Playoff predictions in review: ESEA

Season 24 of ESEA Invite ended recently with one of the most intense matches in living memory, resulting in Froyotech barely succeeding in defending their title as champions.

Just as with Ozfortress, I used my projection machine before the playoffs actually began to simulate how the six matches might have gone. The regular season left everyone in little doubt as to what the eventual finishing order should have looked like. Froyotech had never been beaten by EVL, EVL had never been beaten by Jamal E-Sports, and Jamal E-Sports had never been beaten by Six Apes. All things being equal, those trends would have been expected to continue throughout the playoffs.

In the original post, I actually misplaced EVL and Froyotech in the two opening matches. Just because of the evident hierarchy in the regular season, I’d expected Froyo to face Six Apes and EVL to face Jamal E-Sports when in actuality it was the other way around. Since Froyo and EVL have recently been ranked closely to eachother, the expected outcomes wouldn’t have been very different anyway. For these two matches, I’ve simply crossed out the wrong team names but left the numbers as they were so that they’re still based off of pre-playoffs data.

Round 1

This ranking system has a history of under-appreciating Six Apes. In the original projection involving Froyotech, the machine didn’t expect them to win any more than a single round. In truth they went against EVL, which would have increased their relative perceived potency by a little bit but not much.

In truth, they gave EVL a real headache on the second of the two maps they played and EVL only eventually won it by a whisker. The final score balance across both maps was 5-2, which represents a significant exceeding of expectations by Six Apes.

Projected: Froyotech EVL Gaming 4.5 – 0.5 Six Apes

Actual: EVL Gaming 5.0 – 2.0 Six Apes

There’s a similar disparity with the other opening round featuring Froyotech and Jamal E-Sports, except it’s the other way around. Again, the original projection was for EVL and it would have favoured Froyo slightly more had it known it was actually them taking part.

Whatever the case, it was expecting a match where Froyo outscored Jamal by about two rounds to one. In the real match, Jamal E-Sports had a harder time than this and in fact the score balance seen here fits much better with what was anticipated in the Six Apes round.

Projected: EVL Gaming Froyotech 3.5 – 1.5 Jamal E-Sports

Actual: Froyotech 5.0 – 0.5 Jamal E-Sports

Upper Bracket Final

In light of EVL’s increasingly sedate efforts against Froyotech in the regular season, the projection machine’s interpretation of this match had me feeling very sceptical. When the time came, though, EVL gave Froyo a proper challenge and ended up taking a map off of their rivals for the first time all season.

In terms of average map scores, Froyo still exceeded what the projection machine expected from them but not by a great deal.

Projected: EVL Gaming 2.2 – 2.8 Froyotech

Actual: EVL Gaming 2.7 – 4.0 Froyotech

Lower Bracket Round 1

Outside of the Froyo vs. EVL games, this is basically the only match in the playoffs where an actual degree of closeness was expected. As we know, this system demonstrably undervalues Six Apes, so if even it was expecting them to be able to contest Jamal E-Sports at all, then maybe they stood a chance of winning this.

Actually, it was Jamal E-Sports who exceeded expectations this time. Instead of ousting their opponents with a ratio of something like 2-1, they actually managed to do so with a 5-1 ratio.

Regardless of how close it was, Six Apes’ loss was expected in this simulation of playoffs, and it did indeed mark the end of their Season 24 campaign.

Projected: Six Apes 1.8 – 3.2 Jamal E-Sports

Actual: Six Apes 1.0 – 5.0 Jamal E-Sports

Lower Bracket Final

This was one of those matches that lined up well with what was expected in the machine’s simulation. It expected EVL to win a little over twice as many rounds as Jamal E-Sports all in all, and this turned out to be exactly what happened. EVL’s victory spelled the end of Jamal E-Sports’ season, and set us up for an almighty marathon of a finale.

Projected: Jamal E-Sports 1.5 – 3.5 EVL Gaming

Actual: Jamal E-Sports 2.0 – 4.5 EVL Gaming

Grand Final

As I said earlier, I found the machine’s anticipation of a close match between EVL and Froyo dubious. The last thing I expected was for it to have actually underestimated the narrowness of the margin between the two titans, but for the final that’s what it did.

Something worth mentioning about the Grand Final is that, taken in isolation, it was technically a draw. They played six maps, and each team won three. This means the machine’s anticipation of a Froyo victory could be considered inaccurate (although in terms of round wins, Froyo still slightly bested EVL throughout those six maps). In the context of the rest of the playoffs, there’s of course no questioning that the win belonged to Froyotech.

The contrast between this match and the ones featuring the same teams in the regular season is as plain as day. The question is what caused EVL to be able to contest Froyo in the playoffs when previously they struggled to? If the answer is that EVL were under-performing in the regular season, then that bodes well for the projection machine because it’s been saying all season long that, on equal footing, EVL were capable of the sorts of performances we saw in the final. If it was actually Froyo under-performing in the grand final, then that would mean the machine’s insistence of EVL’s potency was ultimately an overestimation. The truth is probably a balancing act of both possibilities.

Projected: EVL Gaming 2.2 – 2.8 Froyotech

Actual: EVL Gaming 3.5 – 3.8 Froyotech

So, in the end there were no upsets and all the right teams beat all the right teams. There were perhaps three matches from the six where the expected score ratio turned out to be rather accurate, and three where it didn’t.

A common theme throughout was that the actual average score numbers exceeded those spat out by the machine. This is because it’s designed to cater to the ruleset used outside of North America, which uses a 30-minute time limit per map rather than 60. This extra time allowed the teams to generally get more rounds on the board.


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