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Calling all analysts and data scientists - an exciting opportunity to present at the 2021 Pro Forum

25 October 2020

Calling all analysts and data scientists - an exciting opportunity to present at the 2021 Pro Forum

Stats Perform is now accepting proposals to present at the 2021 Pro Forum  but don't delay, applications close on 9 November.

Since it launched in 2014, the Forum has established itself 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.

Representatives from Federations including the FA, DFB, KNVB and US Soccer have also attended.

Due to restrictions on events, next year's Forum is likely to be held digitally instead of at its traditional venue in London on Wednesday 24 March.

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,  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 successful applicants in the 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 their 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 12 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.

For full details on what to include in your initial proposal and how to send it in, please click on the link here.

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