The 2018 – 2019 season was an exciting one. It saw the breakthrough years for several male squash players; Joel Makin, Zahed Salem and Declan James, as well as female squash players: Nele Gilis, Hania El Hammamy, and Yathreb Adel. On the flip side squash said goodbye to several of the games greats through retirement, such as Nick Mathew, Nicol David, Jenny Duncalf, RThe 2018 – 2019 season was an exciting one. It was a breakout year for several male and female squash players: Joel Makin, Zahed Salem, and Declan James on the men’s tour, and Nele Gilis, Hania El Hammamy, and Yathreb Adel on the women’s side. On the flip side squash said goodbye to several of the game’s greats through retirement, such as Nick Matthew, Nicol David, Jenny Duncalf, Ramy Ashour, and Laura Massaro. There are many metrics that can be used to help define how successful a player’s career or season has been. One can simply consider the number and type of tournaments won, the ranking in tournaments, prize money won, number of ranks climbed, or rank points gained. This blog post investigates the distribution of winners for the PSA World Tour tournaments for the 2018 – 2019 season.
Number of Tournament Titles
Let us first take a look at the number of titles in which male and female contestants compete. The pie chart below on the left illustrates the ratio of the male to female number of tournaments. For this particular pie chart, all gender tournaments are considered as individual tournaments (i.e the Oracle NetSuite Open is considered as one female tournament and one male tournament). It can be seen that the female players have a total of 16 tournaments (which is 40% of all tournaments) and the male squash players have 24 tournaments (which is 60% of all tournaments). This results in a male to female tournament ratio of 3:2. Of course these numbers do not represent the number of tournaments each player of each gender enters but rather the maximum number of tournaments available to that particular gender. However, the larger the number of tournaments, the more opportunity there is to optimize a player’s selection of tournaments in order to maximize their return on ranking points and prize money.
The pie chart below on the right breaks the tournaments into categories depending on whether or not the tournament is a single-gender or dual-gender tournament. For this pie chart you can see that there are 13 male-only tournaments (32.5%), five female-only tournaments (12.5%) and 22 dual-gender tournaments (55%). Note that the 22 dual-gender tournaments are in fact 11 tournaments but as previously mentioned we count it as one male tournament and one female tournament, and thus the number is doubles. One can see that over 50% of all tournaments are dual gendered. Regarding the single gendered tournaments, one can see that there are a much larger proportion of the male-only tournaments when compared to the female only tournaments. However, this may be changing. For example in 2019, there was a women’s exhibition event during the Grasshopper Cup which was previously a male-only tournament. Now in 2020 this will be a dual-gender tournament. Although it should be noted that the male tournament is a Gold tournament (prize money: $109k), whereas the female is a Bronze Tournament (prize money: $56k).
Types of Tournaments
We can also break down the above pie chart into the tournaments types. The below pie charts illustrates how many tournaments of each type both genders have available to them. For example, for male players there are seven Platinum tournaments, six Gold tournaments, six Bronze tournaments, one World Tour Final, and one World Championship. Similar parameters can be extracted from the right pie chart which illustrates the number of each tournament type for the female players. Although the females have a lower number of tournaments, the percentage of each tournament type is similar (at least in the same range) for both genders. Note the surprisingly low percentage of silver tournaments for both genders.
Tournament Winners and Runners-up
In the following two horizontal bar charts, the number of PSA World Tour tournaments won by the players (male: upper chart, female: lower chart) is depicted in descending order. In fact, on closer inspection you can see that each player has two bars attached to its name; the upper darker color is the number of PSA World Tour tournaments won, and the lower lighter colored bar is the number of runners-up positions obtained by that players. It is of no surprise to see that for the male players Ali Farag and Mohamed El Shorbagy are leading the pack with four players (Karim Abdel Gawad, Diego Elias, Tarek Momen and Mohamed Abouelghar) following closely behind. All 24 of the PSA World Tour male tournaments were won by 11 players. For the female tournaments, Raneem El Welily and Nour El Sherbini lead the pack followed closely by two players (Nour El Tayeb and Joelle King). All 16 the PSA World Tour female tournaments were won by eight players. Therefore the ratio of total number of tournament winners against the total number of tournaments is approximately the same for both genders, 0.45 for males and 0.5 for females.
