May on Sorare – a safe refuge from the crash?

This is my monthly rundown on all that’s been happening in the world of Sorare.

I started these monthly updates last June, as a way for me to keep track of what was happening with Sorare and my own gallery. Since then, Sorare have reintroduced their own newsletters so this will probably be my last monthly update and I’ll focus on big announcements in the future instead.

During May we saw the end of the European season and the final bottoming out of prices, alongside a sudden crypto crash that almost halved the price of ETH. Sorare also started to roll out some UI changes in May, alongside teasing some much bigger changes to come. After a winter where it felt like not much really happened, Sorare have definitely got their foot back on the gas pedal now.

Sorares pitches a new sport

Early in May, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that Sorare will become the become the official NFT baseball game partner and will launch a game this summer. From what we know, it sounds as though it will follow the same format of the Sorare we know and love: collect NFT cards and put together teams to win prizes. The feeling is these will just be card prizes – no ETH – due to stricter gambling regulations in the US, although I’m not sure this has been confirmed.

This isn’t the first time that MLB has attempted an NFT project. MLB Champions game ran between 2018 and 2020. This was ahead of its time – pre-dating NBA TopShot as the first officially licensed sports NFT project. There was a mobile game too – more than just collectables. Ultimately though, the project failed, as did attempts to revive it, and now here we are with Sorare and a different proposition altogether.

As a Brit, I’m not too excited by baseball and I’ve no plans to get involved. Sorare have promised that Sorare MLB will be managed by a different team, so as not to impact on the Sorare game that we know and love. Adding MLB into the mix (with probably golf to be added next) takes Sorare one step closer to their overall aim of being THE sports NFT platform, but what does it really mean for us as managers?

I guess in simple terms there is a good outcome and a bad one –

  • Good: Sorare MLB raises the profile of Sorare in the US (in particular) which brings in extra revenue for them and more managers into the main Sorare game. The Sorare team grows their expertise and there are beneficial cross-platform learnings that improve both sides of the game.
  • Not so good: Current Sorare managers drift over into the MLB game in the hope of benefitting from being ‘early adopters’, draining money from main game. The Sorare team have less focus on the main game as they put their energies into getting Sorare MLB off the ground.

It’s likely to be somewhere in between the two. I’d be surprised if the Sorare team doing anything which jeopardises the growth of the main game but I think it’s likely that we see a drift of current managers across to MLB when it launches, potentially causing a reduction in liquidity in the main game.

Women’s football… or not?

A survey went out to some managers in May which gave a strong hint that Sorare were on the cusp of adding women’s players to the game. I’m not sure if they were quite ready for the backlash…

I’ll make my position clear before I go on. For me, the decision has to be based on the data that Sorare has – they should know whether adding female players into the ecosystem is likely to be a good thing or not. If the data stacks up, then it becomes an ethical point for me and I’d say that Sorare is less about realism than some other DFS games so, on that basis, why not add women into the global divisions? If you can line up some randomer from the K League with an Austrian goalkeeper, a Mexican defender and a Premier League midfielder, then why not a striker from the US National Women’s Soccer League too?

The alternative is to have a purely women-only league, which would seem a bit limiting – but could also make sense if the concern is that women’s scores are likely to be too high (because of some unbalanced leagues) or that there won’t be enough Opta coverage to deal with players being transferred to other leagues.

Essentially though, I don’t think it’s about my opinion – or anyone else’s – it should be based on data at this stage. If it makes sense, do it. Otherwise, don’t!

Unfortunately, putting out a survey that asked manager’s opinions on adding female players into the game provoked two main responses –

  • Women will ‘break the game’ – based on some teams (Barcelona and Lyon) being so far ahead of the rest in their divisions and therefore their players scoring highly every week.
  • Women’s football isn’t ‘proper’ football – AKA thinly veiled misogyny.

On the first point, managers were quick to point out the high scoring teams and players to show that they know better than Sorare what the impact would be, despite the wording in the survey saying that this had already been tested and scores were ‘comparable’ with the men’s leagues. What this really says to me is that the community has a lack of trust in the team’s ability to analyse data and make decisions accordingly. Not good.

On the second point, as a woman, I found the week the survey came out pretty painful if I’m honest. Reading so many comments about professional women’s football being ‘worst than pub sides’ and nothing more than ‘parody’ reminded me of just how far we still have to go.

