Strategy – New DraftKings Scoring

Daily Fantasy MMA

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As the new year shifts the calendar from 2020 to 2021, we are filled with excitement, hope, and a bunch of messy changes to the DraftKings MMA scoring system.

You may find these changes annoying, frustrating, or welcome, but make no mistake, they are a positive thing for the hardcore players. Any aspect that makes the game more difficult will provide the sharper, more dedicated players an edge. 

For that reason, I encourage you to take these changes on with an open mind and positive attitude.

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NEW SCORING SYSTEM

MOVES

*Significant Strike – 0.2 

*Any strike – 0.2

*Control Time – 0.03 per second

Takedown – 5

Reversal/Sweep – 5

Knockdown – 10

FIGHT CONCLUSION BONUSES

1st Round – 90

2nd Round – 70

3rd Round – 45

4th Round – 40

5th Round – 40

Decision – 30

*Quick Win Bonus (First Round Win in 60 Seconds or Less) – 25

*NEW RULE

NOTES

– Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered “Power Strikes” by official scorers.

– A Significant Strike will count as both a strike and a significant strike and will be worth a total of 0.4 Pts

– Control Time is the time spent in the dominant position on the ground or in the clinch. +0.03 points are awarded per second.

– A Knockdown is awarded to a fighter who knocks his/her opponent down due to debilitation for what the official scorers consider an appreciable amount of time.

– A Quick Win Bonus is awarded to the winning fighter if they win in the first round in 60 seconds or less.

BRETT’S ADDITIONAL NOTES

– The Significant Strike/Any Strike scoring is a bit confusing, but for clarification, one significant strike will count as 0.4, which is 0.2 + 0.2. I think it is best to just view Significant Strikes as a slight decrease from the old scoring from 0.5 to 0.4.

– Any non-Significant Strike will count as an additional 0.2

– Advances are GONE. We used to be awarded 3 points per advance on the mat, but now they are worth nothing.

– Control Time (Clinch+Ground) is worth 0.03 per second which is also confusing, I think it’s best viewed on a minute-by-minute basis. One full minute of control will equal 1.8 points, Five minutes, or one full round of control will equal 9 points (3 advances worth). One old advance (3 points) is now the equivalent to 100 seconds.

– Quick Win Bonus of 25 points is also a bit tough to swallow because those wins will be so random. A fighter who wins with a first minute knockout will now score ~ 130 (90 + 10KD + 25 + Strikes), while a fighter who wins with a quick guillotine choke will score ~ 115(90 + 25). However, a fighter who wins with a second-minute knockout will score the same, minus those 25 points, so I can see the potential for people to still complain and be frustrated.


FIGHTING STYLES

Let’s take a look at some different fighters and fighting styles, to compare how they scored with the old system, and how they would have scored with our new system.

THE WRESTLER

This fighter is takedown based, but not necessarily a threat to win by submission. They may land some ground-and-pound but are not very active with range striking or advancing position.

Merab Dvalishvili

Vs. Brad Katona – Old Scoring

55 sig. strikes (27.5) + 5 td (25) + 3 adv (9) + dec win (30) = 92.5

Vs. Brad Katona – New Scoring

55 sig. strikes (22) + 160 non-sig. strikes (32) + 8:33 control (15.39) + 5 td (25) + dec win (30) = 124.39

Vs. Casey Kenney – Old Scoring

63 sig. strikes (31.5) + 12 td (60) + 3 adv (9) + dec win (30) = 130.5

Vs. Casey Kenney – New Scoring

63 sig. Strikes (25.2) + 51 non-sig. Strikes (10.2) + 5:40 control (10.2) + 12 td (60) + dec win (30) = 135.6

Enrique Barzola

Vs. Matt Bessette – Old Scoring

55 sig. strikes (27.5) + 5 tds (25) + dec win (30) = 82.5

Vs. Matt Bessette – New Scoring 

55 sig. strikes (22) + 18 non-sig. strikes (3.6) + 5 tds (25) + 4:34 control (8.22) + dec win (30) = 88.82

Vs. Brandon Davis – Old Scoring

51 sig. strikes (25.5) + 10 tds (50) + 5 adv (15) + dec win (30) =120

Vs. Brandon Davis – New Scoring

51 sig. Strikes (20.4) + 38 non-sig. strikes (7.6) + 10 tds (50) + 7:13 control (12.99) + dec win (30) = 120.89

Brett’s Analysis

It does not seem like the wrestler is negatively impacted, in fact, the new scoring system may even be a positive.

