Major League Soccer is back for its 2018 season starting Saturday March 3rd 2018, ushering in a new season on MLS Fantasy, with the game getting a new look ahead of the campaign. With more than 5 million playing the Premier League's popular Fantasy Premier League game, we here at The Hype Train will look at the differences that exist between MLS Fantasy and the FPL, for the benefit of potentially interested MLS newcomers. All aboard.
What will we look at?
1 - Schedule
2 - Differences in each League
3 - Game Format
4 - Point Scoring
5 - Bonus Points
6 - Captaincy
7 - Evaluation
1 - Schedule
The Premier League schedule:
The Premier League usually starts in early to mid August (which varies season to season depending on factors such as international tournaments takings place), and ends in early May.
There is no off-season for Premier League clubs between August and the following May, but they must content with 3 international breaks before December (and 2 after Xmas), multiple weekend's occupied with FA Cup action, and an intensive festive period of football in December.
MLS clubs have to contend with the summer transfer window being in the middle of their season, whilst Premier League clubs have to content with the January transfer window in the middle of theirs.
The MLS schedule:
The regular season starts in the first weekend of March, and ends in October, with each team playing 34 games. The post-season MLS Cup takes place in November and December.There is a break during international breaks in the summer to help accommodate international tournaments. January and February act as the pre-season months. The entirety of an MLS season takes place in the same calendar year.
2 - Differences in each League
Countries: England and Wales
Fixtures: 38 games, each club play each other twice, home and away
Relegation: 3 teams get relegated, and 3 promoted from the EFL Championship
Continental Football: UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League
Domestic Cups: League Cup, and FA Cup
- Motivation is to stave off relegation, to be secure in mid-table, or to earn European football for next season
- There is a definite 'Top 6' with Man City, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, and Arsenal. Everyone else could get relegated as the League stands
- Teams tend to play games home then away, or away then home
- There is no salary cap in the Premier League, but all clubs have to adhere to financial fair play rules, or risk a slap on the wrist
Major League Soccer:
Clubs: 23 (12 in the Eastern Conference, 13 in the Western Conference)
Countries: United States of America and Canada
Fixtures: 34 games, each club plays its Conference rivals home and away, whilst the remaining fixtures are drawn at random
Relegation: There is no relegation in MLS
Continental Football: CONCACAF Champions League
Domestic Cups: U.S. Open Cup and regional rival trophies such as the Canadian Championship (which determines the team from Canada who will qualify for the Champions League)
- The race is for playoffs, plain and simple
- MLS is still considered a 'graveyard' league for retiring players, but in recent years the league has shifted focus, with a lot of young and exciting players from South and Central America joining the league
- There is an MLS SuperDraft, with the clubs able to pick up the best youth players in the country. The bottom placed clubs or new expansion sides gets first dibs
- MLS features Designated Player's, with the League enforcing a salary cap to kep its league competitive
- Teams can play for extended periods away from home, and then at home, due to the distance between clubs in MLS, with some matches taking places thousands of miles away from home turf
How does the structure of MLS work?
1 - The 23 clubs are split into two divisions, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference
2 - The top team at the end of the regular 34 game season when both divisions are combined wins The Supporters' Shield
3 - The top 6 sides from each Conference advance to the MLS Cup, which is referred to as a post-season
4 - The top 2 teams from each division advance straight to the conference semi-finals
5 - The 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th place teams in each Conference play in a Knockout Round, with 3rd playing 6th and 4th playing 5th - with 3rd and 4th at home in a single-legged game
6 - The Conference semi-finals takes place over two legs, home and away.
7 - Each Conference then has a final, which is also over two legs, home and away.
8 - The winning team from each Conference final plays in the MLS Cup final
3 - Game Format
The more we've been digging into each game, the clearer it is becoming that both MLS Fantasy and FPL are drastically different games.
What does the FPL feature?
Transfers: 1 free transfer allowed per Gameweek, or you can bank a transfer to have 2 free for the following week. It is a -4 point deduction for every transfer which is not a free transfer.
- If you buy a player at £5.0m, and he rises to £5.2m, you can sell him for £5.1m
Gameweek Deadline: The deadline for each Gameweek is one hour prior to kick off for the latest round of fixtures. In FPL, it is unwise to change your team just before the hour, as the game can sometime's not register transfers if they're made last minute.
Wildcard: 2 allowed per season, split between each half of the season, in which you can change your entire squad with the budget you have.
- Bench Boost: Your 4 benched players also feature in a Gameweek
- Triple Captain: Instead of double points, your captain triples his points
- Free Hit: Replace your team for the entire week, get the old one back the next
Player Prices: Prices can rise and fall depending on transfer activity. If a player gets injured, or falls out of form or favour, their price will likely drop. There is no clear barometer on exact change dates, but it is usually within the same week at key points when transfers are made (Before or just after a Gameweek's deadline)
Fixture Difficulty Rankings (FDR): The god's of the game at the FPL have this mythical system where they rank teams at any point in the season between 1-5, with 1 meaning your team is terrible, and 5 meaning that they're at the top of their game. This is more of an aid for player's looking at a 'good run' of fixtures when deciding on transfer targets.
