Daily fantasy sports platforms allow users to compete with one another by creating their own teams within some constraints, using their knowledge or intuition about the performance of players in real life. Since players’ actual performance on the match day is uncertain, emerging as a winner in such contests combines skill and chance. Using data from Dream11, a fantasy sports platform in India, through participation in public contests on the platform during the ICC T20 cricket World Cup, we test whether skill or chance plays the dominant role for winners. When we proxy lack of skill by randomly selecting teams via computer simulation and comparing the performance of real teams with simulated teams, our findings suggest that chance and skill are evenly balanced. In our sample of 31 games, in almost 50% games, we see that teams picked randomly perform at par or better than the real teams constructed by real users. Furthermore, we observe that while real teams perform better in games where the skill gap between two teams is much higher, randomly simulated teams fare better in closely matched teams. However, when we do within players comparison across matches, we found that participants playing with multiple teams and participants playing more games outperform the rest.
Citation: Do fantasy sports players’ actions influence their performance in Dream11 contests? Adding data to the debate on skill vs chance, Agam Gupta, Yash Khandelwal, Manish K. Singh, and Ashutosh Singla, XKDR Working paper 17, December 2022