DraftKings #FFWC Live Final Event Recap by Ben Joselson (@xBenJamminx)
“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win” – Zig Ziglar
I would like to thank DraftKings.com for putting on an amazing weekend. I couldn’t have imagined a better time for the DailyRotoSharks.com team! If you want to see the Live Blog that I was posting on throughout the weekend of the event, click here DraftKings FFWC Live Blog.
We are all on a journey, some with different goals in mind. I met so many different people this weekend, all with different goals yet still ended up in the same room at the same time hoping for the chance at a $2 Million pay day. Something I think we can all agree on is that being in a tournament where even the contestant who comes in last place walks away with $15,000 is the opportunity of a lifetime. No matter how you got there, you are guaranteed to be a winner. Many of the players I talked to happened to be what you would call amateurs or “Average Joes”. Guys who played a $4 qualifier and put their football knowledge to the test and won an entry to one of the largest DFS Contests in history, with a $10 Million Prize Pool. There were amateurs and pros alike who all qualified for the contest in a variety of ways, yet all ended up in the same place.
There were multiple ways to qualify for the tournament, starting from $0.25-$400 Satellites into larger qualifiers, or the qualifiers themselves ranging from $3-$5,300 for your chance to win a $61,555 Fantasy Football World Championship Package. The package included a trip for two to NYC which included a $1,000 cash credit for two roundtrip flights and transportation. The qualifiers were put up in the luxurious Loews Regency Hotel in Mid-Town NYC for 3 nights from Friday to Monday. There were 180 seats, with a maximum of 5 entries allowed per player, into this massive $10 Million Prize Pool, with the winner taking home a cool $2 Million and a Trip to the Super Bowl, sponsored by RotoCurve.com
(How about this for a Top 10 Payout? $$$)
On Friday there were two scheduled events that were both “Meet and Greets”, the first was from 12pm-3pm located in the restaurant/bar of the Loews Regency Hotel that we were all staying in. There we started off our day with a spread of incredible food, among the many options was lobster, crab cakes, spring rolls and an assortment of delicious meats and cheeses. This was our first introduction to a weekend of non-stop open bars and buffet style food arrangements.
Among the wide array of incredible food and open bar, was the first glimpse into what would be a long weekend of meeting some of our favorite DFS players. Not only did we meet some of the great members of the DraftKings staff, including Tori Pereira, Brian Jasiak and Jordan Bloom, but we spent a fair amount of time discussing the future of the DFS industry with RotoCurve.com founder Jason Ziernicki. (Video Walking Around Meet & Greet). After being inundated with more coffee than I have drank in a while, my nerves had settled, helping me to start the trend of speaking to some of the Pro DFS players and amateurs alike. There, I met some fascinating personalities, including Lee (Bcalicore), Tyler (TinkyTyler) and Jason Walker (Jaywalker72), three DFS studs who let us peek into the minds of some of the more successful players in the industry. We met a guy by the name of Maher Jaber (animalthug13) who was one of the more interesting people of the weekend, who qualified on Thanksgiving with a $4 entry, which also happened to be his very first day playing on DraftKings! We also spoke to a couple who had just arrived from Cleveland, Josh (home_jjjk) and Katie Meiring. Whom my partner Chris Galligan (CeeGee @DailyRotoSharks), also from Cleveland, immediately felt a connection with, showing me the unspoken bond that many Clevelanders seems to have when they meet each other. Josh told us how he had ended up winning his ticket on one of the last days of qualifiers, tying another player in a $4 entry, and being the beneficiary of being the person who had entered his lineup in the qualifier first. Fast forward to Sunday night and Josh had been leading the final for much of the night, until a late game 43% owned Taylor Gabriel touchdown knocked him down to 6th place where he would end up collecting a cool $200,000 payday. (Side note: This is what it looks like to be winning $2 Million on your phone).
That same night from 4pm-8pm was the event at Tao in Uptown NYC. Once again we were met with an open bar and a luxurious spread of food, much of which was Asian-American cuisine, which was delicious. If I could remember, and be able to pronounce the different items of food, I would, but just know that it was a fantastic spread. (Video Walking Around Tao) Here, we spent the night mingling and rubbing shoulders with some of the top DFS players in the world, including Jay Raynor (BeepImaJeep), Aaron Jones (AEJones, previous $5 Million DraftKings NFL Champion), and Peter Christensen (DraftCheat). To kick off the night we were greeted by Michael Rappaport and Jason Robins, Video of Michael Rappaport and Jason Robins giving speeches, including an appearance by NY Assembly member Dean Murray of Assembly District 3. After spending some time with Ricky Sanders and Josh Collacchi of RotoCurve, our fellow DailyRotoSharks.com team member Roman Edmond (LongBottoms, previous $3 Million Fanduel NFL Champion) arrived. We spent the next hour or so picking his brain on DFS and NFL strategy, in between chatting with Jason Walker of FanVice.com and Dan Back of RotoGrinders.com. The event itself was incredible, and the only thing is that I wish it was longer. I feel like I could have stayed there for days just talking to some of my DFS idols and picking their brains as much as was humanly possible.