What does MLS Fantasy feature?
Transfers: An unlimited number of transfers can be made each week, as long as you can afford the replacement. Spare money is banked.
- There is no buying/selling parameters in MLS Fantasy
Player Prices: In the FPL prices rise and fall depending on the transfers of players in and out, but in MLS player prices rise and fall depending on the performance of the players.
- If a player does not play in a Gameweek, his price won't change
- MLS won't share exactly how they grade what is worthy of a price change, but suggest that it is purely down to performance. So basically, if your player plays well, expect a rise. If he plays poorly, expect a swift drop.
- Rises and falls happen after the end of the Gameweek, after the final Lockout
Split Seasons: MLS have decided to have two halves to their Fantasy season for the 2018 campaign, and here's how it works.
- Saturday, March 3, 2018: MLS regular season starts
- Gameweek's 1-17: Spring Season (March to July)
- Gameweek's 18-34: Fall Season (August to October)
- The MLS Fantasy season ends when the regular season does
Rolling Lockout: This is the deadline for making transfers in and out of your team, and was touched on in an above point. The Rolling Lockout means that there is no specific Deadline like their is in the FPL. If a player in your squad is left out, you can transfer him out as long afford a replacement. Players are locked into your team once the player’s match begins.
4 - Point Scoring
Point Scoring in the FPL:
For playing up to 60 minutes: 1pt
For playing 60 minutes or more (excluding injury time): 2pts
For each goal scored by a Goalkeeper or Defender: 6pts
For each goal scored by a Midfielder: 5pts
For each goal scored by a Forward: 4pts
For each goal assist: 3pts
For a clean sheet by a Goalkeeper or Defender: 4pts
For a clean sheet by a Midfielder: 1pt
For every 3 shot saves by a Goalkeeper: 1pt
For each penalty save: 5pts
For each penalty miss: -2pts
Bonus points for the best players in a match: 1-3pts
For every 2 goals conceded by a Goalkeeper or Defender: -1pts
For each yellow card: -1pt
For each red card: -3pts
For each own goal: -2pts
Assists in the FPL:
Ask any person that plays the FPL with have an eye on the prize, and they'll tell you that the biggest grey area in the game is awarding assists. This has led the FPL to go into detail regarding the awarding of assists, which of course we have provided below, which is exactly word for word how you'll find it on the FPL website.
Assists are awarded to the player from the goal scoring team, who makes the final pass before a goal is scored. An assist is awarded whether the pass was intentional (that it actually creates the chance) or unintentional (that the player had to dribble the ball or an inadvertent touch or shot created the chance).
If an opposing player touches the ball after the final pass before a goal is scored, significantly altering the intended destination of the ball, then no assist is awarded. Should two opposing players touch the ball after the final pass before a goal is scored, then no assist is awarded. If the goal scorer loses and then regains possession, then no assist is awarded.
If a shot on goal is blocked by an opposition player, is saved by a goalkeeper or hits the woodwork, and a goal is scored from the rebound, then an assist is awarded.
If a player shoots or passes the ball and forces an opposing player to put the ball in his own net, then an assist is awarded.
Penalties and Free-Kicks:
In the event of a penalty or free-kick, the player earning the penalty or free-kick is awarded an assist if a goal is directly scored, but not if he takes it himself, in which case no assist is given.
Assist points awarded by Opta within Fantasy Premier League are calculated using additional stats which may differ from other websites. For example, some other sites would not show an assist where a player has won a penalty.
For the avoidance of doubt, points awarded in-game are subject to change up until one hour after the final whistle of the last match of any given day. Once the points have all been updated on that day, no further adjustments to points will be made.
Point Scoring in MLS Fantasy:
Playing in a game: 1pt
Playing at least 60 minutes in a game (includes points mentioned above): 2pts
Each goal scored by your goalkeepers or defenders: 6pts
Each goal scored by your midfielders or forwards: 5pts
Each assist: 3pts
Goalkeeper clean sheet (must play 60 minutes): 5pts
Defender clean sheet (must play 60 minutes): 5pts
Midfielder clean sheet (must play 60 minutes): 1pt
Penalty miss: -2pts
Penalty save: 5pts
Every penalty earned: 2pts
Own goal: -2pts
Own goal assist: 1pt
Every 2 goals conceded by Goalkeeper's or Defender's: -1pt
Yellow card: -1pt
Red card (includes any yellow card points): -3pts
Every 3 saves: 1pt
Every 35 passes and 85% success or more: 1pt
Every 70 passes and 85% success or more (including above points): 2pts
Every 4 shots: 1pt
Every 4 fouls received: 1pt
5 - Bonus Points
How does a player accumulate Bonus Points in the FPL?
