With the 2013 WRC season approaching its evening hours I can't help but evaluate this year's fantasy competition and begin to think ahead to the 2014 season. We've had a great points battle, gained some excellent competitors in the league, and definitely grown and developed. I've had a lot of fun, even though my roster's been cursed for pretty much the entire summer. That said I think there's room for improvement, and I'd like the input of my fellow competitors.
For those unfamiliar with the current rules here's a reminder: Pick four drivers for the rally and one for the power stage (the final stage of the rally). None of your four drivers can be part of the same team (so you can’t have both Hirvonen and Sordo, or both Ogier and Latvala). Your power stage driver can be amongst your four main drivers or it can be someone else (team rules do not apply for the power stage driver). List the four drivers in the order you expect them to finish. At the end of the rally you get the cumulative total points from each of your four drivers (an additional 2 points if you correctly guessed their finishing order), plus 2x however many points your power stage driver scored (if any).
• The "no teammates" rule was enacted last year to keep every roster from being the two factory Ford and two factory Citroen drivers. This rule has worked well for forcing the hard choice between teammates (with the exception of any team with a Seb) and picking that fourth driver can be a tough challenge. I think "no teammates" should stay.
• The power stage points have broken ties in the fantasy league on quite a few occasions. It also requires a little extra strategy in making your pick (for example, I often pick Latvala because luck [read: a big ass rock] usually takes him out of the overall running, and when that happens he often holds back on the stages leading up to the power stage so he can come in with fresher tires and score some points). For this reason I think the power stage points should also stay, though if anyone feels the number of points available in the power stage should change, or if we should award points to the five fastest cars in the power stage instead of three fastest, I'm open to your input.
Things that need work:
• First and foremost, my shoddy, slapdash "QUICK, MAKE YOUR PICKS NAO!" posts ten hours before the rally starts. I've been slipping on my lead time and that needs to change. Next season there will be a set posting day and time for all fantasy rally preview posts (and all review/results posts as well). I'm thinking the Monday before the rally at 2 PM Eastern for the preview, the Thursday after at the same time for the review.
• To help with this first point I will be calling on my fellow competitors and rally experts to help do the preview posts, perhaps set up a rotation among three or four of us. Hermann did the Germany preview and I'm grateful, both because I was swamped this week and because it reminded me I don't have to do everything myself, I can delegate sometimes.
• Last year I compiled stats on the drivers, namely their wins/podiums/point scoring finishes/average finish/retirements over the last 10 races, and those same stats for each particular event. So for example, for the Germany preview I would give their stats over their past 10 rallies and their overall record in Germany. I used to also write a paragraph or two about each driver. The paragraph isn't coming back but I want to bring the stats back, with "average finish" replaced with "average points" which I think gives a better representation of performance (and doesn't allow a 25th place finish to completely ruin a driver's average). I like numbers and statistics, I can compile this data well in advance (in fact I created a spreadsheet for it the other day), and the numbers could help newer, less knowledgeable people make picks. If there are any other stat categories you feel I should add, let me know.
• Fantasy championship categories: as you know we run two championships in the fantasy league: cumulative points and best average. I like best average and plan to keep it for next year, but I feel cumulative is flawed. As of right now there are only two people who have made picks for every round, and one of them is the guy running the league, so he hardly counts. Next year for the cumulative I'm thinking of only taking everyone's 10 best scores. This still rewards those who play every round because it means they can drop their worst event (looking at you, Acropolis), but at the same time it means you're not out of the running if you miss a round or two due to personal obligations.
• More players: I think we have a good game format for the most part and I'd love to get more than just a half dozen or so players involved. A little hype and word of mouth would be good, send out a few invites and let's see how big we can make this.
• Lastly for this section: bonus points for having your drivers in the correct order. This has happened precisely three times in two seasons of Fantasy WRC. In other words its very rare and takes a healthy dose of skill and luck. Definitely worth more than the 2 points currently awarded. For next year I'm bumping up the bonus to 10.
• While the "no teammates" rule is good, a common, across the board formula is beginning to develop. Namely "Ogier Hirvonen Ostberg Neuville" (not always in that order). To help diversify rosters, I'm leaning toward making it five drivers next year instead of four.
Also on the table is a WRC2 driver slot. The advantage to this is its a more diverse and arguably more evenly matched division than the top spec WRC class. Making a good pick here means paying attention to the less-mentioned privateers and developmental drivers. It takes an extra bit of knowledge and an extra bit of luck to make a good WRC2 pick. Which is the big flaw to this idea as well. It could alienate the less informed, more casual players. If I add WRC2 it may have to be as an opt-in "advanced" division, assuming people would be interested. If only one or two would want to play that game there's no point taking it any further.
That's all I've got. If anyone has any input, either on the current league format, the listed ideas for next year, or anything you'd like to see in the next season of fantasy WRC please post your thoughts.