Thursday, 22 August 2019

Mid World Series lull

Didn't see much point in commenting on van Gerwen's return to form, I suppose the key thing was Heta locking up a seeding for the World Series finals, pretty certain he can't be caught now, so will be interesting to see how he does in the finals.

Latest installment of "if I ran the PDC":

5) We have a one day Challenge Tour vs Development Tour tour card faceoff for a tour card

This goes back a bit to the old Championship League thing, whereby they had a bunch of games just for the sake of plying bookmakers with cheap content and markets. Every tournament they have doesn't need to be in a big venue, so why don't they try something to fill the pre-World Championship void and have a one day event, similar format to the final day of the European Tour, with the winner of it gaining a tour card at the end of it. Would be cheap to produce, give a lot of developing players exposure, and there's plenty on the line for the competitors. Work it so that if someone qualifies through both routes, they get a bye straight to the quarters. Seed by straight cash otherwise, they have the same number of events and prize fund so it's the fairest way, tour card holders through the Development Tour are ineligible to play. So, if we look at the Challenge Tour, we have:

3 Stephen Burton £5,200
4 Boris Koltsov £4,650
5 Callan Rydz £4,200
6 Andy Jenkins £4,200
7 Ritchie Edhouse £3,800
8 Patrick Lynskey £3,500
9 Cody Harris £3,450
10 Berry van Peer £3,250

In the Development Tour, we have:

3 Luke Humphries £6,100
4 Ryan Meikle £5,450
5 Shane McGuirk £4,800
6 Nathan Rafferty £4,350
7 Callan Rydz £4,150
8 Jeffrey De Zwaan £3,950
9 Ciaran Teehan £3,800
10 Keane Barry £3,600
11 Bradley Brooks £2,950
12 Andrew Davidson £2,850
13 Corey Cadby £2,800
14 Greg Ritchie £2,650
15 William Borland £2,500

That'd give us a draw of:

Callan Rydz vs Bye
Ciaran Teehan v Keane Barry
Nathan Rafferty v Berry van Peer
Boris Koltsov v Andrew Davidson
Stephen Burton v William Borland
Ritchie Edhouse v Patrick Lynskey
Shane McGuirk v Greg Ritchie
Andy Jenkins v Cody Harris

I personally think that'd be a pretty interesting format, but I am quite the darts nerd who'd watch close to anything. Fun to note that Rafferty is really close to the top 10 in the Challenge Tour, which'd have given him a first round bye as well.

BDO World Trophy draw has given us some interesting ties - Hamilton vs Smith-Neale and McKinstry vs Kenny could be good, Jim Williams vs Wes Newton might not be too bad if Newton's got a bit back towards peak form, but I think the highlights are Harms against Hogan and Parletti against Kleermaker. Ladies' event isn't bad either. Hopefully we should get some good data, although the first couple of rounds are a bit on the short side.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Challenge Tour 13-16 - this is so tight

So, let's have a look at the standings:

That's everyone with a bag in the bank, but there's quite a few stupidly strong players just outside - Colin Osborne, Darren Johnson, Mark Frost, Wes Newton, Barry Lynn, Mark Barilli, Andy Hamilton, Stuart Kellett, John Bowles and Scott Waites should all be known to various degrees of darting cognoscenti and they're all above £750 and could at least force themselves into a UK Open spot for 2020, assuming the PDC doesn't move the goalposts as they have a habit of doing.

So what of this weekend? We had winners in Cameron Menzies, Patrick Lynskey, Jesus Noguera and Callan Rydz. I don't think any of them can be surprises - maybe Patrick, but he did have a final earlier in the year, I say maybe on account of that outside of his two final runs, he's really not done a great deal, heck, look at Shaun Carroll for comparison who beat Lynskey in that final - he's added £300 in the following 15 tournaments (not sure how many he actually played).

