The fastest growing field, sports analytics has gone beyond providing player and team analysis and predicting correct results to bringing a range of “new level of data analytics to sports and revolutionizing how athletes train, coaches teach, scouts evaluate talent and fans enjoy sports”. Over the years, sports analytics in India, dominated by cricket has undergone a tremendous change with teams embracing new technology. The current IPL 2017 season has seen Royal Challengers Bangalore embrace technology du jour — artificial intelligence. The team introduced the RCB Bold Bot that gives fans a sneak peek into RCB’s goings on with videos, photos, content and more.
The upcoming ICC Champions Trophy 2017, beginning from June 1-June 18 will see chipmaker Intel change the face of cricket, the second most popular sport in the world with VR and AR technologies. With AR and VR, Intel promises to transform cricket experience for fans and help coaches and players to better their performance. Intel is not new to the digitization of sports, deploying AR and VR in basketball championships and bringing technology to NFL even.
AIM lists down sports analytics companies in India focused on performance analysis
But it’s not just Intel making cricket smart, Analytics India Magazine presents a clutch of Indian sports companies that has been revolutionizing Indian sports with rich insights ranging from pre-match selection to metrics on bowling, batting and even clever visualizations.
Formcept: This Bangalore-based analytics startup is powering ESPN Cricket Insights, delighting fans with visually appealing data and Statsguru videos. The videos give a lowdown on worrying strikes rates, poor team performance, best bowlers overlaid and Indian captains’ vs overseas captain overlaid with expert commentary. How does Formcept crunch all this data? Building on ESPN’s cricketing expertise and decades of cricketing data and statistics, Formcept team mapped data from a descriptive, diagnostic and predictive angle, lending insights pre and post match. According to ESPN, the FORMCEPT Platform maps as many as 25 dynamic variables for every ball bowled during the match, pairs it with historical data and expert insights to keep fans up to date with extensive analysis.
Sports Mechanics: This Chennai-based company is one of the Indian pioneers in sports analytics space with founder S Ramakrishnan, CEO, fondly known as Ramky being Indian team’s first sports analyst. Dubbed as pioneers in introducing video analysis to Indian cricket, the company is also the performance analyst of Indian team since 2003 and helped clinch the World Cup title in 2003. Ramky said in an earlier interview how he transitioned cricket analysis from predictive to descriptive. The company also lent its expertise in helping Kolkata Knight Riders form a team with auction insights. Not just limited to cricket, the company offers data analysis services to sports like hockey and badminton and opponent analysis to badminton star Saina Nehwal. The company’s real-time decision-making system that analysts enable a coach to survey all the possible options that are feasible during a game.
Kadamba: Little known football-data focused Kadamba has been in a strategic partnership with UK-based football data and analysis provider and over the last few years, transferred processing operations to Chennai. The company analyzes over 6000 football matches a year for over 70 football clubs across Europe, North America, South America and the Middle East. From live match data and statistics to advanced video indexing techniques as well.
SportingMindz: Bangalore-based SportingMindz has a host of products designed for hockey, tennis and cricket analysis. Available in the SaaS model, the company founded in 2006 counts four IPL teams – RCB, KingsXIPunjab, KKR and Deccan Chargers as their clients among other international sporting brands. Their product 22Yardz — a cricket match analysis software gives in-depth statistics along with appropriate video analysis and is backed by extensive reporting system. Meanwhile, the motion analysis software Skrutin, utilizes the biomechanics of a player to help the coach analyze the technique better. There is a host of other software such as DragFlik for hockey coaches and players and 1/2Volley for tennis.
Sports Insight: Chennai-headquartered Sports Insight founded in 2007 provides real-time analysis and counts Indian Premier League Franchisees, Bangladesh Premier League, USA Cricket Board and leading sports academies as their clients. The company’s cricket match analysis software iCricket gives detailed statistics along with the accurate video analysis to analyze a player in all the aspects of the game — batting, bowling, fielding, partnership and over by over analysis. The company also provides front-end analysis services, player profiling, and data management services.
Besides these companies, Indian analytics companies Fractal Analytics and Mu Sigma have also provided Real-time cricket analysis for T20 matches.
Sports analytics in India is gathering steam
From fan engagement off the field to enhanced on-field experiences driven by VR & AR, Oakland Athletics, American baseball team ushered in the era of big data in sports. This led to its rise in academic research as well what with MIT hosting an annual sports conference — MIT Sports Analytics Conference, that brings top minds from the sporting world such as managers, players and executives to discuss cutting-edge analytics solutions for sports landscape.
Secondly, international cricketing bodies are also quick to embrace technology. Case in point, Australian Cricket teamed up Microsoft that has deployed Fair Play Athlete Management System which will unlock insights from vast amounts of player data. The platform powered by powered by Microsoft’s Cloud and Cortana Analytics Suite uses machine learning, predictive analytics and visualizations to help data scientists better manage the huge volume of performance data tracking.
The ICC and Intel partnership is also a step in that direction. Statistical predictors are in no way a sure shot way to success, but they help in eliminating doubt, said Ramakrishnan. Not just limited to professional sports, analytics has made inroads into training academies, helping root out bias and uncertainty. Over the years, sports analytics will continue to evolve with even greater adoption.
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.