Sports

Are the Warriors the most depressing team in the NRL? A Spinoff data project

Is there a more depressing NRL team to support than the Warriors? A man who failed 6th form maths has developed a simple formula to find out.

The New Zealand Warriors’ season was barely 20 minutes old when an all-too-familiar anguish began to ripple through their fanbase. Trailing Wests Tigers 16-0 in a game they were firm favourites to win, it was in some ways a classic Warriors performance. Ever since the club’s arrival back in 1995, they seem to have had a knack for making their fans’ lives completely miserable; their minds a broiling mess of disappointment and dejection. By the final whistle, with a 26-34 loss in the book, the mood has solidified into one of grim resignation: here we go again.

WHY IS LIFE SO HARD? PHOTO / GETTY

WHY IS LIFE SO HARD? PHOTO / GETTY

This was only the first game of the season, and I know we shouldn’t read too much into it. But going back to last season, this was the Warriors’ 9th loss in a row. Last time they won an NRL game was July last year. That’s a pretty bad run.

But are the Warriors the most depressing team in the NRL to be a fan of? It sure can feel like Warriors fandom is an inescapable hell dungeon, but how do we prove it objectively? There are so many things that can make sports fans miserable, and a lot of them are intangible. Expectations, the way the club is managed, the stadium experience, the uniforms, just the general vibe – all these factors can contribute to NRL fan misery, and in this highly scientific data project we’re going to ignore them completely.

The main thing that makes any sports fans miserable is and always has been losing – or more precisely, not winning. You haven’t felt true hopelessness and despair until you’ve watched your team lose its 8th game in a row and genuinely wondered: will we ever win again? With this in mind I developed a simple formula to determine each NRL team’s Misery Rating over the course of a season.

Here’s how it works: misery points are designed to reflect the agony of consecutive losses. Teams aren’t punished if they lose one game, but if they lose again in the next round they incur 1 (one) misery point. For every consecutive week the team doesn’t win, misery points double – so 2 points for a 3-game losing streak, 4 for a 4-game streak, 8 for a 5-game streak etc. (A draw counts as a loss, and byes are ignored).

What about the playoffs? Playoff losses don’t count, but playoff wins do. Few things are more joyous and redemptive than a playoff win. For every playoff win a team deducts 4 (four) misery points from their Misery Rating. It is therefore possible for a club to end a season with a negative Misery Rating, indicating a successful season and that great sporting rarity: happy and satisfied fans.

Let’s apply the formula to the Warriors’ 2015 season. Their record looked like this:

LWWLLWLLWWWLLWWWLLLLLLLL

By round 19 they had only accrued 3 misery points. They were on track for a not-too-miserable season. But their 8 game slide to end the season was worth 64 misery points, and brought the Warriors’ 2015 Misery Rating to 67. Oh dear.

Compare that to 2011, when the Warriors made the Grand Final. Their regular season record looked like this:

LLLWWLWWWWWLLLLWWWWLWWLW

That’s a Misery Rating of 6 at the end of the regular season. The 6th-placed Warriors actually lost in the first round of the playoffs, but under the old McIntyre system they got another crack, and won the next two to make the Grand Final. That knocks 8 misery points off to give them a final 2011 Misery Rating of -2. Pretty good.

If we apply this formula to every team we should be able to get a clearer picture of fan misery across the NRL. These are the NRL’s most objectively depressing teams of the past five years:

NRL Misery Points by Season, 2011-2015

1 Eels (Misery Rating: 29.2) 2011: 37 2012: 24 2013: 69 2014: 7 2015: 9

2 Warriors (28.6) 2011: -2 2012: 66 2013: 7 2014: 5 2015: 67

3 Raiders (24.8) 2011: 82 2012: -1 2013: 19 2014: 15 2015: 9

4 Sharks (22.6) 2011: 74 2012: 8 2013: 0 2014: 30 2015: 1

5 Tigers (18.8) 2011: -1 2012: 13 2013: 49 2014: 18 2015: 15

6 Titans (17.2) 2011: 24 2012: 11 2013: 6 2014: 32 2015: 13

7 Dragons (15.8) 2011: 9 2012: 6 2013: 23 2014: 8 2015: 33

8 Knights (15.2) 2011: 7 2012: 10 2013: -2 2014: 34 2015: 27

9 Panthers (9) 2011: 11 2012: 13 2013: 10 2014: -2 2015: 13

10 Broncos (3.4) 2011: -6 2012: 18 2013: 7 2014: 5 2015: -7

11 Roosters (1.2) 2011: 12 2012: 6 2013: -11 2014: -1 2015: 0

12 Cowboys (1.2) 2011: 2 2012: -2 2013: 12 2014: 2 2015: -8

13 Bulldogs (0) 2011: 6 2012: -6 2013: 5 2014: -5 2015: 0

14 Storm (0) 2011: -3 2012: -4 2013: 3 2014: 4 2015: 0

15 Rabbitohs (-0.6) 2011: 7 2012: -2 2013: -3 2014: -9 2015: 4

16 Sea Eagles (-1.4) 2011: -12 2012: -1 2013: -5 2014: 0 2015: 11

As you can see, the bad news is that the Warriors are objectively the second most depressing team to be a fan of in the whole NRL. The good news is that the poor old folk at Pirtek Stadium have had it even worse – the Parramatta Eels are the one team in the NRL with a worse Misery Rating than the Warriors.

THIS MAN'S FEELINGS ARE MATHEMATICALLY ACCURATE. PHOTO / GETTY

THIS MAN’S FEELINGS ARE MATHEMATICALLY ACCURATE. PHOTO / GETTY

The high level of misery in Western Sydney can be traced back to the club’s dire stretch from 2011-13, while the Warriors’ Misery Rating stems largely from the fact that they are the only team in the NRL to have suffered an 8-game losing streak twice in the past five seasons – it happened in 2012.

Only three other teams can claim to have known the true misery of an 8-game losing streak in recent years – the Raiders (2011), Sharks (2011) and Eels (2014). The Raiders’ was part of the most depressing single season during this timeframe – in 2011 they suffered both an 8-game and a 6-game losing streak in the same year.

It looks bad, but all the Warriors’ Misery Rating really proves is that they have tortured their fans worse than almost any other team lately. We can now acknowledge that fact and move on.

What the Warriors’ Misery Rating doesn’t tell us is the future. The beautiful (or cruel, depending on how you look at it) thing about sports misery is that the slate gets wiped clean at the start of every new season. The Warriors are yet to register a single misery point in 2016. [Update 11:53pm: the Warriors only have a mere 1 (one) misery point so far in 2016]

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