with the clean sheet points applied, and a few minutes before Italy scored their goal. And then once more after the Italy goal. 

Many players have compared the EURO fantasy game to daily rather than season-long format. What does it feel to you?

— Daily contests and season-long contests differ very much on Fanteam, so I treated this more like a seasonal game. I had to adjust my game though because of the mandatory Wildcard and not being able to make any subs before the final. Or take paid transfers, for example. Paid transfers are usually avoided in season-long games since you have a playing bench and you can gain a few points if someone doesn’t start. Once the elimination rounds began at the Euros, you had no such luxury, and I thought that paid transfers were justified to put out an 11-man team every round. Overall the game still felt like a short-season game rather than a collection of daily contests glued together. 

A lot of hard decisions had to be made and found the format more difficult to play than a traditional 38-week long contest or a daily slate. It totally felt like a breath of fresh air as it made you think and analyze a lot. I found myself going for riskier moves at times while constraining myself and playing a more risk-averse game sometimes to find the right balance. 

 

Speaking of other formats, Championship daily fantasy tournaments have just been announced on Fanteam. Do you plan on playing those? 

— It’s a great competition with most of the teams pretty evenly matched. Even when Leeds and Wolverhampton were one head above everyone else in the league in terms of the football they played, bookies still gave them 1.5 odds in games against bottom teams while someone like Man City in the Premier League would get 1.15 against teams from the bottom of the table. Each team might go on a losing or a winning streak in such a long season and the competition is fierce. The only thing I am worried about is that once Premier League starts, Championship will lose its appeal for fantasy players despite a solid 20,000 guarantee for the first gameweek. Games start at roughly the same time, but I hope Fanteam find a solution and players get to enjoy Championship DFS with great guarantees even when Premier Leagues starts.  

 

What sources would you recommend to look up stats?

— As for the resources, understat.com and fbref.com are free to use and provide you with a ton of statistical information. I also try to watch as many games as possible, especially during tournaments like the Euros as it can give you a lot of information. With longer tournaments, it’s nearly impossible to watch every match and stay concentrated while doing so. If you are short on time, watch highlights and analyze stats.  

Back to your victory, do you still feel motivated to play DFS  after winning so much money?

— For me, winning is the most important thing no matter how much money goes to first. Creating solid teams that have a good chance to finish first, staying on top of my game week in and week out – that is what motivates me. Winning a big tournament like that is still a random occasion. A newbie could have won it easily. Even a 38-week long tournament is not devoid of randomness, so my motivation comes from my desire to be a consistent player and create quality teams on a weekly basis.

I don’t think winning such a large tournament changes much and will make me change my lifestyle a lot. It’s not the first big tournament I’ve won for sure but the largest to date. It usually takes a few days for emotions to settle and then I am ready to go again and draft the best possible teams. What is more, I would say big victories even put more pressure as you have to prove these results weren’t a fluke.  

As for the money, I don’t feel the urge to go and splash the cash on something I don’t need. I think this mentality also comes with age. I perhaps was tempted to do something unjustified with my winnings like 10 years ago when I had my first success playing poker, but I am glad I resisted it. I’ve always tried to fit in with the surroundings and spend what an average person would spend in the area I live in. I am an advocate of investing my money thinking long-term. I would not buy a fancy car now if I could invest that money and buy an apartment shortly afterward, for example. 

Read more: FanTeam Ultimate Guide 2021/2022

Speaking of investments, any thoughts about starting your own business?

— I am good at what I do – poker, fantasy sports, sports betting. I consider myself an expert in these areas, but I am not going to flatter myself and think that I could be good at anything. That’s why I would rather invest in a company that is really good at what it does if I see the passion, dedication on their part. I would rather give them my money to get a good return on my investment than start a business myself in an area I know very little about. 

 

You admit that playing fantasy can be stressful, do you get burned out over time?

— Ah, good question. All the nerves and money involved make you burn out pretty fast. A couple of years and you might feel completely drained. I don’t know how other regs cope with the pressure, it does happen to me and it’s one of the biggest challenges I have to face. You have to give 100% every day if you want to be the best. I hear people say that I cheat, use programs or have multiple people hired as assistants. It’s a load of baloney as no one can do anything better than yourself. I create and enter my teams manually although I know some regs use certain automation tools.  I wish I knew how to write a program that would help me lessen the amount of stress and hard work I am dealing with every day making my life more balanced. Both negative and positive results drain you emotionally, so you have to make sure you sleep well, take breaks, work out. I am experimenting with yoga a little at the moment. Finding that something that relieves you of all that stress, understanding your body and its need is very important. 

 

Can a manager entering just 5-10 teams be successful at Fanteam? 

— First of all, I can’t stress this enough, entering one hundred teams means 10 times more responsibility and effort than 10 teams. I don’t think drafting 100 teams is the only way to win and it’s a hell of an effort. I’ve seen many people complaining about multi-entries failing to draft at least 60 teams in free tournaments themselves. They would either run out of ideas or misjudge the time needed to build decent lineups or something else.

I understand the overall quality of my lineups lessens with every team I draft and every team of mine competes with all my other entries even if I enter fewer teams. Understand how many quality teams you can create consistently, understand whether they are better than average and your ROI is in the green. Only then start adding more. Work on your skills and your game and then you’ll know when you are ready to enter more lineups.

Bankroll management is key, if you enter 10 teams into the €20 Weekly Monster, then make sure your bankroll is around €2,000. It might seem unfair that someone can enter a hundred teams while your bankroll allows for a mere 10. Any game I played, be it poker or fantasy, I always started with a very small deposit of 50 or 100 euros, then working my way up.

Don’t think that anyone with a huge bankroll can come in and scoop all the prizes up. Quality of your game is key, find what works for you, how many teams are comfortable for you to draft. I’ve tried teaching many of my friends fantasy, putting a lot of time and effort into it, using my strategies and insights. One might think that even a cat would learn the trade and become a great fantasy player after so much training. Well, it didn’t work out with many people a lot smarter than your average cat, with most of them failing to become winning players. Be honest with yourself, maybe it’s not your thing or everyone else has become better while you are stagnating. Dig your heels in and work more on your game or quit altogether.

 
Alexey Bobrov
Author

Alexey Bobrov

Alexey, also known as KJIIOIIIKA, has been playing daily fantasy football since 2015 on various European sites. Scratches his fantasy itch on FanTeam, where he has a net profit of €6000+ with more than 2500 tournaments played and a 30%+ ROI. FanTeam's 2018 World Championship of Fantasy Football finalist. As Head of Content at DraftGym, his mission is to help our young European fantasy community grow. A proud father of two, plays ice-hockey at the regional level, loves board games.

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