Sunday, 14 April 2019

10 talking points from this weekend's darts

I try not to pigeonhole what I do with this blog anywhere specifically (outside of having a consistent record of trackable winning tips), but as the previous week's ten talking points went down well, let's try the same thing again, more or less:

1) Wade v Smith 2 - Electric Boogaloo

It's always a bit odd when you get the same final twice in quick succession, but that's what happened on Saturday, with Wade and Smith reprising their Players Championship 9 final, with much the same result, Wade claiming it again, although it was a bit closer this time around with Smith being able to push it all the way to 6-6, then letting Wade break in 18 darts with him not even being on a double. He did have three clear at tops to get it back to 7-7, but fucked it up, what can you do. Strange event, given that out of everyone that made a board final (to exclude outliers like Jamie Hughes crushing), Wade only had the seventh highest points per turn, and Smith was fifteenth. Oh well, better to run good I guess.

2) So who's the best player in the world right now?

I was tempted to say who's the best player behind van Gerwen, and I think it's still a fairly valid take given that in the points per turn stats I have, he's still got a clear gap to everyone else, but here's the top twelve, which is capturing anyone over 93:

It's really quite tight between all of these, but if you factor in the ratio of legs won to legs lost, I think you can easily argue Wade's top three right now. I bring this up given Wade's cleaning up everything right now and people will naturally be questioning how good he is playing. Personally, it's still MvG until proven otherwise, but Wade plays him in the Premier League in a week and a half, so let's see what happens.

3) Leighton Bennett needs to be at Ally Pally

Now I'm very much on the hype train, but this weekend in Germany, he's reached the semi final of the German Open, which had I believe 800+ runners, only losing out to the eventual champion Mario Vandenbogarde, which is easy for you to say. This isn't some rinky dinky event, this has a fair few ranking points behind it and has a lot of serious names entering. Would it be that difficult to say that they're going to give the winner of the JDC tour (which Bennett is well ahead in, having won 4/6 events already) a place as a bodge to get Leighton into the event? It sucks to think that unless he manages to bink the PDC world youth we're not going to see him on the biggest stage for a few years. Ride the train.

4) Return of the Euros

At least on Saturday, it seemed like a few old friends were rolling back the years from the continent and winning their boards - Ronny Huybrechts? Cristo Reyes? Kim Huybrechts? Jelle Klaasen (who then punched through to the quarters before running into a resurgent Steve West, and might have won his board today but for a Michael Smith averaging 109)? It's nice to see players that might have slipped under our radar a bit making runs and reminding us that they're still here.

5) de Zwaan still has it

He's been a bit quiet all year, but, 6-1 loss to George Killington on Saturday aside, Jeffrey's reminded us all what he can do with a double qualification in the Euro Tour on Friday, then a run all the way to the Pro Tour final today, beating an improving Tytus Kanik, Jan Dekker (who was clearly in the mood having taken out Jamie Hughes in round one), Joe Murnan, Steve Beaton (a round after Beaton played possibly his best game in a long time against Willie O'Connor), Glen Durrant and John Henderson, before peaking too soon and losing a 4-0 lead to Wade in the final. He was seventh this weekend in points per turn looking at people that have won 20 or more legs, it was quite the good display.

6) Simon Whitlock is in deep, deep trouble

Let's not look at him winning his board today and thinking this is a return to form. It isn't. Not in the slightest. He whiffed on both European Tour qualifiers, was easily taken out by Mario Robbe on Saturday, then today, he did alright against Jose Perales, but then averaged over 60 by inches against Nentjes, who somehow blew a 5-1 lead, then was somehow worse against John Michael, averaging 77, before finally being put away by Ian White. His scoring this season is down with the likes of Alan Tabern, Christian Kist, Ryan Meikle, James Richardson, and a good point below players like Wayne Jones, Zoran Lerchbacher and Davy van Baelen. These are players that are either in a knife fight to retain their tour cards, or have lost it for all intents and purposes already. Once that 45 grand or whatever it was he got for making the Grand Prix final goes away, he's going to be sliding down the rankings at an alarming pace.

7) What is up with Jamie Lewis?

It seems to be a recurring theme - he plays like junk on the floor for an entire year, and then does work at the worlds and holds on. Now it seems more or less impossible for him not to make the worlds this year given that he has 120 large from his two worlds appearances, but what's he had outside of that by the time the worlds cutoff comes around? He's had a last 32 in the UK Open for £4k, a first round loss in the Players Championship for £2.5k, a Euro Tour quarter for £4k, a Pro Tour semi for £3k and a UK Open qualifier quarter for £2k. In terms of ranking cashes for £2k or more, that's it. Over a whole season and a half, more or less (we're now 40% of the way through the Players Championship, and we've had 6/13 of the Euro Tour qualifiers and he's not even got to the final of one of them).

