What is a Qualifier in Daily Fantasy Sports?

Qualifiers and Satellites in Daily Fantasy Sports

DraftKings Qualifier

If you are new to daily fantasy sports, the main lobby can be overwhelming. There are all sorts of different contests to choose from. This article will focus on qualifiers and satellites.

Qualifiers in Daily Fantasy Sports

All of the major DFS sites generally have a championship for each sport. Some sites even have multiple championships for the same sport. Some current examples are FanDuel's World Fantasy Baseball Championship and DraftKings' Fantasy Baseball World Championship. Both tournaments have huge top prizes (often more than $1 million) and include a trip to an exotic location to play in the tournament. But unlike a regular tournament, you can't just buy in. You have to win your way in through a qualifier.

Qualifiers are run at varying price points, depending on the site, but they tend to skew towards the higher end for the most part. They require a slightly different approach than a normal tournament.

The top prize in a qualifier is always the trip and ticket into the Championship tournament. There are smaller cash prizes for runners up, but qualifiers are usually different than a normal tournament in two main ways: a smaller percent of the field cashes (less than the typical 20%) and the prize structure is extremely top heavy (meaning a high % of the total prize pool goes to 1st place). So for strategy purposes, the takeaways are: these are not good bankroll builders and you need to be shooting for 1st place, not just the minimum cash line.

Even though they aren't good for building a bankroll, they are a lot of fun to play in if you have a bankroll that can afford it. My recommendation is to set a certain budget exclusively for qualifiers when a tournament is announced. Chasing qualifiers is exciting, but you can lose a lot of your bankroll if you are reckless. The other thing to consider is that contrarian strategies are even more beneficial since you are approaching it with essentially a 1st place or bust attitude.


As mentioned, the typical price point on a qualifier is generally on the high side. If those prices are too high for you, consider playing satellites.

Satellites are tournament style games where the payout is a ticket instead of cash. FanDuel and DraftKings both offer satellites to their regular tournaments and to Qualifiers.

Satellites are unique in the sense that the prizes are generally limited to 1st place and maybe 2nd place depending on the size. But there are also SuperSatellites, which will be a much bigger field with a bunch of tickets at stake. Let's say you were on DraftKings and you wanted to win a ticket into their $27 Payoff Pitch contest. You could play a regular $5 satellite which has 12 people with the top 2 each winning a ticket. Or you could play the $5 SuperSatelitte which has 1550 people with the top 250 winning a ticket. In both cases, the top 16% of finishers get a ticket, so it is really personal preference.

Both sites also offer satellites where the prize is a Qualifier ticket. These satellites are the perfect way for someone on a small bankroll to chase qualifiers responsibly. They are also a great way for a person with any sized bankroll to get multiple entries into a qualifier without having to pay the huge buy-in.