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January ‘21 Challenge Round-Up

Kicking off our monthly challenges for 2021, we focused on all things related to top flight football in England. The data set contained information relating to both the men’s and women’s games, part of our ongoing commitment to showcasing diversity in sports.

As always the #SportsVizSunday community rose to the challenge, with 17 vizzes created. In addition to our usual end of month Twitter Moment, rounding up all the entries, here’s a more detailed look at the vizzes with some personal reflections on a few of the design choices that really made some on them pop.

Blowing the whistle to introduce the challenge, I created this alternative presentation of the Premier League table, inspired by a tweet by Tom Worville of The Athletic. The aim of the design was to focus on the range of points achieved by teams, highlighting it’s tight at the top and the fight for Europe, but at the moment relegation is very much threatening only a handful of clubs.

Our first community visualisation of the month was submitted by Zen Master and all-round Tableau maestro, Neil Richards. His 'Premier League Carousel' is well worth checking out; I will admit it took me a few moments to get my head around, but when you familiarise yourself with the concept you cannot help but be impressed by the thought process and data prep that Neil must have put into the viz. There again it is hardly surprising, Neil has made a reputation of unusual, engaging takes on topics, and this one was no exception.

Next we have Nicolas Mieszaly who analysed the height and weight attributes of Premier League players, comparing their BMI and ages. Nicloas' viz is one of the reasons that I enjoy the #SportsVizSunday monthly challenges so much, you can be guaranteed that people will approach the data in so many different ways.

This analysis of 'Premier League Summer 2020 Transfer Spending' by Ryan Soares was one of the highlights of the month for me. The simplicity in design, the use of just 3 colours and that labelling... it just screams class and everything I love about well designed analysis. It instantly pulled me in and there are some really intriguing stories throughout the viz too.

Abhishek Sahu decided to combine all of the various Premier League data sets and create Team profiles, looking at their results, transfers, managers and stadia.

Simon Rowe has rapidly built a reputation for great sports analysis and clean designs. For this month he also chose to create Premier League Team profiles but his design choices took him down more of a dashboard style visualisation, leveraging styilised containers to segment each section. Personally I think this approach made the analysis very accessible, the dashboard contained alot of information, but it never once felt overwhelming of complex. A great example of how a well constructed design can help lower visual complexity and maximise engagement.

And I would also like to a say a massive thank you to Simon for replicating his Premier League Team Dashboard for the Women's Super League data we also provided this month. The only way we will achieve equality in sport is to ensure both Men and Women get the same air time, hopefully Simon's efforts to visualise each team in the WSL will help showcase the immense talent their is in the top flight of the Women's game in England.

Something many people often forget is that you are absolutely able to participate in the monthly challenge by using your own data, as long as it is related to the monthly theme. This is what Mo Wootten did, and wow, did he go all out. His 'Football Compasses' viz contained a wealth of analysis relating to the playing styles of Premier League teams and was presented using a radial small multiple.

In my opinion, there is so much like to admire about Aashique's Premier League Summer Transfer viz. From the colour, to the labelling, it was really on point, but the highlight action available in the interactive viz really was the cherry on top for me, great job Aashique.

If Aashique's viz wasn't enough of a treat for us all, he carried on his winning streak and went for a brace in this month's challenge and not only that, he decided to focus on the WSL, visualising an alternative take on the Women's Super League Table. It got a fair bit of love from the community, and I can see why. The use of shapes to represent wins, draws and losses is really striking and the small multiple style design definitely pops. Yet another example of the monthly challenge inspiring a completely different take on the data that many of us would never have considered trying.

Yash Raj Sakhuja certainly found his own path through the data, I would never have considered analysing Premier League players by their birth month. I really enjoyed exploring this unique angle with his viz that was inspired by a recent article in the Guardian newspaper.

It was not until 26th January until we had our first submission from a female member of the #SportsVizSunday community; it was worth the wait, but genuinely, in my opinion, we should never stop in our efforts diverse participation in #SportsVizSunday. Sports is not a male topics, it is something that is enjoyed by many billions of people across the world, regardless of their age, gender or race, and this is why I was so pleased and honoured to have Kate Brown and Bo Plantinga join the #SportsVizSunday team at the start of this year. I really hope it makes #SportsVizSunday more accessible to everyone in the community and results in more sports vizzes being showcased from a wider range of authors this year.

I digress though, back to Abbie Taylor's viz, a really cool way of using animations to track the WSL table during the 2020/21 season to date. I loved the design and inclusion of the rolling bump chart and the GIF she shared on Twitter really showcased the design perfectly.

Next up we have Adam Green, a regular #SportsVizSunday participant and this month he kept it up with not 1 but 2 entries; both of which were right up there when it comes to design and analysis.

First off Adam looked at 'The Tall and Short Of It' ... heights of Premier League teams in 2020/21. Not only is the analysis fascinating, but I would also encourage everyone to check out the charts Adam used and his techniques to minimise colour and text, some great techniques are being used.

Adam's second viz was actually inspired by another outstanding community initiative, that of #WorkoutWednesday. He applied one of the recent challenges to compare the stadia of Premier League and Women's Super League Teams. Now obviously, any technique showcased by #WorkoutWednesday will be an example of Tableau at its best and Adam definitely did it justice in his striking design.

Back to the Premier League Transfer data, and this superb analysis by Gorazd Surla who focused on the spending of the 3 promoted sides; Leeds, West Brom and Fulham. Check out the use of colour to highlight and the engaging flow of the data.

This month our very own Chris Westlake joined in the vizzing with his first creation of 2021! Chris explored the Premier League Table but this time allowing the user to explore the table through a range of different metrics.

Two more vizzes to go and both showcase data relating to the Women's game, what a great way to end!

First up Mo Wootten was back on the pitch, with a visualisation that I was absolutely fascinated by. The first map used in this month's challenge and it was the ideal way to visualise how women's teams are more times than not located further away from their city than that of men's teams when it comes to their home stadium. I loved the use of the radius to make the distance so easy to identify and engage with and the story was a really compelling one, thank you so much Mo.

We end with a viz by one of the #SportsVizSunday organising team, Kate Brown. Kate focused on the top 3 of the WSL, going in depth for their results against other teams. As always, with anything Kate does, the design is clear, clean and really engaging.

So there you have it 18 vizzes, not quite enough for a Premier League table, but a wide range of participants, designs and takes on the data. Thank you so much to everyone who entered and don't forget the February challenge is already live. Hosted by community titans, Jeff Plattner and Will Strouse, they share data with us relating to the NFL Draft and Salary Cap. Anyone would think there is a big American Football sporting event going on in February... oh, of course there is, good luck to the Buccaneers and Chiefs for Super Bowl LV.

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