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Sport Science: Lionel Messi

The 2022 World Cup has finally kicked off, and over here at King Penguin, we were incredibly busy in the run-up to the tournament. ESPN asked us to put together a few Sport Science pieces concerning The Beautiful Game, and the first one aired ahead of Argentina's opening match this morning. The topic? None other than the modern-day GOAT himself, Lionel Messi.

Messi's play has always been spectacular, but the mind-blowing stats only tell one side of the story. To fully investigate Messi's brilliance, you need to look at the details. And that, of course, is where some of our production elements come in. We used slow motion, spot shadows, ball-trackers, and comparison graphics to hone in on the finer points of the star midfielder's game. The speed of his dribbling and cutting ability can really only be comprehended with context, whether that is in relation to an NFL player like Stefon Diggs or his contemporary rival, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ball-trackers also become important in breaking down Messi's incredible passing abilities, specifically when he makes long-distance connections to set up his teammates. Some of his assists are truly remarkable, but it is hard to fully understand his accomplishments at full-game speed.

Of course, we also leaned into 3D models to give the viewer a better grasp on Messi's generational talent. The models of both Messi, as well as the pitch itself, allows us to better visualize the difficulty of the passes that he can complete. Beyond just the physical component, Messi's football acumen is remarkable, and we used our 3D graphics to map that out as well. It is easy for the audience to drift when topics like neuroscience appear in these pieces. So, by using the model of the brain, as well as stills of highlight footage, we can help turn a highly theoretical concept into a visual one.

It took a lot to fully catalogue and depict Lionel Messi's brilliance on the pitch. We researched box scores and combed through a lot of highlight footage -- although that part was a lot of fun. Between the graphics package, the highlights, and the sound design, we wanted to put together a piece that matched the excitement and magic of a Messi game. And hopefully you are still excited to watch more football -- because we've got a lot more World Cup action coming your way!


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