In the first of an irregular series road-testing new sports betting innovations, SBC News’ Luke Massey unearths a second-screen gem in Perform’s Opta Fast Player Statistics feed…
The first quarter of 2019 saw Sky Bet, bet365, Ladbrokes and Coral launch new player betting experiences. The offerings combine pre-match and in-play markets like player passes and shots with new, real-time display of the relevant stats.
Each operator has a slightly different take, but all are powered by Perform’s new Opta Fast Player Statistics data service.
Something about the new player products lit a flame for me. Perhaps you could say I’m a so-called modern-day sports fan, where my loyalties are split between a boyhood club and individual players across teams and leagues, thanks to fantasy football, Instagram and the proliferation of stats in the media.
Either way, I was keen to see what focusing on an individual player’s shooting, tackling and passing would do to my football-watching experience, and to document the results in the form of a Road Test.
I picked what would normally be an unremarkable clash, especially as a Man Utd fan: Spurs v Crystal Palace. Yes, it was the unveiling of Spurs’ new stadium, but otherwise it had all the makings of a ‘humdrum midweeker’. Let the player-betting road test begin.
Test 1: Market types
A smorgasbord of player markets across all the operators included shots, assists, offsides, tackles and passes.
In-play options didn’t seem to include passes. Formats included specials, Bet Builders, RequestABets / same-game accumulators and overs, while bet365 was offering offering unders as well as overs.
Test 2: Pre-match research
Sky Bet offered a pre-match ‘Stats Pack’ with facts to help with their RequestABet options, although only one player-based fact. Ladbrokes and Coral displayed season average figures for the player statistics. This was a highly useful tool, providing great context for player betting decisions.
Test 3: Placing a bet
A number of markets appealed. Coral displayed Kane’s shots-on-target average: 2.7 per match so far for this season. A combo of Spurs to win and Kane to have 2 or more shots on target felt achievable.
I noted Palace’s van Aanholt averaged 45 passes per game, so I backed him to make 40 or more passes at 19/20. Finally, I went for Heung Min Son to be offside 1 or more times and to have 1 or more shot on target at 5/4.
Test 4: First half
All the operators used Perform’s feed to show the player stats updating live. Sky Bet had a stats tracker similar to Coral’s, while bet365’s approach was more minimalist. For this match, Perform also provided me with their own plug-and-play stats tracker, which gives operators an off-the-shelf option.
I found that I was checking the trackers every few minutes. They confirmed Spurs’ strong start: 7 shots, and 4 on target after 30 minutes, with Son and Kane both hitting the target.
I was less thrilled with van Aanholt. He hadn’t seen much ball and the trackers confirmed he’d only managed 10 passes at this stage of the match.
Perform’s Opta Fast Player Statistics website described how they identified high-frequency player events as key to helping operators to create ‘more immersive and ultimately more entertaining experience for bettors’.
It’s certainly a different experience wanting a player to get caught offside. Towards the end of the half I also ended up glued to my phone to see van Aanholt’s pass totals – it’s hard to keep track from the TV coverage, and it also feels like they don’t count until you see the numbers update.
Test 5: Second half
Spurs broke the deadlock through Son, who resolutely stayed onside. Kane continued to get shots away, just not on target. Fellow pub-goers gave strange looks as I fist pumped each of van Aanholt’s passes.
A quick swipe across on Sky Bet’s tracker showed he was up to 20, and I started to feel more confident than in the 1st half.
As the minutes ticked down and the scoreline hit 2-0, I was urging Kane into shot-taking positions and calling for van Aanholt to get the ball and make simple, low-risk passes. I was rewarded with both.
A late Kane shot on target secured the first bet, which brought about a triumphant roar in the pub as the official stats updated.
Watching van Aanholt’s passes tick steadily upwards was fun. He ended up clearing the magic 40 passes ceiling. No Son offside, but as Kane applauded the crowd he got a special thank-you from me, as did my new favourite Crystal Palace defender.
Opta Fast Player Statistics: The verdict
Perform say the fast player statistics empower operators to turn every player on the pitch into their own micro story. I have to say I agree. I was engrossed in watching a rival team’s Dutch defender’s every move for the entire 90 minutes.
Each operator has created a very engaging, highly useful stats tracking interface to support the new bet types and they bring the bet to life.
An honorary mention to the GVC trackers’ inclusion of season average stats, which is a very useful feature. I wouldn’t be surprised if season averages become a key component of all trackers in future.