I'm already in the MLSSoccer.com bracket challenge, but yesterday I did my first ever "draft" style World Cup contest. The snake order system was used so I drafted 4th, 13th, 20th and 29th in our eight-person competition. Jeremiah had the 3rd pick and its requisite picks. There was also a drafting of Golden Boot contenders.
Similar to how an NCAA Bracket increases your interest in teams from conferences with weird names like Mid-South, or All-America (or whatever) I now have reasons to root for teams besides the USA. All four of my teams are from different Groups and both of my Golden Boot winners are also from Groups not covered by the national team draft.
I have reasons to watch basically every game. That's a win!
With the 4th pick Brazil, Argentina and Spain (Jeremiah) were gone. Everyone has those in the top four. Germany being a consensus fourth team. Those are all rated quite high and honestly one of them is almost certain to win the World Cup. Here's why I didn't select Germany - they're competing against my homeland and they're European. With teams from Europe struggling so much outside of Europe I wanted to stay away from them, even if favorites.
I chose Colombia rather than Uruguay. Even losing their best attacking player I felt their Group was easier to exit than what Uruguay is facing. Chile, Uruguay and Belgium (a dark horse that I feel could make a run) were off the board when my 2nd round pick came to play. I went with Ecuador and so my two early round picks have South America going for them.
Oshan picked Croatia in the second round.
He'll admit this is an error if you ask him. Error is too strong. After the draft was over he, as I did when I picked Rooney, realized he could have better value with other nations.
As the third round progressed my hopes of an African or Asian side capable of making a knockout run were gone. Bosnia and Greece were Euro "powers" left. Instead I got the benefit of picking with my heart, so I went U-S-A all the way. Or at least with my 3rd round pick among 8 drafting it didn't seem to be a horrible idea. Jeremiah had just picked Japan.
My final pick for national teams to support was interesting. There were only four nations left - Iran, Honduras, Australia and Algeria. Once upon a time I spoke Arabic so again I picked with my heart. This also happens to be a pick that isn't entirely insane. Group H is pretty weak, especially if you think that Euro nations will struggle. Plus they have the guy who helped Montero lose playing time with Sporting Lisbon - Islam Slimani.
For the Golden Boot winner draft I had the second pick. My strategy in the first round was simple. I would take whichever of Neymar or Messi was available. I have Neymar. Oshan picked 4th and had Costa, which is some serious quality if that whole horse placenta thing works out.
We only picked two deep on the Golden Boot. None of my other wants were around with the 15th selection. Oshan grabbed Hazard. Lukaku was taken in the middle. I was tempted to just draft Dempsey and go all heart. I still regret not doing it.
Instead I selected a man who is really just a playmaker now - Wayne Rooney. I feel pretty dumb.
In all these picks are slightly different than what I did in my bracket challenge, but not terribly so. I actually have Algeria and the USA advancing from the Group Stage and Ecuador advancing to the round of eight. I don't have Colombia getting out of their Group though... I was either really dumb, or really smart at some point in my picks.
Who are your favorites? Why? Would you put money on it, or just pride?