Sunday, 16 June 2019

ET8 Quarter Finals - ahhhhh, that's better

Nice three out of four hits, including both of the underdog punts, have clawed back half of what we lost yesterday, still a pretty bad weekend but it looks a lot better than what it did six hours ago. We're down to eight players, it's a great spot for anyone other than Price (who's already there) to catapult themselves into a Grand Slam position - none of Cullen, Dobey, de Sousa, Clayton, Whitlock or Wattimena currently have a spot, and Chisnall's only just holding on as well. Moreover, we're guaranteed a new European Tour winner, at least for this season, what do we like betting wise?

Price/Cullen - It's a pity that Joe prevented the clean sweep of bets this afternoon, but if he's capable of beating Wright then he's capable of beating Price, who easily disposed of Bunting, who didn't really bring his best game. Price again is priced as about a 2-1 favourite, and as we think Bunting's a bit better than Cullen, we'll fire on Price again - 0.25u Price 4/9, it's not an amazing edge but Gerwyn's showing at 78%, which I'll take.

Dobey/de Sousa - Could this be the event where Dobey finally gets a first PDC title, or will Jose de Sousa be able to do the same? de Sousa was very impressive in slotting in a 100 average in defeat of Daryl Gurney 6-2, while Dobey saw off Shepherd by the same score line. Bookies have it bang even, maybe finally respecting what Jose can do, that looks more in line with where I have it. I've got Jose as a tiny favourite - nothing to start betting on, maybe Dobey's greater experience on big stages and at the business end of events will counteract raw stats anyway.

Clayton/Whitlock - Jonny took apart James Wade pretty comfortably, dropping just two legs and ending with a 146 out as both players averaged over a ton. Whitlock's win over Adrian Lewis was a lot less spectacular as neither averaged over 90, and it wasn't down to completely awful doubling either, but Simon got the win 6-3. The bookies have it even and I really don't know why, 0.25u Clayton evs, this looks like a 2-1 game in favour of the Welshman, he's won one of these and Simon having one decent win isn't going to dissuade me from looking at a season's worth of respective form. Might even be an argument to go half a unit here really.

Chisnall/Wattimena - Dave got through a last leg decider against Mensur Suljovic, pretty solid game until the last leg killed things, Dave was playing excellently prior to that but needed 21 darts to claim it, Suljovic missing two at 14's somehow for the match. Jermaine ended Ian White's winning streak in ten legs, another player to finish with a partypiece tops-tops 137 out. Chizzy's favoured 60/40 in the market, this looks close enough to me, I think he's slightly better than that but not enough to start betting it, Jermaine's got to be full of confidence having taken out the top seed.

Some FRH ranking notes - Wattimena can blast up to the top 16 if he claims it all, Dobey can get within a few grand of the top 20 with the same, while de Sousa can rise up into the top 64 if he does so. Looks like a wide open evening session, enjoy.

ET8 last 16 - WE CAN REBUILD

So round 2 went about as badly as it could possibly go - 0-5 dropping two units, which coupled with Friday is probably making this about the worst tournament of all time and has dropped back around half our yearly profit. Yikes. I think dartistik on Twitter pegged Durrant and Cross as his biggest favourite on each day. That's not nice, if you had a Burness (who reverted to the mean pretty damn quickly yesterday) and Shepherd double, good luck to you.

Today we have:

Price/Bunting - Both players got through 6-4 yesterday, Price in a pretty decent game against Ryan Harrington, which might have been over quicker if Gerwyn hadn't allowed a break back at 4-1 up, missing doubles as Ryan cleared 237 in six darts. Bunting overcame Cody Harris, not much in this one, Bunting getting a 12 dart break on bull to lead 4-3 and holding from there, although Cody did have two darts to break at 5-4... Price is favourite, around 2-1 on, I think that's worth a small stab to try to get things back on track, 0.25u Price 1/2, I'm thinking it should have been nearer 4/11 and Gerwyn played a heck of a lot better than Stephen did yesterday.

