CAN MINI-LEAGUE RIVALRIES HAVE AN ADVERSE IMPACT ON YOUR OR?
For those of you who don’t know me, this is my 18th season playing FPL. Over the years, I have experimented with different playing styles. I’ve had seasons where I have been aggressive (taking lots of points hits, taking punts and high ownership of differentials), I’ve had seasons where I have played it safe (being patient, playing to pre-set rules, avoiding hits and making sensible transfers).
What I have learned is that adapting to the nuances of a season and being prepared to change your approach is one of the most important aspects to master. It has therefore been a frustration of mine that, in recent years – as I have settled more into my own playing style – I have suffered some of the worst overall ranks of my playing career.
This is something I have given a lot of thought to and, just recently, an idea hit me: Is this somehow linked to mini-league rivalries?
For those who haven’t read my book, I have “enjoyed” a rather fierce rivalry with my ‘FPL Nemesis’, Dan O’Reilly, for seven seasons. Prior to this rivalry, my focus was always on getting the best Overall Rank I could. Before this, and at the very start of my FPL career, all I cared about was winning Hogs of War – the very first mini-league I joined.
With this in mind, I delved into my season history and had a prod around to see if anything interesting came out of it.
|1||2004/05||?||Old email – no data|
|2||2005/06||?||Old email – no data|
|3||2006/07||200,373||Trying to win Hogs of War|
|4||2007/08||522,204||Trying to win Hogs of War|
|10||2013/14||33,622||Met Dan (mid-season)|
|11||2014/15||327,070||1st season against Dan – played for money|
|16||2019/20||426,984||Last season playing for money|
My first season was in 2004. I joined the season late (because I had only just been introduced to the game). I signed up with an email which I don’t have access to anymore so, for the first two seasons, I can’t find out how I did – but we can assume it was nothing special.
We, therefore, have no choice but to look at 15 seasons of data. For the first two (recorded) seasons, my main priority was to win the Hogs of War mini-league, which I eventually did (despite a poor overall finish) in 2007/08. In 2008, I focused on doing the best I could overall and this remained my priority for many years.
In 2013/14, I met Dan O’Reilly – who was to become my FPL Nemesis. When we met, the season was already in progress and so we started our own mini-league the season after, with our mutual friend Mark. We put £10 each into a pot and the winner took it all. Dan won that season. Dan and I have a harsh, competitive and banter-driven friendship, so I became determined to beat him; my focus shifted from Overall Rank to a singular rivalry. He continued to beat me for years.
In 2019/20, I had a very frustrating season and announced to Mark and Dan that I would no longer be playing for money and went back to focusing on Overall Rank. The season after, I earned my second-best finish of 23k. And yes, I wiped the floor with Dan in the process.
There’s the story. Now let me take you through some of the data I analysed from my FPL history:
- My average OR (over the 15 recorded seasons) is 224k
- My average OR when competing (for money) with Dan is 275k
- My average OR when not competing (for money) against Dan is 168k
As you can see, when competing with Dan for money, my average rank suffered. The seasons in which I was not competing with Dan for money are generally better, except for my opening seasons when I was trying to win Hogs of War.
So, let’s look at that. During the two (recorded) years in which my only priority was winning the Hogs of War mini-league, my average rank was 361k.
What we can now do is expand this data to see what my average rank was when taking part and when not taking part in mini-league rivalry.
- My average OR when engaged in mini-league rivalry is 297k
- My average OR when not engaged in mini-league rivalry is 140k
When so much depends on luck, it is very difficult to draw solid conclusions from analysis like this and it is worth pointing out a few things (some of which could be factors that skew the results):
- The low ORs in my first seasons could be attributed to getting to grips with the game, rather than being embroiled in rivalry.
- My best and worst ORs were both recorded whilst not in rivalry.
- In 2015/16, I had a decent finish, despite being in rivalry.
- There were fewer managers in the earlier years of FPL, so the ORs need to be viewed against the backdrop of less competition.
That being said, my gut tells me that being locked in mini-league rivalry has affected my own overall performance and this feeling seems to be corroborated by the analysis of my season history.
From a logical point of view, it makes sense. If you are battling with a singular person (or a select few people) then it is totally possible to have your transfer and captaincy decisions governed by their moves. You are likely to make decisions that specifically counter your opponent. These moves may be effective but, in the grander scheme of Overall Rank, could actually be sub-optimal.
When you are trying to improve your Overall Rank, you are competing globally, focusing specifically on the thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of players who are in and around your rank tier. You are more likely to make moves for ‘the greater good’.
Mini-league rivalries are great fun and I am not suggesting you don’t take part in them (and I am certainly not going to stop), but I will certainly keep on playing with Overall Rank as my main priority and, if this means losing to a rival but ending with a better overall finish, then so be it.
Please feel free to share your own thoughts and personal experiences with me below in the comments – I’d love to hear them.