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Big data predicts World Cup results

Reporter: Laura Luo 丨 CCTV.com

06-24-2014 07:08 BJT

Full coverage: World Cup 2014

Nearly two weeks into the World Cup, the elimination of defending champion Spain was perhaps the biggest surprise to fans. The lacklustre performance of English team has also been discouraging to its fans. But, then again the unpredictability of sports makes it difficult to predict winners and losers. Besides conventional prediction methods, big data analysis is for the first time being used to predict the outcomes. Our Laura Luo takes a gaze into the crystal ball and tells you who has the best odds to win.

When it comes to predicting soccer matches, historical performances are what most people usually rely on.
But now, small things such as temperature, popularity of soccer players, and even the spirit of fans can be used in predicting the outcomes, all thanks to big data analysis.
Feng Yicun, CEO of HYData, is an expert in visualising big data. His big data model dug through game records over the past 4 decades and predicted Brazil has the best chance of winning.

"Brazil of course has a home field advantage. We measure our predictions based on a team’s historical performance, line-ups, the ability of its coach, as well as a squad’s performances during qualifying matches which give us the most recent data of the team. We evaluate this criteria against their opposition. And whomever scores higher, has a better chance of winning." Feng Yicun, CEO of HYData, said.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs also released its prediction: that Brazil will beat Argentina in the championship game. Brazil’s winning probability measured out at nearly 50 percent, much higher than the predicted runners-up of 14 percent. However, as we already know, Spain’s jaw-dropping knock-out went against all predictions. Feng says, live statistics such as weather, or a players’ physical condition can change everything.

"Prediction is important, but sometimes the most important things are things such as players’ mood, their health, temperature. If these live stats can be transferred back to the coach, it will have the utmost help to him. Actually there are people already working on live-data-transmission." Feng said.

British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking correctly predicted England’s winning rate was pretty low. According to his model, every time the temperature increases by 5 degrees Celsius, England’s chance of winning a game drops by nearly 60 percent. He also hypothesized that the team would play better in a stadium that was situated less than 500 metres above sea level, and with a kick-off of about 3pm local time.

Predictions might boost your odds in winning a lottery, but the best part of watching the tournament is still those dark horse moments, unexpected things....That’s why people love to consult psychic animals for their foresights.

A female octopus named Regina was selected to succeed octopus Paul in Germany. She predicted a victory for Germany. A turtle named Big head is making forecasts for Brazil.

Here in China, a panda cub was picked initially to make predictions, but that has been cancelled for panda protection reasons. But a Chimpanzee named Mingming will soon step into the job.

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