Category Archives: Comps and news

Using Elo to pick winners

Facebook turned up something interesting this morning, via the guys at the fantastic Swordsport Productions page:

msi elo

It comes from the guys over at The Fencing Coach. They’ve used the Elo rating system, which was developed for chess but is now used across a range of sports to track player performance and predict match results. It’ll be fascinating to see how it stands up to the experimental test tomorrow in Kazan. It pretty much exactly mirrors my predictions last week, which have been based largely on anecdotal observation of the 2013/2014 A-grade season. Here’s to a Kim v Reshetnikov final!

Those of you who’ve trained at Sydney Sabre may already be familiar with Elo: it’s the system we use for our internal ranking scoreboard. The data we collect is not as useful for predicting the results of a standard competition, as we include the results of matches fenced with handicaps, but it is  an extremely powerful predictor of match outcomes under our standard club training conditions, and functions very well in its primary role as a matchmaking system.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t based on the win/loss results over the season, as a true Elo model should be, only on the FIE ranking at the end of the season. The aim is apparently to do a proper Elo model over 2014/2015, and it will be very interesting to see how that stacks up against the more traditional FIE points-based rankings.

How about tomorrow’s comp? Here’s the big table:
World Champs table

As far as Friday goes, my personal suspicion is that an on-form Szilagyi has the edge on Reshetnikov if the two should meet in the semifinal. Szilagyi, however, is likely to face a couple of difficult early matches against the kind of awkward fencers he traditionally has trouble with.  Given the table above, my pick is for a Kim/Szilagyi final, in which Szilagyi will probably have the upper hand given Kim’s recent spate of injuries.

That said, margins in sabre are so small that attempts at casual punditry are unlikely to end well. This is why a true Elo model for 2015 would be so tremendously exciting.

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Russians are back just in time for Kazan

The FIE rankings have been updated before World Championships, which starts next week in Kazan, Russia.

After their utter domination of European Championships, where they took 1st, 2nd and 3rd in individual and 2nd in teams after a nail-biting 44/45 loss to Italy, the Russians are back on top, with 412 points giving them a commanding lead over Italy (332) and Korea (328). The won the world team championships in 2013, and are looking pretty unstoppable again this year.

Image: News.Xinhua
Image: News.Xinhua

In individual men’s sabre, Veniamin Reshetnikov has narrowly edged out Jung Hwan Kim of South Korea to take the world #1 ranking, which he had previously held at the end of the 2013 season. The experienced left-hander was also the 2013 World Champion, deafeating team-mate Nikolay Kovalev in a surprise upset in the final in Budapest.

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Kim lost his position after being elimated in the round of 8 at Asian Championships after being injured in a (frankly highly questionable) bout against Ali Pakdaman (Iran). He now trails Reshetnikov by just 5 points (308 to 303).

Video presented without further comment.

Kim, however, recovered his form three days later in the team event at Asian Championships, putting on a spectacular performance in the final against Japan.

Pretty convincing.

Narrowly behind Kim in 3rd place on the individual rankings is Aron Szilagyi, on 194 points. Both Kim and Szilagyi have fenced Reshetnikov this season, and both defeated him.  I’d be pretty happy to see a rematch of either bout in the finals in Kazan next week.

Moscow 2014: L4: Kim v Reshetnikov

Athens 2014: L4: Szilagyi v Reshetnikov

However, if he’s recovered from his injury scares and is fencing the way he was last weekend in the teams in Suwon City, my money is on Kim to regain his individual #1 spot. The open question is whether he, along with a recently revitalised Gu Bongil, can drag the Koreans over the line to their first team World Championship title.

Image: AP
Image: AP

Whatever the outcome, Kazan is shaping up to be an interesting comp.