If, or when, women’s cards are introduced to the platform we’re going to learn a lot about how Sorare takes on board feedback from the community. I had thought that women would be introduced in a mixed format but I’m not so sure now. I’m not even sure I know what I’d do if it was my decision, although I guess that goes back to my first point about trusting the damn data…

Crypto-crash

Adding to the pain this month, ETH, along with every other cryptocurrency, took a serious nosedive in May, dropping from around £2,200 at the start of the month to around £1,450 at the end of it .

ETH actually peaked at around £3,600 in November and has been dropping fairly steadily since, and shows no real sign of hitting the bottom yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re seeing numbers sub-£1,000 later this year.

It seems this is largely a result of the ongoing global financial crisis, some dodgy stuff involving so-called stablecoins, plus some obvious recalibrating after last year’s bull run. Unlike other periods where ETH has dropped, the general sentiment/demand for NFTs seems to be dropping too, which is why I’m feeling a lot more pessimistic about things than I was a few months ago.

Sorare took pity on managers and rolled out the ‘ETH threshold pegging’ earlier than originally planned, to help underpin prices. So rather than receiving 0.01 ETH or 0.02 ETH for threshold rewards, we now receive the equivalent of $25 or $50 in ETH. This was a universally well-received decision!

We now get to see how much of a hedge against ETH prices Sorare really is. I think it’s taken a little bit of time for prices to rebound in ETH but we’ve seen a steady rise over the last couple of months, perhaps indicating that managers are now starting to price in the fiat equivalent again. If Sorare can weather the current storm in the crypto markets, and become a relatively safe refuge for ETH holders, that really would be something.

Other things you might have missed

It was a busy month! As well as the above…

  • The first Ecuadorian club was added – L.D.U. Quito. Let’s hope there is enough consistent Opta coverage to make this work (the coverage of the last game was downgraded).
  • Sorare launched a radical overhaul of the game lobby that we were all so familiar with. It’s fair to say this wasn’t universally appreciated! I’m pretty ambivalent. I didn’t like it to start with but then I wasn’t that excited by the previous version either. It still feels like they are iterating over the top of problems all the time and actually starting over from scratch might be a better idea…
  • A new game mode was trialled – the Special Threekly. This mode asks for three Limited cards and two Common cards. The Common cards receive no score but presumably have to be included as the coding on the site requires all teams to be composed of three players. This is a big step towards a lower start-up cost for new managers and is good to see.
  • The Sorare app was made available to allas long as you have an iPhone anyway (the Android app is still in development). I’m enjoying the in-game notifications but the overall UX is still a bit too clunky for me.
  • Sorare updated the terms and conditions of the game to address concerns around collusion – no one is quite sure what this means for DAOs like BlackPool yet though.

Sales volume and manager numbers

Auction volume for May was around 5,700 ETH (roughly £10m based on the average price of ETH during the month). This was a reduction in both ETH and fiat terms based on recent months and takes us back to the sort of volumes we saw at the start of the year – probably not surprising given the European seasons were coming to a close and crypto as a whole has been struggling.

Offer volume rebounded suddenly in May, with the biggest jump in the chart coinciding with the sharpest decline in the price of ETH – so it looks as though managers were thinking they could take advantage of cards being underpriced in fiat terms. The secondary market has continued to hold up well since, with volumes similar to the start of the year.

soraredata.com

In April we saw a shift towards managers consolidating their collections and a slight slowing of new users. This pattern has continued in May and it really seems as though the influx of new managers has flattened off, for now at least, with the number of managers holding a low number of cards (ten or less) increasing by only 5% during the month.

In contrast, the number of managers holding 50 blockchain cards increased by 15% and the number with 100 by a massive 19% during May. As I said last month, a drop in the number of new users can mean that card prices drop too. I would expect the platform to get a boost again when the new European seasons kick off and hopefully that drives some more growth, so no need to panic just yet…

My performance over the month

May was another reasonable month for me for rewards, with seven card rewards (six tier 3 plus a tier 2) and 0.0855 ETH in threshold rewards.

The card rewards all went straight in the ‘sell’ pile for me (I might have kept Cifuentes if I didn’t already have his card). Most have since sold and the total value there is around 0.33 ETH, so that’s a respectable £600 in rewards for the month, when you add on the thresholds as well.

I’m trying to take money out of Sorare at the moment for some real-life expenses so I’ve been trying to shift some of my cards while the market is a bit more buoyant. The off-season is also a notoriously difficult time to hold more cards than you need, as a surprise transfer can drop a player’s price overnight. With that in mind, I’ve decided that all my players are potentially up for sale (for the right price) even the ones I’d previously thought of as unsellable (like Gouiri). If I can cut my gallery down to about 65 cards by August (from 100), I’d be more than happy.

(So make me an offer!)


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