Interactive Visualization of 15 years of England’s Football Premier League – a non-competitive Contribution to Tableau’s “Interactive Sports Viz Contest”
Last week, Tableau announced a new visualization contest: The Tableau Interactive Sports "Viz" Contest.
Intrigued with the very attractive prices Tableau announced, I would have loved to contribute a workbook. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to, because the contest is open to US residents only.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed that I love using sports data for my examples. We had several visualizations (Tableau and/or Excel) of Football statistics and even one article using Baseball data:
- FIFA World Cup Statistics with Tableau
- FIFA World Cup Scorers Statistics with Tableau
- The History of FIFA World Cup Host Elections
- Football League Tables (Combine Tables and Charts on Excel Dashboards)
- MLB Salaries (An Underrated Chart Type: The Band Chart)
Since I am so into visualizing sports data, I decided to publish the workbook I would have contributed to the contest: a Tableau visualization of 15 years of historical data of the English Premier League.
Today’s article provides the workbook for direct interaction here or for download from Tableau Public. A follow-up post later this week will describe step-by-step tutorials of some of the most interesting techniques I used for the implementation.
Combine Tables and Charts on Excel Dashboards provided 2 Excel workbooks visualizing the fixtures and the tables of the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga, solely based on the match results. This was the ignition spark. The idea of today’s article was providing similar dashboards using Tableau instead of Excel.
I have to admit that I could not fully oblige this requirement. For one single view (the development of the team’s rankings over time) I needed an additional data source. I will go into further details of this issue in the follow-up post.
Still: all other views of the workbook are based on a data source containing nothing else than match results. This proves the flexibility of Tableau when it comes to the requirement of additional calculations based on the underlying data. For more information on the power of Calculated Fields, please refer to this article: Calculated Fields in Tableau.
The Premier League Visualization using Tableau
Here is the Tableau workbook on Tableau Public:
The workbook consists of 3 different dashboards. Use the tabs at the top to switch between the different visualizations:
- The first dashboard shows the fixtures of the selected match day, the table at the end of this match day and some additional statistics of the actual date and the to date aggregations.
- The second dashboard visualizes the most important statistics like the points, the wins, draws and losses and the goals and goal differences per team. Additionally it show the wins, draws, losses from match day one to date on a heat map.
- The third dashboard allows you to watch the “race”. It shows all teams and their points on the first view and the changes of the ranking in the table over time with arrow shapes in the second view. This dashboard is especially interesting if you are “walking through” a season using the match day slider.
You will notice a fourth dashboard, but this is just the edition notice.
The Interactive Features
The contest is called the Tableau Interactive Sports "Viz" Contest. Thus, I assumed the focus should be on interactivity. Here are the main interactive features of this workbook:
- Select one season from a drop down list (15 seasons, from 1996/97 through 2010/11). All displayed results will be filtered by the selection and show the results of this season.
- Select a match day (1 to 38). The dashboards show the fixtures of this day, a tables and different views visualizing the results after this match day. The slide control and the play buttons allow you to switch to a certain match day or to “walk through” a complete season and watch the changes of the visualizations.
- Sort the teams using the drop down list “Sort by” descending by points, wins, draws, losses, goals for, goals against and goal difference.
- The filter drop down “Table type” allows you to switch from the regular table including all matches to the home table or the away table, only considering the matches played home or away.
- Actions defined on the dashboards 2 and 3 will highlight one team across all views of the dashboard after clicking on a row, e.g. if you click on one team in the bar chart on dashboard 2, this team will also be highlighted on the Win-Draw-Loss chart at the bottom of the dashboard.
- Tooltips provide a variety of additional information when hovering over a view. E.g. if you hover over the Win-Draw-Loss chart on the second dashboard, the tooltips will provide you with detailed information on this particular match, like the opponents and the result. Hovering over the table on dashboard 1 shows a legend explaining the column header abbreviations.
The visualization are hopefully self explanatory. Here is just a brief description:
The usual suspects. This is what you probably are used to see at the end of any sportscast on Saturday or Sunday night: the fixtures, the results, the actual league table and some additional statistics like the total goals, the goals per match, etc.
Very simple tables, yet the most basic and most important information and overview.
Additional visualizations of the most important facts on dashboard 1. The points (visualized with a sorted bar chart), the wins, draws and losses so far (a stacked bar chart) and the goals for, goals against and goals difference (a tornado chart, colored from green to red based on the goal difference). Additionally, the heat map at the bottom of the dashboard visualizes the wins, draws and losses for each team over time.
This is not the snapshot-type of dashboard. This visualization reveals its real power when using it as a slide show. With the slider or the play buttons for the match day, you can easily watch how teams catch up or fall behind in the course of time. Furthermore, you can see the development of the ranking of all teams over time on the view at the bottom of the dashboard. A green arrow up indicates an improvement of the rank compared to the previous match day, a red arrow down means the team went down in the ranking and a black arrow to the right shows that the team has the same rank as last week. This way you can easily identify how the ranking of a team developed over time.
The Analytics – What can you see from this Visualization
I definitely cannot provide a description of all the insights Tableau provides here. Thus, here are only three interesting examples of what you can see from the visualizations above (just looking at Manchester United in the last season 2010/2011):
- ManU has never been number one before match day 15. However, from that on, they never left the top of the list again until the end of the season.
- This is somehow surprising, because ManU lost the first match on match day 18 (away at Chelsea). They never lost a match before, but within the first 14 matches, they had 7 draws and only 7 wins.
- ManU won the title, but on the away table, they are only ranked on position 5. Thus, they obviously won the title at home (18 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses).
There is much more to discover within this data. Please have a look for yourself.
As mentioned above, the workbook is based on the match results and aggregates / calculates the tables and other visualizations from this data. Thus, the dashboards do not reflect any possible point penalties, e.g. Portsmouth's nine point deduction in 2009/2010 is not included. The tables are reflecting the sports, nothing else. They do not necessarily represent the official tables.
A Personal Note
I do not understand why the Tableau contest is limited to US residents. I suspect it may be due to legal issues with price rewarding in the United States (well, this was the explanation Tableau provided with their last contest, at least).
I admit, I do not know anything about US legal requirements for such contests and the price rewarding. However, in my humble opinion, a company with a subsidiary in London should be able to find ways of opening their contests to all of their customers around the world. Especially in view of the fact that Tableau recently hyped their ongoing international expansion.
Come on, Tableau folks, you are better than this.
The Premier League workbook contains a variety of little Tableau tricks and knacks. The next article will describe a selection of the most interesting techniques in detailed step-by-step walkthroughs.