The winning strategy for 50/50 tournaments

2016-02-27 13:08:58 Author: manager Rating: +10

TimeToDraft analyst Oleg Smolerov talks about fantasy football 50/50 kind of tournaments, highlights the key factors for successful performance and gives examples from his own experience.

50/50, 50-50, 2X MULTIPLIER, Double or Nothing, Fifty-Fifty – these all are the names of a tournament type, where a player can double the buy-in by achieving the top half of the final table on total points. 50/50 is a totally unique experience comparing to classic fantasy tournaments, which means you’ve got to clearly realize the difference and build your team based on it. The key factors we are going to talk about mainly refer to fantasy football tournaments, but the idea is the same in all sports.

In classic tournaments with progressive prize pool distribution the main idea while picking a team is to finish first. In Double or Nothing tournaments, however, winning is not important. The crucial thing is to finish in the top half of the table, which gives us the key hint for efficient 50/50 game – there is no point trying to be the best, what really matters is simply being one of them.

The first thing to do is eliminate any risks. Any gamble has to be justified by the possibility to snatch the jackpot (win a tournament), but there is no such option in 50/50 tournaments. Let’s take a look at two Fanaments tournaments with €1.00 buy-in and 50 participants. The first Double or Nothing tournament will bring €1.80 (after commission) for a win, the second one is progressive, returning €13.50 for the first place. For the manager to benefit, the gambling should be successful in at least every other tournament if we talk about the first case while in progressive tournaments the unlikely team needs to be a hit just once in 13 games and the manager will win more than lose.

To have long-term profit in 50/50 tournaments, it’s worth betting on stability and following this strategy by any means. Here are the key factors for picking an efficient squad in 50/50 tournaments:

  1. Forget about stacking. Selecting several players from a certain line of one team is pure gambling when it comes to 50/50 tournaments. You should do quite the opposite to reach maximum stability in the squad: pick the players representing 11 different teams with rare exceptions for superefficient duos like Mahrez-Vardy in the first half of the 2015/16 EPL season.
  2. It is advisable for the player’s form calculated for the last 5 games to be the best in the squad or at least to be among the leaders. It is important that the form didn’t have huge drops, i.e. the player was on fire in one game and quiet in other matches. It’s better if he was delivering stable results week in week out instead.
  3. Your team should include several of the most expensive and popular players available in the gameweek, and the captain should be chosen from these players. The final decision is up to the manager, but it’s usually more or less clear which players will be favorites among managers before the gameweek. There is an important thing to remember: even if you have big doubts about the most popular player’s performance, he should still be in your squad so as your team remained stable and wasn’t dragging behind the general masses. Again, this will diminish risks.
  4. Don’t be afraid to be a mid-table manager. An average performer also turns out to be a winner in 50/50 tournaments. Every tournament has rookies and adventurers who would pick a poor team or gamble and will most likely finish at the bottom of the table. This will basically move the stable average players to the top half of the table, which means winning in 50/50 tournaments.
  5. All 11 players should be starting for their teams. Of course, acts of God happen, but they are not many and can be neglected. The access to editing your team will only be limited with the starting whistle of the first game while several games of the tournament often start at the same time. The lineups are generally disclosed one hour before kick-off, so you can easily make necessary adjustments during that time.

Let’s prove the above mentioned by looking into the Fanaments 50/50 tournament in EPL matchday 17 with €2.00 buy-in. 30 teams with possible multiple entries by a single player and the first 15 teams winning. As it normally happens in 50/50 tournaments, there is high consistency in the top half of the table, meaning that places from 1 to 15 are separated by only 10.5 points.

Let’s have a close look at two teams, one belonging to the author Oleg Smolerov, who finished 7th, and the other – to manager named break147, who finished last.

I picked representatives of 10 clubs: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Adam Smith (Bournemouth), Daryl Janmaat (Newcastle United), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), N’Golo Kante (Leicester City), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Willian (Chelsea), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Odion Ighalo (Watford). It should be noted that two forced substitutions were made 30 minutes before kick-off: Guillermo Varela (Manchester United) and Eden Hazard (Chelsea) were in the original squad, but they were left out of the starting lineups.

The first thing I did was choosing a cheap goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, who was playing a home game against Sunderland. Then I bought three expensive players to provide consistency for the squad: Romelu Lukaku, Odion Ighalo and Mesut Ozil. All three players are in great form, all of them delivered points in recent gameweeks and play at home. Romelu Lukaku was chosen as the captain, considering that Leicester City had some defensive issues prior to Goodison Park trip. After that I fell short of funds to purchase Riyad Mahrez or Jamie Vardy and opted to pick a hard-working and stable midfielder N’Golo Kante from Leicester City (let’s not forget that interceptions and successful tackles count on Fanaments). Watford is not particularly caring about defense which made me draft Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, who is never shy to shoot (and points are granted for shots on this fantasy platform). Jose Mourinho’s sacking promised an emotional burst from Chelsea and The Blues’ most dangerous and in-form midfielder Willian did not disappoint. Bournemouth’s cheap defender Adam Smith put in a solid performance, while Daryl Janmaat didn’t need to score or make an assist to bring worthy 5.5 points courtesy of his useful actions.

Now let’s have a look at the most important thing: Xherdan Shaqiri and Phil Jones failed to impress in their respective games and delivered 2.5 points between them, but it should not be taken as a mistake, leading to self-condemnation. Obviously, some players from 10 clubs are always going to fail, especially in EPL with its high level of competition. Such ‘losers’ are just a side effect of the stability-oriented lineup selection.

When it comes to the tournament outsider playing under break147 nickname, it’s a perfect example of failing strategy for 50/50 tournaments that predictably led to rock bottom place in the table.

Three costly players from Stoke City (Erik Pieters, Glen Johnson, Marko Arnautovic), two from West Bromwich Albion (Craig Dawson, Salomon Rondon), Newcastle United (Daryl Janmaat, Ayoze Perez) and Arsenal (Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey) and the unlikely captain in Gylfi Sigurdsson from struggling Swansea City. Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United and Swansea City failed to impress during the gameweek and their performances resulted in a predictable loss for the manager.

However, that doesn’t mean the manager has no idea about fantasy football. All the players he has selected are good ones and promising for fantasy tournaments. It’s just that they seemed liked a total gamble for 50/50 tournament in that particular gameweek and in that exact combination. Such lineup might work in the Winner Takes All tournaments though. The manager failed to follow 4 out of 5 abovementioned guidelines for smart team selection, predictably losing in the tournament.

There are no big prize pools in 50/50 tournaments, but the chances of winning are high at the same time. It’s a safe haven of stability for those who avoid risk taking and hot-headed decisions, but appreciate the ability to get the best out of the stats and to pick the most consistent team.

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