Premier League teams concerned about Fantasy Football Leaks
The biggest story of the week wasn’t Bale’s revival, or two wonder goals in Champions League and Europa League, but Fantasy Football frenzy, caused by one Aston Villa fan from Norway.
A guy named Henning, 32-years-old, made a bot, that scanned insider accounts for changes. Moreover, it tracked players and staff teams, which resulted in real injury news leak.
It all started before the game on sunday, when Jack Grealish injury was revealed because James Tomkins and Aston Villa fitness coach changed him in their fantasy teams, and Hennig bot reported that on Twitter.
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish is one of the biggest performers this year and was praised by many editors, including the ones on bookmaker-ratings.com. But they also doubted that he’ll play against Leicester on February 21st. Nobody had solid proof before Hennig’s bot tweet.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola expressed concern of all EPL clubs by calling it: “unprofessional and unethical”.
The bot author had his say at BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, and was quite brief on that topic: “sorry, not sorry”.
Last year it became obvious that the popularity of fantasy football made it so high that real football players and staff can’t resist playing it. Enthusiasts compete in finding their teams, and discovered Trent Alexander-Arnold, Robert Snodgrass, Andy Robertson and others squads.
But it also made way for someone like Hennig, because for him subbing out Sadio Mane from Andy Robertson team on February 1st became the idea for the bot. The Senegalese did not feature in the Liverpool fixture two days later on the matchday.
“I wondered if it was possible to check if Premier League players or staff connected to clubs had made any transfers in the FPL game,” he said to Newsbeat.
So Hennig created the bot – an automated computer programme – which scanned the FPL (Fantasy Premier League) accounts of players, staff and junior players, who he calls “insiders”. As soon as the insider subs out his player the bot finds it out and tweets about it.
The Norwegian calls the process manual and tedious at start, because he : “had to spend hours on Google, LinkedIn and Football Manager 21 to find staff and even junior players.”
He also looked for a different fantasy leagues, and often succeeded:
“It’s a lot different between the clubs because some of the clubs have almost official team leagues,” he said, “Wolves have a league where it’s basically all the first team players.”
But some tried very hard to hide their identity:
“Everton had funny names that you really had to be clever to find out who they were.”
When he found out enough “insiders” for the bot Hennig: “just had to list it and create some logic in the bot to pick up the transfer activity and connect it to Twitter”.
At first, that bot was used for the author’s own use, but it blew up with that Grealish tweet. And even though Hennig has that “sorry, not sorry” attitude he mildly regrets that this story affected the side he supports, Aston Villa.