Whilst we wait for more FI news, I’ve been getting to grips with Sorare. This came out strongly in my recent members survey as a platform of interest, and if you want my in depth review of the platform as a whole you can read that here.
In that article, I discuss my wariness – less with Sorare itself – and more with the frothy crypto market at the moment.
However I have enjoyed my time on Sorare so far, playing mainly for free and with “on paper” teams (i.e I select a team and work out how well I would have done if I had bought them).
This is always a sensible way to enter a new game. Whilst we can have vast experience in similar player scoring systems etc, there are always little quirks that can catch us out if we don’t take care.
Plus, my feeling is there will be better times to enter the market than right now so I am staying patient.
Fun. And Strategy.
I’ve been having fun on Sorare. But it is a different type of fun to what we may get on a game where we can easily own the global stars of world football like FI.
I would liken my experience so far to “old school Football Manager”. When I was a kid, I used to take pride in starting FM from the equivalent of League Two, taking my lowly team all the way through the divisions until one day, Leyton Orient were European Champions.
Early on, you’d be signing pretty much pub team level players with massive weaknesses but a few major strengths and just working with what you had to claw your way up the leagues.
I would scoff at my “casual” friends who insisted on starting with Manchester United. That was easy mode as far as I was concerned.
And I think this is an appropriate mindset – because if you are playing this game for value and to win rather than collecting – you will just not be doing it with the big names.
You will have to be scrapping for the dregs of world football to find relatively unknown players who are perfectly capable of matching pace with Mbappé and Haaland and yet come in at a fraction of the price.
And to enjoy Sorare right now from a competitive/value perspective as many people from FI tend to have, you’ll need to enjoy that aspect and embrace it.
It won’t quite give me the connection to the big match days that FI did. But I also actually enjoying scouring Leagues like the Belgian Jupiler Pro and the MLS for targets. (What does this say about me?)
Let’s start with a few thoughts on strategy that sprang to mind as I worked through some analysis.
If you haven’t seen the Brad Pitt 2011 film Moneyball, I’d recommend it just because it’s a good film. This was based on a true story around the Oakland Athletic baseball team, who wanted to compete on a limited budget.
Using statistical analysis, they built a successful team from an assortment of misfits and apparent losers – players who most professional coaches and scouts would reject for some perceived flaw such as “not looking right”.
To translate this to Sorare, the way the scoring system is set up has zero respect for the importance of the game. So a player knocking in hatricks in the MLS or Russian Premier League is scored just the same as Mbappé or Kane.
So there is a huge diminishing return from holding big name players in terms of raw scoring. A rare Mbappé may be north of €18k but players who can score equally well can be had for a fraction of this, 10% or less.
So, to get value, we will want to regularly rotate through the best value lesser known players according to form and fixtures, and if I am lucky enough to land an Mbappé or other popular player from the prize pool – I’d likely be selling them immediately to one of the “collectors” who see long term value or just plain satisfaction in holding these cards.
So, whilst the prices can seem alarming if you look for popular players, it is well worth being aware that competitive sides can be assembled for far, far less, certainly for low 4 figure sums rather than 5 figure sums. Even 3 figure sums might be possible if we really stretched.
And this is with Ethereum in a bull run (although that is slowing right now).
It isn’t easy though, and what we may lack in cash we must make up for in strong analysis.
Fortunately, just like in FI, the general perception of which players are good or not seems poor, and most people’s research seems to extend to the average of recent scores, or to a basic reading of just historic goals and assists. So there is scope for a good analyst to exploit those gaps to find value.
Timing is everything when deciding on strategy. So if we are playing “moneyball” then before we decide which players to pick exactly, we need a good idea in mind of the area of the market we are targetting.
Just like in FI, there is a natural flow to the calendar that will change the trends at various times. Seasons starting and ending, or having winter breaks. All very familiar. But the difference is in Summer we’ll have some Leagues still in action, mainly the MLS, J League and Korean League.
Other Leagues are winding down, and the Belgian Jupiler Pro League for example has just a few weeks left to run.
So there is a decision here, do you wait, hoping that Belgian league players drop further as the season ends and then pick them up? You’d be waiting all the way until the start of next season for your players to see action, but very likely to see a market shift back towards them when it comes.
Or do you target MLS players, who get their season started in less than a month?
Those who have read my strategies over the years will know that I tend to like working ahead of the trend. See the trend coming. Spot the best player. Buy them early whilst others are distracted by shorter term things. Sell them just when you see people on social media and chat groups talking about this “new trend” widely.
So you might think I’d be drawn more towards the approach of picking up value in the Belgian League and waiting it out. But no.
