Interviews, Daily Fantasy
3 months ago
Today we are chatting to daaceofdiamonds, the winner of World Championship of Fantasy Football — tournament held annually by FanTeam, this time with a €300,000 guaranteed prize pool. Playing daily fantasy sports is what the champ does for a living, so your conversation will be centered around that with a lot of helpful insights valuable for experienced and amateur players alike.
Congratulations, on winning the biggest daily tournament on FanTeam to date and pocketing €50,000! Let's go back to the roots, though. Tell us about how your DFS journey began.
I used to play online poker and was unsure what to do next given the state of the industry. In 2019, I stumbled upon an online stream by a prominent poker player Gipsy74 who runs the best poker community website in the .ru sector — GipsyTeam.ru. It’s one of the oldest and certainly the most respected websites out there with a great forum and a ton of material. Gipsy74, a big-time poker regular, was doing a live stream explaining the fantasy game on Fanteam with a fellow poker player tainer, who runs a fantasy-related topic on the website. I found the concept very appealing and jumped right in. I started playing regularly and it’s been my full-time job for the past year. I believe I had played more than anyone this past year and most likely done more research than most. I can say that I had put in a lot of hard work on my strategy to be where I am now. I am also very happy for Gipsy74, who had a great WCOFF (although he doesn’t play DFS regularly) with 5 out of 6 teams finishing ITM. His best team finished just behind my best one in 2nd place, amazing!
What does your typical workday look like?
I start by monitoring what slates I can enter in the morning, then do my research and enter my lineups. I do it all manually, believe it or not, without any automation tools. I would find it hard to believe myself if I was told about the number of lineups I have manually edit and enter, but that’s where things stand as of now. I know very little about coding, so I do everything by hand. It takes me about 2-3 minutes to select players and enter a single team, without the research time that is.
Do you always try to use all the available budget?
I used to make sure every penny was used, but now I don’t care about a million or slightly more of unused budget because football is such a low-scoring game and you don't need every penny to draft the best lineup at times. Just remember that fantasy football is different from football, and sometimes you must ignore best football players in your lineups to win big.
Do you keep track of your lineups during a gameweek?
The first couple of games it makes little difference to me who scores, wins or loses because I most likely have all the bases covered with the number of teams I enter. Once it gets to the last couple of games of the slate, I understand who I must cheer for as only a few of my teams would be in contention to win big by that time. I remember I needed Leicester to beat Fulham at home to finish first a few weeks ago or Aston Villa to beat West Ham away. Neither of that happened, but I enjoyed watching those games and cheering for my picks despite the outcome.
Some fantasy players come from a poker background just like yourself, how is DFS different from poker?
When playing Poker, you have to stay focused every second making correct decisions. It is different in fantasy football. All your decisions are made before the starting whistle which helps you avoid tilt even if things go wrong. You do not blame yourself when things go awry since you are not the one kicking the ball. It’s out of your hands and the lineups are submitted, and you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the action. In poker, it’s just you, your decisions and lady luck every hand, which can be very stressful. With so many factors and things influencing the outcome of a football match, it’s hard to blame yourself and tilt as much as in poker.
Speaking of tilt, you had a massive downstreak in the middle of 2020, how do you handle these situations?
During the summer, I had a €15,000 downstreak but because I wasn’t tilting and taking the game as it is, I was able to concentrate on my game and step out of it with a few big wins that followed. Bankroll management is important and I would have had to decrease the number of teams I entered regularly if the landslide hadn’t stopped. In the end, I didn’t have to do that, fortunately.
daaceofdiamond's team for day 1 of WCOFF
You are 2nd overall in profit on FanTeam, what do you think of other top players, who are your main competitors?
I won’t lie, I have my eyes set on the first place, but I greatly respect the current leader TTriBL and think he is a fantastic player who will be very hard to surpass. That is why I was extremely excited when I managed to overtake him for 2020 total profit before I hit my downstreak. I was downhearted and started to lose any hope which was rekindled during the Champions League season-long game. I had 8 teams sitting in top-20 after gameweek 3 and if that had stayed that way come the end of the tournament, I would have a chance to overtake TTriBL for profit in 2020. TTriBL ended up winning the CL tournament netting him 60,000 and I flunked completely with only 3,000 overall profit in that tournament. I still managed to finish 2nd overall overtaking another fantastic player - top in the dying seconds of the year. He is another great player I rate very highly and consider him one of my main competitors on FanTeam. Khan, Zhenek_Gomel, quirrel, they make great lineups and are worth learning from.
