Predicting The Beautiful Game: How Bing Predicts Did

A few weeks ago, we launched our latest foray into Bing Predicts.  We set out to forecast which teams had the best chance of winning the championship in Brazil.   By all accounts, this has been one of the most thrilling tournaments ever played replete with massive scoring, crushing losses and narrow victories around every match.

We are pleased to report that for the final elimination rounds we were 100% accurate picking the winner in 15 out of 15 games, finishing the knockout rounds with a perfect bracket.

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We admit, we did pick Brazil to beat the Netherlands in the consolation match for third place, but hey, this stuff is hard!

While were heartened to see this happen, as we said at the outset, sports are extremely difficult to predict given the complexities and variables involved.  The actions and performances of a handful of individuals solely determine who wins, loses, or ties.  For the tournament, our models evaluated the strength of each team through a variety of factors such as previous win/loss/tie record in qualification matches and other international competitions and margin of victory in these contests, adjusted for location since home field advantage is a well-known bias.  We also took into account other subtle factors which give one team advantages over another, such as home field (for Brazil) or proximity (for South American teams like Argentina), playing surface (hybrid grass), game-time weather conditions, and other such factors.   But in the end there is something else at play which computers can’t model which makes us all love sports – the human spirit.

This was also a great example of how the Bing platform can enhance all of Microsoft’s products and services.   People using Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview had the chance to hear Cortana share Bing’s predictions simply by asking which team was most likely to win.

Stay tuned for more from the Bing Predicts team in the coming months.

Viva futbol!

-         Walter Sun, Bing Predicts Team