Fantasy-sport: what is it, why is it, and how does it affect real life

    imageWhen CSKA beat Perm Amkar in the first round of the current Russian championship, defender Sergei Ignashevich became the main character of the match, having scored both goals in the match. Few people knew at that moment, however, that to Sergey’s joy there was a slight annoyance: he did not manage to put himself as captain in his fantasy team and lost 18 points. The defender found out too late that his partner Doumbia would not play at the base, and managed to get to the laptop only at 13:06, while the last permutations could be done an hour before the match. Later, Sergey spoke about the achievements and principles of the formation of his Ignashevich team on a personal website and his blog on Sports.ru.

    As you probably already understood, the point of fantasy football is to make a virtual team of real players and get points for their useful actions in real games, competing with other virtual teams. We want to talk a little about why the players of the Russian national team think less about an game on the Internet less than an hour before the actual matches, where this game came from and how it is developing in the world and here at Sports.ru.

    The world of fantasy games began with baseball: in the 1960s, sociology professor William Gamson first began organizing the so-called “Baseball Seminar”, during which participants gathered line-ups from paper from real players and competed in the sum of places for various parameters. In 1980, editor Daniel Okrent, who had once learned about the game from one of the participants in the seminar, Gamson, came up with detailed rules for the new game, which he called the Rotisserie League Baseball. Okrent had many friends in the world of sports journalism, who soon became interested in new entertainment. Already in July of the same year, the New York Times wrote about fantasy baseball, then columns appeared dedicated to the nuances of the game (during a baseball strike in 1981, sports columnists had to think of some topics for articles), soon books began to be published and branded kits for the game sold. By 1988, all kinds of fantasy sports were already played by 500 thousand people in the United States alone; by 1994, their number had reached 3 million. In 1993, the weekly fantasy baseball column appeared in the USA Today national newspaper.

    And then the Internet appeared - and already in 1997 the fantasy games industry reached a new level with the advent of Commissioner.com - a site that offered real-time data updates, a closed league system with its own discussion platforms and detailed statistics. Soon, Internet giant Yahoo entered the market, then the most successful independent startups were bought for tens of millions, having successfully survived even the dot-com bubble in 2001.

    Now at ESPN, CBS and Yahoo! Sports, the largest American sports Internet player, there are entire fantasy units. On Yahoo! There are more than a dozen bloggers-observers working on five types of fantasy sports, and there is even a senior director of fantasy position in ESPN. No wonder: the size of the market in the United States is estimated at 3-4 billion dollars. According to FSTA, a fantasy sports trade association, 32 million people play fantasy games in the US and Canada. This is not only students and schoolchildren - according to the same study, people with permanent jobs and higher education play fantasy games twice as often as the rest. They willingly pay money: for programs for researching data, for additional statistics, for participating in league sweepstakes with cash prizes. Sports leagues have their own separate interests in fantasy: according to NFL research, fantasy players watch sports one and a half times more often; Moreover, the anxious expectation of the success of “one's own” player can give additional interest to even the most ordinary game.

    imageThe Fantasy version of European football (generally similar to what you see on the right in the picture) was invented in Italy in 1990, for some time it existed in the newspaper version (the largest Belarusian sports newspaper Pressball arranged a large-scale version of fantasy football in correspondence) and with the advent of the online version it has also grown to millions of participants (the official fantasy football of the English Premier League remains the most popular ). Fantasy football appeared in Russia somewhere in the mid-2000s on small sites, and in 2009 Sports.ru became the first of the largest participants in the Russian sports Internet to launch its own fantasy (soon enough, it should be noted, this idea came to mind and to our competitors).

    We put a lot of effort into advertising new entertainment, telling football players and coaches about it and composing teams with them, and after some time we were not long in coming - the same Ignashevich, who was described at the beginning of the text, started a team without which Any clues from our side. Of course, the game found a response among sports journalists, in particular, NTV + commentators, who organized their own league and periodically talked about the successes of their teams in broadcasts. Fantasy-sports has not yet fully entered the Russian sports culture, but we strive for this - not only because it is fun, reckless and curious, but also because it adds interest to the championships, makes us closely monitor the sport and better in it to understand. Now on Sports.ru only in fantasy football (there is stillhockey , basketball , biathlon and Formula 1 ) 59 thousand people participate, having collected 154 thousand active teams (closer to the beginning of the season, this figure, according to the experience of last year, will grow far beyond 200 thousand). Our fantasy engine is based on data from external statistics providers, is fully automated and allows you to connect more and more new tournaments if you are interested (this year, for example, we launched tournaments in the championships of Portugal, Turkey and the English second division , we also have a unique sort of fantasy tournament for the championship of Belarus ).

    Inveterate fantasy gamers all the time have a desire to spread the idea to something else (in the USA there was an online game in fantasy congress, where it was necessary to recruit senators and monitor their progress, on slon.ru there is one based on similar the principles of the game " Oligarchs ", there is a community of fans of fantasy- "What? Where? When?") and come up with some new options for the game. The fantasy sports model is good in that it allows you to try out some ideas manually and, if successful, make a complete interface for them. For example, just the other day, users had the idea to arrange the so-called h2h leagues on Sports.ru, where each round the team competes with a specific opposing team - more than 120 people have actively supported the ideaincluding all recognized masters. Most likely, by the next season we will implement h2h leagues in a full-fledged way. For a long time there has been a blog for fantasy tennis players, although for the time being it is not too popular - if the game becomes more popular, we will get to it.

    If for some reason you want to create your own team in one of our fantasy tournaments, read the short rules and choose a tournament to your taste . If you have any questions, ideas or suggestions, we will be happy to chat in the comments.

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