Equal Footing - The Art and Science of Player Ratings

At Matchday, every footballer card is more than just a collectible – it's a gateway to understanding and appreciating the real-life impact of footballers on every minute of every game. When we introduced our officially licensed footballer cards, we wanted to ensure that each card was the most accurate reflection possible of the skills and abilities of the footballers they represented. Enter Prorata.

Prorata, Matchday's proprietary football player rating algorithm, covers over 2000 players across 25 leagues and competitions globally

Each footballer card in our system features a single ‘stat to rule them all’ - the all mighty OVR, or Overall Rating. As reductionist as it is to compare real-life players against each other through a single number, we nevertheless set out to make sure that our OVR was a cut above existing ratings models. But how?

Finding the answer involved an adventure through the world of numbers, interpretation and data science. Hidden beneath the headline OVR are four major stats which paint a fuller picture of each player's unique attributes. These stats are built around the four phases of football - Attack, Possession, Pressing and Defence. These major stats are comprised of a finer series of no less than twenty-three substats, fed directly from in-game actions. Normalised over playing time, the result is a distilled essence of the player's skills, a score encapsulating their on-pitch capabilities.

Dribbling, crossing, shot stopping, clearing, assisting. Just a few of the substats that are calculated behind the scenes for each player that appears on a Matchday player card.

But why?

Chasing the most accurate stats and numbers is hard. The challenge of creating an all new one is immense, but necessary. It was essential for us to have full confidence in the Prorata, not to mention ownership. Our approach enables us to tailor and refine the model dynamically, giving us the flexibility to accurately include players from all over the world and across different leagues.

A Global Perspective

One thing we are incredibly proud of at Matchday is our approach to harmonising ratings across gender. For us it was the obvious way to go and it aligns with our commitment to equality in sports. Drafting top women players into your team is as advantageous as male players, and likewise if you want to slot in a couple of men to play alongside your all-female team. We feel this respects the players, our users and the diverse nature of today’s footballing world.

When it comes to representation, it was essential for us to have a ratings system that accounted accurately for over 2000 players playing across multiple countries, different leagues and different competitions. Our work in this area takes many behind the scenes factors into account - evaluating not only if a footballer can perform on a rainy night in Stoke, but if they can bring that brilliance to the world stage. This is again an essential factor in including fans who might only have heard about a player through watching a competition like the World Cup.

"Since I was a little boy, this has been my greatest dream. I think it’s the dream of every player to win the World Cup with their country and for their people." Neymar, 2022

Reality transformed

As Matchday continues to innovate and grow, we find ourselves on the brink of releasing our groundbreaking football game, Matchday Mobile ⚽. Expect the game to surface more detailed stats than just OVR. Prepare for dynamically updated stats that mirror real-life performances and form. If your favourite player is having a breakout season or spectacular run of form, you’ll see their ratings get a boost on the card and in the game.

As with Ownership, Matchday Mobile ⚽ is more than a single idea or product, it’s another route to football fandom. While each footballer card tells its own story of skill and passion, that tale further evolves when it becomes part of someone’s collection. We’ve already seen connections form as our team and testers wrestle with decisions on who to move in and out of their squads. This struggle is both real and incredibly exciting - evidence we have arrived exactly at the intersection of analytics and emotion that is inherent in the beautiful game.

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