So far, so good, Sorare

I’ve been on Sorare for a couple of months now and I wanted to give an update on how I’m finding things. I’ll try to cover the main questions and concerns that you might have if you are looking to dip your toes in, and also a few hints and tips to get you started.

The basics

What is Sorare in a nutshell? Imagine a 21st Century version of a Panini sticker album, where you can use those stickers in global fantasy football games to win money or more stickers. The slight twist on this is a sprinkling of crypto currency – the in-game currency being Ethereum (ETH). However, don’t get too hung up on this, it’s not as big a part of it as you might imagine.

I got curious about Sorare after seeing several Football Index traders tweeting about it. I think I first took a look in July but got put off at the point of sign up and didn’t go back again until August. Once I finally got up and running on the platform, I was almost instantly hooked and I’ve since invested around £2,600 into the platform on 44 player cards, putting me in the top 15% of managers in terms of total cards average value.

THE SIGN UP PROCESS

This was where I came unstuck in the beginning and would’ve probably never gone back if I’d not had some support from the community.

The best way to sign up is via another manager’s referral link (here’s mine: https://sorare.com/?referral=mdj) as this will get you an extra Rare card once you start building a team. All managers start out with 10 Common cards. These can be used in the Rookie league to get you used to the basics of the game but you really do need to put a bit of money in to get properly involved.

So how do you put money in? That’s where I had issues although things have been simplified a bit since by Sorare allowing credit card payments. However, credit cards can have issues too so really the best thing to do is to take a bit of time to set up an account with something like Coinbase where you can buy ETH directly and load that into your wallet on Sorare. The process is basically this:

  1. Buy ETH from Coinbase (you’ll probably want to start in the simpler version of Coinbase but quickly move to Coinbase Pro where the fees are less)
  2. Install MetaMask, a browser plugin that serves as an Ethereum wallet. I use this on Chrome.
  3. Connect your MetaMask account to your Sorare account.
  4. Buy ETH on Coinbase, send to Metamask, then deposit this into your Sorare account.

This sounds complicated – and it is when you first start out – but it gets easier as you get more familiar with things.

The problem I had at the beginning was that my wallet locked up. This seems to be a known issue with the platform and something they really need to resolve. Long story short, I ended up starting a new Sorare account from scratch (with a different email address) and using a different browser on my phone (the Brave browser).

I’ve not used my credit card yet, although I know some prefer to do that rather than mess around with buying Ethereum. There are some obvious pros and cons to this but worth bearing in mind non-Sterling transaction fees, a credit card surcharge on transactions on the secondary market and also beware of your credit card provider blocking multiple transactions, as might occur during an auction.

Building your gallery

On Sorare, your portfolio of players is called your gallery. There are three way to buy players: from public auction, from other managers on the secondary market and from other managers via direct offers (often a negotiated process). Auctions are generally the cheapest place to start but they demand patience and commitment as you’ll have to wait until the player you want is available and then make sure you’re around when the auction ends. Auctions that finish in the early hours of the morning often end with lower prices.

The value on Sorare is driven by a player’s performance and also their scarcity. You can get a feel for the sort of price you’ll need to pay for a player by checking out the rather fantastic data platform SorareData. It’s a vital tool for managers and, incredibly, completely free.

The scarcity factor is the thing that sets Sorare apart from other similar platforms. Each player can only have a maximum of 100 Rare cards, 10 Super Rare and 1 Unique card issued per season. Think you’ve found the next big thing? Buy up his Unique card and stop anyone else from getting in early.

Obviously, the more scarce the card, the more you would expect to pay for it. Most Rare cards can be picked up for less that 0.1 ETH (around £28 at the time of writing) but some go for much more than this. Stepping up to the Super Rare and Unique categories requires a bit of a bankroll, with a typical Super Rare setting you back 0.7 ETH (£200) and perhaps 3.0 ETH (£860) for a Unique. My most expensive purchase so far has been Duje Caleta-Car Super Rare for 0.877 ETH (£250). The first Unique Neymar is currently up for auction for 59 ETH (£17,000), with 4 days remaining. Some of the prices are mind-boggling.

A quick point on the ETH prices. I’ve said before that we are betting on the price of ETH as well as the performance of our players. That holds true to a certain extent but I think most of us tend to value a player in our own currency (also known as ‘fiat money’) – so if I think a player is worth £200 then it doesn’t matter too much to me whether that’s equivalent to 1 ETH or 1.5 ETH. Of course the fluctuations do matter when it comes to changing currency in the first place and any long term growth (or fall) in the price of ETH will impact on the platform.

There are around 100 licensed clubs on the platform and not all will be familiar to you when you start – and this is where you need to consider your angle. Do you stick with leagues that you already know well? Or do your homework on the more obscure leagues, like the J-League and K-League, and try to unearth some hidden gems?

