Sunday is draft day in the Wormburner league.
With pick 8 of 10, it hardly seems realistic or worthwhile to put Salah, Kane, Sterling, Aubameyang, Agüero, Mané or Eriksen in the queue, except sometimes someone picks someone bizarre and you get one of the sleek models after all. It would be delinquent and wasteful not to do so. Somebody could very conceivably not choose Eriksen, for example, so there’s that. Either way, the heavy hitters won’t clutter the queue for long once the draft starts. One could maybe score a top-six or top-seven pick with slot number eight, you never know. Dare to dream.
But who comes next in that series, assuming those seven come to pass? Who’s eighth-best? Firmino? Vardy? Rashford? Kevin de Bruyne? It’s de Bruyne, isn’t it. Or is it Eriksen, because the custom first seven weren’t calculated correctly? Is Eriksen even a first-ten pick?
When you don’t have conviction on first pick, the first and most fundamental draft decision–which one player do you build the whole team around?–it’s possible that like me you may be feeling the classic symptoms. The room has gotten perceptably, uncomfortably, warm. Fear receptors/perceptors have sharpened. A large apex predator seems to be growling from extremely close range, right behind you.
It may be the best last chance to get a sorta-swaggering heavyweight striker. Alternately, it could be the one chance to get a solid attacker from Liverpool or Manchester City. With the choice of Firmino or de Bruyne, maybe you get the two-birds-one-stone combo meal, except de Bruyne isn’t remotely a striker. Regardless, while both excellent, then first choice is the debatable third-best at either of the two clubs. That doesn’t exactly scream slam-dunk awesome. And yet the offer is probably the best available. Unless maybe Vardy. We’ll see. All number of bouts of crippling indecision to navigate between now and then.
On the plus side, with the snake draft, a late first-round pick transitions quickly to an early second-round pick, so the horizon suddenly illuminates, spanning outward in nearly infinite elite midfielder majesty. A fair few goalscoring forwards hang around, miffed at not having been picked straight away. Can one genuinely get two satisfying bites of a cherry? Why not?
The big names will disappear, first Liverpool and City, then Kane and Aubameyang and then it picks up speed in a blur of attacking midfielders and vanishing players as the clock speeds to zero.
The draft will begin:
Pick 1: Mohammed Salah
Pick 2: Harry Kane
Pick 3: Raheem Sterling
Maybe I can still get Aubameyang.
Pick 4: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Pick 5: Sergio Agüero
Stop thinking of players you hope won’t get picked (Mané and Eriksen). It keeps triggering their selection.
Pick 6: Sadio Mané
Pick 7: Christian Eriksen
Pick 8, mine.
Maybe I dodged a bullet. Rumblings around Eriksen suggest he could depart up until the extreme last moment of the transfer window. Choosing someone with the first pick and then seeing them jet off to Madrid for a medical would be gut-punchingly painful. The best choice would be someone rock solid, someone so attached to the club that the powers that be couldn’t shift them even if they wanted.
Pick 8 (me): [countdown clock seems imposing]
Pick 8 (me): [countdown clock seems to be plummeting]
Pick 8 (me): [countdown clock seems to be just about done]
Someone the club couldn’t shift even if they wanted to.
Pick 8: Mesut Özil
Fingers crossed Alexis Sánchez is still around come Pick 13. Or the actual one I’d probably pick, foregoing the former Arsenal go-to’s for the newest recruit, hot off the press: Nicolas Pépé, not included in the game at drop time. But even on a write-in ballot, he is the best bet of the three.
Good luck on the draft ahead, and here’s hoping you get not only the first bite of the cherry, so delicious, but also that second, elusively refreshing fruit bite.
The Wormburner plays the draft format on Real Fantasy Football (realff.co.uk). The column generally drafts very poorly (but then improves!).