My pool is run thru a Dutch website. The interface is a bit all over the place but once you figure out the navigation and get past being besieged by ads about girls who desperately want to meet me and all live within one mile of me it’s pretty cool from a functional point of view.
You pick scores for every game of the round robin. Based on that it automatically creates your quarter final pairing and you pick the scores for those and so on to the final. All free and easy to figure out and you’re automatically entered in their overall pool with some decent prizes. But with tens of thousands using the site I’m not optimistic.
The real action of course is in the sub-pool I was invited to join. There’s 24 of us who are all in for $20, winner take all. I only know a couple of the others in the pool. I’ve eschewed the common wisdom of being the guy who picks the right upsets and picks up points that no one else will get. I’m sure that those who had the vision to pick Greece in 2004 cleaned up in their pools but that lightning ain’t striking twice this early in the millennium. I’m going with logic and favourites. Russia and the Poles coming out of Group A, Germans and Dutch from B, Spain and Italy from C and England just scraping in ahead of Sweden in D to join France as the last of my quarter finalists.
Besides in this pool the real points are in getting exact scores right and not just results. You get four points for getting the result right but twelve if you nail the score. I think the structure varies once you hit the knock out rounds.
Having picked three of four results correctly so far (got the Holland v Denmark game wrong), I’m sitting tied for fifth so it’s time to poke around and see who my competition is.
I draw comfort from the fact that the current leader has predicted that 15 of the remaining 20 round robin games will average three or more goals per game (as well as all the quarter finals). If I was a neutral I’d applaud that optimism. As someone who wants take their money, I quietly snicker instead and even more quietly hope that my spread of one and two goal games comes to fruition. Factor in that our fearless leader also has the Czechs going to the quarter finals and I can already feel myself reeling them in.
One of the three guys tied for second place had the Czechs beating the Russians yesterday and like the rest of us had the Danes losing. He’s only in second because he got the score in the opening game spot on. His eggs are in the upset basket though as his quarter finalists include the Czechs and Sweden along with a nine goal semi-final thriller.
My friend who invited me to join the pool is tied for second as well. Bit more concern here. He’s also going with lower scoring games but has picked Greece to make the quarters and Spain to go out in the quarters as well. The only one to have Spain go out in the quarters I might add. Ballsy. But for me it’s more like Ballsy and $20 poorer! Spain out in the quarters? C’mon…
Here’s what interests most though. Well, second most to winning it. The distribution of picks across the countries. I’ve compiled the picks from the 23 people who filled it out fully (yes, one person mucked it up so I haven’t included his picks) to get a sense for who everyone thinks will do well (and who will win it).
No surprise that Spain, Germany and Holland dominate the knockout phase picks. And with Group A being the weakest of the groups, consensus has coalesced around Russia being the certainty to emerge but only one person of the 21 picking them to make the quarter finals has them advancing to the semis.
No love for the Irish or the Danes as they are the only two countries not to receive a vote of confidence from anyone to make it out of their group. Obviously I didn’t pick the Danes to advance either but in retrospect as someone said on Twitter today, if it’s truly a Group of Death, can any result really be considered a shocking upset? Therefore is it really that far-fetched that the Danes could advance? Their win over Holland today goes a long way to answering that question.
Pretty much all of those picking England, Italy or Portugal were self declared patriots who were not willing to have their patriotism tarnished by betting against their team (you choose a nation’s flag to represent where you’re from; almost everyone in our pool picked a Canadian flag except the ones picking these teams to win).
I’ll update as long as I’m in contention and not to embarrassed by my picks as the tourney progresses.