Sunday, 19 May 2019

PC16 - what the heck

Plenty of weird things happened today. Let's walk through them:

1) Harry Ward won the title

Yep, that's a strange one. A very strange one. He'd had a couple of sighters before, getting to the quarter finals on two occasions, but to actually take one to the hoop came from nowhere really. Four last leg victories is ever so slightly fortunate, and a sub-90 points per turn for the tournament shows quite how opportunist this one was, running into Max Hopp in the final, who was scoring less per turn in the tournament than he was. Fair play for getting there, but you wonder if this is going to put him into some things too soon.

2) Robert Thornton has form

What the hell was Rob smoking today? A run to the semi final with a solid 92 points per turn for the event, beating van Gerwen, hitting a nine darter as well, it was only some missed doubles that prevented him from getting to the final and possibly going all the way. It's something to build on hopefully - Thornton's always had a habit of being really good for a month or so, often when there's a major tournament on, then being close to irrelevant for months on end - he is, if I read Twitter right, still outside of the provisional worlds spots.

3) Jose de Sousa is red hot

Here's your last remaining semi finalist, and it was good play from the Portuguese player, approaching 95 points per turn which is easily the highest of any of the four semi finalists, and only bettered by two players that won their board. He was a bit fortunate in who he drew, the strongest player he faced probably being Vincent van der Voort in the last 16, but with how he played, he could have faced tougher opponents and still advanced. He's got a couple of Euro Tour events coming up so can maybe build on this where the prizes can really escalate.

4) Both yesterday's finalists lost first round

This seemed odd. Darius Labanauskas ran into Ross Smith (conventionally) averaging 99, which is fair enough, but Duzza fell to Tytus Kanik, which is a bit questionable.

5) Scott Taylor? Really?

The one guy that had a UK Open run from outside the tour card holders had another solid run, winning his board by taking out Cristo Reyes, Ricky Evans (averaging 101) then Ross Smith (averaging 108), before overcoming John Henderson with another high 90 average, de Sousa would be too strong in the quarters, but it's a nice run.

New FRH rankings:

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

Suljovic took the weekend off, so White making the quarters yesterday was just about good enough to creep into the top 10, while Hopp's final gives him a good cushion over Bunting, who missed on both days.

Lower down the order, a double quarter final from Chris Dobey sees him rise to 26 and will certainly help with Matchplay qualification, Ron Meulenkamp, Glen Durrant, Robert Thornton and Darius Labanauskas all occupy spots in the fifties after their runs this weekend, Harry Ward is just a few hundred points off the top 80, Jose de Sousa is close to the top 90, while Scott Taylor and Ryan Meikle reclaim top 100 spots after good weekends.

We've got the Premier League final this Thursday, not that we care about it, then the Dutch Darts Masters next weekend, before a small break before the World Cup, so next weekend's the only competitive darts in nearly a month, which is a shame. Not even any BDO events to really speak of. At least we have the Development Tour during the World Cup.

Some brief thoughts on Saturday's action

Before I get into Players Championship 15, they're hosting a series of the associate qualifiers in Hildesheim this weekend for the three events that are coming up that aren't in Germany - this seems an understandable if interesting way to do it, it's naturally going to favour the Germans in that they don't need to travel that much for it, and it also has the effect of having a hugely increased turnout compared to some of those where they hold it the day before the event. Got to give props to Mike de Decker for getting through both of them, taking out Diogo Portela twice (sucks for him to prioritise this when he could probably have got into the Pro Tour this weekend), we also saw Cody Harris make one as well as Florian Hempel, who'll make his debut - we saw him in a lot of qualifiers the last couple of years but never got through one, but having made the German Open semi final last month (the one Leighton Bennett made the semi of), only being stopped by the in form Martijn Kleermaker, and getting through this as well, maybe he's hitting a bit of a purple patch. Averages weren't great for Florian outside of a 103 against Erik Tautfest, over 11 legs as well, looking back at the stats they were both helping each other by finishing pretty cleanly with the opponent regularly down on a two darter, nice game lads.

