Dipping my toes into Sorare

When it comes to gaming/betting platforms, I’m a tart. I’ll freely admit that I have a rather short attention span but I also don’t feel any strong brand loyalty or a need to pin all my colours to one mast. So I’m really pleased that there are now so many football-related platforms to choose from.

With Football Index experiencing some ‘growing pains’, I thought I’d dip my toes into Sorare, the new kid on the block. Interest in Sorare, a platform that blends crypto with fantasy football, seems to have gone from zero to 100 in the space of a few weeks on my twitter timeline and many well-known Indexers have been banging the drum for a while now.

Sorare is a French company and has some big backers. Developed in 2018, they’ve got the backing of Ubisoft and Andre Schurrle, as well as several million dollars in seed-funding. The basic premise seems to be to create the Panini sticker experience of the 21st century – using blockchain instead of physical cards.

You can hoard those cards, and benefit from them growing in value as you train them up, and you can enter them into 5-a-side tournaments, called SO5, that give you a shot of winning more cards or some crypto rewards. These run twice a week and across various different levels and leagues so there’s plenty to keep you interested.

For a crypto-virgin like myself, there’s a lot of terminology flying around that sounds like a foreign language, particularly if you venture into the platform’s Discord channel for support. ‘Blockchain’, ‘non-fungible tokens’, ‘fiat’, ‘oracle’, ‘mapped wallet’… it’s easy to get put off fairly early on. You also have to get your head around a crypto-currency, Ethereum, being used as the in-game currency.

Likewise the actual process of getting set up was a nightmare for me as my wallet locked up repeatedly and I ended up setting up a new account and starting over. I could easily have given up and said ‘this isn’t for me’.

I decided to persist because a) this is a very new product so I can understand there will be some bumps in the road and b) the community is incredibly helpful, especially the Indexers who have moved over there like Football Index Scotland, Fraser, Buzzing Paul and Quinny.

More to the point, if they see something in this then I don’t want to move too late and miss the boat. So here I am, 15 players added to my collection (on top of the 10 they give you for free) and determined to get my head around it.

I’m still learning the ropes so I’m not going to frame this as an advice piece – there are better people to get you started if you are curious – but here’s a few things I learnt early on:

This is primarily a platform of digital collectables. It is not a gambling platform. Unlike FI and Footstock, there is no instant sell options once you’ve bought a card. That doesn’t mean that you can’t sell it on and I’m sure there are plenty of Sorare traders who are making money from flipping cards, but you are relying on finding someone interested in your card – not always easy. If you’re not sure you want to hold a card in the long term, or unsure it’s really worth what you are about to pay, maybe it’s better not to buy it in the first place.

You can buy cards directly from other managers or via an auction as new cards come up for sale (think eBay but with footballers). Patience is the name of the game here – it’s easy to spunk all your money on the first cards you see and have nothing left for the player you really wanted when he’s introduced a week later. You also need to know your bidding limit so you don’t get tempted to stretch beyond that and, ideally, be around when the auction is ending so you can actually see what’s going in and put in a late bid if you fancy your chances.

Your knowledge of the 5 major leagues will only get you so far on here. Sorare negotiates licences with clubs to allow them to sell their player cards. You’ll find plenty of K-League, MLS, Russian and Jupiler (Belgian) League players on here, alongside some of the usual Ligue 1, Serie A and Bundesliga prospects (and West Ham). If you really want to expand your global football knowledge, Sorare is probably a pretty good way to do it.

Everything is transparent on Sorare. The idea of holding player cards has obvious similarities to Footstock but on Sorare you know exactly how many copies there are of each card. Unique cards are just that – unique (one per player, per season). Super Rares are limited to 10 per season, Rares to 100 per season. Scarcity is a big factor in card prices and looks likely to push values even higher as more traders join the platform (which I imagine might cause issues for onboarding unless they introduce another category at some stage down the line).

It’s not just that though. When I said everything is transparent, I really meant it. Every card has a unique identity so its authenticity can be verified and its journey from trader to trader tracked. I can see what cards another manager holds (Sorare users can see mine if they want to here). You can even see how much money different managers have in the platform. There are no secrets on Sorare.

The crypto side of things adds some unpredictability and you are essentially betting on Ethereum as much as you are on anything else. The price of Ether has soared in recent weeks, meaning that the value of cards has increased as well. 2 months ago, a Rare card to start your collection off might have set you back 0.050ETH (£9.30). A 0.050ETH card today would cost you around £16 – quite a jump.

On the subject of Ethereum – you can now buy cards using a credit card, so there is less need to get involved with the crypto stuff if you don’t want to. This might actually be less hassle (based on my experience of connecting a crypto wallet) and possibly cheaper too, given the high fees charged by Coinbase on crypto transactions.

It’s early days but I like what I see so far and I’m enjoying getting my head around a new platform and some new leagues.

If you decide to dip your toe into the water too, let me know and feel free to use my referral link: www.sorare.com/?referrer=mdj.

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