A Review of the Season

I found out about a new fantasy football game on the final day of the Championship season in 2019/20. I noticed a Twitter account on my old account’s timeline had cropped up that was promoting a game they were starting based on the Championship. I knew it had potential as the only existing game to cover the Championship, a league that can be very entertaining keeping up with. I quickly followed the account and kept a keen eye on updates ready for the following season. Instead of feeling down about the season ending, I was excited about having a new fantasy game to focus on.

Two months later and the season was well underway. I was hooked in the short pre-season, drafting teams with the help of Champ Express’ useful pre-season podcasts and googling the proverbial out of new signings and those rumoured to be leaving the league. I decided to start up a new personal Twitter account dedicated to the game of Gaffr. I followed Championship scores anyway over the previous two seasons as a Stoke fan and have played FPL for half my life. Gaffr came at a time when I was starting to lose interest in FPL due to 1. the same old mundanity of the game, 2. the difficulty of competing against the sheer number of engaged managers and 3. what can be a toxic Twitter community surrounding it, so I was glad to be able to join a community of like-minded fantasy football and Championship enthusiasts playing a brand new game.

I met some genuinely nice and knowledgeable people through joining the growing Gaffr Twitter community. The creators of this website, Thomas and Darren were on board with Gaffr and I liked that they did a Gaffr segment as part of their weekly Man On podcasts alongside FPL, Sky FF and Champ Man, the other fantasy games I play. Thomas started up a Gaffr group chat, which I joined and interacted in during many Saturday afternoons, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings throughout the season. I have become long-distance friends with many of these Gaffr managers from around the world through sharing injury news, goal updates and generally talking about our fantasy and real life teams. You all know who you are so I don’t need to list all the accounts.

But anyway, enough about me…

The Championship season is known as being a hectic schedule with two sets of fixtures most weeks. This season was more extreme due to being condensed due to a late start due to lockdown, which brought the previous season back to the summer months. I congratulate anyone that was able to keep up with the schedule and change their teams before every deadline, not to mention the fixture changes due to postponements for coronavirus outbreaks and bad weather over the season. This season saw many, many double gameweeks and even a triple gameweek for Rotherham (or ‘Rotherdamned’), the unluckiest team in the history of football, as a result.

In other formats engaged managers would usually rub their hands together at the chance to get ahead by planning in advance to maximise the fixture gains, but there were so many doubles that the novelty and excitement wore off and for a while around January during a very ‘Stoke-esque’ winter and due to Rotherham’s bizarre second coronavirus outbreak later on, the game became about how to get as many double gameweek players in as possible and form and stats became less relevant. Hopefully next season this won’t be the case.

There was still a lot of variation between teams due to the amount of DGW players and managers needed to plan around their boost usage. Without the extra boosts/chips to FPL, the lack of variation probably would’ve made the leaderboard much more stagnant.

The good picks became very obvious at different stages of the season. I can split the season up into parts based on who were the stand-out form players from each outfield position. Part 1 was about Adam Armstrong, Arnaut Danjuma and Jake Bidwell, part 2 was about Ivan Toney, Emi Buendia and Connor Roberts, part 3 was about Ivan Toney, Emi Buendia and Connor Roberts and part 4 was about Teemu Pukki, Arnaut Danjuma and Scott Malone. Other key players peaked and troughed due to injuries and form but the most consistent and ‘explosive’ performers in terms of attacking returns were Toney, Armstrong, Pukki and Buendia, as shown by FFStuff’s bar chart for player goals and assists (below).

Aside from owning the right players, there were many key decisions in that defined your overall rank. Did you play Goalfest during Ivan Toney’s fabled DGW27 in which he scored a 30 pointer (60 point captain)? Did you captain/vice captain Teemu Pukki for his GW40 hattrick (42 point captain) or Emi Buendia’s 20pts in Norwich’s 7-0 win over Huddersfield? Did you captain Adam Armstrong when he hit a hattrick in GW34 or in the last GW? There were many, many more…

Someone who owned the right players at the right time and made the most of these calls successfully was Rune (@RBRisanger), who stormed to victory in the end as worthy overall rank 1. Joel (@joels188) (OR 2) led for most of the season and myself and others in the group chats we were in were all routing for him but Rune’s management was merciless and brilliant. To be this good requires studying form, fixtures and, with the importance of underlying data in Performance Bonus (below), stats, over pure lady luck. Not The Top 20 podcaster and statistician Ali Maxwell jostling for 1st place half way through the season proves my point.

A Short Review of My Season

I finished the season in OR 44. My consistency of 60+ scores played a part in my top 50 finish, but were not enough alone. With boosts on top I averaged 76 points per GW. I knew pre-season that the 9 boosts on offer would be important along with averaging above 4 pts per player (60 pts including captaincy points) and I was fairly happy with how I played my 9 boosts, but they could have been played better, whether through luck or judgement.

Playing Park The Bus in the Ivan Toney DGW27, then playing Goalfest the next time Toney had a double in GW44, only for the record-breaking top scorer to blank and receive a yellow card I will put down to bad luck. However, I won’t beat myself up over any chance occurrence, because as I learned over the season, Gaffr is A) based on the Championship and B) a fantasy football game, and so absolutely anything can happen over the 46 GWs. The thing I do regret is benching Armstrong’s brace in GW12 against Luton because Tony Mowbray was reported to have said he was an ‘injury doubt’. Armstrong’s final day hattrick as captain tasted much sweeter having been through that. I also forgot to activate my Goalfest when I had planned to in GW40 when Pukki scored a hattrick and my squad scored 7 goals combined (+35pts) due to work getting in the way. Next season I vow to not let this happen again and maybe I will have a chance of reaching the top 10 and beyond. I’m sure I will have more fun and meet more new friends in the Gaffr Twitter community.

Caption: Every player I owned and captained

Here’s to Gaffr as the game continues to grow and improve and cheers to Frank (ffstuff.co.uk) for the graphs.

Thanks for reading.

by Kyle, @StokeGaffr

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