So to Barnsley, and Glen Durrant won his second event - notably in this one, van Gerwen was present and he beat van Gerwen along the way, a 7-2 win in the semi final. He dropped just 15 legs in the event, two whitewashes to start, then three tight 6-4 victories before the van Gerwen game, and then finished off with an 8-1 rout of Darius Labanauskas, looking at his averages it's possible he'd just ran his race by getting over Ron Meulenkamp in the semi final, although the final average is clearly affected by one leg where it took 26 darts to finish it (oddly, this was the one Darius won).

Quite a few surprising runs all round - Ryan Meikle continues his development with a quarter final run, notably taking Peter Wright out early, Pete Hudson, Vincent van der Meer and Nathan Rafferty all won boards (Hudson taking out both Aspinall and de Zwaan, VvdM was able to get a win over Clayton, Rafferty eliminated both Bunting and Barney). In bad days at the office, Joe Cullen, Adrian Lewis, Mervyn King, Jamie Hughes and Corey Cadby all fell at the first hurdle - Lewis drew an in form Justin Pipe and it went 11 legs, Hughes lost to Barney by the same score, while Cadby's got to consider himself really unlucky - sure, his game against Darren Webster saw a really mediocre performance, but after the first leg against Devon Petersen in the second round, Webster injured himself and eventually withdrew while in a 5-0 hole. Devon was playing alright, but Cadby's got to look at a run of Devon, Dave Pallett then Ron Meulenkamp and think that was a great chance to put points onto the board.

PC16 draw is just out - some standout ties include Ratajski against Monk, Chizzy against Barney, a wild Darren Johnson appearing, which I assumed was a replacement for Webster but he's there against Bradley Brooks, Hopp/McGeeney could be decent, potential second straight White/Dimitri round two tie (if Ian can get past Rafferty), Hughes has Meikle on the same board as Cullen/Razma, West/Woodhouse might be a sleeper decent game, Ross Smith against Darius Labanauskas isn't bad, while Durrant is on Bunting's board, Glen has Tytus Kanik. Other possible second round ties that might be tasty are Dobey/Cadby, Wattimena/Pipe, Searle against either of the Challenge Tour heroes in Edhouse/Gilding, the Darius game winner faces either Wayne Jones or Steve Lennon. Should be a decent event, let's see who pushes on as the Matchplay race gets down to the wire.

Friday, 17 May 2019

It's coming home

Wait, it's not THAT World Cup they've just done the draw for? Oh well, that's unfortunate.

Couple of Euro Tour qualifiers are in the bank - let's look at the Euro ones first because they're smaller, nice job by Ratajski and VVDV to get there both times, got to be a bit annoying for de Zwaan to get to the last round twice and fail twice. In the UK, good god that's unfortunate for Hughes to run into Durrant and then lose to Wayne Jones in a local derby. Good for Durrant to get through twice, lower down Luke Woodhouse made it twice which could be important, Kyle Anderson made it twice as well, Joyce got there twice as well, who's been quiet a bit since last season so maybe he can get something going. Good to see that Michael Smith didn't react badly to being in these, getting there twice.

So now that I've made that World Cup reference, let's look at the draw and see how interested I am in each game by likening my interest to an ex-England player. Why not.

Gibraltar v Japan - no Suzuki, Asada and Muramatsu surely too strong. Rating - David Batty
Northern Ireland v South Africa - might be interesting if Petersen shows up and the other guy isn't awful, but probably not. Rating - Matt Le Tissier
New Zealand v Lithuania - Harris vs Labanauskas seems close, their partners might be, ought to be tight. Rating - Ian Wright
Belgium v Hong Kong - Maybe Lam shows up, but I'm guessing not. Probably going to be a mediocre boring win for the seed. Rating - Carlton Palmer
Brazil v Sweden - Supposedly the swansong for Magnus Caris? Could be a tight one, Portela may well be better than either Caris or Nilsson, but his partner probably isn't. Rating - Peter Crouch
Wales v Singapore - LIM! LIM! PRICE! CLAYTON! Rating - Steven "Starfish" Gerrard
Hungary v Germany - Szekely and Vesgo isn't the worst we've seen, but this will be fairly dull. Rating - Paul Parker
Scotland v Denmark - Ando and Wright against Laursen and Heinsoe? Rating - David Nugent