Wright/Cullen - Wright added to the betting pain yesterday with a routine 6-2 win over Willie O'Connor, while Willie really didn't show up, six legs won in fifteen darts or yet is a very handy standard. Joe got a gift against Burness, winning 6-1 with Kevin averaging below 75, maybe there were a couple of Tuborgs after the Durrant win? Wouldn't like to say. Joe was decent on the outer ring but basically cruising otherwise. Wright's about the same price as Price, and I'm seeing about the same win chances, so 0.25u Wright 4/9.

Gurney/de Sousa - Daryl wasted little time getting into today, only dropping the one leg against Ryan Joyce in an impressive display via whatever stat you want to look at. de Sousa won an instant classing against Darren Webster 6-5, although he was 5-1 up (and threw two maximums in leg 7), needing Darren to miss bull for the match to get the extra darts he needed to clinch the game. Daryl's slightly shorter again than Wright, I think this is worth a nibble the other way, 0.25u de Sousa 12/5, he simply can't miss as many doubles as he did yesterday, but the scoring is absolutely there to generate the chances. Could do with Daryl dropping off a touch to help matters, but Jose's less than a point and a half off Daryl on seasonal points per turn, so ought to claim this well over one in three times. Heck, based on winning legs (which does undervalue Daryl as stated before), Jose projects as favourite. He's that good.

Shepherd/Dobey - Gone over the Kirk thing already, a second surprising win for Shepherd, who knew he could make a big run in an event? That's never happened before for him, surely? Dobey was taken all the way by Ricky Evans (told you it'd be close), missing a match dart at 5-4, and then being reliant on Evans to miss match darts of his own to break in the decider. Around the same price yet again, Dobey being installed as favourite - this time the value isn't there. Dobey's 2/5 and I've got him slightly better than that, but 1/3 would be a bad bet.

Wade/Clayton - James was in a little bit of bother against Dennis Nilsson, but put in what looked like a very Wade-like performance statistically, no maximums, but >50% on doubles and some nice mid range outs when needed. Clayton needed every leg and a bit of luck against home favourite Per Laursen, getting the break for 5-5 and then surviving a match dart in the final leg. It's yet another match at around the same odds, Wade being favoured, I think there's a bit of value on Clayton - 0.25u Clayton 2/1. I've stated Clayton's playing better than his results suggest (although he does have a win this year, let's not forget) - I'm seeing around 40% chance to claim this one.

Lewis/Whitlock - Adie got past Kyle Anderson in a tight one, he was 4-2 down before winning 6-4 thanks to Kyle missing multiple darts at double on his throw twice. Whitlock got a surprising win against Aspinall, coming from 4-3 down to win by the same score, Nathan having an annoying mix of either not scoring and hence not getting shots at doubles, or scoring enough to get shots at double, then missing. The two time world champ is favoured and the line looks solid - I see just over 60% for Lewis, he's 8/13, let's move on.

Suljovic/Chisnall - Mensur needed all 11 legs to beat Gabriel Clemens, while Chisnall ran off five straight to end the match against Ratajski 6-2, always just getting the leg won before Krzysztof could step in. The market can't separate these, I'm tempted to shoot on Chizzy at evens, he does have quite a bit better winning average than Mensur which is showing a 60% win chance, but the overall scoring is much tighter. Probably should bet but Suljovic does like Denmark.

White/Wattimena - Ian nearly got knocked out in a surprisingly tight game with Martin Schindler, needing to get out of a 5-3 hole but Schindler only had one match dart in those three legs. Jermaine won 6-4 over Michael Smith, storming into a 4-1 lead, Smith got it back to 5-4 and was throwing to level, but lost the ability to score when he needed it most and Jermaine didn't even need the backup of throwing in the decider. You've guessed it, another 2-1 sort of game, White naturally the favourite, I don't think there's a bet here, I'm seeing it somewhere in the sixties for White, there may even be tiny value on Jermaine but I think you'd need line movement from money coming in on White to really start thinking about it.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Murphy's Law

While I'm watching seemingly everything that can go wrong go wrong (Cross missing three clean at double on three separate occasions? Busting 56 with two darts in hand?), here's some odd play that I've seen over the last couple of days:

This appears to be a pretty standard leg, but let's look at each player's third visit. Now I didn't see the game, so Durrant switching to 19's on the second dart might have been because that dart in the treble 20 was actually blocking the rest of the bed, but I'm going to take a punt and say that it wasn't. Burness cannot even leave himself a shot, so there's zero need to try to leave 170 yourself - follow the line you have on the 60. Then Burness outdoes Durrant with his third dart next shot, switching to 19's instead of 18's, so that even if he was to hit a maximum next visit, he'd leave a bogey number. It's a long shot to take out 340 in six darts, but it's a heck of a lot easier than clearing 339 in the same.

