Monday 19th November 2018


Arsenal Hires Former Candy Crush Developer as Data Scientist

Arsenal Hires Former Candy Crush Developer as Data Scientist

Arsenal Hires Former Candy Crush Developer as Data Scientist
A Candy Crush game screen shot on an iPad. (Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

There probably aren’t many similarities between soccer and Candy Crush. But that didn’t stop Arsenal from appointing one of the popular mobile game’s key developers to an important role within its team. The Premier League club has appointed Mikhail Zhilkin to a data scientist role with a specific focus on injury minimization.

Zhilkin has no real soccer background. He graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology with an M.S. in applied physics and mathematics. From there he went on to eventually join game developer King in 2013 where he was lead data scientist for Candy Crush Soda and Candy Crush Jelly.

With Arsenal, Zhilkin will create individual training and injury prevention profiles for players like Mesut Özil and Lucas Torreira.

Zhilkin’s hiring isn’t the most notable of the summer for Arsenal. In May, Unai Emery was appointed head coach after Arsene Wenger stepped down from the position following more than 20 years at the helm.

SportTechie Takeaway

Not only is Arsenal one of the most powerful soccer clubs in the world, it’s technologically advanced as well. SportTechie recently spoke with the team’s director of high performance, Darren Burgess, who detailed technology that the club uses. He mentioned things like GPS trackers, Firstbeat heart rate technology, drones and more.

Burgess also explained why he thinks wearables will have a major impact on the game in the future, and the host of data they will collect, from heart rate variability, to sweat composition, respiration rate, and general stress levels. The newly-appointed Zhilkin will be charged with translating those numbers into tangible plans for each player.

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