There's just the one weekend left - who would I like to see push through and grab the tour card and the worlds spot? Let's look down to anyone who's within 2.5k of Noguera in second and is therefore within a win and a decent second performance striking distance:

Menzies - would be absolutely fine with that, only just missed out on getting a card by the narrowest of margins this year, so getting an automatic card would be great.
Noguera - you don't win two in a year if you're a mug, so he'd be a welcome addition to the tour, and boost the argument to have a Euro Tour somewhere on the peninsula, but would he actually use the card? He's shown no inclination to try to get into the Pro Tour events, which he could have walked in to, and has done no Euro Tour qualifiers either.
Burton - again, fine. Was really good in 2018, but just a bit too late to retain the card.
Koltsov - another one I'd be fine with, he seems to be developing incredibly rapidly through repeated Challenge Tour and Pro Tour outings, and I think he'd be in a position to give it a proper go if he were to get in.
Jenkins - I'm really not sure what Andy would add to the tour. At 48 he's clearly not completely done, but I think he'd be just another Wayne Jones or Mark Dudbridge in that he's declining, not good enough for the Pro Tour, but still good enough to work around the Pro Tour/Challenge Tour boundary.
Rydz - if there's anyone I want to get over the line it'd have to be Callan, he's got so much potential and talent and he's been so close to getting in the last couple of years, I think he's now gained enough experience on the secondary tours that he could jump into the Pro Tour and make a success of it.
Edhouse - he's a bit like Stephen Burton, although maybe not quite as good, I wouldn't hate the idea of him getting the card but there's certainly plenty of players that I'd prefer ahead of him.
Lynskey - I think I'd want him to show a bit more consistency to be honest, if he can punch his way in then fair enough, he just seems a bit streaky compared to others around him.
Harris - get him in, he's good enough and he definitely needs the security of a tour card to keep giving this a real go, if he doesn't make it I could quite easily see a return to NZ for a year and trying to work it out on the DPA circuit.
van Peer - if he's over the problems he had, then it'd be a great redemption story - I just fear that if he did have a couple of good runs and got on, that the week in week out might be detrimental to him at this stage.

The final weekend isn't until the last weekend in September, which coincides with the final Euro Tour event. How idiotic is that? If someone's in the running to get into the worlds spot or the tour card spot, are they really going to risk missing the Challenge Tour events to go for the European Tour qualifiers?

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Denis Ovens wins World Series title - wait, what?

Damon Heta - oh wow, that's incredible. Great job. Taking out Wade, GAndo, Whitlock and Cross is a stupidly tough run and he's managed to do it. With him looking in pole position to get a worlds spot through the DPA tour, and surely getting to wherever the World Series finals are, his game is surely going to be on the up and up, he's only 32 and there's plenty of time for him to take the shot at Q-School and the tour if he wants to.

But here's another "if I ran the PDC" occasional post on that point, and it's a bit of an adaptation of point 1:

4) Tour Card 128 is a "card share" card

I'm sure plenty of us have worked in places where there's a flexible policy in relation to working practices, and in recognition of that people have skills that you'd like to use, but don't necessarily have the ability to commit to something full time, can work around this and split their role across two people. Why can't this work for darts? Let's face facts - the entirety of the PDC ranking schedule takes place in Europe, with a large proportion of that taking place in the United Kingdom. That's a fucking long way away from a lot of darting cultures, and it takes an enormous commitment to come half way around the world to ply your trade in Barnsley and Wigan for two years.

So why not build something in to the tour card system whereby you can give players like Heta (and, previously, the likes of Kyle Anderson, Cody Harris etc) the opportunity to get into Players Championship events, and anything else that may be available to them, for a shorter time period? You've got 30 Players Championship events - offer 5 players the opportunity to reside in the UK for a 6 event run and also allow them carte blanche to play the Challenge Tour, Euro Tour qualifiers, and any other non-PDC events that might be available to them. This'd be targeted at the elite of the rest of the world that might be thinking about giving the tour a go, but were unsure - you'd be situated where you'd be for a month, six weeks, two months dependent on the exact schedule. That ought to give you a solid enough idea as to whether you can acclimatise to a different country, culture, perhaps language. If you do alright on and off the board, you'd be a lot more confident about making the commitment to try to get on the tour - failing that, you'd certainly gain a lot of experience which will surely translate to your home circuit and, as a result, improve the game across the world in general.

It's a Challenge Tour weekend - we've had wins for Cameron Menzies and Patrick Lynskey - we know both of them, more about Menzies for sure, but Patrick did make a final earlier in the year and that pushes him decently up the rankings - not sure exactly how far, but if he can do some damage tomorrow then who knows?

