Thursday, 17 September 2020

Autumn Series - Done

Finally caught up with the stats. Price managed the double bink, especially annoying given I had both Petersen and Ratajski down to win (as I had them each way I at least wasn't down) - still not quite sure how Petersen didn't get the bink, but with the way he's playing it's surely just a matter of time. Over the course of the five events he ended up with the third highest (Price, Wright) points per turn of anyone, we were seeing him look really good prior to the break, and he's continuing it, so he's got to be top of the list of the next players to get a debut bink.

Also up there was Joe Cullen, he always seems to have spells where he looks pretty unplayable, so maybe he can do some damage in Salzburg coming up this weekend. We then had de Sousa and van Gerwen (the former finally beating the latter), Wade being his usual consistent self, Smith scored well despite some bad draws, then Andy Boulton remained in the top ten, just ahead of Glen Durrant.

One thing that was noticeable was that quite a lot of players from Eastern Europe were doing well - Suljovic has been there for a while now and Ratajski has joined him, but we had Razma make a final. We've had Krcmar cash every event, get two board wins and pick up some big scalps. Sedlacek also won his board twice. Labanauskas didn't have a great time, but we'll see what he does tomorrow in Austria. Rowby managed to put out Peter Wright yesterday. Good times for that part of the world.

At the other end, John Henderson was really having a bad time. He picked up a grand, but ended up below everybody apart from Hogarth and Derry in points per turn. That's worrying. Maybe it's just a bad week, who knows. Also down there were de Zwaan, Webster, Woodhouse, but mostly the players you'd expect to show up at that end of the stats. In terms of results, Adrian Lewis was really poor, as was Michael Smith

New FRH Rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Peter Wright
3 Gerwyn Price
4 Rob Cross
5 Dimitri van den Bergh (UP 2)
6 Michael Smith (DOWN 1)
7 Nathan Aspinall (DOWN 1)
8 Glen Durrant
9 Daryl Gurney
10 Dave Chisnall
11 Gary Anderson
12 James Wade
13 Ian White
14 Krzysztof Ratajski
15 Mensur Suljovic
16 Adrian Lewis
17 Simon Whitlock (UP 2)
18 Chris Dobey
19 Jonny Clayton (DOWN 2)
20 Joe Cullen (NEW)

Bunting drops out from the post-Matchplay rankings, Cullen hitting a final and a semi being enough to get him back into the top 20. Otherwise there's not a whole lot going on - Whitlock having a decent enough series and Dobey just edging ahead of Clayton by about 100 points sees them swap places. Lower down, Heta's into the top 64 following his bink, Petersen hits the top 50, Razma's in the top 60, while lower down the pecking order Sedlacek and Kleermaker have hit the top 100, Telnekes is a board win away from the same, and Krcmar has hit the top 128.

Now we move on to Austria for the "World Series Finals" - not a huge amount I'm interested in seeing other than how Harris and Sherrock are doing, whether Ward, following the news that he is hanging up his tour card at the end of the year, is really playing with nothing to lose, and seeing how the dynamic of fans in the arena works again. There's a few decent first round ties I guess, so why not.

Then it's the return of the Euro Tour - now the last event before the Grand Prix. Heta and Whitlock are the last two players out, looking at who's qualified for it, King and Clayton are best placed to push the last qualified player (currently Razma) out, while further back you have Jeff Smith and Jason Lowe within reasonable striking distance, although both would need to go on a big run. Whitlock not making it (it's basically Dimitri nicking his top 16 spot that's caused him to miss out) is a sign of things to come I feel, he's repaired the Pro Tour ranking somewhat, but could still do with getting more. Dobey and de Zwaan are the last two players in, they're in the Euro Tour and a win each should be enough and could put Kim Huybrechts in trouble. We'll see what happens.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Event three done

Was a bit busier than I thought, so wasn't able to report on Damon Heta managing to bink a first ranking title and shove himself into Grand Prix contention (and back it up with a quarter final today), then we saw van Gerwen return things to normal somewhat. Who else is playing alright? If we look at results, there's been some other people doing well from a bit under the radar - Ross Smith's got two board wins, Cullen's made a final for the first time in a while, Willie Borland's picked up six wins, Lisa Ashton's made a bit of a breakthrough, while Boris Krcmar has two board wins and another board final. But what about the data?