I’ve done a bit of both. Most of my current knowledge is across the five main leagues (the leagues that fall under Champions Europe in SO5 – see below) so I’ve mainly been looking for player that are plying their trade there. But actually I’ve quite enjoyed learning a bit about other leagues, particularly the Belgian and Russian leagues, and there are definitely some bargains to be had if you hunt around a bit.

You’ll face a dilemma early on – buying a goalkeeper. I mentioned scarcity earlier on – goalkeepers are the most scarce of all, with each team only usually having one starter keeper, compared to at least 10 outfield players. Expect to pay more for a goalkeeper and spend a lot longer looking for one. Alternatively, if you’ve got a decent keeper Common card, you can use that with four good Rares and still put out a decent SO5 Division 4 team.

SO5 – the game within the game

SO5 is what gives the card utility. It’s basically the fantasy football element of the game, based on a 5-a-side model, with various different leagues and tiers.

In your 5-a-side team you must have a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward. The extra place can be any outfield player of your choice. You choose one player as captain and they get a boost to their points multiplier.

It’s free to enter the SO5 games and there are some decent prizes on offer in terms of free player cards and ETH. Sorare has made an attempt to level the playing field a bit by creating different ‘divisions’ across each league, with power cap requirements at the lower levels. You need to understand the interplay between card levels, power and XP – this takes a bit of time to get your head around at first but isn’t a huge concern when you start at D4 level entering only Rare cards. It’s also something that is going to change in the near future, with Sorare talking about a bit of a shake-up and a removal of the power cap (with limitations based on card scarcity instead), so perhaps don’t spend too long thinking about it now and wait to see how that looks instead (changes should be implemented by mid-November).

The 5-a-side format makes it easy to jump into initially without having to have a huge outlay on cards. The scoring matrix helps too. Players receive a score between 0 and 100, with 50 being the average. In reality, most scores are somewhere between about 25 and 75, so a much smaller difference than you might see in something like FPL. This certainly makes it feel more accessible and ‘winnable’ when you are first starting out, although a DNP (a player who doesn’t play) can derail high hopes for a team very quickly. You can read more on the scoring matrix here.

I’ve had a few wins at D4 level now and was pretty chuffed to pick up a Thomas Partey as a reward for one of those. The transfer to Arsenal means that no more cards will be printed (at least until Arsenal are onboarded), immediately increasing his scarcity (picking up players you think might get a favourable transfer is probably a good way to turn a profit in Sorare, if you want to go down the trading route).

Selling Cards

With a pretty small userbase still, selling cards isn’t easy. You can put cards up for sale at any point but you’ll be up against hundreds of other managers selling cards at the same time. As I write this, there are over 5,000 cards up for sale on the secondary market – only a small percentage of those are likely to sell. Remember that Sorare isn’t a gambling platform – it’s a gaming platform that utilises digital collectables – and buy your players with that in mind.

If you are looking to buy players to trade them on for a profit, you probably need to be looking for the next hidden gem, a player who is likely to transfer to an unlicensed club (providing that club is still in an Opta-covered league) or someone who is about to get a chance off the subs bench due to injury. All totally doable but, as is often the case, research pays off.

If you want to sell, you’ve got to price your card reasonably. You also want to be part of the Discord community – this is the place to strike up deals with other managers and promote your current sales (as well generally stay in touch with everything that’s going on). Like SorareData, the Discord channel is a vital tool for managers.

SorareData is pretty useful when it comes to selling cards too. Remember that the site doesn’t just hold data about players – it also holds data about managers too. Is someone sending you a low ball offer on Discord? Check their profile on SorareData and you’ll be able to see how much money they’ve got in their balance at the moment and any players that you might want to suggest their offer to you as part of the deal.

Side games

As well as being a good place to strike up deals, another reason for joining the Discord channel is to access the various side games that have been set up by the community, like the worst player game and the managers world cup. These are free to enter games with real prizes, so well worth a look.

It’s worth noting at this point that one of the things that sets Sorare apart from similar platforms is that the ownership of the card is with the manager, not Sorare. Each card is a NFT (a non-fungible token, or crypto-collectible), which exists on the blockchain. It can’t be duplicated, altered or deleted.

So, theoretically, if Sorare were to go bust, you would still own the cards that you had in your gallery. I guess, theoretically, it also means that there could be other games developed in the future which utilise these cards, either alongside or instead of Sorare. I say ‘theoretically’ as I’m sure it’s much more complicated than this but it’s something to bear in mind.

Interested? Where to go next

This is just a quick run through from me but feel free to drop me a message if you have any questions that I’ve not covered. There are also plenty of other content creators out there sharing their tips on the platform and helping new managers to get started. Two I’d recommend checking out to start with are the Sorare podcast with @HibeeIndex, @fpl_chef and @blockchainYNWA and Quinny’s YouTube channel.

And when you’re ready to go, hit that sign up link and let me know how it goes!

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