The 14th season of The Bachelorette, starring Becca "Let's Do the Damn Thing" Kufrin, kicks off on Memorial Day, and also means the return of our real national pastime: Bachelor Fantasy League. Yes, for each new cycle of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, 10 of my closest friends and I spend an admittedly excessive number of hours agonizing over and betting on which realtor, dental hygienist, or personal trainer will find love on the long-running ABC reality shows.
We're not alone. Groups of friends have been informally betting on winners since The Bachelor's inception back in 2002, but it's jumped to a new level in the past few years. The first online game and one of the most well known, The Bachelor Bracket, started in 2013 and now has more than 70 million accounts created. Many news sites now create custom printable brackets each season for groups to use. And even ABC cashed in, when it created its Bachelor Fantasy League ahead of Nick Viall's season in 2017.
Sure, it's a little ridiculous, but I'm not ashamed to say I've gotten oddly good at it -- I've won my league four of the past five seasons. I'm no relationship expert or love guru or psychologist, either. And, no, I don't read Reality Steve. The reason I win every year is pretty simple: data.
It's well known that, while The Bachelor franchise isn't scripted, it's heavily edited. Ten-plus years of watching can make you great at reading between the lines of the edit and picking up on the signals the show can send about a cast member's fate. But if you take it a step further and analyze the numbers behind every season of the shows, you'll find data-driven trends right in the first episode every year that are infinitely more reliable than any hunch you'll have watching the show.
Seasoned Fantasy League veterans often stalk the cast members on social media or endlessly re-watch the "This season on The Bachelorette" promo clip after the premiere to find clues about the season's future to increase their chances of winning. But if you know what to look for, you don't have to be a certified member of Bachelor Nation or even a casual fan of the show to win your friends' pool (and maybe even some money).
While each fantasy league is a little different, they all follow the general premise of a March Madness bracket. You lock in picks for which cast members you think will make it through each elimination rose ceremony and get points for each contestant you choose correctly, with the points increasing after each round. Here are the five things to pay attention to in The Bachelorette premiere to help you skip the time-consuming social-media stalking and still dominate your Bachelor Fantasy League this year: