An Interview With Mondogoal’s 30K Championship Winner – Daily Fantasy Football

Back in gameweek 23, our partners Mondogoal announced they were hosting a £30,000 Championship – the BIGGEST daily fantasy football tournament available to U.K residents so far.

To compete in this tournament, fantasy football managers needed to win themselves a ticket by finishing top of a weekly qualifier tournament ranging from £1 to £50 per entry. The more tickets a manager won, the more teams they could enter come the final gameweek.

Fast forward some five months and we’re now sat here with Alex Haywood – or @HaystackedDFS, as he’s known online – the winner of Mondogoal’s £30,000 Championship and the biggest U.K daily fantasy football winner to date, taking home £10,000 for his first place finish.

fplbet - Daily Fantasy Football - Mondogoal 30k Championship Interview Final Standings

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WINNING MONDOGOAL’S 30K CHAMPIONSHIP…

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fplbet:
Congratulations on your incredible achievement, Alex. We cannot imagine what it must have felt like to win ten thousand pounds using your daily fantasy football skills. Has it all sunk in yet?

Alex:
Not quite, I’m still pinching myself. I didn’t even realise it was possible to win that much playing daily fantasy football on a UK-based site!

fplbet:
Tell us more about how you gained entry to the Championship. Did it take much effort?

Alex:
Actually no, I entered a £1 Everybody Wins contest a few months ago, which meant everybody who entered won at least their money back – so effectively a risk-free entry!

I went on to win that and it was the one and only £30k qualifier I entered, because I figured it would be more of an achievement to win the £10k with only one entry.

fplbet:
You must have been aware that other managers had multiple entries, how did your single entry affect you when selecting your team?

Alex:
I actually approached the 30k Championship differently to how I do normal contests. I wanted to go all or nothing as the prizes were very top-heavy and this meant little diversification in my team.

I concentrated the team with Arsenal attackers supplemented with cheap Newcastle defence, and figured if Newcastle kept a clean sheet and I got a few goalscorers I’d be near the top.

In actual fact, I think every one of my midfielders and attackers scored or assisted, and the Walcott hat-trick made it even more decisive. So, I guess having only one entry focused my strategy.

fplbet:
Loading up on one team’s defence is becoming an increasingly popular strategy in Daily Fantasy Football, would you normally avoid trebling up on one teams defence?

Alex:
It totally depends on the entry size, prize pool structure and how many regulars are playing in the contest. The larger the field and the less entries I have the less diversified I am, especially when the prize pool is top heavy.

But saying that, there are a lot of contests that are fairly flat on Mondogoal so I tend to have a maximum of two defenders from one team, but my focus is always on the attackers.

fplbet:
You mention your focus is always in attack, how do you determine an attacker is worth a pick?

Alex:
I always start off with the odds of each game and anchor my thinking around that with adjustments made depending on price and form. I’m very statistics based and usually avoid my instincts, but again it depends on the contest-type.

fplbet:
Is there any specific odds you usually refer too?

Alex:
There’s a bit of modeling around the odds I use (and I’d prefer to keep the specifics to myself), but it’s not the match odds… that would be too easy!

fplbet:
Do you pay attention to the additional ways of scoring points on Mondogoal?

Alex:
Yes, most definitely. I always play the particular contest according to the individual game rules and scoring system. That’s essential in my thinking and modeling.

fplbet:
How did you go about reaching your final line up? Did you build a draft and tinker all week, or did you just lay it down once the team news came out?

Alex:
I would usually do a lot more lineup analysis during the week for weekend games because there’s usually only one early game. But, as the 30k Championship was on the final day of the season – when all matches are played at once – I figured it didn’t make much sense to spend too much time on lineup analysis.

I had played around with various lineups but always concentrated on the Arsenal attack and Newcastle defence. Theo Walcott was a last minute change when I saw he was starting up front and fortunately he fitted in well price-wise.

fplbet:
VERY fortunate that he fitted in price-wise! Tell us how the Sunday panned out for you? From what we understand you owe a certain Sergio Agüero a thank-you!

Alex:
Someone else said that to me as well, but I think even if he hadn’t scored I still would have won as I took the contest by 12 points! It was actually the Newcastle defence that pushed me over the line – so I’ll be thanking Paul Dummett instead!

The Sunday was very tense, especially the 2nd half as I was floating around the top five. I was flicking between Gillette Soccer Saturday and the Newcastle match as I knew the Newcastle clean sheet meant a lot. I was more nervous than a Newcastle fan that day!

fplbet:
I bet. Paul Dummet then; the unlikely hero!

Alex:
Exactly!

fplbet:
Then for the question on everybody’s lips – Do you have any plans for the £10,000?

Alex:
A small part will go back in the Daily Fantasy Football (and poker) bankroll especially for playing on Mondogoal, but the majority will be going towards real-life stuff(not as fun an answer as you were expecting, I bet!).

I’ll no doubt continue to grind the guaranteed prize pools and cash games throughout the summer on Mondogoal!

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DAILY FANTASY FOOTBALL…

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fplbet:
So what is your fantasy football background?

Alex:
Well my fantasy football background up until the end of last year had been mainly focused around Fantasy Premier League like most people, which I have been playing for around 8 years. Over those years it hadn’t really changed a great deal, and I found many of my friends were losing interest a few months into a season.

