We would like to congratulate Sarah Rudd, the winner of the inaugural StatDNA soccer analytics research competition. Many of you will already know Sarah from her blog On Football and also as the co-creator of the meta-blog Soccer Analysts. Her paper "Modeling Possessions in Soccer Using Markov Chains" was chosen as the winner by our judging panel of Dr. Ben Alamar of Menlo College and JQAS and Dr. Andrew Thomas of Carnegie Mellon University.
Sarah's paper proposes a framework for understanding offensive contributions of player using Markov models and even goes on to rank top performers by offensive contribution from the EPL. The top three offensive contributors in the EPL according to Sarah's model were Tim Cahill, Yaya Toure and Cesc Fabregas for the 2010/2011 (in the research sample). There will be a blog post on Sarah's paper with further details in the coming days.
The were 4 other full paper submissions as well, as well as a blog entry. All of these will also be blogged about on StatDNA in the coming week or two as well. There were some really top-notch entries and it was very difficult to choose a winner:
Dr. Justin Yates and Dr. Sergiy Butenko, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Texas A&M University, "Soccer Analytics via Geospatial and Network-based Data Mining Techniques"
Dr. Andres Abad, Facultad de Ingeneria en Mecanica y Ciencias de la Produccion, Escuela Superio Politecnica del Litoral (ESPOL), "An Optimal Passing Strategy for Association Football"
Eric Parziale and Dr. Philip Yates, Department of Mathematics, Saint Michael's College, Colchester, VT "Keep the Ball! The Value of Possession in Soccer"
Valeria Espinosa, Jonathan Hennessy, Bo Jiang and Joseph Kelly, Harvard University, Dept. of Statistics, "Transitioning from Winning to Losing"
Brian Mills, Dept of Sports Management and Dept of Statistics, University of Michigan, "Blog Post: Creating Wins"
Thanks again to all the participants in the competition.