China v USA - We just don't know what might happen here. Anything might happen. Plenty of things could go wrong. It could be brilliant, more likely it'll be awful. Rating - Joey Barton
Italy v Canada - We've got two guys that can't qualify for Euro Tour events, one who I've never heard of, and then two players who aren't great, this could end up being a turgid affair. Rating - Darren Anderton
Poland v Czech Republic - This one might actually be alright. Ratajski/Kanik against Jirkal/Sedlacek? Count me in, it might not be brilliant but it should be entertaining. Rating - Jermaine Defoe
Republic of Ireland v Greece - O'Connor and Lennon may have something, but Michael and whoever isn't Michael, maybe not. Rating - Andros Townsend
England v Philippines - Ilagan and Malicdem isn't awful, but it'd require a huge fuck up from Smith and Cross you'd think. Rating - David Seaman
Austria v Russia - Lerchbacher isn't good, Koltsov is, the other Russian guy I don't know, I'm not seeing anything interesting here. Rating - James Milner
Australia v Finland - Whitlock seems awful, Anderson isn't but just seems to be failing for results, Kantele and Viljanen aren't amazing but will surely be competitive. Rating - Les Ferdinand
Netherlands v Spain - Not a bad one potentially, van Gerwen can only carry things half the time, while Wattimena is better than both Reyes and Alcinas, weird things can happen. Maybe amazing happens, but most likely we get boring commentary. Rating - Steve McManaman

Monday, 13 May 2019

Random thoughts

Thank fuck they didn't pick Barney for the World Cup and they did actually go on rankings and select Wattimena. I've said before that I care little for the event, but with the thing giving spots straight into not insignificant ranking money, it needs to be done somewhat transparently.

On the Challenge Tour. The ranking list I popped up in the previous post looks like this - won 2 events, won event (x6), then everyone else. By the time we get to the next Challenge Tour, we've already played another four Pro Tour events, and they'll have already had the entries for two more (PC 19/20 take place three days after CT 9-10/11-12 respectively). So by the time we've got to a stage where any form of consistency comes into play, they've already played two thirds of the Players Championship events.

So while I was thinking that the top heavy payout structure is unfair to those who are playing on a consistent basis and not getting Pro Tour spots in favour of those who bink one event, they're not actually playing Challenge Tour events early enough in the season to make any sort of remodelling take any effect before the season's almost done. So what can we do? I think first, you need to assume that they move some of the Challenge Tour events to earlier in the season before you think of anything - what's to stop them holding back to back weekends with the second weekend during the Masters? Sure, some players may prioritise the Dutch Open (unless, of course, they do what I suggested would be a cool idea and use the Dutch Open venue and run straight before/after while many players are already there), but you'd then have 8 events in the bank. Or swap the first Dev Tour weekend in March with the third weekend of the Challenge Tour in June.

How could we rework the prize fund? I think you need to look at both ends initially - but I don't think you can trim off a round of prize money to bump higher up levels. Players are spending a decent wedge of cash to play these, so allowing a decent percentage of the field to get some return is important. So you need to look at the top end - £2k to the winner and £1k to the runner up is 30% of the prize pool. In comparison, a Players Championship event gives 21% to the top two, a Euro Tour event pays 25%, although that does have a huge jump to the winner. Then again, the winner's cheque is less percentage wise than it is on the Challenge Tour.

