If you like fantasy sports games, you will love this.
Many of you will remember the now defunct Tote Ten To Follow where you followed the progress of your stable stars through the season-long torment of injury scares, fleeting form and changing plans. Some of you may have enjoyed football versions in the newspapers, or the unusually titled Fantasy Race To Dubai on the European Tour website.
So the concept of fantasy sports is certainly nothing new, but PlayOn has put many different games in one place, wrapped in a shiny package with a slick user interface. There are distinct similarities to poker sites where you can choose your game and your stake and compete against like-minded individuals from around the world. There is an immediacy to proceedings, not apparent in many other fantasy formats, as games tend to span less than a week and can last as little as a single match.
In addition, and crucially in my view, the strategy elements of these fantasy games are heightened by the imposition of a budget, something that was sadly lacking from the Tote Ten To Follow and Fantasy Race To Dubai. Imagine your anguish when your perfect team comes in at just fractionally over £100m and you have to make some tough decisions. Is Dragovic a better value defender at £6.1m than Ramos at £8.3m? (Answer – no, he got sent off last night and scored me -170 points.)
The sports offered at the moment are football, cricket, basketball and golf, although I suspect these are early days in the rollout of the idea and there will be more to follow. A quick peek at the website shows 78 different opportunities to test your managerial skills today, ranging in buy-in from 55p to 108 Euros. There are vast tournaments with up to 1,000 entries, and epic one-on-one battles. You can even create your own games and invite your mates.
Best of all, there are several games that offer free entry. You may not get rich with the lowly prize pools on offer, but it will give you a flavour of the game and an insight into some of the tactics that may prove lucrative. I was shocked to discover that the winner of the free European Championships Round 1 game had an Italian striker who didn’t even play, but accumulated enough points from his remaining ten players, including Payet of France and Milik of Poland, to fend off the challenge of the other 421 entries. The guy who finished fourth composed his entire team of Germans – fervent patriotism or shrewd managerial skills?
In my first PlayOn dabble, on the golf from Austria last week, I finished a respectable 44th out of 673 entries. The format opens up new possibilities from traditional betting – players like Lewis, Bertasio and Van Der Walt earned me significant points despite none of them finishing better than tenth, and therefore outside of bookmakers each way terms. The winner of our game had only one player in the Austrian Open top five, and nobody selected the unlikely winner Ashun Wu who started the tournament as a 150/1 outsider.
If you’d like to give it a go just click on the PlayOn button below. I should point out that I earn a small amount of commission if you later decide to pay to play, but you can then refer your friends to get your own slice of the cashback pie.