2017 : Simulating the Final Ladder After Round 15

This week's 50,000 simulations of the remainder of the 2017 AFL season again see eight teams' Finals chances move by more than 5% points.

(For details on the methodology I've used in the simulations, please see this blog.)


The charts below summarise the distribution of ladder finishes for the 18 teams from the simulations run after the current round, Round 15, and Round 14. Note that the ordering of the teams is slightly different in the two charts, reflecting improvement or deterioration in some team's expected ladder finish.



In the race for the finals, the big winners this week were:

  • Sydney: +22% points (up by 36% points now in last three weeks)
  • West Coast: +19% points
  • Richmond: +11% points (up by 19% points now in last two weeks)
  • St Kilda: +11% points

The big losers were:

  • Essendon: -19% points (down by 26% points now in last two weeks)
  • Western Bulldogs: -18% points
  • Melbourne: -14% points
  • Port Adelaide: -7% points

With so many upset victories this week, a lot of variability remains in the likely finishes for most teams, but some fuzzy team groupings are emerging, which we can see when we look at the same data in the form of a heat map.



The rough groupings are: 

  • GWS, Adelaide, Geelong, Richmond and Port Adelaide: all at least 40% chances for a Top 4 finish
  • West Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs: all at least 40% chances for a Top 8 finish
  • Essendon: about a 50% chance to finish anywhere 10th through 13th
  • Hawthorn, Gold Coast, Collingwood, Fremantle, Carlton and the Kangaroos: all most likely to finish somewhere 11th through 17th
  • Brisbane Lions: mostly likely to take the Spoon

The race for 7th and 8th remains intriguing. There are still seven teams with chances ranging from about 9% to 14% to finish 7th, and eight teams with chances ranging from about 6% to 13% to finish 8th.


Next, let's update the game importance table. It shows, you'll recall, how each team's chances of making the finals varies depending on the result of each of the remaining games. The overall Weighted Ave Importance figure tells us the average amount by which the teams' finals chances are expected to change on the basis of the outcome of a particular game. A larger figure means that the game is expected to change teams' finals chances, on average, by a larger amount and hence is a more important game.

(For more details about the methodology and the rationale for it, again please see this blog.)

Round 16 looms as a pivotal one in the race for the Finals, with two games from the top quintile in terms of importance and three more from the second quintile. Only two games are likely to have very little impact on the teams' Finals chances, the Lions v Cats, and the Roos v Dockers matchups.


We'll finish this week by updating the analysis looking at how likely it is that a team will play Finals given that it finishes the home-and-away season on exactly 11, 11.5, or 12 wins.

Recall that these estimates, because they're based on a sample of simulations, are subject to error (as are all of those in this blog), which here is reflected in the width of the segment.

As we saw last week, there's a great deal of variability in teams' estimated chances of making the 8 if they finish on only 11 wins - from near zero for Fremantle, Hawthorn, Gold Coast and St Kilda, to about 40% for Port Adelaide. Port Adelaide's estimate remains relatively high both because of its still-healthy percentage (132 and 2nd best in the competition) and because its remaining schedule is relatively rich in teams with whom it would most likely be vying for a spot on the edge of the Final 8 (viz West Coast, Melbourne, St Kilda, and the Western Bulldogs). Its three wins to get to 11 would, therefore, be more likely to come at the expense of one or more of those teams.

Teams' chances of playing Finals with 12 wins are similarly quite variable, from a low of just over 50% for Fremantle, whose percentage is a paltry 80, to highs of over 90% for Port Adelaide, North Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.