Monday, 17 January 2022

Losing Challenge Tour player gets zero points in stage 2

AKA ups and downs from Q-School. It's been a bit of a mad one, but let's go through it:

Up - Norn Iron!

Great weekend for the country. Mickey Mansell regained his card at the first attempt. Kevin Burness returns after a couple of years away, after showing signs of form to qualify for the world seniors. Hot prospect Josh Rock won his card outright on the last day, after Nathan Rafferty finally did enough to get on the main tour. All will join Gurney and Dolan to give Northern Ireland amazing representation on tour.

Down - Sky hype train derailed

If this was anyone else, then we would not be surprised at someone who paid out more money in entry fees than they won in prize money on last year's Challenge Tour not getting a card, but because it's Fallon Sherrock, it's the only thing that matters for reasons unknown. That it took a Danny Baggish level of run on day three of stage one to get that far in the first place was a concern, but you would have thought if she could play even half as well on the floor as she can on stage, then she should have been fine. But she has consistently shown an inability to do so in open-gender events. Why will be forever a mystery - I can't think of a single player that has had this big a disparity between stage and floor games with the stage being better. Even Dimitri of four-five years ago wasn't this far apart.

Up - Ross the boss!

This is one I didn't expect to see. Frankly I didn't expect him to even play, as mentioned in a prior post, but to have done well enough to get a card is a real shock, despite him having won the last big WDF event to have been held. Will be really interesting to see how he does, and the best of luck to him.

Up - The old guard produce!

Darren Webster and James Wilson grabbed their cards outright. Wilson we kind of expected, Webster we thought maybe not so much, but a great run on day 2 took it outright as well. Richie Burnett's back. We'll see Nick Fullwell again. A bit younger, but certainly a veteran of the darts scene, Scott Waites reclaimed a card.

Downs - The Americans couldn't do it

Jules van Dongen did get a card from the EU tour, but does he really count? We'll give them it, but after Danny Lauby topped the points table, Jacob Taylor won a day and Leonard Gates got through, none of them were able to make any sort of impression, Gates being the closest, but Lauby and Taylor only got two points each, one less than Gates. John Part couldn't get out of stage one either, neither could Shaun Narain.

Downs - Disappointing results from the EU from players I wanted to do well

This is naturally purely subjective, but I really wanted Sedlacek to get back onto the tour, I'd like to have seen Klaasen get another go at it, Franz Roetzsch would have been an interesting addition, Sebastian Bialecki I think's done enough on the lower tours that he would absolutely have been value on the main tour, while the Spanish contingent of Reyes and Alcinas are always good to watch. And none of them got close. Tricole was a bit closer but still a good 2-3 points away.

Up - Decent youth representation!

Quite a few good younger players managed to gain or regain a card. Evetts was one we really needed to see as the world youth champ, we've already mentioned Rock won outright and that Rafferty is on tour finally. Connor Scutt's still relatively young and is someone who I think will make an impression and stand a good chance of making the Players Championship. George Killington had a really good seven days, maybe the first time he had a card he was too young, and these two years will see a solid improvement. Kevin Doets gets onto tour after barely missing out on the worlds, Danny Jansen is another Dutch player who's got through who's not even 20 until later this year.

Downs - Byes

This is a major bugbear and one that would be super easy for the PDC to sort. They only score points from whatever round has no byes. This is fair enough in the first stage, but on stage two, they know this is going to happen from day two onwards, and a handful of players are going to have a major advantage. As such, I don't know why after day one, they don't go down the stage one list and invite each of the first players to miss out to make up the field of 128. They can then just score one point for a win, nobody gets a free win, and it gives a few more people a slight chance of getting their tour cards. Many people will have budgeted for hotels for the full seven days, failing that there will be some people who live close by to the venues. At least the top three players know they will get a shot. This is really no different from using the Challenge Tour (last year Q-School) rankings to fill out a Pro Tour field.

I think that's most of what I want to pick out. Later this week, assuming no PL lineup announcement, I'll probably sort year end awards.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

PL new format

Couple of announcements been made by the PDC over the last day or two. The one I'm most excited about is that the Rileys' qualifiers for the UK Open are back - while in the last year of them they did kind of get overrun by a bunch of Challenge Tour players, it is always fun to see who can win a tournament to play their way in - especially if it's a relative unknown.

