D1C: Champs By The Numbers

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WFTDA’s 2013 playoffs begin in 4 days and our previews have already started to come out–but words don’t tell the whole story, so we’re also going to do some number crunching, featuring the wonderful data from Flat Track Stats and Rinxter.

First, let’s see how our mid-tournament-cycle benchmarks played out in the final Division 1 playoffs.

Are the games closer with divisions?

The trend of more and bigger blowouts continued through the rest of the tournaments. Overall, the average margin in 2013 was 122 points, as compared to the 2012 average of 94. The closest average margin this year was Richmond at 88, while Asheville eked out Fort Wayne for the highest average of 149 points.

Following our earlier metric of “single jam” (<25), “close”="" (25-50)="" and="" “blowout”="" (="">100), the 68 bouts thus far in the 2013 post-season gave us 11 single-jam bouts, 11 close bouts and 35 blowouts. Comparing this to 2012, we see 15 bouts within a single jam, 13 considered close and only 24 blowouts.

For those interested in high water marks, the biggest blowout in 2012 was +426 (Gotham versus Carolina at 434-8), while 2013 saw +524 (Gotham vs Oklahoma at 545-21). Those are clear outliers, though, and each could be argued to be significantly outside the typical range of scores for each respective season since in both years, the second-highest scores were similar (+369 Steel City over Dutchland in 2012 and, in 2013, Rose City’s 381-point win over Grand Raggidy).

How about penalties?

The average 2013 bout saw 66.4 penalties. The least penalty-prone tournament was Asheville with 55.4 penalties per bout and the highest was Salem with 72.1. Overall there were 4,516 penalty minutes awarded in the 2013 playoff season–that’s 3 days, 3 hours and 16 minutes.

Out of Play is still everyone’s favorite penalty with 20% of penalty time dedicated to it overall; it was most popular in Asheville where it accounted for 25% of the 1-minute breaks. Next we saw Cutting Track at 17% overall (most popular at Fort Wayne), Direction of Gameplay at 15% (favored by Salem) and Multiplayer blocking at 13% (also most prevalent at Salem). High blocks and Insubordination were the least frequently called penalties at 5 apiece.

Cincinnati versus Bleeding Heartland was the only bout to break 100 combined penalties, while Gotham vs Oklahoma in Asheville saw only 38 combined penalties.

Look for an update later this week for comparisons to 2012 numbers.

What about the teams going to Champs? How did they compare to their opponents?

So far this article is looking back at Playoffs, but now we turn our attention to the upcoming Championships. What do the stats look like from the 12 teams whose post-season will continue?

For the most interesting comparison, we’re going to consider the 28 bouts that the Champs-bound teams won (Champs-bound teams only lose to other Champs-bound teams, so this also prevents us from double counting any data).

When winning, a Champs-bound team scored on average 264 points while their opponents only scored 135. The highest average scorers were Gotham with 332, Denver with 319, Texas with 308 and B.A.D with 296. Unsurprisingly, these are also the three first-place finishers from each tournament. Rocky had the lowest winning average with 198 points. The team who kept their opponent to the lowest average was also Gotham at 74 points, which gives them the biggest average differential at 258. B.A.D was the only other team to keep their (losing) opponents to an average less than 100 with 97.

Winning teams averaged 22.4 blocker penalties, drawing an average of 27.0 blocker penalties from their opponents. However, three teams actually put up winning records despite coming off the worse for penalties: Denver blockers sat for two more minutes than their opponents, while Rocky sat for nine and Angel 10 more minutes.

Of course, the stat everyone is usually most interested in is jammer penalties. Overall, the winning Champs-bound team had 167 jammer box trips while their opponents had 209; this comes to an average of 6.0 vs 7.5 jammer penalties per bout. The least jammer-penalty prone team was Gotham with 2.3 jammer penalties per bout. Of course, we can still have those on the other side of the fence as well and three teams had more jammer penalties than their losing opponents: Philly and Rat at -1 each and Atlanta at -4.

So, based on these stats, how important are penalties? Well, we’ve attempted to see what the data implies to us. If you plot score vs opposing team’s penalties we can actually see some trends. Attempting to fit to those lines yields the following results.

First, the Gotham versus Oklahoma bout throws off the trends noticeably, so we’re going to exclude that data from the analysis. With the other 27 bouts, we first wanted to see the impact of blocker penalties (if one existed). All other things being equal, if you were the losing team you could be expected to earn 97.3 points, plus an additional 1.8 points for each opposing blocker penalty. Not bad.

How did that compare to the winning team? The winning team earned 148.8 points plus an additional 3.8 points per opposing blocker going to the box. In other words, if you want to beat those top teams through blocker penalty differences, you need their blockers to go to the box about 26 times before you go once, and then 2 for each additional blocker trip you earn.

But, of course, everybody knows that blocker penalties are only a small advantage. How about jammer penalties? Well, if you were the losing team, then you earned 40.4 points, plus an additional 16.0 points for each time your opponent’s jammer was sent to the penalty box. How about for the winning team? The winning team earned 160.8 points plus an additional 12.6 points for every time their opponent’s jammer was sent to the box. This is a very interesting result. The winning teams earned fewer points per power jam than the losing teams.

One possible explanation is that the winning team will have a tendency to play more conservatively (opting for strategies like jammer defence and killing the clock) while the losing team will just try to get as many points as they can. The most interesting aspect, though, is that it appears that simply worrying about penalties isn’t enough. The losing team still has 120.4 points to make up through regular honest gameplay, which would require 7.5 unreturned jammer penalties to make up.

In other words, those top 12 teams seem to be pretty good.

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