Limited supply and high demand led to a suspenseful finish for the UFWJ Franchise Auction on Sunday evening, as the Top 10 bidders prevailed in overtime to become franchise owners in the revolutionary Ultimate Fantasy World Juniors dynasty league.
It was a nailbiter throughout overtime — extending for 39 exhilarating minutes, with bidding wars in the Top 5 and for the final spots on the Leaderboard — and the end result was another successful sellout for a UFFS launch. That was never in doubt for UFWJ — netting $19,100 USD in total revenue, ranging from $1,500 to $2,600 per franchise — and the eventual Top 10 will all go down as winners on the Ultimate Franchise Fantasy Sports platform.
These franchise auction results also determined the draft order for all 30 rounds of the UFWJ Inaugural Draft — slated for Dec. 19 — but there will be plenty of talent to go around for this year’s IIHF World Junior Championship as well as future tournaments. The 10 franchises will select 300 players, filling out their 25-man active rosters and 5-man protected lists.
Every player at this year’s tournament will be rostered in the UFWJ — including the third-string goaltender for Switzerland and the fourth-liners from Austria — while the protected lists will feature prospects as far out as 2024 eligibles, giving franchises a five-year window from 2002 to 2006 birthdates. That is the dynasty element that makes the UFWJ so innovative while always mirroring the UFFS scouting cutoff, with the youngest prospects being three years away from their NHL draft. The stars of this year’s tournament may have been drafted in 2020 but UFWJ franchises will already have the rights to the top prospects from that 2024 class.
Taking a closer look at the Leaderboard, Seven Seas Blockchain Sports have become a prominent player in the UFFS ecosystem over the past six months, with Alex Muchinsky (better known as Mooch) and his ownership group, including lifelong friend Thomas (Tommy) Cordon, acquiring seven franchises to date in hockey (UFHL, UFAHL and now UFWJ), American football (UFAFL and AFLL), basketball (UFBA) and baseball (UFLB). Mooch is a huge sports fan but still relatively new to hockey, thus putting his trust in the management team of Jeff Rea and Mik Portoni from Draftin Europe. Together, their real world scouting experience should serve this franchise well with the first pick in every round.
At No. 2, George Bachul is another key figure with UFFS, heading up the NFT department in his formal role but also managing the Monarchs franchise in the UFHL and serving as a scout for the Regal Sports Group. Bachul has teamed up with Jope on this venture, securing an investor from Finland who is well known in the Zilliqa community and quickly becoming a hit within UFFS after previously winning the UFBA auction and also finishing as the runner-up in UFLB — thus bringing his franchise total to three now.
At No. 3, Dean Millard and his ownership group, which includes Craig Button and Ian Constable, were determined to stay in the top three. Button, a former NHL GM with a Stanley Cup ring, is an authority on the World Juniors as an analyst and Director of Scouting for TSN. He is also the President of High Level Scouting, which has the rights to Shane Wright as their prized prospect on the UFFS platform. Millard, who has been covering junior hockey for decades in his media background, and Constable are seasoned veterans in the UFHL and also have ties to UFFS scouting agencies, so they know the ins and outs to maximize Button’s expertise.
At No. 4, Jeremy Plamondon put together a four-man ownership group to crack the top five. Plamondon, the figurehead here, has been along for the ride since UFFS officially launched in May — he participated in the private sale and has been a big supporter of Score Coin (SCO) — but has since purchased UFAFL and UFLB franchises while also dabbling in the scouting side of hockey, which is Plamondon’s sport of choice as a former Junior A standout in his playing days. His eldest son recently made his Junior A debut, following in his father’s footsteps, and the World Juniors are a family tradition for the Plamondons, who will now have a vested interest in this year’s tournament when the puck drops on Boxing Day.