Justnopain is a new player whose lineups are very well constructed, I believe he has a bright future in the game. Griggsonfire, karlros, diddy, they are also worth mentioning.
Karlros and diddy, for example, utilize a very interesting variance-heavy strategy. They would pick a very low-owned and unpopular player or a group of players and put them in every team or even captain them. I remember diddy once captained Pepe from Arsenal in a gameweek when he wasn’t even predicted to start and occupied most of the top-20 with his teams when Pepe hauled.
Do you play anything else apart from football on FanTeam?
I play CS:GO fantasy, but playing is the wrong word. Losing fits better) I lose in CS:GO some of what I win playing football (daaceofdiamonds has a net loss of 6,000 and a -7.76% ROI in CS:GO fantasy tournaments at the moment of writing).
I have never actually enjoyed playing shooters, but got hooked playing fantasy CS:GO this spring when other sports were on halt. I am a big fan of ZyWoo, who is usually captained by like 70% of the field and who I believe to be the best player in the world.
As for fantasy basketball, I just never understood how it worked and how to be good at it. It seems player value matters the most, strategies different from football are used and there is no stacking, so I am sticking to football for now. I don’t particularly enjoy watching it on TV as well. What is funny, though, I enjoy playing it myself and do it quite often.
What about season-long games?
I don’t play FPL with millions of other players competing for bragging rights rather than financial gains. I prefer money games and I am focused on daily fantasy, but I had entered 300 teams into FanTeam’s seasonal game because there was such a huge overlay nonetheless. I can say that daily and season-long games are so very different, and I feel I haven’t cracked the season game yet. I fail to understand the best strategies and feel I am a far superior daily fantasy player. For example, I still have a habit of stacking players alike daily games in season-long games which hurts my teams at times. I am also not sure which players are best to bench on FanTeam when they play each, for example, because of impact points etc.
How do you prepare for a slate?
I believe every piece of info is valuable if you know how to filter this incoming information. For raw data, I can recommend Fantasyfootballhub, I like their OPTA stats layout more than FantasyFootballScout, who, on the contrary, have better starting lineup predictions. I am a member of a couple of fantasy chats, but there are no secret private chats where we discuss strategies with other top-regulars. Unlike poker, if you agree on a certain strategy for a slate, you cut down on each other profits. That is why I devise my strategies alone based on my experience and information I have at hand.
ddaaceofdiamond's team for day 2 of WCOFF
How many teams do you enter into EPL contests on Fanteam?
A new cap on the number of entries has just been introduced in the 50K Monsters on Fantem, now a single user can only enter 100 teams. I like this cap with €50,000 on the line and see no reason to enter more than 100 teams even if there wasn’t any cap. So, typically, I would enter 100 teams worth 2,000 into a €50K tournament.
Things are different when it comes to the €100K Monsters. I used to enter 200-250 lineups there before the 100 teams per user cap was introduced for the latest Monster. I will adapt my game and find ways to win, but I doubt overlays may be avoided as quite a few top players also enter around 200 teams each contributing to the prize pool in the bigger tournaments. We have to wait and see, FanTeam may change that in the future if the overlay is too big in the upcoming 100K tournament with 100-team cap.
What are your thoughts on Safety Net?
For me and other top players, Safety Net means -ROI. But I understand that this rule is implemented to cater to amateur players. With the amount of research I do before a slate, I would have an edge when picking my lineups without this rule as I would most likely avoid picking players who might fail to start. It is a good rule for a beginner when he picks a player who fails to start due to a lack of research beforehand because an auto-sub will keep such a lineup alive. Researching all 20 teams’ predicted lineups can be daunting and when you have 1-2 teams entered, nothing hurts you more than a player not starting.
The Champ himself!
A piece of advice for a new player, who has a rather small bankroll, please.
You should aim to enter more teams into a cheaper tournament rather than 1 team into a more expensive slate to lessen variance. Slowly increase your bankroll and gradually increase the number of teams entered, 10, 15, 20, 30 etc. Aim to grow our bankroll to be able to enter 100 teams into a 2 euro contest (that equals to a €2,000 bankroll give or take) and start adding a few teams to a 20 euro contest slowly increasing that number if bankroll allows it. There are successful players who enter less than a maximum allowed number of teams and are profitable in the long run, 30 teams per slate, for example. One of the regular players - top - used to enter a lot less teams than me, although he has increased this number now, and was very successful with that strategy.
Thank you for your time again and may 2021 be even more profitable for you than the previous year, good luck!
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 more than 2000 tournaments played and a 40% 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.