Certified Legendary Thread Race for the flag, in squiggly lines

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Final Siren

Mr Squiggle
Aug 18, 2009
3,663
15,339
AFL Club
Richmond
Okay, Squiggle update tomorrow! But in the meantime, let me tell you about...

Ross Lyon's Demon Goat-God

During the season I said that so many close results fell Fremantle's way, Lyon must have been selling souls to demons. (Not his own, obviously, since he left that at St. Kilda.) You expect close games to break about even, i.e. teams will lose as many as they win. Maybe good teams tend to break a little better than 50/50, since they're good. But the Dockers did MUCH better. They had 8 close games (under 15 points) and won 7 of them:
  • R1: defeat Port by 7
  • R4: defeat Sydney by 14
  • R7: defeat Western Bulldogs by 13
  • R9: defeat Adelaide by 11
  • R11: defeat Gold Coast by 7
  • R13: defeat Collingwood by 7
  • R17: defeat Richmond by 4
  • R21: lose to North Melbourne by 11
This struck me as lucky. But now that I've had a play with the new squiggle tool, I think Fremantle's minor premiership was incredibly lucky. In fact, I think we could replay the 2015 season a hundred times and it might not happen again.

"But hold on," you say. "Freo weren't lucky to win those games. They were skilled. A well-oiled machine. There's no such thing as luck in football."

Well, let's say that's true. Let's say Fremantle's game plan involved carefully waiting for Richmond to kick the ball in to a 2-on-1 and seizing the lead with 1 minute to go and six other similar feats, because the Dockers are just that good.

They still wouldn't have won the minor premiership if many other results beyond their control hadn't gone just right.

Fremantle finished half a game ahead of West Coast, one game ahead of Hawthorn, and with a far inferior percentage to both. So it only takes one different result to knock Fremantle off top spot.

And just as the close ones fell Fremantle's way, they fell the other way for the Eagles. West Coast had 5 close games in 2015 and won one. Their average winning margin was up around ten goals, but their close games looked like this:
  • R1: loss to Western Bulldogs by 10
  • R6: defeat Port by 10
  • R10: loss to North Melbourne by 10
  • R18: draw with Gold Coast
  • R19: loss to Hawthorn by 14
So that seems kind of unlucky. It seems very unlucky if you've explained some of Fremantle's close wins as the sign of a good team, because West Coast were a better team, yet could only win one from five.

If the Eagles had scored 1 more point against Gold Coast, they'd have finished on top. But, lucky for Fremantle, they didn't.

Then there's Hawthorn. Like the Eagles, their average winning margin was enormous, but they lost most of the close ones:
  • R2: loss to Essendon by 2
  • R4: loss to Port by 8
  • R6: loss to GWS by 10
  • R8: loss to Sydney by 4
  • R14: defeat Collingwood by 10
  • R19: defeat West Coast by 14
One of their wins was over West Coast, which, if it had gone the other way, would also have denied Fremantle the minor premiership. That leaves five games, at least four of which had to be losses. All up, Fremantle needed at least five out of Hawthorn's six close games to fall a particular way and they did.

And we won't even talk about the finals, where Lyon conjured another close win after the Dockers took a rested team into a home final against an undermanned Sydney who suddenly couldn't kick straight.

For Fremantle to be minor premiers:
  1. Fremantle had to win at least 7 out of 8 close games.
  2. West Coast had to win no more than 1 out of 5 close games.
  3. Hawthorn had to win no more than 2 out of 6 close games, including the West Coast game.
If we assume that the odds of winning or losing a close game are 50%, there's a 3.5% chance of Scenario 1, a 16% chance of Scenario 2, and about a 17% chance of Scenario 3.

The chance of all three occurring together is 0.1%, i.e. a tenth of one percent.

So how much luck is there in football? You can explain all of the above simply by saying that Fremantle were good at close games and West Coast and Hawthorn weren't. And no-one can prove that one way or the other. We can't know for sure what would happen if we got to replay the season; whether the results would be exactly the same, because football is 100% skill, or not, because there's some luck.

But personally I'm pretty sure there's a healthy dose of luck -- games that could easily have gone either way, based on random, unpredictable factors. In the real world, Fremantle are 2015 minor premiers, but in a hundred Alternate Realities, they finished 3rd or 4th.
 

GoTheSwannies

Premiership Player
Aug 5, 2009
4,480
3,036
Sydney
AFL Club
Sydney
The other side of the coin is Hawthorn and west coast were so good that their losses were by small margins. For all we know they could have tried to reel back a massive deficit and fell short.

West coast and Hawthorn are attacking teams and would have been able to win in a shoot out.

Meanwhile freos gameplan relies on strangling their opponent defensively while rarely ever getting too far ahead of their opponents on the scoreboard.

