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AI bot predicts the winner of 2018 FIFA World Cup

14 Jun 2018 | By Shiladitya Ray
2018 FIFA World Cup: An AI predicts winners

In the 2010 FIFA World Cup, along with Spain, a rather unassuming entity had etched its name into the annals of football history.

Paul, the psychic octopus, had become a sensation by correctly predicting 12 out of 14 games, including the final.

Eight years down the line, we now have an AI engine which has simulated this year's tournament.

Here are its predictions.

In context: 2018 FIFA World Cup: An AI predicts winners

14 Jun 2018AI bot predicts the winner of 2018 FIFA World Cup

The AI simulated the World Cup 100,000 times

The AI was built by researchers from the Ghent University in Belgium, the German Technische Universitat of Dortmund, and the Technical University in Munich (what a pleasant surprise). Using several factors, the AI simulated this year's World Cup 100,000 times and came to its conclusions.
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The AI's predictions of the group stage winners

Group stagesThe AI's predictions of the group stage winners

The AI predicts that Uruguay and Russia from Group A, Spain and Portugal from Group B, France and Denmark from Group C, and Argentina and Croatia from Group D will head to the knockout stages.

Meanwhile, the AI backed Brazil, and Switzerland; Germany and Sweden; Belgium and England; and Colombia and Poland to qualify from Groups E, F, G, and H, respectively.

Some of the factors based on which predictions were made

The AI used machine learning techniques on several factors such as FIFA rankings, each country's population and GDP, bookmakers' odds, how many of the national team players play together in a club, players' average age, number of Champions Leagues won etc. to predict outcomes.

Tournament winnersThe AI has backed Spain to win (not again!)

While the knockout stages couldn't be simulated as the fixtures aren't yet decided, the AI calculated the chances of winning the tournament for all the teams, and found the following:

Spain, Germany, Brazil, France, and Belgium are the most likeliest to win, in that order.

Meanwhile, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Panama, and Saudi Arabia are the least likely to win, Saudi Arabia being last.

But, don't get too hopeful, Spain supporters

However, it's advisable for Spain supporters to not get too excited because, although Spain has the highest overall chance of winning the tournament, the AI backs Germany to be the winner if the tournament follows the most likely course of knockout stage fixtures.

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