Journey to cutting-edge sports analytics: Taking over the Finnish Hockey League

 

Let’s dive into the second phase of Wisehockey’s development: how the real-time sports analytics system proved itself in the pro-level games of the Finnish Hockey League (Liiga). Liiga is considered one of the best European hockey leagues producing world-class players.

After receiving positive feedback from testing the Wisehockey platform in Hakametsä, the first and most legendary ice hockey arena in Finland, Liiga decided to implement the Wisehockey platform in three new arenas: in Oulu, Turku, and Helsinki, the capital of Finland. This meant that the Wisehockey hockey-analytics system was introduced to every team in Liiga. The teams could now access data about their games that simply didn’t exist before.

Breaking into hockey broadcasts

From the beginning, it was clear that not only teams would benefit from Wisehockey. Passionate fans would also get an enhanced viewing experience. The human eye can only see so much, and people have different opinions about the ongoing game.

“Very often most of the time, without facts and statistical analysis, the human eye lies,” said Ismo Lehkonen, a former professional ice hockey player and now studio expert for Telia, in Red Bull’s Läpimurto (eng. “Breakthrough”) series. Wisehockey allows Telia, the owner of broadcasting rights for Liiga, to provide more in-depth analysis for hockey viewers.

The new features included visualized statistics such as momentum charts (showing which team is in control of the game) and puck control heatmaps. For the broadcast itself, Wisehockey provided instant statistics such as the speed of a slap shot that lead to a scored goal.

The new features were well received by experts and former players in the studio. Wisehockey also gave the teams an opportunity to integrate the data into a mobile application. Now fans could view fully automated statistics in real time with their smartphones. No other company or league had ever done this.

Telia's sports studio with commentators and Wisehockey data
Telia’s TV broadcast in September 2019 included Wisehockey data

A challenge for the developers

What might developers say about Wisehockey’s development from their point of view?

”Developing Wisehockey is a great opportunity since it is the first of its kind. Combining sports and data analytics has been a real challenge, but it’s great to see how Wisehockey benefits the whole hockey ecosystem. We are constantly looking for opportunities to upgrade the platform and offer users new opportunities,” says Lauri Koskela, one of Wisehockey’s developers.

Wisehockey had now proven itself on and off the ice as a stable, reliable, and interesting solution for both teams and viewers. From this point on, the main goal was to crack the international market. It didn’t take long for Wisehockey to appear on the radar of a major hockey league. The league was the multinational KHL.

 

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

Part 1, Part 3