Now, is it just me or does anyone else get the sense that this is another piece of advertising magic by the Adidas marketing department? Defining a new type of player can only mean one thing – there is some reason for that player to be defined, or Adidas are preparing some new equipment for that player. And if you look close enough, the boots being sported by Dani Alves and Javi Martinez in the images have the outline of what we expect to be Adidas next boot release (the NitroCharge).
So, to the data that Adidas and Opta have released to demonstrate how they came to the conclusion that the “Engine” is an actual player on the pitch. I won’t hold it against you if you get a little bored after reading through all of the finite details – just know that this is the exciting precursor to something new and extra special!
For the last two years adidas have been working behind the scenes to identify a new specific type of football player called ‘The Engine’ and today they are proud to reveal a partnership with leading sports data provider, Opta, who can confirm the existence of this player type through an algorithm summarized by the mathematical equation below:
‘The Engine’ is the archetypical box-to-box footballer who covers every blade of grass, seeks goal scoring chances, tracks down his opponent and displays relentless energy from the first minute to the final whistle.
Based on the adidas insight, Opta have helped to reveal the fundamental character of ‘The Engine’ by finding out how to measure and quantify his performances. They have produced a mathematical algorithm which defines the perfect ‘Engine’ player and will be used to track this player’s performance from today onwards. Some of the players believed to fit ‘The Engine’ stereotype are Bayern Munich’s Javi Martinez, FC Barcelona’s Dani Alves, AS Roma’s Daniele De Rossi & Paris Saint Germain’s Ezequiel Lavezzi.
With the help of Opta and their database of statistics and insights, the algorithm will be used to pinpoint ‘The Engine’ performances week in, week out. Certain indicators such as work rate, pitch coverage, and on / off ball statistics will be measured and players will be scored out of 100.
Having read all of that, who is out there is the Engine?
And for all you scientific nuts out there, we have been provided with an equation that sums up the player and what he does. It doesn’t seem like a lot of fun to work out and I definitely don’t have the time to try to put it all together for every player. So, it is nice that Opta has stepped in to give us the data without any Math required!
Explained: The Engine Equation*
n is the number of indicators,
wi is the weighting for the ith indicator and
xi is the player score for the ith indicator.
*This equation summarizes the mathematical concept behind the Engine Scale calculation.
Currently there are n = 4 indicators:
x1 = Work Rate
x2 = Pitch Coverage
x3 = On the Ball
x4 = Off the Ball
1. Work Rate
Work Rate looks at how involved each player is during the course of a match, both overall and how consistent they are.
This is composed of:
- team passes
- minutes played
- attacking touches
- defensive touches
So, for example, a player that consistently has a high number of touches throughout the match will score better than one who has bursts of high and low involvement (all else being equal).
2. Pitch Coverage
Pitch Coverage looks at where the player is involved on the pitch, with a higher score being awarded for a larger area of positions that the player is involved. Again, this is based upon an overall figure for the match and how consistently they are involved all over the pitch.
This is composed of:
- x and y co-ordinates of all player events
- co-ords of attacking events
- co-ords of defensive events
3. On the Ball
A player’s On the Ball rating is driven by how successful they were when in possession of the ball. This includes:
- event co-ordinates
The last is an important point – completing a pass into the opposition’s box will positively affect a players score more than the same pass in their own half. Note that while shots are considered they are relatively infrequent events and considered a minor part of what makes a player an Engine so, while goals will positively impact a player score, it will not make a large difference.
4. Off the Ball
Off the Ball is based on how effective players are when out of possession. That is, how often and successfully are they winning the ball back for their team. It includes:
- event co-ordinates