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A new player enters the daily fantasy arena -- Weather Battle

WX Battle has joined the DFS arena. WXbattle.com

We have officially entered the summer sports doldrums, and if you are a daily fantasy player this period is likely especially frustrating, maybe you are even getting the DFS shakes.  However, if you are willing to live a little bit outside of the box I may have a solution for you. Now you can play daily fantasy all summer long, and in fact all year long with a new game that never goes out of season.  How is this possible you ask? All sports have a season right? Well yes, they do, but do you know what doesn’t ever have an off season? The weather. Yes, a game called Weather Battle (also written as WX Battle) has brought weather forecasting into the daily fantasy arena.

I have been following this game’s development over the past year and earlier this month it officially launched for all to play.  Even better, is that for about the next month games will be free to play, but will still have real money payouts for winners.

So who had this brilliant idea? That would be Mike Collier - the Chief Meteorologist at the NBC affiliate TV Station in Tulsa, Okla.  Weather Battle was born out of Mike’s love of daily fantasy. Mike told me that a couple of years ago he, like many avid DFS players, was left wanting more at the conclusion of football season.  He wished for a game that could be played everyday and had no off season. It was then that weather forecasting - the thing he does every day - struck him as the solution. Weather, like sports, does not have a pre-defined outcome, nor does it ever stop, making it a perfect vessel for the daily fantasy model.  And just as with sports a player can test their skill and knowledge by attempting to pick the best possible outcome to gain the most points – the only difference being that points come in degrees or inches of rain instead of touchdowns and yards.

Even better is that you don’t have to have an in-depth knowledge, or really any knowledge at all, of meteorology to play.  Weather Battle has made it very simple for both the weather-enthused as well as the average fantasy sports player to participate.

Gameplay

First you have to go to weatherbattle.com. Once you log-in and hit the “Play Now” button you are taken to a page to select which contest you would like to participate in.  

As of now there are four types of games: a heat battle, cold battle, rain battle, and wind battle.  The names are pretty self-explanatory. In each of these “battles” you pick cities that you think will have the most of whatever condition the battle is for.  Keep in mind that you will be forecasting for the 24 hour period ending on the date given on the battle. Just like in regular daily fantasy each contest has an entry fee as well as a prize payout for winners.  However, as I mentioned earlier, for about the next month all contests will be free to enter.

I went ahead and chose the heat battle, and after doing so was lead to this screen to make my selections:

You are given a list of 40 cities, of which you can choose ten, however you must stay within the given 40,000 point budget.  Each city is assigned a point value, with the sure thing picks (ie. in heat contests traditionally hot cities like Phoenix) being the most expensive.  Scoring is done by totaling up all the high temperatures (or inches of rain, max winds in those other contests) in each of your selected cities. You have to choose your cities wisely though to get the most points possible while staying under budget.  Sure, you could pick Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell for your daily fantasy team, but you would be hard-pressed to fill out the rest of your roster. The same balancing act applies here.

Also, remember how I mentioned you don’t need to know a whole lot about meteorology to play? Well when you roll over the mouse over the city names a bubble pops up on the map to the right showing both the forecasted temperature as well as the average temperature for that day. Sure, you could consult some weather forecasts or simple weather models, however doing so is not necessary to have a good shot of winning.  Simply looking at the information Weather Battle provides you could see that on this particular day value picks can be found in cities like Portland or Cincinnati where the forecast temperature is 85 but the cost of picking those cities is relatively low. It’s like an average running back having a matchup against the leagues worst run defense. Finally, after you submit your picks you can return to the site the next day to see how you did and if you won any money. It is that easy.

Weather Battle plans to drastically expand the game over the coming months.  The plan is to add contests for forecasting severe weather, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other weather events.  They also plan to increase the prize pools to make these games even more attractive. However, even with contests presently limited to just four categories, over the past month participation has increased exponentially.  The first day it launched there were less than 10 people playing, but in less than a month hundreds are now playing with participation growing each day. My guess is that more than just those with a deep interest in weather will give this game a try. At the very least it is a change of pace during these dead summer months.  And finally, it will give those who love to claim that weather forecasts are a bunch of crap a chance to put their money where their mouth is.

If you decide to give it a try let me know, I would love to hear thoughts from other participants.   You can let me know via twitter @stephenuzick.


 

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Houston drops the opener

Angels use big sixth inning to take opener from Astros

Houston's offense started hot, then went cold Monday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With a 2-1 series win under their belt to start this ten-game homestand, the Astros turned the page to a three-game set with the Angels on Monday night. Things started strong for Houston, building an early lead, but it would erode in the middle innings as the Angels would respond with a big sixth inning to take the opener.

Final Score: Angels 5, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 18-17, tied for second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Suarez (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (1-2)

Houston Builds an early lead

After a 1-2-3 top of the first by Luis Garcia, Houston would start the scoring in the bottom of the inning. Back-to-back walks set things off, setting up an RBI ground-rule double by Alex Bregman, giving them the 1-0 lead. Kyle Tucker lead the bottom of the second off with a double, then came around to score on an RBI single by Myles Straw, then Michael Brantley made it 3-0 with an RBI double later in the inning.

Los Angeles roars back to take the lead

Los Angeles trimmed the lead to two runs in the top of the fourth with an RBI double, but Houston was able to get that run back on another RBI by Straw in the bottom of the fifth. Things fell apart for Garcia in the top of the sixth, with back-to-back one-out solo homers trimming the lead to one run and ending his night there: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 92 P.

The Angels didn't stop there, getting two more runs to take the lead off of Brandon Bielak, who managed just one out while blowing the lead. Brooks Raley would enter to get the final out of the inning, then tried to keep the deficit at one run when he returned in the top of the seventh. It looked like things might unravel for him, allowing the first two batters to reach base on a walk and single, but he would battle back to strike out the next three straight to strand both.

Angels take the opener

Joe Smith took over in the top of the eighth, still 5-4, but would get two outs while allowing a double in his three batters before Houston moved on to Kent Emanuel, who finished the inning off. After another scoreless inning for Houston's offense, Emanuel remained in the game in the top of the ninth to keep a walk-off chance alive, and he would do so by erasing a walk to send the one-run game to the bottom half. The Astros wouldn't pull off a comeback, though, dropping the opener to Los Angeles.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Tuesday night. It shapes up to be an exciting pitching matchup, with Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 3.58 ERA) for Houston going up against the two-way star Shohei Ohtani (1-0, 2.41 ERA) for Los Angeles.

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