If I shove the data into the master computer, Andy Boulton's hitting surprisingly good stats - the big three are in the top four for overall scoring, but Boulton rounds it out (he's actually above MvG) - ton average in a win over Meikle (who's not doing bad himself) then running into Aspinall, yesterday ton average over Alcinas, around 105 against both of Durrant and Searle before getting steamrollered by Bunting, then today he played two players with a good 2020 so far, another ton average against Jason Lowe then losing to DvD. Very consistent stuff, wouldn't surprise me if, given an alright draw, he can push deep into an event, he had three quarters last year, and the way he's playing, what's to say he can't do the same in the next two days?

There's several other players with somewhat smaller samples (Gilding, de Decker, Lennon, Meikle, Hopp, Zonneveld) who've done alright so far, with a bit more sample, Luke Humphries continues to appear solid, other than these and some of the players we've seen make very deep runs, it's mostly the usual suspects, so if we're looking for good value, Boulton at 300/1 has got to be the shot each way.

How about at the other end - McGeeney hasn't had a fantastic 2020, but is right down near the bottom. John Henderson has really struggled. Jeff Smith, often tipped to do well this week, hasn't got going at all. The biggest name to not do anything really is Jeffrey de Zwaan - he's made two board finals, sure, but he's not played well at all in getting those wins (only six legs in fifteen darts or better). Clemens has been somewhat unimpressive as well.

Elsewhere, it looks like the Nordic/Baltic tour has cried off Latvia, so seemingly Viljanen and Larsson will be back at Ally Pally - or, as I hinted at on the Weekly Dartscast last week, somewhere else. I find it hard to believe that, at T-minus three months to when they'd normally start it, that they wouldn't already be in the latter stages of planning things logistically. In this current climate, it is impossible to have any confidence whatsoever that they will be able to hold the event in London and not lose an absolute fortune. The latest round of idiocy re: six people is surely the nail in the coffin. Hearn and Porter just have to move it to an accommodating country, be that the Netherlands (maybe issues with Hills as sponsors there), Germany, Austria, Sweden - pretty much anywhere is a more viable location than London right now.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Midway through event two

Hmm, them running the tourney on German time meant that it started a fair bit earlier than I anticipated, so wasn't able to get much out yesterday. Bit of a surprising result with Madars Razma reaching the final to shove himself into Grand Prix contention, in an event where Erik Middelkoop commenting that we had eleven different nationalities winning boards. Would it be that hard a stretch to see sixteen different nationalities? Let's have a think, obviously it'd require quite a specific draw, but let's go with:

Netherlands - MvG
Scotland - Wright
Wales - Price
England - now who is the best English player right now? Let's just put Durrant
Poland - Ratajski
Northern Ireland - Gurney
Germany - Clemens
Australia - Whitlock
Belgium - van den Bergh
Austria - Suljovic
Portugal - de Sousa
South Africa - Petersen

That's twelve, and nobody would blink in the slightest if any of those won a board at all, even if in Whitlock's case it's based on experience and track record rather than current form (shove in Heta if you like). Then you need four more. Krcmar won his board yesterday (and is at it again having turned over Ratajski and Lowe already today). Sedlacek did. Razma obviously did. Labanauskas is a world quarter finalist. Lennon and O'Connor have reached tour finals. Any of the Spanish lads can do so on their day (Noguera did yesterday, while Reyes and Alcinas at least have that peak level). Jeff Smith absolutely can. Kai Fan Leung is dangerous enough on his day. That's plenty of options to go with.

