The new Premier League season will kick-off Saturday night (AEST), which means millions of people across the world and hundreds of thousands of Aussies will be adjusting and tinkering with their fantasy Premier League team. Here are the do and don'ts from the man who came first in Australia and 22nd in the world last season.
Ben Thomson was not a football fan six years ago. By 2020, he was in the top 0.000004% fantasy Premier League players in the world.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, you get a budget of $100 to select 15 Premier League players, with a maximum of only three players from each team. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are the most expensive players in the game at $12.
You are awarded points if the players you have selected, among other things, score, assist or keep a clean sheet in the real-life matches.
Over 5 million play across the world via the Premier League's official website.
Last season, Magnus Carlsen, the world’s best chess player for the last decade, made international headlines when he was leading the competition for half a season. He said his strategy was being "both an optimist and an Optamist."
Carlsen eventually finished 11th.
11 spots behind him was a real estate agent from Queensland. Ben Thomson, 1st in Australia, 22nd in the world out of over five million competitors.
"Six odd years ago I wasn't a massive football fan, I played a bit of NBA fantasy," Thomson, who also plays professional golf, said.
So what drove him to his incredible ranking?
"Revenge! (Laughs), I had moved in with a mate who was a massive Wolves fan and I started playing with my mates.
"I was losing a few years in a row and I thought, how was I going to get better at this and learn more about this sport.
So what's his secret? How in-depth does his research get? What advanced formula or algorithm is he using?
"I’m solely eye-test. I try not to miss a game. We (Thomson and his housemate) are big Wolves supporters, we watch every match with our mates.
“I don’t look at Xg (expected goals). I just watch the games. (Kevin) De Bruyne was in my team since week one last season. I thought he had a lot to prove coming back from injury.
“I brought (Michail) Antonio in with four weeks to go and he scored four goals against Norwich. He didn’t score the week before, but if you watch the game he played he set up like five chances and had six chances himself in a 1-0 loss.
“We (Australians) are lucky enough here to be able to watch every game live or on replay.
“It’s an advantage over the UK, who can’t watch the 3pm, kick-offs.
De Bruyne, Antonio, Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Bruno Fernandes were all vital for Thomson's side last season, but what is the best strategy for this season?
"I try to focus a lot on a 3-5-2 formation because the midfielders outscore the rest of the league.
"I don’t rate the premium striker option. The midfield is where you get the majority of your points.
"I’ll get Trent (Alexander-Arnold), regardless of the price.
"Being a Wolves fan, Jonny is out injured so we’ve got a young left-back Ruben Vinagre who will play a lot. The formation we (Wolves) play really suits the wingbacks.
"I’ll go Trent as a premium defender, two relatively cheap but good defenders, stack my midfield and see what I got left for the strikers."
What about the promoted teams? Any value in Leeds, West Brom or Fulham?
"Leeds are probably the best defensive team so (Stuart) Dallas and (Luke) Ayling are probably your best bets.
Now we've set up our team, what are the things to do and don't do during the season?
"Keep hits to a limit. Captaining players is vital. Getting your bench right. I left over 350 points on my bench, the guy who won it had 200 points less on his bench.”
“Stick to your guns. If you like a player and you’re not on him and he does well you be fuming.
“Injuries are a huge one. Follow Ben Dinnery Injury Analyst on Twitter."
So you've put in the hard yards and managed to come first in Australia and 22nd in the world? What prize do you get?
"Donuts mate! An interview with Nick Stoll, I guess."
The ultimate disappointment.
"It's all about winning your mini-league and taking money off your mates! (Laughs)."