SciSports wins best paper award at Analytics Conference
SciSports researchers Lotte Bransen and Jan Van Haaren won the best paper award in the category Other Sports at the prestigious research-paper competition at the 2020 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. The SciSports pair had emerged as winners from the Other Sports track with their paper titled “Player Chemistry: Striving for a Perfectly Balanced Soccer Team” on Friday before claiming the overall second place across the four research-paper tracks on Saturday.
In the semi-finals of the Other Sports track on Friday, SciSports’ Lead Data Scientist Lotte Bransen presented her latest research on quantifying player chemistry in football alongside two other semi-finalists. Defining chemistry as the joint impact that a pair of football players has on scoring and preventing goals for their team, she demonstrated three different applications of her novel chemistry framework: measuring the offensive and defensive chemistry for pairs of players who have actually played together, predicting the offensive and defensive chemistry for pairs of players who have never played together before, and identifying a suitable club for a football player in terms of mutual chemistry with their future teammates. Following an audience vote, the Bransen & Van Haaren paper emerged as the winner of the Other Sports track and was granted a spot in the grand final.
Alongside the winners of the three other research-paper tracks, Lotte was invited to present her work again and to answer a number of insightful questions from judges Peko Hosoi (Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT School of Engineering), Luke Bornn (Vice President, Strategy and Analytics at Sacramento Kings), and Will Edmondson (Senior Director, Strategy & Development at Major League Baseball) in the grand final on Saturday. Following a very competitive final, the three judges eventually rewarded Lotte and Jan with the second place overall in the research-paper competition!
The “Player Chemistry: Striving for a Perfectly Balanced Soccer Team” paper is available for download from the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference website. The accompanying Git repository provides the top-five-ranked player pairs in terms of offensive and defensive chemistry for over 350 seasons in more than 60 different competitions across the world. In addition, last week’s blog post highlights several eye-catching insights.