While the excitement in the domestic and international soccer leagues is rising to an unprecedented climax, last weekend’s round of English Premier League play had a special touch for the participants in the Netherlands’ first soccer hackathon, organized by The Analytics Lab and Cmotions. On Friday, April 15, they competed for the prestigious challenge cup at B.Amsterdam. After weeks of preparation, training camps and altitude training, the seven participating teams entered ‘The Muhammed’ stadium. The competition tension was already palpable during the warm-up. Laptops were plugged in, tactics discussed once again. After the processors had warmed up and the power cables had completed the necessary stretching exercises, stadium speaker Niek Agema announced the lineups and the rules of the game were explained. To many people’s surprise, it was not our own Premier League, but the English Premier League that had to be predicted based on data analysis. Depressed faces at a number of teams, who had completely devoted their preparation to their knowledge and data collection of the Dutch league.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
|16-4-2016||Man United||Aston Villa|
Nevertheless, the participating teams played very passionately from the first whistle. Each team was given a fictitious budget of €1,000, which had to be wagered as best as possible to predict the 10 matches of this round of play. A minimum of €50 and a maximum of €200 had to be wagered on each match, with the odds (quotations) set by a well-known betting agency prior to the hackathon. Whoever made the highest return on Monday night, after the last match, was the winner of the hackathon and received the coveted challenge cup. The complete match history of the past 10 seasons in the Premier League was made available to the teams, it was (of course) also allowed to use other data sources.
The teams’ game plan differed; some teams immediately sought the attack and took big risks, while others relied on a closed defense and bet on the safeties. From the difference with other betting companies’ odds to the number of expected goals per club and from the historical results between them to the number of non-Englishmen on a club’s payroll; many variables were used to model on. At halftime, the teams were given an energy boost with the classic canteen food, a ball sandwich. At the same time, the captains were interviewed by our very own Sierd de Vos, the camera-genius Erik van Nistelrooij, and given a hint of how they were going to battle. During the second half, the team once again worked with such passion and concentration that the room began to fill with the recognizable air of a typical Sunday morning soccer locker room.
After the regular playing time, a blood-curdling extension followed; the last 30 minutes in which the teams had to fill in the actual predictions. During the press conference, in which these predictions and tactics used were made public, it became clear to everyone’s great interest that the teams used very different tactics. What all participants agreed on was that the atmosphere and sportsmanship are an example for many a soccer club and stadium. The spectators, watching from the grandstand, also thoroughly enjoyed the entertaining spectacle and the captains’ explanation of their methods of battle. One team was so confident in their own model that it was decided on the spot to bet their own money on the outcomes of their model. After the press conference, the day ended with a famous third half; the hackathon was evaluated in the B.Amsterdam canteen while enjoying a snack and drink.
Throughout the weekend of play, the organization meticulously tracked the intermediate standings. Prior to the final match, Stoke City – Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night, two teams were engaged in a blood-curdling neck-and-neck race for victory. The winner will be awarded the cup, of course this will be announced on this website in the coming days.