The reason for this is because wrestlers tend to land ground-and-pound when they are in top position, rather than hunt for a submission. The few advances they may get will be relatively offset by top control time, and the control time may even be more beneficial for them.

Ground-and-pound also seems to be counted more often as non-sig. strikes than sig. strikes, which means wrestlers now have a potentially higher floor and ceiling because of those points. They traditionally don’t land many strikes at range, and the slight decrease in sig. strike score (0.5 → 0.4) can be made up and potentially benefit them by all the extra non-sig. strikes landed.

Going forward, I won’t have hesitations to target wrestling based fighters. This comes with the caveat that I will want them to land takedowns with frequency and be active with ground-and-pound in top position. 

THE SUBMISSION GRAPPLER

This fighter is grappling based, but skewed more toward advancing position and hunting for submissions. Typically they are not a major striking threat from range, though they have higher finishing potential and may also rack up some ground-and-pound.

Michael Chiesa

Vs. Diego Sanchez – Old Scoring

47 sig. strikes (23.5) + 5 td (25) + 8 adv (24) + 1 rev (5) + dec win (30) = 107.5

Vs. Diego Sanchez – New Scoring

47 sig. strikes (18.8) + 51 non-sig. strikes (10.2) + 5 td (25) + 11:49 control (21.27) + 1 rev (5) dec win (30) = 110.27

Vs. Carlos Condit – Old Scoring

10 sig. strikes (5) + 4 td (20) + 3 adv (9) + 2nd round win (70) = 104

Vs. Carlos Condit – New Scoring

10 sig. strikes (4) + 6 non-sig. strikes (1.2) + 4 td (20) + 4:12 control (7.56) + 2nd round win (70) = 102.76

Bryce Mitchell

Vs. Charles Rosa – Old Scoring

40 sig. strikes (20) + 3 td (15) + 14 adv (42) + dec win (30) = 107

Vs. Charles Rosa – New Scoring

40 sig. strikes (16) + 20 non-sig. strikes (4) + 3 td (15) + 12:51 control (23.13) + dec win (30) = 88.13

Vs. Andre Fili – Old Scoring

46 sig. strikes (23) + 7 td (35) + 9 adv (27) + dec win (30) = 115

Vs. Andre Fili – New Scoring

46 sig. strikes (18.4) + 54 non-sig. strikes (10.8) + 7 td (35) + 10:12 control (18.36) + dec win (30) = 112.56

Brett’s Analysis

The submission grappler still has potential to score very well, however, it seems the upside may be capped with the new scoring.

Advances were the focus for us in the old system, and as you can see in above examples, fighters who have high advance potential carry extreme upside on each slate. Control time has replaced advances, and although that does give fighters upside, it is not the same.

Even if a fighter controls his opponent for all 15 minutes, that only yields a score of 27 points, which is the equivalent of nine advances. More realistically, if we get a ceiling of 12 minutes of control for a fighter, that still only yields 21.6 points, an equivalent of 7.2 advances.

So a submission grappler who is reliant on advances will not carry the same upside in this new system.

However, it is going to be extremely important for us to make distinctions between grapplers who attempt ground-and-pound and those who do not.

In the old system, we basically ignored that pitter-patter style of ground-and-pound, because it often wasn’t counted as significant strikes. In the new system, every strike is counted, and although non-significant strikes are counted less (0.2 vs. 0.4), they can be easy to score in bunches and may help make up for the difference in advances.

Control time is also safer to rely on than advances, considering FightMetric was not at all consistent with their scoring on the statistic. Control time at least gives fighters a safe floor, and the equivalent to 3-5 advances over 15 minutes with some upside.

