It’s pretty much a cliché by now that when you put Sorare in front of a European audience one of the first things you hear is “But I don’t know about, or care about, the J-League!”. 

It’s fair enough. Certainly from the perspective of enhancing enjoyment of the games we would be watching anyway. 

But, if we enjoy winning in Sorare – we can’t ignore all of these non-European Leagues particularly if we want to play “moneyball” and assemble a competitive team on a very tight budget.  

Last week I said that my strategy preference was to put a competitive budget team together for the Summer. But I’ve also looked into the alternative “wait for next season” strategy too.

In upcoming articles I’ll look at a bigger budget strategy, perhaps if you had 3.5 to 7 ETH (£5k to £10k) to spend on a Summer Dream Team. (I’ve included a currency converter at the end if prices in ETH don’t make much sense to any readers yet!)

At the moment I’m staying on the “budget” track though – as regular readers will know I’m in no hurry right now to plow enormous sums into cryptocurrency myself. 

And indeed, there are huge diminishing returns – spending £10k rather than £2k should get you a better team if you choose wisely. But not a 5 times better team, far from it. 

Let’s have a quick think about strategy then dive into some value J-League players.

One League Strategy versus Spanning MLS, J-League and K-League

There is no one size fits all strategy here, it is really about preference. One of the key things in strategy is picking one that suits your strength, time commitment and knowledge

So, choosing to focus on the MLS (or any one League) can be good for a few reasons:

– You only have one League to develop knowledge in, saving a lot of time and building your expertise faster.

– You might find the MLS more fun as it has more names you recognise – not to be underestimated even for “competitive” players because getting bored is a surefire way to lose focus and fail to manage your squad correctly.

– It is slightly easier to keep on top of where fixtures fall in one League, reducing the chances of you slipping up and being left missing a key player for a tournament. Getting a Did Not Play (DNP) will massively dent our chances of winning a card.

This would suit if we didn’t have a ton of time but did have a reasonable budget (1.5 ETH or close to £1.5k to £2k perhaps). 

However, there are benefits to branching out across the Leagues too.

– We have a wider selection of good value players to pick from – meaning our extra time and effort can give us better players for less money.

– Particularly by involving the K-League, we can probably assemble a halfway decent team here for 0.5 ETH (£750?) if we really stretch and make very savvy selections. (And if we wanted a really cheap “ETH grinder” team that probably won’t win cards but can win a small amount of ETH we could go even cheaper.)

Or we may focus primarily on the MLS, but use cheaper J or K-League players as squad players/fillers. Whilst we want to keep our “gallery” compact on a budget (I want to call it a squad, damnit!) I do not think it is a good idea just to pick 5 cards.

We’re going to get injuries, rotation, and benching. Plus fixtures will fall on awkward days sometimes. It is inevitable. And particularly in early season teams are often unsettled. So we want at least 6, ideally 7 players in our squad. But 2 of those players can be very cheap fillers.

The Korean League has just had a huge batch of cards drop and they seem even less popular than MLS/J-League cards, or at least some of the players are less well known. So, there is big value available here and I have made use of that. 

For example, Lee Ju-Yong from Jeonbuk Motors is currently going for 0.036 Eth at time of writing (or £50) and he is very servicable as a backup, in fact, he is more than a match for many MLS defenders going for 4x or 5x that price. 

He does have a bit of a rotation issue but not too bad for the money. We could also find someone less likely to put up a big score but more reliable. 

So, I probably will focus mainly on the MLS but I will not be afraid to dip into other Leagues where I feel it gives me an advantage. 

But then, I spend a lot of time on research – if you just know you can’t be bothered then maybe sticking to one League will work best for many people! 

I will however be covering value players across multiple Leagues in my content as I go so maybe that will help inspire. 

Tap your email into the box here to get onto my newsletter for those. (Even for existing site members – I am shortly going to stop sending Sorare content to the FI mailing list so it doesn’t trouble those who are not using Sorare).

J-League Moneyball Value Picks

Like we did for the MLS, let’s see how the J-League can help us in our quest to create a competitive team for 1.4 ETH (£2k) or less.

Marcos Junior - 28 - Forward - Yokohama FM

Plenty to like here with both goal and assist potential, plus a solid all around game so even when he blanks he should still make a decent contribution. 

Currently available for around 0.250 ETH which is great value too, especially since he is a Forward which are slightly more difficult to find value in than defenders and midfielders. 

Particularly in the J-League the really obvious heavy hitters were often coming in at highly inflated prices and were getting a lot of hype. So finding players who can go toe to toe with them for a fraction of the price is important. 

Junior is one of the few who are very competitive but still come in on budget for this squad. Good fixtures too, for a potential shorter term boost.

