On Friday evenings between August and May, in living rooms, bedrooms and offices around the world, millions will be in the final throes of frantically tinkering with a global maths and probability game.
One hour and one minute later, their eyes will be glued to that day's Premier League match. They will bury their heads into their phones, flit between illegal streams and repeatedly hit F5 on work computers. But most won’t be supporting either side. Some won’t even be football fans. All, however, will be itching for point hauls and bragging rights.
The game is Fantasy Premier League. This season, close to 8 million ‘managers’ around the world will select a virtual squad – composed of 15 real-life footballers – to accrue points based on players’ live in-game stats and contributions. Users can tweak tactics and transfer players within a £100 million budget ahead of a weekly deadline, with the aim of maximising points to top mini-leagues and global rankings.