Magnus Carlsen makes it to the Top Ten of the Football Fantasy League

by Johannes Fischer
12/13/2019 – About seven million players worldwide have joined the Football Fantasy League to try their luck as virtual managers of a virtual English Premier League team. They play on the internet but the Premier League games in the real world define how good they are. Magnus Carlsen is very good: on Sunday, December 8, the World Champion and his fictitious team Kjell Ankedal were number 6 on the world's ranking list. Which made headlines. | Photo: Magnus Carlsen at the Tata Steel Chess India Tournament | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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A man of many talents

2019 was a good year for Magnus Carlsen. From December 26th to December 28th he will still start in the World Rapid and Blitz Championships but in the final of the Grand Chess Tour in London he played his last classical of 2019. In this game, Carlsen was close to losing against Levon Aronian but with luck and stubborn defence he narrowly escaped to a draw.

With the draw Carlsen continued his undefeated streak and now has not suffered a single loss in his last 107 games with classical time-control, and at the tournament in Wijk aan Zee in January 2020 Carlsen could in fact top Sergei Tiviakov's streak of 110 consecutive games without a loss. At any rate, as the Norwegian chess journalist Tarjei Svensen, who follows Carlsen's results closely, indicated, Carlsen rushed from record to record in 2019:

With this impressive performance Carlsen remains the clear number 1 in the world of chess. With a rating of 2871.8 points on the Live-Ranking-List Carlsen is almost 50 points ahead of Fabiano Caruana, who is the world's number 2 and has a live-rating of 2822.

However, it was not chess but Carlsen's success in the Fantasy Football League, which made headlines last weekend.

The Guardian remarked that Carlsen in the last four years has always been one of the top players in the Fantasy Football League, and speculated whether Carlsen might not have good chances to be the world's number 1 in two disciplines soon.

In a cheerful tweet Carlsen himself explained his success as virtual football manager with a mix of good preparation, analysis of existing data and enjoying the game. Alluding to the British company Opta, which gathers, analyses and provides data of sports events and individual players, Carlsen referred to himself as an "Opta-mist and Optimist" as far as the Fantasy Football League is concerned.

Whatever the reason for Carlsen's success in Fantasy Football might be, with his many talents he once again helped to improve the image of chess.

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Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".