UFF Sports: The Future of Fantasy
UFF Sports: The Future of Fantasy June 8, 2020 UFF Sports is revolutionizing the fantasy world. By taking hockey onto the blockchain and utilizing digital currency to go global, UFF Sports is giving their franchise owners the opportunity to own the game. And hockey is only the beginning of big plans to encompass every sporting event imaginable. From scouting to staking, the sky is the limit and the upside is huge for this emerging ecosystem, which promises the most realistic experience available. “With the Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League, the UFHL, everything is based on the NHL — based on the real world,” said Tony Charanduk, founder and president of UFF Sports. “Our league is modelled after the NHL and we try to mimic everything they do — and it will be the same for all the other sports leagues in the future as we continue to grow.” The platform, as a whole, is constantly evolving and expanding. Scouting is the next step, with aspiring scouts getting the chance to monetize their eye for talent. That will launch this summer, debuting with an auction among scouts to divvy up the projected top prospects for the next three NHL draft years — 2021, 2022 and 2023. “We’re going to launch the whole (scouting) concept with an auction,” said Charanduk, indicating that is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 15. “We want to sign up a bunch of scouts in advance and then auction off either the top 50 prospects or the top 100 — depending on how big of a pool we have of buyers. We’ll set up an auction date for the top prospects and the highest bidder gets them, then whoever we don’t auction off (from those three draft years) is fair game for everybody after that.” From there, scouts will be able to register additional prospects and oversee their development through their draft year when they will be auctioned to UFHL franchise owners as part of the entry draft process, which includes a lottery system to maintain parity. “Every year when the NHL does their entry draft, right after that we do an entry auction where the franchises get their first crack at purchasing the prospects,” Charanduk said. “The prospects for that draft year will already be owned by scouts or most of them will be, so that is one of the ways for scouts to earn a return on their investment.” Scouts can also swap and sell prospects in the meantime, with that ability to trade increasing the entertainment value. Scouts will essentially assemble a stable of prospects and then serve as their agents. “There will be a three-year development phase for the prospects — from 15 to 18, to their NHL draft year — where they will be bought or registered and owned by the scouts, staying within the scouting community but potentially changing hands and getting passed around,” Charanduk said. “That gives some play for the scouts. If you pay to register a 15-year-old, he might be more valuable to a team when he is 17, so someone else might be willing to pay a premium for him because he has really improved — or if he doesn’t develop and doesn’t pan out, he might be worth less or maybe nothing. “Those are the decisions that the scouts have to make. That is the value of being a good scout and making good decisions with the prospects that you acquire in the initial scouting auction as well as the prospects that you register down the road.” That scouting auction is sure to be fun and intense, with the bidding set to start at $20 for each of those top prospects. To participate, scouts have to sign up on the UFF Sports website, which requires a $20 registration fee with the first 25 scouts receiving 5,000 score tokens and the following 50 scouts receiving 2,500 score tokens. That is also the fee for registering future prospects following the auction — $20 per prospect. “The minimum bid will be $20 and if they don’t go, then they just don’t go — and they will be available to be registered by any scout (for $20) immediately following the auction or at a later date,” explained Charanduk, noting those top prospects will range in age from 15 to 17 with the youngest being eligible for the 2023 NHL draft — thus born between Sept. 16, 2002 and Sept. 15, 2005. That auction will include the likes of Aatu Raty, Kent Johnson and Chaz Lucius from the 2021 draft class, Shane Wright, Brad Lambert and Matthew Savoie for 2022, and even Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli and Matvei Michkov for 2023. All the big names will be available — and those are just the forwards, let alone the defencemen and goaltenders of interest for the years to come. The scouting auction will be an annual event, with the 2024 draft class available next summer following the 2021 entry draft. As part of the scouting launch, there will also be a separate auction for already drafted prospects — the top 100 is the plan — since most of the UFHL franchises haven’t started filling out their 27-man protected lists, which will largely be comprised of prospects in the future.
