At the risk of sounding like a Dream Team tragic, the best way to enjoy the Dream Team Draft is by ordering pizza, sitting around a table with your friends and your laptops and enjoying the thrills and tension of the live draft in person.
While this is the first time Dream Team Draft has been in front of the paywall, it will be the third time our little annual league of 10 is set to kick-off. As the Draft date approaches, the anticipation and nerves are palpable.
A tradition was born in the first year, which still stands – we order pizza, we sit around laptops and the banter begins.
For those who have never done the Draft before, it is a fun if not nerve racking experience. As coaches race to sign up their favourite players, it becomes an intriguing battle of wills, as superstars quickly disappear from the list and the balance of your squad becomes increasingly important.
The first decisions are the easiest. You know going in that Cam Smith, Corey Parker, Robbie Farah, Shaun Fensom and the usual Dream Team guns will disappear in the first round of the draft. What you have to plan for is how you are going to go about picking the rest of your team, where will it be strong, where can you eek out the most points.
It’s all about trying to outthink your opponents and building a team that will ultimately be the best across the park.
Where things get interesting…
There is no salary cap, it is a literal free-for-all as you try to outwit your friends and make the shrewdest selections.
If your league has 10 teams in it, after you have picked just five players, 50 of the game’s best will have been snapped up! This means you need to do your homework ahead of time, and decide which players you really want.
The default allotted time per selection is just one minute, meaning when it is your turn to pick, you will have a frantic 60 seconds to second-guess yourself and decide who you are going to choose next. As the draft continues, that time seems to get shorter and shorter and the list of players available shrinks.
But a quick glance at the list will show some really good players hiding away, it is the little finds that will make all the difference.
Example: Terry Campese is 146 in the draft order, if he returns to his best he could be an ingenious pick-up, Kurt Gidley 198, Gerard Beale 327, Tariq Sims 328 all have potential to be great Dream Team players you might want to consider. How daring will you be, will you take a punt on Josh Drinkwater at 515? (Haven’t heard of him? I suggest you do some research!)
These are the questions you need to answer heading into the draft – but it is also important to take note of what your opponents are doing. You don’t want to be left with a team with no depth in the centres, or short of points in the wing/fullback positions.
You have to be able to adapt, and you must hold your nerve.
Once the draft is done, the serious business of competing against your mates begins. Remember, you can trade between coaches, and you’ll quickly learn who are the movers and shakers amongst your friends as they try to convince you why a proposed trade is doing you a favour.
Note: Be careful when trading with your friends, when it comes to Dream Team, you don’t have any!
All in all, Dream Team Draft is just another way to enjoy NRL Fantasy, and the game itself. It brings you closer to your selected players, and you’ll find yourself watching them intently as they rack up tackles, try-assists and metres.
You’ll live vicariously through their highs and lows, as a last second try helps you overcome your friend or colleague across the desk at work.
I strongly recommend you try it out, and trust me on the pizza!