In April, RED, our “super-computer” took on the BBC’s Mark Lawrenson (aka Lawro) in a football scoreline forecasting showdown. Like Deep Blue vs Kasparov in 1996, RED vs Lawro in 2019 showed that artificial forms of intelligence are a match for human intuition. Could this latest triumph for machines have been a one off? After all, even computers can get lucky.
As Lawro himself put it when confronted by the history of man being bested my machine: “It depends on the man” – confident words. But does a review of the whole season back him up?
We have been comparing Lawro’s performance with the University of Reading’s Model throughout the past season. Man can once again hold its head up high, as its standard-bearer in all things football forecasting has triumphed over the course of the whole 2018/19 Premier League season.
Playing by the rules of the BBC scoring contest, awarding 40 points for an exactly correct scoreline forecast but just 10 points if only the result is correctly picked, Lawro achieved 3,340 points for the 380 games of the 18/19 season. That is 8.79 points per game. This equates to 43 correct scores and 205 correct results. Lawro picked 1 in 9 games exactly right (11.3%) and got the result correct in 54% of games. RED achieved 3,240 points over the whole season, picking more results correctly, 210 or 55%, but couldn’t compete with Lawro’s streak of perfect scorelines, just getting 38, or 1 in 10.
Like all super-computers, RED is a work in progress, has assimilated this information, is not emotionally scarred by defeat, and will return next season upgraded to put (a particular) man in his right and proper place.