Shakespeare World Cup 2018: The Teams

The 2018 football/soccer World Cup begins next week! As you might remember from my extensive coverage of the 2014 World Cup, I am a fan (albeit at a distance) of soccer, one of the only things to rival Shakespeare's plays as far as comedy, tragedy, and melodrama are concerned. 

However, for those of my readers who aren't huge soccer fans, to help you get through the next month of omnipresent soccer media coverage I present to you the SHAKESPEARE WORLD CUP, a parallel tournament featuring Shakespearean characters, with results determined by actual World Cup results. This way, when you're trapped listening to co-workers gripe about how England were knocked out in the round of 16 by Colombia, you'll be able to consult this handy parallel Shakespeare World Cup team list and discover that King Lear was just assassinated by Macbeth. 

Speaking of which, here's this year's line-up:

If you're curious as to how character/country pairs were determined, I used the Folger Digital Texts API to find Shakespearean characters with the largest word counts. (Note: word counts, not line counts, because I couldn't figure out if the API had a line count feature, so... there you go. Also, characters who appear in multiple plays only had their highest single-play word count taken into account.)

I then matched the characters with the top 70 word counts against the top 70 countries in the FIFA World Rankings as of May 17. The characters which matched with countries that qualified for the World Cup made it to the finals. This did result in some surprise eliminations - I'm still having a hard time imagining a World Cup without Cleopatra (a.k.a. the Netherlands) and Romeo (a.k.a Italy), but there you go.

Tune in next week for a handy wallchart you can use to track your favorite characters' progress through the tournament!