The future of fantasy sports?

15 07 2008

Most basketball fans keep a keen eye on the stats a player achieves. And if you can’t get a live game view via TV/internet, then following the live play-by-play calls are the next best thing. And in a strange segue, Fantasy basketball is more popular now than it’s ever been.

Combining these three things is a new online phenomenon – Court Rivals. The description at the site runs as:

Court Rivals is a new type of fantasy sport where YOU assume the role of the player in a simulated basketball league:

  • Train your player’s skills and improve his game
  • Join a team with friends or create your own team
  • Challenge other teams owned by real people like you around the world
  • Win individual awards or a championship banner

Interested, I thought I’d have a chat with the creator of the game, Kevin Kazimir…

WM: Firstly, hi Kevin, and thanks for taking the time for this interview.
Kevin Kazimir: Hey Don…

Now, for some questions…

In less than 10 words, explain what ‘Court Rivals’ is…
The next stage of evolution in fantasy sports

What brought about the creation of Court Rivals?
Actually my creating the game was not inspired by any existing sports multiplayer games in the market.. I got pretty involved with playing Tribal Wars while at work in between managing my fantasy sports teams, and I thought to myself “wouldn’t it be cool if this concept were applied to sports?” I just thought the idea of a persistent sports world where each person could represent one player would be an incredible idea. I wasn’t going to move forward with the idea, thinking that I was through with crafting web sites independently after I graduated college, but my fiance urged me to make the idea a reality. I think she underestimated my ability when it came to this stuff quite a bit.

It’s very addictive, and is growing quite fast. How many people currently play Court Rivals?
Currently we have roughly 5800 user accounts and 6000 players (users can purchase the ability to manage multiple players for a small fee). Right now we’re averaging roughly 80 new user registrations per day.

What are some of the advantages that Court Rivals has over some of the other sim sites?
I’d like to think the biggest advantage Court Rivals has is persistence and accessibility. Each new season is a partial rollback for our veteran players, so new players can jump right in at the start of a season and be fairly competitive. This makes the game incredibly friendly to new comers and allows people to get their friends involved faster. For example, I know one group of people who had a friend that JUST signed up in the second half of Season 2. Come Season 3, they’re hoping to add their friend to their existing team since he’ll be fairly competitive at that point. A lot of online browser based games make players that have been playing the longest “uncatchable” and have those players perpetually dominate the game. This isn’t the case with Court Rivals!
I also think that our other biggest strength is the fact that each player feels involved and no one’s role feels marginalized. Some other sports sim sites out there have players sign contracts to lock them down on teams they have no interest being on or have players “riding the bench” and not feeling involved. Court Rivals decrentalizes a lot of team management functions and places them in the hands of every player so one person doesn’t feel like a puppet who is being jerked around.
Finally, people tell me that they like the fact that I am INVOLVED in the game. The mod staff and I take a lot of time to answer to people’s questions and concerns on the forums, and I think that level of customer service goes a long way.

What are some issues with Court Rivals that you’d like to resolve?
Issues? What issues? (laughs)

In all honesty, I’d like to expand some simulation mechanics and reward teams that have stuck together more. I would also like to add a little bit of depth to the sim and have some sort of “matchup system” so that if you’ve done your homework on a player and know he’s a deadly accurate 3 point shooter, you can neutralize this somewhat with a player you have that’s a superior defender. My biggest focus right now is continuing to add options to the game to make it deeper and make players feel more involved WITHOUT making the game feel overly complex or inaccessible. The last thing I want someone who just signed up at Court Rivals to feel is a a feeling of being overwhelmed.

Where do you envisage Court Rivals being a year from now?
Hopefully the site is almost fully automated within a year and remains profitable. The big goal, naturally, is to expand the concept to other sports and to continue to develop the user base. I’d also expect that Court Rivals 365 days from now will have a ton of new features and gameplay elements. It should be a fairly exciting ride.

Some of the teams are VERY competitive, not just on the court, but off it too. Do you encourage the rivalries that grow?
I love seeing the teams go at it over the forums and think that it adds a lot of drama to the game. You’re already seeing some Yankees/Red Sox-esque rivalries develop which is awesome. But that’s the nature of sports! I usually have my hand in developing rivalries when the playoffs roll around and I get to decide who get seeded in what region. I always try to match up teams that have some history so that there is a little bit of excitement going into the games.

I’ve read that you’re a Nets fan. What do you think the Nets chances are of landing LeBron James?
I think the Nets have a fantastic shot at landing Lebron James. The Jay-Z/Lebron connection can’t be understated. Plus I think the appeal of playing in New York City and in a new arena may be too much for Lebron to pass up. Really, it’s all the Nets fan has to look forward to. Lawrence Frank is an AWFUL coach at developing younger players, so we’ll probably see a lot of the young talent ride the pine for the Nets while Eduardo Najera and Jarvis Hayes play 35 minutes per game. Come to think of it, I’m really not looking forward to the next two NBA seasons.

What about the Nets going to New York? How will that effect you?
Well now that I moved away from New Jersey, the move to New York won’t affect me too much. Still I’m sad to see the team go. Growing up in Jersey, there’s a lot of “Jersey pride” when it came to rooting for the New Jersey Devils and the Nets over teams like the New York Rangers or the New York Knicks. I feel like a lot of that will come to an end with my generation. At least the Jets and the Giants still play in New Jersey (although they have New York in their name!)

Ok, who’s your pick for the NBA 2008/09 Championship?
I’m going to be unimaginative and just say the Lakers. Kobe, Gasol, Odom, and Bynum for a full season will be tough to beat. I don’t see the Celtics repeating.

Now a more difficult question: what about the Court Rivals championship coming up end of this month? Who do you think will win?
So many teams have a legitimate shot that it’s hard to say. You have Manilla Gorilla, the White Wash Ten, the Speedsters, the Fighting Mongooses, the Rotoguru Gurupies, and the list goes on… You can’t make me pick just one because if my pick ends up being right, someone will say that I rigged it all! (laughs)

Thanks Kevin, I look forward to seeing how this all pans out… – and GO Achilles Jones!




3 responses

15 07 2008
sports » Blog Archive » The future of fantasy sports?

[…] Cherie Lampley . Excerpt: Actually my creating the game was not inspired by any existing sports multiplayer games in the market.. I got pretty involved with playing Tribal Wars while at work in between managing my fantasy sports teams, and I thought to myself … […]

17 07 2008
Jimmy Da Saint

I’m coming out with what is sure going to be the best Fantasy Basketball game ever for the NBA! Stay tuned folks…

Jimmy Da Saint
The All American Touchdown Derby
The All American Home Run Derby

20 07 2008
Give Me The Rock » Court Rivals - There is No Off Season in Basketball

[…] But wait – there’s more! If you still want to know more about Court Rivals before signing up, you can read a couple interviews with Kevin Kazimir (the wizard behind the curtain) on both And One and With Malice. […]

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