ldquo;We are excited to announce two changes to our NBA product for this coming season,” the e-mail, which hit the inboxes of DraftKings users on October 13th, said.
The first informational bullet point that followed—which touted the fact that in the coming season, some NBA players will now be eligible for rostering at two different positions in DraftKings contests—was a positive development, one that allows DFS players greater flexibility when constructing their rosters.
However, it was the second bit of news contained in the communication that caused a great deal of consternation among many in the DFS player community—rosters for all NBA contests will now lock upon tip-off of the earliest starting contest of the night, eliminating the late swap feature that many players enjoyed and often took advantage of when playing on the site.
As per the e-mail, DraftKings states that the change “will allow our customers to enjoy the games and follow their teams rather than monitoring for late breaking news leading up to tip-off of each game. “
The announcement seemed to catch the majority, if not all, members of the DFS player community by surprise, and prompted a whirlwind of immediate reactions
As in most instances of breaking industry news, a thread on DFS fan hub Rotogrinders was created and grew at an accelerated pace, with many forum members initially expressing a mixture of disbelief and disappointment in the change.
RG user Vanco echoed the sentiments of many in the thread when he noted that “late swap is the only reason I only play on DK. Who was asking for this change? I’ve seen people asking for FD to remove lock.”
“This is horrible. There goes the edge,” commented RG user Johnny Tremz.
RG user terrypercs colorfully chimed in with “wowwww why would they change the rules? Late switch was an edge. And it differentiated their product from other DFS sites.”
Despite the furor of many, however, it wasn’t necessarily all outrage. In the same thread, user sotnohc commented “I like it. Now I can actually play DK without wifey getting upset that I have to monitor news for 3 hours straight at every half hour”
And RG user Pitch 120 was one of several who took a more analytical, big-picture view of the move, telling fellow forum posters: “If you haven’t realized, sites are trying to make the games fairer and have more people winning. This evens the playing field for the people who aren’t constantly checking their news feeds.”
Within the same thread, readers got the benefit of the reasoning behind the move from a DraftKings employee with the username Markness, who chimed in to explain the company’s thought process. Within his post, he acknowledged that while the late swap feature was one that DraftKings was aware many enjoyed, it also had become a bit unwieldy for many players when it came to the NBA.
Due to the abundance of late-breaking news nightly regarding players getting scratched from starting lineups at the last minute, Markness emphasized that over time, DraftKings had “increasingly received feedback from players who have decreased their play or even stopped playing completely” because the stress of having to monitor potential changes didn’t allow them to actually sit and enjoy the games themselves.
Markness closed out his post by emphasizing that the company does see the value of late swap, and that “there are no plans of removing it for other sports”, a question that had already been verbalized by several who’d posted in the thread before that point.
Overall, it appears that the change will certainly take time to settle in with many players, and there’s undoubtedly a segment of the base that is unlikely to ever warm to it. However, other late swap sites, such as Yahoo, still remain as viable options. It’s also notable that industry rival FanDuel has run NBA contests since its inception with great success without ever having a late swap feature available.
Many of the more casual or outright new DFS players are also likely to take to the move, as they would have been the least likely to capitalize on the benefits of circumventing last-minute injuries to players in their lineup.