Framing effects: visualising the Snooker World Championship

Gavin Freeguard
3 min readMay 5, 2019

From visualising BEIS to visualising baize; try not to baulk at the foul puns; now I’ve done that I’ll give it a rest and take a break. Cue the actual content…

Following my attempt to visualise the Six Nations, I thought I’d give the snooker world championships a go. There are lots of numbers, lots of ways of telling the story of a match or a frame, and lots of colours (which made it one of the hits of BBC2’s early colour programming, though obviously comes with severe downsides for those with colour blindness).

The below is very rough, but what do you think?

Match play

Step charts showing the rhythm of a match seem like a good place to start — the contrast between Gary Wilson’s 10–9 victory over Luca Brecel (one edging ahead of the other) and Stuart Bingham’s over Graeme Dott by the same score (Bingham raced into the lead, Dott made an epic comeback) is clear.

Bonus chart here showing Brecel scored more points than Wilson, but still lost.

I reckon a series of small bar charts, one for each frame showing each player’s score (perhaps stacked bars to show any breaks over 50), would give a handy dashboard summary of a match. But there are other options for showing the story of individual frames.

In the frame

Step charts are again a good place to start. The ones above show the score by shot, rather than by time (there’s not that much of a difference in the Selby vs Zhao frame shown above, but that might not be the case in all matches — e.g. extended safety battles with a long time between the shots).

But these dot plots and strip plots are more fun. Dots are a natural way to visualise snooker balls, but the strip plots are better for condensing a lot of information into a smaller space. The difference between a tense frame with the momentum going back and forth, a high break (Trump’s 141), and winning the frame in two visits is clear in the charts.

If this data — score by shot — were easily available (rather than having to sit through a match and mark it manually), one could imagine a chart showing all the frames in a match and its ebbs and flows. (And if anyone wanted to publish such data…)