Monday, 21 January 2019

Brief aftermath from Q-School

God I thought Durrant had fucked it up

Strong selection of names coming through. Duzza obviously, quite a few from Lakeside such as Baker, McGeeney and Whitehead, Hughes got in, Pallett was more than deserving, then we've got quite a few players who've been in and around who are sticking about, coming back after a couple of years in the wilderness, and with Gavin Carlin, a complete unknown more or less.

Quite a few have got to be gutted to miss out - Ashton and Williams were really close, Menzies just couldn't quite get over the line, Painter just needed that last win at any point, while Stephen Burton was looking great after three days but those one or two wins on the last day didn't come. It's the Challenge Tour next weekend, so great chance for everyone to get back in action and fill up the rankings.

Some people who surprised me with how they didn't do were Gilding, who had just the one good day, Waites, who ended up way down the rankings, and I also thought McKinstry might have had a better go at it. I know Caven's been on a downward spiral but I thought he'd at least have got a point... god knows what's happened to Dean Reynolds' game as well, hard to say whether him taking the card he had a couple of years ago would have made him even worse. Got to give props to the six players who played all four days and didn't win one leg, I won't name names but someone has to do it I guess.

I'm going to look at what the card holders did at Q-School and compare to various levels of players in the FRH rankings. Obviously we're going to have small sample size issues, and they may be a bit biased as your average player is going to be playing towards the top end of their game if they did win a card, but it might be instructive.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Tungsten Analysis 2018 Awards

Before I kick off, quick congrats to Jamie Hughes and Harry Ward for getting their cards today, Hughes being one that I thought would have got the card, Ward not so much, but a 103 average against McGeeney in the final round isn't shabby in the slightest, more than 90 in every other round bar the first where he played someone I'd beat so got no help with the conventional average. Quite a few familiar names going deep, quite the surprise that Durrant went out so soon, still plenty of time though.

Thanks also to Scothead180, Sudsii13, adiboier, Tugritz and Hudd24 for their thoughts on these as well, always appreciated and gives a bit more to think about, but without further ado, 2018:

Best single tournament performance

Nominees - Nathan Aspinall, World Championship, Mikuru Suzuki, BDO World Championship, Adam Smith-Neale, World Masters, Dave Pallett, UK Open

Winner - Gary Anderson, World Matchplay

This was the first one I thought of, and was unanimously picked by Reddit contributors as well. This was the event where Anderson was at his peak and was, for a short while, considered by many to be the best in the world. Getting through two former world champions in the first two rounds, three overtime games, the only game that wasn't extremely close was the semi final against the guy that eliminated Michael van Gerwen. Aspinall's run was remarkable from the point he knocked out Gerwyn Price, Suzuki, barring two mutual dodgy legs against Prins, dominated the BDO worlds in a way that nobody has done in the past, Smith-Neale claiming the World Masters having come all the way through from the opening rounds before beating all of McGeeney, Warren, Williams and Durrant is simply life-changing, while Pallett was able to take plenty of nice scalps in the UK Open in a run to the semi final.

Match of the season

Nominees - Gary Anderson v Joe Cullen, World Matchplay, Nathan Aspinall v Michael Smith, World Championship, Gerwyn Price v Gary Anderson, Grand Slam, Adam Smith-Neale v Glen Durrant, World Masters, Gerwyn Price v Paul Hogan, UK Open

Winner - Gary Anderson v Mensur Suljovic, World Matchplay

It somewhat backs up Anderson's award of the best single tournament performance that two of the best matches of the year get nominated, I found it hard to separate the final and the quarter final, mainly because Cullen's ability to stick in there seemed a lot more unlikely than Mensur's, but it was the majority pick and it was the final, you can't really say no to a final going all the way. Elsewhere, early up we had a repeat of a match in the same venue from 2017, with Price and Hogan going all the way, Price playing possibly the best darts he's played all year but Hogan stuck with him, Price/Anderson wasn't quite the same standard, but it certainly wasn't bad and had all the drama you could ask for, Smith-Neale against Durrant was a fascinating game where you kept thinking that Glen would pull away, but Adam kept hanging in there until he got over the line, while in a World Championship that didn't have too many highlights, the semi final between Smith and Aspinall was threatening to be one-sided but Aspinall kept up the darts that had got him this far to make a real exciting game of it.

