Red Devils Beat Football Opponents with Data Analytics

Belgium’s national football squad – the Red Devils - took third place at the World Cup Football in Russia. A great performance by a team with world-class players … and with a little help from Dutch sports analytics company SciSports.


Football player kicks ball

The Enschede-based firm is one of the fastest growing sports data analytics companies in the world. They provide data to football clubs like Eintracht Frankfurt, Wigan Athletics and the Belgium national team.

Many top teams in Europe have their own group of human analysts crunching the numbers to suggest where a squad can improve. SciSports however, uses artificial intelligence technology (AI) to analyze opponent’s weaknesses. It does that fast, and with astonishing accuracy.

Analyzing over 100 million passes

SciSports reckons that machines trained in deep learning are more proficient then the greatest human minds. They say that at some point the machines will be more ingenious then top football strategists like Louis van Gaal or Pep Guardiola.

One of SciSports data models can analyze over 100 million passes and automatically generate the impact of every individual pass leading to a goal, all within 15 seconds. The model can find patterns in where the most effective passes come from.

“We can analyze formations and tactics and help them find the weak spots based on pattern recognition technology. It’s all based on fully automatic machine learning”, says SciSports founder Giels Brouwer.

The Belgian Red Devils and the German ‘Mannschaft’ were the only 2 teams using AI during the World Cup.

Computing player’s skills

One of SciSports’ analytics tools is SciSkill. This index determines the quality and potential of over 200,000 players around the globe. A purpose-built web portal gives subscribers an efficient and clear overview of all players and their sports data. Through search wizards as well as selection and comparison tools, customers can stay up to date with all professional players in the world – while keeping an eye on the ones who meet their requirements.

The company has also launched their patented product BallJames. It is the first integrated tracking system to fully-automate data generation of football matches, real-time and in 3D.

The European Union selected SciSports as one of the next European Unicorns and the HYPE Foundation elected the company as the most innovative football analytics company in the world.