Who’s excited?! I sure as heck-fire am, and I know that you are, too! The World Cup is always amazing, and World Cup fantasy is always brilliant fun along with it. Before getting started, let’s go over the vital information you will want to know regarding rules, scoring and strategy.
Those of you who have played World Cup, Euro, FPL or similar fantasy portals may be familiar with most of this, but it’s always good to have a basic refresher to help you to pick the best team possible and decide which changes to make during the competition. If you’re new to World Cup fantasy, I promise that you will have fun! If you’re a grizzled veteran, welcome back!
WHAT ARE THE RULES?
If you’d like to check out the complete rules and scoring, go straight to the FIFA source. I’ve tried to summarize them as best as possible below, while mixing in some strategic recommendations.
BREAKDOWN BY POSITION
Each team has 15 players: 2 keepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders and 3 forwards.
STARTING LINE-UP AND BENCH
The team is divided into 11 starters (one of whom you may select as Captain to double his points) and 4 bench players.
The 15 players must fit into a total budget of €100 during the group stage. That expands to €105 when the Round of 16 knockout stage begins.
Player pricing, value for price, and advancement prospects will determine how you will assemble your team. You will want to put most of the budget toward your 11 starters, but you will not want to be a complete cheapskate on your bench. The bench is where you will want to look for affordable starters (perhaps diamonds in the rough) who can earn you consolation points in the Group Stage, and possibly advance to the next round as well.
The good thing about the budget increasing after the group stage is that you should theoretically be able to keep a strong 15 man roster, rather than feeling you have to kill your bench with cheap filler when the Round of 16 narrows selections to strong teams and their high-priced players.
INDIVIDUAL PLAYER PRICING
Players have variable prices depending on position and expected production. The prices are locked for the group stage, then may change up or down prior to the Round of 16 knockout stage. You will be very well-served if early on you lock down players whose teams advance and whose prices go up!
Just like in real life, star forwards tend to cost more than big name midfielders, who then are more dear than stud defenders, who in turn are pricier than even the best keepers. That means that if you want a well-rounded squad, you may only be able to stock your team with one or two of the absolute best players at a given position, particularly at forward. Generally speaking, the key to success is finding value wherever you can, so don’t despair if you can’t fit the trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Lionel Messi into your side. You can’t always have everything in life... otherwise it would be too easy, right?!
MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PLAYERS PER TEAM
In your 15-man roster, during the group stage, you may pick no more than three players from any single national team. As the number of teams decreases with each new stage, the limit ticks up, eventually reaching eight players from a single team for the final round.
At the start, it’s a good idea to have two or three star players from each of the top teams whom you think will dominate their groups. However, those players tend to come with the highest price tags, so you may have to spread your investment and speculate a bit. You just don’t want to have an overload of players from the bottom teams who you don’t expect to advance. That would limit your capital gains and require you to blow up your team entering the Round of 16. There is always some gold to be mined from the smaller streams, but it is unlikely that too many players from bad teams will score well for you, especially those known for “parking the bus” against stronger foes.
You may utilize any of the following formations: 5-3-2, 5-2-3, 5-4-1, 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 3-5-2, or 3-4-3. Is your head dizzy yet? Relax, don’t worry about it, no need to put too much strategic thought into it, really.
You might think that you will want to select the formation that is ideal for the strength of your team. For instance, if you have three great forwards, selecting a 5-2-3, 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 would seem to be optimal. However, your formation should actually vary depending on when your players actually play, as I elaborate here in the “Substitutions” section:
Following the games of the day but before a round is over, you may swap a bench player with a starter, and you may change your captain selection, as long as the original starter has not been sent off with a red card. You lose any points that the now-benched player had earned. A former captain’s points are undoubled.
If you forget to make a move, don’t fret too much. If a player in your starting line-up does not play, a player from the bench who did play will be substituted in automatically. The players who come in from your bench will enter in the order that you have slotted them. That said, ideally you will want to stay on top of things and keep an eye to changing up your line-up as needed daily.
The number of substitutions (internal swaps) you may make is unlimited (that is, it is limited to the one extra goalkeeper and the three extra field players you have on your bench). Captain changes are also unlimited.