8) This run of Euro Tour events couldn't come quick enough for Michael Barnard

I'm pretty sure that, after dominating the Challenge Tour last year, having some decent results in the Pro Tour events that he got into, and then winning his first round match at the worlds, starting 0-12 wasn't what he was thinking would happen in a return to pro darts. I don't know if he has a day job (I want to say maybe?), but four of these next five weekends all have European Tour events, which he's not qualified for. In between the two pairings, there's a couple of Pro Tours, but maybe he should think about taking them off? Something's clearly not right and not working. Maybe take some time off darts to recharge, try to find what was working in 2018, maybe hit up some local opens just to get the winning habit back. Heck, on current form, if he does miss out PC13/14, it's not exactly going to be costing him money, it may well be saving it in real terms - play the longer game, build things back up to the May 17-18 weekend of two Euro Tour qualifiers and two Players Championships, then you've got a bit more time after that. Seeing him average sub-70 against Labanauskas doesn't make me thing that this is a "the best way out of a shooting slump is to keep shooting" situation.

9) Maybe we have a new German star in the making

It's a bit early, sure, but Christian Bunse made both board finals this weekend, knocking off Dave Chisnall and Adrian Lewis in the process, and he might have gone further potentially but it looks like he may have, from a 4-3 lead earlier today, missed a bunch of darts at double against Nathan Rafferty to potentially go further. His numbers over the course of 2019 aren't spectacular, but they're within a point of the likes of Gavin Carlin, Scott Baker, Darren Webster and James Wilson, so who knows? I don't know if he's still young enough to play the Development Tour now, but he was last year, so he's still got a bunch of time on his side, and it looks like this may be the case where playing week in week out against higher quality players might pay off. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not soon, but perhaps something to keep an eye out on.

10) We've had some stinkers today

I don't have the inclination or the capability to go back and check how often this happens, but today we had two games - Simon Whitlock against Geert Nentjes, and Mark Dudbridge against Conan Whitehead, where neither player was able to finish a leg in fifteen darts. The Whitlock/Nentjes one was even worse, in that it went all eleven legs and it wasn't even a first round match! I've scanned back through the last three Pro Tour events prior to today, and can only see it happened in Jamie Lewis (see above) against James Wilson, and that was a quick 6-1 win to Wilson, Nathan Derry against Eddie Dootson by the same scoreline, Gary Eastwood losing to Gabriel Clemens 6-2 then Mark Dudbridge (again) and Eddie Dootson (again) getting involved in a 6-3 slugfest. Looking at that, maybe it happens more often than you think. But going all eleven in the second round? Come on now.

New FRH rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Rob Cross
3 Gary Anderson
4 Michael Smith
5 Daryl Gurney
6 Gerwyn Price
7 James Wade
8 Peter Wright
9 Nathan Aspinall
10 Mensur Suljovic
11 Dave Chisnall
12 Simon Whitlock
13 Ian White
14 Jonny Clayton
15 Adrian Lewis
16 Darren Webster
17 Joe Cullen
18 Stephen Bunting (UP 1)
19 Jermaine Wattimena (UP 1)
20 Mervyn King (DOWN 2)

Mervyn's double bagel this weekend pushes him down to 20th, if Steve West had have nicked one more win yesterday he'd have been out of the top 20 altogether. Wade's now opened up a huge lead over Wright and is closing down Gerwyn Price, while Michael Smith could easily get past Gary Anderson by the time we see Gary throw a competitive dart again.

Lower down, Jeffrey de Zwaan is now about 100,000 points and up to 29th following his final appearance today, Glen Durrant is within 2,000 points of the top 60, while a steady couple of weekends has seen Joe Murnan sneak back into the top 100.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

A few things on the European Tour qualifiers

I don't normally make a post just about qualifiers, but there's a few things I wanted to briefly touch on:

- Jamie Hughes managed the double again, which has now got him into the next four European Tour events. Now I've talked a fair bit about Hughes' quality of play over the last couple of weeks. He's got four grand minimum from these, and I can't think of anybody that he'd play in the first round that I'd put him as an underdog to, and most players I'd put him as a substantial favourite. So let's say that he's going to get a minimum of 8k from these - the chances of him losing an opening round game are probably less than the chances of him beating a seed, so this doesn't seem unreasonable. If he breaks one of these, or, for that matter, something on the Pro Tour, all of a sudden he's in Matchplay contention. He's certainly looking great to make the European Championships, so you've got to say that Hughes is going to be top 64 by the end of the year as a minimum - removing a tour card from those in the race to save them.

