So far I’ve ranked my teams from 1 to 20 with my heart, and allocated them a chunk of joy points, and I’ve predicted the results of the pool games 1 to 40 with my head.
I’ve added a bit of secret sauce in the spreadsheet, and now I’ve calculated how happy or unhappy I am at a predicted result. (On the first weekend, New Zealand beating South Africa is both predicted and happy. England beating Tonga is predictable but unhappy.)
From those numbers I’ve created the chart below that shows how I think my emotion flows throughout the pool stage. The x-axis is the 40 games: the y-axis goes from +100 (all my preferred teams win) to -100 (all my preferred teams lose).
So I start happy if Japan wins against Russia, a bit of a dip if bloody GirtBySea wins against Fiji, and a good uptick if the All Blacks beat the Boks. Then a cascade of mumble grump as the big fellas wrap up the minnows, but a gradual climb up as the All Blacks win their other three pool matches, and end on a good point of Japan beating Scotland.
That should end with me on a +59 score at the end of the pools, which is not too shabby. Better than 0, and way better than the negatives.
But but but.
Here’s what the graph looks like if I change the result in just one match: if the Boks beat the All Blacks in Match 4.
I plunge into despair on that first weekend, and only climb out half-heartedly half way through the pools.
Which is maybe a long-winded way of finding a statistical proof of something we all know to be true in our bones: Match 4 is huge. We need to get that win at the kickoff or we’re all going to be nervous wrecks for weeks.
And remember that in all World Cups so far the winner has gone through the tournament unbeaten, so this is an enormous hurdle for both teams.
No pressure Shag.