Here's an equally odd one. Beaton's fourth visit - why wouldn't you go big 19 for big 20 to leave tops when you return (which you will)? You are coming back regardless, and while I completely get the logic of going T13 to leave tops, why not just set up tops for sure, rather than leaving yourself just two darts at double next visit if you miss the T13? If you were to hit T19, it's not as if you need to go for double 11, you can just hit a big six to leave a nicer breakdown next door.

OK, he hits it and gets away with it, but Laursen's not on a finish here - why are you even going for a bull finish? Throw at the bull first. And finally, one for the old school guys:

Nothing particularly wrong with Harrington's choice of shot in his last visit, but you would have thought given his old man's phobia of the D18 breakdown he'd have drilled it in to his young'un to go T14 on 66. Actually, knowing Rod, he'd probably have gone for bull, which is the most confusing choice of shots in the world. This leg also appears to feature Ryan unable to count on 303 for bonus value.

Back later, hopefully Anderson (currently 2-2 on throw) and Clemens can ease the pain of the Cross result a touch.

Bring home the bacon

That's what we're going to have to do after an incredibly strange day in Denmark - obviously the one that hurt us hugely was Glen Durrant somehow managing to average near 11 points higher than Kevin Burness and lose, but lots of odd stuff happened elsewhere. Who'd have picked Steve Lennon not to win a leg? Who'd think we'd see a 60 average outside of Gibraltar? When was the last time we saw so many missed doubles? Let's get back to work:

Bunting/Harris - Cody was the beneficiary of that 60 average from Haverinen, whether he was just ultra nervous or simply not at this level, who knows, Harris didn't play that much better himself although taking 46 darts for the last two legs certainly dragged the average down. I'm not quite sure how Bunting keeps getting seeded for these, it's about 2-1 in his favour, this seems kind of fine, Bunting has the higher ceiling and while Harris can certainly take this one down, I think a third of the time seems about the right sort of level lacking any real data on Harris - just 26 ranked legs.

Webster/de Sousa - Jose was one of the better performers of yesterday (I think dartistik had him as the best), solid average in the mid-high 90's against Scott Taylor, a 12 dart leg with an interesting way to finish 84 (clue - he finished it with double 2) and a 10 darter ending on his favourite double 18. It might surprise the casual viewer but doesn't surprise me to see that Webster is the underdog here - de Sousa has been playing extremely solidly all year, Darren less so. The market shading it at 4/5 de Sousa looks fine, I'd maybe go slightly higher, but only 8/11 or so, certainly not enough to think there's an edge.

Clayton/Laursen - Per was one of the two domestic qualifiers and he got past Reece Robinson, just about, not a great game but one with some occasional flashes. Clayton's the next opponent and is installed as a heavy favourite, this seems entirely appropriate, some talk of Clayton lacking form but his scoring is perfectly fine, he should have more than enough additional power than Per to get home quite comfortably. 1/5's a bit too short to think about though.

Chisnall/Ratajski - Ratajski got through the Krzysztof derby comfortably enough, it was looking pretty easy at 4-0 but Kciuk did come back a little, and it's Dave Chisnall up next. I stated in the preview this'd be too close to call just based on looking at overall averages, it is fairly close but Chisnall has a small advantage, around 55/45, Ratajski's available at an alright price that I think is worth the shot, 0.25u Ratajski 17/10.

Whitlock/Aspinall - Solid showing from Nathan yesterday, ending just north of a ton on the averages with a clinical 6/8 on the outer ring. Simon Whitlock's the opponent here and is predictably the underdog given the two player's relative form, and the market appears to be correctly assessing how much of an underdog he is. I'd have set the line at 4/9 Aspinall, he's just slightly the right side of 1/2, so it's in just around the right ballpark, no real value here.