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Dolan wins - wait what? PC21/22 round up

Before that, the latest in a series of posts of "if I ran the PDC" posts:

3) New tour card winners have the option of a two year card starting at zero, or a one year card with the previous season's ranking money counting

This isn't something I'd expect to be used too often, but I find the "everyone starting from zero" concept a bit silly, I think that if someone has a decent amount of ranking money, be it someone like Labanauskas who had £25k in the bank from the worlds and a few more grand from the European Tour, someone like Ratajski where, if he'd won his card at the start of 2018, might have thought there to be value in having all the European Tour money counting towards the Pro Tour order of merit, or if someone like Luke Woodhouse was to make the worlds but not quite retain his card at the end of this year, but claim it straight back - the worlds money plus the amount he'd have earned from the Pro Tour might make it worth the punt. Something to think about.

So on to PC21/22 - huge number of people not playing, Ratajski took full advantage to claim PC21, defeating Dimitri van den Bergh in the final, who's getting a bit more consistent on the senior tour now and was third overall in this weekend's points per turn (behind Chizzy in second and, maybe a bit surprisingly, Madars Razma leading overall), while today Brendan Dolan claimed his first victory in god knows how long, taking down Jermaine Wattimena who comes up one win too short once again. Decent weekends for Ian White and Mensur Suljovic, each claiming a semi and a quarter, the other semi finalists were Danny Noppert yesterday and Cody Harris today, a bit out of left field that one but we know he has the upside and good to see him take advantage of his opportunities.

Elsewhere, Chizzy won his board both times, VVDV made a couple of board finals as he continues to pay decent stuff under the radar, Willie O'Connor did the same, Harry Ward put another £2.5k in the bank, similar with Conan Whitehead, while Justin Smith cashed both days despite being a name I don't know a great deal about. Looking at the stats it was a bad weekend for the Welsh - obviously Price withdrew but Jamie Lewis and Robert Owen are bottom and second bottom of this weekend's points per turn, Lewis in particular having another stinker today, with the number of associates about it is a surprise.

New FRH rankings:

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

No movement, but Aspinall's within 1000 points of reclaiming eights from Wright, while 18th through to 21st (Wattimena) are all within 750 points of each other. Dolan's win sees him climb to #33, he's in a bit of an area where there's gaps so not a huge amount more he could have done, particularly with Dimitri's final seeing him hold the final spot in the top 32.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Bit of a roundup

So there's been a few things going on in the world of darts since the Matchplay finished - we had the Euro Tour qualifiers yesterday, and there was a few interesting names making it through. Brett Claydon doing the double came out of nowhere I guess, just looking at ET11 first we saw Simon Stevenson break Steve Beaton's streak, Scott Taylor made it through as an associate, will be good to see how Ryan Meikle's developing, similar with Bradley Brooks I guess, while in the Euro side Maik Kuivenhoven is a little bit of a surprise qualifier. Tom Lonsdale was only a leg away from making it, which would have been a bit of a coup. In ET12, the Euro half was mostly the usual, but Davy van Baelen made it, as did Benito van de Pas, how odd. The UK qualifier saw a lot of names who've been playing a bit better than results suggest qualifying - Luke Woodhouse, Arron Monk, Kyle Anderson, Adam Hunt, Willie O'Connor, Steve West - would have added Jamie Hughes prior to ET8 obviously. Richard North also qualified, which is a useful bit of form after a pretty awful 2019 to date.

BDO news, and they've announced venues for the World Masters and Lakeside - I say Lakeside, as it's not Lakeside, it's at the smaller venue in the O2, which I think it somewhat of a positive move. Bringing it right into London can only attract more attention, it's a decent venue, sure there's some doom-merchants saying "it's not Lakeside BDO is dead" but I think it was time for a change. As for the Masters, they're going to the Circus Tavern. That's an interesting one, obviously it's no stranger to darts (although, oddly, the BDO press release just refers to it as "hosting tournaments, exhibitions") and it's also good that they've tied it down for three years. It's hugely important for the BDO to have a bit of stability and I think this accomplishes it.

PC21's going on, I find it incredible that after Gerwyn Price's late withdrawal (I at least knew about it yesterday from Twitter, when he actually alerted the PDC is another question at least) that they couldn't find a replacement. Hildesheim's not exactly in the arse end of nowhere, Hannover, Braunschweig, Wolfsburg, Kassel, Bielefeld (if it even exists) are all fairly close and you've got to think that there's surely one German player with associate PDPA membership that could have hopped in his car and not given Ian White a bye. Or, for that matter, any of the other associates that made up the field for the Euro Tour qualifiers. They didn't all just do a runner, surely?

