The Basics of DFS Satellites and Qualifiers


These days a lot of daily fantasy sports sites are offering large prize pool tournaments. If you’re like most DFS players, the thrill of taking home a big score is enticing. But maybe you don’t the money to buy-in some of these larger tournaments. Maybe you can afford it, you just want to pay full price.

For players like you, there is a cheaper way to enter these guaranteed prize pool tournaments – satellites and qualifiers.

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What are DFS Satellites and Qualifiers?

A satellite is essentially generic term to describe a contest that feeds into another, larger buy-in contest. Buy-ins for satellites are usually a fraction of the buy-in of the main event that the satellite is feeding into.

One of the most advantageous things about satellites and qualifiers is that satellites for the largest events often have a variety of different levels of buy-ins, meaning you can easily pick and choose a buy-in that meets your preferences and needs.

So what does a Satellite look like?

Lets take an example of the $1 Million Mega Slam. That contest just so happens to be a $125 buy-in event. You can buy-in to that event if you want but not all players want to risk $125 on a single contest. For these players, satellites are much more practical.

Instead of buying in for $25, you can join contests with $2, $5 or $10. These satellites contests will be giving away $25 seats. Tickets to the main contest will be awarded proportionally to the buy-in. For example, iN the case of a $10 satellite to a $25 contest, nearly 1 in 2.5 players ($10/$25) will win a ticket. A $2 satellite, on the other hand, will award a ticket to 1 in 12.5 players ($2/$25)

Other types of DFS Satellites

Basic satellites are easily the most common type of feeder contests and are generally what you will run into as a DFS player. But there are a few other types you will encounter:

Qualifiers — Qualifiers generally have larger buy-ins and are usually the only way you can qualify for an event. Some bigger contests, like championship events, do not have direct buy-ins. To enter these events you must qualify for the event in order to participate.

Super Satellites — Occasionally when there are multiple levels of a satellite, you will see a contest referred to as a “Super Satellite.” DraftKings is known to offer these types of contests. Super Satellites mean that you will receive a direct entry into the main contest, meaning cash prizes will be awarded. If you see Super Satellites and a non-super satellite for the same event (a $100,000 contest, for example), the non-super satellite is a satellite to the Super Satellite.

Steps — Steps are a type of DFS contest offered by some sites such as DraftKings. Steps are a generic type of satellite contests with multiple levels. At the bottom of the level is a very small buy-in contest, while at the top is a larger buy-in contest. You can buy-in at any level you want but you will only earn tickets for the next level. At the top level, you will earn cash prizes.

A typical Step program at DraftKings:

Step 1 – $2 buy-in, awarding two tickets to Step 2 (1st and 2nd) and one to Step 1 (3rd and 4th)
Step 2 – $7 buy-in, awarding two tickets to Step 3 and one to Step 2
Step 3 – $25 buy-in, awarding two tickets to Step 4 and one to Step 3
Step 4 – $88 buy-in, awarding $200 each to 1st and 2nd and a Step 4 ticket to 3rd

Where to find qualifiers and satellites?

Where to find the qualifiers and satellites will depend on the site.

Generally, the contests have their own section. At DraftKings, you can find satellites under the left hand menu below all the other types of contests – tournaments/leagues, head to head contests and so on. At FanDuel, the contests are mixed with tournament and leagues.

You can filter satellite and qualifier contests at the top of the menu or search for them using common satellite terms – “qualifier,” “steps” and obviously “satellite.”

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