I think that the players who are capable of getting to the business end of events would not completely hate lowering the prize money to the top two places a touch. If you changed the prizes to the following:

Win - £1500
R/U - £700
Semi - £500
QF - £350
L16 - £225
L32 - £125
L64 - £50

That'd have the same amount of prize money, but you get move for reaching the last 32 to the quarter finals - this'd have this shift in the top 10:

Stephen Burton 3900
Ritchie Edhouse 2700
Boris Koltsov 2375
Jesus Noguera 2125
Cameron Menzies 2000
Andrew Gilding 1775
Shaun Carroll 1675
Callan Rydz 1650
Darren Beveridge 1625
Dave Prins 1600

It's the same top ten, but in a different order - Gilding now goes up to 6th, and Rydz moves to 8th. Gilding has a final, semi, quarter and last 16 in the bank, while Rydz has a final, quarter, last 16 and three last 32 runs. Both of them seem to be better than binking one and getting either one last 32 run (Beveridge), or one last 32 and one last 64 (Carroll). It's still not going to shift Burton off the top spot - and it shouldn't, winning two should still be huge. Similar with Edhouse, he's got four last 16 or better runs. Koltsov has a semi final as well. If you're binking an event and backing it up in others, you should still be on top, but you can see after just two weekends, that it's allowing players with a bit more consistency to edge up the rankings over those with just the one decent result.

It's also making a lot of people slightly better off in the middle order - the number of players with £1k and £750 is basically the same, but if we scan down a bit more, currently 33 players have £600, which would rise to 39. 46 players have £500, this would rise to 49. 58 players have £400 right now, that would rise to 70. That £400 is an interesting one, as that's the amount you'd need to break even, pre expenses, if you played every event.

It's a pity you can't do a rolling ranking of the last twelve months - because of the way players shift on and off tour cards, it'd shaft those like Burton and Edhouse who'd just come off a tour card run.

Of course, the best thing would be to try to somehow improve the prize money throughout - if they could get to a 2000-1200-800-500-325-200-75 payout structure, which would require a 50% increase in funding (or, to put it another way, half of what they waste in holding the Masters - bin that off and you can do the same to the Development Tour as well), you still get the £2k first prize but every other spot gets a decent bump in funding to boot. Maybe I'll roll it back in 2018 and see what might have changed.

Should just mention Beau Greaves in a bit of a BDO spot. It seems as if she did the double in the Welsh Open weekend of events. By double, I mean the senior events. I wonder what odds you'd get on Greaves/Bennett against any other junior pair in the world...

Sunday, 12 May 2019

ET6 aftermath and Challenge Tour roundup

Let's kick off with the Challenge Tour, just for something different - Stephen Burton claimed event 8 with a last leg win in the final over recent Euro Tour candidate Patrick van den Boogaard, which moves him well clear at the top of the Challenge Tour rankings, which look like this:

Stephen Burton 4850
Ritchie Edhouse 3050
Boris Koltsov 2850
Jesus Noguera 2550
Cameron Menzies 2450
Shaun Carroll 2150
Darren Beveridge 2100
Andrew Gilding 2000
Dave Prins 1850
Callan Rydz 1800

That's the top 10 at least, assuming I've not botched any data entry, given how Dart Connect has been playing up this weekend, it's entirely possible. Burton, Edhouse and Koltsov were up there anyway and have basically consolidated their positions, while Noguera and Menzies with their results have pushed their way high enough up on the waiting list for the Pro Tour if there's withdrawals. For Menzies it's been a wait, he's been in the conversation for a long time now as to who's the best player who doesn't have a tour card, so if he's able to get into some events we might have a decent idea of where he really stands. Noguera would be interesting to see, if only because I don't think many of us know really what he can do.

To the European Tour, and Ian White's binked a second title in a deciding leg against Peter Wright - not a classic final by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't think either player will really care. White overcame a dogged Steve Beaton with a key break at 5-5, while Wright, after taking down Michael van Gerwen (it works sometimes!) was able to breeze past Jamie Hughes, who looked like he'd completely run out of steam in the semi finals.

On the betting stage, this was a classic, well over two units in the book which has close to eliminated the slide we had in the previous three events. Always got to play the long game - we don't expect every event to go quite as well as this one did, but we can't just look at the last two or three events and assume we don't know what we're doing.

