To rank or not to rank. That is the question that hangs over my head during the day & keeps me awake at night. Let me explain…
I’m part of one of the most revered and long standing DT leagues in the country. With an entry fee of $275 & hence the Premier taking $2.5k at the end of the season, there’s an obvious cash incentive. More so however, there’s the respect & banter element. When you’ve got guys who’ve finished top100 overall previously, and sons of AFL legends in your league, there’s bucket loads of respect for taking the chocolates. Especially when you didn’t even know what footy was 7 years ago – I’m from the land of Mr.Stynes and hence the team name “The Irish Invaders” (Irish pirate Calvin is the married to my sister and also my uncle – go figure!). We now even have a DIV2 with 2 teams being promoted/relegated each year.
More to the point, our Premier is decided by the league match-ups, not overall ranking. So even though every year a coach/es may finish in the top few hundred, no one remembers them. The Premier gets the league named after him & joins the sacred list of past Champions.
There are internal “I’ll outrank you by year’s end” bets between coaches and any weekly prizes are applauded obviously. But at the end of the day, you need to pick your team with a league focus instead of an overall points strategy.
Aren’t they the same? Surely if you score high you’ll win your league. Not true. Our highest points scorer a few years ago didn’t even make the 8 due to unlucky match-ups. Also, you simply have to have 4 or 5 trades at least for finals (in a normal year) to win whereas previous overall winners have exhausted their trades as early as round 18.
Slightly off topic but I know of other leagues, with entry fees of up to $500, that decide winner on overall points. But the grudge matches against rival coaches and the weekly banter based on that round match-ups etc is a large part of the magic of DT for me.
So back to my dilemma & the point of this post. My situation is that for the first time in years I’ve bolted out of the box and based on my current ranking (469) & a strong mix of mainly the correct Guns’n’Rookies, I believe I actually have a chance to stick with the leaders & give the overall a shot. Hopefully others out there can relate to this – either this year, previous years, or changing trading policies due to an unexpected lengthy run in the Eliminator (a fellow coach gave up his chance on league title as he went for broke & used up all his trades in round 17, eventually going out in last 32 of Eliminator last year).
My team is 100% selected for league win. So I paid no attention to the multi-bye rounds. I used up virtually every penny ($2k remaining) to try win the first 3 rounds pre those multi-byes (2 from 2). Cox & Sandi in the ruck with the cheapo’s Bailey/McCauley on bench not wanting to waste money on risky (in my preseason opinion) expensive backup like Hale & Petrie (was 4k short of Zac). With Boyd & Libba in the mids, I still chose to go with Bewick & Beams, knowing I’d be facing a donut in round 4 but not be able to remove any from my starting squad (was rubbing my hands seeing Beams on 44 1st qtr first round & still think he’s a good pickup). And other decisions such as not going with D.Swallow & not really caring about DP link-ups.
But now I must decide whether to totally change my strategy. Do I make a couple of trades this week or next to avoid donuts and bring in the leading rookies (Yarran to Tapscott, Beams to Curnow for example)? Or do I stick to my preseason plan & conserve trades until Rd6 onwards?
I know it’s a marathon not a sprint but I may never start as strong as this again. With the ridiculous amount of information, cheat sheets, sample teams easily available to every man and his dog (or “dad”), it’s getting harder every year to get into the top 500 at ANY stage of the year.
Then again, winning $2.5K & the eternal respect of 15, make that 31, other coaches/friends is quite attractive also!
Let us know in the comments below if you are or have experienced something similar. What would you do in the same situation? How many of you are in ultra competitive/pricey leagues? Which is the better league strategy in your opinion – overall points or match-ups?
Coach, The Irish Invaders