Big Winner Interview

Josh Wooldridge scoops €200K first place in FanTeam’s 2020/21 Fantasy Premier League season game

Last summer Josh joined FanTeam to have a go at our €1m Premier League Season Long game. Find out below how that decision changed his life in so many ways

FT- First of all congratulations Josh on your recent win in FanTeam’s €1,000,000 Season Long Game, how are you feeling after your win?

Josh – Needless to say I feel absolutely amazing. Obviously the opportunity to play a €25 tournament that has this kind of prize pool is unprecedented in fantasy football. I obviously feel super blessed and lucky because let’s face it you have to get quite a lot of luck to win this with just over 25000 people entering. I just have an overriding feeling of gratitude that I got so lucky and it went that well through a 38 gameweek season 

Josh in the moments after his win

FT – You were there or thereabouts at the top of the leaderboard for a lot of the season?

Josh – Yeah I think I was inside the top 4 since Gameweek 10 for the whole season. Two of the other guys at the top were the same so it was a really well fought out battle for most of the season. 

FT – €200,000 is an incredible amount to win. Do you have anything special planned for it? 

Josh – First of all it allows me and my girlfriend to put down a deposit on a house, which is something that we have been building towards for years and years so that’s a massive weight off our shoulders.

Also I play a bit of poker so me and some of my poker mates from uni will hopefully go over to Vegas next summer and play the World Series of Poker. 

FT – That’s amazing! Have you played in it before?

Josh – No, I’ve played some of the smaller tournaments within the World Series of Poker for $500 but I’m planning to play the main event which is $10,000. It’s not like poker has enabled me to do this either. FanTeam has allowed me to play in the World Series next summer. 

Talk me through that last day. How were you feeling?

Josh – Up until 2:30 on the final day when we had to lock in our teams for the final time, I was weirdly really calm. I was expecting to be a complete wreck.

I was with one of my mates who I had been playing with on FanTeam all season. I think he finished 40th actually so he had a really good season as well. So I hung out with him and we just got a bit of food and were talking about what transfers we would do and talking about any late team news, so it was all very relaxed. We actually played a bit of poker as well just to calm us down. Then I found out Bamford had been benched at 3pm and that was the transfer that I had brought in! I thought, ‘oh no I’ve messed it up’.

For the first 30 minutes of the games, nothing seemed to happen. There were no changes on the leaderboard and no one scored that anyone around me had. Then there was a spell between 35 minutes and 45 minutes where everything seemed to drop my way. Mane scored & Ederson saved a penalty and then Son assisted Kane. Those three things happened within 5 minutes of each other. It was then that I thought bloody hell something amazing might happen here.

We had our phones turned off and we were watching Gillette Soccer Special to see the goals go in and watch it that way so as to try and not just watch the leaderboard but my mate did check the leaderboard at half-time and it was just like WOW this could go really really well. 

Then for the second 45 minutes it was phones off again. I was just hoping that good things happened and honestly at full-time, I didn’t know whether I had won or not. We knew I was very close to winning. My personal feeling was that I might have just nicked it or could have just come second or third. We checked it at 6:05 and I was in first place. I just thought oh my god! Let’s just hope for no late score changes. It was a surreal moment. Absolutely crazy.

FT – The €200.000 is a really life-changing amount. Any plans to quit your day job?

Josh – Let’s be very clear, I haven’t been able to concentrate on my job for the last few weeks. Everything that could play out has been going through my head. I’m definitely not going to be quitting my day job as it stands. It’s a very stable income and you need it for mortgage applications and stuff. Up to the point I get my mortgage I might then reassess depending on how other things go. Obviously, we have the Euro 2020 competition starting this week with the same guarantee; it is amazing what you guys are offering at the moment. I’m going to put a lot of teams into the Euros and the season long competition next season, so I’m definitely going to take it even more seriously if that is even possible. For now though it’s definitely still just a side hustle as well as poker. They are both secondary incomes. So that’s my plan at the moment. Who knows if I win something else maybe I’ll rethink it 

FT – Before the last gameweek started you were in third place and had a 21.5 gap to make up to first.  Did you think you had any chance of catching first place?

Josh – No, none whatsoever. Everyone around me was trying to manage my expectations including my girlfriend who is very much a realist. She was like’ you’re not going to win, let’s just aim for second’. So that was very much the strategy straight away.

For example, I think I was 8 points away from second so I thought there was a decent chance of catching that gap and I think I was 5 points above 4th place so I felt like I was going to come somewhere between 2nd and 4th unless it was an absolute disaster or an absolute miracle and it seems like we hit the miracle! I just can’t believe that kind of gap got made up, 21.5 points is an awful lot to catch up in one day 

FT – Did you apply any particular strategy to make up the points?

