With only two months to go before the English Premier League resumes and it's time to start thinking about the fine, noble tradition that is Fantasy Football.
There are two types, simple and complex, and unless we're all feeling very brave (and flush, as complex is about $80 for the season), I'll be playing the simple version which costs about $20 for the season and is a lot less grief.
Basically the organisers list players, give them each a value, give you, the manager, a fixed budget and then let you pick your best team, and you can't go over budget. You can only have 2 players from one team and must pick a goalie, fullbacks, centrebacks, midfielders and strikers to field a legal formation amongst 4-4-2, 4-5-1, 5-4-1 or 5-3-2. Your team is made up of 15 players, no more or less.
And your team reflects reality. If your striker scores in the EPL, you get three points. If a player gets an assist you get 2 points and if the goalie or defenders get a clean sheet they get 3 points. The defense can also cost you points; concede 1, you get zip, concede 2 you get -1, concede three it's -2 etc etc.
Your team gets a webpage that you and only you can access. You can match yourself against friends and enemies in a custom league, you go into another league against other random players, you get cup competitions where only points from certain cup games count, you can drop players, swap them about, transfer in new blood (5 times a month) and a bunch of other stuff.
But the real fun comes when you buy the two players from YOUR team and then have to fill the other 13 slots with players from other teams, including those you hate. The better the team in real-life, the better they'll do in reality. As a Liverpool fan through and through, I experience pain at having to buy Chelski defenders and ManUre attackers, but they get points. But you don't get enough money to buy 15 superstars, so you have to do your research. Whose been promoted and do they have any half-decent players you can pad the squad out with? Do you go for a few class acts and the rest mediocre at best or do you try and achieve a good, solid team throughout?
I'll be playing (always do, never win a bloody thing) and so will Fiona, but we need more! More dammit, more!
So, for $20 or so for 9 months of mocking friends and family alike for spending 9m on some overpriced tit with two left feet while your bargain basement specials clean up? Or dismissing their paltry football knowledge as your 2 or 3 star players carry a team of journeymen to the top of the league?
Any takers? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?