Analyzing sport results with a graph and Azure Cosmos DB

On previous blog posts, I made usage of Power BI to analyze the results of my daughters participating in gymnastics competitions. On this new series, I’ll analyze their results in karate (kumite to be precise) … using a larger set of tools: Azure Cosmos DB, Power BI and Azure Databricks.

Let’s start with the analysis to perform: I want to understand their results (is it an expected defeat or is it something that could be set as a counter-performance) or predict them (what’s the likelihood that we must stay at the sport hall until the podium ceremony).

Before going further, a few things that you should know about Karate tournaments before diving into the results:

  • The process is the same than in any Tennis tournament: bout’s winner goes the next round and loser is out.
  • At the exception that if you’ve been defeated by someone going to the final, you’ll be enlisted for a second stage with other competitors defeated by the same finalist and you’ll run for the bronze medal
  • It means that you’ve two bronze medals (because you’ve two finalists) and not one
  • There is always a bout’s winner: in case of draw at the end of the time allocated to a bout, the first competitor who scored is the winner (it’s a bit more complex but let’s keep this simple). This advantage is named “senshu”. In case of 0-0, judges will take the decision
  • Categories are based on age. In most sports, your age is determined based on your birth year … not in Karate where it’s based on your birthdate. It means that you can be in the same category than another competitor during months and suddenly, in the middle of the season, be in another category just because one of you get his birthday.
  • Categories are based on weight. But the bounds for the weight are not the same at each tournament, and the weight is also something really dynamic with children.

Who thought that it would be easy to analyze? Based on the last bullets, I took the decision to collect all the results of the categories surrounding the age of my daughters (hopefully, they are twins) and I’ll take all the sub-categories based on weight.

Based on sportsML wording all the karatekas participating in the same category of a tournament are part of a division.

Now, that we have our goal and some rules, let’s download the results. We’ve a major issue: results are partial. For some competitions, you only have the podium. It means that for some tournaments, I’ve no notion of bouts’ result but just the final standing.

Based on that, we’ve the following (main) entities: we’ve the tournament, the category (age/weight) derived into a division, the bouts (part of a round and a stage) and the competitors (karatekas). For the relations, we’ve: participates/wins/loses (between karatekas and bouts), belongs to (between tournament, divisions, stages, rounds and bouts), ranks (between karateka and a division). I could go further gathering information about club and nationalities but it’s out-of-scope at this point.

I took the decision to model this as a graph. Why? Three important factors drove me to this choice:

  • First argument, I’m not really interested by the entities but more by their relations. That mostly exclude column-based and document models.
  • Second argument, I’ll look for patterns such as “Who has been defeated by A and has defeated C?”
  • karate-query-1

    or have we got any cycle such as “A defeated B who defeated C but A defeated C”.

    This kind of queries are complex to model in SQL compared to graph query languages (Gremlin or Cypher).

  • Last argument: the partial results. A graph can easily handle partial information with its schema-less approach. You shouldn’t consider this argument with a storage point-of-view (I’m aware of the null value in relational databases). This argument makes sense if you consider that the relations could be inferred in a graph and that is harder to put in place with a relational model.

Based on consideration above my schema looks like:

As you could see, the “defeated by” used in the query above is something that could be inferred by the pattern wins/loses between two karatekas and a bout.


In next post, I’ll explain how to load the dataset with the Azure Cosmos DB bulk executor library, then I’ll cover how to query the database with Gremlin to get the first insights about my daughters’ results.



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