Cullen/Burness - Kevin basically won his game yesterday by winning the opening clownshow leg, Glen missing lots of doubles, hitting a big out when he needed it to break for 5-3, and then putting together a solid 14 darter on throw to ice the game with Glen having just hit a maximum to leave a two darter himself. Cullen is a very nice draw, but it's indicative of Kevin's general level of play that despite Cullen's form, Cullen's shorter than 1/3. As I've got this projecting at 75/25 to Cullen I'm not touching the game.

Gurney/Joyce - Daryl will be looking to put World Cup disappointment behind him here, and his first opponent is Ryan Joyce, who got past Perales comfortably enough, could easily have been 6-0 despite averaging south of 90. No real highlights, Joyce doesn't seem quite the player he was last year, but he might have a little bit more of a chance than the market suggests. He's 5/2 and I see slightly more than one in three wins for Ryan, I'd normally punt at this, but the model does tend to undervalue Gurney somewhat (based off of his top 5 in the PDC consistency score), so I think if I adjust a bit for that any small value there was simply isn't there.

Evans/Dobey - Chris got past Steve West 6-3, West blew this one - he had four darts to win leg 2 and two to win leg 4, that'd have made it 4-0, he then went to pieces a bit and Dobey pulled away (although Steve did have darts to win two more of those that Dobey won). Chris only averaged 89 but got away with it, and the market can't separate him and Ricky Evans. Neither can I really, Dobey's the smallest of small favourites, but it's barely 51%. Could be one of those to see who wins the bull and bet 6-5 correct scoreline.

Price/Harrington - Into the evening session we go, Ryan Harrington got past the domestic qualifier Hansen, it did go from 4-1 up to 5-4 up, but Niels then missed darts for 5-5 (albeit ones given to him by Ryan who was missing match darts as well), before Ryan fell over the line on double three. Gerwyn Price is a heck of a step up, the Welshman is 1/6 which looks close to spot on. It might even arguably be a bit shorter, I'd have gone 1/7, maybe 1/8 to put some vig in the market, not really enough to bet but seems safe enough for an accumulator.

Cross/Shepherd - Another bet killer up here, Kirk Shepherd got home in a scrappy affair against van der Voort, 6-4 with both averaging 83. Vincent was incredibly hot and cold, perhaps the worst extremes in a single match I've seen all year - the four legs he won were perfectly fine, but in the legs he lost he had 7, 5, 5, 6, 7 and 5 visits. That's a lot of darts thrown, and in four of those he didn't have a dart at double, one he only had a single shot at the bull, sure he missed a dozen in leg 9 which effectively cost him the game, but he wasn't close for the most part. Rob Cross is a step up in class, he's 1/8 and it does seem close to a value bet - I'm seeing Rob at 92%. I don't see Rob giving Kirk quite so many shots, 1u Cross 1/8.

Wright/O'Connor - Willie beat Luke Woodhouse in the opening game, not a bad game really, was tight at 4-3 but Willie was able to break in the eighth which was good enough. It's Peter Wright next, the last time they met was just last weekend in the World Cup final (which Wright obviously won given Lennon got Ireland their sole point), and the market thinks it'll be a repeat with Peter shorter than 1/2. That's frankly a bit ridiculous, O'Connor is playing far too well to be that short, he's well over 40% so 0.25u O'Connor 2/1.

Wade/Nilsson - Dennis shocked a lot of people with a 6-0 rout of Steve Lennon, an odd game with Nilsson finishing in five visits every time on the Lennon throw, but Steve not really scoring enough on the Nilsson throw, not getting a single dart to break allowing Dennis easy holds in six, seven and seven visits. James Wade will be Dennis's opponent which ought to be a step too far, James is nicely rested up and I can't see Dennis scoring quite as well as he did yesterday for long enough to really pressure. Wade's too short to really consider though.

Lewis/Anderson - Kyle got a key win in his quest to reach the Matchplay, opening up a 3-0 lead on de Decker without being troubled, that went 4-0 when Mike missed lots of doubles, Mike did then get a couple back before Anderson got home in 8. Adrian Lewis will be in for a tough one here, he's 4/7 which is ridiculous. Kyle's averaging two points higher on winning legs and their losing legs are comparable, and projects to win this one (based off the winning legs) 60% of the time. 0.25u Anderson 7/4, I'm almost half tempted to go a bit more but for Kyle's tendency to not translate statistics into results as often as he should have.

