AFL Fantasy wars: Dream Team vs SuperCoach

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AFL draft combine. Slattery Images.

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Since 2006, SuperCoach and Dream Team have been locked in a battle to secure the loyalty of AFL fantasy sports enthusiasts.

So far SuperCoach has undoubtedly won this battle. In 2012 their competition boasted over 80,000 more registered players than Dream Team.

However, AFL fantasy sports games are still very much in their infancy – this becomes clear when their history is compared to fantasy competitions based in the US.

It then feels appropriate to employ a timeless proverb and say, ‘SuperCoach may have won the first major battle, but the war between these two fantasy superpowers is far from over’.

When you consider the variety of fantasy sports games in existence, it is quite remarkable how similar SuperCoach and Dream Team have remained thus far.

Conceptually they have never strayed too far from one another, divided by little other than their scoring systems.

SuperCoach has always prided itself on most accurately reflecting a player’s impact on a game, while Dream Team offered users simplicity and immediacy.

Following the conclusion of the 2012 season, Dream Team essentially conceded defeat in the battle of the scoring systems, accepting that public perception of the inferiority of their system was not going to miraculously change.

With little other defining the user experience between the games, Dream Team had no choice other than to accept that the only path to ensuring future success was to evolve and find ways to distance itself from SuperCoach.

As a result, we now have ‘AFL Fantasy’ – a three-tier fantasy strategy encompassing a revived Dream Team game, as well as introducing free draft-style and match-day formats.

A rejuvenated Dream Team, along with evolutions to SuperCoach, means that in 2013, apart from their scoring systems, the two major AFL fantasy codes will also be defined by their trading systems and their lockouts.

In Dream Team, players will be given two trades per week, allowing players to make a possible 44 trades for the season. In SuperCoach, players’ trades will be capped at 30 for the season.

In SuperCoach, a rolling lockout will be introduced, allowing players to make changes to their line-up during individual rounds. In Dream Team, the lockout shall remain the first bounce of each round.

Now some may view these changes as insignificant, however, their introduction will have a huge impact on the strategies that players employ, and thus how the games are played.

Ultimately though, the most significant change will come through the overall experience users gain – whether for better or worse.

In 2013 Dream Team and SuperCoach are set to truly divide, offering players two unique fantasy sport experiences.

An interesting consequence of this may be the division of an audience that has long enjoyed both games.

Until now it has not been uncommon for fantasy enthusiasts to attempt to master both codes, this has never demanded significant effort as the games mirrored each other so closely that strategies were easily transferable.

The changes to the games will thus likely result in more extreme brand loyalty from players.

As the war between these two brands continues, the experience provided to the user will be key in deciding who claims victory in the ensuing battle for consumer loyalty.

Historically, DreamTeam has been the weaker performing fantasy code, however, as we enter a new (divided) era of AFL fantasy sports, it will be truly interesting to see whether placing some distance between the games will pay off for either code, or perhaps, prove detrimental for one.

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