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What is the Difference Between Wildcard and Free Hit in FPL?

The main difference between the wildcard and free hit chips in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) is that the wildcard allows you to make permanent transfers to your team for the rest of the season, while the free hit lets you make temporary transfers for just one gameweek.

With the wildcard, you can overhaul your entire team, and those transfers will stick for the rest of the FPL season. The free hit gives you a one-time opportunity to fix your team for one gameweek before it reverts back to how it was before.

Understanding when to use each chip can be key to maximizing your points and ranking. Let‘s take an in-depth look at how these two powerful chips work and how to strategize with them over an FPL season.

How the Wildcard Works

The wildcard chip allows you to make unlimited transfers throughout a gameweek without taking any point hits. Once played, the wildcard resets your transfers for that gameweek to 0.

Some key things to know about wildcard use:

  • Transfers made with the wildcard are permanent for the rest of the season. Your team will not revert back after the gameweek ends.
  • You get two wildcard chips per FPL season. One can only be used in the first half of the season (by the December deadline) and one is saved for the second half.
  • Activating a wildcard removes any points deductions from transfers already made earlier in the same gameweek. This allows you to change your transfers without taking hits.
  • The wildcard chip can only be played once per half-season. You can‘t play it multiple times in quick succession. Plan it carefully!

Wildcard Strategies

Here are some of the most common and effective strategies for playing your wildcard chips:

  • Overhaul your team when your season strategy is not working – If you team is severely underperforming and you need to make major changes, the wildcard lets you reset your team without taking huge point hits. You can jump on new bandwagons and overhaul your whole approach.
  • React to long-term injuries and suspensions – If you take multiple hits to replace players who are injured or suspended long-term, a wildcard can minimize the damage. Make all the transfers at once without taking huge hits each time.
  • Prepare for blank and double gameweeks – Wildcards are hugely valuable for navigating weeks where teams blank and double. Load up on players with doubles and remove those with blanks to field a strong XI each week.
  • Build team value by chasing price rises – Early in the season, play the wildcard to bring in newly risen players and capitalize on price changes. This helps build team value which is key for long-term success.

Wildcard Gameweek Strategy

Many managers plan their first wildcard for around gameweek 4-8 once early season patterns emerge. This allows quick capitalization on emerging trends, injuries, new star players etc.

The second wildcard is often saved until later in the season to navigate blank and double gameweeks. Gameweek 26-29 tends to see lots of team rotation and gameweek alterations.

However, don‘t feel locked in – if your team significantly underperforms early on, an early wildcard can get your season back on track. Remain flexible and use your wildcards when your team needs it most!

Wildcard Use in Previous FPL Seasons

Let‘s look at some wildcard usage stats from previous FPL seasons:

FPL Season First Wildcard Average Gameweek Second Wildcard Average Gameweek
2018/19 Gameweek 5 Gameweek 33
2019/20 Gameweek 7 Gameweek 31
2020/21 Gameweek 9 Gameweek 29
2021/22 Gameweek 8 Gameweek 27

As you can see, most managers tend to use their first wildcard in the early – mid gameweeks to adapt their teams. The second wildcard is generally saved for later to deal with blank and double gameweeks. But don‘t be afraid to diverge from the crowd if the right time comes earlier or later!

How the Free Hit Works

The free hit chip allows you to make unlimited transfers for a single gameweek. After the deadline passes, your team automatically reverts to how it was before the free hit chip was played.

Some key free hit use rules:

  • You only get 1 free hit chip per FPL season compared to 2 wildcards. Use it wisely!
  • The free hit chip can only be played once – you can‘t play it multiple times in a row.
  • Transfers made before activating the free hit chip still incur a point deduction. The free hit doesn‘t erase earlier hits like a wildcard does.
  • Any saved free transfers carry over after using the free hit. Those free transfers are not lost.

Free Hit Strategies

Here are some smart strategies for getting the most value from your precious free hit chip:

  • Minimize point hits in blank gameweeks – If multiple of your players have a blank gameweek, use the Free Hit to make unlimited transfers to field 11 playing players. This avoids huge point deductions.
  • Capitalize on double gameweeks – Bring in as many players with doubles as possible for big one-week scores. You don‘t have to worry about transfers back after.
  • Cover for injuries/suspensions – If your team is crippled by sudden injuries or bans, use the free hit to bring in full playing replacements for a week without hits.
  • Differential captain strategy – Use the free hit to bring in a differential captain option with a great fixture for one week. Captain them aggressively without long-term risk.

Free Hit Gameweek Strategy

Blank gameweeks with many teams out of action offer a great free hit opportunity. Gameweek 18, 28, and 33 last season had 6+ teams with blanks – ideal for free hit use.

Double gameweeks also allow you to maximize points from your entire free hit squad that week. Just beware that free hitting in a small double GW may not beat a regular well-prepared team.

The key is being flexible and using the free hit when it will gain you the most points that gameweek compared to your current squad.

Free Hit Use in Previous FPL Seasons

Here are some stats on popular gameweeks for free hit use over the past few FPL seasons:

FPL Season Most Popular Free Hit Gameweek
2018/19 Gameweek 33 (11% managers)
2019/20 Gameweek 18 (26% managers)
2020/21 Gameweek 18 (39% managers)
2021/22 Gameweek 30 (16% managers)

Gameweeks with major blanks due to cup matches and postponements are consistent favorites. But always let the specific circumstances of each season determine your free hit strategy rather than going with the crowd!

Wildcard vs. Free Hit – Key Differences

Now that we‘ve covered how the wildcard and free hit chips work, let‘s summarize the key differences between them:

Transfer Permanence

  • Wildcard: Transfers are permanent for the season
  • Free Hit: Transfers only last for 1 gameweek

Number of Chips

  • Wildcard: Get 2 per season
  • Free Hit: Only get 1 per season

Point Hits

  • Wildcard: Removes point hits from earlier transfers
  • Free Hit: Does not remove earlier point hits

Strategy

  • Wildcard: Full team rebuild for long-term
  • Free Hit: Short-term 1 week transfers

Using Both Chips Together

You cannot play a wildcard and free hit within the same gameweek. The FPL rules only allow using one chip per gameweek.

However, it can be effective strategy to play them in successive gameweeks:

  • Wildcard in one gameweek to overhaul your long-term team
  • Follow up with Free Hit the next gameweek to optimize for blanks/doubles

This tandem approach allows maximum flexibility to fix your squad both short and long-term. But plan ahead – don‘t use both chips unnecessarily early in the season!

Conclusion – Maximizing Your FPL Chips

The wildcard and free hit are extremely powerful FPL chips that can make a big impact on your season. Learn to use them strategically at the optimal moments.

Keep the key differences between the chips in mind – the wildcard for permanent squad overhauls and free hit for one-week gain. Time them well around blank/double gameweeks and periods of injuries/suspensions.

Stay patient and don‘t waste them when your team is doing fine. These chips offer great value when played skillfully at the right moments.

With smart wildcard and free hit play, you‘ll have the ultimate flexibility to adapt your FPL squad all season long and climb the ranks!