- Oh dear Simon Whitlock, now having to fight through the qualifiers for these and not getting close to either. Sure he got Hughes in one, but Scott Taylor beating him has got to be harsh. I can honestly see him dropping off a cliff from here, he's got enough money in the bank to be seeded for the Matchplay and Grand Prix, but the second that Grand Prix final money drops off, he's going to be in real trouble in terms of qualifying for either of those next year.

- Not a great day for Cadby either, Dave Pallett and Brendan Dolan aren't bad but you'd have expected him to beat one of them and then take a shot in the final round. We've got Pro Tours coming up this weekend, but maybe it'll take a bit longer to get up to speed than first anticipated. He's drawn Mervyn King today, so a King versus King matchup should be money. Winner could play Durrant, jesus.

- It's a good weekend already for Chris Dobey, Keegan Brown and Ross Smith, making both European events, with them being close to the bubble for the Matchplay, putting two grand in the bank with the opportunity to make more is very useful. Bunting's looking on the outside still, even after his decent Euro run, but a double here's going to help matters nicely. Nathan Aspinall's going to be fine to be a seed, but he's still fairly low down on the Pro Tour rankings, so him making two should help get him up further - he's only just sneaked into the seedings through mass withdrawals today.

- How exactly was Gerwyn Price 33/1 to win the Players Championships this weekend? This was when van Gerwen was still in it, but as the #3 seed, he was guaranteed to be in the other half regardless of any drop out permutations, so being offered 1/2 top two each way terms is amazing. Now, of course, van Gerwen has withdrawn from both, so let's see what happens. Could have done without Arron Monk in round one though...

- PC11 draw is just out, board 10 with King/Cadby, Durrant/Murschell, Beaton/Thornton and Labanauskas/Evetts is disgustingly good. Barney's got just about as good of a draw as he could want, Hughes is running into Gurney assuming he beats Kuivenhoven.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

World Series

I don't care much for these events, but the selected players did raise an eyebrow:

Per the PDC's Twitter account. This seems very strange. I can get why you want to have the big names in, but do you really need to have all five of van Gerwen, Cross, Gurney, Anderson and Wright in there? I'd have thought Anderson might have taken a couple of them off, Wright as well isn't exactly a spring chicken either. Only the one event for Price, Smith and Wade? Then we have Barney getting an invite for, well, I don't know why, Suljovic is fine, but with them taking their Aussie triumverate, that only leaves one more spot, and while Aspinall is absolutely a fine selection, there's plenty that should have been considered. I'm shocked Joe Cullen didn't get picked even once, given his omission from the Contenders in the Premier League. Maybe they would finally have given Ian White or Jonny Clayton a bit of credit - while they don't have the same potential future as Cullen does, they've put in the results and should have been in the discussion. After what they did last year by giving Dimitri and Jamie Lewis (remember him?) a chance, you might have thought they'd have given a few players who weren't in the Contenders (and maybe redo some players who were) a bit of a spotlight.

Would anyone have really hated things if they left Wright out of the Aussie tour, Anderson out of the two other events, shifted the Price spot to all of Australia instead of Wright (I think you do need to have the same core group for that section just for logistical reasons, and I think Price would make a heck of a lot more sense against the Australian lineups), and then you've got two extra spots in each of the USA and Germany, which you can then give to Cullen, Clayton, White and +1 whoever else you think is worth a spot.

Heck, maybe if you have a bit more divergence between the two halves of the tour, you don't get the situation where, unless one of the +3 in the USA/Germany binks or otherwise goes very deep, the eight that are going down under don't automatically become the eight seeds in the finals - which, while still unranked, can act as a qualifier for a ranked event. If Hopp didn't miss with three clear darts at tops in the European Championship semis, Wade would only have made the Grand Slam through this method.

Monday, 8 April 2019

New PDC ranking winners - who might they be?

