The 2016 AFL Draw: Difficulty and Distortion

The 2016 AFL Draw, released in late October, once again sees teams playing only 22 of the 34 games required for an all-plays-all, home-and-away competition. In determining which 12 games - 6 at home and 6 away - a given team will miss, the League has in the interests of what it calls "on-field equity" applied a 'weighted rule', which is a mechanism for reducing the average disparity in ability between opponents, using the final ladder positions of 2015 as the measure of that ability.

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Who's Best To Play At Home?

The 2015 AFL Schedule is imbalanced, as have been all AFL schedules since 1987 when the competition expanded to 14 teams,  by which I mean that not every team plays every other team at home and away during the regular season. As many have written, this is not an ideal situation since it distorts the relative opportunities of teams' playing in Finals. 

As we'll see in this blog, teams will have distinct preferences for how that imbalance is reflected in their draw.

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The Draw's Unbalanced: So What?

In an earlier blog we looked at how each team had fared in the 2010 draw and assessed the relative difficulty of each team's draw by, somewhat crudely, estimating a (weighted) average MARS of the teams they played. From the point of view of the competition ladder, however, what matters is not the differences in the average MARS rating of the teams played, but how these differences, on a game-by-game basis, translate into expected competition points.
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