Simulating the Finalists and Finals for 2016 After Round 16

Geelong's loss to Sydney this week put a considerable dent in their Minor Premiership prospects, at least according to the latest MoSSBODS-based simulations (see last week's post for details of how these simulations are performed).

Or, if you prefer your data in heat-map form ...

So, the Cats fall from almost 50% chances for the Minor Premiership to just 7.4% chances, as you can see from the table below that compares this week's simulation results with last week's. The Cats' drop, along with GWS' fall from 14% to about 1%, converted into Minor Premiership gains for Sydney (+30% points), Adelaide (+11% points) and Hawthorn (+10% points).

The Cats' Top 4 chances were also dramatically reduced this week, from about 90% to 58%, while GWS' chances fell even further from about 72% to 29%. Here too, the beneficiaries were Adelaide (+8% points), Sydney (+43% points) and Hawthorn (+22% points).

In the race for a spot in the Top 8, Port Adelaide's chances dropped from about 18% to 7%, while those of West Coast, the Kangaroos, Collingwood, and Melbourne all rose by about 2 to 3% points. For Collingwood and Melbourne that amounted to a rough doubling of their chances.

And, lastly, in the Spoon race, the Lions' loss and Essendon's relatively strong showing against St Kilda saw the Lions' chances rise by about 10% points and Essendon's fall by about the same amount, moving the Lions' into MoSSBODS outright favouritism for the cutlery.

Comparing MoSSBODS' latest assessments with current TAB markets suggests that there is some value in the Swans' Minor Premiership and Top 4 prices, and also in the Dogs' Top 4 price.

TOP 2s, 4s and 8s

The two most-likely Top 2 finishes at the end of the Home-and-Away season now see Sydney and Adelaide filling those spots, in either order. Combined, the two possible orderings account for 30% of the simulation replicates. 

The third- and fourth-most likely pairings involve Adelaide and Hawthorn, and these account for roughly another 16%.

Sydney and Geelong are the next most likely pairing, but only in that order (6%), and then follows the Sydney and Hawthorn pairing, in either order (11%).

The Western Bulldogs appear in the 8th and 9th-most likely pairings, but finish in 2nd in both.

When we shift our attention to the most likely Top 4s, Sydney and Adelaide dominate the picture, each appearing in one half of the 10 most likely quadrellas.

Hawthorn sneaks into 2nd in two of them, 3rd in three more, and 4th in three others, while the Dogs grab 3rd twice and 4th on four occasions.

Geelong fill in all of the remaining vacancies, snatching 3rd twice and 4th on three occasions.

Note that none of these orderings appeared in more than 1 replicate in 40, so the number of feasible quadrellas remains very large.

Next, looking at the single-chance Finals places, we find that the most likely orderings all involve GWS finishing somewhere between 5th and 7th.

The Kangaroos also appear in each of the Top 10 orderings, most often in 8th, as do West Coast, most often in 7th, but occasionally in 6th or 8th. Geelong also make four appearances, and Hawthorn just one.

Here too it's worth noting that even the most likely of the orderings appeared in only just over 1 replicate in 30.


Traditionally, I've not simulated the Finals until the week before they've started, but I've had a number of requests this year to extend the usual Home-and-Away projections right through to the end of the competition.

So, this week, I've done that.

The simulation of Finals works in much the same way as those in the Home-and-Away season. We use each team's current Offensive and Defensive Ratings and add a stochastic component to them for each game in each replicate. 

To apply the appropriate Venue Performance values and Travel Penalties we need, however, to model the venuing of each Final, for which purpose I have assumed that:

  • All Victorian teams play all of their hosted Finals at the MCG
  • Sydney and GWS play their hosted Finals at Stadium Australia
  • Port Adelaide and Adelaide play their hosted Finals at the Adelaide Oval
  • West Coast play their hosted Finals at Subiaco

(This season, based on the simulations, there's no need to worry about Finals hosted by Fremantle, the Brisbane Lions or Gold Coast but, to avoid confusion, should the need arise, Fremantle will be assumed to host at Subiaco, and the Lions and Suns to host at the Gabba.)

We also assume, of course, that the Grand Final is played at the MCG.

So then, to the results.

In this first chart we summarise the final finish for every team that made at least one Final in at least one replicate, breaking down each team's finish by the ladder position it achieved at the end of the relevant home-and-away portion of the replicate.

Adelaide, for example, win the Flag in about 40,000 of the 100,000 replicates, having finished in 1st or 2nd on the ladder in about 25,000 of those replicates. 

Sydney wins the Flag only about 15% of the time, and is more likely to have bowed out of the Finals in a Preliminary Final.

Here's that same data presented as a heat-map.

We see then that the Roos and Eagles are most likely to bow out in the Elimination Finals, that GWS and the Western Bulldogs are most likely to bow (wow?) out in the Semi-Finals, and that Geelong, Hawthorn and Sydney are most likely to finish 2016 as losing Preliminary Finalists.

At current TAB prices that leaves Adelaide as the only team with a sufficiently large positive expectation on the Flag market to provide at least a 5% expected return.

To finish, I thought it might be interesting to see what the simulations reveal about the relationship between ladder finish and Finals prospects, regardless of which team finishes in which position.


It's clear, as you might expect, that the teams finishing in 1st or 2nd have the greatest chance of making the Grand Final and winning the Flag, and that opportunity reduces with every pair of Finalists.