First, a recap from this post:

This is from 11 months ago, where I tipped the following to be the next players to win the following:

PDC ranking major: Michael Smith, Mensur Suljovic, Corey Cadby, Dave Chisnall, Ian White
European Tour: Gerwyn Price, Joe Cullen, Dimitri van den Bergh, Kyle Anderson, Jeffrey de Zwaan
Pro Tour: Jamie Lewis, Steve West, Chris Dobey, Nathan Aspinall, James Wilson, Danny Noppert, John Henderson, Cristo Reyes, Martin Schindler, Ryan Joyce

Oh dear. I can be excused Cadby I guess, as at that stage we didn't know anything about the visa etc, but there's a heck of a lot of misses. Smith and Suljovic at least made finals at that level, Price counts, as does Aspinall and Noppert, but there's a few too many misses compared to the hits. Or is there, I guess that people who have already won events are going to hoover most things up, which doesn't leave much to play for, so if we look at the new winners that there were after that post, we had Ian White at European Tour level, Price at that level (and then subsequently major level), Aspinall at Pro Tour level (and then subsequently major level), Noppert at Pro Tour level, then this year we've had Durrant at Pro Tour level. So, Glen aside, everyone that did win something at a newer level was on the list, albeit it was just White at the wrong tier. If you're throwing out 20 names you're going to get good coverage. So let's try this again - again, as with last year, if someone's missing something from a lower tier, but has won something in a higher tier, I'm not including them, so no Cross, Aspinall etc on the Euro Tour list:

PDC ranking majors:

1) Michael Smith - Nothing's really changed here. He's reached the world final, is the highest ranked player not to win a major, has the highest scoring of anyone not to win a major.

2) Mensur Suljovic - Again, not much changed here. He's still playing excellent darts, has made more than one major final, is probably still running badly in terms of luck, it wouldn't surprise anyone if he was to bink one.

3) Dave Chisnall - Compared to last year, he's got the winning mentality on his side having taken down two Pro Tour events this year, he doesn't quite have the all-rounded game that the two above have, but when his game is on he's very difficult to live with, and it really could just take a draw opening up a little bit. Who knows what might have happened if he hadn't chucked away the 8-4 lead he had in the UK Open.

4) Glen Durrant - Honestly, he is that good. He's already right up to speed with the PDC game having won a title very quickly, big stages are clearly not going to be a fear, and the numbers he's putting up are at a top ten level. The only minor doubt is a lack of explosiveness that can give a 12 dart leg out of nowhere, his game is more getting home in 15 with elite consistency which makes him a great front runner, but it's not a terminal issue - his 12 dart percentage is at the same level as Suljovic after all.

5) Corey Cadby - As mentioned in the previous post, it may take a few events for Cadby to really get back up to speed with the amount of time he's effectively had off pro darts, but his ceiling is probably higher than anyone in this list.

European Tour events:

1) Jamie Hughes - I'm jumping Hughes straight up to this level, that's just how well he's playing. As mentioned in the previous post, statistically he has a top five game right now, and really seems to be making up for the lost time that 2018 was. He's got two shots this month to do real damage, and will have many more chances in the years to come.

2) Krzysztof Ratajski - Would the Pole winning a European event surprise anyone? I really don't think it would. He's shown the ability to hang around with and beat the top players in the world, he's won two Pro Tour events in a weekend, and statistically he's only just outside the top 10 in points per turn.

3) Joe Cullen - I'd like him a lot more if he wasn't so incredibly inconsistent on the floor, but he's shown great form in Europe over the last year or two, and always seems to be there or there abouts. He had that great Matchplay game with Anderson which is pointing to him having the ability to close out the number of legs he'd need to do in an evening session against the level of player that he'd be facing, it'd just be a bit more comforting if he wasn't messing it up before the board final stage in the likes of Barnsley quite as often as he is.

4) Kyle Anderson - It's another redo from the previous year, and you might be wondering why, given that his results haven't had the sorts of peaks that point to winning one of these things. It's simply the underlying stats for him - he's in the top 10 this season for points per turn. That's quite hard to do. He's won on TV before so can clearly bring it on the big occasion, why not in Europe?

5) Jeffrey de Zwaan - One more repeat from last year. His 2019's been a bit slow to get going, the solidity just doesn't seem there as often as it needs to be, the A-game is still very clearly present, he just needs to up the level of his B and C games, he's killing legs in twelve darts about as often as anyone, it's just everything else. We've seen at the Matchplay (and elsewhere) what the kid can do when his game is on point, it's surely a matter of when, not if, we get a weekend where everything comes together.

Players Championship events:

1) Dimitri van den Bergh - Yes kids, he's won infinite secondary tier events, he's won two world youth titles, but he's not actually won a senior event yet. He's managed to make a final this year, and is finally showing a little bit more consistency, albeit he still stalls early in too many events - it's only the floor game that's really holding him back, but I don't think it'll be for that much longer.