A good strategy is to front-load your starting XI with your players who have early games in the round, using whatever formation fits. Then as that round progresses over multiple days, you will want to drop poor performers (other than those who picked up red cards, since you’re stuck with them unfortunately) to the bench in favor of players who haven’t played yet in the round. Similarly, you will want to select a captain from the first day you have any players going. If your first swing at captain does not do well, then you can move the armband to the best option you have playing the next day... Rinse, lather and repeat, so to speak, until you have a captain’s score worth keeping.
To start off with, there are unlimited free transfers before the opening deadline, so feel free to tinker like a mad scientist from the moment you sign up.
- Group stage: 1 free transfer per round
- Between Group Stage and Round of 16: unlimited free transfers
- Before Quarterfinals: 3 free transfers
- Before Semifinals: 5 free transfers
- *Before finals: 5 free transfers
So if you get off to a bad start, or have a poor round, don’t worry! You can shake things up, no problem. Go ahead and use all of the transfers, because you can’t hoard them to use in later rounds or stages. If you feel that the allotted free transfers aren’t quite enough, however, you can take a 4-point penalty per additional transfer.
*The final round includes both the third place and first place games.
There are some fun chips that you can play as well (one time each):
- Wildcard: Unlimited transfers
- Maximum Captain: The highest scoring player from your final XI becomes the captain
- Bench Boost: You get the points for all 15 players, not just your starting XI
Here’s where some serious strategy comes in! When might prove the best time to use those extra chips?
- When your team is ruined (injuries, suspensions, poor performance, capricious rotation, too many players fail to advance a stage, etc.), the wildcard will serve you well.
- When have an embarrassment of riches, a bench full of players who expect to start and earn well, it’s a good time to let fly the bench boost.
- As the rounds go further, competition becomes progressively tougher, and big performances become more chancy. As well, there are fewer game days, and thus less chance to rotate the captain’s armband to someone else if your original choice does little. Given that you are likely to get your biggest captain score in an earlier round, doubling it at that time with the maximum captain should lead to a greater probable points haul than waiting to use it.
You will want to check with the site to make sure that you select your players / line-up / captain as necessary in time before each day’s deadline.
If you are familiar with Champions League, Euros, Fantasy Premier League or similar fantasy scoring systems, you will be well prepared. If instead you have only played Togga, Fantrax or other platforms that reward a wider variety of scoring categories, then you’ll have some habits to unlearn. The key takeaways are:
- You will want to focus on likely starters (you earn base points for the number of minutes played).
- The big scoring will come from goals, assists, saves, and clean sheets (more for keepers and defenders, somewhat for midfielders, and not at all for forwards).
- This puts a premium on defensive players who provide returns on both ends. Meanwhile, on the offensive end you need not look for well-rounded players. Poachers and ruthless finishers (or helpers) who do little else will be just dandy.
- On the other hand, you will get negative points for penalties missed, a huge number of goals conceded (by keepers and defenders), and yellow and red cards.
- Following the Group Stage, extra-time counts in scoring, but penalty shoot-outs do not.
You’ll get a great return if your keeper saves a penalty kick, but that’s pretty impossible to predict, so scoring categories like that are not something to worry about. If it happens, though, be sure to celebrate all the way up the leaderboard!
HOW TO SIGN UP FOR FIFA WORLD CUP FANTASY
So, now you are ready to sign up and go through the registration process! Don’t dilly dally, go to the FIFA Fantasy Home, scroll right, and click on Login. If you’ve never registered there before, then you’ll be diverted through the account creation process.
HOW TO JOIN THE NEVER MANAGE ALONE LEAGUE
After you sign up, you will want to join the Never Manage Alone “Beat the Bloggers” league to see how you stack up against our crack staff, community members, regular readers and fantasy managers around the globe! Just click on this invitation:
LEAGUE NAME: NeverManageAlone BTB
If you have to use the code, please paste it so you get the letter ‘O’ and the zero sorted.
We have plenty of World Cup coverage to help you assemble your teams, so if you haven’t already done so, be sure to read our previews for all of the groups (A-G have published; H is soon to come). We will also have player picks, live chats and other articles to come as well, so check back with us regularly as you tinker with your teams and enjoy the competition!
Now that it’s finally here, how excited are you to watch the World Cup and play along with the official 2018 FIFA platform?! Have you played before, or is this your first time? How are you planning on putting together your team? What are your thoughts, and what questions do you still have? Let us know in the comments below!