The FPL works with Opta to generate a Bonus Points System (BPS), which only rewards the top 3 player's in a single match. The top player gains 3 points, the second best gets 2 points, and the third best BPS players gets 1 point.
When a player is tied on BPS points, here's what happens:
- If there is a tie for first place, Players 1 & 2 will receive 3 points each and Player 3 will receive 1 point.
- If there is a tie for second place, Player 1 will receive 3 points and Players 2 and 3 will receive 2 points each.
- If there is a tie for third place, Player 1 will receive 3 points, Player 2 will receive 2 points and Players 3 & 4 will receive 1 point each.
Avid FPL players will know the pain of checking to see if the BPS has updated, especially after the final whistle, awaiting for the system to be recalculated.
How does a player accumulate Bonus Points in MLS Fantasy?
The official MLS Fantasy game does bonus points differently. Instead of in the FPL, which sees players rewarded based of BPS, players in MLS don't miss out on bonus and are awarded on the following criteria:
4 clearances = 1 bonus
2 blocks = 1 bonus
4 interceptions = 1 bonus
4 tackles = 1 bonus
6 recovered balls = 1 bonus
Error leading to a goal = -1 bonus
3 crosses = 1 point
3 key passes = 1 point
Every big chance created = 1 point
6 - Captaincy
Picking a captain in the FPL:
- You have to select a captain before the Gameweek deadline, and a vice captain
- You cannot change your captaincy selections, they're locked in after the deadline
- A captain earns double points, and for one week you can pick a Triple Captain (using one of the Chips) to earn triple points
- If your captain gets negative points, you double down on your bad luck
- If your captain doesn't play, your vice captain steps in and earns double points
- If neither your captain or vice play, you won't get any points
Picking a captain in MLS Fantasy:
- With the Rolling Lockout, you can change your captain until the selected captaincy pick plays
- Once the team your captaincy pick takes to the field, you can no longer change your captain
- If your captaincy pick doesn't play, then you'll end up with nothing
- There is no option to select a vice captain
7 - Evaluation
Having had some time to soak in MLS over the last month or so, there are some glaring differences with its MLS Fantasy game compared to that of the Fantasy Premier League, and to best state the difference, we'll use styles of video games to state the differences.
The FPL very much acts as a turn-based strategy game, much like a game in the Civilisation franchise. You set your map and your tactics out much like you would set out your FPL team ahead of a new Gameweek. Once the deadline passes and your choices are locked in, that's it. You wait to go again next week and can only roll the dice once the scores are in, and you all have to live with your choices on the chessboard.
MLS Fantasy however is more like a real-time strategy game, like Halo Wars for example, which allows you to change the stakes whilst in the middle of battle. You can change your offence or defensive tactics from anti-air to anti-vehicle vehicles or turrets, much like you can change players on the go in MLS Fantasy. You've more of a control over your assets and there is little risk in player rotation, that is of course unless you aren't clued in the Gameweek and log back in after a few days to find that your team has self-destructed (or you have played around with your team too much and caused your own self-destruction).
At the heart of the differences between the games, the comparison between a turn-based strategy game and a real-time strategy is fitting.
MLS Fantasy is essentially tapping into the format of other Fantasy based games in the States, mainly due to the success of variations within American Football. The core of the game though is essentially the FPL, just without the Chips and Wildcard's, which in our eyes more than compliments the idea of having unlimited transfers per Gameweek.
In regards to the scoring system, the average points is higher in MLS Fantasy, with more routes to points available, especially for Midfielder's and set-piece taking Forward's, and with bonus points guaranteed as long as chosen player performs well (even if he doesn't score or assist).
The main drawback, or attraction (we've not quite made up our minds), is the idea that you've got to have your finger on the pulse at all times with MLS Fantasy. You've got to pay a lot more attention to who is fit and on form, and in regards to captaincy selections, there is no vice captain to bail you out just in case crisis strikes. This might put off potential suitors of the game from others parts of the world due to timezone differences, with the FPL's specific deadline a scheduling bonus for players worldwide - everyone is at an equal footing from the moment the transfer deadline slams shut, regardless of where you are in the world.
MLS Fantasy is a beast of its own though that has been given a makeover this season in order to entice a wider base of players, and the differences compared to FPL are just refreshing enough for us to take an interest in the mode - the last thing FPL should want sometime's is another carbon copy FPL game, even though the FPL by far the most popular Fantasy related football game across the world.
The 2018 MLS Fantasy Season
MLS returns on Saturday March 3rd 2018, and you can join our very own MLS Fantasy League by clicking here, or alternatively by using the league code RDPUAHR2 whilst on the MLS Fantasy site, or checking out our pinned tweet on our @HypeTrainMLS Twitter account. We'd love to have you aboard for the ride.
You can read more of our latest news from in the FPL, Premier League, and around the footballing world on our Football page by clicking here, or by clicking the image below.
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The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, live sport, and professional wrestling.
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