On the right hand side of these plots is the finals’ win percentage. This is the percentage of finals won out of the number of titles played for a given player. For example, Ali Farag won six finals, and came as runner-up on 4 occasions making a total of ten tournament finals. Therefore, his finals win percentage is 60% (six out of ten) finals played.
Tournament Winners by Tournament Type
Looking at the number of tournaments won by each player in the above section can be a good indicator as to who dominated the seasons’ tournaments, and who converted the most finals into winning titles. However, it does not take into account the type of the tournaments won. For example, there is a big difference if player ‘A‘ wins six bronze tournaments and player ‘B‘ wins six platinum tournaments, however their success would both ranked the same in the above plots. To gain a better understanding of this the plots can be color coded to indicate the tournament types. This is what was done for the following two plots whereby the colors indicate the tournament types which are shown in the legend of the graph (runner-ups are not shown). For the male tournaments, it can be seen that the Platinum tournaments are all won by only 3 players, namely Ali Farag, Mohamed El Shorbagy and Karim Abdel Gawad. These are all Egyptian players showing their dominance in their ability to win tournaments. Similarly in the female tournaments, all but one of the Platinum tournaments are won by three Egyptian players (Raneem El Welily, Nour El Sherbini and Nouran Gohar). In addition to this feat, the Egyptians won the World Tour Finals and the World Championships in both genders cementing their tournament dominance in the 2018 – 2019 season. Overall, the top three players in each gender are Egyptian and have won 54% and 62% of all male and female tournaments respectively.
If one considers the top ten players at the end of the season, Simon Rösner (finished #5), and Saurav Ghosal (finished #10) did not win any tournament in the male category. However, from the above section one can see that Simon Rösner was runner up on two occasions. In the female tournaments Camille Serme (finished #3) and Tesni Evans (finished #9) did not win any tournaments but finished runner us on three and two occasions respectively.
Title Winners by Country
In the above section we can clearly see that there is a dominance of Egyptian players in terms of winning the male and female tournaments. This is not surprising given their overall dominance in the game in recent years, but perhaps it is not yet clear how dominant they were in the 2018 – 2019 season. The graphs below plots the tournament winners by country for both genders. In the male tournaments, Egyptians clearly dominated the top tournaments winning all the Platinum tournaments as well as the World Championship and the World Tour Finals. A total of 18 of the 24 male tournaments were won by Egyptian players (75% tournament win rate). Similarly, 11 of the 16 female tournaments were won by Egyptian players (68% tournament win rate).
Conclusion & Outlook
This blog starts out by looking at the number of tournaments for both genders. Although the ratio of Platinum, Gold, SIlver, Bronze tournaments are more or less the same for each gender, the females have a fewer number of tournaments and thus they are more limited choice of tournaments in which to play. With equal prize money among the genders being provided more and more often, hopefully the number of female tournaments will also increase to be on par with the number of male tournaments.
From a study of the winners of the tournaments it is clear that a large number of the tournaments are won by only a few players. This is the dominance of the top players in both genders. Moreover, these players are all Egyptians showing a clear dominance at the top of both genders. There have been several nationalities that have dominated squash over long periods of time. Now is the dominance of the Egyptians. But how long will it last? With Ali Farag, Mohamed El Shorbagy and Tarek Momen having several years before retirement, it is highly plausible that their dominance will continue for some time. The question is, what will happen then? Will the new up and coming players, break the Egyptian dominance or will the up and coming Egyptian players take their place? Either way we can look forward to many years of great squash.
|Tournaments||PSA World Tour: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, World Championship, World Tour Final|