Women’s Professional Soccer officially unveiled its WPS Fantasy Challenge Wednesday, adding an entirely new fan experience element to the league’s new media initiatives.
The game will place WPS in line with the rest of the major American sports, which all drive fan excitement and interest through similar fantasy games in which fans can act as pseudo-manager and win prizes for correctly predicting which players will do well on a week-to-week and season-long basis. Beyond bragging rights, such games also allow for increased fan interest.
“We want soccer fans and league followers to go out and play the role of WPS coach and GM this season,” WPS Head of New Media Karyn Lush said. “It’s a great way to follow the players, games and teams all season with a rooting interest no matter where you live.”
Participating fans can log onto http://fantasy.womensprosoccer.com and register their team for the WPS Fantasy Challenge. The WPS Fantasy Challenge is powered by STATS LLC, the world’s leading sports information provider, and the official statistician of WPS. There is a $10 million salary cap for each team of eleven players. Fans have a choice between 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 formations, allowing for increased freedom. Player salaries are fictitious and are based on 2009 performances and the expected performance of each player in 2010. The salaries will change each week and fans will be able to make weekly transfers to adjust their teams.
The points system will look very similar to that of Major League Soccer’s fantasy games of past, which were also powered by STATS LLC. Goals scored will have a higher value for more defensive players (10 points for a goal scored by a forward, 15 for a midfielder, 20 for a defender, and 25 if a miracle happens and a goalkeeper scores a goal). Wins and losses as well as disciplinary sanctions (yellow cards and red cards) affect team points, so fans have to be careful on all fronts. Here is the full list of rules.
The WPS Fantasy Challenge is part of a now fully-integrated system of user registration, comments and news rating system on www.womensprosoccer.com. The system is powered by Pluck.
Here are the top 10 rated players by WPS Fantasy Challenge as of Wednesday:
Hope Solo Goalkeeper STL $1,350,000
Marta Forward BAY $1,350,000
Abby Wambach Forward WSH $1,200,000
Amy LePeilbet Defender BOS $1,100,000
Karina LeBlanc Goalkeeper PHI $1,000,000
Lori Chalupny Midfielder STL $1,000,000
Sonia Bompastor Midfielder WSH $1,000,000
Shannon Boxx Midfielder STL $1,000,000
Anita Asante Defender NJ $750,000
Aya Miyama Midfielder STL $750,000
There are some big-time names on there, but as with any fantasy game, fans have to aware of things that do not show up on the stat sheet. Lori Chalupny and Anita Asante (in the top 10) will not even be ready for the beginning of the season due to injury, and while Karina LeBlanc is stellar in net, fans might want to see how the defense shapes up in front of her in Philadelphia before slapping down $1 million for her. Shannon Boxx, Sonia Bompastor and Marta all seem well worth the money. There are always value pick-ups as well, with one noticeable possibility being Washington forward Lisa De Vanna at $750,000 instead of her strike partner Abby Wambach, who would cost $1.2 million to add to a roster.
Looking for some serious bargains? Yael Averbuch and Lauren Cheney at $600,000 each sounds pretty good, and based on preseason form, Atlanta Beat midfielder McCall Zerboni could be a nice filler option at $475,000 if money gets tight. Fans should also be sure not to select players that are not active, as there are some players on the player list that were already cut by WPS teams, though that will probably be fixed soon. No fantasy team can have more than five players from any given WPS team.
Anyway, it is this kind of talk and banter that is surely why WPS wanted to get its fantasy game going. It spurs interest and gets fans involved on a deeper level than just showing up for a game here and there. It really makes them want to research players and teams and be involved in the league.
Expect regular WPS Fantasy Challenge updates and analysis from The Equalizer and be sure to join The Equalizer’s league when entering a team. In honor of being a top-flight league, it has been dubbed the EPL: Equalizer Premier League. I don’t have specifics yet, but whoever wins the league will get a pretty sweet TBA prize – perhaps tickets to the final or even autographed apparel. Plus, you get the opportunity to out-wit me, who surely will not be able to keep up with updating my roster every week (sad but true…we’ll see).
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