1 month ago
Sorare is adding new clubs to the platform nonstop, while all the Japanese J-1 League clubs remain a bit of a terra incognita for most of the Western world. To remedy this, we will be looking into the league and players that offer a lot of value on Sorare on a regular basis. In this introductory article I will share some facts about the league itself and how we can apply that knowledge to Sorare.
The J-League was formed in 1992 and has a very strong and dedicated fanbase in Japan, making it the second most popular sport in the country after Baseball. The season usually lasts from February - early December. The 2022 season dates haven't been confirmed yet but I expect it to start slightly earlier with the 2022 winter World Cup in mind.
There are usually 20 teams in the J1 League, however, in the current 2021 season there are 22 clubs due to the disruptions caused by the covid epidemic, meaning there was no relegation in the 2020 season. Four clubs will be relegated this year with two teams promoted from J2 bringing the total clubs back to 20 for the 2022 season.
There are 2 domestic cups in Japan, the Emperor's Cup and the League Cup. These do not count within Sorare, however can give important information around rotation/injuries of players.
The AFC Champions League (ALC) is an annual continental club competition that sees up to four J1 League teams participate. This competition does count on Sorare, so it is important to understand which teams are participating as their players will give extra utility (up to 10 extra games for the teams that get to the final!
Kawasaki Frontale are the current champions and are on course to win back-to-back titles. They have been head and shoulders better than any other side, particularly early in the season. They have an extremely strong youth setup which sees a lot of young players coming through the ranks.
Kashima Antlers are the most successful team in J1 League history, winning it a record 8 times. They have a strong connection to Brazil, with legendary former player Zico supporting the team as a player and now working as technical director and bringing through a number of Brazilian players.
The most famous and highly paid player currently playing the J league is undoubtedly Andrés Iniesta, who joined Vissel Kobe in 2018. The iconic world-class midfielder was brought in not only for his qualities as a player but also for his global influence and experience. In recent times, Vissel Kobe have brought in a series of Spanish players including Samper and Krkić.
Other major teams in the J-league include Nagoya Grampus, Gamba Osaka and Urawa Red Diamonds, who have all had recent successes in the J League and ACL.
With the introduction to the league done, let's look at it from the Sorare perspective!
The J-League is in the Asia Division alongside the K-League. The Chinese Superleague is also eligible but no licensed teams have been minted (yet!), you can still use players who have transferred to the league.
The popularity and competitiveness of the Asia leagues have increased over time and currently around 1800 teams are entered every game week.
There are a few barriers to entering the J-league, which has frustrated many managers surprising them with unexpected DNPs from time to time. These include:
Language – most sources are in Japanese with poor translations an issue
Injuries – there is less injury information compared to the MLS and European leagues, however, there are some tricks to help with this (more on this in the articles to follow)
Contract length– Contract length is usually very short (1 year), which can be understandably off-putting. However, this risk can be reduced by doing research
Transfers – In recent years, we have seen a number of promising Japanese players leave for Europe including teams not covered by Sorare (Tanaka to Dusseldorf!)
Time difference – Japan is 9 hours ahead of GMT, which makes watching games problematic
All of these barriers can be managed if we do our research and plan just as we would in any other league. I will be posting a series of posts that cover this, including sites and strategies I use to reduce risk.
J1 League players can also be used in the All-Star Divisions and this is where they can be very cost-effective relative to other leagues. For example, Tasuki Seko has comparable last 40 scores to players such as Guimares and Under and is 8X cheaper. This difference is linked partially to the upcoming Asia season break, however, J-League assets value for All-Star divisions can give you a real edge within Sorare
There is a range of players I really like in the J-league. Always think about why you are buying a player though. Avoid biases if supporting a particular J1 team and blindly buying a recommendation (including from me!). A few players I really like for differing reasons are mentioned in my personal blog called soraretactics.com Currently, I think J-League keepers present excellent value and they will likely get even cheaper in the off-season. For example, Kim Seung Gyu:
I will be posting at Draftgym regularly, looking at various different aspects of the J-League with Sorare in mind including:
Transfer rumours and contract confirmations over the offseason
U23 players picks for All-Star division
Strategy and tips on how to scout players
How to predict teams based on fixtures, injury info
Team reviews, including the two that get from promoted from J2
I am a lover of all things football, data, fantasy sports and crypto! Tha makes Sorare a perfect fit for me :) I am from the UK originally now living in Shikoku, Japan and have a passion for all things J-league, especially the array of wonderful mascots!