Updated FRH rankings:

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

On the movements - Smith's still keeping the huge chunk of the worlds money intact, whereas Ando's big money is degrading more, that and Ando isn't playing the Euro Tour has allowed Smith to chip away. White's win bumps him well above Chizzy, he was ahead by the semi final stage and is only about 3,000 points off Suljovic for the top 10. Beaton's semi final and continual solid form gets him (back?) up into the top 20 over the absent Wattimena.

Lower down, de Zwaan climbs another place up to 24 over John Henderson, Jamie Hughes is now into the top 70, and Mark McGeeney is now solidly into the top 100.

We're now calming down a touch - we've got another pair of Players Championship events next weekend, then a Dutch Euro Tour event the weekend after, but after that it's a weekend off, then the World Cup, so we can finally relax a touch.

ET6 quarter finals

Not a bad little session that, three hits out of three outside of the lay MvG punt - obviously Richardson didn't turn up at all, was always a risk. This gives us quarter finals of White/de Zwaan, Beaton/Webster, Aspinall/Hughes and Wright/van Gerwen, what do we like?

White/de Zwaan's priced pretty evenly, generally 10/11 pick your poison - this looks to be on the money, I've got Jeffrey as ever so slightly favoured, but not enough where 10/11 would be as much as breakeven. Avoid, maybe do what we did the other week where we see who wins the bull and take them to win 6-5.

Beaton/Webster is equally hard to separate in the market, almost everyone pricing them the same with whatever vig they want to run with, where there is a slight difference it's in favour of Beaton. This looks like a good spot to bet on Steve, 0.25u Beaton 10/11, he's been playing much more impressive darts all around all season, and while Darren's played alright today in nicking it over Price, he didn't do that great against van der Voort - Beaton's had three very good games.

Now we get into games where oddschecker is lagging behind - Hughes is, maybe oddly, priced as around a 60/40 dog. The model has it the other way. There's no real consistency issue, and while Aspinall's been doing it on a larger sample size, I can't even start to think about avoiding this one - can't look at everywhere but 0.25u Hughes 6/4 on at least Paddy Power and Chandlers, if you can see better, obviously take better.

Finally it's van Gerwen against Wright, Peter generally in the region of 7/2. The model thinks this is closer, much closer, but is Wright terminally damaged against MvG after Thursday? Wright's not beaten van Gerwen in a ranking event since, er, the final of this two years ago, when it was 6-0. 0.1u Wright 7/2, what the hell.

Jesus Noguera (who he?) won Challenge Tour 7 over Mark Walsh - Stephen Burton made a semi to put him second in the rankings behind Edhouse, Callan Rydz had another decent run to push into the top 10 - we've got the seven event winners then Gilding, Rydz and a three way tie between Prins/Taylor/Rafferty. I do think they need to rethink how they allocate spots in the Pro Tour, the event is so top heavy that it's not really rewarding the consistency of the likes of Gilding and Rydz. Either they need to rework the prize money, or rework the allocation and not just go on straight countback. I'll have a think about how they could do some things better and maybe post during the week.

ET6 round 3 bets

Not a bad day at all yesterday - everything apart from Dobey and Hopp hit, the Dobey one stung given he missed a match dart in three legs (although it was only Gurney missing three himself that gave him the third dart), but can't be too angry given how things went overall. Think we should have bet on Dolan, who took it to a deciding leg - I've not been on Twitter since yesterday afternoon, but that's probably sparked more "MvG streak of deciding legs omg" posts, which wouldn't be there if van Gerwen was playing anything like his normal self and finishing off these types of games 6-3 or better as he used to do.

Quick look elsewhere, de Zwaan finally got there against Cross to open up that side of the draw, not that it makes it that much easier though, Zonneveld offered more resistance against Wright than I thought he would, but that's mostly Peter letting him, Richardson also got home against King, so what do we have today?