Additionally, the statistic of control time is highly correlated with the statistic of non-significant strikes. What this means is that if we expect a fighter to control the fight for several minutes, even if they don’t have the same upside as the past system, there is still potential to reach the optimal lineup if they can be active with strikes on the mat. Of course, an early submission is still a viable path to the optimal lineup as well, depending on price.

THE KNOCKOUT ARTIST

This fighter is generally a power-dependent, but low-volume striker. When they land clean, they often win by KO, and it can come quickly. They generally won’t wrestle or land strikes at a high volume, and are often boom or bust from a fantasy perspective.

Francis Ngannou

Vs. Junior Dos Santos – Old Scoring

9 sig. strikes (4.5) + 1 kd (10) + 1st round win (90) = 104.5

Vs. Junior Dos Santos – New Scoring

9 sig. strikes (3.6) + 1 kd (10) + 0:04 control (0.12) + 1st round win (90) = 103.72

Vs. Jair Rozenstruik – Old Scoring

6 sig. strikes (3) + 1 kd (10) + 1st round win (90) = 103

Vs. Jair Rozenstruik – New Scoring

6 sig. strikes (2.4) + 1 kd (10) + 0:02 control (0.06) + 1st round win (90) + 1st min bonus (25) = 127.46

Johnny Walker

Vs. Khalil Rountree – Old Scoring

10 sig. strikes (5) + 1 kd (10) + 1st round win (90) = 105

Vs. Khalil Rountree – New Scoring

10 sig. strikes (4) + 1 kd (10) + 0:04 control (0.12) + 1st round win (90) =104.12

Vs. Misha Cirkunov – Old Scoring

4 sig. strikes (2) + 1 kd (10) + 1st round win (90) = 102

Vs. Misha Cirkunov – New Scoring

4 sig. strikes (1.6) + 1 kd (10) + 0:04 control (0.12) + 1st round win (90) + 1st min bonus (25) = 126.72

Brett’s Analysis

The knockout artist is positively impacted, but ONLY when they win inside the first minute. That 25 point 1st minute bonus is dramatic, and if you can secure it with a knockdown, you are virtually guaranteed a spot on the optimal lineup.

The problem is two-fold.

One problem is that securing a first round knockout outside of the first minute will still not guarantee you the optimal lineup with this style of fighting. As we see above in Ngannou vs. Dos Santos and Walker vs. Rountree, the low-volume style knockout outside of the first minute is actually a negative.

Granted, the difference is small between the old scoring and new scoring in that sense, but knockout artists are not likely to land many sig. strikes or non-sig. strikes, and they are not likely to earn control or takedown points either.

Going forward, knockout artists can still be valuable DraftKings assets, but I fear many will hunt for that 1st minute bonus too often, when the likelihood of earning one is not high. If you can find a solid knockout artist at a reasonable price, especially one below the mid-range, I do find those valuable. High-priced knockout artists, especially chalky ones, will still make me very hesitant and I will tend to shy away.

THE VOLUME STRIKER

This fighter is generally a high-action, high-volume striker who can be in fun, fast paced fights. Maybe they mix in a little wrestling from time to time, but their primary goal is to keep the fight standing and go to war. They do have some finishing ability, but it won’t be a surprise to see them rack up strikes for three rounds either.

Angela Hill

Vs. Maryna Moroz – Old Scoring

114 sig. strikes (57) + 1 td (5) + 1 adv (3) + dec win (30) = 95

Vs. Maryna Moroz – New Scoring

114 sig. strikes (45.6) + 7 non-sig. strikes (1.4) + 1 td (5) + 2:01 control (3.63) + dec win (30) = 85.63

Vs. Jodie Esquibel – Old Scoring

117 sig. strikes (58.5) + dec win (30) = 88.5

Vs. Jodie Esquibel – New Scoring

117 sig. strikes (46.8) + 1 non-sig. strike (0.2) + 0:05 control (0.15) + dec win (30) = 77.15

Max Holloway

Vs. Frankie Edgar – Old Scoring

129 sig. strikes (64.5) + dec win (30) = 94.5

Vs. Frankie Edgar – New Scoring

129 sig. strikes (51.6) + 2 non-sig. strikes (0.4) + dec win (30) = 82

Vs. Dustin Poirier – Old Scoring

181 sig. strikes (90.5) = 90.5

Vs. Dustin Poirier – New Scoring

181 sig. strikes (72.4) + 27 non-sig. strikes (5.4) + 0:06 (0.18) control = 77.98

Brett’s Analysis

In my opinion, the volume striker is the fighter most negatively impacted by the new scoring changes.

