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World Cup Predictions: How many games did our AI get right?

The 2022 World Cup produced incredible football.

At the beginning of the tournament, Al Jazeera introduced Kashef, our artificial intelligence (AI) robot, to calculate the numbers and predict the results of each game.

After each day of action, Kashef downloaded the day’s data and compared it against more than 200 metrics, including the number of wins, goals scored and FIFA rankings, from games played over the past century, totaling more than out of 100,000 entries, to see who was most likely to win the next day.

INTERACTIVE AI World Cup Predictor
Al Jazeera developed an AI match predictor game for the 2022 World Cup [Al Jazeera]

Kashef’s Pre-Tournament Predictions

The group stages from November 20 to December 2 were not very kind to Kashef, who erred on the side of caution and failed to foresee any of the many big upsets.

The good news for us sentient beings is that every time Kashef screwed up, we were treated to a feast of World Cup magic, including Saudi Arabia’s stunning 2-1 win over Argentina, Morocco’s loss 2-0 win over Belgium and Tunisia’s 1-0 victory. win over the 2018 champions, France.

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At the start of the tournament, Kashef predicted that five-time winners Brazil would beat Argentina in the semifinal and face France on December 18.

The following knockout table shows who Kashef had reached the knockout stages at the start of the tournament.

Kashef INTERACTIVE predictor - November 21
Screenshot of Kashef’s predictions for November 20, 2022 [Al Jazeera]

The following knockout table shows the actual results of the World Cup.

INTERACTIVE Kashef December 18
Screenshot of Kashef’s predictions for December 18, 2022 [Al Jazeera]

Correctly predicted two out of three matches

Like all AI engines, Kashef would generate a probability of a particular team winning, drawing, or losing a match.

To calculate these probabilities, we run the data through Google Cloud’s Vertex AI, which produces state-of-the-art models, which adopt Google Brain, which use Efficient Neural Architecture Search (ENAS) to find the best prediction model. The data pipeline is built with GCP-BigQuery.

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Based on our simulations for the 2014 and 2018 World Cup tournaments, Kashef was around 71% accurate, with an area under the curve (AUC) of around 67%.

To put that in perspective, the random chance of a knockout match is 50 percent: half the time a team will win, and half the time they will lose. During the group stage, the correct prediction of a random result is divided between three options: a win, a draw and a loss, with a 33 percent chance each.

Predicting the results of matches is not easy. External factors, such as team morale or the physical state of the players, make a big difference in the development of the game.

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In the quarterfinals, Kashef failed in 50 percent of the matches, expecting Brazil to reach the final, while also being convinced that Portugal would beat Morocco.

In the semifinals, Kashef was 100 percent right, while ultimately failing to predict that Argentina would win the title.

INTERACTIVE Kashef 67 percent
(Al Jazeera)

Who can better predict a football match?

Behind the captivating appeal of the football spectacle, an existential battle was raging in the Al Jazeera offices.

The question: Who can better predict a soccer match? Kashef, our beloved AI robot, or humans? Throughout the tournament, Al Jazeera conducted a daily survey on our sports. Twitter bill.

How has Kashef fared in the last four games?

Argentina vs France (Final)

Kashef’s prediction: France win – incorrect

Al Jazeera poll: Argentina wins – Right

Final score: Argentina 4-2 (penalties) France

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Kashef’s final prediction with just 1 percent separating Argentina and France [Al Jazeera]

Croatia vs Morocco (Playoff for third place)

Kashef’s prediction: victory for Croatia – Right

Al Jazeera poll: Morocco wins – incorrect

Final score: Croatia 2-1 Morocco

(Al Jazeera)

France vs Morocco (Semifinal)

Kashef’s prediction: France win – Right

Al Jazeera poll: Morocco wins – incorrect

Final score: France 2-0 Morocco

(Al Jazeera)

Argentina vs Croatia (Semifinal)

Kashef’s prediction: Argentina wins – Right

Al Jazeera poll: Argentina wins – Right

Final score: Argentina 3-0 Croatia

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(Al Jazeera)

Check Kashef’s predictions during the quarterfinal matches.

How much money did each team receive?

According to FIFA, the total prize money for the 32 nations participating in the 2022 World Cup was $440 million.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • Champions: $42 million
  • Runners-up: $30 million
  • Third place: $27
  • Fourth place: $25 million
  • 5th-8th place: $68m ($17m per team)
  • 9th-16th place: $104 million ($13 million per team)
  • 17-32nd place: $144 million ($9 million per team)

Additionally, each team would have received $1.5 million prior to the competition to cover preparation costs.

(Al Jazeera)

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