We have arrived at the last leg of the second season of the IPTL, and things couldn't be more exciting. Singapore, the home for the Slammers who have been the surprise package this year, is gearing up to host five high-octane matches. The Singapore Slammers, Philippine Mavericks and OBI UAE Royals have two matches left while the Micromax Indian Aces and Legendari Japan Warriors have one match. But which two teams have the best chance of reaching the final on 20th December?
We try to find out:
Front-runners for the finals
As per the format of the game, the top two teams in terms of games- won percentage will play the finals. At the moment those two teams are the Indian Aces and the Singapore Slammers, both of whom have opened up a sizeable gap between themselves and the rest.
In fact, the Aces and the Slammers are the only two teams which have won more games than they have lost. The Aces have won eight out of their 10 matches, losing just two. However, their win percentage isn’t as massive as those numbers suggest; it is an impressive but earthly 55.2%. The Slammers meanwhile are at 52.4%, winning six ties and losing three.
Interestingly, while the Royals have won four matches and lost five, their win percentage of 49.7% is better than that of Philippine Mavericks, who until the previous leg were in second place. That's primarily because the Royals, by virtue of being slated to play one match more this season than any other team, had the option of dropping any match of their choosing from their total points tally. Expectedly, they chose a tie which they lost badly (the one against the Mavericks on 6th December), thus improving their overall percentage.
The Mavericks have won five and lost four but their relatively poor win percentage of 49.2 is largely because of the dent Aces handed them in the form of a one-sided defeat in Delhi.
From the above figures it is clear that the Aces and the Slammers have one foot inside the door already. In fact, barring a mathematical miracle, the Aces are as good as through to the finals.
Out of the race
The inaugural season for the Legendari Japan Warriors hasn’t really gone well. They have managed to win just one match out of 10, and their game-win percentage is an abysmal 44.9%.
With just one match left to play against the Mavericks, the Warriors have nothing to especially since Leander Paes has been turning back the clock with some breathtaking play in the doubles sets.who have an outside chance, by way of a mathematical probability, to reach the finals.
The Royals are in a similar position as the Mavericks, and need a miracle or two to leapfrog past the Slammers and into the finale.
A slim chance for the Royals and the MavericksClose to 3% is a big gap to close as far as the Royals and the Mavericks are concerned. However, the door isn’t shut on them yet, and seeing how some matches have ended up totally one-sided, it is still possible that one of the two teams edge the Singapore Slammers out of the contest.
The Royals have a better opportunity considering their last two matches are against the Mavericks and the Slammers. But they would rue the fact that Federer, who was supposed to win his matches easily, has lost quite a bit; he's a staggering 0 for 6 in his sets so far.
Still, if the Royals now win big, they not only enhance their own game win percentage but also bring down that of their closest opponents. The Royals' W/L is at -3 while it is a whopping +21 for the Slammers; that, on the surface, suggests that it is advantage Singapore at the moment.
However, in a situation where the Royals beat the Slammers by about 15 games (which is admittedly tough considering the Slammers’ form) and then the Aces do the Royals a favour by beating the Slammers comprehensively too, that gap of 24 (Slammers W/L – Royals’ W/L) could narrow down, bringing the percentages close.
The Royals can then enhance their win percentage further by beating the Philippine Mavericks by a massive margin.
The Mavericks too can pull off a miracle in the same way as the Royals, given they have a match against the weaker Warriors. However, for them to go through, they would have to beat the Royals well and hope that the match between the Royals and the Slammers is extremely close so that neither of the two teams gains a bump in the game-win percentage.
But that's not all; the Mavericks would then also have to hope for the Aces to win big against the Slammers. Clearly, there are a few too many ifs and buts for the Mavericks.
The match between Singapore Slammers and UAE Royals on 18th is crucial to three teams' chances. If the Slammers win well, they are as good as through to the finals. But if they lose, and that too by a big margin, the table opens up a little.
The Royals, playing the Mavericks on the 19th, will have a chance to topple the Slammers who are in second position thanks to Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios. It could also come down to a situation where both the Mavericks and the Royals would pray for a big Aces’ win over the Slammers in the final match of the league phase.
So by all accounts the IPTL is careening to an electrifying finish, filled with mathematical probabilities and complex calculations. Who's your money on?