The problem with prototypical volume strikers is that they are not likely to score many takedowns, or advances. With the new scoring system, it will mean they are generally unlikely to earn much control time, and unlikely to earn many non-significant strikes as well. They are generally limited to significant strikes only, and a finish.

With the old system, we got 0.5 points per significant strike, so a fighter who landed 100 sig. strikes could score 80 points in a decision. A fighter who landed 120 significant strikes could score 90 points in a decision. In a five round decision, some fighters have upside for 150 sig. strikes or more, which would put them over 100 points in total.

With the new system, it is simply more difficult to score points because each significant strike is now only worth 0.4. A fighter who lands 100 significant strikes will now only score 70 points. A fighter who lands 120 significant strikes will only score 78 points. A fighter who lands 150 significant strikes in a decision will only score 90 points.

In my opinion, these changes have made targeting volume strikes very risky and I think we will see a dramatic decrease in volume strikes ending up on the optimal lineup. 

Furthermore, I think we are much less likely to see Main Event winners on the optimal lineup. We target ME fighters because of their five-round potential, but based on the scoring I’ve just laid out, even Main Event fighters who strike for a full 25 minutes and win a decision may not even reach 90-100 points.

Of course, the addition of a few takedowns here and there will dramatically increase a fighter’s projected floor and ceiling, as you can see in the examples above. There will be many instances where ME fighters grapple some or win ITD and finish on the optimal lineup. But in terms of targeting fighters purely based on their ability to land significant strikes in volume, I think those days are past us.

Going forward, I will be extremely cautious to target fighters who A) don’t have a strong chance to win ITD and B) aren’t likely to land takedowns. If a 120 sig. strike decision only scores me ~80 points, that’s simply not enough to be worthy of a big investment, especially at a high DK price.


CONCLUSION

These new scoring changes look complex at first glance, but it’s fairly easy to parse once you dig into certain styles and past results.

We will adjust as needed, but my perception of the new changes is that it actually favors ground fighters even more in the new system than it did in the old system. I highly doubt the public understands this to be true, because DraftKings REMOVED advances and ADDED a 25 point bonus for a first-minute finish.

The problem with those 25 bonus points for a first-minute finish is that it’s essentially impossible to predict. Sure, Francis Ngannou is more likely than other fighters to score the bonus, but even if we are guaranteed a first round finish, he’d still only have a 20% chance to lock up the 1st minute bonus in a vacuum.

It still makes sense to target quick finishers, but I would be targeting them for their KD + 1st round finish potential, and I’m not necessarily 1st-minute bonus hunting. A fighter who wins in round 1 is now even more likely to end up on the optimal lineup in this new system than they were in the past, because a 1st minute finish will earn you the bonus, and a 2nd-5th minute finish will get you 2-5 minutes worth of production as well.

The biggest change in expected value with the new system lies in favor of active ground-and-pound fighters, because they can score takedowns, control points, significant strikes and non-significant strikes. Yes, they will lose out on some upside from advances, but control provides a nice floor and ceiling of points, and takedowns + strikes should be enough to score well. 

The big distinction there is that grapplers who do not throw strikes at a high rate on the feet or on the mat, are now at a disadvantage. They lose out on some upside with advances, and probably won’t make up the point differential without a high number of takedowns or a submission finish.

Range volume strikers get hurt the most because they rely solely on significant strikes and are very unlikely to reach even 90 points without takedowns or a finish. Even though the difference between 0.5 points per significant strike and 0.4 does not seem like much, it shows up in the data.