I'll post a FRH rankings update at the end of the day, one thing to note is that Dimitri, on account of his Matchplay win not aging, is up into the top five already, and that Wright is now within 50k of MvG for the top spot - it'd require him running hotter than the sun to close that down before the Grand Prix, but it's entirely possible that he could claim the number 1 spot at the Grand Prix - if he binks it, I don't think there's anything Michael can do to stay at number one.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Some quick World Series thoughts

These things often throw up an unexpected qualifier, but I don't think there was anyone hugely expected, apart from possibly Harry Ward, but you can't really call someone who's won a Pro Tour event in the last couple of years truly unexpected. Maybe beating Chris Dobey in the final round was, but there you go. Beaton, Cullen and van der Voort also made it through, with Clemens, Noguera and Razma the other finalists, fairly strong field.

I'll have a quick look at the runs of those that made it through to see what was going on - Beaton first won one against van Duijvenbode because Dirk forgot how to score, was slightly better against Hamilton, was unimpressive against Lennon then had probably his best game against Clemens in the final, although Clemens missed three clear for a break in the seventh, Beaton could easily have broken back if things stayed the same, but who knows.

Cullen looked really good against Ryan Meikle, not so much against Barrie Bates which could easily have been gameflow with both the first two legs going over six visits, reverted to solid against Callan Rydz (who also looked generally good), one comedy leg aside, then was more or less par for the course against Noguera, who really should have gone 4-3 up but missed doubles.

Ward was the real surprise. He didn't play very well in any of his games - his game against Dekker in the opening round was probably his best - winning five straight from two down with three in a row in five visits, but he only managed this once against O'Connor (two of his winning legs being last dart in hand in the seventh visit), twice against Bunse coming from a 3-0 hole which wasn't too bad, only managed one fifteen darter against Murnan but was at least pressuring well, then neither him or Dobey managed a leg in five visits in a pretty poor game. Here's where averages can be misleading - Dobey's 76 looks piss poor, but if Ward had have cleared up the comedy leg by finishing 24, Dobey's average goes up 7 points.

This leaves van der Voort - very good against Payne, Josh also playing well, neither doing much wrong with a combined average of effectively a ton, similarly high standard against Kantele, although maybe he was a bit lucky as Marko looks to have had at least one dart for the match, possibly two. Final two games against Waites and Razma weren't great, but it wasn't exactly a horrible standard.

Anything else of note? Maybe Ron Meulenkamp's one to watch - hitting 101 against Webster (who averaged 72?), 97 in claiming a decider against de Sousa and then 104 in defeat to Dobey isn't bad, he does have course and distance in these for a semi and he's 225/1 who offer four places each way, so that might be worth a punt dependent on where he lands in the draw. Jason Lowe doesn't seem to have missed a beat, only losing a decider to Clayton, Clemens continues to look strong, and Razma seemed a bit more consistent with his best game, which is nice to see.

May chuck up some each way punts tomorrow morning. We'll see.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Brief pre-Autumn series update

Not really been a huge amount to say of late with there being no darts - BDO finally gone bump it seems, we've got a decent tour card holder turnout for the Autumn series, no Anderson is somewhat understandable given his prior reluctance to play any sort of minor event on the continent, the plus side is that he's also out of the World Series finals which has bumped Ratajski in, whose omission in the first place was a joke.

Looking at who else is out, it seems to be mostly lower ranked UK players who I guess bizarrely thought it wasn't worth the money/hassle/effort (Atkins, Barnard, Penhall, Worsley, maybe chuck Stevenson in there), van Duivenbode we knew about, Teehan is injured, Kyle I assume is still locked up in Oz, that just leaves Reyes, don't really know the situation in Spain/Germany re: travel but if Alcinas and Noguera have made it, who knows, then also Harms, who also missed the Summer Series so who knows what is up with him. Odd that he was a bit outspoken about what happens to new card holders in the wake of coronacold cancelling everything, but then ignores 750k's worth of events. Half of which he doesn't even need to catch a flight for. Truly odd.

