Live NBA Final Comparison

Written By PlayPicks Staff on February 4, 2015 - Last Updated on June 27, 2018

With FanDuel finally announcing their second live final for the NBA season in Sunny Miami Beach, Florida (come on, we all knew the PlayBoy Mansion wasn’t going to be the only Live event they offered)  I thought it would be a good time to do a comparison of the live final events being offered by FanDuel, DraftKings and FantasyAces. Lets take a closer look at a couple overall factors to help us compare each live NBA final event.




This has been a source of frustration for players across the two major sites. Both FanDuel and DraftKings have been varying the qualifiers they are offering to their Live NBA Finals events on almost a nightly basis with no set schedule that they are working off of. Especially on DraftKings where the high prize pool means qualifiers that are being offered break the bank for most low to mid stakes grinders. The $1,000 dollar buyin is the only consistent qualifier they offer. They also offer  $300 and $20  qualifiers on select slates but in order to win the 1st place prize you need to beat out 4000+ other participants and if you do not finish in the top spot, the qualifiers are so heavily weighted that 2nd on down is hardly worth it. Essentially for every player who qualifies there are 10 others who have sabotaged their bankroll trying to do so. Hardly a sustainable concept for overall daily fantasy sports growth. Instead of simply offering smaller buyin qualifiers into these qualifiers so that low stakes grinders have a chance at this once in a lifetime experience, we will take a suggestion from Michael Rathburn and offer a solution based on the old step tournaments that Party Poker and other sites used.


The concept is simple and as Michael suggested some of the sites already have this game variation in use they simply are not using it properly. What a step qualifier tournament would require is quite simple. This is an example of the type of step tournament DraftKings could offer if they value the package of their live final at $55,500. Obviously the amount of the buyins or the contest entrant numbers could all be tweaked but this is a simple design that could offer low stakes grinders a 4 step tournament to win entry into a live NBA Final without dropping the prize pool considerably and still offering a $1,000,000 1st place prize.  This also doesn’t require beating a large field of entrants in order to qualify. Also with the Step tournament concept players can buyin on any step that they want to as well.

Step 1

$12 buyin  10 person contest – Winner gets entry to Step 2. 2nd place gets ticket to Step 1

Step 2

$100 buyin 12 person contest – Winner gets entry to Step 3. 2nd place gets ticket to step 2. 3rd gets ticket down to step 1.

Step 3

$1,000 buyin 12 person contest, Winner gets entry to Step 4. 2nd place gets ticket to step 3. 3rd gets ticket down to step 2. 4th gets ticket down to step 1.

Step 4

$10,000 buyin 7 person contest, Winner gets qualified to Live DraftKings NBA final (valued at $55,500). 2nd gets ticket into step 4 contest


Simple straightforward and no large field to beat in order to win a qualifier seat. It is a simple step process that can be spread out over as many days as the site would like with most steps being able to be ran everyday.


Unfortunately, this is not currently being offered and as such we are left with qualifiers to the live events that require loads of luck or loads of money in order to qualify for. The only site that offers reasonable qualifiers at this time is FantasyAces. This is mainly due to the actual value of the trip and overall package being much less then DraftKings offering. But winning a $109 buyin 225 person tournament is by far the easiest path to a live event that we have in the daily fantasy sports industry. FantasyAces also runs qualifiers to the Friday night $109 tournament everyday. And shockingly they are also consistent about the qualifiers that they run which helps grinders plan out how to best attack qualifying for this event.


Prize Pool

For those still with us, the Qualifiers being ran are obviously correlated to the prize pool. To put it simply, DraftKings has to run large buyin qualifiers because the prize pool to their live NBA Final is so large. This has many higher profile players frustrated with FanDuel and their prize pool regression for this live NBA Final. Mainly, offering a $50,000 1st place prize seems quite weak for the industry leader. Players seem torn as this does give lower stake players a chance at experiencing a live final at a reduced cost to their bankroll. This could also be considered more sustainable due to the flatter payout structure of the FanDuel live final. Ideally the Prize Pool would fall into the middle of where they are at. DraftKings currently offers the $1,000,000 1st place prize but has a steep drop off in payouts after that. FanDuel listened to the player concerns and offered a much flatter payout structure. The argument is that the overall 1st place prize is not big enough. Best case scenario is to find a middle ground where the 1st place prize is in the 300k-500k range with a flatter payout structure through the first 10 spots. FantasyAces has a smaller prize pool then even FanDuel with 1st place receiving a $40,000 payday. For an up and coming site who is striving to offer the live event final to more people it is applauded and an acceptable alternative then the much larger prize pools offered by the two main sites.


Player Experience

We had a recent conversation with an up and coming daily fantasy sports operator who was perplexed at the coverage that FantasyAces received for their live NFL final. Especially since this site offered an even larger prize pool for their end of the year online tournament. Some do not understand but for a lot of daily fantasy sports players who want to qualify for a live final, it is the experience that they are seeking. The opportunity to be wined and dined with like minded individuals. The chance to network and establish new contacts and acquaintances in a paradise setting. It is a chance to escape the daily grind and a chance at life changing money all at the same time. It is the Player Experience that draws people to the live event finals and all three sites have gone above and beyond with providing the player with a unique experience that they are excited to try to qualify for.

Game Slate 


The game slate that each NBA Live Final falls on is between 10-12 NBA games. Ideal for a tournament like this. The only complaint among some is the Friday or Sunday date that the FanDuel and DraftKings live final falls on. Kudos to FantasyAces for announcing their live final early and securing the coveted Saturday spot with a 10 game slate. I am somewhat surprised neither FanDuel or DraftKings announced their live final on the same weekend but applaud both for avoiding the controversy we saw develop with NFL.


FanDuel Live Final in Miami Friday April 10th, 2015


Toronto at Orlando 7:00 PM
Charlotte at Atlanta 7:30 PM
Washington at Brooklyn 7:30 PM
Boston at Cleveland 7:30 PM
Indiana at Detroit 7:30 PM
Milwaukee at New York 7:30 PM
San Antonio at Houston 8:00 PM
Phoenix at New Orleans 8:00 PM
Sacramento at Oklahoma City 8:00 PM
Dallas at Denver 9:00 PM
Memphis at Utah 9:00 PM
Minnesota at LA Lakers 10:30 PM


DraftKings Live Final in Las Vegas Sunday March 22nd 2015


Cleveland at Milwaukee 3:00 PM
Miami at Oklahoma City 3:00 PM
San Antonio at Atlanta 3:00 PM
New Orleans at LA Clippers 3:30 PM
New York at Toronto 4:00 PM
Washington at Sacramento 6:00 PM
Detroit at Boston 6:00 PM
Denver at Orlando 6:00 PM
Charlotte at Minnesota 7:00 PM
Dallas at Phoenix 9:00 PM
Philadelphia at LA Lakers 9:30 PM


Fantasy Aces Live NBA Final Saturday April 4th, 2015


Philadelphia at Charlotte 7:00 PM
Brooklyn at Atlanta 7:30 PM
Miami at Detroit 7:30 PM
Boston at Toronto 7:30 PM
Washington at Memphis 8:00 PM
Golden State at Dallas 8:30 PM
Orlando at Milwaukee 8:30 PM
LA Clippers at Denver 9:00 PM
Utah at Phoenix 10:00 PM
New Orleans at Portland 10:00 PM
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