Once Upon a Time.
Similar to other young and growing industries like poker and MMA fighting, the high stakes fantasy football hobby is leaving it's own mark in fantasy sports. These first few years are just the beginning and we are all helping to write the next chapter.
The traditional, season-long High Stakes Fantasy Football (HSFF) hobby as it exists today was launched in 2002 when fantasy football industry forerunner Lenny Pappano and his team launched the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCOFF). It was an incredibly ambitious venture at that time to ask casual fantasy players to invest a minimum of $2,000 in entry, travel and lodging costs to come to Las Vegas for a draft. As it turned out, more than 550 teams entered that first year as the groundbreaking event took off.
But the next few years proved to be tumultuous for the young HSFF industry. Instability and uncertainty marred the industry with contests changing ownership while others collapsed or simply folded. The WCOFF was sold to a new group in 2007 which mismanaged and eventually bankrupted the innovative contest a few short years later. Unfortunately the fantasy players who loved the HSFF hobby and supported these contests were the ones to suffer most.
The FFPC Is Formed
The FFPC idea started with a simple phone call between three high stakes fantasy players in mid-February of 2008. David Gerczak, Lou Tranquilli and Alex Kaganovsky all shared the same vision on how to create a new contest that will safeguard prizes, offer an exciting and compelling game format and treat its customers like kings. Over the following two months, their daily goal became turning their vision into reality. Tranquilli’s position as a financial advisor forced him to leave the project, but Dave and Alex continued hammering out the FFPC format.
After that initial phone call, the FFPC was officially launched in April 2008 and began taking signups for that season. The response from the high stakes community to this new face in the industry was incredibly positive. Fantasy players immediately began to form a strong community on the FFPC message boards. The FFPC game format was welcomed with excitement and intrigue. When registrations closed in September 2008, the inaugural FFPC Main Event had a modest 180 teams entered with a few dozen of individual leagues and online satellites formed as well.
FFPC Sets the Bar
After a successful 2008 season, new players continued to join the growing FFPC community. In 2009, the Main Event featured 228 teams with another successful weekend of live events in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. The FFPC also began to offer innovating game formats by introducing entirely brand new concepts like the Terminator Tournament, Field of 192 and Playa4LIFE contests. The new Pros vs Joes Challenge was also created, pitting industry “Pros” against the FFPC “Joes”. The high stakes Dynasty format was brought to life in the FFPC for the 2010 season.
Prize funds protected in attorney escrow. Higher prize payout percentages. Caesars Palace as the 5-star Las Vegas draft venue. Lightning fast payouts. Hands-on customer service. A growing community of players. Trusted ownership. This is what the FFPC brought to the high stakes fantasy football hobby and to its players in the 2008 and 2009 seasons and continued each year afterwards.
A New Arrival and a Groundbreaking Partnership
October 2009 was one of the most important moments in FFPC history. Chris Lambert joined Alex and Dave as the first official addition to the FFPC family. Chris was very well known to the high stakes community since the early days and was a natural fit into the FFPC. And while her official title is the FFPC’s Customer Relations Specialist, it’s not completely accurate. If an FFPC player needs help with something, Chris gets it done—it’s that simple.
Just a few short months later, in January 2010, the FFPC partnered with Footballguys.com in one of the most important partnerships in the history of high stakes fantasy football. The goal of the partnership was to co-brand a mid-stakes $350-entry online tournament in the same format as the FFPC Main Event in order to offer the general fantasy community an opportunity to play high stakes fantasy football at a manageable price point. The Footballguys Players Championship—as it was named—became a huge hit among the high stakes players, and finished its first season with 1,608 teams and a $100,000 Grand Prize.
Clearing the Hurdle
2011 was a tough year for all fans, fantasy players, the entire fantasy industry and all those associated with the NFL in general. The NFL lockout continued to drag on through the summer and threatened to cancel the entire NFL season. When the lockout was finally lifted at the end of July, with only weeks left in the pre-season, the FFPC pressed on and the high stakes fantasy football community was only too eager to respond. The FFPC doubled its Main Event grand prize to $200,000, and the Footballguys Players Championship’s top award was raised to $125,000 as well. When the smoke cleared, the 2011 FFPC Main Event numbered 720 teams registered and the Footballguys Players Championship stood at an amazing 2,964 teams.
Leading the Way
2012 became yet another banner season for the FFPC but 2013 broke all previous participation records as the fantasy players continued to show their support. The 2013 FFPC Main Event broke all high stakes records and finished with 1200 teams. The Footballguys Players Championship had an astounding 5,808 teams participating. In addition, more than 200 individual FFPC leagues were formed with entry fees as high as $10,000. More than 6,000 active fantasy players participated in some form with the FFPC and more than $5,000,000 in prizes were awarded in 2013 alone.
The basic principles on which Alex and Dave founded the FFPC have never waned: Give the fantasy players the best product possible, treat them like kings and always keep your promises. This is what has helped make the FFPC the home of high stakes fantasy football and it's what players can expect from the FFPC in the coming years as our hobby continues to grow and thrive.