The big one however is the Premier League revamp. I get a feeling this one isn't going to go down that well. As the glorified exbo to end all glorified exboes, it does need shaking up now and again, but I don't think they've thought this one through. I could understand a cut down to eight, I mean eight players did pick themselves then de Sousa and Dimitri made it up to ten by default, and you don't necessarily want to pick players by default, but the format I feel will get stale, and quickly. While in the old format, you did see repeating matches, it was only ever once in the whole league. Right now, you have the very strong possibility of seeing the same matches for weeks on end. It may be new and exciting in week one, but if we're on week five and we're seeing Price against Wright at some stage for the fifth week in a row, it's going to get boring. Fast.

Additionally, what the hell are they thinking with regards to the scoring? Win your first game, you get two points. Win your second game, you get one point. Win the final, and you get two points plus a token (for these players at least) cash prize. Having the first round game be the (equal) most valuable game in terms of points seems like a horrific mistake, if you go 1-1 in every single week of the season you will finish with an above average number of points. That doesn't seem right at all. The PDC have previous for this, it was like that in either the UK Open qualifier prize structure or the Pro Tour back in the day, it is now back to like that in the Pro Tour now, it's also like that on the European Tour unless they've changed the prize money again and I've not noticed (and I'd like to think I would notice). Making it six for a win, three for a final and one for a semi final would be much more sensible.

Will comment on Q-School extensively tomorrow and probably compile some stats for those who've got cards. I'll want to look at the stats as a whole ahead of the Challenge Tour anyway.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

Let's pick out some Q-School winners

Blimey, that's come around fast. It looks like a fairly even split of the 32 cards available with the UK maybe edging it 17/15 or there abouts, let's try and pick out ten names to watch for - not necessarily to win a card, but that will be of interest. Will start with the UK:

James Wilson - Had left himself way, way too much to do in the worlds, and then kind of let himself down in his match, but he was playing really good stuff all year, just not getting results. You would think that with the bye to stage two, he should be able to do enough across the four days to, if not bink a card outright, get a couple of deep runs in order to secure the points needed.

Fallon Sherrock - I mean this is an obvious one, but she really needs to start performing on the floor. Last year she didn't at all, if she can work that out then it'll be fine, but it still needs to be done. She is clearly good enough to do so.

Connor Scutt - Has had a real nice set of results towards the end of the season, won't necessarily be a player that's under the radar - by the looks of things he's one of the top four or five players in the FDI Elo rankings that aren't tour card holders, and he has played some PDC stuff before so it won't be a new experience at all. Will need to come from step one, but is playing well enough to do that, then who knows?

Leighton Bennett - We've not heard a great deal from the youth stage as a whole of late, apart from Luke Littler doing amazing things, so it's a little bit up in the air as to exactly where Leighton's game is at, but he is now old enough to enter Q-School, so let's see how things go. It might be the case where getting a tour card straight away could actually be too soon, and a year doing the Challenge and Development Tours to gain PDC experience would be beneficial, but it's always going to be hypothetical one way or another.

James Richardson - We've seem James do some pretty great things on the PDC circuit in previous years, and he's looked alright when we've seen him play in the Modus leagues and other non-PDC events, so he's got the quality, just needs to convert it.

Leonard Gates - The American will finally make a steel tip worlds debut at the WDF event, but before then we'll see if he's able to make an impact. He's trying the UK route rather than the EU event this year, let's see if that works out for him. He did get to stage two last year, he's certainly shown the sorts of averages that can put enough wins together on a given day to do that.

Paul Hogan - This was a name that surprised a heck of a lot of people to appear, lots of people have always been thinking about what Hogan would be able to do if he ever gave the PDC a go, now we'll get to see it in action. With the wealth of floor experience that he has, this could easily be done, you just wonder if he's left it too late.

Robert Thornton - The former major winner didn't actually have a bad 2021, getting into plenty of the Pro Tour events from his ranking at last year's Q-School and performing very solidly in the process. Would not surprise me at all if he goes a little bit better this time around.

Matt Edgar - It's going to be great content one way or another, right? Wasn't exactly playing badly in 2021, just couldn't quite get enough to get into the worlds where just one win would have seen him save his card. There's actually markets as to whether a player will get on the tour, and Matt's actually 1/2. That seems a bit short, but he's got a very good chance.

Ross Montgomery - Another one where I saw the name and thought "what, really", Ross isn't a name I'd have expected to see on a Q-School list any time soon, but it's there. Will be an interesting experience for sure.

Now to the EU:

Rowby-John Rodriguez - This seems like an obvious place to start, Rowby was only one place off actually getting a tour card by right, so will be one that you would expect to claim the card easily enough. He's got a bye to stage two from the Challenge Tour so that one hurdle is out of the way, just a case of playing consistently enough across the days, which I think is something that's now in his game.