White (8/15) v Brown (13/8) - Brown was one of our bets yesterday and looked very comfortably against Ricky Evans, while White was forced to all 11 legs by Dimitri, who couldn't break in eighteen darts, missing one dart for a 128 out then making a huge hash of the 20 that was left. As an aside, I hate hate hate White going bull route on 132 with Dimitri waiting on tens for the match, I don't like it at the best of times but you have to assume you're not coming back and to maximise your chance of going out, which is T20 then double double. This line looks alright, White's a favourite but only in the low 60's.

de Zwaan (6/5) v Smith (8/11) - Mentioned Jeffrey above, Smith finally got a win in a good game with Ratajski, the standard numbers could have been even higher but both had pretty mediocre double percentages. Think this is another game where the line looks alright, I've got Smith as a tiny favourite and there's enough vig there that we can't consider betting de Zwaan.

Beaton (4/5) v Searle (11/10) - Steve got through Suljovic in a deciding leg, perhaps a bit fortunate to do so given Suljovic missed two clean at his favourite route in the decider (and one at bull in the previous leg for the same 121 he'd hit to break two legs prior). Searle got a bye, never sure whether this helps or hinders, he'll be fresher but one eleven leg match in a day isn't exactly a huge workload and the break may just end up disrupting rhythm. 0.25u Beaton 4/5, Ryan had a good win on Friday but Steve's had two good wins and is generally playing the better darts all year, the model is thinking this is a two in three chance for Beaton, so 4/5? Yes please.

Price (1/3) v Webster (5/2) - Gerwyn got past Carlin as expected, for the loss of just the one leg might be a bit easier than we thought but it is what it is, Webster needed all 11 to beat van der Voort, possibly a bit lucky in that Vincent, in the decider, started 180 but then couldn't leave a finish after 12 darts (which simple fat 20's would have done), so Webster was allowed to hold in six visits for the game. Gerwyn being about 1/3 looks fair enough to me. I'd probably edge it up to 3/10, but that's nitpicking, really can't see Darren being able to make the evening session here.

Gurney (8/11) v Aspinall (5/4) - We've talked about the Gurney game earlier, Nathan got past Max Hopp in what started out as a bit of a break fest before he took control. Market has this close and is slightly favouring Daryl, this seems wrong to me, 0.25u Aspinall 5/4, I've mentioned the consistency being on Daryl's side so the model probably underrates him, but it wasn't exactly wrong against Dobey, and if it's spitting out Aspinall to win 60% of the time, it'd need one heck of an adjustment.

Hughes (4/7) v McGeeney (17/10) - Big shot for both to make the evening session, Hughes got an early break against Lewis where he had eight perfect and then held the game from there, Mark needed a bit of luck against Cullen, 5-4 down he broke in 18 darts (on the bull) then held for the match, Joe's scoring going to pieces when it mattered. 0.25u Hughes 4/7, Jamie's been playing consistently better all season and the model is thinking a fair line would be 1/3, so let's get on it again. This might even be worth a slightly bigger play to be honest.

Wright (8/15) v Clayton (37/20) - Strange line setting, Sportingbet really loving Peter Wright. We mentioned he had problems with Zonneveld, Clayton's game with Ross Smith went with throw except for one break that Jonny got to claim a 6-4 win. Model is thinking this is near 60/40 in favour of Wright, I think you can probably get away with having something on the Sportingbet line but with everyone else being more or less where the model states, I don't know how sure you'll be to get on.

van Gerwen (1/10) v Richardson (15/2) - James is at 18.7% for this one, so that's 7% more than needed for it to be a break even bet. Let's do a checklist - did van Gerwen play well yesterday? No. Did Richardson play well the last two days? Yes. Do we believe Richardson will bottle it if he does get into a position to get home? Maybe, but 0.1u Richardson 15/2, it was nearly there against Dolan and I'd hate to miss out on the time van Gerwen losing does happen.

Quick note on the Challenge Tour, Darren Beveridge and Cameron Menzies got the titles, I've not backfilled the rankings yet so don't know where that'd put them in terms of countback to fill Pro Tour spots but it obviously helps, elsewhere Callan Rydz had a final and I think a last 16 (DartConnect for event 6 is a bit fucked up), Gilding had one as well, Andy Jenkins went deep both days, and Boris Koltsov was able to make another semi final which added on to a previous win can only help him in the rankings. Two more events today.

I might be back later, but I might watch the Premier League final day. Unsure yet.