Most disappointing season

Nominees - Alan Norris, Peter Wright, Justin Pipe, Ronny Huybrechts

Winner - Rob Cross

Now, let's not be mistaken here - Cross hasn't played badly, but after the debut season he had, we might have expected more in terms of results than one Pro Tour event, one World Series event and that's it, coupled with early exits in basically every major, it's not the follow up season Cross would have wanted. Norris' form in context is perhaps somewhat understandable but, World Championship aside, he's had a shocker of a year, Peter Wright might have expected to get a bigger haul than he actually did, while Pipe and Huybrechts have done very little all year, neither qualified for the worlds (Pipe was seeded last year) and both have got to be huge favourites to lose their tour cards after 2019 at this rate.

Best young player

Nominees - Beau Greaves, Jeffrey de Zwaan, Jurjen van der Velde, Dimitri van den Bergh

Winners (shared) - Luke Humphries and Leighton Bennett

I couldn't separate these two. Let's start with Luke - he claimed another three Development Tour titles, shared the overall crown with Dimitri, and has had an excellent opening senior year with a World Championship quarter final and some good floor form, while Bennett, at 13, has just won the BDO world youth and has won a senior open, playing the sorts of darts that have seen him compared with some of the biggest names ever to have played the game. Speaking of Dimitri, he retained the world youth but his senior form wasn't great, de Zwaan has skyrocketed up the rankings after a fantastic 2018 where he's made a major semi final and claimed a tour title, van der Velde has won the World Youth Masters and JDC world title, while if Greaves continues to develop at the rate she is doing, she'll be a threat to make the senior Lakeside stage next season, already making waves on the senior circuit while still too young to play the Development Tour.

Most disappointing news of the season

Nominees - Death of Eric Bristow, continued increase in poor sportsmanship and crowd behaviour, Corey Cadby from April onwards, the Tahuna Irwin situation

Winner - Everything to do with the UK Open

I can't believe how badly they've managed to mess everything up with what was my favourite tournament. Sure, the weather was beyond their control, but I can't believe that they couldn't have handled everything in relation to it - be it letting the fans in, pushing it back so all the players could get there, then for next year they ruin the concept of the event by halving the number of amateur qualifiers and letting every single Tour Card holder plus many Challenge Tour players. Eric's death was at no age and shocked the darting world, while on the oche, be it the whole Price/Anderson thing, Fartgate, the Lewis/Perales incident, everyone celebrating straight tons and crowds increasingly being disinterested in the event they've paid to see (at least in the UK), it's surely just a matter of time before there's a major incident. Cadby had a great start to the year but everything since then conspiring to stopping someone who's an arguable top 10 player competing is just sad, while Irwin's problem with not being allowed in the UK is another disappointing issue for antipodean darts.

Personal highlight of the season

Nominees - The BDO seeing sense and loosening eligibility restrictions, Nathan Aspinall's worlds run, the Asian Tour being a huge success

Winner - Ian White claiming a European Tour title

Quite a few people picked some matches (Hopp and Suljovic winning events etc), but I've been a fan of White's for a long time and he capped a great season by finally getting the stage win that he's had the game to do for a long time, it's just such a shame that the rest of the season was so bad. Being a Stockport native, Aspinall's worlds run was hugely exciting and it's great to see him making progress in the senior events, both at the worlds and by claiming a tour title, while the BDO have finally allowed us to see all of the best players against each other by eliminating most of the hurdles that were preventing their best players from trying Q-School. Finally, it's been great to see another PDC regional tour have success and bring us some great players to the worlds, it's just a shame that at the same time they've removed the only obvious place to get stage experience by removing the World Series stop in Asia.

Best new tour card holder

Nominees - Corey Cadby, Luke Humphries, Gabriel Clemens, Ryan Joyce

Winner - Danny Noppert

This should have been Cadby's to lose, and it was, until everything after the UK Open saw him lose it and it fall into the hands of the former Lakeside finalist, who's made a solid impression on the PDC circuit by claiming a tour title, making a major semi final, having excellent form in Europe and doing enough in combination with that on the Pro Tour to get into the Grand Prix without a full year. Humphries we've touched on during the best young player discussion, Clemens has become the third German player to have legitimate chances of winning titles and is putting up the best statistics, making the top 64 already with a tour final under his belt, and will surely continue to rise if he can sort his European Tour qualifying issues out, while Joyce knocked the worlds out of the park while becoming a feared competitor on the floor.

