If you think this has been a season of uncertainty, you are absolutely correct. It has been a topsy-turvy half season for most of the teams. Home legs haven’t been kind to the home teams this season, with the only exception being Dabang Delhi who won all their matches at home with an average score difference of 7.5! Teams at home have won only an average of 29% of their matches in PKL7. At SportsKPI, we believe in looking at the numbers. Let’s have a look at how the teams and players performed in the first half of the season having played 11 matches each.
“This is the season of the defenders!” You might have seen, read or heard this a lot during this season. The Raiders will, of course, score more points than defenders since their scope to get points per raid is much wider than that of the defenders. So, the fact that Raiders scored more than 60% of the total points is hardly surprising. Let’s get to the situational analysis of the same. Considering the events where 3 or less mins remain in the match and the score difference is less than 3. That would be a high pressure situation, right? During the first half of PKL7, in such situations, the Raiders still were the ones who held their nerves more than the defenders, achieving 61% of the points. However, having said all this, there has definitely been a change (4.2%) in the average contribution of points from raids and tackles compared to PKL6. In spite of the rise in the defense contribution, the average score difference has gone up by 1.7 when compared to the half season of PKL6.
Image 1: Comparison of Points Contribution
Team Performance Analysis
Let’s get to the teams. This season, so far, has a variety of attacking and defensive teams on display. Apart from the three big bars in the average score difference chart above, look how closely the matches have been contested. 26 out of 66 matches had a score difference of 3 or less. There have been some surprises over the period of the first 66 matches. Two-time Runner-ups Gujarat Fortunegiants had a 6-match losing streak, the longest in their PKL history. Whereas, Dabang Delhi, a team who hadn’t managed to qualify for the playoffs before PKL6, were the first team in PKL7 to win all of their 4 home matches. There are 4 teams that have not managed to win 2 matches back-to-back. This says a lot about staying on your toes this season and not resting on your laurels.
Image 2: Team-wise Average Score Difference and Streaks
Let’s move towards from where on the mat are teams getting their raid and tackle points. The two images below map out the areas on the mat where the teams get their points.
Image 3: Team-wise breakdown of percentage of raid touch points on different parts of the mat
In the above image, you can see the variety in the top three of each chart. Some teams hunt deep beyond the bonus line and some teams are looking more for an escape route from the defenders. Similarly, the defense of some teams plays advanced and some of them lure the raider deep beyond the bonus line.
Image 4: Team-wise breakdown of percentage of tackle points on different parts of the mat
Dabang Delhi and Bengal Warriors are the most ruthless raiding sides to inflict all-outs on their oppositions. Team that play more defensively, are at more risk of getting all-out often. Prime examples are UP Yoddha and Puneri Paltan. This shows that relying only on your defense, does not save you from those deadly 2-point giveaways.
Image 5: Team-wise breakdown of all-outs inflicted and suffered
Player Performance Analysis
There were absolutely solid performances from both Raiders and Defenders in the first half of PKL7. Right from established PKL7 stars like Pawan Sehrawat, Maninder Singh, Joginder Narwal, Sandeep Narwal and Manjeet Chhillar to rising stars like Naveen Kumar, K. Prapanjan, Sandeep Dhull and Vishal Bharadwaj, the PKL7 has been an exciting journey up to the mid-season.
Let’s dive into the raiders first. While two of the top three raiders of PKL6 have had a struggling half season, a couple of rising stars have emerged as valuable contributors to their teams. Debutants like Mohammad Esmail and Suraj Desai have fallen off the top since their promising start to the season. Pawan Sehrawat, Naveen Kumar and Maninder Singh continue their hot form from PKL6 to PKL7 with success rates around the 50% mark. At SportsKPI, we maintain that a player is as good as his net contribution to the team as explained in this Article. Based on the Net Points per Raid (NPpR) of raiders, we have identified the top 5 Raiders in the first 66 matches. These raiders not only scored points for their teams but also gave away very less points.
Image 6: Top and Bottom 5 Raiders according to NPpR
The Defenders, this season, have certainly showed that they are not to be messed with this season. PKL7 has seen a 4.2% rise in number of tackle points so far. The defenders continuing their rock-solid form from PKL6 are Joginder Narwal, Sandeep Dhull and Vishal Bharadwaj. No surprises there. Manjeet Chhillar seems to have shaken off the Season 6 dust and is terrorizing raiders from the word go. Sandeep Narwal has stepped up on the right corner for U Mumba and has had some wrestling-type take-downs of raiders. While we look at the stars that shined bright in the first leg, there are players like Sunil Siddhagavali and Vishal Mane, who continue their poor run of form even in the new season. While Ajeet had a good start to the season, raiders seem to be targeting him lately. SportsKPI has identified the top and bottom 5 defenders for the first half of PKL7 based on the Net points per Tackle (NPpT)
Image 7: Top and Bottom 5 Defenders according to NPpT
The first half of the season was a good indication of the performance of the teams and players in the rest of the season. That being said, we are just halfway through and have a long road ahead of us (“The road to the final is long and full of terrors”). We will be back with more reviews as the season progresses. Let’s see what twists and turns are in store for us.
Article by our Sports Data Scientist – Sushant Rao