Are star players worth the coins?

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Although some people think otherwise, star players like Aguero do score significantly more goals than cheaper strikers like Benteke. In this article, I make an attempt to quantify the exact difference between Aguero and Benteke.

A few words about player quality

What constitutes a better player? As most people probably know, performance isn’t closely linked to the OVR rating. The OVR rating is calculated by multiplying the player’s ingame stats by a set of weight factors determined by EA per position. EA’s weight factors do not necessarily reflect the actual importance of each stat: As most “seasoned” players will recall, earlier versions of FIFA were all about pace, meaning that certain players with a low OVR rating would outperform high-rated players due to that single stat.

Hence, the mere fact that player A has a higher OVR than player B doesn’t necessarily make player A the preferable choice. A better player is a player with higher, relevant stats. We can actually determine the importance of various stats to some extent. In this article, I examined the relationship between specific stats and performance for strikers, meaning that I essentially was able to determine how much a +1 increase in pace or a +1 increase in shooting would increase the goal ratio in FIFA 15.

A good player is not necessarily any player with a high OVR rating, but still, better relevant stats indeed equals better performance.

How to measure a player’s performance

The aforementioned article is based on performance data published by FUTWIZ during FIFA 15. FUTWIZ collected the performance data from the transfer market: Each instance of a player card put up for sale carries information about the card’s previous track record with regards to matches played, goals scored and assists made.

For the purpose of this article, I will ignore assists and focus on goals scored. Although better players may provide additional assists, assists is a tricky way of measuring a player’s actual performance , because your ability to get an assist at the end of the day depends heavily on someone else scoring a goal. Although the reverse applies to goals scored to some extent, goal scoring is more directly linked to the player’s abilities. It is indeed (and sadly) possible to score solo goals in FIFA.

The effect of having the better players

As an example, FUTWIZ’ numbers showed that if you replaced Benteke with Aguero, your goal tally would increase by 0.12 goals per match.

What does 0.12 goals per match mean? Obviously, it means 1.2 goals per season on average, provided you play 10 matches per season, but how much does that increase your probability of getting promoted, avoiding relegation and so on?

In essence, it depends on how often that 0.12 goal per match will change the outcome of a match. We can actually determine that via our huge match history data set, which we collected via EA’s game data web app.  In this article, I presented the match result statistics below.

Goal difference (goals) FUT 14 FUT 16 Seasons
0 (draw) n/a 19 %
1 46% 35 %
2 24% 19 %
3 12% 17 %
4 10% 6 %
>=5 8% 3 %

 

According to the table, 19 % of all seasons matches end in a draw, meaning that an additional goal will give you 2 extra points in 19 % of the cases, because it will turn a draw into a victory.

How about turning defeats into draws then? According to the table, 35 % of all matches end in a 1-goal victory for either party, meaning that an average player will lose roughly 18 % of his matches by a one goal margin. Hence, an additional goal will turn a defeat into a draw in 18 % of your matches.

Since Aguero will get 12 additional goals in 100 matches, the chance of getting an additional goal in your next match is 12 %. However, only 19 % of Aguero’s extra goals will be scored in matches which you were drawing otherwise and only 18 % would be scored in matches which you would be losing by a 1-goal margin otherwise.

If your W – D – L record would have been 405-190-405 with Benteke, replacing Benteke with Aguero will increase your win-record by 190 * 12 % = 23.

With regards to draws, 18 % of your matches would have been 1-goal defeats, and 12 % of those 1-goal defeats would be turned into draws, meaning that 21 matches will be turned from a defeat into a draw. In total, the number of draws will be slightly reduced, because some draws were turned into wins.

In total, swapping Aguero for Benteke should change a 405-190-405 track record into 428-188-384.

Over the course of 1000 matches, your total point earnings will increase from 1406 to 1473, meaning that your total point earnings will increase by 5 %.

During the course of a season, a 5 % increase in point earnings isn’t going to rock your boat. Instead of earning 14 points per season, you will be earning 14.7 points per season. That’s approximately 2 extra points per three seasons.

It is a difference, but it may be worthwhile to discuss whether Aguero’s price tag (at that point in time he was 330 times more expensive than Benteke) is reasonable.

Other players

Doing the same exercise for other players yield the following results:

  • Benzema for Ikechukwu Uche: 413-189-398.
  • Lewandowski for Immobile: 417-189-395

In terms of probability of winning, drawing or losing your next, the table below sums things up:

Goal ratio  Win chance Draw chance Lose chance
Benteke –> Aguero +0,12 +5,63% -0,82% -5,24%
Uche –> Benzema +0,04 +1,88% -0,27% -1,75%
Immobile –> Lewandowski +0,06 +1,14% -0,08% -2,62%