Keep an eye on Twitter, I'll post up some thoughts on the bracket on Saturday, I don't think I'll post anything on the World Series qualifier tomorrow, although it may be a useful data point in terms of how some of the players who aren't already in are performing.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Brief Modus follow up

Someone mentioned me on Twitter, saying that the rumoured money for the Modus events was 500 for a win, 200 for runner up and 150 for showing up. That's not a massive amount if it's accurate, but a bit better than I thought. The problem is with the league structure - it's very easy to get plenty of dead rubbers, either because both are out of contention after early losses, or one is done and the other has close to swept the group. We've even seen this sort of thing in the Grand Slam, we only need to look at weird stuff like Darren Webster sweeping Taylor after Phil's already won the group and Webster's been eliminated - I must see if that match is on Youtube, I swear Taylor must have put his first dart above the top wire more often in five legs than he'd normally do in a whole tournament.

Two things you can do here. There's a budget of £1600 available, so what you can do is:

a) Just give £100 for each match win. There's 15 games in a six player group, so that's comparable. No money just for turning up, every game's a cash game. Have a £100 rolling over bonus if you sweep the group to keep the money the same.

b) Bin off the league format, invite 8 players per day, and do two four player double elimination pools. This makes every game count - how it works basically:

Game 1 - A v B
Game 2 - C v D
Game 3 - Loser 1 v Loser 2 (loser eliminated)
Game 4 - Winner 1 v Winner 2
Game 5 - Winner 3 v Loser 4 (loser eliminated)
Game 6 - Winner 4 v Winner 5 (winner advances to the final)

It's not true double elim, as in that whoever won game 5 would usually have to beat the undefeated player (in double elimination jargon, whoever won the winners bracket) twice, but that would probably be a bit confusing for the public. It may not offer a huge amount of lead time for bookies to get markets up, but they're able to do that for the UK Open easily enough, you only need to price up four games you wouldn't have done at the outset anyway.

You then do the same with the second pool, the winners then play off for the win on the day. Because this also gives you a natural second, third and fourth placed finisher in each pool, it's possible to structure the money so that it works out more equitably - something like 600-300-200-200-100-100-50-50 works fine and doesn't involve any tie break/leg difference shenanigans.

A quick one on them sorting the Grand Slam criteria. The PDC has been somewhat hamstrung by coronacold continuing to disproportionately ruin everything, so they're fairly limited as to what they can do, but I think they could have done a little bit more. Not inviting John O'Shea seems like a big miss, only inviting two from the BDO (Warren/Suzuki) is a bit sad really, when they're seriously doubling down on just the Pro Tour (having a spot for each of the Summer/Autumn/Winter series is odd) and still having eight players from a qualifier.

I do in fact wonder if they'll actually fill the 22 spots at all. There's 10 players in via the main spots (Wright, Price, DvdB, Humphries, van Gerwen, Aspinall, Wade, Anderson, Gawlas and Smith). There's then Searle, Ratajski, White and Joyce from the Pro Tour. Who is out there that is going to be good enough to win a spot? There's 8 left - maybe Cross can join with Smith and final the World Cup, perhaps whoever grabs the second Dutch spot does the same, but I think we're really lacking in players outside of maybe Durrant who can win through to a major result. So let's say that Scotland fuck the World Cup up and the final is MvG/Noppert against Smith/Cross (might not even be possible if Scotland are the #1 seed and Netherlands/England are #2/#3 in some order, but humour me for a minute). Name six different players that will bink a Pro Tour or Euro Tour. Chisnall maybe. Gurney maybe. de Sousa maybe. Durrant for sure. We're then starting to look towards players who are past their peak and out of form, or who are possibilities but an actual bink would still be a surprise.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Maybe Nijman will punt the Dev Tour and risk quarantine OH GOD NO

I made a quick throwaway post yesterday just to pass the time, let people know I've not succumbed to coronacold, just chuck some comments in about what's happening with the darts, and then boom! Wessel Nijman and Kyle McKinstry have been found to have been match fixing, and are subject to bans from the DRA.

