Saturday, 1 June 2013

FPL... The American Way! (Walt's Story)

So I’m a second year FPL enthusiast from the USA who is still learning the game.  Last year was an interesting intro to the FPL game, but coming from a few years of the ESPN version of the game (the first season I played I was given 30 transfers TOTAL to use whenever I wanted – no option to “buy” additional transfers when I ran out) I really had no idea what I was doing.  I ended up ranked 350,000 or thereabouts and actually felt pretty accomplished – that a guy from the other side of the world in a country where David Beckham once walked around virtually unnoticed – could finish the season within the top 15%.
This year was different.  About a third of the way through the season I started getting active on Twitter and recognized that there was a wealth of awesome people, all EPL/FPL addicts like me, who I could talk with and increase my enjoyment of both the “real” weekend games and the FPL game.  By “active”, I guess I should clarify.  For a good while I just read people’s tweets, amazed that I could create an entire Twitter world around the sport that I loved but that very few people around me wanted to talk or hear about.
After a few weeks of watching, I started seeking out people who played the FPL game and began tweeting.  I expected to be virtually ignored in a place full of fans so much more knowledgeable than myself, but got some responses, retweets, whatever.  @FPLHints was one of the first people to say hello and welcome me and I appreciate that to this day.  I never would have imagined that I’d be sitting here a few months later actually contributing to his blog.  The problem was, my addiction was about to go to another level.
I got more involved in discussions about FPL in general and the game took on new meaning.  I started learning about the importance of double game weeks, the questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to take a 4 point hit on an extra transfer or not, how to back up questionable starters with carefully selected subs in a specific order, how different opponents might affect a manager’s starting lineup and formation for the coming week; all subtle nuances that I was blind to the year before.
Along with my increased involvement and heightened interest came better scores.  I was able to capitalize on opportunities that I now recognized and amazingly moved into the top 100,000, hitting game week highs in the 80’s that I had never come close to before.  One week I even broke 90.  
The momentum carried forward to the point that I found myself hitting the top 50,000 and pinching myself along the way.  The banter and discussions I had with so many knowledgeable football fans only made it all better.  Before I knew it, I was talking FPL with not only people from the UK, but also people from Ireland, Australia, Canada, India, and many other countries, including some equally addicted fellow Americans.
For me, the season ended too early.  I overcame a deficit to win my mini-league over the final 2 gws of the season and finished the season with my highest ever ranking; 33,058.  I didn’t want the momentum to stop.  I still have so much to learn and so much to improve upon but that will have to wait until next season, when I once again face the uniquely American phenomenon of having to select my team on Friday night so as not to risk sleeping past the typical 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning game week deadline.
Yes, the life of an American FPL junkie comes with some obstacles, but none of them put a dent in our enthusiasm for the sport we love to follow and the game we love to play.
Until August…….