After seven years playing Sky Sports Fantasy Football, Alan Wood finally achieved top honours by clinching the 2015/16 crown and earning himself a cool £20,000. In the first of our post-season interviews, we discuss Alan’s remarkable campaign, which saw him emerge victorious with more than a 100-point gap on his nearest rival.
Congratulations on your win. How close have you come to winning before and what will you be spending your prize money on?
Thank you. Your website and the Scoutcast over the past season have been an invaluable source of information and advice, which has helped me win. I have been playing Sky Fantasy Football since the 2009/2010 season, normally finishing in the top 10,000 and have previously only won the Barrow Police mini-league, winning a small cash amount. I usually only play Sky Fantasy Football as a competition between myself and one other friend with a small £20 wager on it each year. It got a little bit more serious this year for me, though.
The prize money will go towards home renovations, a holiday next year and a rather expensive pair of football boots for my son, as I told him back in January “you can have those boots the day I win the Fantasy Football”. He never forgot.
All my family and friends have been excited for me each week, asking for updates and who I’m captaining the closer it got to the end of the season.
You ended up winning by a huge margin of more than 100 points and had been in the lead for some time. At what point did you realise that you would win it and did you think some others could catch up over the two double Gameweek fixtures?
I started to believe I could win by the end of February after Gameweek 30. My lead was over 110 points from second place Mark Wooster – his team was open to view and I could see we had similar players. Also other teams in the top 100 that were available to view had the same nucleus of players. I did, however, run out of transfers very early and was unable to change Jack Butland, when injured, and Dele Alli, when suspended. I had planned with my last transfer to swap out Harry Kane for Alexis Sanchez, who had favourable fixtures towards the end, but I opted to bring in Roberto Firmino for the suspended Jamie Vardy as I didn’t have enough money for the trade to Sanchez.
Towards the end of the season I knew that second placed Daniel Andrews had Sanchez and this was a worry for me, as a big score and captain points could have made a difference, so I was quite relieved to see him blank in three of the last four fixtures.
Regarding the double Gameweek fixtures, I wasn’t too concerned by them as I didn’t believe people towards the top had a massive amount of transfers left and if they did there was more chance of them taking out high scoring players for those who may only get a big one Gameweek haul. There was also a danger they would be stuck with that player or use another transfer to bring regulars back in.
What were your key strategies this year?
I don’t particularly spend a lot of money at the back but as this season progressed it became apparent that there was more scope for better quality defenders. The cost of Dimitri Payet, Alli, and Riyad Mahrez was so cheap for such high-scoring midfielders that this released more cash in other areas. I used this extra available budget to bring in Chris Smalling and Eric Dier, who both did well.
I normally try to use transfers for captaincy changes, gaining those extra points proved to be vital in my season. An obvious tactic I followed was also to make sure your last captain of a Gameweek plays on the first day of the next Gameweek, maximizing your captains for any given week. Other than that I tried to bring in the differential players who were in-form and took a risk putting the armband on them. This paid off in a big way.
Who were your star players, biggest flops and what were your best decisions?
Despite being injured for the last part of the season, Jack Butland proved a real star and a consistent source of points. Smalling and Dier also brought me lots of clean sheet points. In midfield I looked for value in Mahrez, Alli, Payet, Yannick Bolasie, Marko Arnautovic and Ross Barkley. I also trusted them with the armband and they didn’t disappoint. Among strikers, Sergio Aguero, Jamie Vardy and Kane were my main stars.
The flops include Adrian, who was sent off in Gameweek 2, as did Daryl Janmaat. Ibrahim Afellay for Stoke and Jefferson Montero at Swansea proved poor buys, I expected far more from them. Sanchez, who is listed as a striker in the game, also proved a poor early investment. I drafted him back in to my side after his long injury, but he did little and I transferred him out within four weeks.
There were four captaincy decisions that stick in my mind, and targeting those facing Newcastle proving pivotal.
In Gameweek 8 Romelu Lukaku brought me 40 points with a brace. I then subbed him out in Gameweek 9 for Aguero who brought in a massive armband haul of 64 points as he scored heavily against the Magpies.
Barkley’s heroics for England ahead of the Gameweek 16 deadline prompted me to draft him in and captain him. He duly delivered with a 30-point haul.
Another was my Gameweek 17 captaincy of Bolasie, who earned 34 points against a weak Newcastle side. Then in Gameweek 23 I took a risk bringing in and captaining Wayne Rooney, another to face Newcastle. He also delivered, with a 40-point armband haul.
What do you think of the game’s specific rules around limited transfer and in game changes? Do you play other Fantasy games and how does Sky compare for you?
Over the years the limited transfer has changed from 30 with a restriction to five a month, to as it is now 40 at any time. I think if you gave 50 or 60 transfers, people would still run out. I think it is about right as it is now. Mid-Gameweek changes is a good option as you always have a second chance if things don’t go your way on the first day of the Gameweek.
I do play Fantasy NFL which is completely different and involves picking a new team every week. I don’t think this would work in Sky Fantasy Football because every week everyone would pick players playing off-form teams such as Newcastle or Aston Villa.
On the whole I am happy with the scoring. There could be a couple of tweaks here and there such as defenders and goalkeepers getting clean sheet points per half, plus extra for a clean sheet over the whole match. Midfielders should get more clean sheet points as well.
I’d also like to see captaincy changes in each Gameweek increase to two. This is particularly important as next season sees the advent of Friday night fixtures.