When is the best time to play the Maximum Captain chip in the FIFA World Cup Fantasy game?
If you are familiar with the Official Fantasy Premier League game, you will know that the best time to utilise your ‘chips’ is towards the end of the season when double gameweeks take place. However, participants in McDonald’s FIFA World Cup Fantasy game won’t be afforded such luxuries, with the competition format only lasting 7 rounds.
You will need to act fast so let’s start by looking at the Maximum Captain (MC) chip.
This chip which is referred to as a ‘booster‘ automatically makes the highest scoring player from your final playing XI your captain for the game round in which it is deployed.
Now you might recall that we produced a World Cup Cheatsheet that calculated the projected goals for each of the 48 group games based on the betting odds offered at the time. This is a great place to start and in the table below we have split the figures into each of the 3 group game rounds to see if any round offers an advantage over the others. We have also segregated forecasts for the 8 group favourites as well as including the actual number of goals scored in the ’round of 16′ and quarter-final stages at the last 3 World Cup tournaments.
When you deploy this chip, you will be expecting attacking returns from one of your big hitters. Of course, you could get lucky with a goalkeeper who records a shutout while saving a penalty or a defender who registers a clean sheet on top of a goal and an assist but the chances of that happening are comparatively slim so it makes sense to focus on players that are featuring in games where goals are expected.
It would appear that you would be at a slight disadvantage if you opted to use this booster in the knockout stage which sort of makes sense since we can expect the qualifying teams to be more evenly matched.
There should be plenty of goals in the 3rd round of the group stage but at this point rotation becomes an issue. Some sides will have already qualified, meaning that premium attackers could easily be benched.
The first two rounds of group fixtures therefore look like your best option. However, this fantasy format also allows you to make substitutions between game days in a round, complicating matters somewhat further.
Let’s say you opt not to play the Maximum Captain in Round 1 but include Romelu Lukaku as a premium forward due to the fact that Belgium take on Panama (the easiest fixture in the whole of the group stage). Now, you are likely to be faced with a stick or twist dilemma. Your highest scoring player could be on say 7 points after the first 4 match days. Do you leave the armband on the player that accumulated 7 points or switch it to Lukaku and hope he doesn’t blank?
With the Maximum Captain chip that pressure is taken away since you would still have the 7 pointer to fall back on, so when you use it, it is likely to boil down to which players you have included in your squad and how their fixtures are staggered throughout the rounds.
The Wildcard & The Bench Boost
Unless you make a complete hash of your initial team selection, there seems to be only 3 spots in which to use your wildcard. Ahead of Rounds 2 and 3 or before the quarter-finals. You get unlimited transfers at the end of the group stage but will only have 3 free transfer ahead of the quarter-finals.
Due to the knockout nature of the competition, you could easily see half of your squad knocked out at this stage, making it difficult to field a strong starting XI going forward so wildcarding here would give you good coverage for the remainder of the tournament.
Alternatively, you could wildcard ahead of Round 3 if you are confident about a number of managers rotating key players. Playing it in Round 2 would be an option if your strategy centred around building a Round 1 only team with a view to then selecting a squad that can attack those last 2 group rounds.
The Bench Boost looks like another chip that needs to be played early. Yes, you will get additional funds ahead of the knockout stage but the fixtures become much more difficult then. It should be easier to select a few cheap options that are guaranteed starters in the first 2 rounds.
Choosing when to deploy your boosters will inevitably depend on which players you select. If you are loading up on players from Brazil for instance, note that their second match against Costa Rica is the ‘softest’ on paper. This could be an ideal spot for Neymar, the top-rated player on WhoScored in 2017/18.
So a final word of advice – don’t sit on those chips!