Most improved player

Nominees - Jim Williams, Luke Humphries, Max Hopp, Michael Smith, Seigo Asada, Michael Barnard

Winner - Jeffrey de Zwaan

It simply has to go to the player who's defeated van Gerwen in major tournaments twice, won his first senior event, made the Matchplay semi final, and could easily have done more were it not for some bad draws (on top of getting MvG twice obviously). Scary to think he's just 22 and could easily be the Dutch number 2 within a few months. Williams has pushed on nicely to being one of the top two or three players in the BDO circuit (for now) from being on the periphery of the top ten, Hopp has found a knack of turning potential into results, Smith's game has changed from one where you know he's decent to where you think he could win anything he enters, Asada has improved from someone who's occasionally dangerous to one of the top players in Asia with the peak to challenge the highest level, while Barnard has gone from being a veteran name who's done little to dominating the Challenge Tour and showing several good runs on the main tour.

Player of the year

Nominees - Michael van Gerwen, Glen Durrant, Krzysztof Ratajski

Winner - Gary Anderson

Everyone saying van Gerwen, which is understandable given he's won the worlds, but only getting the Grand Prix outside of that at a ranking major level, without completely discounting the Premier League, seems sort of average to me. Hence I'm giving it to Anderson - he won the UK Open, he won the Matchplay, he won the Champions League, he'd only be stopped by the eventual winner deep in the worlds and the Grand Slam, and he picked up four floor titles along the way. Durrant managed to claim everything outside of the World Masters, while I have to say that Ratajski's year has been unbelievable, to claim three main tour floor titles without having a tour card and without being able to play many of them at all thanks to comical scheduling conflicts is an unreal return.

That's your lot. I probably won't be back until after Q-School is done thanks to Sky scheduling an away game at Swansea in such a way that it's killing the entire weekend, but I'm planning on pulling the numbers of the new players from Dart Connect and seeing how they stacked up against each other and how that level would expect to perform.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Duzza does it again and more Q-School thoughts

Congrats to Glen for claiming a third straight Lakeside title, which will surely be his last given his Q-School entry, I cannot possibly see how he doesn't go on to win a card, so it'll be interesting to see what happens in relation to the Grand Slam - when Bunting switched, they gave Bunting a spot, but when Ratajski switched, they didn't give Ratajski a spot, I'm thinking that Glen will put himself in the picture to win a spot someway or another. We'll see, for all we know he might somehow not win a card. But I doubt it.

I had a quick convo with DartsElo1 on Twitter last week in relation to Q-School the other week, and how the draw in the Euro variant had put two highly ranked players in his rankings up against each other at an early stage (Koltsov against Jeff Smith in the last 128 lol), and how there's got to be a better way than a straight knockout and then whatever questionable method of countback they're using this year. Of course there is, and while it's all theorycrafting given I've mentioned Swiss to Barry previously and he's not interested, there's a few things to think about.

Firstly, with them having 400+ entrants in the UK qualifier this year and probably about the same last year, they really should think about holding two separate UK qualifiers. If you retain one at Wigan and hold one in, say, the Milton Keynes venue where they hold the Pro Tour, it allows for more natural expansion in the future (they're already questioning whether they need to limit the number of guests they might allow into the Wigan venue for health and safety), and by having less players in any one venue, then assuming they can have the same number of boards (I think it was 32 in Hildesheim, one would assume the same in Wigan), then you can have a deeper event whichever way you look at it. Having a second venue somewhere in the south has got to be preferable for many players as well who might be able to save on hotel bills.

So let's say that they do that, and let's say for the sake of argument that Q-School continues to grow and they have around 300 entrants per venue. How do we make it a fairer system, yet still one that's easy to administer?

