A Statistician’s Perfect World Cup

by Devanshu Mehta

Statistician Anantha Narayanan spends some time looking back at World Cups past. But that’s not what’s interesting at that link.

In the comments section of the article, Narayanan describes the “best” format for a future World Cup:

However the best is the all-play-all and then nothing or a 3-match final.

This is a terrible idea. It’s a statistician’s idea of a perfect World Cup, wherein we would produce the most statistically perfect winner in an unacceptably dull tournament. Imagine that two teams dominated the first couple of weeks of the tournament– every other game would become irrelevant, since only two teams could get anywhere.

In other words, it would be a lot like the current World Cup– where we can safely ignore all matches until the end of March– but worse.