The World Cup may be over, but you can stop crying in to your cornflakes because Yahoo have just launched their 2014/15 Fantasy Premier League game - at least for mobile - ahead of the big kick-off on Saturday 16th August.
The new Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football mobile app was released this morning and is available for Apple devices via the App store and has also been launched for Android and should push through shortly.
The web version of the game will be released later this week over at the standard URL, and as you will see it looks like the roll-out has already started, as the homepage and splash screen were both updated this morning.
Having downloaded the app for my iPhone, first impressions are very positive - it appears slick, user friendly (e.g. drag and drop to bring in subs / change formation), and I understand a number of additional features will be added over the next four weeks ahead of the new campaign. These include (but are not limited to) in-app chat and forums. More information to follow as we get it. The player database will also get a full refresh in the coming days, with the likes of Luis Suarez removed and Alexis Sánchez added.
In terms of core changes to the rules and to the game itself ...
- The "Captain rule" has been removed - This is something I'm personally delighted with. The Yahoo FPL game has so many different scoring possibilites that it felt slightly unnecessary to throw in the additional differential of double points for picking a captain, and the Yahoo team behind this year's game have come to the same conclusion, removing the rule after one season.
- The budget is back to £100million while the substitutes bench remains - Last season saw the introduction of the substitutes bench, and with it a budget of £150million. This was a lot of spending power and allowed fantasy managers to build extremely strong starting XIs while spending a few million on the bench players, but things are set to get a whole lot tougher for 2014/15. While prices have been tweaked down across the board, picking 15 players for £100million will be a real challenge and will require fantasy managers to think outside the box, with bargain-hunting becoming an important part of your strategy once again.
- The reintroduction of 1 point for a "Corner Won" - This was a scoring area removed from last season's game but it returns for 2014/15. 1 point will be awarded to a player for winning a corner, which adds an extra reason to pick that tricky winger for your starting XI.
- New players now get a "proper" starting value - This isn't really a rule change, but it is significant. We've always seen new players added to the Yahoo game at a standard price of around 6-7million regardless of their standing in the world game. This changes for the new season; new players transferred in to the Premier League will be given a proper value, based off a combination of stats from their previous club / league and a bit of manual adjustment from the team at Yahoo.
In addition to these tweaks, there has been a monumental amount of work done behind the scenes to the back-end and front-end of the game, with stability the main focus, and we can expect the live-scoring element to be a more consistent experience this season.
These are the key things to note at this stage. We'll know more once the web version of the game launches later this week, and I'll be looking to get further information on how the barn-door will function for the season ahead, as well as any additional new features we can expect.
The app tells me "Game starts in 32 days, 13 hours", and I cannot wait to get going. Any early thoughts on the app and rule changes?