Tuesday, 17 September 2019

There's a race on

Believe it or not, we're now just one set of events from the cutoff of two major tournaments - the Grand Prix gets decided after this weekend's Players Championship events, while the European Tour only has Gibraltar left a week later. Burton's done the cutoff tables, let's have a look at the Grand Prix first:

We'll ignore the seeds as both Lewis and Cullen are safe even if Bunting was able to final twice or bink one, so let's look at who might be in or out of the field from the Pro Tour. I'm going to say that Vincent van der Voort, while not mathematically safe, is for all intents and purposes safe, as I doubt you ever get all of Dimitri getting over 3k, King getting over 4k and Clemens getting over 6k in two Pro Tour events - I mean I guess outside of those O'Connor and de Sousa are capable of binking, but let's try to limit the work to something sensible. We'll also only go down as far as Ross Smith, anyone below that needs to bink at least once which seems a bit too ridiculous of a task to contemplate. So who might do something?

There's ten players fighting for two spots. I think it's going to be very, very hard to dislodge Dimitri from a spot unless he has one of his bad weekends where he bricks both events - he's got a 3k lead on whoever might knock him out, and is scoring the most out of anyone recently. I just can't see him not picking up a grand - he is at least now seeded for the Players Championships, so would be extremely unlucky to run into someone on both days that'd deny him some cash.

Then we've got Mervyn defending the last spot. It seems pretty obvious that he's playing worse than both the players immediately behind him on every reasonable metric. He's also not been putting himself into the sorts of positions on the Pro Tour where he can pick up lumps and secure his spot - so I think what he needs to try and do is not lose either day, and make at least one board final. That'd give him a £3.5k lead over Clemens - which forces the German to make a quarter final in order to stand any chance. It's not a huge ask, and it'd put the pressure on.

Who can force themselves in? Clemens certainly has the game, and has the smallest amount to do. Two Pro Tour finals this year is testament to what he can do, he's certainly capable of taking things into his own hands. de Sousa is the same, that scoring is red hot, and he's steadily improved - the question is whether he's left himself a bit too much to do, and just getting into the seedings might land him with a really horrible round 3 draw both days in a situation where a pair of quarter finals might not be enough. O'Connor's the only one within real striking distance, but his scoring hasn't been the greatest in the last few months, and he only has three board wins - while he can and has binked out of nowhere, it seems likely that he'll need to do the same, as I don't think he can really claw it back through two consistent scores.

I don't think anyone else beyond that is realistic - Webster is in nothing like the form that'd see him grab over six grand in a weekend, Pipe might have a better shot but that also seems unlikely. Dolan has been playing alright but is the same as O'Connor in that he's had one big result and not enough else, although, like Ward as well I guess, having seen the upside this season, it is at least in his locker. Smith not having made a quarter final (on the floor, the UK Open doesn't count for this) pretty much puts himself out of the equation, which just leaves Ron Meulenkamp. That he's still below Benito on the official rankings is pretty lol, but he has made three semi finals and two quarter finals this season - four of those in the last ten Pro Tour events. That's a consistent enough record of knocking on the door, but he needs to break it down right here and right now - two more semi finals isn't going to do it, even a final and a semi isn't enough. He needs to bink, but at least he is putting himself into positions where he might be able to do so.

I'll look at the European Championship in a later post, there's a bit more time for that one and it seems a bit more straight forward to analyse.

Monday, 16 September 2019

The perfect European Tour

I touched upon this a few posts ago - if the PDC called up the secret TA bunker and said "right, you're organising the European Tour this year", what would you do? Here's what I'd do:

I have assumed a round dozen worth of events, and have tried to set up places which balance commercial viability, expanding the sport and hitting the sport's heartlands. So, without further ado, explanations:

1-4 are your German heartlands. The European Tour's so successful there that I don't think that you can reduce your count beyond that, so I've tried to pick four places that cover the country fairly well. Hildesheim seems like a lock given that the PDC is super well established there, and is easily accessible from the likes of Hannover, Bielefeld, Braunschweig, and it's not that much further from the huge cities of Hamburg and Bremen. Leverkusen I've stuck in as you need something in the Ruhrpott, and right in the middle of Düsseldorf and Köln is as good a place as any but there's dozens of cities that could host one. Munich and Sindelfingen cover the south of the country.

