Sydney Swans fans might think it’s BS, but BI is being used to predict the winner – and we’ll only know on Saturday just how accurate, or otherwise, Yellowfin’s predictions square up with the eventual reality.
Now, the company knows this is controversial, and says "let’s be clear", stating: “Yellowfin BI analysts take their footy and their data seriously.”
What’s more, Yellowfin loves bad puns, and say that, like most Aussies, they love an underdog (clearly with no, or perhaps in this case, plenty of bull).
So, as footy fans around the country salivate at the prospect of a good old fashioned upset, Yellowfin says "there’s one question on everyone’s mind: Can the Western Bulldogs actually win the 2016 AFL Grand Final?"
We’re told to "forget the betting agencies or the tea leaves", as Yellowfin says that "analytics software and data visualisation has the answer".
So, are the Dogs really going to win?
Well, at first glance, says Yellowfin, "the Swans are flying".
The company explains that, "over the 2016 season, the Sydney Swans dominated, finishing atop the AFL ladder and clinching the minor premiership. Subsequently, the Swans enter the grand final, their third in the past five years, as deserving favourites.’
However, there’s a bark from the dogs that cannot be ignored.
Yellowfin states: "On the other hand, the Bulldogs, an undoubtedly talented squad, has been continually hindered by injury concerns throughout the season, with the team literally limping towards September.
"But they’ve defied the odds so far, putting in especially spirited performances throughout their finals campaign. Can they keep the momentum going?"
Yellowfin says that ‘the data suggests the Swans are a formidable team and, known for their toughness around the ball, Sydney has averaged 164 contested possessions per game compared to the Bulldogs’ 149.
"Also, Sydney has put plenty of pressure on the ball carrier, averaging 10 more tackles per game than the Bulldogs.
"So, knowing that these important facets of the game win you finals, what chance do the Bulldogs really stand? The data says a victory to the Doggies and here’s why," promises Yellowfin.
The company states that ‘the Dogs play well away from the kennel, but…’
It then asks the question: "Since both teams are technically playing an ‘away game’ for the grand final match at the ‘G, could this deliver the Bulldogs a slight advantage?"
You can scroll the embedded charts left or right as required:
The young Dogs’ game plan and intensity stands-up away from home. But, it’s also clear that the Swans rise to the challenge of playing on less familiar turf too.
Uh-oh - here comes ‘The final straw’
Yellowfin says… "Like a true underdog story, the Bulldogs are the first team to make it to the grand final from seventh place (under the current finals system).
"They took on and beat three teams — including last year’s grand finalists, West Coast and Hawthorn — that finished above them.
"It’s also their first preliminary win in 55 years. So what brought about this change? Have they literally stepped up their game in the finals? In a word, yes."
On the other hand, we’re told that "the Swans appear to have felt the effect of a ferocious finals campaign".
Yellowfin says that "the Bulldogs have been fired-up during the finals – and it’s not just an impression. We can see remarkable improvement in key performance indicators — contested possessions, tackles and total score — during the finals. Conversely, the Swans have under-performed – compared to their seasons averages – during the finals."
Critically, say the analysts at Yellowfin, "with both teams having played three games throughout the 2016 finals, the Bulldogs lay claim to a higher average score compared to the Swans over that period (98 vs 90)".
So… take note. Yellowfin sniffs an upset!
"Ultimately, yes," says Yellowfin, "the Swans are a strong team."
And, "if they replicate their season averages on game day, they’ll be formidable opponents. But the data reveals the Bulldogs’ current form is enough to beat Sydney where it really counts – on the scoreboard."
So with the scent of September elevating the Dogs to new heights, Yellowfin "predict a win to the Sons of the West".
To see if Yellowfin are right, or whether we can say "fin" to Yellowfin’s predictions, the company suggests you "invite your friends, light up the barbeque and settle in to see history in the making this Saturday".
Data source: AFL stats page.