With NFL season officially set to kick off in just a few hours, the majority of the DFS world’s attention is on extensive preparation for the wide variety of Week 1 contests being offered around the industry. However, late last week, the two market leaders rolled out announcements that had players’ imaginations fast-forwarding to December.
Bi-Coastal Live Finals
Both DraftKings and FanDuel announced details for their 2016 NFL Live Finals, with the respective events taking place on opposite coasts. FanDuel’s World Fantasy Football Championship (WFFC) will unfold December 16-18 in scenic Rancho Palos Verdes, California, while DraftKings will notably celebrate their Fantasy Football World Championship (FFWC) in New York City a week earlier, from December 9-12. The Empire State location is a notable one, as it would have been virtually inconceivable less than a year ago when New York was at the heart of the legal maelstrom the industry found itself in at the time.
Prize Pools Reduced, But Still Robust
DraftKings’ total prize pool is notably double that of FanDuel’s, checking in at a whopping $10 million. The total tournament size is also larger, with 180 seats overall, each one being valued at $61,555. The first-place winner takes home 20 percent of that total, a $2 million haul. Second place will join the Millionaire’s Club as well with a $1 million dollar prize. The rest of the top five will take in a combined $1.6 million, with third place claiming $750,000, fourth place receiving a $500,000 bankroll boost, and fifth place garnering $350,000.
FanDuel’s WFFC will consist of 100 seats, with each seat carrying a total value of $53,000. First prize will take home $1 million, second place will be awarded $500,000 and third place will be $300,000 richer by day’s end. The remaining two spots in the top five will pay out a total of $350,000, with fourth place taking him $200,000 of that amount.
Comprehensive VIP Packages Up for Grabs
DraftKings is allowing players to qualify for a maximum of five (5) seats in the FFWC, with qualifiers contests ranging from $3 to $5300 in entry fees, and satellites set at price points between 0.25 cents and $400. Qualifiers will run through the slate of Sunday, December 4th. Those qualifying for seats will receive $1,000 for airfare and transfers in addition to VIP accommodations for two in downtown Manhattan.
FanDuel is limiting players to a maximum of three seats in its WFFC. Qualifiers receive a VIP package valued at $3,000 that consists of a $1,000 airfare credit, three nights’ accommodations for two at the Terranea Resort, a Welcome Reception on Friday, December 16, a Saturday special event on December 17 that includes the opportunity to meet Joe Montana, and a WFFC Final Sunday Championship viewing party on December 18. Qualifiers began running September 2nd and range in entry fee from $3 to $100.
New Prize Pools A Sign of the Times
The 2016 edition of the FFWC is a return to a more traditional live final format for DK, following a two-part contest in 2015 that awarded a massive $5 million grand prize. That edition of the contest had been announced to much fanfare back at this time last year, but ultimately unfolded under the dark cloud of legal uncertainty that engulfed the industry in December 2015.
For FanDuel, the 2016 version of the WFFC will represent a notable drop in total prize pool from last year’s $12 million, a contest that saw the top three finishers emerge as newly-minted millionaires. However, the scale down is not unexpected, given the company’s significant increase in legal and regulatory expenses, as well as the recent launch of its long-awaited UK product.