15 May 2019

Fantasy Premier League: The Kiwi who defied the odds

3:57 pm on 15 May 2019

Adam Levy may be an avid West Ham supporter, but he has Liverpool defender Trent Alexander Arnold to thank for claiming the coveted Fantasy Premier League title.

Adam Levy - global Fantasy Premier League champion

Adam Levy, winner of the 2018/19 Fantasy Premier League title. Photo: RNZ/ Ana Tovey

At 2am on Monday Levy tuned in to watch final round of the English Premier League 18,800 kilometres away on the other side of the world.

It wasn't to see whether Manchester City could go back to back, or if Liverpool would finally etch its name onto the Premier League trophy after 27 years in winless wilderness; no, Levy's reason for watching was far more personal.

Since the start of March, Levy led more than 6.3 million players in the global Fantasy Premier League (FPL) standings, with it all coming to a head on Monday morning.

And, like all the weeks beforehand, it was Trent Alexander Arnold who produced the most points for Levy, helping crown him FPL champion in his sixth season competing.

Levy admits that while he doesn't like to get 'caught up' in the analytics of the FPL he is a keen footballer himself, playing in the masters grade on Sundays in Wellington.

"I think that playing football does help [understanding how the competition works].

"One of the big advantages is that when you watch Premier League football on TV you're not just following the ball around with your eyes.

"You're watching who's got the ball, I'm constantly looking at the whole team's positional play. Where are other players? Are they getting into good positions? Good space on the field? Okay, that particular player may have shot, but should they have actually passed to a player who is always staying nearby?

"So yeah, I find that my eyes are darting around the screen when I'm watching, trying to watch what's happening in terms of formation, in terms of positioning," he said.

Screenshot of RNZ reporter and FPL nut Max Towle's most recent round.

The layout of a Fantasy Premier League team. Photo: Supplied / Max Towle

Over the past six seasons, he says he's found he has his own unique style of selecting his players, honing his craft each year as he's become progressively better in the standings.

For the most part though, Levy says he only joined the competition so he could have bragging rights over his colleagues and football mates each week.

"Finishing in the top 10,000 is regarded as kind of a good finish if you're really sort of into Fantasy Premier League, a top 10k finish is considered good.

"I was happy just when I got into the top 10,000 and that happened ... quite early on. I guess to finish at one you maybe have to have to I think I was in the top 10,000 within the first few weeks. From then on, as far as I was concerned, it was all icing on the cake," he said.

Now that icing tastes even sweeter, with Levy's victory earning him a week-long stay in the UK where he'll attend two Premier League matches as a VIP, a luxury watch, and a gaming console which he says will go to his son.

As the adrenaline of his win and the countless media interviews that have been thrust upon him come to an end, Levy says there's no question that he'll give it a crack next year. Though, he knows as well as most in the FPL, winning again is 'never going to happen'.

As for the advice the 2019 FPL champion has for those wanting to get into it themselves, he says it's "about the fun, and it's about the banter".

"Don't worry about it (the analytics). Just get in there, choose some players, choose them on the basis of their names or the colour of their shirts or the haircuts for this week. Just enjoy it because that's how it should be played."

Whether Levy will take his own advice onboard for next season is yet to be determined.

How Fantasy Premier League works

Fantasy Premier League is a worldwide phenomenon where participants create a fantasy team from players in the real EPL and receive points when players on their team score goals, make assists, or keep a clean sheet.

Each player gets an imaginery budget of £100 million ($NZ196m) to select 15 players - four of those players sit on the bench each week - the benched players don't garner any points regardless of how well they do in real life.

Competitors can select up to three players from a single team.

Each week there is a Gameweek deadline to select your 11 players from your 15.

Included in that 11 is a captain, the captain's score is doubled.

Like the Premier League, there are transfer windows in Fantasy Premier League, there is one free transfer each Gameweek.

Go here for more information on the Fantasy Premier League

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