Saturday, 6 June 2020

Matchplay is on, apparently

So the PDC announced yesterday that the Matchplay will be taking place on the original dates as scheduled. This seems batshit insane to me, especially as Porter is saying "it's still our intention... to stage it with a crowd", the words coming to mind being thinking, wishful and extremely in some order. They've got a backup plan in place with an alternate venue supposedly, which I've got to be thinking they're going to use in all likelihood.

That leaves the question why they didn't push it back to increase the probability of crowds? Two possibilities here - either the Winter Gardens isn't available in later August (why that'd be the case when everything still seems to be blanket cancelled for months, I've had a gig in September cancel on me this week), or it's contracts. Probably the latter, Sky will likely be demanding that they have the event at that time, and if they pushed it back to a later date in August, it'd coincide with other sporting events that'll be starting to get under way.

The other question is how they handle qualification. They do state that they intend to resume Players Championship events from July, which doesn't leave a heck of a lot of time to get them in, unless they book out a venue for a week (using the Milton Keynes venue they're using for the snooker which has an on location hotel might be possible, especially given it's been rumoured as an alternate Matchplay venue). There's still the question of what happens to ranking money that was earned for Euro Tour events that are either not taking place at all, or are taking place after the Matchplay - I'm guessing the PDC will quietly ignore those issues. They correctly note that this is all subject to further coronaparanoia restrictions, but the whole quarantine issue is easily enough dealt with if foreign players use the hotel as their location (as with the West Indies touring, they are able to effectively train at whichever of Old Trafford and the Ageas Bowl they are at while they are technically quarantined), they can even play while doing so. There may be some issues with the likes of the Australian players who may not be able to leave their country (surely Kyle can say he's had it and is fine to leave?), but if it's down to a minimal level then, while it'd be harsh for the likes of Kyle, Damon or Simon, I think they just have to move on with it and work out any qualification issues later.

Nathan Aspinall won the Home Tour. As I've just posted on Twitter, it is a fucking good job that Anderson didn't win it - if anyone was placing outright bets for the event when it was believed he wasn't even going to be in the field, that'd create one hell of a situation.

Remote Darts League is coming to its conclusion. I think if they want to include ladies in any future event, it's got to be less players and carefully selected. Outside of their match against each other, with a theoretical maximum leg difference of -168, Pace and Osborne managed -144, and the other two only picked up three points outside of the matches on the ladies night (with Turner beating Herewini on an opening night where the whole logistics has got to have been hugely working against him for a first attempt), Winstanley also got a point against Darren. It's looking like the next couple of nights should provide a real close battle for playoff spots, Richardson and Hogan look safe as houses, while the guys on 18 who are finished (Butler, Tricole, Cameron) will surely be overhauled by some combination of O'Shea (John), Williams, Veenstra, Chaney or possibly Thompson. With the remaining groups being JOS/Veenstra/Chaney/Thompson and then TOS/Williams/Richardson/Hogan, I'm thinking the last two spots will surely come from whoever has a real good night tonight. I'll probably watch bits and pieces of it (annoyingly it clashes with a big monthly event in another game I follow) as there's going to be a lot on the line in this one.

Still not a lot really happening elsewhere, apparently someone's worked out that Gordon Mathers has qualified for Ally Pally on account of the DPA cancelling the remainder of their season, if that's actually how they're going to do it or not isn't entirely clear, the DPA's website wasn't working the last time I checked and it's now redirecting somewhere else entirely, and there's nothing on the PDC's website either. Des continues to put out poorly written letters to the counties, can someone just take a bolt gun to the head of the BDO already.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Still waiting for news

As the Home Tour meanders to its conclusion, with Ando and Klaasen having got through the first semi final group, and with the Remote Darts League getting towards the same stage with what looks like it could be a pretty exciting fight for playoff places, only Hogan really looking safe along with Richardson if he does work with his games in hand tonight, we're still waiting for the big PDC news as to what the hell they're going to do with live darts going forward. Until then, what's to mention?

Well, Wolfie got a nine darter today. Nice work from Martin, seems like he's been playing his best stuff in quite some time.

Duzza posted an interesting question on Twitter earlier, namely whether once we're past the coronaparanoia stage, is there any sort of future for "online" darts? That's a good question, and I'm thinking there's still going to be a bit of a market, although it'll be somewhat different - obviously it's still going to be predominantly focussed around non card holders because PDC protectionism, but where there's going to be a market is in matching up players against each other that normally wouldn't play each other, or would rarely do so, for geographical and financial reasons. We're seeing the RDL do this somewhat with how they've invited some of the better Australasian and North American players, where I can see things properly going is some sort of affiliated tour face offs - it may be a little bit tricky with some of the time differentials, but I think there'd be a market for the PDC to get their affiliates to arrange some of their tour weekends at the same time, and then tack on a day to provide a streamed "tour vs tour" event. There's a few things going for this - you'd have all the players in the same venue anyway, so you'd be able to put a bit more effort into production quality, and it'd probably be reasonable enough to chuck a few quid at the players for an extra hotel night in terms of expenses.

