Non Sequitur Fridays

A Quick Guide to World Cup 2014

This post is part of our Non Sequitur Fridays series, which will feature a different Wistia team member's take on a non-Wistia-related topic each week. It's like our "employee of the month" but less "of the month"-y. James Zhang is an engineer at Wistia. His last Non Sequitur was about achieving Desktop Zero.

Disclaimer: For the purposes of this blog post, use of the terminology "football" refers strictly to "association football", also known as "soccer", not "American football".

Every four years, something amazing happens—the FIFA World Cup. This year, it's taking place in Brazil from June 12th to July 13th. If you're unfamiliar with football, the World Cup is at the apex of the sport. The best football players in the world spend most of their career playing for professional teams like Manchester United or FC Barcelona in many different leagues. During the World Cup, the top players are invited to join their home country's national team and compete in the Holy Grail of football tournaments.

In the 19 times that the World Cup has been held since 1930, only 76 out of over 200 national teams in the world have appeared in the tournament at least once. Furthermore, winning the World Cup is a pleasure that only a few national teams and fans have enjoyed. Out of the 76 national teams, only 8 have ever won it: Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, France, England, and Spain.

While most countries have not participated in a World Cup, it is still the world's most televised sport event. Roughly three quarters of a billion people watched the 2010 finals match. I wouldn't be surprised if viewership surpasses 1 billion this year.

The tournament is comprised of two stages. Out of the 32 national teams invited to the tournament, 8 groups of 4 teams are randomly formed. Within each group, each team plays every other team in its group once. A win is worth 3 points; draw 1; loss 0. At the end of the group stage, the two teams with the most points within each group advance to the knockout stage.

During the knockout stage, the 16 advancing teams are placed in a bracket and play head-to-head match-ups where the winners advance and the losers go home. At the end of the knockout stage, only two teams remain. These two play the final match where one country comes out victorious.

My predictions!

This year, the US Men's National Team (ranked 13th in the world) joins Germany (2nd), Portugal (4th), and Ghana (37th) in the most competitive group, Group G, nicknamed "The Group of Death". What creates some exciting group stage matches between the USMNT and football superstars like Miroslav Klose (Germany) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) also makes it extremely difficult for the US to advance to the knockout stage. I'm not optimistic about our chances, but I am excited for some amazing football action for the next month.

The unanimous favorite of the tournament is Brazil, a football powerhouse who will also be playing comfortably at home. Data journalism publication FiveThirtyEight recently published their predictions and concluded that Brazil has a 45% chance of winning the tournament. This is absurd, considering the team with the next highest chance is Argentina at 13%. Regardless of the outcome, some amazing and totally unexpected stories will arise, and I am so excited to watch many of the match-ups.

I hope many of you will be able to watch some of the matches over the next month. All the games will be broadcasted on ABC and ESPN. You can find the full schedule on ESPN's website.

Who will you be cheering for?

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