We had the fantastic privilege of interviewing the reigning Fantasy Premier League champion, Tom Fenley. The interview is shown below. Enjoy!
Chief: So Tom, how does it feel to be the reigning champion of FPL?
Tom: It's still unbelievable, I can't get my head around how many people play it. I know they are not all active by the end but plenty take the game seriously so I'm very honoured to have triumphed.
It's strange not to be up near the top anymore, though it's a relief not to have the pressure that goes with that but still be the reigning champion!
Chief: Were you fortunate in picking a good captain on a regular basis?
Tom: Yes, as my unimaginative team name suggested, captaining Suarez for all those hauls was decisive. It's an integral part to the game so it's important to have a few captaincy options and a bit of luck when choosing who get's the armband. This season it will be much harder to get this right unless a standout candidate emerges, like Suarez last year.
Chief: Did you believe in having a "differential" for each position?
Tom: Not really, I avoided differentials as much as possible, it's about finding the best player to fit your squad, who is also going to be reasonably reliable. It's crucial to cover high ownership players, so unfortunately although it's exciting to have differentials, it's not very sensible when you're at the top to be taking risks.
Chief: To what extent did upcoming fixtures influence your team selection?
Tom: I always look at fixtures before bringing a player in. There is usually, after while, a small pool of established players who are on such good form that fixtures are less important. Otherwise if a player isn't on form, they need to have some convincing upcoming fixtures to be considered.
Chief: Were transfers primarily made on gut instinct or by statistical analysis?
Tom: It's a bit of both. I don't think it's an effective strategy just to rely on statistics, there are so many different ways to process and analyse them. However, if you use statistics to check the players that you have a gut feeling will do well, then stats can be a decisive indicator of whether your instinct was wide of the mark or not.
Chief: Did it often pay off to make more than one transfer per Gameweek?
Tom: Yes it did, I made 48 transfers so took quite a few points hit, especially early in the season where it can help with increasing team value as well. It also gives you more flexibility on who you can bring in if you use two transfers, enabling you to shift money around the squad more effectively. I was incredibly lucky and almost all the points hits I took paid off.
Chief: When did you use your wildcards and did they work out for you?
Tom: I used my free wildcard in GW30. I wanted to use it closer to a double game week but unfortunately had too many injuries and was worried I would fall away from the top if I held on to it. Similarly, I played the January one earlier than I had hoped as I had injuries. This does reflect why it's practical to retain it as long as possible though, to respond to difficult situations beyond your control.
Chief: How successful were you in the "Double Gameweeks"?
Tom: I did quite well, above average, but nothing spectacular. Double game-weeks can be quite deceiving and make you too narrow-minded and focussed on that one massive gameweek score. The weeks before and after are just as important. Plan a steady build up before with one eye on the double and the other on the gameweeks around it.
Chief: Did you have a "bogey" team or player that you tended to avoid?
Tom: I don't think I had a Newcastle or Aston Villa player all season, they are too unpredictable. I didn't own John Terry either.
Chief: Dare I say it, any regrets from last season?
Tom: There were plenty of decisions I made that were wrong. I'm pretty amazed about the amount of mistakes you can make and still win, I think it shows people shouldn't give up after a bad gameweek, it's a predictions game based on a relatively unpredictable sport so everything can change over a week or two.
Chief: Do you think FPL managers should factor in the new bonus points scoring criteria before making their Gameweek transfers?
Tom: It should be something in the back of your mind but I wouldn't consider it too much, especially at this point in the season when the distribution of the bonus points is still a little unclear. It's still not obvious if it favours centre-backs or full-backs for example and it may be that they've found a better balance. Essentially bonus points are given when someone has played well, these are the players you should be aiming to have anyway. It should be a factor but this early not a decisive one, look to players form and upcoming fixtures first.
Chief: What are your FPL aims for the upcoming season?
Tom: No aims really, Matt Martyniak did so well last season defending his title, top 1000 I think. That's incredible form! I would be very happy with a top 10,000 finish, though will probably end up nowhere.
Chief: Tom, thank you for your time today and all the best in defending your title!
On a final note, feel free to follow Tom on Twitter and congratulate him accordingly!