Moneyball for FIFA

It began with an injury

In September of 2015, I came out of a shoulder operation to find a present from my girlfriend — a new PS4 and Fifa 16. Neither of us knew at the time just how much I'd end up playing (sorry!). In terms of the surgery, I needed it because I dislocated my shoulder after celebrating a goal while playing weekend football (it was my first game in 11 years, and all I did was fist bump in the air 🤦).

Being the nerd I am, I quickly jumped onto FUT. I didn't want to spend real money and I loosely follow the top leagues across the world, so I enough knowledge to know who was good and bad. Every week became a back-and-forth between Futbin and Futhead for news on who might be getting an Inform card so I could invest while the prices were rising, then dump — economics 101 💰, buy low, sell high. I'd be checking price fluctuations like this:

Price fluctuations monitoring in FUT, for fun and profit

I'd then use the coins I made to buy a team of players who were only good at the one thing I needed them to be. Football is a team sport. You don't need everyone to be great at everything. Defenders need to defender, strikers need to score, wingers need to cross.

Fast forward two years (and ~1k games played) and I finally won FUT Division 1. This prompted me and a friend to come up with an idea to turn my manual process into an algorithm.

Winning Div 1 in FIFA 18

Enter Moneyball for FIFA

I hadn't watched Moneyball yet, but it turns out, first principles work. My friend and I went to the FUT database, pulled the data, and started seeing which players would fit a specific role in a team for the (relatively) cheapest price. We used R (a statistical programming language) to process the data. Here's an example:

Statistical analysis of FIFA 18 FUT players using R

We'd weigh things based on our domain knowledge — centre backs need to have height, wingers need agility and acceleration, strikers need balance and at least 4* weak foot, and so on. Interestingly, some of these key stats are more or less important from year-to-year in FIFA. If you don't play, you don't know.

So I think it's safe to say, I'm pretty into FIFA and FUT.

FYI — my favourite teams are Napoli and Juventus (I'm torn between heritage and what I grew up watching).
My favourite player, hands-down, is Messi. I was lucky enough to spend a total of 13 hours in Barcelona to see him play a Champions League quarter-final match in 2016, and he scored!

I'd love to join the team

I'll be honest, this year I didn't play as much FIFA (which still means at least hundreds of games). I did still play enough to win Div 1 in Online Seasons. I do still obsessively check out Futbin for no reason at all.

The team at EA have done a great job at getting people to play and I hope this post has shown a little bit more insight into the value I could bring. I'd love to be part of the team.