Now that the madness and euphoria surrounding Euro 2020 (which has been one of the best International tournaments in recent history with the Azurris being the deserved champions) and Fantasy Euro game for many have settled down. Just like that, it’s time to focus our attention on the game we all truly love and adore. Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game has gone live for the 2021/22 season.
Playing this game for over a decade (12th season precisely) I was pondering how much the preparation and information regarding the game has changed. Gone are the days where we played this game on touch& feel, just eye test and pure guts. As with the growth of the game’s overall players count, so has risen the plethora of expected stats surrounding it. It is no longer just fun laughs and banter it has become so much more than that. So much so that even the purists of the game had to evolve and embrace the world of expected stats, spreadsheets, in order to continue to excel in this beloved game of ours or sometimes just to stay on par with this crop of next-gen players who are so adept to it.
In saying that though it’s not all that doom and gloom. Understandably for somebody starting out or relatively new to this or even some old guards having opened a Twitter account to be a part of the “FPL Community” it can all get a bit overwhelming with wave and wave of data available regarding the game. Let me address to such and anybody looking for answers the essence of the game has not died down and at heart, it has remained the same. A lot of people struggle as to how to start a season and process all this information. Let’s do a bit of deep dive.
Firstly, what are xStats (Expected stats) in FPL?
To get down to the basics it’s important to briefly understand this and not be intimidated by it. xStats is something that gives a quantifiable value to what we are watching in a live match. What constitutes a good match by a team or a player for a one-off match or over a sustained period. xStats breaks it down to nuances and numbers. Be it goal, assist, cleansheet potentials all the way down to touches on the football, where the touch was made inside or outside the penalty box, and stuff like that. It is not something to be intimidated by rather in simple terms it’s a tool used by many to affirm what they have watched and something very critical for the ones who couldn’t watch a match. Contrary to popular belief most xStats are more descriptive than predictive. And no they don’t tell the entire story and it’s not a mandate to success.
Some of the popular xStats:
xG – Expected Goals
xnPG – Expected Non-Penalty Goals
xA – Expected assists
xGC – Expected Goals Conceded
Penalty box touches
to name a few, there are many many more.
Mindset going into a new season?
Some might have finished the previous season on a high and some on low. It is important not to carry over the baggage. Remember since ‘Project Restart’ happened in the 19/20 season crowds were not allowed into the stadium barring GW 37 & 38 last season. So there would be a lot of variance as to what will happen from last season itself to the extent it could be considered an anomaly.
Few pointers to start a new season:
Short of repeating the age-old cliché of it’s a marathon, not a sprint here are some things to keep in mind
1. Don’t try to win FPL in GW1. It’s a 38 gw long affair. Someone starting with a 2 mil+ rank can still win it by making sensible moves and Overall Rank No 1 after gw 1 can still finish in around the 2 million mark at the end of the season. Picking a differential player for the sake of picking one will more often than not backfire.
2. We are all building our teams until we use our first Wildcard chip. So look at a block of the first 4-6 gws and figure who you would want to captain in those gws. Get those players in your team and build your team around those players.
3. Unlike other fantasy games FPL rewards you points only for your playing 11. Bench players only come to the fore in case of an absence of your starting 11 players. So spend as little as possible on your bench players as throughout the game they will rarely come in use. You don’t even need a full playing bench go dirt cheap with 2 playing players at max.
4. Make your life easy by selecting the right price points in your team so that jumping onto an in-form player is easy. What is price point you ask? It is your allocation of funds amongst your starting 11 with players at different prices so that if a particular price point player is underperforming and a player on a similar price point player is on form you can easily make the switch using the 1 free transfer given every gw.
5. The word coverage gets thrown around a lot in our community. Select players in your team that make you happy. It is your team at the end of the day. So own up to your decisions whether it goes uphill or downhill.s
At the end of the day it’s a game have fun while playing it, don’t make it work.
Wishing you all a wonderful FPL season 2021-22. Let’s chase those green arrows.
Written by Somnath ( @ghosh_somnath)