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Cross GOAT

So Rob got home, damnit, should have been more bullish on him, but who could have envisaged Smith playing quite how he did to get into an insurmountable deficit, which he nearly surmounted? God knows. Was a great final as long as you didn't turn off midway through the second session, hopefully this doesn't take things out of Michael too much.

New FRH rankings:

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

Wattimena gets bumped out of the top 20 in favour of King. Durrant is up to #26 and will almost certainly hit the top 25 extremely quickly just on countback alone. Jamie Hughes just making the event has put him into the top 50, surely he will be able to keep climbing, but he's now at the stage where he needs to put in either huge floor performances or TV runs to make huge jumps.

And then there were two

So it comes down to Rob Cross against Michael Smith for all the cheddar, Cross looking for, oddly, his first title of the year and second major overall, and his first ranking title in over a year, while Smith is also looking for his first title of the year, his first major title, and he's not won a ranking event for two months longer than Cross has, so there's a lot on the line here. The bookies can hardly separate them (Cross is 5/6 with Smith the opposite), but can we? First things first, the year long stats:

That's not overly pretty reading for Smith - Cross hasn't played quite as many events as Smith has (only having played half the Pro Tour events), but his win/loss percentage is basically the same as Smith's, and in both the legs he's won and the legs he's lost, he's performed considerably better - which translates to the model thinking Cross wins the final 73% of the time. That's not exactly 5/6. How have their averages fluctuated over the course of the year?

Not overly pretty for Smith either, it looks like Cross has a bit of a slump before rising again once the Matchplay's been under way, but there's a very real sample size issue possibly at play, at that point in the year he wasn't playing much darts, at least ranking darts, and went out fairly early in some Euro Tours when he was playing. How about how they've done in this event?

Here it's a bit closer - Smith's actually doing better in the legs he's won, with a great showing of power legs, primarily against King and Hughes, while we all saw the level of play he put in to effectively end the game early against Durrant yesterday. Those winning legs give Smith the match 63% of the time if we just consider Matchplay stats, although when Smith's had some bad legs, they've been bad enough that Cross still leads in the overall statistics, although that clownshow leg against King where Smith had 27 darts and still lost the leg may have something to do with that.

Head to head, Cross has a pretty dominating record - 12-3, although a lot of this is in unranked tournaments, which included two of Smith's three wins in the World Series last year. They last met for ranked money in the UK Open semi final where Cross obviously won, while Cross also won their other major meetings late in 2017 - in the European Championships, which was easy, and in the worlds, which was anything but, and I think we can all remember how that one went down. I suppose the only real thing is that the only time these two have met in a final, although unranked, Smith had his only real comfortable win he's had against Cross, 8-2 in Shanghai, the other two wins for him being deciding leg shootouts.

It's really hard to look past Cross here, but there's something in the way Smith's played in this event that dissuades me from going past the Cross bet. I get the sense that he's finally at the stage in his career where he's ready to nick a title, he finally managed to get to the major final in the worlds and it didn't work out, and I think that experience might be enough to get him over the line. On the other hand, after Gurney chucked away that huge lead in the semi final, is Cross's name already on the trophy? I'm not going to bet this, and just enjoy the final, which for the tournament leaves us down three quarters of a unit, not great but could have been a lot worse given the state we were in where we were going multiple underdogs and very few favourites, and all the chalk was coming home - except in the few matches we did go for the favourite (thanks Gerwyn and Peter).

Some other notes - we had the fifth weekend of the Asian Tour, and Paul Lim had a great weekend, claiming event 9 and finishing runner up in event 10, beating the young Chinese kid that looked a decent prospect in the 2018 worlds, but then losing to Yuki Yamada, who I don't really know a lot about but was a finalist earlier in the year, and has put himself in the equation for an Ally Pally spot (I'm going to the Friday evening straight before Christmas by the way) - Ilagan and Lim have clinched and Malicdem looks fairly safe, but then Asada, Lam, Yamada and Muramatsu are all separated by less than $1,500, so it wouldn't take much for any of them to power their way in. Especially if Asada is able to win the Japanese qualifier again, it's more or less wide open for the last spot.