Saturday was a free day where everyone either spent their time exploring the city, and/or staying at the hotel to research and set their lineups.
Sunday was the Live Final at the 40/40 club in NY. The setup of the 40/40 club was incredible, with stadium seating and huge flat screen TVs, it was a fantasy football fan’s paradise. Free flowing drinks and unlimited food, it was heaven for DFS players. Buffet style arrangements with open bar and waiter service. The Branding Production by Zack Nevar and Brendan Weaver of the Wasabi Media Group was awesome, with the DraftKings logo carefully placed around the entire venue. We arrived early and set up in a private room with couches, TVs and a pool table, where we hung out with a bunch of DFS players who were in the tournament.
I spent much of my time on Sunday, not watching or paying attention to the games, but updating my live blog http://www.dailyrotosharks.com/draftkings-ffwc-live-blog/ and interviewing DFS players. I spoke with some really awesome guys such as Eric Hafner (eHafner), Scott Hanson (escot4, Fanduel $2 Million NFL Champion), Nick Dunham (1ucror), Assani Fisher (Assani) and Cal Spears (GrindersCal, Founder and CEO of RotoGrinders.com), Jeff Collins (JeffElJeffe), CJ Kaltenbach (TheSeige), among many others. It was a wild time. I can remember seeing the nervousness and excitement flowing through the crowd with each run, pass and defensive play. It was one of the most memorable weekends of my entire life and even though I wasn’t a contender in the tournament, I felt like I was sweating it out. Walking around the room, talking with DFS hopefuls who all felt that the $2 Million was within their grasp was intense. Then BOOM, Melvin Gordon gets carted off the field early in the game at 23% ownership. You can feel the grief from Gordon owners and the relief of those who faded him. While at the same time, Le’Veon Bell was going off at 48% ownership, ending up with 3 TDs and leaving no chance at a massive win without him on your team. Here is the ownership for all the players who were picked on people’s rosters.
The leaderboards stayed pretty consistent for a while with not much moving up or down within the top 10 until the highest owned player of the 4pm slate, Taylor Gabriel (currently with 2 DK points) caught a 64 yard TD, changing the landscape of the entire tournament. What was absolutely crazy was at the very same time that this massive and highly owned touchdown happened, the DK leaderboard was frozen. There was a problem with the server that caused bewilderment with everyone in attendance. For the next 20 minutes, while the games didn’t miss a beat, everyone involved in the tournament was on their toes wondering how much their lineups would be impacted. Positively if they had Gabriel, and negatively if they didn’t.
Here is what the leaderboard looked like before that play.
And here is what it looked like after, with escot4 taking the lead.
A lot of money changed hands in that time. The next 10 minutes would be an absolute sweat for Scott Hanson (escot4). What is wild is that he was in first place with a NEGATIVE -0.20 from Travis Benjamin in his lineup. The tournament wasn’t over yet, with the LA Rams down 42-7, Jeff Fisher (former Rams Coach) still had his starters in. The only thing that could remove Scott from the 1st place spot was a few points from Todd Gurley. With the Rams on the 2 yard line and predictable Todd Gurley touchdown coming. Scott was on his feet, looking extremely nervous with an impending $1 Million drop-off to second place.
…And Jeff Fisher leaves people scratching their heads again. JARED GOFF TOUCHDOWN!
While many believed the game was over, Atlanta ran a few plays and gave the ball back to the Rams. Down 42-14, they couldn’t possibly still have Todd Gurley in the game right? WRONG. Jeff Fisher and his wild antics keeps the sweat going. I believe at this point Scott was only up 2.7 DK Points. Todd Gurley gets the hand off for a 5 yard gain, then a 7 yard gain. With Scott up 1.5 DK points and 20 seconds left, the Rams decide to let the clock run out. Game over, tournament over, and Scott Hanson (escot4) is $2 Million richer.
With a sigh of relief, he is embraced by his loving wife Danielle, for whom he promised to buy a new car. CONGRATULATIONS SCOTT!
Congratulations to all the DraftKings #FFWC finalists and all those who participated and walked away with a minimum of $15,000! Here are the final leaderboards. EVERY. POINT. MATTERS. #MakeYourMoment
I hope you all enjoyed my coverage of the event, it was an incredible time and a thrilling experience. I wanted you to feel like you were there with me, because I know that I personally will be trying to qualify for one of these events. I mean, who wouldn’t want to experience this?
Big thank you to the awesome staff at DraftKings.com for putting on this incredible weekend and invited myself and my partner Chris (@DailyRotoSharks) to cover the event. Something that I will always cherish.
About the Author:
Co Founder of DailyRotoSharks.com in 2014
Ben is a senior in college studying Computer Science as well as working full time. In his spare time he likes to research and study anything relating to DFS. He’s been playing DFS for 2 years and won some GPPs early on and has had good success since, being able to pay off all of his student loans and credit card debt. He’s been hooked ever since. Primarily a Cash Game player, Ben has also had great success winning multiple GPPs.