Disruptive Dynasties: From Wimbledon to the World Cup

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Posting date:8/1/2018 1:22 PM
A Royal Wedding. World Cup 2018. Wimbledon. The last few months have seen a whirlwind of activity in the UK. A few years ago, who would have predicted a royal wedding to an American actress? Or the upset at Wimbledon in both the women’s and the men’s finals? And, of course, who could forget England’s unprecedented run or France’s leap to World Cup victory with their 4-2 win over Croatia. With such significant shocks at both the World Cup and Wimbledon signal, we have to ask ourselves; is this a turning of the tide? 

Federer is still reaching for his 21st Grand Slam title. Serena Williams reached the Wimbledon finals a few months after having a baby and having suffered a pulled pectoral muscle. Both dynasties on the grass faced opponents breathing fire, hungry for the win. But whilst The Championships led to some unexpected results, it's the World Cup 2018 that really shook the boat.

What Data and Predictive Analytics Taught Us

We’ve all done it. Making predictions based on historical data, the always was, and the dynasties of a well-oiled machine, is our best way of guessing how our favourite competitions will work out. We think ‘if Team A has played this way, that way, or won year-on-year’ then surely, it will be that way again. But sometimes, as Steve Lohr points out:

“Listening to the data is important … but so is experience and intuition.  After all, what is intuition at its best but large amounts of data of all kinds filtered through a human brain rather than a math model?” 

Perhaps one of the reasons for this year’s lack of predictability has been that the best performances have come from unexpected sources. Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar Jr. all under performed in Russia, leaving room for Croatia’s golden generation to shine and France’s youthful side to make their mark. 

This explanation is supported by FiveThirtyEight’s World Cup Doppelganger tool, which offers a look at the statistical footprint of every player since 1966. From this, we can see that the breakout performances of 2018 were from teams that, with the exception of France, you may not have expected at the beginning of the tournament; Belgium, England, Mexico, and Switzerland:

  • Kylian Mbappé, France, 19
  • Romelu Lukaku, Belgium, 25 
  • Kieran Trippier, England, 27
  • Hirving Lozano, Mexico, 22
  • Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland, 26

Kylian Mbappe, at 19, is the youngest and the first teenager to score in a World Cup since Pele in 1958. With further breakout performances from players such as Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin makes it clear there’s room to grow, giving new life to recruitment trends. Even in football, diversity is key.

The Best is Yet to Come


Like this year’s Wimbledon upsets, the 2018 World Cup suggests that there are new dynasties in the making. Though France has just claimed their second ever World Cup trophy, this is only the beginning for their current squad. According to TransferMarkt.com, of France’s top 13 players, only two are older than 25 and, at 19, star player Kylian Mbappe is the first teenager to score at a World Cup since Pele in 1958. The future is looking bright for Les Bleus.

Looking Beyond the Obvious


Whilst we often use predictive analytics in sports, sometimes we need someone who can see beyond the obvious trends and analyse what unexpected events may occur. If you’re interested in analytics and ready to take the world by storm, we may have a role for you.
We specialise in Junior and Senior roles. To lean more, check out our current vacancies, call our UK team on +44 20 8408 6070, or email us at ukinfo@harnham.com

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Disruptive Dynasties: From Wimbledon to the World Cup

A Royal Wedding. World Cup 2018. Wimbledon. The last few months have seen a whirlwind of activity in the UK. A few years ago, who would have predicted a royal wedding to an American actress? Or the upset at Wimbledon in both the women’s and the men’s finals? And, of course, who could forget England’s unprecedented run or France’s leap to World Cup victory with their 4-2 win over Croatia. With such significant shocks at both the World Cup and Wimbledon signal, we have to ask ourselves; is this a turning of the tide?  Federer is still reaching for his 21st Grand Slam title. Serena Williams reached the Wimbledon finals a few months after having a baby and having suffered a pulled pectoral muscle. Both dynasties on the grass faced opponents breathing fire, hungry for the win. But whilst The Championships led to some unexpected results, it's the World Cup 2018 that really shook the boat.What Data and Predictive Analytics Taught Us We’ve all done it. Making predictions based on historical data, the always was, and the dynasties of a well-oiled machine, is our best way of guessing how our favourite competitions will work out. We think ‘if Team A has played this way, that way, or won year-on-year’ then surely, it will be that way again. But sometimes, as Steve Lohr points out:“Listening to the data is important … but so is experience and intuition.  After all, what is intuition at its best but large amounts of data of all kinds filtered through a human brain rather than a math model?” Perhaps one of the reasons for this year’s lack of predictability has been that the best performances have come from unexpected sources. Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar Jr. all under performed in Russia, leaving room for Croatia’s golden generation to shine and France’s youthful side to make their mark. This explanation is supported by FiveThirtyEight’s World Cup Doppelganger tool, which offers a look at the statistical footprint of every player since 1966. From this, we can see that the breakout performances of 2018 were from teams that, with the exception of France, you may not have expected at the beginning of the tournament; Belgium, England, Mexico, and Switzerland:Kylian Mbappé, France, 19 Romelu Lukaku, Belgium, 25  Kieran Trippier, England, 27 Hirving Lozano, Mexico, 22 Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland, 26 Kylian Mbappe, at 19, is the youngest and the first teenager to score in a World Cup since Pele in 1958. With further breakout performances from players such as Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin makes it clear there’s room to grow, giving new life to recruitment trends. Even in football, diversity is key. The Best is Yet to Come Like this year’s Wimbledon upsets, the 2018 World Cup suggests that there are new dynasties in the making. Though France has just claimed their second ever World Cup trophy, this is only the beginning for their current squad. According to TransferMarkt.com, of France’s top 13 players, only two are older than 25 and, at 19, star player Kylian Mbappe is the first teenager to score at a World Cup since Pele in 1958. The future is looking bright for Les Bleus. Looking Beyond the Obvious Whilst we often use predictive analytics in sports, sometimes we need someone who can see beyond the obvious trends and analyse what unexpected events may occur. If you’re interested in analytics and ready to take the world by storm, we may have a role for you. We specialise in Junior and Senior roles. To lean more, check out our current vacancies, call our UK team on +44 20 8408 6070, or email us at ukinfo@harnham.com.