Following the 2014 Major League Ultimate season, the team at MLU HQ in Philadelphia immediately began to look to 2015, searching for ways to improve upon the fan experience and increase access to the sport. 

Two employees saw an area that could use serious attention.  With the rise in popularity of fantasy sports and increased focus on statistics as part of the narrative of sports leagues, Luke Ryan and Tim Brubaker made a strong case for changing the way the MLU collected, analyzed and presented statistical information.  Both brought a passion to the project that has yielded strong results in its first season.

“We saw an opportunity to create a database that hasn’t really been existed in the ultimate world before and have been working on it’s layout for the past year and half”, said Ryan, a graduate of St. Joesph’s University’s Business Intelligence program, who brought a background in database management, project management and statistical analytics.  “I picked up playing Ultimate in college and was discouraged to find out that, for a sport that is played by so many people in the world, there was little to no statistical work being done on any significant  scale. There were no universal truths about stat keeping in the sport outside of goals, assists, and blocks.”

So Ryan and his partner for the project, Tim Brubaker set about building a database and developing the statistical categories needed to better understand the sport of ultimate.  In addition to standard stats like goals, assists and blocks, the new MLU system keeps track of more analytical data like T.P.O.P. (Touches Per Offensive Posessions) and OSE/DSE (Offensive and Defensive Scoring Efficiency).  For fans interested in objective knowledge of the sport like Ryan and Brubaker, the new system allows them to dive in and pick apart the data.

For even the casual ultimate fan, the new system presents another exciting opportunity.

“After the statistics were developed it became about letting the fans consume them,” explained Brubaker, a mathematics student at La Salle University.  “Starting with live updating stats. Fans could, for the first time, see more than just a notice or tweet about a score, but rather see who threw to who, blocks involved in every point, who was throwing the most, and who was playing the most.”

From there the next step was obvious: MLU Fantasy.

Launching in April, MLU Fantasy enjoyed a strong first year with over 2,200 accounts created, a number sure to grow this year as more fans learn about the opportunity to play. Improvements to the system are currently under way and fantasy team managers will have even more ability to construct and manage their teams. Competition is sure to be stiff in 2016.

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“This was a way for fans to get involved with the players and the stats on a weekly basis,” said Brubaker, “While fantasy itself grows over the years, so will the need for meaningful statistics.”

“Fantasy was a huge deal for the MLU this past season and it was only the beginning.” said Ryan,  “We were really only able to give the fans a taste of the things we’ll be able to bring to them moving forward. I’m truly excited to reveal what we’ve been working on the past couple of months.”

You can follow the work of the MLU Statistics Department and MLU Fantasy by following @MLULukeR, @TimboMLU and @MLUFantasy on Twitter, or MLU Fantasy on Facebook.