A sensible trial event for such a thing would be DPA vs Asian Tour, if only so you eliminate much of the time differential issues that might some up with other alternatives - Japan/Korea is only an hour different, if at all, from anywhere in Australia you might think about playing an event in, places like Singapore and the Philippines would be perfect for Perth and only a couple of hours off the rest of the populated areas. Get the logistics right with everyone working on the same sort of time of the day, and then work on the rest later, although as long as you're placing the Americas so that they'd play anything from Europe from the east coast and anywhere else from the west coast, it wouldn't be insurmountable in the slightest.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Milton Keynes? Really?

That's the latest rumour that's been thrown about in terms of the Matchplay, seemingly in the venue where they're currently holding some worthless snooker event. Whatever they need to get it on I guess, if they're working on a no crowd scenario then maybe it mitigates it, maybe they need to push it back and the existing venue isn't available. Who knows. Hopefully by the end of the week we know a lot more as to what the hell is going on with the schedule.

First group of the German Superleague is done, Clemens obv won by a mile, if I was picking one of the other cardholders to get through I'd have gone with Bunse over Siepmann, a little bit of a turnup for the books I think, not yet thrown the stats into the master computer but I don't see a massive rush to do so. Münch and Unterbuchner also got through, if it's not Bunse then these are probably the players with the greatest pedigree, Stein was a bit unlucky to miss out on a playoff spot (three players from 3rd-5th were tied and split by, I assume, leg difference), Gotthardt also had a decent showing. Kniest seemed a fair bit out of his depth, but if he was one of the guys that got called up late then it's perhaps understandable.

One thing I think they should consider doing next year is to bar tour card holders from entering this, and have them simply get a bye through to the finals stages (if they want it - it'd be understandable if Hopp or Clemens gave it a miss as neither should need the help to get into the worlds), which should keep the initial league stages a lot more competitive. Probably need to change the finals format and increase the number of players to 12 - if they were to do that this season, you'd have the five guys that had a card plus seven that didn't, do something like two pools of six on a Saturday, have the winners go straight through to the semis and 2nd/3rd play off in a quarter finals. I think that'd work quite nicely. Another thing they could try for the league as a whole is to not keep the same lineup every week - if you've got 16 players, only have the top 12 keep their spot for a previous week, and the other four spots are filled out by a qualifier the previous evening. Or from a parallel 2. Liga that runs in an alternate week or something like that. There's lots of things that you could try.

Friday, 29 May 2020

News!

And no, I'm not talking about the BDO cancelling everything, we'd been able to work that one out from the start, it's more that the PDC has actually started to add some clarity to the schedule, by saying the following:

- Half the Euro Tour (basically anything in Germany or the Netherlands before September) is cancelled
- The Austrian Euro Tour event is also binned off as they've moved the World Cup to that weekend. Refund for me at least
- They still, oddly, have the World Series finals not having been cancelled, despite them taking place in Austria where they could have held that Euro Tour. A few people saying TV contracts might be reason and that "we must have this unranked event on our screens" which seems as good a reason as any I suppose

This asks more questions than it answers to be honest. By saying this, they're throwing a world of confusion to players who had qualified for ET2-4 which are now off the schedule, as well as what happens to the ranking money that they had accrued, whether that counts for anything, if so when does it count (do they move those qualification spots to the events that are now scheduled, presumably after the Matchplay?), are they just going to have the European Championship run off five events, and so on and so on.

Frankly this isn't really acceptable, at least the public facing side of it is. They might have answered all these questions to the PDPA, who knows, hopefully we get some clarity by the end of the week.

Meanwhile the Home Tour rolls on, they must be so thankful that Ando got his wifi working, it'd be a hard sell if they kept getting the likes of Klaasen and de Decker reach the later stages, fine players that they are not withstanding.

Also, am I the only one that really doesn't get what Modus are doing in terms of their streams? I mean yes, darts is darts, but at least with the Home Tour, we (now) know where it's going, the same with the Remote Darts League. If there is some rhyme and reason to it I'm yet to work it out, appears mostly to be just self contained events, which when you do as many of them as they are doing loses any sort of interest almost immediately.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Where do we go from here?