Josh – I was keeping quite a close eye on everyone at the top. I think that is just due diligence at that late stage. Basically doing everything I can. They had all used their wildcard and I had saved mine until right to the end of the season. That was because we didn’t know the fixtures until really late and I wanted a very clear view of what all the fixtures would be before I wildcarded, so I ended up wildcarding in GW36. I only had to pick my team for three games, It was almost like picking my Euro team for the 3 group matches.

FT – Did that help?

Josh – It definitely gave me a team that I was really happy with for the last three weeks. Obviously it could have gone completely wrong. I didn’t pick too many different players though and I knew that no one else would have Ederson or Mane. They were, I suppose, my two differential wildcard picks. For example, I knew no one could have Mane as they all already had triple Liverpool in some form. I just thought Mane had a good chance to outscore those other Liverpool options, don’t get me wrong I couldn’t have dreamt how well it went on the last day when he scored a brace at the most crucial moment

Josh’s team going into the last day

FT – When was the moment you thought you could win it? I see you had Ederson in goal.  When you saw Ederson save the penalty did you just know it was your day?

Josh – They went to the stadium on the Gillette Soccer Special and originally said John Stones had conceded the penalty, which was really funny as the top two guys had Dias and it was actually Dias who had given the penalty away, so that was just another piece of luck that I wasn’t even aware had happened. Then they were about to take the penalty and I shouted ‘Ederson, save for the jackpot!’ as I thought if he saves this it really might be my day. When they actually said he saved it I couldn’t believe it. I thought they would make him re-take it or something. I just thought this can’t happen. This is just ridiculous. Mane scored about 30 seconds before, it was a surreal minute or two where the two players I had, that others didn’t, gained 12- 15 points. That was huge. 

FT – It seems there are a lot of poker players doing well on FanTeam. Do you think the skills learnt in poker help you in fantasy sports?

Josh – I think dealing with the pressure was something that really went in my favour. I don’t want to put anyone down as everyone in the top 20 or so had amazing seasons but I noticed a few things that people did in various teams towards the end. It was a bit like the money had got to them or they were having a bit of trouble dealing with the pressure. I noticed some transfers people did to try and attempt to block people off and I just don’t think they were making the right choices. I was just always trying to make the right decisions. When you play poker you are just trying to make the right decision each time. You play an $11 tournament the same as you would play a $1000 tournament.

I asked a lot of people around me for advice as I knew that they would be thinking more rationally than I might because I was in the moment and they were on the outside. It was people I trust that also played fantasy football. 

FT – Which team do you support and did it have any bearing on your selections?

Josh – I support West Brom actually. My strategy was very often to captain against West Brom! If Bruno, Salah or Kane were playing West Brom the armband was straight on them. Let’s just say I had some inside knowledge on how terrible we are. I think I probably captained against West Brom about 10-12 times throughout the season which is obviously quite high in a 38 game season.

FT – So you owe a lot of your success to West Brom being terrible?

Josh – Exactly, I didn’t pick a West Brom player over the whole season 

FT – How many teams did you enter into the tournament and did it change the way you played it overall?

Josh – I had 12 teams in total. I started to do some fun punts on some of my lower teams just to see if I could get them higher or in the cash. I think in about Gameweek 17 I was 1st and 7th so I had two teams that were right up there. I decided to split them and used one wildcard in Gameweek 17 and one wildcard in Gameweek 18 so that was the only time I would say it made a big difference. The one in 7th then started to drop away, I felt it was pretty inevitable that one of them would drop off. On the team in 1st I was just trying to do the best decision I could do every week

FT – So how did your FPL team go this year?

Josh – (Laughing) So my team this year came in at around 312,000. I was very much having fun with my FPL team this season. Once the money got quite serious on FanTeam, FPL didn’t quite matter to me after that point. I was having some proper fun with it. I had triple West Brom at some point! 

FT – What did you find similar to FPL and what did you have to adjust for when playing FanTeam?

Josh – On FPL I would take more punts like Gareth Bale for example. I was picking him on FPL when he came into form towards the end of the season whereas I wouldn’t on FanTeam as you couldn’t guarantee that he would play 90 minutes which makes such a difference on FanTeam over the whole season. James Ward-Prowse might play 38 times and 90 minutes a match whereas Gareth Bale will hardly complete 90 minutes in a season. That makes such a huge difference. 

