Private Leagues: Yes
*Includes both “Free” and “Paid” options
*It’s powered by Fantasy League
*So it’s got a simple scoring system
*You can set up private leagues
*No multiple-entrant managers
*Prize money is average compared to You The Manager and The Sun Dream Team
*You can only register one team
The Mail online expanded their remit for the 2007/08 season by offering both a Free game and a “Paid” game offering double the prize money for £10 a team. Both however, are based on the Fantasy League rules and scoring system so both are nice and easy to understand.
There are key differences between the games. In the Paid game, you to pick a squad of 16 for a budget of £75 million. You can then make 25 transfers throughout the season, but no more than 5 a month. Each week your selected 11 must fit within one of several formations – 4-4-2, 5-3-2, 5-4-1 or 4-5-1.
In the Free game you select an 11 from the player pool using the £55 million you’re given. You must also choose a formation for your initial lineup from 4-4-2 or 5-3-2. Once the season is underway you can make up to 45 transfers. These are distributed over 3 phases over the season and you are limited to 15 transfers per phase but no more than 3 per week.
The scoring system for both games is based on the Fantasy League so it’s clean and simple. It’s 3 points for a goal, 2 for an assist. Keepers and Defenders meanwhile get 1 point for appearing if they play at least 75 minutes and 2 points for a clean sheet if they keep one.
The Daily Mail game is powered by the Fantasy League. In other words it uses the Fantasy League scoring system and player list with a few home rules thrown in for transfers. As a result this game is simple and reliable. Best of all though, it’s free. However, for 2007/08 the Mail also launched a Paid game offering double the prize money. This latter game is based on the Fantasy League’s Classic game and is identical in rules, competitions, scoring and prize money. Similarly it offers three distinct packages for £10, £15 and £20 with the more expensive Silver and Gold packages offering an additional competition and enhanced statistics and reports.
The Mail’s free game is actually a very decent proposition if you’re looking to setup a league with your mates, bizarrely it’s actually a better option than the Fantasy League€™s own games if you want to keep it simple. In a league situation you have the benefits of simple rules and scoring and with 45 transfers over the season, limited to 15 per 3-month phase, it’s not overly demanding. When it comes to solo play you have those benefits, plus the £50,000 (£25,000 to the winner) prize money on the table. Also, the game is now split into 3-month phases with £5000 in prize money awarded to the winner of each phase. This Free game is fine for the solo player but it can’t offer the wealth of competitions that the Paid game offers.
This game is identical to the Fantasy League’s Classic game, handing you the option to create Private Leagues with mates (provided they all cough up the £10) as well a series of Solo competitions. Firstly all registered teams are placed into a Premier League of 20 teams that registered around the same time and this effectively becomes a mini-league that solo players compete in. Your placing in this Premier League in November then determines your qualification for a series of extra tournaments labeled Champions League, UEFA Cup, Intertoto Cup, Safety-Zone or Relegation. These provide even further tournaments for the solo player to compete in. There are prizes for each tournament and medals for the top placed sides in each Premier League.
On top of this, the Mail also benefits from the Fantasy League’s new “Raise The Bar” mini league. Raise the Bar begins in February for all registered teams. Effectively this involves a weekly points target being set with teams eliminated if they fail to reach the set tally. The remaining team/manager with the highest points tally in that tournament walks away with a grand. Finally teams are all entered into the FA Cup competition, plus of course you’re competing for the £10,000 for the overall season winner.
Unlike other games out there, in both the Free and Paid games, you are limited to just one registration so, if you’re looking to compete for the prize money, this does put pressure on getting that initial team selection right. There are benefits to this limitation on registrations however, namely that multiple-entrant managers are kept away. This means you won’t be up against managers with dozens or even hundreds of teams who can benefit from trying out permutations in their lineups in order to get an advantage.
When you consider that the Mail are offering this simple and elegant game for free, are letting you set up your own leagues and are putting £50,000 in the pot, it’s actually very difficult to find a reason not to take them up on their offer. The Paid game meanwhile is identical to the Fantasy League Classic game so it’s puzzling as to why you’d set this up at the Mail Online rather than the Fantasy League themselves.