Interviews, Industry

7 months ago

FPLGeneral on Doing Fantasy for a Living, Daily Contests, Season-Long Games and Guinness

It is mid-July, the time when most FPL managers start tinkering with their first drafts for the long EPL season. Mark McGettigan, also known as the FPLGeneral, is considered to be one of the best with three top-500 finishes in the last 6 years. We are sitting down with the Irish-born to discuss season-long and daily formats, his FPL-show experience, Patreon page, Guinness and Gaelic football.

Last year you decided to turn your life around and started doing FPL full-time for a living. Could you tell us more about how that turned out?

I started my fantasy enterprise last year without a lot of expectations. I thought devoting all my time to FPL full time was not worse than stacking shelves in a supermarket, which I was doing the year before. I was amazed by the response and how it all turned out.

Going into the summer I was sure most of the subscribers would cancel their monthly subscriptions, but most of them didn’t which tells me I am offering a good level of customer service that they are remaining loyal throughout the summer months and into the new season.

I am very grateful to our Patreon community and that makes me even more confident that I am helping people with their FPL experience and that I had made the right decision switching to it full time. I hope it continues to grow year on year. I really got the idea for a Patreon page from seeing some others in the FPL community doing so. I spotted a gap in the market particularly for one-to-one FPL discussion via WhatsApp which has proved to be the most popular Patreon tier last season.

Patreon is an American crowdfunding membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service

Wikipedia

I actually got too many signups so I will be putting a limit on how many can sign up to this level for 2019/20 so that I can focus more on making good decisions for my own team too!

11 years playing FPL

I know that you have been playing daily fantasy as well.

Yes, I play on FantasyBet, DraftKings. Tried FanTeam some time ago but stopped playing there because of some glitches and inability to change my lineup at a certain point. I understand any site can have technical issues, but, you know, that first impression wasn’t a positive one. I might give it another try this season though, as the prize pools for EPL are very solid.

FantasyBet’s scoring is identical to FPL, that makes it easier for me to assemble a squad and I typically enter one or a couple of teams every weekend. I am probably just breaking even, though, no big win to boast of yet.

Mark and Anton Ferdinand. Credit: https://twitter.com/FPLGeneral

What is your take on the much-debated captaincy?

In season-long games, I don’t like the idea of captaincy as it adds too much variance with so many people playing. You can’t afford to pick the wrong captain as it can massively hurt you in the long-run. I failed miserably this season with so many of my captain choices going blank or even yielding negative returns.

As far as daily fantasy format is concerned, I believe it adds variety and is a good element of the game. From my observations teams with a differential captain win more often in daily fantasy while safer choices are preferable in the season-long format.

Last year you also got your feet wet by debuting on the official FPL show. How was it?

The FPL show was a huge experience for me. I was a bit nervous the first time at the studio, didn’t even know we were going live. The crew just told me we were live in 5 minutes. It happened a bit too fast for me, I wasn’t ready to go live and be seen in Australia and all over the world without any preparation. They just warn you not to swear and things like that, but they don’t really give any other advice. It was a little easier next time out as I knew what to expect. 

It was an amazing experience overall, and the publicity has aided in helping me in growing my brand. It certainly helped promote my Patreon page and more people started contacting me with FPL related things. 

You got your own website now as well.

Yes, it is still a work in progress and I want it to become some sort of a hub where people could find materials I am posting on social media and some of the things from my Patreon group.

It goes without saying, the premium paid content will be restricted to members with a paid subscription, but all the other materials will be available there, like my 59th minute podcast, watch lists, etc.

I am also planning on having some of the fans of all Premier League clubs attend pre-season friendlies to do regular write-ups with their observations. It can be very valuable when drafting your FPL squad operating with very limited info in the pre-season. A friend of mine, a talented IT-specialist, whom I met working in that supermarket, offered to make a website once he had learned what I was doing. It is live now, you can find it at fplgeneral.com

Why do you personally play fantasy sports?