So while you may call it luck, it has more to do with their differing styles of play. You can't just look at it from a quantitative perspective
 

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Crankyhawk

Brownlow Medallist
Sep 21, 2007
13,562
8,731
Melbourne
AFL Club
Hawthorn
The other side of the coin is Hawthorn and west coast were so good that their losses were by small margins. For all we know they could have tried to reel back a massive deficit and fell short.

West coast and Hawthorn are attacking teams and would have been able to win in a shoot out.

Meanwhile freos gameplan relies on strangling their opponent defensively while rarely ever getting too far ahead of their opponents on the scoreboard.

So while you may call it luck, it has more to do with their differing styles of play. You can't just look at it from a quantitative perspective
Not sure about WCE but for 3 of hawks losses we were substantially behind. Then came back to be in winning positions in 2 of them (dons and swans games)
 

Dr Tigris

Premium Platinum
Aug 19, 2009
5,824
12,738
Canberra
AFL Club
Richmond
Good to see you've got your priorities straight Seppo.

Although if I'd known how it was going to come out, I would have done it sooner!

2016 Ladder Predictor

Play with live squiggle here - same as last year, you can drag teams around to new locations and generate new predictions. Also you can click through every match of 2016 to see the squiggle tips.

This is all based purely on 2015 match results plus the 2016 fixture. That is, there is NO accounting for trades, delistings, retirements, drafting, injuries, returns from injury, or anything else that happens in the off-season. (Which is why it's similar to the 2015 ladder for most teams.) You have to factor that stuff in as and where you think it's significant.

Fremantle is low because the squiggle genuinely thought the Dockers were that average by the end of 2015, based on the scorelines they were delivering. Likewise, it thought Port were pretty good, despite missing finals. Although the Power may be Top 4 only because they got to finish their season off by thumping Fremantle's B-team.
Freo the obvious ones to look at there. Could be interesting as their KPF issues are probably worse - Pav is 1 year older. And Geelong should shoot up given their recruiting, not part of the squiggle. Collingwood also interesting on their recruiting.

Overall the squiggle says Hawks and WC, then the rest. Probably what you'd expect from 2015. Very even from 3 on. I'd be happy with the tigers coming 3rd. But wouldn't be surprised if it was just a game from 3-7. At some point the hawks have the drop off, over 30 super stars have to slow down one day (please :):confused:). Could be another good year, lots of teams around the same place.
 

FallingLiefs

Brownlow Medallist
Jan 30, 2013
11,696
12,730
AFL Club
Port Adelaide
Shouldn't close games be determined by % of total score that the margin was rather than a fixed margin.

Fremantle were always going to win more single figure games due to greater defensive ratio.

For instance, including the sydney win for freo 74-60 (14pt margin) means they've beaten them by about 10.5% total margin. Whereas a high scoring game, lets say port adelaide's win over GWS 111-90 (21pts) at about the same percentage you could argue GWS were equally unlucky due to the increased likelyhood of scoring those 21pts in said game. using a fixed margin is always going to go against the more defensive teams.
 

poshman

Club Legend
Oct 13, 2006
2,458
2,667
Perth
AFL Club
Fremantle
Other Teams
CFC, San Antonio Spurs
Love the squiggle but simply cant see freo falling that low. Not with their home ground advantage and with lyon etc. They were very average towards the end of the season but still finished top four. Cant see them dropping 6-7 spots. Will be interesting to se how it all turns out, and hopefully nothing like the squiggle predicts.
 

The Swert

Premiership Player
May 3, 2009
3,366
4,289
Melbourne
AFL Club
Hawthorn
Then there's Hawthorn. Like the Eagles, their average winning margin was enormous, but they lost most of the close ones:
  • R2: loss to Essendon by 2
  • R4: loss to Port by 8
  • R6: loss to GWS by 10
  • R8: loss to Sydney by 4
  • R14: defeat Collingwood by 10
  • R19: defeat West Coast by 14
Two more seconds and the Hawks would've won that game and finished top.
 

Lsta062

Brownlow Medallist
Jul 15, 2014
10,922
21,434
AFL Club
Richmond
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Chelsea
Love the squiggle but simply cant see freo falling that low. Not with their home ground advantage and with lyon etc. They were very average towards the end of the season but still finished top four. Cant see them dropping 6-7 spots. Will be interesting to se how it all turns out, and hopefully nothing like the squiggle predicts.
It could happen. Geelong finished with 17 wins and were 3rd on the ladder in 2014 and had a percentage of 113.8%. They had 8 games determined by 13 points or less and won all 8 of them to finish in the top 4. This year, they fell down to 10th, down by 7 spots since last season.
 

Randomizor

Brownlow Medallist
Aug 20, 2010
11,050
14,759
AFL Club
Fremantle
It could happen. Geelong finished with 17 wins and were 3rd on the ladder in 2014 and had a percentage of 113.8%. They had 8 games determined by 13 points or less and won all 8 of them to finish in the top 4. This year, they fell down to 10th, down by 7 spots since last season.
Minor premiers to 10th seems almost impossible barring injuries or other disaster
 
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