Who’s strongest on paper?
The biggest game of the Premier League season is upon us. Almost a pure title decider contested by our two first club partners ever. Last season, Arsenal and Manchester City were the only licensed Superclubs in the world. They have since been joined by other great clubs (and leagues), but these two will always be our firsts. The fact that they’re now going head-to-head for the title is a perfect opportunity for us to showcase how Superclub works and why it’s able to recreate the intricacies of football like no other non-digital football game.
Superclub prediction: 2-2
This game is too close to call, Superclub predicts a scoring draw. 1-1 or 2-2, maybe 3-3. If any team wants to take all 3 points, it’ll come down to the dice (or VAR/injuries/red cards/freak goals etc. as they’re called in real football).
Read on to see how we used the game to predict the score, and how the prediction changes depending on which elements of the game we include.
Context (for beginners)
The objective of Superclub is to get 100 points in a season or win three league titles + the Supercup final. There’s no way you’ll get 100 points in your first season, so this is a multiple season game, normally between 5 and 7.
If this Premier League season was a game of Superclub, we would be in the late game with super high stakes. Arsenal are in front, but they have dropped too many points to reach 100 for the season. City can’t reach 100 either, but they are back-to-back reigning champions, and would get to play the Supercup final after this season if they manage to pull Arsenal back and win a third title. In other words, all to play for.
Superclub is a game designed for one sitting, so you don’t play all 38 matches every season (would take forever). Instead, large parts of the season is simulated by a clever system based on your squad strength – the combined ability of all your players. Think of the points system this way: the first 28 matches are just preparation for the last 10. These are the games you play, against your greatest rivals – the other people around the table.
The last 10 games is where titles are won and lost, often based on single game outcomes. Here are the teams we selected for the game that many have called the Premier League final between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Wednesday night.
Guardiola and Arteta both have incredible talent at their disposal. Get the Manchester City and Arsenal Player cards, and you could have too. Predicting the lineups is as difficult in the game as it is in the real world, but it’s also an integral part of being a manager.
Manchester City predicted XI:
Ederson, Ake, Dias, Stones, Akanji, Gundogan, Rodri, De Bruyne, Grealish, Haaland, Mahrez.
Arsenal predicted XI:
Ramsdale, Zinchenko, Gabriel, Holding, White, Xhaka, Partey, Ødegaard, Martinelli, Jesus, Saka.
Disclaimer: The teams in our example were set up on Monday April 24. We’ll almost certainly get some positions wrong.
Choosing 11 players is only half the job, of course. Setting them up right is the key to success.
The scoring in a Superclub match is pretty simple. The pitch is divided into thirds: midfield v midfield, attack v defense, defense v attack. You have to win more thirds than your opponent to win the match, most of the time meaning 2 thirds (only 1 third will do if the 2 other thirds are draws).
Thirds are decided by player ability (1–6), chemistry, bonuses + two dice. Luck plays a part in Superclub, as it does in real football, but it might be less than you would think.
If you’re up by 1 point before the dice, you have a 56% chance of winning, 11% of drawing and 33% chance of losing the third.
Up by 3 means a 76% chance of winning and only 16% of losing. So tactics really matter! Let’s see a few different options and how that affects the game in Superclub.
Man City XI | Arsenal XI
Total XI strength
53 | 49
(+1) 54 | 52 (+3)
Plus captain boost
(+1) 55 | 57 (+5)
Player for player, Manchester City have a slight edge. Arsenal, on the other hand, have more chemistry between players and perhaps greater hunger and motivation represented by the Captain boost.
Prediction with realistic lineups
Midfield third: 19,5 (20,5) v 19 (24)
City third: 17 v 17
Arsenal third: 16 v 16
Both teams will set up in a similar style. A back 4 that transforms into a 3 when playing out from the back, with both Zinchenko and Stones pushing up into the midfield for their respective sides. Given that Zinchenko is classified as a DM in Superclub, he can play both positions without losing ability. Stones is, however, classified as a defender, meaning he’ll drop half an ability star when played as a midfielder. (If he keeps this level up, surely a DM classification is awaiting him in next season’s update?)
Using this setup, Superclub predicts that the match will be incredibly tight. City has 0,5 advantage in the midfield without captain boost, with the two remaining thirds being equal in strength. With Captain boost, Arsenal should dominate the midfield and have a good chance of winning.
Prediction: Too close to call. 1-1 draw with City having a little more possession.
Superclub style prediction:
Midfield: 22,5 v 11,5
Arsenal third: 11 v 17
City third: 21 v 27
Superclub does a great job of recreating football on the tabletop, but there are of course differences between being a football manager and a Superclub manager. One of the biggest, is that you only need to win 2 out of 3 thirds in Superclub, the last third doesn’t matter. An important tactical element, that can lead to some strange team selections.
Take a look at this, for instance. As a Norwegian company, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to use our two superstars as examples. A perfectly good Superclub setup would be to deploy Haaland as a midfielder in a setup like this. Grealish can play as a midfielder given his AM classification, but with his chemistry with Mahrez, it makes sense (in Superclub) to move Haaland down instead of Grealish if you want another body in the midfield. You’ll lose nothing up front (11 stars either way) and gain 0,5 in midfield.
Using the same logic, Ødegaard is best suited on the wing if you want to move him up into the attack. Why? Because you don’t want to break the chemistry chain between the front 3. (Shouldn’t Ødegaard have chemistry, you might ask? Yes, yes he should. We didn’t want to be accused of Norwegian favoritism before the season, but the way he’s been playing, he should either have chemistry or another ability star.)
In this example, Arsenal would be massive favourites because of the team selection. Man City’s dominance in midfield would count for very little as Arsenal would be huge favourites in the other two thirds.
Prediction: 1-2, Arsenal surrender possession but remain strong at the back and dangerous on the counter.
What is the Captain boost and how realistic is it?
The Captain boost is a catch-up mechanism in Superclub, preventing the top teams from snowballing. It’s trying to mimic the intangible difficulty of winning back to back seasons. If all else stays the same, being the champion is not an advantage. You have a target on your back, you’re perhaps not as hungry, not fueled by the desire for revenge.
How realistic it is, we’ll leave for you to decide. In terms of the game, it’s a crucial component. The reason why Manchester City have 1+ and Arsenal have 5+ Captain boost is because that is where they ended up last season. The lower down the table, the bigger the desire to put things right. No matter what happens Wednesday night, none of these two teams will have a lot to put right next season. Well played to both, we’re super proud to be official licensees!