Scout from the Cloud

14/07/17 | SciSports

SciSports was featured in a major article by prestigious German football magazin "Kicker" this week. German journalist Martin Gruener visited SciSports at our headquarters in Enschede, where he interviewed CEO Giels Brouwer and several other employees. The article draws an overview of SciSports' expertise and current achievements.

As the article is in German, we have outlined the main content below. For the full interview (in German), we refer you to edition 56 of "Kicker" published on 10/07/2017. 

About the products of SciSports:
SciSports has developed an innovative visual tracking system, which is installed in one of the biggest stadiums in London. The so-called "BallJames" is a camera system that captures all movements of the 22 players on the pitch in 3D and generates a virtual world. This enables the user to view the match from every perspective and to analyze and measure everything of interest.

But this is only one part of the data expertise of SciSports. The second is a database with over 350.000 players worldwide, whose current influence and potential is measured by the algorithms that use data of millions of matches. "Our goal is to make every player around the globe objectively comparable", said Giels. SciSports analyzes more than 2000 matches into the system every week. The partnership with data provider WyScout enables SciSports to perform in depth player analysis, with up to 230 enriched statistics per player. Special reports about players, positions, leagues or the next opponent can be bought, access to the database is granted for a low four-digit euro amount.

Examples for the scouting expertise:
Several examples for the use of the database are given in the article. In general, Lionel Messi is leading in the so-called SciSkill rating (current strength) with a score of 154,7, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo (148,1). The best player from the German Bundesliga is Robert Lewandowski, rated currently at 134,4. Exemplary filtering the database for young right backs, Héctor Bellerín from Arsenal is leading the SciSkill rating, second is Bernardo form RB Leipzig.

Searching for a potentially inexpensive but well-performing playmaker shows an interesting player. Jon Toral was loaned to the Glasgow Rangers last season and his importance in the second assist chain before a goal was in the same range as Hazard, Özil and Ribéry.

Another example for players that might be overseen by the scouting departments of clubs is the promising defender César Montes, 20 years old, 1,93m tall and currently in the first squad of Mexican CF Monterrey.

If you filter players under the age of 22 for their potential, Dele Alli is leading with a potential future SciSkill Score of 169,7. Christian Pulisic (168) and Gianluigi Donnarumma (167,3) follow up closely. In general, four of the ten players with the highest Potential Score are playing in the German Bundesliga.

On the founding days of SciSports and current achievements:
Leading to the current name of the company, Giels' intention was to connect the worlds of science and sports. After having managed the football world in virtual game Football Manager, he started the mission to revolutionize the real football world with data knowledge in 2012 by developing the SciSkill Index. When he first introduced his innovative approach for an optimized scouting to the nearby FC Twente, the head scout treated him with skepticism but he turned out to be very helpful and of crucial importance to the idea, Giels remembers.

Today, Giels is widely connected in the industry, and SciSports was awarded several times. As an example, SciSports was announced as a potential next European Unicorn by the EU.

Furthermore, another €1,8 million was acquired in the last investing round, so there is more to expect in the future.

On the location and employees of SciSports:
SciSports headquarter is located at the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands. The six rooms in the building "The Gallery" have big windows with a view into the green. Next to a glass door hangs a sign "Testroom". In the room are only cables, monitors and packages, the rest is already in London. Servers cannot be found either, as SciSports is using the cloud for more efficiency.

The close ties to the University are not only due to the location of the headquarter. As an example, a professor, who is a world leading expert in the digital detection of faces, helps with his knowledge in the BallJames project.

In general, SciSports grew rapidly, only having 7 people employed in 2015. One year ago, there were 20, today there are already 45 employees plus Giels. One of them is Deepak Viswanathan, a bright young man from Pakistan, who is one of the machine learning experts of the BallJames software. Another employee is Simon Rödder, who is representing SciSports in Germany and explores the club landscape over there.