We're still in somewhat of a holding pattern in terms of what the PDC is doing regarding their schedule, which is fairly frustrating for everyone. Who knows what's been discussed in private between the PDC, PDPA and other parties, but let's piece together what we do know at the moment:

- The Home Tour's scheduled through until June 5th
- The PDC have stated they'll announce something in relation to that event by that date, so the logical thing to do from a publicity point of view would be for Uncle Barry to do some sort of good news promo prior to the final Home Tour group for the ratings
- Apart from the Matchplay there are no main tour events scheduled prior to Hungary in September, there's Premier League but that's it
- Priti Vacant has nuked the UK economy from orbit with idiotic quarantine measures that achieve very little and do nothing much
- The German Superleague doesn't finish until June 14th

As a result, what I'm anticipating them doing is the following:

- The Matchplay is announced to be pushed back to the last week in August, giving as much chance as possible for the event to take place with some fans in attendance, at the present timings I don't think that's in any way realistic given current overly defensive government policies
- The Pro Tour will return starting on July 11th at Wigan, where they already have their venue booked for the Challenge Tour. I don't think it's in any way realistic that the numbers in a Challenge Tour event can be "safely" managed (and I use those quotes on account of the only risk to >99% of Challenge Tour participants is that they pass it to others in vulnerable groups), even if they cut to just one event in a day, whereas somewhere that's capable of running a 32 board event with Challenge Tour numbers is more likely to be able to do a Pro Tour
- This will allow a month's window for players from overseas to get into the UK, go to prison for two weeks (assuming Vacant doesn't do a 180) and then be good to go prior to the Pro Tour starting
- In the event that players are unable to travel back to the UK due to restrictions put in place by their home countries (I'm thinking this is mostly just Australia but there may be others), they will be permitted some sort of dispensation for major events, whereby if their earning rate in the events is such that they would have been able to qualify for a major they get a play in game against the last Pro Tour qualifier or something like that (in the event of the worlds, they can simply offer a wildcard)
- The schedule is then condensed to power through as many of the Pro Tour events as possible in order to catch up to where we would have been prior to the coronaplague restrictions, as well as possibly one or two of the Euro Tour events, behind closed doors but keeping the same format (some work around for what would have been the host nation qualifiers would be needed, but as it seems like the ones cancelled have mostly been in Germany, they would probably either be able to arrange a stack of qualifiers there and/or give wildcards using Superleague standings)

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

German Superleague 2 - Electric Boogaloo

Thrown the stats into the master computer:


Few simple things we can draw from that - Clemens was badly, badly pulled down to the level of everyone else and/or simply couldn't be bothered to get out of second gear as he didn't need to. Münch either ran hotter than the sun in some legs, or took a bunch of legs off. Probably somewhere in the middle, but it's hard to infer where his actual standard of play is at. Gotthardt looks to have been a bit unlucky, that's a pretty decent losing average, it's the first I've seen of him (I certainly don't recall the name from any Euro Tour qualifiers, looking at dartsdatabase he seems to have been absent last year) but having played the Dev Tour as recently as 2015, he could develop nicely. Disappointing showing from Bunse, and Stein seems fairly lucky to have grabbed three wins.

Next weekend we've got Kurz, Eidams, Horvat, Langendorf, Bilderl, Koch, Köhnlein and Klose - it's only really Daniel that's a new name but the remainder of the last four are players that I've not seen a great deal of, so I'll probably pick and choose to see what they can do. It's certainly an interesting mix with between young and old with plenty of players with big stage experience.

Remote Darts League is under way, watching a bit of it now primarily for Hogan and Herewini, as we kind of feared last night Osborne got smacked about a bit, and seems out of her depth, I worry this is going to continue like that for the rest of her games (and the other ladies player that I don't really know), but we'll see.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

German Superleague

Evening,

Watched a bit of this on and off today in between the Bundesliga, mainly just to see what the sort of set up they have going on is, as clearly this is going to be used as some sort of trial for social distancing measures when they get back to the Pro Tour proper. It was an interesting enough setup, keeping each of the player's tables fairly separate, and having the hero we deserve effectively being a lollipop lady to keep the other player away from the oche until it's safe to do so. Seems a tad bit of overkill and they could simply mark out the standard exclusion zone they have at normal TV events but make it a bit bigger, but it is what it is, and if it's allowing us to get some darts on, I'll allow it.

As for the actual darts itself, as mentioned I didn't watch a massive amount of it (will probably watch more tomorrow), but Kai Gotthardt looked alright in places, nicking the win off Christian Bunse (who seemed a fair bit off the pace), god knows how Jens Kniest qualified, and it's not a bad start from Sascha Stein who picked up three wins. Looks like it's a double round robin with everyone playing everyone over the course of a weekend.

I think I'll add this to the tracking database. It seems like a high enough standard, it's effectively an affiliated tour so as we track the DPA, SDC etc it makes sense, and if it's going to shove a bunch of German players into the database it'll help a load when it comes to projecting Euro Tours, if and when they get under way.

The thing to note with this is that they are scheduling this through at least mid June, so with tour card players involved, I guess there's no way they're looking at scheduling any Pro Tours until after then?