I also play a lot of poker and in part due to Black Friday in the U.S, Daily Fantasy Sports has become massively popular over there with a lot of poker players (and season-long fantasy players) transitioning to Daily Fantasy Sports.

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I started playing Daily Fantasy Football on Mondogoal and it seemed like a perfect combination of the gamble of poker with the stats of Fantasy Premier League and the love of football. I try to play as much as I can on other sites too and I’ve gradually built up my bankroll from the freerolls.

fplbet:
How do you approach the daily game differently to Fantasy Premier League?

Alex:
My analysis is completely different, with Daily Fantasy Football it’s centered around short-term predictions, odds and predicted lineups. With Fantasy Premier League it’s about thinking 3-4 weeks ahead with players that are certainties to start and never missing a gameweek transfer throughout the season – it’s a long, hard slog!

With Daily Fantasy Football you can also make a few gambles on players that you otherwise wouldn’t dream of getting in your team in Fantasy Premier League, which makes it a lot more fun!

fplbet:
In addition to what you said above – What would you say to a season-long player to try and get them to give Daily Fantasy Football a chance?

Alex:
The main thing is the prizes and cash available, every contest you enter has a prize pool so if a season-long player wants to make his analysis pay, Daily Fantasy Football is the way forward!

Also, every day means a new contest. If you’re already down a lot of points in Fantasy Premier League after the first few months you have to wait until next season to be interested again. With Daily Fantasy Football, the max you usually have to wait is a day.

Both of those points are the key reasons why online poker is so popular, and that’s what’s making Daily Fantasy Sports so popular in the U.S. To a certain extent, Fantasy Premier League is outdated!

fplbet:
We 100% agree. As a number of websites describe it, it’s an FPL season in a day! You mentioned earlier that you usually spend the week studying lineups and checking odds. What does your Daily Fantasy Football week look like; does anything else contribute to your routine?

Alex:
When I’m not at work, I’m always reading articles and reports and especially certain insiders on Twitter for injury news etc. I also spend a lot of time looking at the various contests available on the Daily Fantasy Football sites to see which I’m interested in and which I should spend more time preparing for.

fplbet: 
Obviously it varies from week-to-week, but on average how many teams do you enter each week?

Alex:
I don’t enter anywhere near as many teams as some of the regulars, as I’m mainly a one-entry guy – I think there’s a greater sense of achievement in winning without having every player in the league (although I still think that multi-entries are essential for the fast growth of Daily Fantasy Football).

Roughly, I’d say about 20-30 teams a week.

fplbet: 
Let’s talk a little more about the growth of Daily Fantasy Football, you mention multi-entries, what other factors do you view as essential to the growth of U.K Daily Fantasy Football?

Alex:
In the UK specifically, it will largely depend on players transitioning from Fantasy Premier League, if the Daily Fantasy Football sites can attract a % of the millions playing that then it should really take off.

It will require big guaranteed prize pools and a lot of advertising! Those two factors will drive the transition, then the player pools will become increasingly larger, increasing the guaranteed prize pools even further and attracting more players. It’s a compounding machine!

It does just depend on whether U.K Fantasy Premier League players start seeing Daily Fantasy Football as a viable alternative.

fplbet:
What do you think is stopping the Fantasy Premier League community making the move to Daily Fantasy Football

Alex:
The fact that Fantasy Premier League is such a solid, enjoyable (yet outdated) game. Also a lot of people aren’t interested in spending more time than a transfer a week on fantasy football.

But there a lot of people that want more than that and that’s why the Daily Fantasy Football sites need to keep pushing the freerolls and prizes on offer.

fplbet:
Looking more at the websites specifically, what do you think they can improve?

Alex:
Mondogoal is doing a lot right at the moment; their variety of contests and games available is second to none. In fact, some sites could do a lot worse than follow their lead.

Multiple websites need to improve their functionality and site design too. Saying that, I think a lot of websites are trying to encourage feedback from the community and working alongside us to improve their offerings.

fplbet:
As well as Mondogoal, what are your other favourite Daily Fantasy Football websites?

Alex:
I play a bit on Football Fanager, Woofbet and Draft11 amongst others, but I’d say 80% of my teams in any one week are on Mondogoal.

It will be interesting to see what happens when DraftKings and FanDuel move into the U.K space…

fplbet:
Finally, what are you daily fantasy football plans for over the summer? Do you intend to try your luck on the Women’s World Cup, MLS, Tippeligaen?

Alex:
Yes, most definitely, I’ve really got into MLS this year mainly due to Daily Fantasy Football and the Women’s World Cup will be an interesting gamble over the Summer. After doing some research on the first day’s matches I know more about the New Zealand Women’s Team than I ever have done about the England Women’s team!

fplbet:
The joys of Daily Fantasy Football, hey! We’ve been dipping in to the Tippeligaen tournaments and will be covering MLS in the coming weeks!

Thanks for taking your time to chat, and we will no doubt be hearing more from you on fplbet.com soon!

Alex:
Not a problem at all, guys!

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Follow Alex’s Women’s World Cup adventure and future daily fantasy football escapades here: @HaystackedDFS

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