The fan controlled soccer league had its first week of games and it was a lot of fun.
There were a few hiccups (like the controversial refereeing at the end of the first game), but for the first week of a new product, it wasn’t that bad. Johnny Manziel was the biggest name that drew people to see him, but this league is full of talented players, even if they are not household names.
The opening week’s two games were close with the Wild Aces beating the Glacier Boyz 30-22 and the Beasts beating the Zappers 48-44. Both games ended with the possibility of a draw or victory in the final units. The Glacier Boyz appeared to have a catch close to tying the game, but officials controversially ruled it was a knockdown.
The Zappers almost legitimately returned to one of the craziest final plays I’ve ever seen in a soccer game.
MORE: Everything you need to know about fan-controlled soccer
There are clearly a lot of differences in this league compared to the typical soccer league, like being able to call up plays on the field. But there were a lot of other great elements in this league besides the big stuff.
Here we will go over some of the main takeaways from the first week of gaming.
1. Mobile quarterbacks are king
I’ve always loved mobile quarterbacks more than the standard passer, so fighting in this league really caught my eye for me. I don’t have the numbers because the FCF doesn’t have readily available box scores, but most quarterbacks seemed to have finished with more than 50 yards rushing.
Beasts backup quarterback TJ Edwards had 96 rushing yards (based on broadcast), and Manziel finished with 68 rushing yards (based on broadcast). Zappers backup quarterback Logan Marchi had a 40-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and had more scrambles, so he definitely topped 50. Glacier Boyz quarterback David Pindell was running all the way. the game and even though I don’t have his numbers, I’m pretty sure he was over 50 too.
Because it is 7v7 football, it really allows the quarterback to run free on almost every play. You have 3v3 blocking and then 3v3 coverage, which leaves the QB 1v1 against a defender. All the quarterback has to do is make that man fail, and it’s open field to run.
2. Fans love to call passing plays
Again, I don’t have the numbers available, but I felt like the fans were asking for passes on at least 90% of the plays from all four teams. The only time it would be called a run is if it was a short distance down or near the goal line. Otherwise, it was a bomb for the quarterbacks.
This eventually led to a lot of rioting, as I mentioned in the first point, but it did lead to a lot of action during the course of the game. It seemed like the fans just wanted to see the quarterbacks dive deep or just run. They weren’t too interested in handing the ball over to their running backs.
Although running the ball would probably be a good strategy if your team has the advantage. There is a lot of downtime between plays while they wait for the call from the fans. And since this league has a running clock, you could just chew on the clock if you were constantly calling running plays and getting first downs.
3. The broadcast booth wasn’t afraid to be different
Perhaps the highlight of the night was not the game on the field, but the comments on it.
During the first game, Beasts co-owner Marshawn Lynch was invited to the booth and allowed to really be himself. He did not have to censor his language and spoke freely about everything that came to mind. Including take as: after eating a Caesar salad.
Despite Lynch being the standout, the broadcast booth was excellent overall. Glacier Boyz co-owner and NFL player Richard Sherman was also invited to speak and had a great exchange with Lynch. Later, they brought in Beasts co-owner and former WNBA player Renee Montgomery who brought some excitement to the booth. It was fun to see all the different co-owners come in to talk about their teams and the league in general.
The final item that caught my eye was that the broadcast booth was fine, letting in some expletives. While this may put some people off, I thought it was perfect for the kind of league the FCF wants to be.
4. Calling plays is a fun experience
When I saw that the league was allowing fans to call the plays, I wasn’t entirely sure how it would work. I thought maybe the fans would have access to the entire playbook and could just spam the mindless plays over and over again if they wanted. But that is not the case.
Fans have the initial option of running or passing … pretty simple. From there, fans can choose one of three plays from that category. Those plays are predetermined by an algorithm that considers them good plays to call in that situation. In other words, fans don’t have the option to pick a horrible play.
After choosing your game, you are taken to a screen that shows all six available game calls and you can see which one got the most votes. It’s great to see the play you chosen actually gets a call, and see what happens next.
Not only is it a fun experience, it is incredibly easy. All you have to do is choose your gear and then connect your FCF account with Twitch through an extension. From there, the spread will appear on all offensive plays (fans don’t call defensive plays) and you go from there.
5. The bonus point system is fantastic
One thing that really stands out about this league is the fact that there are no kicks at all. There aren’t even goal posts to suggest the idea of field goals or extra points (no punt either). This is the first soccer league I can think of that just completely eliminated the idea of kicking. Even the Arena Football League, to which this league is the most similar, had field goals and extra points.
Instead of kicking an extra point, the teams line up in a one-on-one battle between WR and DB. Quarterbacks “scoop” the ball from a chair and then have three seconds to pitch to their wide receiver. It’s a fun and exciting way to score extra points instead of just boringly watching a kicker score a field goal while defensive players sit around.
It’s just another little element that helps make this league stand out.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.