I think we can all agree that winning a fantasy football game is a once in a lifetime achievement.
Try telling that to fantasy guru, Rui Marques.
The once economic student has won two different fantasy games in two different countries, earning him over £100,000 in three years.
And he has given us the lowdown on how he became so successful.
Like most fantasy football players, Marques grew up as an avid football fan.
‘My passion for football has been there since I was three, four years old. I was always the kid wanting to watch all the games and play all the time.’
But Marques grew up with expectant parents urging him to pursue a career in economics.
‘Fantasy football was my hobby in the background of my career, which was to graduate in economics. That was not my passion, or my biggest talent!’
Marques didn’t enjoy the best start to his fantasy career in England, and he blames his own lack of knowledge of the English game.
‘My first season was nothing special, my knowledge was okay but I wasn’t aware of the teams like Blackburn or West Ham.’
Sorry Irons fans…
After a third place finish in The Daily Mirror’s 2006 fantasy game, Marques’ obsession with the games grew – especially in England.
‘In 2008 I won two monthly competitions and I became a champion in 2009/10 winning first place in the Daily Mirror game (£25,000.)’
Problems arose as The Mirror, along with other games, started to reserve the right to play for residence in the UK exclusively.
But that wasn’t enough to stop Marques who tried his luck with German newspaper Bild’s Bundesliga game.
‘In my first season, I won first place (£80,000.) In three years I had won two trophies in two countries so I decided I could try to enter the real football world.’
No longer a game
By the beginning of the 2013/14 season, Marques had a preliminary meeting with Porto but the Portuguese giants never asked for a follow up.
Instead it was Estoril Praia took a risk on the fantasy phenomenon, initially as a volunteer.
‘In the first season, the club signed two players who I included in my final work. One of them was sold six months later for a £1million profit.’
Following a spell in the MLS with Sporting Kansas City, Marques was approached by Legia Warsaw to become their new international scout.
‘Last week I was in Scotland for the game against Cyprus. They sent me there to assess some Cyprus players as potential summer signings.’
Fairly remarkable considering Marques started out as an arm chair fantasy football player.
Note pads out.
With the new Dream Team season fast approaching we wanted to find out what every player should be thinking about ahead of the new season.
‘Pre-season is very important for a fantasy football player. All the friendly games, all the signings. All of it.’
‘Most mistakes are made at the beginning. You must know if a player is good but playing under a negative coach.’
‘Rotation as well, I remember Rafael Benitez at Liverpool, he did a lot of rotation.’
‘Another key thing is if an outside team makes the Europa League one season then they will be struggling to avoid relegation the next. Wigan and Newcastle had this problem.’
So think twice before putting any Wolves players in your Dream Team…
‘You also need to use your strengths. I have a good memory so I use that when I can.’
‘I am also emotional, so when I’m doing a World Cup game I think Argentina will win because of Messi, that’s not the way to think. You need to have a micro and a macro perspective.’
So look at the detail without ignoring the bigger picture.
If you want more detailed analysis of Rui Marques’ remarkable success, he has a book available which can be purchased through this link.
And of course, you’ll be able to sign up to play Dream Team in 2019/20 very soon, with loads of exciting new additions to the game.
Who knows, you could become the next Rui Marques.