This article is part of our Fantasy Soccer 101 series.
No one knows what the future holds, but I believe I have seen the future of fantasy football/soccer, and it's combined with the future of sports card collecting. Picture a place where you can buy sports cards and use them to compete in fantasy games against other people's cards. That is what Sorare offers.
Sorare is a Blockchain based fantasy football game where users buy, sell, trade and collect limited player cards to enter into fantasy football tournaments to compete for prizes.
There are two fundamental aspects of Sorare:
- buying playing cards
- using those players to participate in fantasy football contests
Before we dive into how you use the player cards, it's important to understand exactly what they are:
A Sorare Card is a digital collectible that represents a football player and is tied to a specific football season.
Thanks to blockchain technology fans can collect their favourite players with the benefits of provable scarcity (fixed supply). On top of that, Sorare Cards are freely tradeable and usable in an open world of different applications and games. Each collectible enjoys many of the attributes of other blockchain-assets: it cannot be copied or taken away from you. Users also enjoy access to the complete digital history of the card.
One of the values of these cards is that each one has a specific digital scarcity: there are only so many of each card made and no more can be created once the specific set is complete. For the current 2020/21 season, there are three levels of scarcity for each player: Unique, Super Rare (10 copies) and Rare (100). Put another way, there is only one unique Kylian Mbappe card for this season, 10 super rare cards and 100 rare cards. I use Mbappe as the example because his unique card for this season was recently created and subsequently won at auction for €55,105.04. While there will be one unique Mbappe card created for each season he plays for one of the 100+ (and growing) teams Sorare has a license agreement with, this was Mbappe's first unique ever. The purchaser of the card believes it "has a good chance to become the single most collectible item of the sports world over the next decade." If that's the case, €55,105.04 seems like a pretty good buy-in price.
As mentioned, the Mbappe card was won at auction, which is how all new cards are introduced to the market. Participating in these auctions is very simple and the cards can be paid for by using either Ether or a credit card. The primary currency of Sorare is Ether, which is the native cryptocurrency of Ethereum, and you can fund your Sorare account via a cryptocurrency wallet such as Portis or Coinbase Wallet for mobile or Metamask for browsers. For full disclosure, I have below a basic familiarity of cryptocurrency, so being able to use a credit card was very helpful.
Auctions run 24 hours per day, so there are no time zone issues for the most part, which is helpful because Sorare is available worldwide. Additionally, there are occasionally packages of five cards, called Bundles, made available, which allows you to quickly build a core for your fantasy team (we'll get why that's important shortly).
Auctions are not the only way to purchase cards, however, as there is also a Transfer Market where people can sell their cards either at a predetermined price (essentially a "buy now" option) or you can negotiate directly with the seller. One of the benefits of everything being on the blockchain is that it's completely transparent, so you can see exactly how much each card is sold for and who was the buyer and seller. For example, you can currently buy the unique Alvaro Morata card from the 2019/20 season for €23,818.19, which was initially won at auction on June 14, 2020 for €1,161.86 by a user named Jokkker and then directly transferred to SorareItalia on Oct. 13. Cards are available in the transfer market for 48 hours after they are posted, though you can also contact any card owner and make a direct offer if you think you can convince them to sell a card they are not currently putting up for sale.
Don't let these big numbers push you from thinking you can't get in, as there are players available at nearly every price range, such as a Paulo Dybala rare card from the 2019/20 season for €278.72, a Matteo Politano rare from the same season for €68.41, Denis Cheryshev rare for €18.75 and Graham Zusi rare from the 2020 season for €5.07.
Purchasing cards, either by auction or in the direct market, is necessary to compete in different fantasy tournaments on Sorare where you can win new cards or ETH. The tournaments are free to enter and available across different divisions that allow you to compete with people with somewhat similar level cards. The fantasy format is five-a-side (they call it SO5), which means you only need five cards of a certain level to create a team (the requirements are one goalkeeper, one defender, one midfielder, one forward and one other outfield player).
New managers can compete in rookie leagues for eight gameweeks using the 10 free cards you get for signing up. Once you've graduated from the rookie tier, you must use at least four rare cards to compete in the different leagues offered. Not only can you create a Global All Star team, which allows players from any of the 23 leagues Sorare covers, but you can also play specific Europe Challenger leagues, which is made up of the top five European Leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1), as well as other regional leagues in the Americas or Asia:
All Star League: Our All-Star League contains several Divisions in which you can play with any combination of Player Cards (Unique, Super Rare or Rare).
Under 23 League: Our Under 23 League contains several Divisions in which you can play with any combination of Player Cards (Unique, Super Rare or Rare) whose real life age is 23 years old or under.
Regional Leagues: Our Regional Leagues contain several Divisions in which you can play with any combination of Player Cards (Unique, Super Rare or Rare) who are eligible for that region (Euope, America or Asia)
Training League: Our Training League contains several Divisions in which you can play with any combination of Player Cards (Unique, Super Rare or Rare)
Weekly Challenges Our Weekly Challenges are one-off Tournaments in which you can play with any combination of Player Cards (Unique, Super Rare or Rare) providing they fit the entry criteria.
Obviously the more cards you own the more contests you can enter, so there's a benefit to expanding your card portfolio across division leagues and regions. We'll dive into the specifics in another article, but your cards actually gain value the more you use them in competitions, so there is an added incentive to play more often. Remember, you only pay for each card once, but you can then enter each of the weekly tournaments for free to win new cards or ETH.
If you recently participated in the sports card boom, you'll understand that owning cards of younger players is beneficial because they have more time to increase in value. That fully applies to Sorare because once you purchase a player's card you own it for their entire career and can use the card in tournaments as long as they're in a covered league. For example, if you bought an early Mbappe card, which would have him playing for Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, you will still be able to use him in tournaments if he transfers to a team like Real Madrid. The Spanish club is not yet on Sorare, which theoretically makes Mbappe even more valuable until that time comes.
But we have to remember that this isn't a card-collecting site, it's a fantasy football game that players use cards to compete in. Buying and holding cards is certainly an option for some, but the cards fundamentally gain value when they are used in Sorare's fantasy tournaments because they earn power and XP, which we'll get into in an upcoming article. If you're interested in exactly how the scoring works, you can see that here, but the basic concept is that two nearly similar cards (let's say two of the 100 rare cards for Joao Felix) could have different values if one is just bought and held while the other is used in numerous tournaments (they latter would be worth more).
And because this is a fantasy game, we can't only worry about young players who might become superstars one day, we need players who can help us with fantasy tournaments today (or at least in the next tournament). That's why there's still a market for players like 34-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, 30-year-old Carlos Vela, 29-year-old Ciro Immobile and 30-year-old Thomas Muller; at the end of the day, we still need players to score fantasy points now.
I realize this is a lot to digest for a new fantasy site that might become the future of how we play, so if you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below. Also, we'll have some follow-up content to dive deeper into some of the site's concepts and rules, so be on the look-out for those in the coming days. After playing on the site for a bit, you can quickly start to believe that the future of fantasy football is here.
If you're ready to jump in, click here to get your 10 free cards.