Those of you who know and love your fantasy sports will no doubt be thrilled to hear that the leading US Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) contest provider DraftKings has recently signed a deal to become Euroleague Basketball’s "Official Fantasy Partner", raising the company’s profile on the Continent.
DraftKings will also get to develop a variety of EuroLeague fantasy products. This multi-year deal, on the heels of a failed merger between DraftKings and FanDuel, represents a marked push by US companies to raise the profile of DFS overseas and encourage participation in Europe!
For a while, major US fantasy sports sites have been looking to the sports-mad European market as a potential DFS cashcow just waiting to be milked. However, the likes of DraftKings, FanDuel, ESPN and Yahoo are treading lightly, testing the waters of our shores rather than making a gung-ho invasion attempt.
In this manner, DraftKings acquired a skill-game license from Malta earlier this year, a smart move which enabled it to start offering DFS contests in Germany. In a similar vein, we’ve also seen FanDuel and Yahoo DFS edge their way into the UK market, while the NBA have agreed a deal with European DFS operator PlayON.
Even the B2B operator Global Daily Fantasy Sports has got in on the action, taking over Mondogoal in order to get a foothold in Italy’s massive online gaming market. So why are in-the-know fantasy sports fans on this side of the pond getting so excited about this quiet American invasion?
Well, the short answer is because it's likely to lead to a whole new smorgasbord of fantasy sports options becoming available in markets which have hitherto been dominated by domestically restricted, season-long fantasy games, recreating the NFL fantasy sports craze with non-domestic leagues.
For the many of us who have never had the chance to try DFS, it’s worth examining the main difference between the genre and ‘traditional’ Fantasy Sports. Traditional games require you to create (or 'draft' in US parlance) a squad before your chosen sport’s season starts. Once the season gets underway, you choose a different team line-up from to play every game week for the duration of the season.
Most games also give you the option of trading players along the way. And so it goes on, typically for at least six months or more. Any of you who have ever spent weeks choosing a squad only to see it collapse within the first few matches will know just how much those subsequent months can drag on.
DFS games, on the other hand, don’t go on for anywhere near as long. In fact, they generally only last for a day, although weekend and week-long contests are available too. Whilst this may initially seem quite odd to seasoned aficionados of traditional fantasy games, playing a competition over such a brief period of time effectively removes the inherent malaise which can so often blight a long fantasy season.
As well as ensuring everyone taking part plays on a consistently even keel, this approach also lets punters choose a line-up for that day, weekend or week based on form rather than having to keep longevity in mind. While purists (and masochists) may suggest this removes the joy of long-term strategic thinking, there’s no doubt it can make for a far more dynamic and exciting playing experience.
While DFS is definitely on the rise, globally and throughout Europe, it's still the case that many punters outside of North America currently feel the big DFS sites focus too much on US sports like American football, baseball and basketball.
Visit any one of the big name DFS sites and you’re instantly bombarded by gaming options associated with the likes of the NBA, NFL and MLB. Popular European sports like football, rugby and cricket are there, but you’ll have to go looking for them. This is likely to change, though.
With FanDuel now pushing their daily EPL fantasy games with more fuss than ever before, and all the big names making significant in-roads into foreign markets, it'll probably be a case of when, not if, Daily Fantasy Sports will be a truly global phenomenon! Check out DraftKings today!