5 is a standard Dutch event. I've labelled it Amsterdam but it could easily be anywhere. Huge darts heritage, will sell tickets. I think that the Netherlands is easily deserving of two, but it's a tight calendar, so for number 6 I've split an event between there and Belgium - I think there's enough players there that it's worthy of a shot at least every other year, then again, I'm sure someone mentioned on Twitter that when they held the European Championship there, it didn't really sell that brilliantly.

7 is Austria, I think it's still worth having a stand alone event. For now at least. Do they have anyone coming through the system that's going to be any good? You've got the phalanx of Rodriguezes, but anyone else is getting fairly old already and if they were going to get good, they'd have done so already.

8 is a rotating Eastern European spot. Prague seemed to go down well, they've announced Budapest for next year, but surely there's the opportunity to go to Poland? I've put Warsaw as a placeholder, but maybe somewhere more to the west of the country like Poznan, Szczecin or Wroclaw might get some of the Berlin or general Brandenburg market - it's pretty accessible on the train. What else could you do? I've put in Zagreb as a speculative one, we've had enough players come from Croatian/general ex-Yugoslav backgrounds come through but play under other flags, maybe there's some diamonds waiting to be unearthed?

9 is similarly a rotating Scandinavian spot - I've stuck down Copenhagen as a logical choice given they have an event there already, but there's enough Swedes that maybe you could try Stockholm as an alternative? Norway maybe not so often, but if some more players can start to come through beyond Dekker, then maybe. Across 8 and 9, you might also look to slot in something in one of the Baltic states - if and when someone other than Labanauskas/Razma starts to develop. Finland's perhaps a bit too distant?

10 basically replaces Gibraltar with an event on the Iberian peninsula, which is something I've recommended for a long time. We've seen de Sousa, Justicia and (on the Challenge Tour) Noguera arrive in the last couple of years to add to the established names, it's time to reward them by moving this event around and opening up the home nation qualifier to Spain/Portugal/Gibraltar combined. There's got to be enough of a combination of domestic fanbase and ex-pats that'd be interested in seeing an event.

11 is a little bit of an odd one. Austria had two events this year. Is it worthy of two? Maybe for now while there's still a few players hanging around that might be able to put up a bit of a fight, but I'd lean towards more often chucking in a fifth German event at Riesa (there's a heck of a lot of people in Sachsen), maybe you could also use this slot for the sort of experimentation in the likes of Riga, Vilnius etc.

12 is the complete wildcard. I've tried to be somewhat sensible with the other 11 spots in assigning them to logical areas, but for the last one, let's go crazy. Who wouldn't go to see an event in Dublin? There are a hell of a lot of players, especially if you use the Tom Kirby/old Grand Prix qualification criteria in that either side of the border is cool, that could come through the domestic qualifier and be a nuisance to tour card holders. Switzerland and Italy have been in the World Cup and are easy to get to from much of Europe (I've highlighted Milan rather than anything further south as beyond there it's probably a bit much to travel overground). Use this spot to go for your random Estonian Open. Find out if there's anything in Luxembourg. Go nuts, it's one experimental event out of twelve, if it doesn't work you can just bin that location off the schedule for years to come.


