Over in the US, DraftKings has taken just four years to become a household name. In that time, it’s risen to become the second-largest daily fantasy sports site in the world.
So, when DraftKings finally came to the UK in February 2016 (see our news roundup), it inevitably made waves. Here on this site, for example, they’ve already featured in our articles several times. In the relatively shallow pool that is the UK market, their size and stature makes them a big fish. But is bigger necessarily better?
Here at DailyFantasyUK, we’re taking a look at the British offering by the American giant. First, we’ll take a look at the basic features of the site. Then, we’ll see how it stacks up against some homegrown competitors, and assess its strengths and weaknesses. Let’s go!
First things first
As with all things online, to start playing DraftKings, you’ll need to sign up for an account. Luckily, this is an extremely simple process. Just input a username, password, email address, date of birth and country of origin. That’s it!
You’ll then be prompted to make your first deposit. Deposits can be made by credit card or via PayPal. It’s at this stage you’ll notice one of the quirks of the site: anything you deposit on the site will be converted to US dollars rather than pound sterling. We’ll come back to the reasons for that a little later.
As you might expect, DraftKings will match your deposit bonus pound for pound, up to a whopping £400. It’s worth noting, however, that these matched funds won’t all be released at once. You’ll have to earn Frequent Player Points to get your free money – and to earn these, you’ll have to play in real-money tournaments.
Your bonus will be released $1 at a time, and you’ll need to earn 100 FPPs per $1. Since you only have four months in which to release your entire bonus, it’s quite unlikely a casual player will be able to take full advantage of this feature.
Know your way around
DraftKings has long been applauded for its easy-to-navigate site. The navbar at the top of the screen gives you an option to select Featured tournaments, or to choose a sport. To the left of the screen, you’ll be able to further filter the available games by selecting from seven types of tournaments. You can also filter by field size, entry fee, and contests with a guaranteed prize.
Selecting your team is easy and intuitive. For this example, we’ve chosen the most familiar sport for UK players – football. Your job here is to assemble a team with a salary cap of $50,000. You have to include a keeper, three defenders, three midfielders, and two forwards in your eleven. The other two picks are “UTIL” – any player except a goalie, giving you some flexibility on how your team is structured.
It’s easy to filter and sort players, and you can rank them by their average fantasy points per game, a useful tool to know who’s good value. Even for a beginner, DraftKings’ interface will feel familiar. There is one thing to get used to, though – the US practice of listing the away team first. We’ve covered DraftKings’ football scoring system, and the stats you need to know, in a previous article.
UK vs US (and Canada)
As previously mentioned, the currency used on DraftKings is the US dollar. Deposits made from the UK will be converted before they can be used. This might seem like an inconvenience, but the reason for this is simple: you’re not just playing against UK players here. British, American and Canadian players all compete in the same prize pools, giving you access to exactly the same games as players abroad.
All this means DraftKings is able to offer a much wider selection of tournaments than Europe-only sites. Many European sites, such as Mondogoal and FanFeud, only offer football. PlayON does better, offering four sports. But it’s DraftKings which takes the cake, offering football (both proper and American), basketball, baseball, ice hockey, golf, NASCAR, and MMA. That’s a total of eight different sports.
Now, it’s true that many of these sports are dominated by—if not exclusive to—the US. DraftKings have, however, stated their interest in expanding their offering in future to include sports more suited to British tastes, such as cricket and rugby.
It’s also worth noting that UK audiences are beginning to get an appetite for American sports, with the NFL holding annual games in the UK, and the NBA coming to London’s O2. In this sense, DraftKings’ arrival into the UK could hardly have been better timed.
More players, more money
Competing against the US doesn’t just mean more sports – it also means bigger prizes. While DraftKings is still just starting out in the UK, its US customer base is huge.
Had DraftKings restricted UK players to playing against other Brits, prize funds would have been understandably smaller. Playing with Americans—who caught onto DFS years earlier—means there are opportunities for far greater wins. This includes what may be DraftKings’ headline event, the Millionaire Maker contest, where the top prize is – you guessed it – $1,000,000.
Choose your battlefield
DraftKings offers a wide selection of contests to its users. We’ve discussed many of these previously in our DFS glossary, but in case you need a recap:
- Guaranteed prize pool tournaments (GPPs) are the big-ticket events that draw players into DFS, and DraftKings are some of the biggest. Pay an entry fee, draft your team, and a percentage of the top players win – often with big payouts for the overall best score.
- Head-to-head games are, quite simply, you versus one other player, competing for glory (and cash). Best team wins.
- 50/50s are competitions in which the top half of all players win, while Double Ups offer you the chance to double your money. These are grouped together on DraftKings, which is logical – both are generally low-value games, but offer some of the best chances of making a profit.
- Multipliers take the concept of Double Ups and extend it, giving you the chance to triple your money – or even greater. Small entry fees, relatively large payouts.
- Qualifiers give players with smaller budgets the chance to win free entry to play in big-ticket events.
- Leagues will be familiar to UK players – you can either enter an existing league, or create your own. Winner (or a few winners, in some larger leagues) take all.
- Beginner tournaments are one of the best features of DraftKings. One accusation levelled against DFS is that the experienced, knowledgeable old hands always have the advantage over the newbies. Beginner tournaments are only available to newcomers, meaning you’re playing against people who are – more or less – in the same boat.
- Freerolls are also available, giving you the chance to play DFS for free and – here’s the best part – win real money! The payouts may be small, but hey, there’s no risk!
DraftKings is one of the strongest offerings available in the UK market right now. With its wide range of sports and tournaments, it’s easy to see why US players have fallen in love with it, and why the UK might soon end up smitten as well.
Here’s a quick list of some of the main pros and cons:
|…but they could improve:|
On the whole, though, we’re more than pleased to welcome DraftKings to our shores, and with so many possibilities, why not give it a go?