Geoff Pryor earned himself a cool £30,000 after clinching the Sky Sports Fantasy Football crown on the final day of 2014/15. In our latest post-season interview, we discuss Geoff’s recent campaign and also delve into his success across a number of Fantasy games.
Congratulations on your victory. Were you confident going into the final day that you’d claim the crown? How did you spend the final day?
I went into the last day with only a 13-point lead, so knew it was going to be tense. I had a good idea who my rivals had at this stage (although I wasn’t correct on all counts). It was a combination of watching Jeff and the boys on Soccer Sunday, along with checking the Sky Sports Game’s live score updates. Like Simon Marsh in Fantasy Premier League, I had my own “Aguerrroooo” moment when he scored late as I had him as my captain. It was around 11pm Sunday night when they finally updated the game scores, and I got the confirmation I was looking for.
What were your final transfers? How many trades did you have left in the final week?
I used my last two transfers on the penultimate weekend of the season on Sunday May 17 as the final part of my transfer strategy. First was used to bring Aguero back in as captain, and the other was to bring in Gylfi Sigurdsson for Christian Eriksen, as I knew some of my rivals had him. Siggy scored that day, so was relieved I had brought him in.
You’ve been a key competitor in “money games” previously – I believe you’ve always fared well in the Sun Dream Team game – what’s your Fantasy Football history?
Thanks again. Fantasy Football has been very kind to me over the years, and I’ve been playing it longer than I care to remember. I started taking it a lot more seriously about ten years ago, and have had some memorable wins over different games and formats. This Sky Sports win is probably my proudest yet, but I’ve also won great prizes in Sun Dream Team, Mirror and the Metro.
How did you fare in other games this season?
I had a good season across Fantasy Football games, I even managed my best ever FPL finish with a rank of 1355. Elsewhere, I finished 274 in Ultimate FPL and had teams placed 14th and 30th in the Sun Dream Team. I’d also managed to claim joint first in the Sun’s weekly game in Gameweek 37, bagging a decent prize. Believe it or not, I also played the Daily Telegraph game (finishing top 100) and the Daily Mail game (finishing top 50).
Do you find yourself concentrating your end of season focus on one game, depending on your progress?
I think it’s just natural to focus towards the game(s) you are making best progress in when it comes to the business end of the season. I do always try to keep my interest in all games though as much as possible.
Do you play, or have you considered playing any of the weekly games that have now been established – like Mondogoal or PlayOn?
I’m not a massive fan of weekly games personally, although I have played PlayOn several times. I finished fifth in the first Gameweek of this season, which won me £600.
Getting back to Sky Sports, how did you manage your transfer strategy throughout the season? Did you make a conscious effort to reserve trades for the run-in?
I always try to and hold a healthy transfer count until the later part of the season, but that should never be at the expense of missing an earlier transfer opportunity. You just have to play the season as it unfolds, and hope that fortune is on your side and you are not using all your transfers on injured players all the time.
In the FFScout articles towards the end of the season you published data about how many transfers were left in teams in Top 10, Top 100 etc. My transfer count was always above the average so that gave me confidence in the run-in to carry on with my strategy.
What was your best decision you made over the course of the season? Was there any decisions that you lived to regret?
I like to think I saved my best until last, as it was the one that finally won it for me. I was only two points in front going into the penultimate weekend with my final two transfers. I was going to use my free captain change on Saturday May 16 and whoever got it would then be transferred out on the Sunday for Aguero (captain).
I had two options. The first was to captain Kane at home to Hull on the Saturday, then switch him and Eriksen out for Aguero and Ki Sung-Yeung the following day. The other alternative was to captain Romelu Lukaku away to West Ham, then swap him out – along with Eriksen – for Aguero and Sigurdsson on Sunday.
I went with Lukaku (goal/assist), which then meant I had Siggy (goal) and Ki was injured. Then, to complete the good fortune, it meant I had Kane away at Everton on the last day – he managed to score, whilst Lukaku blanked.
Like everyone I also had my share of decisions that didn’t work out. One, in particular, I remember was on a Monday night match back in January. My transfer count was healthy, so I thought I would take a punt on bringing a player to be captain that Monday/following Saturday. The transfer was Kevin Mirallas on the night he decided to wrestle penalty duties from Leighton Baines, so his penalty miss meant he ended with a grand total of -1 doubled to -2 as captain!
Do you find the fact that lineups are hidden a benefit when at the top or a hindrance to your strategy?
I enjoy the challenge of trying to work out others teams when they are hidden, which might not be for everyone which has to be a benefit.
Katie Burgin was runner-up in the Scout League and pushing you close at the end – were you aware that her team wasn’t hidden? Did this influence your strategy?
It certainly didn’t go unnoticed by me, but there were so many teams up there with a chance in the end that my strategy wasn’t just aimed at one team.
When we spoke to Kevin Anderson – who finished ninth overall– he mentioned that he was able to track the likely lineups of his competitors. Were you doing the same?
“Reverse Engineering” is a key factor to success in any games where you can’t see others teams. It does take up a lot of time and effort to do this, but for those managers who do it well usually reap the benefit. However with there being so many transfers available in the Sky Sports game, just when you think you have someone’s team all worked out, they make a transfer which gets you scrambling to work it all out again.
How did you go about managing the captaincy over the season? Did you run a system that helped you ensure that you always used the captaincy and transfers efficiently?
I generally went with the captain tactic of switching on a Sunday to someone playing on the following Saturday which produced consistent results. Also key is making the most of the blank Gameweeks where you can get the free captain change.
Do you think you can achieve good results in the Sky Sports game without such planning?
In my opinion, you cannot win any Fantasy Football game without putting in the planning. In the Sky Sports game in particular, there are so many points to be gained through a well thought out transfer and captaincy plan.
Is there an essential strategy you use when playing the Sky Sports game that you’d recommend to new players?
First recommendation to new players is easy – make sure you read D1Sable’s excellent weekly previews on Fantasy Football Scout for a great insight into the game.
Are there any rules in the Sky Sports game that you’d tweak?
I think the Sky Sports rules and scoring are generally well thought out, with the tackling/passing bonuses meaning that some players you don’t consider in other games become good value. Perhaps a slight tweak to the defensive scoring to make investment in defenders a bit more worthwhile.
Do you have plans for the prize money? Perhaps a holiday to refresh yourself for another title tilt? What do your partner, family and friends think of your achievement?
Everyone is really proud of my achievement in Sky Sports this season, and if the wife hasn’t spent it all yet, then I’m still hoping for a nice family holiday in pre-season.
Finally, would you like to give a shout-out to any fellow Fantasy Football managers or members of the Fantasy Football community?
Just to my fellow Fantasy Football managers – enjoy the summer off and I look forward to resuming battle again next season.