Riesa review

Gerwyn Price managed to retain his title - fair play, I thought it was going to be the week that Cross finally won one of these but Price held him off in the final. Wright and Durrant making the semi finals rounded out a high quality lineup, so let's quickly get into the FRH rankings - as a one off, I'll go down to 32 so that you can all see a bit lower down the order:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Rob Cross
3 Michael Smith
4 Gerwyn Price (UP 3)
5 Daryl Gurney (DOWN 1)
6 James Wade (DOWN 1)
7 Gary Anderson (DOWN 1)
8 Peter Wright
9 Nathan Aspinall
10 Ian White
11 Mensur Suljovic
12 Dave Chisnall
13 Simon Whitlock
14 Joe Cullen
15 Jonny Clayton
16 Adrian Lewis
17 Stephen Bunting
18 Jermaine Wattimena
19 Max Hopp
20 Krzysztof Ratajski (NEW)
21 Mervyn King
22 Darren Webster
23 Glen Durrant
24 Steve Beaton
25 Jeffrey de Zwaan
26 Ricky Evans
27 Keegan Brown
28 Chris Dobey
29 John Henderson
30 Danny Noppert
31 Dimitri van den Bergh
32 Steve West

Price climbing all those spots shows just how close it is between 4 and 7 - there's a big gap to Smith, and then about 25k down to Wright/Aspinall, but those four aren't separated by a great deal. Ratajski hits the top 20 for the first time, Durrant is within 4k of getting there himself. Richard North is just outside the top 50, only gaining a couple of spots and he's a good 8k away from hitting that top 50 landmark again. Joe Murnan edges into the top 100 following his last 16 run, Michael Rosenauer is up into the mid 100's.

Some other notes - Asada won the Japanese worlds qualifier, which gives Yamada a debut appearance, while Darin Young is back for yet another shot at it, joined by Matt Campbell as the highest ranking players from the CDC. This gets us up to 8 players, we'll see a couple appear over the weekend, as well as someone clinching from the Challenge Tour at the end of the month, but it's a good month before it really starts to crank up and the field begins to fill out.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Richard North is beginning to annoy me now

What's that now, two wins from 5-2 down and a win from 5-3 down? And in both the 5-2 games (which were the ones I bet on, being lucky to avoid the Ian White 5-3), the opponents in question mustered one match dart between them, and that was West's bull shot in the decider? Jesus christ, I don't think a player has annoyed me quite so much since Devon Petersen at the worlds. At least the Wright and Price results came in (although Murnan was keeping it close, so fair play to Joe for a good weekend), although more annoying than Richard North?

Dartsdata/Sportradar. How many more fuck ups do they need before the PDC simply decide to sack them off and run with Dart Connect throughout? It's not difficult - watch stream, type in what darts have gone where. A five year old could do it. After the Harry Ward game from Friday simply disappeared off the screens completely, this happened today:

Yep, it simply ignored half of legs one and two, and then cut straight to Beaton taking a 2-0 lead with a 23 dart leg. But wait, there's more:

Exactly the same thing happened in legs six and seven. But wait, there's more:

Yep, in leg 8, it simply misses out a huge chunk of the leg and half of Joe's final visit (clue - you can't finish in thirteen darts needing 36 for the leg on double 9). Still, at least he made the Harrington switch - maybe.

Fortunately one of the unsung heroes on Youtube was able to get the Gurney/Beaton game up quickly, so I've shoved that one into the master computer, but there's no sign of the Price game - three separate accounts have got one each of the Gurney, Cross and Durrant games, I guess we'll have to wait. Having a quick scan through the odds, nothing stands out as immediate value - it's hard to quantify a Gurney game but I'd lean Durrant given they're 10/11 a piece, Price maybe should be a little shorter than he is against Aspinall, Wright at 1/2 against Lewis looks around the right ballpark, and Cross at 1/5 looks to be safe as houses - but as I've said that three times against North this weekend, I'm not going to recommend a bet.

One thing I'm going to do later is to try to put together my perfect European Tour set of venues (being realistic, I'm not having them all in the north of England), trying to balance commercial viability, expanding the game, where the game is already popular, etc etc. Back later with a quarters onwards roundup as well.