As for the 2020 draft class — led by Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield as well as Jamie Drysdale and Yaroslav Askarov at their respective positions — those prospects will be available to the UFHL franchise owners in their inaugural entry draft, which will also feature an auction format involving score tokens. That draft will take place around the same date as the NHL draft. “It is the exact same as the NHL for eligibility rules in regards to the prospects,” Charanduk said. “I think we’ll probably do two rounds. It just depends on the interest — if our owners are willing to spend money or not. If not, then those players are just available to be added (to UFHL rosters and protected lists) at a later date.” The lottery system is slightly different than the NHL, yet works much the same and shares a common purpose. “We group the franchises, so the bottom-five franchises (based on the UFHL regular-season standings from fantasy gameplay) get to pick the top-five prospects, then the next five get to pick and so on,” Charanduk said. “We are just doing it that way to keep parity, so that the bottom teams get to pick the top guys. It will allow each franchise a real chance to be competitive and fight for the Cup, and it prevents somebody with a bunch of money from coming in and buying all the prospects every year.” Again, with parity in mind, there is a rule in place preventing UFHL franchise owners from doubling as scouts. That would be a conflict of interest where the rich also get richer. “Franchise owners can’t participate in the scouting auction, but they can hire a scout or a whole staff of scouts and get them to buy prospects that they might want in future entry drafts or through free agency,” Charanduk said. “Owners don’t retain rights to players under 18 — under draft age. Every player who is currently owned by an NHL team, drafted or signed, is available to the UFHL owners right now for their rosters and protected lists. But any player that is not yet drafted or draft eligible has to go through the entry auction and the scouting process to be purchased by the UFHL teams.” Those rules keep it fair and realistic without skewing the values of the UFHL franchises. There are still a handful of franchises available in the 31-team league. They cost a minimum of $200 through scheduled auctions on the UFF Sports website. That is an expansion fee, with the annual league fees to be determined by the 31 owners prior to every season. “Ideally, we want to get these franchises sold before we do anything else,” Charanduk said of their priorities ahead of the entry draft and scouting auction. “So if you want the chance to potentially draft or buy Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield and all these other top prospects for 2020, now is the time to register as a franchise owner. You want to get in on the action now and build your team and your brand from the ground up. “We only have five franchises left as of today but, really, all 31 teams are available since you can make offers to the current owners to buy their franchises at any time,” he added. And, yes, the UFHL is planning to expand to 32 franchises for the 2021-22 season. “We will sell a franchise for Seattle and figure out a way to do our own expansion draft similar to the NHL,” Charanduk said. For now, the focus is on finishing the current UFHL season — their simulated playoffs, streamed through the NHL 20 video game on Xbox, just wrapped up with the official playoffs still to come — before shifting into these offseason auctions and preparing for their official launch next season. This season was a test run of sorts — with the fantasy gameplay hosted through Fantrax — but UFF Sports is in the process of building their own platform for next season. That will be more advanced, more customized, and unique in several ways — especially when it comes to the scouting aspect. “It’ll list all the scouts — everybody who is registered as a scout and who they own,” Charanduk said. “So then the scouts can look and say ‘hey, this prospect isn’t registered yet and is still available’ or ‘hey, this guy has this prospect, do you want to trade or can I make an offer (of score tokens) for that prospect?’ “Scouts can exchange prospects within the scouting community prior to selling them to teams or prior to having their prospects go through the entry auction for purchase by UFHL teams. The owners can also see that scouting page to see who owns who and they can interact with the scouts at all times.” The scouting concept developed by UFF Sports is taking fantasy to the next level. “That’s the one thing that we specifically have that nobody else has,” Charanduk said. “We’re thinking of these players as digital assets on the blockchain. Once they are on there once, somebody owns them and that’s it — there is no duplication. So scouting falls into it naturally where people can own players without owning a franchise and then have the ability to either trade them within the pool of scouts or sell them to another scout or eventually sell them to a UFHL team.” And it may not stop there, with Charanduk and his group of co-founders dreaming big and envisioning so many more levels to their ecosystem. “In the future, we plan on those scouts being able to use their prospects in junior and minor leagues — developmental leagues around the world,” Charanduk said. “There is a lot of developing to be done on our end to get there, but hypothetically they’ll be able to lease that prospect to a WHL team and play within the WHL season on our fantasy platform as we add those other leagues as well as other sports.” For those not familiar with the blockchain and digital currency — UFF Sports uses Ethereum, converting traditional currency into digital currency and then into score tokens — Charanduk assures it is not as complicated as that might sound, while being every bit as legitimate as traditional currencies. “We’re making it very easy for everyone,” he said. “You’ll be able to go on our site and buy score tokens right there. You’ll just hit a button that you want to buy this many (tokens), it’ll say you owe this much Ethereum, the person will send it and then they’ll have the score tokens at their disposal on our site. It will be a simple and smooth process.” For more information on UFF Sports or to register — as a franchise owner, as a scout, or even as an ambassador (fans capable of staking and supporting their favourite teams) — visit their website at uffsports.com. And be sure to follow all the UFHL action on Twitter (@uffsports).