Like tipping comps and betting, fantasy sports have evolved as yet another way to immerse oneself even more into the intricacies of one's preferred sport. Australian sports have been slow off the mark in getting fantasy leagues up and running, Rugby even more so, but that's changing. And fast. So fast that even the Rolling Maul has its own dedicated fantasy Super Rugby competition*.
American baseball is the home of fantasy leagues. So extreme are the fantasy leagues in the USA, there are even TV shows dedicated to Fantasy Baseball, Gridiron and Ice Hockey leagues and entire industries of experts providing advice and hints. Tens of millions of Americans play fantasy sports so it's no surprise that people actually make a living from this stuff - the prize money can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and dedicated fantasy sport websites are worth tens of millions of dollars and have revenue in the millions of dollars. A quick internet search of anything fantasy related will produce a plethora of these things (and some other interesting fantasy sites too so be careful what words you search for and maybe keep the kids away).
So what is a Fantasy sport anyway? Basically, you're the manager of a team with a salary cap. Each actual player in the competition (the real one) has a nominal dollar value based on how much they contribute (or don't contribute) to their team (tackles, kicks, try assists, penalties conceded, drop balls, yellow cards etc). After each match, each player's performance is scored based on detailed statistics and their dollar value increases or decreases accordingly. As a team manager, you select your team (ie trade players for each position as if it were a real team) prior to every round of the actual competition and score points for each player in your team. The manager with the most points at the end of the season wins the prize.
It seems simple, and it is, but once you get involved and start taking it seriously the intricacies of the statistics available and the combinations of players to choose are immense. Each week you can spend hours pondering combinations of players and trawling through the stats for the ideal combination.
So The Rolling Maul has decided it's time to invest some time and effort into proving its expert status (easier said than done - the Rolling Maul also runs a Super Rugby tipping comp and has never won it - but Mrs Rolling Maul has!). While there are a few of these around, the Rolling Maul has decided to try the Fox Sports Fantasy Super Rugby competition.
- Surprisingly user friendly. In no time at all I had a team.
- And shortly after that I thought I should look at some stats and history so I changed it.
- Then changed it again when I looked at the draw.
- And again when I realised I had to pick replacements and a captain and a vice-captain. Damn it, it's got me.
*So the Rolling Maul is completely suckered in, to the extent that there's now a dedicated Rolling Maul fantasy Super Rugby league (nothing to do with Rugby League - it's dedicated leagues would be called a Rugby League league!) and you are invited to join. Once you've created a Fox Sports Fantasy Super Rugby account use the code 5359-4445 and you too can be Rolling Mauled.
From time to time I'll provide updates on this blog as to how it's all going, that's assuming that there's any time left in the day what with all the other tipping, blogging and betting going on. Oh, probably should watch a few matches too.