Edit - Price game finally up. Of course Chris Murphy, in his infinite wisdow goes all captain cliche calling Murnan's cross over to double 9 "a tricky switch", which Murnan does actually pin

Riesa last 16 bets

Day 2 - oh dear. 0/4 to drop 0.85 units, leaving us down three quarters of a unit for the tournament. Any regrets? Not really, think it was mostly just running into players on good form - Noppert hitting just one of the three match darts he had would have turned a total loss into break even for the day, Richardson averaged a ton, Pipe was right with Aspinall through six legs despite Nathan having hit two four visit kills (one to break with Pipe having missed bull for a hold, one for a hold with Pipe on 121 after nine), while Woodhouse won the bull, got a break to lead 3-0, then just had his scoring go away. Oh well. We go again with the last sixteen and there's a few surprising names here, let's look through the matches:

Gurney/Beaton - Touched on both of these games already. Gurney's around a 1/2 favourite, over the season he scores a point more per turn than Steve does, the odd thing is that while I talk about Gurney's consistency a lot making the model underrate him, Beaton's only scoring two points less when losing than winning (Gurney currently at 1.32) - so maybe the model underrates them both, and that it's throwing up Steve as mid to high 40's for the most part should be believed and we should take 2/1. I don't know, in the last three months the model spits Gurney out as a better than 2/1 favourite, so let's pass.

Rosenauer/Durrant - Glen had a solid string of legs against Richardson, which he needed, while Michael got past an uncharacteristically bad Ratajski with the Pole getting three legs in five visits but averaging 78 otherwise. Glen's 1/8, that seems fine.

Aspinall/Evans - Mentioned Nathan's game earlier, excellent all round display. Ricky took out Dimitri 6-4, solid display but some indifferent legs (legs six and eight spring to mind) which he could do with cleaning up. Nathan's 4/7 with Ricky 8/5, there's almost enough there for Evans to consider a bet, he's trending at 42%, 43% or so for most of the season, with the two players having almost identical consistency ratings. I think we can avoid pushing such small edges.

Price/Murnan - Gerwyn needed ten legs to get past Kyle Anderson in a very high quality encounter with both players averaging three figures, Price up at 106, while Murnan was able to punish a woefully under par Jeffrey de Zwaan, eight of the nine legs going longer than fifteen darts and neither player able to crack 90 on the conventional averages. Can't look past Price here, he simply isn't going to let Murnan win five legs in more than fifteen darts as both his opponents have - 1u Price 1/5, he's in the high eighties and touching the 90% mark occasionally across the season so even at this long odds on, it's a strong play and I'm investing accordingly.

Wright/Suljovic - Peter had to come from a bit of a hole against Ritchie Edhouse, only winning 6-4 after being 3-0 down, while Mensur whitewashed Harry Ward in a very confident looknig display with just the one dodgy leg. Market has it close to evens, Wright being slight odds on, I think we can take a stand here, 0.25u Wright 5/6, Peter's in that top tier of four players whose points per turn season long are a cut above the rest, and Mensur isn't, Peter's around the low to mid 60's to win this game so I'll take 5/6 here.

Lewis/Clayton - Adie got past Willie O'Connor, not a pretty game at all and one best dispatched to the archives, Jonny face Steffen Siepmann and played a bit better but was still taken all the way to 4-4 before he got home in ten legs. Market has this one as a flip as well, there might be the tiniest of tiny values on Clayton at evens, but it's not enough to recommend a bet. Over on the legs, or correct scoring 6-5 whoever wins the bull could be worth the shot.

Cullen/Cross - Joe needed all eleven legs to beat van Baelen, one of those odd ones where he's comprehensively outplaying him but Davy kept nicking legs. Stop going bull-bull-D16 with your opponent on 330 though. Cross only lost one leg in a steamrollering of John Henderson, very strong performance from Rob. Cross is 4/9, I think that's in the right ballpark, if you're just looking at the last couple of months worth of form then you might want to consider Joe at 21/10, but I'm not interested.

