Journey to cutting-edge sports analytics: Ready, set, internationalize

 

In our previous blog post you can read how the Wisehockey platform proved itself in the Finnish Hockey League during the 2018-2019 season. Wisehockey helped service providers such as Telia and Veikkaus, a Finnish government-owned betting agency, to take the next step with their service portfolio. The service providers could attract more customer interest with new features, enabled by the real-time data analytics provided by Wisehockey’s cutting-edge platform.

Wisehockey and the KHL

The word about the platform started to spread fast.

The multinational Kontinental Hockey League, more commonly known as the KHL, approached Wisehockey with an opportunity to show what the platform really was capable of. They wanted to install the system to TatNeft Arena in Kazan for the upcoming 2019 KHL All-Star event, The Week of Hockey Stars.

This was a huge opportunity for Wisehockey. All-Star events are some of the most followed events in every league’s yearly calendar. An All-Star event consists of a skills competition and an All-Star game where all the best players from each division play against each other. Here’s a little peek at what happened behind the scenes!

Attracting everyone’s interest

The buzz for Wisehockey was massive even before anything was installed. Officials working in the event were excited and eager to learn about the new platform that would be implemented to the TatNeft Arena: How did the system work? What information could be used in different applications (broadcasts, mobile apps, etc.)? Even the presenters themselves were eager to know how Wisehockey data could expand their commentary on the event.

It was integral that fans, a big part of the sport, could enjoy the new statistics provided by Wisehockey. In the skills competition Wisehockey provided fans and other viewers with skating competition top speeds and different shot stats in shooting competitions – all in real time.

From the installation to the end result, the event was a huge success. New partnerships and the foundation for the next era of the digitalized KHL were created.

”Real-time sports analytics is a hot topic in international arenas, but to this day there haven’t been any fully successful solutions in ice hockey. We are proud of the fact that we can provide digital solutions that haven’t been available until now to the big professional sports leagues such as ice hockey. For us, the KHL is an important step towards those international markets,” Wisehockey’s Head of Sales Miska Kuusisto states.

Players on the ice at the KHL's All-Star event 2019
All-Star events are some of sports leagues’ most followed events

Ready for the next challenge

Wisehockey didn’t slow down after the successful All-Star event. The KHL was impressed by the platform, and the piloting continued to the next phase. Jokerit, the only Finnish-based team in the KHL, was the first team to have the system in their home arena, the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki.

“It was important that we continued immediately from where the All-Star event ended, and that was playing official KHL games in that season,” Kuusisto remarks.

The system was used in Jokerit’s last three home games against Spartak Moscow, Slovan Bratislava and Dinamo Minsk. Viasat, the broadcast company showing KHL games in Finland, had an opportunity to tap into smart puck data and use it in their broadcasts.

Viasat’s studio host Iiro Harjula and commentator Antti Mäkinen, one of the most followed commentators in Finland, both liked what Wisehockey brought to sports broadcasts. Here are their comments from the KHL’s article about Wisehockey’s piloting in Hartwall:

“As broadcasters, we are interested in getting as much detail about the players as possible to help us confirm our judgments of their speed and power. In addition, it helps to uncover the potential in some players. We hope to be able to use this system in every game next season,” Harjula said.

“Getting this information in real time is a game-changer. This kind of detail can change attitudes towards players. This system offers far more than traditional stats. Its value to TV broadcasts is obvious, as its interest for fans and everyone else at the game,” Mäkinen continued.

Spring of 2019 was a great success for Wisehockey, and it wouldn’t take long before the KHL and Liiga would be fully digitalized.

Wisehockey statistics were displayed in the All-Star event

 

This is the third part of a series of posts. Join us on the journey through the story of fully automated real-time sports analytics!

Part 1, Part 2