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How CPQ could help optimize all teams for the FIFA World Cup

The optimization dilemma

You probably haven’t missed that the 2018 FIFA World Cup begins on Thursday.  In every corner of the world, people are hoping and will soon be cheering and shouting together. In fact, I have to admit that during game days my brain is usually not entirely focused on CPQ. Instead, a significant portion of it is dedicated towards soccer – and I don’t think I am alone!

This year, Sweden is in the same group as South Korea, Mexico, and Germany. When I saw this, for some unknown reason I came to think about whether CPQ could support Sweden’s national coach Janne Andersson in selecting the best first 11 possible. More specifically – is there a way to optimize Sweden’s national team?

Sure, almost every dedicated soccer fan has his or her own idea of what the line-up of the national team should look like. Indeed, after every game with a less-than-satisfying result, everyone has a solution on how the line-up should have been to perform better. I doubt this year will be any different.

Mr. Andersson, who selects the first XI, sure has a delicate issue at hand. He has to decide whether to optimize the defense against the powerful Germans or if he should prioritize reliable players like Sebastian Larsson over more creative players like Erkan Zengin?

Looking at it from a mathematical and CPQ perspective, there are over a million possible line-ups he could choose from. If Mr. Andersson would consider each of these it would not only render him sleepless but also jobless since no coach should ever consider each player for each position…

A configuration approach to football

So, how could this problem be ”solved” with a configurator? My thought on this would be to categorize each player in their main Player Type: Goalkeeper, Defender, Midfielder, and Forward. This would limit our options right away without any real trade-offs.

Most defenders and midfielders are specialized in one position, like central or wing position. If you have a wing position, you’re typically specialized towards either the left or the right wing. Still, these positions are more volatile than your Player Type. Thus, I would instead place a grade on how suitable a certain person is for each position and use this in the optimization. For example, I would consider a left-wing defender a highly specialized wing player, and thus score him high on ”Wing” but low on ”Central” capabilities. Sure, there could be a line-up in which he would be optimized as a central defender but it is highly unlikely.

Then you have to mark each player up according to skills like speed, shot accuracy, passing accuracy, header skills etc and map that against the tactic you want to optimize for, like: ”Defensive stand with counter attacks”. You also need to take into consideration the player’s current shape, possible injuries, yellow cards and how his style is combined with the players around him…and…and…Phew!

I would love to prove my point on how aweseome this Line-Up Configurator would be and how it would out-perform Mr. Andersson but I guess CPQ should probably be used where it is best: for optimizing your sales efficiency and operations…


Heja Sverige! (i.e. ”Go Sweden”).