On this platform, that is a long time to wait until the new season. And if I want to store money in crypto I’ll just put it in Bitcoin or Ethereum.
I also want to play the game. Gain more experience and maintain my interest. Without active games, I may get bored and there is no surer way to lose control than to stop caring about what you hold.
So an MLS and J-League based strategy would suit me better. However, joining the game at this point – we are also way behind the pace here for my taste. The articles highlighting the “new” trend in MLS players etc are already well underway and hitting social media and chat groups. And if that’s true – you know a lot of the value is already gone. It’s simply too obvious a trend.
This should have been done weeks ago. But we are where we are.
Fortunately, there are gaps to be exploited. Whilst the obvious big goal scorers and assisters from last season in the MLS have relatively high prices – there are still lesser known competitive players available cheaply. And a new season brings new faces who may well be next seasons top scorer but have no previous record from last season. These can fly under the radar.
So, locating that kind of value would seem to me to be the optimal play at this point.
And I think we should be more ambitious than just “eth grinding”. We could go for a team that just meets this threshold score of 205 and 250 for a small amount of Eth.
But it should be possible to create a team on a budget that gets over this fairly low bar and gives us a decent chance to card wins too.
Our time, like money, is a resource. And if we want to really reward our time we are going to have to give ourselves a good chance at winning cards, and any threshold wins we pick up on the way I’d consider just a bonus.
Transfers and Youth
An alternative strategy would also be to care a lot less about winning the current tournaments, and instead, target players who may transfer to a big team later and become more desirable.
Again, a very familiar pursuit for us on this site. And you don’t even have to worry so much about a new scoring system as we aren’t trying to win.
So, ferreting out some future high scorers with a credible chance of a big Summer move and holding them until they can be sold for a substantial profit is attractive.
But, this is likely something I look to do a little later, after I had settled on a competitive team to compete in tournaments with. I’ll cover this more in future posts, most likely.
Next, let’s pick out some practical examples of players we might go for if using a budget “moneyball” strategy.
Let’s start with the MLS. Next week, I might do an analysis of the J-League or off-trend Belgian League players in case you wanted to follow a more patient long term strategy.
Ezequiel Barco - 21 - Atlanta United
Barco’s average scores in the last 5 games are indeed bang average (or worse). Yet in the underlying numbers, he’s getting closer to big scores than most would think.
He has both goals and assists in the locker, and despite going through an astonishing goal/assist drought at the end of last season – this is surprising – because he had regular chances for both throughout.
He’s got some hype behind him as an Argentina youth international and this is a big season for him where he needs to make a bigger impact than he did last term. He has started well, scoring twice in the last pre-season friendly.
Whilst he can score and assist to create explosive scores that can help win cards, even on a quiet day he can make a reasonable contribution due to decent overall involvement.
And because his last season SO5 scores towards the end of the season appear poor – he’s also budget friendly, selling for €310-€415 in recent days. But he’s well capable of big scores if he takes his good pre-season form into the season proper.
As for other potential budget stars, you could also consider Cristian Pavon at Boca who may return to LA Galaxy on a permanent deal. He is currently mired in a personal scandal, which puts his move in doubt.
However such doubt can also cause the price to drop significantly – and indeed it has. It could be worth monitoring this situation as he would be a strong value pick should he be found innocent and move back to LA. And as we know – he has always been expected to move to a big 5 European league at some stage.
A tricky one with Pavon – but when playing moneyball we won’t get hold of obvious stars like this unless something is currently going badly wrong for them.
Lewis Morgan - 24 - Inter Miami
Morgan’s scores towards the end of last season were pretty decent, which is probably why he is a touch more expensive than Barco.
Yet this run of good scores in his last 5 games is a fair reflection of his level, and based on match data, probably an underperformance if anything.
So, I’d back him to continue that success and with a new contract just signed it suggests he goes into the season with the confidence of the coach.
Selling recently for €500-650 he is probably the upper limit of what I would call “budget” but I think he justifies this.
A cheaper alternative might be 28 year old Colorado midfielder Jack Price, who should deliver solid average scores plus very strong assist potential. At just €200-300 recently he’d be a competitive addition for a budget team.
Diego Valeri - 35 - Portland Timbers
A scary veteran.
When playing moneyball sometimes we have to do things that most people won’t.
In early season, I tend not to fear elite veterans – they have a long season ahead and if they prove their strength – many people quickly overlook that age as long as the big scores keep flowing.
There is a risk that if our elite veteran suffers a major injury, it could well be a career ender and we can really struggle to sell. But this is a game of risk versus reward.
And the rewards are potentially big – his strong record of consistently high SO5 scores is deserved and should be consistent.
