Queens Park Rangers utilizing Gemini Sports Analytics’ AI platform for data insights

The club is able to use Gemini for everything from tactical match plans to traffic probabilities on bus trips to road matches.

Queens Park Rangers’ season went poorly for more than four months, with the League Championship club sitting squarely in the relegation zone deep into January.

QPR soon turned its season around, however, after a change in leadership. The club won 10 times and added five draws over its final 19 matches to secure its spot in the second tier of English football another season. Most estimates suggest that relegation from the Championship to League One is a financial hit of more than $10 million.

Right around the time of that upset over Leicester, QPR onboarded a new AI-powered predictive modeling tool, Gemini Sports Analytics, to make optimal use of the massive datasets they’ve compiled. Gemini is a “force multiplier,” CEO Jake Schuster has said, by simplifying the process of building machine learning algorithms catered to each club’s specific needs.

“What I really liked about Gemini was they didn’t have an ego in trying to solve every problem,” QPR director of performance Ben Williams said. “They created a tool where you can solve your own problems.”

Around the time of QPR’s on-field nadir, CEO Lee Hoos retired from that role, while remaining as chairman, and hired Christian Nourry as the new chief executive. Nourry was 26 and a managing partner at Retexo Intelligence, a data analytics and advisory business that worked with Real Madrid CF, AS Roma and the Mexican national team. (He became the youngest CEO in English soccer, with one European executive describing Nourry as “the Lionel Messi of the football business world,” according to the Independent.)

Nourry wanted to implement market-leading solutions to upgrade the club’s tech stack. QPR asked itself, according to Williams, “Are we able to interrogate that data optimally, to forge outcomes that are positive for the long-term future of the football club? Our answer to that was ‘no.’” That prompted the search that led the club to Gemini.

The very thesis of Gemini is to empower analysts, coaches or “anyone with a dataset,” as Williams put it, to take action with data. He noted that it can be used for everything from tactical match plans to traffic probabilities on bus trips to road matches.

Founded by Schuster, a longtime sport scientist, Gemini leverages the tech infrastructure of cloud and AI partners Snowflake, DataRobot and Databricks with data sources such as StatsBomb, SportRadar, Genius Sports, Sports Info Solutions, SkillCorner and Infinite Athlete.

As an example of what’s possible, Shuster explained that Gemini users can apply clustering algorithms to match stats and tracking data to create passing trees to identify how opponents like to create scoring chances of their own or concede them to others.

“The early lift was certainly centered around pre-match and post-match reports,” Schuster said. “So, opposition analysis — how do we approach this game? And then, post-match, what happened and what are the implications for future events? A big part of the early work with them was helping them automate those reports. And then the next step was approaching the summer transfer window.”

But it also remains an area of exploration, as QPR onboards more staff members over time.

“The power comes from our curiosity,” Williams said. “We’re in a phase of play and learn and discovery.”

Other Gemini clients include the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, the SEC’s Texas A&M and Italian soccer club Parma Calcio, which just claimed a Serie B title to earn promotion back to Serie A. The Raleigh, N.C.-based company also raised two investment rounds north of $3 million in the past year. There are now 27 sports franchise owners either directly invested in Gemini or through recent round-leading investor Will Ventures. QPR’s owners individually own minority stakes in two MLS clubs (LAFC and FC Cincinnati) as well as MLB’s Cincinnati Reds.

That financial backing has led to Gemini’s first customer success hire, former Arizona Diamondbacks director of operations Sam Eaton, and a budget allocation to hire a CTO, a role Schuster is actively recruiting. The company is also in the testing phase of some new generative AI features it hopes to roll out soon.

“The whole idea behind going with this tool was we can be really broad in our thought process of what we think helps our performance,” Williams said, “rather than be penned in by somebody else’s thought process of what is important to performance because they’ve created a tool that solves a problem that they once had.”

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