Fantasy games have conquered Europe by storm in the last couple of years. The number of active players keeps growing every year, simultaneously with the range of gaming options available for fantasy admirers across the continent. We all know about the US citizens and their connection to fantasy football & basketball, but it seems that the pastime has finally managed to spread out among the Europeans as well.
For this article, which has been prepared with the experts working at bettingTips4you.com, we will keep the main focus on football (soccer, not American football) as it is the most widespread sport on the planet. English Premier League is the strongest and the most popular domestic competition in the world, while the UEFA Champions League is the elite continental competition that gathers the best clubs on the continent in the battle for European glory.
It is thus not hard to conclude that the Premier League fantasy and the Champions League fantasy are the two most popular fantasy games among the crowd at the moment. While the essence of the game is identical across the two platforms, there are still some important strategic differences anyone who’d like to play these games seriously should well be aware of.
Fantasy Premier League (FPL)
FPL is by far the most popular fantasy game in Europe. It gathers more than eight million players per season nowadays. We would not be surprised to see the number surpassing ten million in the near future. One of the main reasons for FPL’s popularity is actually its simplicity. The game is so easy to understand and play. It has no unnecessary complications that might put some people off.
Anyone can register an account on the website or through the app and play for free by creating a 15-player squad. The distribution of points is very simple straightforward. We won’t go through the full list of points for all positions, but the key is to know that the emphasis is on goals, assists, and clean sheets. Players can also get points if their goalkeeper saves a penalty and that’s about it. You don’t need to track anything else than goals, assists, and clean sheets. Goalkeepers also get save points (a point for three saves), while the top three players in any Premier League game receive bonus points (three, two, and one respectively). There is a special bonus point system but you by no means need to pay special attention to studying it. Basically, if a player scores, there is a high chance he will also get some bonus points).
Of course, it is also worth mentioning that you can choose a captain for each Gameweek. While both FPL and UCL Fantasy double the points for your captain, you do have an extra option in this field in the Champions League fantasy game.
UEFA Champions League Fantasy (UCL Fantasy)
UEFA Champions League Fantasy is much younger than the Premier League Fantasy. However, it is becoming more and more popular every year. Currently, there are more than one million active players in the world. As mentioned above, the main points (for goals, assists, and clean sheets) are identical in UCL and Premier League Fantasy.
However, the Champions League Fantasy is much more engaging because it also includes points for ball recoveries (three ball recoveries get you one point). This makes defensive midfielders and center-backs much more appealing than in the Premier League Fantasy.
Also, one key difference between the two platforms is the ability to change your bench players amid a Matchday. While you can’t substitute a player during the Gameweek in the Premier League Fantasy, the UCL Fantasy allows you this option. Let’s say you had Sadio Mane in your team on Tuesday evening and Liverpool lost the home fixture to Barcelona without any contribution from the Senegalese star. You have Kai Havertz on your bench as Chelsea are scheduled to face Juventus on Wednesday evening. You can thus substitute Havertz in for Mane on Wednesday before the first match of the day kicks off.
The same applies to your captain. If your captain lets you down on Tuesday, you can always give the armband to someone else you have playing on Wednesday. There is no such luxury in the Fantasy Premier League. Again, it also may be the reason why people generally prefer the Premier League fantasy because they do not want to waste time setting their captains and making frequent changes on a day-to-day basis.
Why is the Premier League Fantasy more popular?
The aforementioned differences between the two games may seem minor, but in reality, they do request a completely different approach. First of all, the Premier League season lasts 38 rounds which is 32 Gameweeks more than the group stage of the Champions League. Moving forward, there are no major pauses during the Premier League season unlike in the elite continental competition where you have six group-stage games from September to December and then a break until February when the last 16 round begins.
Now, the variance is much bigger in smaller sample size, meaning the luck plays a much bigger factor in the UEFA Champions League Fantasy. Since people like to call themselves experts and to believe they know to beat the competitors, they are more likely to prefer the Premier League Fantasy because it allows them room to maneuver over the course of a 38-round-long season.
While the introduction of defensive midfielders and center-backs to the game does seem like a smart idea by the UEFA Champions League Fantasy, it is actually very hard to track the number of recovered balls in general statistics. This, again, increases variance as any center back could have a double-digit number of recovered balls on his day. He would then be in a position to beat a player who has scored a goal but had zero ball recoveries for example. Either way, both games are great and if you like fantasy football you will easily fall in love with them.