At No. 5, EliteProspects need no introduction in the hockey world as the premier source for player information. EliteProspects is also a UFFS partner as the data provider for all the player profiles on the hockey platform, making the UFWJ and other leagues possible thanks to founder Peter Sibner and their parent company in Sweden, Everysport Media Group (ESMG). Rob Love and Ed Palumbo work together on North American business development for EliteProspects and also operate the Fantalytica.tech scouting agency in UFFS, thus saw an opportunity for EliteProspects to cross promote and generate more exposure during the World Juniors. The EP Rinkside scouting and content team, including the likes of J.D. Burke and Cam Robinson, could also be getting involving when it comes to drafting this UFWJ franchise.
At No. 6, CanWest Fantasy Sports is another serious player in UFFS, with franchises in the four major professional sports leagues (UFHL, UFAFL, UFBA, UFLB). Curtis Johnson purchased the UFHL’s Generals last Christmas and got himself an early present this year with a UFWJ franchise that he’ll share with his head scout Harrison Fallow as well as his twin brother Chad Johnson, who had a decade-long NHL career as a well-travelled goaltender. Curtis was a hard-working and talented forward during his Junior A playing days, parlaying his passion for fitness into a very successful career training a number of NHL prospects with Cujo Conditioning.
At No. 7, Dale Hardy of Spitfire Scouting has emerged as one of the most successful hockey scouts on the UFFS platform, turning a net profit of more than $5K USD from this year’s UFHL Entry Draft Auction. He had 11 prospects selected there, highlighted by Matty Beniers, William Eklund, Cole Sillinger and Simon Edvinsson in the Top 15. So clearly Hardy knows his prospects — he has more on the way for 2022, 2023 and 2024, including Conor Geekie, Isaac Howard and David Jiricek — but now he’ll get to test his management skills in the UFWJ while awaiting gameplay for his UFAHL Spitfires.
At No. 8, Dan Esposito has teased one of the more intriguing ownership groups that will feature four professional athletes from three different sports. Esposito is a former NFL player and active member of the NFL Alumni Association but is also a big blockchain enthusiast who believes in the potential of both Zilliqa and UFFS. Esposito made it three in a row, having previously purchased AFLL and UFLB franchises this fall, with UFWJ being his first foray into hockey ownership on the UFFS platform.
At No. 9, Crown Sports has been riding high with their Royals topping the UFHL’s overall standings and fresh off also securing franchises in the UFBA and UFLB. But the UFWJ was topping the Christmas wish list for their GM, Arnie Entz, whose Pipeline Prospects agency boasts one of the best stables in UFFS — led by the likes of Ivan Miroshnichenko, Juraj Slafkovsky and Simon Nemec as Top 10 candidates for 2022 who will be starring at this year’s Wold Juniors. Crown Sports is headed up by Tieran and Ireland Charanduk — their father Tony Charanduk is one of the UFFS founders and the visionary behind this platform.
Last but not least at No. 10 is UFFS newcomer Joseph Perez, an entrepreneur and investor from California with real world ownership experience in American football and indoor soccer. He hung on to the final spot on the Leaderboard — having placed that bid 24 hours earlier and in the No. 1 spot at that time — then expressed interest in adding a partner following the auction and immediately joined forces with the Gumpa Sports group, which had bowed out of the bidding in 12th place. The Gumpa group is no stranger to UFFS — consisting of Rob Conte, Paul Ceccomancini and Nelson Martins of Wise Guys Prospects — and their experience in the UFHL will prove very beneficial for Perez as he learns the ropes in the UFWJ.
Now comes the next challenge for these 10 franchises as they embark on the branding process, which means creating their own country with a unique name and flag as well as uniforms for UFWJ. The franchises have three weeks to complete payment ahead of the Dec. 12 deadline and will certainly be busy over the next month in preparation for the Inaugural Draft on Dec. 19.
Congratulations to all the new franchise owners and best of luck in the Ultimate Fantasy World Juniors, which will be a total points format for Year 1 with gold, silver and bronze medals up for grabs as well as player awards. We can’t wait to see who winds up on the UFWJ podium!
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