This is a bit of a disturbing one, and one that as a blog, whose main purposes include giving betting tips (maybe its primary purpose), I feel the need to address.

The first one is that I've always felt that the whole Modus series of events was a bit weird. There were multiple online events taking place during the main coronacold season - we (eventually) had the PDC Home Tour, we had the Remote Darts League (which I guess given the length of time after the second one made no money for anyone, hence we've not had a season three), but after that, we had Modus's events and not much else.

The odd thing was that they were seemingly just darts for the sake of darts. There was no real tournament structure - they just chucked several of their own non tour card holders against each other (and others, I don't think Jose Justicia, Martin Adams, Boris Koltsov or Paul Nicholson are associated with them, certainly none of them are listed on their list of players, but they all played them at some stage), day in day out, in a streamed environment. That leaves the question as to why?

It's pretty obvious. Professional darts doesn't exist without betting companies. Every single primary sponsor of the PDC is involved in gambling. If Modus was interested in keeping their players in form and that's it, they could have arranged such a thing just on Dart Connect. But no, there's money to be made here. The entirety of the sporting world ground to a halt (for nothing). Bookies were desperate for us to punt on something. Modus *have* to have been getting some sort of royalties for allowing their events to be streamed through bookies everywhere. It's win-win for everyone, right?

Well, no. How much of whatever Modus would have been making would have filtered its way down to the players in the event? I'm guessing next to fuck all. We just go back to the RDL - they had a decent prizepool for a couple of seasons, then nothing since June. How much could Modus have possibly offered the players to keep showing up day in and day out? I've got to guess it'd be barely minimum wage, but unless any player comes out with what they've been paid to play in the events, we'll never know.

As such, while it's obviously wrong, it's understandable why some players would be tempted to take some additional cash. Looking at the two matches I've seen listed, they were both seemingly 5-0 wins. If we assume that the players in question are fairly closely matched (and there's no reason to think that they aren't), then a correct score of a 5-0 sweep would probably be priced in the region of 12/1, if not more. A 7-0 win in the closest matched Premier League game that's next up is 100/1 in comparison. For a player that doesn't have a tour card, in a pandemic situation, with no indication of any actual tournaments where they can generate income, then it's not unreasonable to think that, if you're being offered little in terms of actual show up and/or prize money, then a fair sized sum would be pretty tempting, and fairly undetectable.

Let's do the maths. I want to make £5k from telling Joe Bloggs to lose a match of darts. I chuck him £2k to say lose every leg. That's the same money you'd get from winning a Challenge or Development Tour. There is no reason to think that there is any way that such events, or any events, will happen in the near future. How much would I have to put on to make £7k? If we say it's, I don't know, 14/1 to get whitewashed, that's only 500 quid that I'd need to put on. It's really not that hard to find enough people to put on a fiver here, a tenner there, across enough bookmakers that it wouldn't generate any suspicion. Heck, if there's liquidity on the exchanges then you don't even need to worry about the bookies losing out, as long as they get their commission they don't care.

Modus needs to come out right now and detail what they were paying the players to pay in their events, both in terms of showing up money and prize money. That will give us a huge clue as to what is going on. But for now, the biggest thing that readers can take out of this, which I've stressed continually by not covering them, is DON'T BET ON FRIENDLIES. With nothing ranked at stake, and no indication as to what the players are getting, you've got to think that there's a decent non-zero chance that the games are bent. Just say no kids.

I suppose the most disappointing thing is the players that are involved. Nijman is an up and coming player with a potentially great career ahead of him. McKinstry was able to win more in the UK Open than I make in four months work and certainly isn't towards the end of his career.

I'll be back later with some thoughts about the Grand Slam, but for now, I'll just leave this here.