Thursday, 15 July 2021

When the Draw is Winning

For those who took the Draw and Under in the two finals this past weekend, another profit and the final numbers for the Draw system for the two 2021 tournaments are 11 Draws from 22 matches and a profit of 15.96 units.

For Copas, Euros and World Cups combined since 2004, 153 matches have resulted in 60 Draws, and 60.92 units of profit, an ROI of 40%
Sixty Draws is 39.2% of matches and while we, or more specifically I, only have prices going back to 2004, I do know that the percentage of Draws in the 401 matches going back to the 1919 Copa America tournament (the first year that a knockout match was played) is 34.2% with an average goals per game of 2.64.

Goal expectancies were higher in those early years, with the probability of a match finishing as a Draw consequently lower. Prior to the 1976 Euros, the Draw percentage was less than 22% with an average goals per game of 3.6.

Since 1976, the Draw percentage is over 38% with an average goals per game of 2.34. The average has stayed pretty much the same over the past ten years (2.36), twenty years (2.27), thirty years (2.38) and forty years (2.33) with the percentage of Drawn matches over that time 41%, 38%, 37% and 37%. 

It seems reasonable to conclude that the system would have been profitable for longer than the 17 years for which I have data. A Draw percentage of 37% means an implied price of 2.70 and not one Euro, Copa or World Cup match has been priced at that level. A couple of Africa Cup of Nations matches featuring Egypt had the Draw as favourite in 2017 at an average 2.61 and 2.65 but this is highly unusual.  
Some of you may be wondering if this system works in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is the North, Central America and Caribbean equivalent of the Euros, but is equivalent in name only as it is a tournament of a much poorer quality.

Only Mexico (11th) and the USA (20th) are ranked in FIFA's top 40, and knockout games where the favourite is as short as 1.06 aren't exactly the competitive games this system is looking for.
Either Mexico or the USA have won 14 of the 15 previous tournaments (Canada with the one other title) and these two countries have met in the final six times. 

The 2021 tournament began last week, with the knockout stage starting on July 24th, but with an ROI (since 2009) of -15% (-6.03 units from 41 matches) it's not a tournament that sets the pulse racing. The ROI is positive at 13% on matches where the favourite has a 'true' win probability of less than 0.667, but none of the six matches where the Draw is considered most likely have ended that way, but six is a small sample size of course. 

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