Listeners to the ScoutCast will already be aware that, just over two weeks ago, we took on a new team member – Mat Williams aka “matzi11a” – as a new Developer.
Mat is now working with Ed – our Technical Director – and will be tasked with day to day fixes and improvements both to our sites and our infrastructure.
This is a big appointment for Fantasy Football Scout.
We’ve been searching for this hire for over a year and, in Mat, we’ve found something of a “unicorn”.
Not only is he a highly skilled developer with vast experience, Mat has been a visitor to our site from its inception. In fact, he still coughs up his £1 Paypal donation to Fantasy Football Scout – having signed up back in 2008. I need to pay him back.
He came to our attention having developed a Fantasy Premier League tool which analyses transfer market activity – it’s a new widget that we’ll be making available to you next season.
Mat’s familiarity and passion for the site, the community and Fantasy Football, coupled with his skillset and with Ed managing gives us a fantastic opportunity to build on what we’ve got. I’m hugely excited about where we can go from here.
What’s more, I want to use this step to change our policy when it comes to involving the community in what we do.
We want to be transparent with the work going on and allow you to have input into our priorities and the development roadmap. We want you to help shape the tools and features we provide you from here on.
With this in mind, we will be publishing regular Development Diary articles like this, offering you a glimpse into what Mat and Ed are working on and Mat himself will be posting comments detailing his progress and answering queries.
His first task was to familiarise himself with our working practices, our servers and our tools and to get to grips with the Opta feeds – the raw data that provides the backbone of the Members’ area.
That hasn’t taken him long and, as a result, I’ve been working with Mat to address some fixes and begin work on adding features over the last ten days.
Here’s what we’ve been up to…
Sky Sports Bonus Statistics
While we’ve not supported the Sky Sports game during the season, we hope to put that right and give it far more focus.
It’s meant we’ve neglected the Sky Sports tables in our Members’ area, which currently omit the new tiered bonus points system introduced for this season.
As a first familiarisation task, Mat has now added this, along with the new Shots on Target bonus points.
Time Played Modification
A particular bugbear of mine – to my knowledge, we’re currently the only football statistics site on the net that displays the true number of minutes played by a player in any given match – including all stoppage time.
While that sounds admirable, it means that our stats differ from the norm and also warps our “minutes per” figures. A player like Ben Gibson, who has been ever-present, has minutes played covering almost two extra fixtures due to the addition of stoppage time.
Mat has now corrected this, with players capped at 90 minutes, whether they started the match or were introduced as subs.
The event feed we license from Opta is a complex beast, with the onus on us to create the queries to extract the statistics that you see in our members tables.
Opta recently added new match events – such as blocked passes – to their list of events regarded as a touch, so we needed to bring our own queries into line to address this.
Mat has made a pass over our queries and our data to align us with Opta’s recorded touches in all areas of the pitch – including penalty area touches.
We are one of very few sites who offer statistics for touches in the various pitch regions – now those numbers are more accurate.
That paves the way for our touch heatmaps on the development roadmap.
New Home and Away Filters
We’ve always allowed you to filter our data by home and away matches but I’ve wanted to extend that further.
Mat is currently investigating adding new filters that will enable you to view data restricted to a player’s last 2,4,6 home or away matches. Again, as far as I know, this is a facility unavailable on any other site.
We’re not sure how simple this will be to implement. Because we slice our data – and large amounts of it – our existing queries may not be quick enough to deliver the performance we need. We will keep you updated on this.
Our major mid-term aim is to generate the Fantasy Premier League Bonus Points system stats and offer tables dedicated to those numbers.
We could scrape these numbers, but that’s never been our bag. Instead, we’re going to build them from our own statistics to allow us the possibility of offering more in-depth analysis, including the facility to see baseline BPS (without goals, assists and clean sheets).
Long term, this will marry up with another roadmap feature – the storage of player positions – to give you the opportunity to run advanced queries such as – “show me Ozil’s baseline bps when playing as a No 10, with Sanchez as the central striker.”
That offers you a view as to the ambition of what we have planned.
We’re preparing the first steps, creating the Winning Goal stat and fixing other key stats like Caught Offside that’s currently returning false data.
We’re also adding Fantasy Assists to our database which will replace the standard Opta assists in our tables.
Once those building blocks are in place, we will create the BPS tables and then we plan to move to storing the line-up and player position data.
This is just the start. I’m delighted to welcome Mat to the team and, together with Ed, I now believe we have the “Development Squad” to take Fantasy Football Scout to a whole new level – not only as a Fantasy Football site, but also as a place for football statistics.
But we want you involved. We’re going to keep you up to date with progress on Mat’s tasks and we’re looking to you to help set our priorities.
BPS, heatmaps, expected goals – these are all features we can explore, all while Ed helps to implement further facelifts and improvements to our architecture. If you’ve a feature you want, let us know.
Thanks for your patience over recent seasons. Now we’ve strengthened the squad, we’re excited about what we can deliver.