Karel Sedlacek - Karel was actually scoring slightly higher than Rowby across the year, and another one where he's unlucky to have lost his card. If he'd beaten Benecky in the regional qualifier I think he'd have ended up safe on countback as things turned out. Seems solid enough to get through, another one that'll have the bye to round two, so let's see if he can get back on tour straight away.

Sebastian Bialecki - The young Pole has done quite a few notable things in 2021, mainly at the UK Open, so let's see if his game has matured enough to produce the results to get onto the main tour. He did win on both the secondary tours this year, so has the experience of getting through these sorts of large fields.

Dragutin Horvat - There's going to be quite a lot of German players in the field, but I'm going to pick Horvat first, we've seen him quite a few times on the PDC tour, there's usually one German that will sneak through the qualifiers, we know he's got the peak game, so why not?

Thibault Tricole - One name that is seems like everyone picks to get a card every year but he can't quite do it, he's been steady for many years now and it would be great to see another country represented on the PDC main tour.

Brian Raman - If we're going to pick the WDF worlds #2 seed, we've got to pick the #1 seed, right? Brian has to be one of the names that will be in the running as a result, the only thing with him and Tricole is they're both starting from stage one, so there's not a lot of room for error if you end up getting a bad draw or having an off day.

Kevin Doets - One player who won't need to take part in stage one is Kevin, who was a little bit unlucky in last year's Q-School, but certainly made a name for himself when he was able to play on the Pro Tour through the top up lists, and was quite unlucky not to actually qualify for the worlds, only finishing off a couple of places outside. I would expect him to rectify things and get on the tour outright.

Cristo Reyes - This is of interest simply because we have no idea where Cristo's game is at, Reyes having not played in nearly two years now. We know how good his game is when he's at his best, although he was a bit off that when he basically stopped playing in 2020. Having just lost his card he will get straight to round two, so will avoid some potential banana skins and just needs one decent run.

Fabian Schmutzler - Got to stick the youngster in here. Will we work out that he is the real deal, or will his Development Tour debut weekend end up being a fluke? There's only one way we're going to find out. I think part of what I said for Bennett in the UK section also applies here, he's so raw that being flung into the deep end might actually hurt his development, but we'll see.

Juan Rodriguez - Need to give some funking power to the guy who got fucked over in the worlds the most due to the ridiculousness of the world we live in right now. At least the others that got fucked over did so at a stage where they were actually able to get some cash in the bank, Juan didn't have that luxury. I'm not sure how strong the earlier stages of the qualifier he came through were, but coming through any sort of big qualifier will have given him confidence at least.

Friday, 7 January 2022

So we dropped some money to the Weekly Dartscast

Decided to sponsor one of the categories in the Weekly Dartscast year end awards. Was a simple equation - have I got more than 20 quid's worth of value out of their podcast over the years? Answer is a clear yes, so happy to give a bit back and get a bit of a plug for the site in return.

So, new readers may be asking, what do we do here? Lots of stuff, but let's summarise:

- We (I say we, but it's a one man thing for the most part) do have our own year end awards post coming up in a week or so. Would normally post after Lakeside (how costly is that move now going to be for the WDF by the way, especially if a lot of their top qualifiers end up winning a PDC tour card), but that's been kind of moot for the last couple of years. Previous years are all in the archives.

- We picked tip of the year to sponsor mainly because in a large part this site gives tips. We are only interested in single matches, so if you're wanting to know whether to put Price, de Sousa and Clayton into an acca, or whether Madars Razma winning the match, hitting four 180's and two ton plus checkouts at 20/1 is value (no), you're not going to find it, although if a favourite doesn't look bad value but we don't have the edge to make it a recommended play, we'll tell you. We know people like a punt, and there's nothing wrong with that in moderation.

We just concentrate on the easily calculable - and we've had four straight winning years since the godsend that is Dart Connect has allowed us to get a true picture into how everyone on the Pro Tour is playing with a much larger sample than previously, which could quite easily be in the single digits worth of matches for much of the tour back in the day. We had a shocking worlds which'll make five in a row tricky, but with (hopefully) close to a full European Tour schedule, which is our bread and butter, we'll have plenty of opportunities to make it back. The value's usually in knowing those players that aren't on TV every week, which is possibly why the worlds went hugely downhill after Christmas, having been in a decent spot after round two. Any tips are bolded 99% of the time (usually only not if I'm posting up super quickly on my phone) for ease of location, I'll usually post on Twitter (@jtuk) when I've put up an analysis post.

