If you are unfamiliar with a Calcutta, it is essentially an auction in which players bid on teams and get paid out a percentage of the total pool based on success in a tournament. This is a very popular format for NCAA March Madness and golf pools. In this case, we adopted it for the 2018 World Cup with the following payout structure (after some minor tweaking).
|Group Stage Draw||.5%|
|Group Stage Win||1%|
|Round of 16 Win||2%|
|World Cup Champion||16%|
There was some brief discussion about paying out for the winner of the third-place game, but let's be honest, does anybody really care who wins that contest? To dive in further in the above numbers, in each group, there is 6 percent in available prize money, with a clean sweep netting that team three percent. This brings the total cumulative win of a team sweeping its group and winning the World Cup to 28 percent.
We ended up with 10 RotoWire staff members ranging from the company COO to content part-timers. The draft order was based on odds to win the tournament from longest shot to favorite. This meant Saudi Arabia (+10,000) went first while Brazil (+450) was last to come up. As one would imagine, with no clear idea of what the end prize pool would be, things started off slowly. As the organizer, I didn't want the first team to go without a bid, so I snatched up Saudi Arabia for $1 – a steal if they can snatch a win from Egypt or Russia. Unfortunately, this initial hesitancy saw the next team, Panama, also go without a bid, but more on them later.
From there, things picked up a bit as the next nine teams went for $10 or less, with Nigeria coming in at the high point, and the bids being conducted $1 at a time. When the Calcutta came up to Egypt (14th item of the day) we finally saw somebody jump up the initial bid ($10) in the hopes of dissuading further betting. It was not to be as another bid was submitted close to the wire for $11.
The mid-to-high teens is where the prices stayed until Colombia hit the $20 threshold, which continued the rest of the way with Croatia ($20), Portugal ($27) and Uruguay ($37). By this point, we were getting into the nuts a bolts of the Calcutta with some of the best remaining teams remaining. Belgium would land at $42 while Spain went for $40.
With the final two favorites remaining, this is where the rubber would hit the road and push the prize pool to higher levels. Personally, I had waited until this point to really get into the action – I had spent a combined $21 on Saudi Arabia and Croatia – with the goal of securing Germany for around $80. Bidding started at $40, quickly jumped to $60 and by the time it hit $70 it had become a two-man race. In an attempt to secure die Mannschaft, I jumped up to $100. Unfortunately, my opponent would not go away and, eventually, when the price point hit $115, I bowed out.
A slightly less determined race ensued with regards to Brazil, which started at $60 and ended up at $77, but it was pretty clear the Germans were the favorites among our team of RotoWire experts. All told, the bids added up to $658 for the 32 international squads and ranged from one owner who spent just $1 for Tunisia to my Germany competitor who ended with six teams for a total take of $199.
How It Breaks Down
A final prize pool of $658 shakes out as follows:
|Group Stage Draw||.5%||$3.29|
|Group Stage Win||1%||$6.58|
|Round of 16 Win||2%||$13.16|
|World Cup Champion||16%||$105.28|
It's important to note that these numbers are cumulative, so if Germany sweeps its group and wins the whole thing, the owner who payed $115 gets 28 percent of the pool ($184.24) for a $70ish profit. Since the draft, that $1 Tunisia buyer has since purchased Costa Rica from another owner for $1 over the bid price.
While it is certainly noteworthy that Germany went for $38 more than Brazil, its not totally surprising when you consider die Mannschaft are the defending champions. Perhaps it's more interesting the consider that the Red Devils (Belgium) went for $42 – ahead of Spain ($40), Argentina ($35) and France ($38). There is a lot of talent in Roberto Martinez's side, but, so far, expectations have failed to match reality.
Here is the final breakdown of how the cost of each of the teams, along with their group and odds to win the World Cup. Feel free to hit me up on twitter @AJScholz24 with your take on teams that went too high, too low or right in that Goldilocks sweet spot.
|Saudi Arabia (Group A) +100000||$1.00|
|Panama (Group G) +100000||$5.00|
|Tunisia (Group G) +50000||$1.00|
|South Korea (Group F) +50000||$3.00|
|Morocco (Group B) +50000||$6.00|
|Iran (Group B) +50000||$3.00|
|Australia (Group C) +30000||$5.00|
|Costa Rica (Group E) +30000||$4.00|
|Peru (Group C) +20000||$8.00|
|Nigeria (Group D) +20000||$10.00|
|Japan (Group H) +20000||$6.00|
|Serbia (Group E) +20000||$12.00|
|Iceland (Group D) +20000||$9.00|
|Egypt (Group A) +15000||$11.00|
|Senegal (Group H) +15000||$11.00|
|Sweden (Group F) +15000||$9.00|
|Switzerland (Group E) +10000||$12.00|
|Mexico (Group F) +10000||$15.00|
|Denmark (Group C) +10000||$17.00|
|Poland (Group H) +8000||$17.00|
|Russia (Group A) +5000||$11.00|
|Colombia (Group H) +4000||$20.00|
|Croatia (Group D) +3300||$20.00|
|Portugal (Group B) +2800||$27.00|
|Uruguay (Group A) +2500||$37.00|
|England (Group G) +1800||$31.00|
|Belgium (Group G) +1200||$42.00|
|Argentina (Group D) +950||$35.00|
|France (Group C) +650||$38.00|
|Spain (Group B) +600||$40.00|
|Germany (Group F) +475||$115.00|
|Brazil (Group E) +450||$77.00|