He is selling for as low as €200-€400 and could outperform many players at much, much higher price tags.
And if you wanted a younger team mate who would also be a viable pick, if not quite as good as Valeri, you could consider 29 year old Yimmi Chará. Again, I’d expect him to help us compete for cards and he is changing hands for just €200-250 in recent days.
Maxi Moralez - 34 - New York City
Another veteran worthy of note in the same mould as Valeri above.
Same risks related to age apply, but again, he should be a consistent high scorer and comes in at a snip – selling for €300-400 in recent weeks.
If we really want to run really competitive teams on a budget, we will have to make use of players like this.
If we really can’t bring ourselves to go for a veteran though, we could go for 25 year old Cristian Roldan at Seattle Sounders. He has a solid scoring history and this one is no accident. In fact, his scoring record in the last 5 is probably an underperformance if anything.
A touch more expensive than Moralez, Roldan has been selling for €500-600 recently. But then we don’t have to run the age risk with the 32+ category and for some that premium may be worth it.
Anton Tinnerholm - 30 - New York City
A solid choice for the defender slot. He has a decent all around game to give him a good average score even when he doesn’t score or assist.
And yet for a full back he has very strong goal threat and assist potential.
Selling for €200-300 here is an unexciting yet reliable scorer who can help get our teams in contention for cards whilst being budget friendly.
"XX will be available soon!"
There are plenty of MLS players who, a little frustratingly, are not yet on the platform. Here are a few that could be worth looking out for if they get added:
Dayne St Clair – GK – Minnesota
Emanuel Reynoso – Mid – Minnesota
Carlos Quintero – Fwd – Houston Dynamo
A Note on Goalkeepers
I’ll cover this more another time but Scouting for goalkeepers was not particularly satisfying.
Scoring here is very heavily dominated by clean sheets which are easy to spot, and when it is too obvious who will perform well, people cluster into them too much causing very high prices.
This is particularly bad for goalkeepers since there are far fewer of them around anyway and the economics just dictate higher prices here. Sorare should really have seen this coming and it needs some sort of fix.
They should increase save points or similar – allowing keepers at leaky teams to rack up points if they prevent a lot of goals even if they concede 2 in the process.
This creates particular difficulties when assembling a budget team.
In the MLS, everyone would gravitate to someone like Willis at Nashville, due to his strong clean sheet record last season. But this puts him into €1,000+ territory most likely, well out of our value range for this team.
The answer might be “get any warm body that is cheap”.
If you had a good Common goalkeeper you might reason that despite the savage 50% penalty he might compete with a bad Rare keeper. But that seems a stretch.
If you are just trying to hit the Eth threshold that would seem ok. But if we want a really competitive team lacking a reasonable keeper would be a serious handicap.
So, we may need to dig out a hidden player – perhaps someone like Jonathan Bond at LA Galaxy who is yet to establish in the team (or get Cards on the platform). We might be able to snap up a bargain like that.
Or, we may be able to find something in the J-League to tide us over.
Or, we may just have to bite the bullet, and cut back on other players in order to afford a decent keeper – testing our moneyball to it’s limit in the other 4 slots in our squads.
This could be worth an article in itself so I’ll not go into this too much here.
So, it is very possible to play Sorare competitively when spending low 4 figures. 3 figures might be pushing it, mainly because of the Keeper conundrum.
I’d probably say £2,000 could get a competitive “moneyball” team going fairly comfortably, with a decent chance at winning cards. Maybe less, if you really worked hard to do some wheeling and dealing.
And I’ve been having fun – just a different sort of fun to what we might see on Football Index.
Again, I won’t be diving in with huge sums just yet myself. I’m no expert on crypto price movements but after a bull run I am just instinctively cautious about diving in at this stage.
But I am optimistic for the platform long term and think better moments to wade into the market might present themselves if we are patient.
I’ve been asked by a few people if I have a link for the free Rare card offer because they wanted to support/encourage me to make content on Sorare. I didn’t until very recently, but now I have got an affiliate link, which is something I thought about very carefully. I was never an FI affiliate for example.
But in the crypto space, this sort of thing is fairly routine and I do need my time creating content to be rewarded somehow. I am pretty sure regular readers will know that this will not impact what I say about the platform or it’s players in anyway whatsoever.
I may actually be Sorare’s worst affiliate, given my sober assessment of charging in with big money right now. Which I’m fine with!
But those who want to use my link to get the free card (on purchase of 5) can do so. It would be appreciated and enable me justify putting in the time to produce more regular content like this.
However if you do want to try Sorare, I’d recommend starting slow, maybe even just playing with free starting cards or with low sums and assembling a budget team before charging in too hard.