If we have 32 boards, then you have 64 players in play at any given time. You've got to work out how to give them play, given they're paying a monkey plus expenses each, but at the same time allow yourselves to work down to find who the best players are. They say that play is due to start at 10:30am at the latest - so let's use that as a starting point. Split the field in half at random for most of day one, so that while one pool is playing the other is on break - allows for natural meal/drinks breaks throughout the day and means you don't have quite so crowded a venue all the time. Let's call them group A and group B. Have each player play six legs against another at random. This should take no more than 15-20 minutes (especially as, if you have a straight six legs, you don't need to faff about with bulling up), so one of the two pools will take about an hour tops. Repeat the process, so after two hours, group A has played two games and twelve legs. Probably possible for the most simplicity to keep players on the same board for each game.

Now bring group B in to play in the same manner, and while they're playing you draw the third match for group A players - there's plenty of time to do this and let everyone know who's playing who, as group A has a couple of hour's break while group B is playing. Here you can start a Swiss process - players with the same number of legs won play each other, as far as is practical.

Once group B is done, if we allow a bit of extra time than what we're already saying, which seems conservative anyway, it's 3pm - give it an hour for group A to play their third match, then an hour to have group B do the same. It's 5pm, now pool everyone together for one final round of games, again matched up Swiss-style with players paired according to legs won. After this final game, you then trim down to the top 192 players - tiebreaking by strength of schedule, then sudden death legs, whatever. Those 192 return on day 2. Note how everyone's played 24 legs - which is more than the bare minimum that anyone who goes in and loses on all four days gets.

On day two, you've got three times as many players as you have board slots, so if we're saying that a six leg game takes 15-20 minutes, it'll take about an hour for everyone to play a match. So let's work to playing six games - six hours for the actual games, give it fifteen minutes between each round for administering draws, you're done by six in the evening. Trim down to 128 players after day two. Day 3's similar, except with each board only being used for two games per round, you can easily increase to eight matches in a day, then trim to 64 for the final day. On the final day, everyone's playing at the same time - so you could easily get twelve rounds of games in. Hence by the end everyone has played 30 opponents, and has an easily sortable metric - the number of legs they've won. Sort by legs, hand out tour cards, job done.

Have had a few responses to the Reddit post re: the year end awards, which is always appreciated, I'll look to get something posted up in relation to that in a couple of days before Q-School is properly up and running.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

UK Q-School

It seems as if there's an entry list on Dart Connect, let's scan through my database and list the top ranked players in terms of average points per turn to be entered on it, going down as far as 86 points:

Glen Durrant 94.53
Jamie Hughes 91.07
Scott Waites 90.32
Stephen Burton 90.16
Jim Williams 89.73
Ritchie Edhouse 88.76
Dave Prins 88.67
Lee Evans 88.48
Andrew Gilding 88.44
Dave Pallett 87.96
Darren Johnson 87.83
Kyle McKinstry 87.67
Conan Whitehead 87.56
Peter Jacques 87.21
Kevin Painter 87.05
Nathan Rafferty 87.01
Richie Burnett 86.98
David Evans 86.89
Peter Mitchell 86.83
Diogo Portela 86.69
Jason Wilson 86.65
Mike Norton 86.41
Ryan Murray 86.31
Jason Cullen 86.30
Kirk Shepherd 86.26
Paul Rowley 86.22
Joe Murnan 86.11

I don't see huge value in going down any further, there's only the 8 cards outright then whatever the split of the 18 cards on countback are - with 250+ in the Euro Q-School, it'd need 500 for the UK one to get 12, and there's more than 20 names here already.

Some other notables in are Lisa Ashton (who'd be midway on the list but I thought I'd have a 20 or so leg minimum sample), Dave Askew, Barrie Bates, Jamie Caven, Daniel Day, Adrian Gray, Robbie Green, Corrine Hammond, Deta Hedman, Andy Jenkins, Prakash Jiwa, Stuart Kellett, Aden Kirk, Royden Lam, Mark McGeeney, Mark McGrath, Colin Osborne, Chuck Puleo, Chris Quantock, Fallon Sherrock, and last but not least, Mark Walsh. That's quite the list of names, so no doubt we'll get several players come from nowhere to claim a card and confuse everyone.