2) Chris Dobey - The north-east thrower had a good enough worlds to get invited into the contenders, and he's made multiple finals already - I think it's primarily a case of Chris getting one or two decent runs to get him above the Matchplay qualification line, which he's dropped below again, if he has a little bit less pressure to get into the TV majors, I think he'll break one and take it to the house.

3) John Henderson - Hendo's always appearing to be there or there abouts, it's rare that you don't see him progress to a board final and he's got to the last eight on four occasions this year so far. The numbers he's putting up are just fine, he's shown the confidence to be able to hold MvG on a massive stage, it'd just take his rhythm to be spot on and maybe have the draw open up a bit - if he was in the other half on Sunday, who'd have bet against him reaching the final?

4) Steve West - Steve's maybe dropped slightly under the radar in the last six months or so, after breaking out that great TV performance to beat van Gerwen in the European Championship, but statistically his game isn't dropping, he's over 91 per turn this season which is comparable to the likes of Jonny Clayton, who's won multiple titles. He's only just outside the FRH top 20, and there's only one player above him that hasn't won an event, so theoretically he's next in line after...

5) Jermaine Wattimena - While he should be one half of the Netherlands World Cup team, Jermaine may not end up being so if Twitter rumours about yet more Barney love ins are to be believed, but this isn't the time and place for that - Wattimena is continually putting up very competent numbers, and is pushing deep into floor events with increasing regularity, finally reaching a final in the opener this year. Now he just needs to do that in one of the events where MvG doesn't turn up.

6) Gabriel Clemens - The big German made another final this weekend, his second of the year and his third overall. While he's not been that close in either final, he has to be doing something very right to keep reaching those stages, is actually scoring more per turn than Wattimena, and does seem to play his best stuff on the sort of stage that we're looking at - although that's more to do with his limited European Tour appearances last season, we could well be seeing him in multiple majors this year and start to really shoot up the rankings.

7) Ricky Evans - By the looks of things, he hasn't won a senior title yet. That surely has to change soon. He's had a fantastic last eight months or there abouts - two European Tour finals and a Pro Tour final to go with it, his stats aren't quite as high as the others I've mentioned earlier, hence why I've got him down here when results might point to a higher position, and he's also lacking a little bit of consistency, if he can convert a few more losing legs into wins in the ratio he's winning his legs, he's basically John Henderson, only faster.

8) Ross Smith - It's hard to think that Smith is only 30, given how long he's been about, but it's only really been the last twelve months or so where the game is really starting to click. He's made a major TV quarter final, is showing up in board finals and further with a fair bit of regularity, he could just do with a bit more scoring power. Statistically right now he's not too dissimilar to fellow UK Open quarter finalist Josh Payne, he's binked an event, why can't Smudger?

9) Mark McGeeney - Seems wrong not to include the BDO number 1 from last year's worlds. He's not scoring quite as heavily as some of the others on this list (he says days after he hit a nine darter), but while I was a bit sceptical about his game based on what we'd seen in BDO televised events, he's showing enough on the floor here that I can see how he managed that he did whilst in the BDO. Making the semi final last month should boost the confidence a bit, he's probably been a touch unlucky in places but his game since the UK Open appears improved.

10) Steve Lennon - I think Steve just needs to get a decent draw - he is in and around board finals very often, but does tend to stop at that point. He's in and around this group of players as far as his game goes statistically, indeed his rate of going out in fifteen darts is very solid, he's just a bit too inconsistent and has a few too many bad legs. Sooner rather than later would be nice as well, as his Euro Tour final will disappear in a couple of months, knocking him out of Pro Tour seeds in the process in all likelihood.

Next weekend we've got another couple of Pro Tours, as well as a couple of Euro Tour qualifiers, there's also a fairly big open on the BDO side in Germany, so it'll be interesting to see what level of participation we get from Challenge Tour/Euro Tour associate level players - looking through the entry list we've got Artut, Bennett, Blum, Caven, Fulwell, Hamilton, Harms, Harris, Landman, Mandigers, Montgomery, Newton, Parletti, Robson, Smith-Neale, Sparidaans, Telnekes, van Tergouw, Veenstra, Warren and Williams amongst others in an 800+ runner field. Should be a good one, seems a bit in the middle of nowhere though.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

10 talking points from PC9/10

Thought I'd review the weekend in a bit of a different way:

1) Barney probably should have stayed retired

You honestly have to question what the point is of him staying around is if he's going to mail it in, which is entirely probable - losing to Gary Eastwood of all people on the Saturday, then today squeezing out a win against Bunting purely on account of Bunting throwing absolute filth in the first four legs and Barney's filth being slightly cleaner, before going out to Luke Woodhouse. If you're not enjoying it, pack it in, it's that simple.