Suljovic/Clemens - Mensur starts his title defence against Gabriel Clemens, the German getting home 6-3 over Mervyn King in a weird game - he had one 12 dart leg where he started 7 perfect, averaged over a ton in the legs King won, but every other leg he won was in a pedestrian six visits. Mensur's 1/2, I think Gabriel's got a bit of a better chance than that, I'm seeing better than 40%, very similar to the Wright/O'Connor game really - 0.25u Clemens 19/10.

White/Schindler - Penultimate game sees the red hot (white hot seems too easy a pun) Ian White against Martin Schindler, who whitewashed (can't help myself) Kim Viljanen, not a pretty game with just an 85 average but it was good enough. Ian is a 75/25 favourite in the market, Schindler looks to be doing just about enough this season that it's maybe a little high (I have Martin at 30%), but Schindler's lack of results might play on his mind against a player of Ian's calibre, so no thanks.

Wattimena/Smith - We end with a clash of players who had disappointing World Cups (if not necessarily on personal results), Smith beat Beaton yesterday to end our betting night on a real sour note, both played very well. Jermaine, despite being the seed, is 2/1, that looks close to spot on according to projections so I won't be touching it.

That's the lot - we go one large odds on banker and then four games all in the 6/4 - 2/1 neighbourhood. What could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, 13 June 2019

ET8 round 1 bets

As expected, the qualifier went on for quite a while, Per Laursen came through one half and we know exactly what he'll give us, and the other qualifier is Niels Jorgen Hansen, don't know a huge amount about him but he's serious enough to have played Q-School and 7/8 Challenge Tour events, so maybe he's alright. In the quali both ended up with averages varying in the 70's to low 80's which sounds about right, there's not odds up on the qualifier's games but I'm not sure I can flat out recommend betting them without seeing odds, sure, if they make it 2/7 the tour card holder and 3/1 the Dane then go for it. Let's go through what does have odds:

Woodhouse/O'Connor - Willie's a 2-1 favourite more or less, seems about right intuitively, but no, it's liking Woodhouse a bit better than that, 55/45 in favour of the Irish player. I think I'm alright with leaving it given Willie is surely at peak confidence and I think Luke's best performances may have been a bit earlier in the season.

Todd/Aspinall - No real data on Todd, Nathan's 1/5 which I'd think is fair.

de Decker/Anderson - Tough one to call this. Kyle's 4/9, he's playing great stuff, I just wish I had a bit more data on Mike, who's looked excellent in the limited stats I have on him in the senior game.

Harris/Haverinen - Cody's 3/10, I can't justify a punt at that price given how little I know about Teuvo, Cody only having made it here for the first time kind of shows he can mess things up against people who he should beat on a regular enough basis that I can't recommend a bet.

de Sousa/Taylor - 0.25u de Sousa 5/6, yep, when we've seen Scott doing things he's looked alright, but Jose has been playing a lot better than what Scott's shown over a lot larger sample, this looks very nice (Immediate edit - reduced odds to 5/6 as evens didn't appear available, still a good bet).

Justicia/Joyce - The numbers actually slightly favour a bet on Jose again, but I'm not going to go for it - Ryan I think is a better player than his figures suggest, we're only getting 2/1 and the projections are chucking out around 38%, I think it's safe enough to pass.

Kciuk/Ratajski - Avoiding, don't know enough about the random guy, apart from that he's competent enough that Ratajski at just the right side of 1/4 isn't fun.

Viljanen/Schindler - Nothing really again. From what I've seen of Kim this year I don't think that it's really good enough to beat Martin the one time out of three the line's saying we need him to do it.

Durrant/Burness - 1u Durrant 1/6, this appears to be a print money situation, Burness is less than 9% on my projections for a game of this length, so 1/6 looks good enough for a full unit bet.

West/Dobey - 0.25u West 5/4, I'm seeing this the other way around on projections. I thought it might be close, and it certainly is, but there's definitely enough of a chance here that we should bet on Steve. That the model rates him better appears to be based somewhat on consistency, but that issue isn't enough to think this would be a bad bet. Steve definitely needs this win and will surely be at peak focus.