- I would like to clarify in terms of tips is that I just look at the best line available on oddschecker on the more mainstream bookies. I'm not affiliated with any of them, and don't have any financial interest to push you one way or another like many tipping blogs have a tendency to. If I can't bet it without going to badger88bet.cn and needing to use dogecoin to deposit, then I won't list it.

- We'll also give a bit of commentary into upcoming and concluding events, just to add a bit of personal opinion into what's going on in the world of darts. I say world - this is very much NOT just a PDC blog, although it may read that way a lot of the time of late, that's more due to things outside of the WDF etc's control. The UK Open is usually a big post or series of, and while I didn't have time this year, the worlds is even larger, usually done in a preview/year review kind of format for each qualified player.

- The FRH rankings are posted up periodically, which are basically the standard PDC order of merit with the tweak that older events get downgraded linearly dependent on just how old they are, to give a bit of context as to who is outperforming their standard order of merit position more recently. So before you look at the post immediately below and go "van Gerwen number five you're an idiot", think of where (and when) he's got most of his money from. I believe Matt Edgar's just put up a Youtube vid saying players he think will rise in the rankings this season - this kind of does the same thing.

- In the links bar to the right (at least on desktop, no idea how it appears on mobile), there's a link to something I call Second/Third Division Darts. This is a year long thing I do where, similar to the Challenge Tour and Development Tour for the tour as a whole, I set up secondary tiers just below the players qualified for the Premier League, then look at their year long matches against each other, just to see how things might have gone hypothetically. Is it a coincidence that Michael Smith won the second division this year and made the final of the worlds? You tell me. I could probably pick this year's already as it's glaringly obvious they're just going to pick the top ten in the world (but they're waiting for fallon to get a tour card and put her in lol), but I'll wait for the official announcement.

- I'll occasionally go into a deep dive on some strategy-based things. Usually triggered by something I've seen on TV, I'll take a look at what's happened and work out whether it's a good idea. Things like when to use the bull (earlier than you are doing), is it a good idea to go bull first on 132 (probably not), those types of things. If you've got a question that you want to see answering, let me know in the comments. Haven't done a huge amount of this sort of thing of late, probably something I'll get more back into this year. If I get a ticket to something I'll often do a trip report, but I can't see that happening any time soon to be honest.

That's generally what we do. Just one guy trying to make a few quid on the darts and understand the game better.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

FRH year end top 100

So, Wright was able to claim a second world title. Pity for Smith, who was matching him all the way right up until the end of set 9, after which Wright stepped things up a little and Michael couldn't respond. Pity, but I'm sure the major will come soon.

To the year end FRH rankings - number in brackets indicates the +/- change from last year:

1 Peter Wright (+1)
2 Gerwyn Price (-1)
3 Michael Smith (+6)
4 James Wade (+2)
5 Michael van Gerwen (-2)
6 Jonny Clayton (+13)
7 Gary Anderson (-3)
8 Jose de Sousa (0)
9 Rob Cross (+1)
10 Dimitri van den Bergh (-5)
11 Joe Cullen (+3)
12 Krzysztof Ratajski (+1)
13 Ryan Searle (+21)
14 Dave Chisnall (-7)
15 Nathan Aspinall (-4)
16 Luke Humphries (+24)
17 Dirk van Duijvenbode (+4)
18 Mervyn King (+2)
19 Danny Noppert (+5)
20 Stephen Bunting (-3)
21 Brendan Dolan (+12)
22 Callan Rydz (+29)
23 Gabriel Clemens (+2)
24 Daryl Gurney (-9)
25 Damon Heta (+12)
26 Mensur Suljovic (-4)
27 Ian White (-11)
28 Vincent van der Voort (-1)
29 Devon Petersen (-6)
30 Chris Dobey (0)
31 Simon Whitlock (-13)
32 Ross Smith (+10)
33 Glen Durrant (-21)
34 Ryan Joyce (+4)
35 Kim Huybrechts (0)
36 Martijn Kleermaker (+22)
37 Willie O'Connor (-1)
38 Jermaine Wattimena (-10)
39 Adrian Lewis (-10)
40 Ricky Evans (-8)
41 Darius Labanauskas (0)
42 Alan Soutar (NEW)
43 Adam Hunt (+4)
44 Steve Lennon (+4)
45 Jamie Hughes (-14)
46 Jason Lowe (+9)
47 Luke Woodhouse (+2)
48 Maik Kuivenhoven (+14)
49 Raymond van Barneveld (+44)
50 Florian Hempel (NEW)
51 Ron Meulenkamp (+3)
52 Martin Schindler (+28)
53 William Borland (NEW)
54 Madars Razma (-4)
55 Rowby John Rodriguez (+39)
56 Keane Barry (+41)
57 Ritchie Edhouse (+33)
58 Steve Beaton (-19)
59 Ryan Meikle (+4)
60 Jeffrey de Zwaan (-34)
61 Boris Krcmar (+27)
62 Mike de Decker (+9)
63 Jeff Smith (+5)
64 Joe Murnan (NEW)
65 Scott Mitchell (NEW)
66 Raymond Smith (NEW)
67 Andy Boulton (-14)
68 Bradley Brooks (+24)
69 Rusty Jake Rodriguez (NEW)
70 Lewis Williams (NEW)
71 Jason Heaver (NEW)
72 John Henderson (-26)
73 Steve West (-28)
74 Chas Barstow (NEW)
75 Max Hopp (-31)
76 Keegan Brown (-34)
77 Fallon Sherrock (+23)
78 Ted Evetts (+5)
79 Scott Waites (-12)
80 Nick Kenny (-3)
81 Lisa Ashton (+3)
82 Jim Williams (NEW)
83 Michael Mansell (-26)
84 Karel Sedlacek (-15)
85 Ryan Murray (-19)
86 Danny Baggish (-25)
87 Boris Koltsov (NEW)
88 Matt Edgar (-29)
89 Gordon Mathers (NEW)
90 Wayne Jones (-25)
91 Niels Zonneveld (-19)
92 Adam Gawlas (NEW)
93 Andy Hamilton (-19)
94 Jelle Klaasen (-30)
95 James Wilson (-19)
96 Diogo Portela (NEW)
97 Paul Lim (-10)
98 Matt Campbell (NEW)
99 Kevin Doets (NEW)
100 John Michael (NEW)