North/West - Ah, the old compass points derby. North shocked Ian White despite not playing brilliantly, Ian missing four match darts to hand the game to Richard, West meanwhile overcame Jamie Hughes with a very strong finish from 2-0 down, two late breaks in 11 and 12 darts being the difference maker. West is the favourite but not by much, I think this is a very strong play - 0.5u West 4/6, I'd probably still fire at 1/2, I can't see anything on Twitter to indicate there's any bugs, injuries etc, so we'll go with it.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Riesa day 1 results, day 2 bets

Hmm. Boris. 5-2 up, given what a mate of mine cashed out for must have been 1/50 in play, then North just god moded from there, that ninth leg was just horrible, starting 140-180 and then North hits six perfect so we don't even get a dart at double... still, at least Danny Noppert got out of jail against Mickey Mansell, and Harry Ward came from behind against Reece Robinson to put us in profit for the day. Not that anyone knows about that second one because dartsdata fucked up yet again and didn't track the match. Fortunately, Anatolij Baburin on Youtube was the hero of the day and put the stream up so I could get the stats.

All in all not a great standard of play - seems like a lot of the qualifiers weren't great and dragged their opponent down to their level, there were some odd exceptions where one player did OK but in general it seems most players underperformed. The Monk/Anderson game was an exception, that one looked decent on the stats, so what do we have today?

Aspinall/Pipe - Justin easily beat the newbie Jentschke 6-3, was 3-3 at some point before Pipe pulled away. Not a great game really, he only averaged 80 in the win. 0.25u Pipe 19/10, seems much more of a live dog than that, tracking in the low to mid 40% range against Nathan over all time periods.

Ratajski/Rosenauer - Michael took out Mike de Decker 6-4 in a slugfest where both averaged 81. Not great. Not much data on Michael, Ratajski's shorter than 1/6 and that seems prohibitive, not confident in the slightest that Rosenauer can pull it out more than what he'd need to in order to go for an underdog swing for the fences.

Durrant/Richardson - James beat the intriguingly named Mike Poge 6-3, will need to up his game from around an 83 average, but Mike's 70 average wouldn't have helped that. We can get better than 3/1 on Richardson, I think that's worth a tiny play - 0.1u Richardson 10/3, he's showing at about a one in three shot all season, and made board finals twice midweek, so might be playing a bit better than season long data.

Cross/Henderson - Another bad game, John beat Claydon 6-4, Brett averaging just 82 and Hendo was lower, not inspiring stuff when facing the Matchplay champion. Rob is 2/7, and that seems about right.

Lewis/O'Connor - Willie didn't play too badly in a 6-4 win over Benito, and is at the level these days where the bookies only install Adie at 4/6. Is that fair? I tend to think so, maybe it could be slightly closer, but there's enough vig on the book that I can't recommend a bet on Willie as there's not enough of an edge. Should be a decent game at least.

Gurney/Noppert - Mentioned Danny's 6-5 with Mansell earlier, another opponent from the isle next. Not going to mention the projections as they always think Gurney sucks, but let's put it like this. Gurney's season long points per turn is 91.95 to Noppert's 91.84. We're being offered a silly price by Betvictor, 0.25u Noppert 9/4.

Beaton/Woodhouse - Luke had little trouble with Bilderl, losing just one leg, Steve's next and on Twitter it seemed like he had a bit of a mission to get to Riesa, so chuck that in with Luke being basically a flip over most stats then 0.25u Woodhouse 13/8 looks nice.

Price/Anderson - Kyle edged Monk 6-5, Price is up next, I thought Kyle might have been a bit more of a live dog than the price offered, but he's shorter than 2/1, so he isn't.

Evans/van den Bergh - Dimitri saw off Adam Hunt yesterday and gets Ricky Evans up next and is actually the favourite. Nothing here, DvdB is 4/6, and while I see it at a 65% game, that doesn't account for Dimitri's wild inconsistency, so I'll avoid the game.

Hughes/West - Steve played OK in seeing off Daniel Larsson, but might have wanted to get the game finished a bit quicker, and he now faces a much tougher test in Jamie Hughes. 13/8 is slightly tempting, but it's not quite enough, it's certainly in the right range of him having chances.