Whereas now you have adjusted the scoring it should bring more players into play. There will be more players that you can pick next season so that’s quite an interesting change. Next season, I have my eye on someone like Ivan Toney as the impact of losing is not as harsh on him. Hopefully he will get you goals and assists but you won’t lose 2 points for the privilege

FT – How do you do your research for FanTeam?

Josh – What I do is very simple. I have spreadsheets of fixtures and I target good fixtures, and also, on FanTeam, I target good teams. I felt like you needed to pick Harry Kane and Son, Salah, Bruno partly because they would be on the winning side so often.

One of my favourite things was having a midfielder who would pick up 5 points in a 1-0 win despite not scoring. It was free points that other people were not picking up. I don’t think a lot of people were onto that fact at the start of the season. I think towards the end people were getting savvy to it but yeah there was some ground you could make up just by having players play 90 minutes. 

FT – Do you watch our weekly monster preview shows? And if so do you find them helpful with your decision making 

Josh – I would find them quite useful to see what other people were thinking. For the Monsters I try to pick my teams by myself as much as possible. I’d do what I think is a fun combination of players in the weekly ones as I always think you have to do something a bit strange to win those or you have to at least have a unique combination. Whereas in the season long game it’s not a bad thing at all to have the same players as everyone else. The difference between season long and the weekly Monster is quite an interesting comparison actually. 

FT – How long have you been playing on fanteam?

Josh – I signed up last year to FanTeam so it’s completely surreal to be honest that it went this well. Absolutely insane.

FT – So did you sign up for the season long specifically?

Josh – Yep!

FT – Amazing. Can you give us three players you expect to be in your PL season long side from the start in 2021/22

Josh – These three probably would have been in it anyway but the fact you have introduced the shots on target points for next year I think it’ll be Harry Kane, Bruno Fernandes and Mo Salah. It’s really nice to have those three as that covers three good sides. You have three good captain options straight away. I really do like playing like that as I like to captain a premium asset. I think I did it almost every week. I’d keep them as my options next year as you would assume one of them would have a good fixture between them each week unless the fixtures drop really weird. 

FT – What advice would you have for those playing next season’s season long?

Josh -Definitely target the 90 minute men and especially midfielders. 

3-5-2 is my favourite formation on FanTeam because the midfielders are so powerful and I always go three at the back as I think the 90 minute rule really favours attackers and midfielders.

I also think picking a strong goalie might be a bit of good advice for next year. I realised about halfway through the season just how good goalies could be on FanTeam because of the 0.5 point per save. I think I got Emiliano Martinez in my side about half-way through the season and then I obviously ended with Ederson. So I realised it was worth spending a bit more in goal.

Pick 15 players that are very likely to start is my other bit of advice, especially after the season we just had where there were random cancelations halfway through a gameweek. Sometimes I got lucky in those situations and sometimes I got really unlucky. It went both ways. Having a full playing bench can bail you out of those situations. 

On FanTeam I feel like you had priced the players so that they are all potentially in play. It’s possible to pick a full starting bench with players that are 4M or 4.5M to just cover you for when you need them to come on. 

Thanks Josh, finally can you give us one goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward for Euro 2020?

Josh – Donnarumma – He’s my favourite pick in goal. I think he could do really well. Spending a bit more in goal on a team who can keep clean sheets and maybe get the win bonus as well

Alaba – He’s a defender in the game but played left wing against England recently. He’s 5m which I think is a really nice price and he has two nice fixtures in the group 

Midfield Is harder. I think I’m going to go for 3 really expensive attackers so I’m going to try and save a bit of money in midfield, so someone like Memphis Depay is a good option. He’s someone I really really like and he’s obviously a striker for the Netherlands. I might even Captain him in the first week

FT – I think he’s only 8.5m

Josh – Exactly, he’s the kind of price point I’ve been looking for. I’m going for 6M and 7M for the rest of my midfielders.

Forwards – My favourite three are Harry Kane, Ronaldo and Lukaku. It’s quite template and a lot of people might end up with that but in a longer form game I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to have the same choices as everyone else if you have better choices in the other positions 

Thank you Josh for taking the time to answer our questions and congratulations once again for your incredible win. 

Looking ahead – 

On Friday, 11th June our £1,000,000 Euro 2020 tournament starts. In just a few weeks someone out there will be able to experience the joy Josh has had of winning a life changing sum of money. Could it be you?

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  • Nice one and well played Checkjosh.. Fantasy Football is one of the great games out there and only makes for the game of football to be more interesting and exciting because of it. Long may Real Time Fantasy Football continue.

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