2) Corey Cadby's resurgence might take a bit of time

This seems fair enough, he's back in and it'll take a few tournaments to get back up to PDC speed, while he did get a win on the Saturday, he didn't appear that convincing (it's hard to get a huge read while watching Dart Connect on your phone in a pub in Wigan), but his overall scoring in the legs he did play stuck him up on the first page of my sort by points per turn database, so the game to some extent is clearly still there and it's just a case of derusting.

3) Should we fear the Welsh?

Chris Mason posted on Twitter that 12/1 on team Wales for the World Cup looks great value - I'm not so sure, but while we've talked in depth about how Gerwyn Price is playing, Jonny Clayton's been quietly doing work under the radar and managed to claim another title today, he's still very much within the top 20 on the stats I have, so while I think a Cross/Smith team looks to be the best if they're both firing, it's not that outlandish a shout.

4) Players down the order making a run

There's been a bunch of players this weekend that have stuck in great performances. If we look back at the tour card race post I made midweek, then we can see that Edgar made two board finals, Pipe did the same and won one of them, Luke Woodhouse won a board (and might have done better, but for me to bok him and say he'd make the final today right after he'd won his board, blowing a 5-2 lead against Jose Perales), Kanik made the semis today, and Monk won both his boards, turning one into a quarter final. It's a case of doing things consistently really, put enough points on the board to get yourself into the worlds where if you can win your first match, the scores really increase.

5) Rise of the Machines

It was nice for Wade to win a floor title, sure he picked up a couple of decent TV scores last year, but getting paid in the bread and butter events is still important, and he was able to get home on the Saturday, with an overall tournament performance surpassing anyone who'd won a a match other than Jamie Hughes, who only managed the one win. Speaking of which...

6) When will Jamie Hughes go deep?

Can he catch a break already? In the stats I have, for the 2019 season the top five players in terms of points per turn go van Gerwen, Price, Cross, Smith and then Jamie Hughes. This is just in main PDC events, it doesn't count how he absolutely destroyed Q-School. But let's look back at who he's had in the Players Championship so far - he missed the first two, but after that he's won two games then hit van Gerwen, beat Gurney then lost to Meeuwisse, beat Lerchbacher and Adie then lost to Searle, lost to Clemens, beat White and Huybrechts then lost to Ross Smith, lost to Bradley Brooks, beat Wright then lost to Aspinall, and today he lost to Dekker. While as a non seed, you're going to get a seed in the first two rounds every game, it does seem that he's run into a lot of the cream of the crop very early - often beating them but then going out soon after. He's surely due one.

7) Who's the best German?

Gabriel Clemens made another final today, his second of the year, which is pushing him well into contention to make the Matchplay - ahead of Max Hopp, who while he's tentatively in right now, will have his Euro Tour win disappear by the time the cutoff hits. Hopp's arguably been playing the better darts, especially in the UK Open and his performance against Durrant on Saturday was exceptional, but Clemens is quietly getting the job done. Schindler has fallen off a touch, but is still above the critical 90 points per turn and is probably running a bit bad, while on the BDO side, Unterbuchner is still very much in the equation.

8) Can I have some of what Ritchie Edhouse was smoking?

I can only assume he had some sort of weird injury that made him throw like I do, but at the same time, it wasn't serious enough that it made him want to withdraw just in case Ryan Joyce was even worse, but honestly. Go look at the Dart Connect for that game, but check this leg in particular:


9) Should we start to get worried about Peter Wright?

No is the simple answer. Sure, losing to Ronny Huybrechts in this day and age is a bit of a weird one, and taking home nothing from the weekend is very surprising, but he got Jamie Hughes yesterday and we all know what I think about Yozza's game, and his overall points per turn is still sixth - he just has a close to zero consistency rating, i.e. the points he's scoring per turn in the legs he's losing is extremely close to what he's done when he's been winning - the database wide sample over 14,000+ legs this season is at 4.72, Wright's at 0.38, the only other players in the top 20 of points per turn that are under two are van Gerwen (at 1.93), Suljovic (at 1.86, and he was negative for a huge portion of last year so this is nothing new for Mensur), and Gurney (0.94). Finally...