Clayton/Siepmann - Steffen made day 2 after getting an early lead against Andy Boulton and then stepping in when Andy missed shots to clean up the match. Nothing here, Jonny is 1/5 which I think is fair enough.

de Zwaan/Murnan - Joe surprisingly took out Jelle Klaasen yesterday evening and gets another Dutch player up next, he's installed as a big underdog here, and looking at any sort of decent sample, a 4/1 shot appears more or less spot on.

Cullen/van Baelen - Davy bagelled Ole Luckow last game yesterday and gets a much different test this evening against Joe, who at 2/5 looked a tempting lay on full season stats, but cut out the first couple of months of the season and the price appears to correctly predict Davy's winning chances.

White/North - Less said about Richard the better. White's in the low to mid 80's to win this one, 1/4 might be small value, but not really worth pushing things at those odds.

Suljovic/Ward - Talked about Harry's game earlier, Suljovic is on the other end of the spectrum in terms of quality of opponent for Ward, and I think it's almost worth a punt - he's in the low to mid 30's all season until you get to more recent months when it tails off to closer to what the 10/3 line represents. Depends on how you feel about Harry, I'm not sure.

Wright/Edhouse - Ritchie took out Venken just losing a couple of legs, but the run ends here. I can't see any way he pulls this one off, and the value might even be on Peter at 2/11.

Just the four underdog plays then, and they all go early, so get on quick ladies and gentlemen.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Riesa round 1 bets

It seems as if the bookies aren't too forthcoming in putting up lines involving the qualifiers, but given that most of the games in question are involving players I know next to nothing about, and will probably feature horribly one-sided lines whereby if there were to be any value, it'd be in one of those value bets on the underdog whereby you know you have to make them even though you're going to lose, I think I can make do with the games that do have lines. So let's see:

0.5u Ward 8/13 vs Robinson - I have no clue whatsoever how this is anywhere near that close. Reece has done next to nothing all year whereas Ward has a title. This looks well into the 70% range for Harry, maybe even a 3-1 favourite. Pile on.

Nothing on the O'Connor game. I was expecting to lump on Willie at the price he is, but the model says no. I can kind of see why, but there's a lot of weird stuff happening and if anything the line seems to be swinging towards Benito, there's enough counter-intuitive things going on here that I think I can ignore it.

Nothing on Monk/Anderson. Kyle's good. Monk's good, but not quite as good. The line appears sound.

Nothing on Henderson/Claydon as I simply don't know enough about Brett to want to charge in on Hendo at 1/3. It's probably a fine move but I really don't want to jump on that line without data.

0.5u Noppert 8/13 vs Mansell - it is basically exactly the same analysis as the Ward game, except at least Mickey has shown at some point in the past he knows what he's doing. Still seems a good edge with Danny ranging at 70%+.

0.5u Koltsov 21/20 vs North - I was on at 11/10 on 365 where it's been backed in to evens, I have no clue why the line is listed as it is. Richard is just playing at such a lower level that this ought to be 1/2 for Boris.

Nothing on Larsson against West, 1/2 for Steve seems decent enough but there's enough nagging doubts to make me back against Daniel given his lack of data.

Dimitri's line at around 1/3 seems fine. Adam's just not shown enough to make me think that he can get home more than 20% of the time, he's got enough talent that random things can happen, so an easy ignore.

Nothing on Murnan/Klaasen either. Jelle's 4/9, which season long appears around right, if you favour recent form then chuck Jelle in, his win chances increase as you get to shorter and shorter samples, but I think there's a danger those samples become too small to rely on.

So three bets which I feel pretty strongly on, fill your boots ladies and gentlemen.

Friday morning edit: Oddschecker doesn't have lines for the games involving the qualifiers yet, but 365 is up, and nothing stands out, so unless another bookie has a significantly different line I can't think of anything else to add, and I'd probably just arb in that spot anyway. Maybe de Decker at just the right side of 1/2 is worth it, but I won't make it a recommended play.