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Stats Perform Launches Call For Proposals For 2021 Pro Forum

 

Analysts and data scientists have until Monday 9th November to send in proposals, across four different research categories, for the opportunity to potentially present their work to over 300 industry practitioners next spring.

 

By: Andy Cooper

Stats Perform is delighted to announce that it is now accepting proposals to present at the 2021 Pro Forum.

Since it launched in 2014, the Forum has become firmly established as one of the world’s leading football analytics conferences, attracting 300 delegates from over 80 professional teams around the world, including FC Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Milan and Sevilla, as well as representatives from Federations including the FA, DFB, KNVB and US Soccer.

The event will take place on Wednesday 24th March, however due to restrictions on events resulting from Covid-19, it is likely that the Forum will be held digitally instead of at its traditional venue in London.

However, after being heavily oversubscribed in 2020, staging the event online will enable us to increase the number of invitations to industry professionals from all around the world who have an interest in finding out more about how analytics can be applied to inform and enhance decision-making from a strategic, tactical and recruitment perspective.

2021 Forum: Continuing With Club-Led Submission Categories

One of the initiatives introduced at the 2020 Forum was the inclusion of two new submission categories, featuring research questions put forward by professional clubs.

Following overwhelmingly positive feedback on the quality of these presentations from delegates, we are pleased to announce that Lucy Rushton, from MLS side Atlanta United, and Red Bull Salzburg’s Alex Schmalhofer have each put forward a new research question that will form dedicated presentation topics for 2021. Only one proposal for each of the club-led topics will be accepted and presented at the Forum, although people are welcome to submit multiple proposals across multiple categories.

Lucy and Alex will also support the presenters on their respective topics, using their expertise and detailed knowledge to add a further layer of depth to the presentations. Those who have a proposal accepted in the open categories will also work closely with a club analyst, who will act as a ‘mentor’ to support with any key questions during the process.

Submissions that cover any of the below will be considered:

– Open submission: event data

– Open submission: event and tracking data

– Atlanta United-led proposal:

Identifying and evaluating strategies for successfully penetrating a high opposition press from short goal kicks, played inside the box, to move the ball into the opposition half. 

This proposal should focus on overarching strategies within this particular scenario, however a focus should be on the tactical approach of Atlanta United or teams that share a similar playing style. In addition to MLS, data from other competitions can also be applied to support the analysis.  

– Red Bull Salzburg-led proposal:

Identifying and evaluating the efficiency of each player during the pressing phase against an opponent’s controlled build-up play.

Winning possession during the pressing phase is the final outcome, but how can we quantify the process and individual actions of each player that lead to a successful turnover?  Which variables, combinations or new KPIs can be applied to define the involvement and impact of each player’s individual performance during the pressing phase, related to their on-field position?

To answer this question it is necessary to use event and tracking data to have positional information of all players, and the ball, to identify the key elements of measuring individual pressing performance. This proposal should not focus specifically on the tactical approach adopted by Red Bull Salzburg.

An Opportunity to Work With Ligue 1 Uber Eats Tracking Data

Each year the quality of presentations at the Forum increases. Many of the innovative ideas showcased in recent years have centred around the application of concepts built around performance and physical data, creating tactically relevant analysis deriving from merged datasets.

Therefore, to help further progress research in this field, we are delighted to announce that in partnership with LFP, successful applicants in our tracking related categories will be able to work with historical tracking data from the Ligue 1 Uber Eats competition to build-out their presentations.

The availability of this data means that in 2021 our chosen presenters will be able to work with a larger volume of tracking data, helping them attain deeper insights derived from a much larger data sample.

The Judging Process

As a result of the year-upon-year increase in volume and quality of proposals, this year will see a change to the Forum’s submission and judging process.

All initial proposals received will be anonymised and reviewed by five judges, assessed against the following criteria:

Innovation: Is the idea new? Has it been seen or tried before? Has it even been thought about or discussed before?

Relevance: How useful is this research to professional teams? Does it answer the ‘so what?’ question?

Application: How can this research be applied by a club? This may relate to recruitment processes, tactical analysis, player development pathways or additional areas

With an extensive background in football analytics, the Pro Forum judges are:

Brian Prestidge, Director of Data Insights & Decision Technology, Manchester City
Devin Pleuler, Senior Analytics Manager, Toronto FC
George Syrianos, Head of Analytics, VfB Stuttgart
Patrick Lucey, VP Artificial Intelligence, Stats Perform
Thomas Seidl, Senior Data Scientist, Stats Perform

Following the initial judging process, the twelve strongest proposals will be invited back to deliver a short presentation, expanding on concepts outlined in the proposal, to senior members of the Stats Perform Artificial Intelligence and Data Science team. This presentation will also need to outline the submitter’s proposed methodology for delivering their project.

Following these presentations, a final shortlist of six will be selected for presentation.

What to Include In Your Initial Proposal?

Proposals should focus on answering a specific question, sharing insight on the approach taken and how this research can be applied within the professional environment and crucially, how it can help teams win.

Previous presentations have covered topics such as crediting players for creating space, quantifying league strength, showcasing optimal strategies for creating opportunities from throw-ins and the innovative application of deep learning processes to identify recurring match scenarios from tracking data across a season.

To further enhance the quality of initial proposals, those submitting also have the opportunity to request an event-only data sample to begin and outline their work, meaning a proposal can be more detailed compared to previous years.

To access this sample, please email proforum@statsperform.com with ‘Pro Forum 2021 data request’ as the subject. The email body should include a very brief introduction to your idea or proposal.

Proposals should include the information below, be a maximum of two pages and sent in a Word document. Images, videos and external links can be included along with any other relevant information.

– Name
– Address
– Contact information
– Are you submitting on behalf of a commercial organisation (yes/no)
– Submission category
– Title of project
– Research question
– Objective of this research
– Rationale for chosen topic
– Your approach to answering this question
– The applications of this research within a professional football environment and how this work will help teams win

Please submit proposals via the Pro Forum event page by clicking on the ‘Submit Your Proposal’ button.

The deadline for first stage of submissions is Monday 9th November.

Those selected for the second stage will then be given the opportunity to work with additional data to further build-out their projects. For tracking proposals, this will include a small anonymised sample of tracking data.

Paying Tribute To An Analytics Pioneer

Earlier this year, we were saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Garry Gelade. During the 2000s Garry was one of the leading pioneers in the field of applied football analytics, working with a number of leading European clubs including Chelsea.

Garry’s innovative work was showcased at the Forum on two separate occasions, in 2015 and 2017. His first presentation, ‘Goals Change Games’, which featured insights on the impact of game state on a team’s performance, is widely recognised as being one of the most influential pieces of work showcased at the Forum.

As well as his substantial body of work, Garry is also remembered fondly for the support and encouragement he gave others, particularly young data scientists and analysts, aspiring to establish their own pathway towards a career in the industry.

In tribute to Garry, with the support of his family, we are pleased to announce that from 2021 we will be establishing a merit award, in his name, which will recognise the outstanding Forum submission received from an undergraduate.

The winner of the Dr. Garry Gelade Award will receive free access to data, together with mentoring from our team of data scientists, to enable them to complete their project. If the submission is not amongst the final six projects chosen for presentation, the winner will have the opportunity to exhibit their work publicly on a digital poster at the virtual event.

Need Further Information?

For more information on the 2021 Pro Forum, please contact proforum@statsperform.com.