10) At what point do we start to take Arron Monk seriously?

I touched on Arron in point 4, and also looked at him a bit in the tour card race post earlier in the week. To casuals, he's still probably best known as either Colin's lad, or the guy that gave Phil Taylor a bit of a fright in the UK Open in 2016. But let's look at what he has done in the last six months or so - he was one game away from making the Grand Slam in the qualifier, he only lost in the PDPA qualifier to someone who eventually made it, then this year in floor events he's only been stopped by Jonny Clayton, Ian White, Alan Tabern in a decider, Robert Thornton in a decider, Ian White again, Rob Cross, Josh Payne in a decider, Mervyn King, James Wade yesterday and then Ian White today in the quarters for a third time this season, in a decider having led 5-4 and needing White to finish 115 for a twelve with Monk waiting on a three figure out. He is well within the top 32 for points per turn this year, and he is scoring more when he is losing legs than he is when he's winning them. He's in the next Euro Tour event, and won't be someone that people want to face, that's for sure.

New FRH rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Rob Cross
3 Gary Anderson
4 Michael Smith
5 Daryl Gurney
6 Gerwyn Price
7 James Wade (UP 1)
8 Peter Wright (DOWN 1)
9 Nathan Aspinall
10 Mensur Suljovic
11 Dave Chisnall
12 Simon Whitlock
13 Ian White
14 Jonny Clayton
15 Adrian Lewis
16 Darren Webster
17 Joe Cullen
18 Mervyn King (UP 1)
19 Stephen Bunting (DOWN 1)
20 Jermaine Wattimena

Key mover is Wade claiming a 5,000+ point lead over Wright, while Smith closes to within 25,000 points of Anderson, Clayton's win puts him in a bit of an island in 14th, King edges ahead of Bunting, while lower down, Clemens crashes into the top 50 ahead, just of Alan Norris, Arron Monk is into the top 100 after a very successful weekend, Jose de Sousa is just three places outside the top 100 (current number 100, for those who are interested, is Kevin Painter), Mark McGeeney's also into the top 110, while Tytus Kanik and Scott Baker are fairly close to each other following their respective semi finals in the top 128, an area that Jose Perales has also climbed up in to. Also, Mike van Duivenbode is finally onto the board - it took him ten events and being given a draw against Terry Temple, but he got a win eventually, albeit 6-5, but them beat Ratajski to make the board final before losing in a decider there to Marko Kantele. Got to keep plugging away!

This week I think I'm going to reprise my "best players not to win some level of tournament" post that I made last year, keep an eye out, maybe tomorrow with the Champions League distracting me from darts, before we get onto another PC weekend and some Euro Tour qualifiers this time next week.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Added time multiball

I've just got home from work to see that Mensur Suljovic has defeated James Wade 8-6 in the first game of the Premier League's post-Barney cash in stage.

Wait, what? Whatever happened to the best of 12 legs that was the situation in the first stage of the event, as it was played the last season, and when was this decision made? Literally the first time I knew of this change for certain was five minutes ago, listening to the Weekly Dartscast (which has got a couple of great interviews with Keegan Brown and a prominent PDC manager, check it out) they mentioned that it might be extended, but weren't sure and did their predictions based on it being best of 12 legs.

This isn't on as far as I'm concerned. It's a league, and you can't really have different formats of match counting for the same number of points - in a knockout tournament it's fine, the slates are wiped clean after each round for all intents and purposes. But you can't really do this in a league structure, particularly seemingly on next to no notice whatsoever and changing rules midway through a season. What'd have happened if Mensur had have celebrated when he pinned D8 for his ten darter to lead 7-4? That's not unrealistic, who can forget Joe Murnan not knowing when sudden death started against Andy Hamilton in the worlds, or, for that matter, whoever the ref was in Reyes/Newton 1 not knowing how the rules worked. And he's the referee!