Highest players from last year to drop from the top 100 were Darren Webster (52), Justin Pipe (56), Nico Kurz (60), Josh Payne (70) and Derk Telnekes (73).

Monday, 3 January 2022

Final

Good to get a little bit back by Wright winning yesterday, who'll now play Smith in the final. I am not 100% sure why the market is as close as it is, with Wright being a best price of 4/5 (Paddy Power, Betfair) and Smith being evens in many places with 11/10 being widely available. Looking at season long data, Wright projects to win a second world title slightly more than 60% of the time - which is not quite enough of an edge to consider betting him, but it definitely seems slightly off, I'd have expected pricing of 8/13 and 11/8 or something like that.

I guess it's down to how Smith has played in the tournament as a whole, he's scoring ever so slightly more than Wright is (it's only a quarter of a point though), which is good for second in the tournament among players who won their opening match only behind Clayton, who he obviously beat. That would give Smith the tiniest edge at around 53% if you just look at the ~150 legs they've won between them. That's a decent enough sample size to consider as an alternative, but that's only roughly the same differential in line if we were to consider taking the 11/10 as if we were to look at taking the 4/5 on Wright season long. As such, somewhere in the middle I guess is fine, no major mistakes are being made so I can't recommend any plays.

As for the quality of the event as a whole, take a guess at how many more points per turn have been scored on average in the worlds as compared to season long data. For the record, that includes all Pro Tours and Euro Tours, the back end of Challenge and Development Tours, regional tours where available (basically just seems to be Nordic/Baltic) and any WDF data where available at a high enough level.

A twentieth of a point. Not a lot, is it?

Sunday, 2 January 2022

Semi finals

The post Christmas betting continues to be a total loss with King not showing up at all in possibly the worst quarter final since, well, I don't know, Barney against Baxter in the year Whitlock made the final? It was a stinker. Anderson/Humphries were OK, while the evening session had a couple of classics. Downside is that all the people I wanted to win were eliminated, and I really want whoever wins out of Wade/Smith to take the title now. Also seems as if the Premier League picks itself, if it isn't the four semi finalists, the three major winners not there, then van Gerwen as well as JdS/DvdB by default, i.e. what is just going to be the worlds top ten by default, then either they bring back the contenders (how do they cut to nine though?) or give it a major shake up. The latter seems unlikely given they're already billing night nine as judgment night on the calendar.

So, today. Wade/Smith looks to see Michael have slightly more than a two in three shot season long. He's 4/11, this seems slightly too short, but there's not enough edge on Wade at 12/5, particularly given how he's played. Ando/Wright looks to be hugely in favour of Peter, Anderson has played decently well, but we can get better than 1/2 on Wright and the projection I have gives him more than three chances in four, so 0.25u Wright 8/15 looks like the only play to make.