Anderson Lopes - 27 - Forward - Consadole Sapparo

Very strong threat, his 5 goals in the last 6 are no fluke at all. He has not notched an assist so far this season but on current form if he picked 1 of those up every 5 games or so it would be justified.

His all round game is pretty poor, but goals and assists are enough in this game if they come regularly enough.

He’s a little pricier than Junior above at around 0.400 ETH right now – but given how often he has scored recently, I am a bit surprised it isn’t a bit more. It’s value – but does stretch this budget a little. 

If you aren’t pinching every penny (what’s a penny in ETH?), I think Lopes is a very solid addition. And relative to other J-League big hitters he is reasonably priced.

Akito Fukumori - 28 - Defender - Consadole Sapporo

A solid full back with good assist potential – much better than recent form lets on. He is yet to score or assist this season but has been close to both. 

Has a good all round game to produce decent averages even when he blanks, and he has the capacity to deliver big explosive scores too. 

His drawback is that Consadole only have 1 clean sheet in 5 but then clean sheets are critical for GK’s but not so much for defenders. It’s only 10 points in it for a defender. I’d prioritise assist/goal potential in my defenders over that, and Fukumori has that.

Not the cheapest at just under 0.250 ETH right now, cheaper defenders can be found, but as a starting pick Fukumori looks really solid and he is well within budget.

Kota Watanabe- 22 - Midfielder - Yokohama F. Marinos

Not to be confused with another K. Watanabe who plays for rival Yokohama FC!

Just 2 assists in 6 this campaign but he’s created chances, had a couple of decent ones himself and despite being deep does get forward. Has potential for big spikes but also a good all round game so he should chip in with a decent average when he blanks too.

He’s also young and appears for the Japan U23’s too which gives him that little touch of stardust.

Decent pick – probably not as solid as the older players above in terms of here and now results – but that’s often a trade we have to make for youth. 

But he can deliver solid scores now with occasional spikes. And at around 0.160 ETH he’s good value too.

J-League Squad Players and "Fillers"

Even on a budget, we are going to need more than 5 players to cover rotation and help avoid “DNP” misery. We can probably get away with 1 cheap reserve if funds are really tight, but 2 would be better to cover different positions.

In the J-League – there is actually quite a lot of decent filler like this but not much killer. There are strong J-League players but the obvious ones tend to break our budget.

Takuro Kaneko - 23 - Midfielder - Consadole Sapporo

Kaneko has a very underwhelming SO5 scoring history, yet, in the last 4 games in particular he’s had good chances to both score and assist. 

He’s far from brilliant but does have a big score in him and is better than most would be aware of. 

If we are looking for reserve players who can fill in to prevent a dreaded “Did Not Play” here is one – he can be picked up for 0.070 ETH right now and would make a solid “bench” player.

Ryosuke Yamanaka - 27 - Defender - Uruwa Reds

A great value full back who has blanked all season yet has been getting regular chances to score and assist. 

His scores aren’t bad though and he is capable of providing a decent average even without a goal or assist.

Just 0.055 ETH right now and a really solid squad filler who can comfortably go toe to toe with defenders 4x or 5x this price.

Yuya Asano - 24 - Midfielder - Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Budget midfielders/forwards are a little harder to find, at least those who actually have a chance at explosive scores.

Asano has just 1 goal to his name all season but it should be 2-3 based on the chances he has had. No assists either but again, he’s been laying on regular chances.

That fairly poor record means some are selling him for around 0.110 ETH. A good value filler who is likely better than most people think. If he improves his finishing, anyway. 

J-League Good Youngsters

Not exactly “moneyball” style value but it’s always worth mentioning a couple of good youngsters.

Kyosuke Tagawa - 22 - Forward - Tokyo

Perhaps not quite one for a budget team but Tagawa is worth mentioning. In his last 6 for the club and Japan U23 he’s looked really dangerous, scoring 4 times in 6. 

No real assist potential, and the all round game isn’t brilliant either. But if he keeps up anything like this scoring form he could churn out some very nice SO5 totals.

Also comes with a little rotation risk as a youngster. Still, good for those who like to pick up young players who can develop. 

And at under 0.300 ETH he is reasonably priced.

Ryotaro Araki - 19 - Midfielder - Kashima Antlers

Another youngster who is in great form – 5 goals and an assist in his last 7 games in 2021. And it’s a fair reflection of the chances he is getting and creating, this record is no fluke.

He makes a decent overall contribution too, better than Tagawa above actually. But then he also has that rotation risk that often comes with youngsters. 

A little cheaper than Tagawa, he comes in around 0.250 ETH and is another solid choice if looking for good value J-League youth.

Next Up: What to do about Goalkeepers? And if you have ideas for other topics for me to cover, drop me a line on Twitter!

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