Our Mini-league Winner | Interview with Jordan Pearce

Meet 2017 / 2018’s Fplbet Mini League Winner – Jordan Pearce!

Jordan’s team “Mt Eden Munters” finished 1,228th overall and as his first prize took home a shiny new Apple Watch.

This years prize is a Sonos Play1 Smart Speaker – join the league.

A fantastic achievement when you consider last years game drew just under six million managers.

Here’s his fplbet mini league winning side:

We quizzed Jordan to find out the secret to his success.

1.  Please tell us a little about yourself, where you live, what you do for a day job and so on? A little bio would be great…

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and I’m an architect. Prior to finishing my tertiary education I played poker for a long time. I find a lot of the game theory I picked up from playing poker is applicable to FPL so that has really informed my approach to the game.

2.  What premier league team do you follow – obviously, you’re from New Zealand but when did you start watching premier league?  What made you support the team that you do?

I’ve always had an interest in the premier league and have followed on-and-off since high school. It wasn’t til the 14/15 season that I started playing FPL and following the league more seriously at which time I started supporting Man City. For me they are not only the most exciting team to watch, but also the most interesting team to follow in terms of transfers, structure etc. This season has certainly shown what they’re capable of.

3.  Can you tell us about your history with FPL, how long have you been playing?

I’ve been playing FPL for 4 years. My dad had been playing FPL for a while and he got my brother and I into it during the 14/15 season by setting up a mini-league. I could see then that the game had a lot of depth with a good balance of luck and skill. During my first season I had a lot more luck than skill and managed to win the mini-league. I guess you could say I’ve become progressively more obsessed with the strategy side of the game since then.

4. What was your strategy going into the season, how do you like to setup your teams from the off?

This season I set up my team with an early wildcard planned. I tried to pick nailed-on starters with good early fixtures with the intention of trying to gain as much information over the first few gameweeks and then wildcard GW4 in order to optimize my team – take out players with poor underlying stats and bring in strong performers. The intention was to increase my expected value/points as early as possible in order to maximise long-term expected results. I would say my early strategy wasn’t successful in terms of the outcome in the short-term (I slipped down the ranks a couple hundred thousand) but it’s important not to be results oriented and I think the fundamental strategy is sound.

I prefer to use my wildcard in a proactive manner such as this in order to get ahead of everyone else, as opposed to a reactive wildcard which some people use as a parachute when their team falls apart (by which point you’re probably well behind everyone else).

5.  What 3 players have been your go-to players across the season, guys you just couldn’t leave out?

Aside from Salah (obviously), my three go-to players this season were Alonso, Sterling, and Son. Alonso was the only player I had all season from GW1 to GW38, many people think he’s overpriced at 7.0 but I think he’s good value and he probably performed a little below expectation this season. He offers great points potential through attack and defence which you’d struggle to find in a 7.0mm player in any position. Sterling and Son both quickly emerged as great value picks with strong underlying stats, although Son, and Spurs in general dropped off a lot towards the end of the season.

6.  What players did you consider to be differentials, the guys who delivered for you when everyone else was looking the other way?

I recall having Coutinho during a very nice run before he left to Barcelona, his ownership percentage was pretty low at the time.

For me, it’s just as important to dodge players with high ownership who you’re not convinced by. I had Aguero when many others had Lukaku. Aguero is my favourite player to own, he’s so good, and so consistent. His injury record is not great but for me this just heightens his appeal, it means others are usually hesitant to include him so his ownership percentage is never too high. When he scores 5 goals in a game that’s a lot of fun.

7.  When did you play your triple captain – did it pay off?

I played it on Kane in double GW22. In my opinion Kane is one of very few players worthy of a triple captain however on this occasion it was a total flop. Apparently he was sick at the time, it was around Christmas time, I remember seeing a photo he tweeted of himself sitting under his Christmas tree and I thought “he doesn’t look too sick” haha. I thought it was worth the risk so I put the trip cap on him, turns out he was recovering from illness.

8.  What was your wildcard strategy?

The first wildcard I used as described above – to set up a strong team as early as possible. The second wildcard I used in GW33 to set up my team to take advantage of the double game weeks in GW34 and GW37. Teams such as Spurs, Leicester, and Chelsea had doubles in both GW34 and GW37 so my aim was to get a lot of them.

9.  Did bench boost work out for you?  What was your timing and thinking around playing it?

I wanted to use bench boost on a double GW, the natural choice was the week after I used my wildcard to reduce risk of having any injuries or non-starters on the bench so I played it GW34. It was pretty underwhelming. Bench boost can be frustrating because naturally you’re relying on your worst players, who are usually base price defenders and midfielders, to determine its success.

10.  Likewise, for the “free hit” chip?  How did it go?  Did you find it a useful chip to play?

I used the free hit chip GW35 when a lot of the players I’d wildcarded in had a blank gameweek. This was a pretty common strategy. The free hit was my favourite chip, it was fun picking a fresh team for one gameweek. It also resulted in my best gameweek rank of the season.

11.  How far forward do you look when picking your team? Any tips for managers on team selection and your process for picking your starting 11?

As mentioned earlier, when picking my starting 11 pre-season I focus on trying to get nailed on starters with good initial fixtures with the intention of wildcarding early when better picks emerge. From there I try to focus less on fixtures, more on players playing out of position or on players with good underlying stats. Weighting your transfers more towards fixtures will usually result in you having to make more transfers in the long run as fixtures turn, meaning more points hits. Fixtures are important but they should rarely be the primary reason for picking a player, unless we’re talking blank gameweeks or double gameweeks.

12.  What do you think was the key to your success over the full season?

I really try not to be results oriented, and I have a lot of patience. For example, if I transfer in a player and he doesn’t return any points for a few weeks that isn’t reason enough for me to get rid of him. If he’s still doing all the things that made him a good pick in the first place then I’ll hold onto him.

I try to focus on the fact that points are incidental to the reasons for picking a player, that’s not to say a player scoring a lot of points can’t be a very good indicator but I think it’s important to look beyond points. For example, Xhaka scored 10 points in GW1 and hundreds of thousands of people transferred him in, which was a mistake.

13. Can you tell us about the team you ended the season with over the last month?  What did you do well, what would you have changed?

Like many others, I had set up my team to maximise double gameweek players. With hindsight there’s a lot of things I would’ve done differently. Realistically, I wish I’d held onto Aubameyang til the end of the season instead of replacing him with Jesus, that was a close call which could’ve netted a lot of points. It also would’ve been nice to have Zaha.

14.  Is there anything you would change about the FPL game?  Anything you don’t like or would like to see improved?

I think the player price changes could potentially be improved slightly. The system seems to rely too heavily on the pre-season starting values. The game does a very good job at setting the prices but when a player is undervalued or overvalued the system can’t correct them which leads to some players being “essential” and others being priced out as an option altogether. This leads to template teams. If the price change algorithm could recognise these players and correct their price at an accelerated rate then I think this would open the game up and encourage different approaches.

15. How would you sum up your season?

I’m very happy with how this season went. I had a very good run during the middle of the season which saw me rise to around 300th in overall rank, I’m a little disappointed I couldn’t push on from there but obviously I’m very happy to have won the Fplbet mini-league.

Do you have what it takes to beat Jordan this year?

Join this year’s fplbet mini league – winner takes a Sonos Play 1 Smart Speaker – Join here.

Fplbet Fantasy Football Mini League

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