What is it like to be a Fantasy Premier League champion?
To the many millions who enter the Fantasy Premier League each season, winning the competition outright would be a dream come true – but what is it like to experience first hand?
Ben Crabtree, 33, from the Wirral, Merseyside won the 2016-17 competition ahead of 4.5million others, retaking first place on the final day of the season to win by just five points.
By 2017 FPL had become a huge part of the way supporters consume the Premier League, so to join the elite is a huge badge of honour for a fan.
Ben was interviewed by his beloved Everton as well as major media outlets, and received prizes in the form of VIP tickets to two Premier League games, a PlayStation, a watch, some goodies and seven days worth of experiences at popular tourist attractions courtesy of Visit Britain.
The win also propelled Ben to a form of celebrity within the FPL circle, invited to share his opinions on the FPL website as well as appearing on the FPL show with celebrities.
Furthermore, with friends competing season after season in the competition, Ben’s social life saw a change too.
“Mates introduce me to one of their friends and it’ll be a thing that crops up quite early in the conversation,” Ben told the Press Association.
“When they introduce me they’ll say: ‘and this person won (FPL).’ It’s become a title that has stuck with me.”
And while winning saw Ben’s friends identify him as the man to beat, a poor 2017-18 season saw him dethroned immediately.
“To begin with a few mates really wanted to beat me, but I had a bad season so from early on it became apparent that they were going to beat me.”
Indeed, Ben finished outside the top one million managers as reigning champion, something he believes might have been the result of additional pressure and scrutiny.
“I almost needed to win the whole thing,” said Ben of his attitude going into the 2017-18 season. “Because I knew it was possible, it sort of became the aim.
“After gameweek one I was two million something (in the leaderboard), so it was a bit of a shock.
“Suddenly it feels like everyone’s looking at my team, so I felt I needed to try and improve my rank as soon as possible.
“I didn’t make good decisions early on in the season because I think I was concentrating on the wrong things.
“I remember there was a Reddit group where there were all these people discussing the start of my season, and it was a strange experience to see them all analysing and critiquing various decisions I’d made.
“It maybe opened my eyes to just how big the game is.”
This season Ben has improved on 2017-18, but has had to change his focus from a top 10,000 finish to a top 100,000 finish.
“Since winning it, it looks like my two worst-ever finishes will have come immediately after, so I don’t know whether that says something,” he said.
But perhaps the most important goal for an FPL champion to target is to accept that, while winning might come with additional expectation, it’s OK to be content with just one title.
“At the end of the day, once you’ve won it then it doesn’t matter too much if you do too well in the seasons after,” said Ben.
“It can be more pressure, but you’ve always got that up your sleeve.”
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