According to AI, Spain Might Win The 2018 FIFA World Cup

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We once again find ourselves on the edge of our seats as we watch teams of 11 players, each representing one of 211 countries kicking a ball from one corner of a field to the other. The team who scores the most wins. This is essentially the 2018 FIFA World Cup 2018.

Held every 4 years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, the 2018 FIFA World Cup is the 21st World Cup to be held with Germany winning the last one held in 2014. While the 2018 FIFA World Cup officially kicks off today, predictions of who will win are already rolling in.

An Octopus predicted the 2010 FIFA World Cup

If you recall, back in 2010, an octopus became a worldwide sensation for predicting which teams would qualify for the FIFA World Cup Finals in 2010 and who would win as well. Called “Paul”, the octopus’s keepers would present him with two boxes containing food.

The boxes were completely identical, the only difference being that they were each decorated with flags from different teams competing in the FIFA World Cup. Whichever box Paul ate from first was considered the team who would win the match.

2018 FIFA World Cup
Paul the Octopus successfully predicted 12 out of 14 matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup (Image Credits: BBC Focus Magazine

To an extent, it actually worked. Paul’s predictions were more or less on point. The tentacle diviner amassed a total of 12/14 predictions, a success rate of around 85.7%. Sadly, Paul passed away in his home tank on the 26th of October 2018. Now, this begs the question: how viable is the possibility that we can actually predict the winner of a game?

Well, that’s what AI is being used for

A group of researchers from Germany and Belgium have built a computer simulation model in an attempt to predict the outcome of matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The simulation takes into account factors such as FIFA rankings, population, gross domestic product (GDP).

2018 FIFA World Cup
Can an AI predict the winning teams of the 2018 FIFA World Cup (image Credits: Pinterest)

It also takes into account the number of players who play together on a single club, an average age of a club’s players, and how many Champions League finals each has won.

Predicting matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Once all the data was gathered into a single place, the researchers then paired it off with betting odds taken from bookmakers or bookies. The data was fed into a simulation that ran for 100,000 cycles, in order to try and pick a winner. So who are the winners? Well, if the simulation is correct, the winning teams of the 2018 FIFA World Cup would be headed by Spain. In the event Spain doesn’t win, the machine has picked Germany, Brazil, France, Belgium, or Argentina (in order).

2018 FIFA World Cup
According to the simulation, this is how the 2018 FIFA World Cup would pan out

One important thing to note is that these are just predictions and assumptions. So there’s no guaranteed definite answer saying that these countries will come to the finals or win in any order. Given the sheer amount of data and possible variations, predicting who would win is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. It can be done, yes. But it will take a considerable amount of time, effort, and resources. You’re actually better off watching the matches to see who wins.

If you’re excited about the 2018 FIFA World Cup, you can click here to learn more about the teams and see who wins.

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