BDO final preview

(2) Glen Durrant (1/3) v (9) Scott Waites (11/4)

Route to final:

Durrant - 3-0 v McGrath, 4-3 v Baker, 5-2 v McKinstry, 6-3 v Williams
Waites - 3-1 v van Egdom, 4-1 v Veenstra, 5-3 v Whitehead, 6-1 v Unterbuchner

Key stats:

Er, yes. So last year, the master computer gave Duzza a 98.5% chance of beating McGeeney, who had a match dart. This year, the master computer is giving Duzza only a 97.9% chance of beating Waites, so 0.5u Durrant 1/3 before I do anything else.

Glen's just that much better. He's lost a lot of legs because he's actually been tested - Baker did a great job of coming back from a near whitewash, Williams went toe to toe for six sets, whereas Whitehead aside, Waites hasn't really been tested - Veenstra didn't play badly, just not as good as in his opening game, and Unterbuchner was hugely disappointing. The key thing to look at here is just how many legs Waites has won where he's taken more than fifteen darts to do so. It's 38 out of 60 legs won, that's a huge percentage. Durrant is simply not going to allow Waites to get the easy legs that he's been afforded in more or less every single match. The semi final against Michael demonstrates this perfectly - of the 19 legs Waites won, he took a leg in fifteen darts (needing a 112 out mind you) in set three, then he closed out set four with a twelve darter. Every single leg that he won outside of that, he needed a sixth visit as a minimum. I'll be shocked if Durrant isn't up by at least 4-2 at the main break, and 5-1 wouldn't surprise me either, Waites only rates to hold his set on throw 30% of the time - that's less than a 3% chance of holding all three of those sets. Sure, he's got a 20% shot of breaking the Durrant throw over the course of a set, but I'm not holding my breath.

It's not quite so doom laden if I expand to use everything since 2018 Lakeside, and not just 2019 Lakeside, but even then Duzza's got a 90%+ win chance. They've both got a shot at winning their third title, but I think only one of them has a realistic case for it.

Congrats has to go out to Mikuru Suzuki for claiming the ladies' title in dominating fashion, bringing her best darts when it mattered with a 90 average and not really giving Winstanley any chance whatsoever. Congrats to anyone who was able to get on at 100/1+ when Burton tweeted out that one book did actually have lines for the title a few months back, must be nice.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

No semi finals bets

Shoved the quarter final stats into the master computer. Right now it's looking like Durrant is clearly the best player (duh), while Williams and Waites are running on close to identical stats, Scott having a tiny bit more power while Jim has a little bit more consistency. Unterbuchner's down in fourth, killing the same percentage of legs in five visits as Williams/Waites (the high 40 percent region, Durrant being above 60), and having a comparable average when losing legs (the bottom three are all within a point in the high-86 to mid-87 range, Duzza being above 90) but has only hit the one twelve dart leg all tournament, and has been given more legs than anyone else, checking over 15% of his legs in seven or more visits. Hence I'm seeing Waites as slightly better than Unterbuchner, and Durrant as solidly better than Williams. So does the market, hence no bets.

It's a shame the draw is as it is, if we could have had Glen easily dealing with Unterbuchner we could have had an all-time classic in the other semi final, so closely matched are Williams and Waites. Who knows, maybe Jim shocks the world and we get it in the final. Not really been tracking any of the ladies' stats, but that looks like it should be quite close as well and as the bookies can't separate them, there's no bet there either.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Only one quarter final bet

0.25u Williams 11/10 vs Mitchell, Scott's played two qualifiers so far and not needed to do much to beat either of them, and it shows in the stats - only seven of the 21 legs won in par, and he's scoring less than 80 on average when he hasn't won a leg. Williams by contrast is just below 50% legs in par, has hit a couple of power legs, and is generally scoring much better. There's really not much in it season long but I'm going to go for the player that's doing it in this tournament.

Nothing to note in the other two games that have lines right now (I'm assuming Durrant will be unbackable), I tend to agree with the Waites/Unterbuchner being slight favourites but not by much analysis that the lines point at. Whitehead's winning his legs a fair bit better than Waites but without the consistency that Waites has, Scott's scoring almost as well when losing as when he's winning, if Conan can score like he did in the back end of the McGeeney match then it might look like a good bet, but it's a big if. Kind of similar for Mandigers, he's sparked nicely in a few legs and is scoring a little bit more consistently but he's been given too many easy legs, Michael should be able to close things out and take them away from him.