Opinion: Esports Needs a Stat Nerd Invasion

by Kevin Knocke

In-depth stats are one of the coolest parts of sports, and they should come to esports more aggressively, too.

Stats, when presented properly, are a critical part of the storytelling process in sports. Just think of the furor around Hank Aaron as he was about to eclipse the all-time home run record by Babe Ruth (or more recently a controversial Barry Bonds breaking that very same record).

Or maybe that Wayne Gretzky's greatness is so understandable given the huge difference between 1st and 2nd all time in career points. Or how about Wilt Chamberlin's crazy 100 point game that still stands the test of time.

The fact is, stats drive so much of the storylines in sports.

They also drive the business side, too. Just take the sabermetrics wave in baseball, where statisticians pour over numbers to calculate the best players on paper to complement their team.

This is slowly starting to come to esports.

Alan "Nahaz" Bester is an atypical figure in Dota 2 esports. In a scene dominated by former players or current casters as personalities, Nahaz comes from a different world.

He is a professor who runs an economics program who has begun to marry esports to the concept of in-depth stats. Nahaz' YouTube series, Stats Don't Lie, is one of the first real attempts to bring statistical analysis to esports. He's also helped to coach compLexity Gaming's Dota 2 roster at this year's International.

He may be the first, but don't expect him to be the last.

Stats are already considered to be a huge investment for potential industry sponsors over the next couple of years. And with major organizations like MLG trying to become a difference maker with their EVE (although their recent MLG Vegas event upset some viewers) who believe that interactive stats are a great way to push engagement.

They are right, it just has to be implemented properly.

More than that though, hopefully we'll see pundits start leaning more on hard stats soon, or analytical ranking systems like the WWG CS:GO Team Rankings. It's so easy to set up storylines then.

For example: "Player X comes in to this game with a chance to get the most grenade kills in a CS:GO career." Most viewers think it's cool when a grenade kill happens, usually shouting some version of "KOBE!!!!!!!!!" in chat, but what if there was a system that could attach a storyline to it?

When a player gets that record there's already built in discussion and hype around it.

For teams though, if all stats can be appropriately tracked and dissected (think similar to HLTV and their CS:GO stats page for all games), it becomes easier to scout and recruit players, especially in a scene as decidedly international as esports.

Maybe this is just a biased stats nerd's perspective, but it's about time esports saw this level of analysis.

More esports influencing from Knocke: Esports Needs Standardized Rankings for Tournament Seeding | Now is the Best Time for a Players' Union | Opinion: 2017 Needs to be the Year of the Player