I really enjoy daily fantasy because I can have a completely new team every weekend. I like to include some of the players that I fear in FPL for that weekend who I don’t own. At least that way, if they hurt my rank in FPL, maybe they will win me some cash in DFS. 

I used to gamble on other sports, golf and horse racing for example without having a lot of knowledge about them. Since I started playing DFS, I don’t gamble on anything else now, it’s better to stick to the sport I know most about/spend time researching each week. In that sense, it’s stopping me from losing my money on those other sports.

What do the best FPL managers drink when they are not setting their line-ups?

Having lived 18 years in Ireland, Guinness is probably my favorite all-time drink. You have to visit Dublin to try the real brew, though, as the drink doesn’t travel well. Even in my little hometown, about 4 hours away from the capital, the taste is different. Visit Dublin if you want the proper Guinness experience.

You reside in Scotland right now, any whiskey recommendations? 

I can’t really name any whiskey brands, to be honest. The smell and the taste repel me. Living here hasn’t changed that, so I am not the right person to make any recommendations. There are tons of distilleries here for sure, though.

Back to fantasy football then. How is fantasy different from betting? What is there to like in the season-long and daily formats?

The most popular kinds of betting nowadays in the UK for a football match are markets like first/anytime goalscorers and both teams to score, things like that. For some of these markets, first goalscorer, for example, your bet can be over after just two minutes. The good thing about DFS is that it keeps you interested for 90 minutes.

What can attract a season-long player to DFS?

I think the buzz of picking a team just for one weekend should attract new players. We all love using our Free Hit in FPL for example, and in DFS you get to do that every weekend!

I also think the big money tournaments like the £100k FantasyBet season-long tournament (changed to Season-Long Divisions format, with a £5  entry and £50k guarantee) should be a good way to attract new players. They can set up their team for the season-long then maybe they will have a go in the daily contests as well.

Daily fantasy sports is showing steady growth in Europe but there has never been a DFS boom like it had happened in the USA 5 years ago. Any thoughts as to why?

I am probably the wrong person to ask this question, as I have not been involved in working in this industry for very long.

The betting culture is very strong here in the UK, so people wanting to bet money would always prefer that to something new. It is quite conservative down here, not many people are willing to try new things.

Besides, FPL is free to play, so many people are content playing it without putting their money at risk. There are some self-organized paid leagues as well, so that is enough for most people. There are millions playing FPL and only a couple of hundreds on Fantasybet, for example. The scoring is identical, you could win some money, but not a lot of FPL crowd are joining.

The funny thing is I am seeing all the same nicknames on multiple daily fantasy websites across Europe. Not a lot of new players are joining and that is definitely hurting the industry, but I am also hopeful that we will see it begin to grow at a faster rate in the near future.

For those of us thinking about visiting your home country, Ireland, what can you say about the people there?

Irish people are very friendly and our traveling fans are a good example of that. Our team is not very good and we are set on having fun at the game no matter the outcome. I remember traveling to one of the Euro-2012 games in Poland, our team lost to Croatia 1-3 but the vibe in the stands and after the game was like we had won. Another thing is that our fans rarely get into trouble, we have fun without causing harm.

Wedding Day. Credit: https://twitter.com/FPLGeneral

Anything specific you could recommend seeing in Ireland?

Hurling is the fastest field sport in the world, and it is quite popular in Ireland. I've been to a few matches myself. But it is not as popular as Gaelic football. I have played in from 6 to 18 years of age and you should definitely go and see a game once you are in Ireland!

Mark, thank you so much for talking to us! I wish you luck in all your daily football contests, and may your FPL season be the best one yet!

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 mostly on FanTeam, where he has a net profit of €6000+ with over 1300 tournaments played and a 50% ROI. FanTeam's 2018 World Championship of Fantasy Football finalist. As the chief editor 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.