Scott Faust is a big fan of footballer Luis Suárez. “I was playing Fantasy Premier League when Suárez was still at Liverpool,” he says. At the time, if you didn’t captain him, you weren’t smart.” But with everyone selecting the same players and with limited ways to score fantasy points, Faust soon became bored.
How data analytics killed the Premier League’s long ball game
As a keen player of the more in-depth fantasy NFL games, Faust saw an opportunity. “I realised I could combine the proven mechanics of fantasy NFL with the game I love: Premier League football.” In 2014, Faust launched Togga, a free-to-play fantasy football game that uses data from Premier League statistician Opta to rate players on 18 actions, from key passes to interceptions and tackles won.
As well as detailed scoring, Togga also introduced a “draft” to fantasy football fans, in which every participant in a league takes turns to select players, who can then be traded throughout the season. “It’s a lot more fun. But there’s a lot going on under the hood,” says Faust. “Every time a player updates, you’ve got to push out that data so it updates in real time.”
Picking your team? Here are some 2016/2017 stats to consider
- Most key passes
- 111 (Christian Eriksen)
- Most aerial duels won
- 315 (Christian Benteke)
- Most shots on target
- 58 (Harry Kane)
With little marketing spend, Togga has attracted 150,000 players from more than 100 countries – 60 per cent in the US, 25 per cent in the UK and the rest scattered around the world. The startup, based in Austin, Texas, employs just four full-time staff and has raised $1.5 million (£1.1m) in seed funding.
For the 2017/2018 season, Togga is introducing paid-for features for the first time, giving participants more options over how players can pick up points. A premium dashboard will also make stats easier to digest. “Our goal is to get millions of users,” says Faust. “The goal is big.”