Generally, the knockout format favours the underdogs – meaning those teams who are favourites to progress from their group either don’t benefit or actively suffer. Senegal, for example, suffer as a result of this change in format largely due to their good fortune of being drawn in the same group as hosts Qatar, who are rated as the worst team in the competition. Qatar have the smallest chance of winning the tournament despite the benefits of home advantage – something no reasonable change in format is likely to influence. Similarly, USA are not positively impacted due to their being favourites, along with England, to progress from their group at the expense of Wales and Iran. Wales, by contrast, benefit from the increased randomness that the knockout format promotes, while of the selected teams, Japan are the biggest beneficiary given the difficulty of their group including Germany, Spain and Costa Rica.
On an aggregate basis, the knockout format promotes greater randomness – with the chances of a first time winner being around eight percentage points higher. Similarly, the tournament being won by a team other than Brazil, Argentina, Germany, England, France and Spain increases to over 35%.