I'm all for giving the fans more darts, but you've got to have a bit of integrity in your events. Have what I've seen suggested, probably by Burton, in having an extra "contenders" game before the real games start in phase two. I'll stop now, as I shouldn't get too irritated by exhibitions.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Race for the prize

I posted a week or two ago that I wanted to look into the tour card race a bit, fortunately dartsdatabase has this set out fairly accurately, so I've augmented their table with a bit of extra information:

This excludes the top 50 on the tour card race list, and also excludes Barney, whose expected retirement number 2 (Electric Boogaloo) will free up an extra spot. The figures look like they include ET3/ET4 mincashes, but shouldn't affect the overall analysis. So while you'd think you're looking at the top 14 of these will retain their cards, if any new tour card holders from 2019, who are keeping their cards regardless, break into the top 64 at the end of the season, that'll be one less player from this list that can get in the top 64, so realistically you're looking at anywhere between 10 and 13 spots - Durrant seems like a lock to hit the top 64, Hughes I'd say is better than 50/50 if he keeps playing the way he is, then there's plenty of players that are playing well enough that they should at least make the worlds and push for other majors - if they make a bit of a run at some point, who knows. Boulton, Labanauskas, Razma, McGeeney and Baker have all shown something about them so far that indicates they could do something.

So for those who are here, they more or less break down into three categories - the first is those that are in the second year of a new tour card, the second are those that have been around for a while but have drakked around the edge of the top 64 without ever really threatening the top 32, then those who were in the top 32 and a lot of the majors as a result whose form dropped in 2018 and are defending a huge amount. Now those second two overlap a bit, but looking at that third group, I'd chuck van de Pas, Norris, Thornton, Webster and Pipe in there, all seeds for the worlds in 2018. van de Pas probably has enough in the bank already to be safe. Thornton's not dropped quite as much as others and is playing pretty decently so should be fine given he's currently above the cutoff. Pipe's below, but has been playing very nicely, so with him not being too far below, I'd think he's going to be fine. That leaves Norris and Webster. Mark looks in real trouble, especially if he can't cut out his horrendous streak of failing to qualify for European Tour events. We all know what Norris has been through, but he at least has the benefit of a bit of money cushion in the bank if he's not able to turn things around quickly, and he has a higher peak than almost anyone on this list.

The second group is probably going to be a case of if you've got the cash in the bank, you'll be alright, otherwise, you're in trouble. I can't see Ronny getting out of it, Lerchbacher has a lot of work to do, possibly too much, but is at least trending in the right direction, Alcinas and Dekker will surely be fine, that leaves Mansell - he's got a good buffer to work with, but he seems so, so far off his mid 2018 form that it really wouldn't surprise you if it all disappeared quickly.

Then we have our 2018 newbies. Cadby's obviously going to be fine, Stevenson and Tabern have a good enough combination of cash in the bank and decent play to be the same. Anyone from Hudson downwards is probably done, with the possible exception of Brooks, who's doing significantly better than the pack and could easily do some sort of Development Tour run and get in the worlds through that route. That then leaves two groups - the Edgar/Owen/Jones/Hunt/Marijanovic cluster, then Woodhouse/Burness/Meikle/Monk and van Duijvenbode a bit further down. Just looking at how they're scoring, Hunt and Marijanovic seem favourites to pull away, Jones has had an awful start on legs won/lost and is playing so, so inconsistently, that leaves Edgar, who's maybe running bad per the previous post and has a bit of a cash head start, and Owen, who's got about as bad a leg record as Jones albeit with a bit more consistency.

Of the others, Woodhouse has a shot, he's looked really good in places and could easily be in contention to make Minehead with enough of a seeding to have a winnable game, and then maybe the worlds. Burness is surely going to have to rely on retaining the Tom Kirby and getting another favourable worlds outcome. Meikle is probably not playing quite well enough to claw back the deficit, but Monk and van Duijvenbode are both certainly playing at a good enough level where they may be able to hit some form and get the scores they need.

So who's going to retain a card? If I had to pick 12, I'd go van de Pas, Thornton, Pipe, Cadby, Stevenson, Tabern, Alcinas, Dekker, Edgar, Hunt, Woodhouse and Norris. I've given thoughts on basically everyone, and who's certainly got the potential to make a run at saving their card, but one thing you've got to watch out for is opportunities to get major cash outside of the Pro Tour. Anyone could qualify for the Grand Slam as a wildcard. Can Mansell play the Tom Kirby and get in the worlds that way? There's always the PDPA worlds qualifier if you're not able to string enough Pro Tour money together and make it in that way. Some of the Euro guys, if they get in to Euro Tour events, could certainly have the game to make a run if they get a decent draw, you could certainly see someone like a Lerchbacher making a last 8 run if he hits form. I mentioned it with Brooks, but it'd be similar with someone like Meikle - hit some form on the Development Tour and you can sneak into the worlds through that route. Devon Petersen must surely be close to 100% to get some sort of invite or be a big favourite in a qualifier. It'll be an interesting couple of months as people start to build positions for major qualification later in the year.