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How EA works out FIFA 17 player ratings

Muller it.

Each year EA sparks a heated debate over the player ratings in the latest FIFA game. For FIFA 17, for example, EA replaced Lionel Messi with Cristiano Ronaldo as the game's top-rated player, which upset some and pleased others.

And professional players themselves sometimes get upset at the rating given to them by EA, too.

But how does EA work out what ratings to give to the players? And how does it manage the job of rating the thousands of players who end up in the game?

ESPN has run an interesting report based on an interview with the person in charge of it all: Michael Mueller-Moehring.

Mueller-Moehring is producer for EA Sports' internal database group in Canada, and is responsible for collecting and verifying the football data at the company.

FIFA 17 has over 700 clubs and 18,000 players, which means there are 5.4m data points that go into the ratings.

Now, a lot of the players in the game are obscure. Not every player is as well known as the legendary John Terry or the misunderstood Diego Costa. So, when it comes to ratings, there is a degree of guesswork that goes into some players' stats at first.

But then the stats are refined after the player is seen in action by one of a 9000-strong network of data reviewers. This includes some professional-level scouts, but the bulk of it is made up of season-ticket holders who watch loads of matches in person. These people then provide feedback through a secure EA Sports website.

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There are a couple of interesting tidbits in the ESPN piece. One, the league in which a player plays determines their floor and ceiling when it comes to technical ability. The example given is if Messi were playing in the Irish league, his attributes would drop "simply because he's not on the highest level anymore". Physical attributes, however, remain.

Two, some players break EA Sports' formula for working out a player's overall rating. One such player is German forward Thomas Muller. Here's Michael Mueller-Moehring on his countryman:

"A case is Thomas Muller, who isn't good at anything, really, apart from his positioning.

"He always finds the right spot on the pitch, it's amazing. But he's not a great dribbler and he can't really strike the ball properly - his finishing is sometimes really, really off. Shot power is not his strength as well.

"So if you rate Thomas Muller properly, he ends up with a rating that we say doesn't make sense. It's too low."

In a case such as Muller's, EA Sports subjectively boost the overall rating to reflect the standing in the game. EA can do the opposite, as well, but it says it hasn't yet.

So yeah, as you'll see from our list of the top 50 rated players in FIFA 17, Thomas Muller is more than the sum of his parts, which probably explains how he ends up doing this sort of thing all of the bloody time.

He's still rubbish at corners, though.

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