Review of Sportal Fantasy AFL 2008

Sportal carved out a niche for itself in the fantasy Aussie rules world last year with the Sportal AFLPA competition, garnering a respectable 18,000 users. This year for Sportal Fantasy AFL they’ve dropped the AFLPA connection and they’ve also dropped VirtualSports as their provider of the competition.

First prize, and only prize, is an AFL jumper from the team of your choice. Oh look, Lethal League says hi with its $4,960 prize pool fellas! 😀 (Is it just me or has the fantasy industry gone backwards this year? Some poor signs in the paucity of prize pools offered by big online companies.)

The squad is the usual 30 with 22 playing, this time with four emergencies, one for each position. You get 30 trades during the season instead of the VS-standard 20. Players only have one position, with the only standout surprise being Chad Cornes as a midfielder. The only thing they seem to have retained verbatim is the scoring system (which uses exotic stats that make it impossible for FanFooty to deliver live scoring, more’s the pity).

Kick +3 points
Handball +1 point
Contested Possession +4 points
Uncontested Possession +2 points
Tackle +3 points
Hit Out +1 point
Clanger -5 Points
Goal +6 Points
Behind +1 Point

My main complaint is the $5,500,000 salary cap is way too high for the prices they are giving per player. Let’s say you start eight rookies at the minimum price of $50k in your non-playing slots, that makes $5.1 million for your 22, or $231,500 per player. The problem is that $231,500 will buy you a pretty decent player in the Sportal system. I was able to make a team with 15, count ’em, FIFTEEN players who I would consider “guns”, with only one mid-priced improver (Brad Symes), one recovering injured player (Daniel Bradshaw at the rookie $50k price, which is also where you’ll find Stuart Dew and Nathan Thompson) and one rookie (Albert Proud). And that was with having Troy Simmonds as my ruck emergency, as well as Jimmy Bartel and both Cornes brothers in my midfield!

It’s just too easy to build a kick-butt team from round 1, which as all good fantasy coaches will tell you, makes the competition a crapshoot based on which guns outperform other guns. That’s not what coaches want. What coaches want is a challenging game which forces you to delve into the arcanum of training sessions and pre-season praccy matches, to scour through the fan boards for hours on end to search for clues on the form of rookies and fourth-year plodders, seeking that one ugly duckling who will blossom into the next Dane Swan. Sportal’s new comp fails on that score, I’m afraid.

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