Yahoo has made a small but noteworthy update to its daily fantasy sports product.
The site recently announced a new “QuickMatch” system for matching head-to-head opponents. The tool is designed to help level the playing field for new and inexperienced players.
It’s Yahoo’s first new feature in some time.
Here’s how Yahoo describes the new system:
QuickMatches are Head-to-Head (H2H) contests between two Daily Fantasy players that are fairly and automatically matched by our leveling system.
Once users play five ranked contests in a sport, Yahoo assigns them a level based on performance. Those levels are then used to match similar players in head-to-head matches suitable to their respective skills.
Players will be placed into one of five groups based on percentile:
- Diamond (95-100)
- Platinium (75-95)
- Gold (45-75)
- Silver (15-45)
- Bronze (0-15)
A user’s level is updated as they continue to enter more ranked contests on Yahoo. “Ranked contests” are any that contain a prize, including freerolls.
QuickMatch is fully functional on the desktop client right now, while the mobile platform is still being developed.
Why is QuickMatch a good idea?
Head-to-head contests are arguably the purest form of daily fantasy sports. They’re just two players competing straight-up for the high score, winner-take-all. They provide a relatively consistent and measurable source of profit for high-volume players.
But they’re also sources of debate on major sites like DraftKings and FanDuel. Entry fees for head-to-head matches can run into the thousands of dollars, and the high-stakes games are very much the pros’ turf. But the problems tend to arise in the mid-stakes, say between $5 and $25.
Whether they know it or not, new players are often preyed upon by the experienced, who will seek out their contests looking for a big edge. It’s the equivalent of “bum hunting” in poker.
As both a cause and an effect, skilled players who are known by the community often have trouble finding high-stakes action in the lobby. This forces them to slide further down the list and into the realms of the weekend warriors. Everyone who plays $5,000 head-to-head matches knows which screen names to avoid by now. But the newer players splashing around for $10 don’t.
For example, at the time of writing, there was a user entered in one $2,625 head-to-head contest on Yahoo. The same user was entered in ten $2 head-to-heads. Obviously, the caliber of player is typically pretty different at those two levels. To help make users aware of their opponents’ results, most sites have instituted a visible, tiered badging system.
QuickMatch eliminates that problem altogether, though. A player entering their first head-to-head contest will almost never be matched against someone with thousands of dollars in entries. The goal is to keep recreational players in the game and avoid extreme mismatches in skill among head-to-head players.
Any idea is a good idea for Yahoo
Yahoo is doing some innovation as its larger competitors have been doing do so consistently in recent months.
Its competitors are pumping features into their platforms on a near-weekly basis. FanDuel, in particular, is constantly refreshing its contest offerings. It created a whole department to innovate the platform, and FanDuel Labs has not been shy about experimentation. They’ve rolled out March Madness brackets, beat-the-score contests, and free bingo, among other things.
Yahoo has been a bit more stagnant, though. The development of this new tool shows that there’s still some interest from Yahoo in building out its product.
QuickMatch also helps solve a relatively serious problem for DFS players on both sides of the issue.