Kickoff.ai predicts World Cup 2018 match outcomes

© 2018 EPFL

© 2018 EPFL

Today marks the launch of the World Cup 2018 in Russia at 5 pm. According to Kickoff.ai, the model developed by researchers from the INDY Lab, Russia has a 52% chance of beating Saudi Arabia during the opening match, and a 27% chance to tie. This project, started in view of the Euro Cup 2016 two years ago, has been revamped for the World Cup with new data, a new model, and a new platform.

This year, Lucas Maystre and Victor Kristof used data on matches since the beginning of the 20th century to predict match outcomes. Their model learns a “strength” for each team, which enables to compute the probability of each outcome of each match. But doesn’t the performance of the teams vary rapidly? “Our statistical model is equipped with two tools to tackle this issue. First, we use a so-called Bayesian approach to take into account the uncertainty due to the fact that teams don’t play frequently. Second, our model is flexible enough to learn the evolution of a team’s strength over time”, explains Lucas Maystre. Kickoff.ai’s model has been validated by analyzing its performances on international competitions over the last 16 years.

And in the end, does Germany win? 

It is thus possible to use Kickoff.ai’s model to simulate each World Cup confrontation and to compute, for a team, the probabilities of reaching each round of the competition. And in the end, does Germany win? “We simulated a million times the World Cup and, according to our model, Brazil has the best chances of winning with 26%”, answers Victor Kristof. “However this also means that there are three chances out of four that another team becomes the next champion! Football is full of surprises, and our model knows it”, indicates the researcher. For its part, the Swiss nati only has a 1.5% chance of winning the competition. Nevertheless, it will most likely reach the next round with a 50% chance, suggesting that fans should be able to cheer for the red flag with a white cross until the 3rd of July.

All predictions will be updated live during the World Cup and published on the platform https://kickoff.ai. Hopp Schwiiz!


Authors: Victor Kristof, Lucas Maystre