Clemens/King - Nothing here. It's another close game, however this time my leanings align with the market, King's a best price of 5/6 and I've got him ranked ever so slightly better than that, certainly not enough to recommend punting.

Shepherd/van der Voort - 0.5u van der Voort 8/15, Vincent is playing really, really well this year, and I think this is something that needs exploiting, the model I've got is setting this at more like a 75/25 game.

Beaton/Smith - 0.25u Beaton 2/1, there's maybe just about enough edge in the market looking at past numbers (Beaton projects at 37%), but Michael was complaining of a foot/ankle issue on social media earlier today, so if that's even the slightest of problems it makes this a clear bet.

Nilsson/Lennon - Nothing here, Lennon's around 2/5 which feels right, Steve's playing good stuff but Dennis has enough about him that he will cause enough problems to make this anything but a formality.

That's your lot, good luck ladies and gentlemen.

Danish Darts Open

Draw is out - we knew van Gerwen was giving this one a miss already, so it's completely wide open. Can't remember the last time that the favourite in a PDC event was 6/1, and such is the strength in depth of the field, there's twelve players that are shorter than 20's in one place or another - with plenty of other players who are outside that bracket who have the game within them to go out and grab this title. Let's look at the draw and see what's going down:

Gerwyn Price v Ryan Harrington/HNQ2
Stephen Bunting v Cody Harris/Teuvo Haverinen
Peter Wright v Luke Woodhouse/Willie O'Connor
Joe Cullen v Glen Durrant/Kevin Burness

This might be the weakest section of the draw, if only because it's got a couple of weak seeds and a cluster of weaker qualifiers. Price ought to be a strong favourite to make Sunday, Harrington's here for a second straight Euro Tour event, but got steamrolled last time out by someone who's probably not much better than whoever the home nation qualifier is, if at all. Bunting could have a few issues with Harris, if Cody's able to get past Haverinen, who's been around the Scandi scene for a while now but is making a debut here. Wright's got a tough draw whoever he plays - it's a potential rematch from the World Cup final if O'Connor is able to get through, but counting Luke Woodhouse out based on last weekend would be a dangerous thing to do in what's a very strange choice for first match up. Finally we've got Joe Cullen, who seems devoid of form, and Glen Durrant isn't the sort of player you want to face in those situations, with Burness being over 11 points behind Glen on seasonal points per turn you can't see the Tom Kirby winner pulling this one off.

Rob Cross v Kirk Shepherd/Vincent van der Voort
Ricky Evans v Steve West/Chris Dobey
Daryl Gurney v Jose Perales/Ryan Joyce
Darren Webster v Jose de Sousa/Scott Taylor

Tournament favourite Rob Cross is in a tricky part of the draw, Vincent van der Voort is having a solid season, averaging solidly and well capable of pulling off the upset, he should get by Shepherd who's not done a great deal since regaining his tour card. Evans will have his hands full in the opening game, but who he'll play and who'd be the favourite in round two is tough - all of Evans, Dobey and West are averaging 90 or 91 per turn this season, maybe the pressure is more on West who really needs a run to force his way into Matchplay contention. Second seed Gurney has an alright game, Perales/Justicia having had one good weekend this season but nothing outside of that, while Joyce hasn't really hit the heights he did last season but should be just about good enough to beat the Spaniard. Webster's been looking vulnerable and went out early last time out, and this isn't a gimmie draw - Taylor showed what he can do in the UK Open and made a Pro Tour quarter recently, while de Sousa is scoring over 90 per turn this season, making either a tricky task for Darren.

James Wade v Dennis Nilsson/Steve Lennon
Jonny Clayton v Reece Robinson/HNQ1
Adrian Lewis v Mike de Decker/Kyle Anderson
Simon Whitlock v Mick Todd/Nathan Aspinall

Wade's been looking really good this season, and his first game will feature a World Cup player - Nilsson probably being the dog, but he did reach Sunday of the previous Euro Tour event, while Lennon has been a bit quiet in ranking events but putting up solid stats, showing how he's playing in Hamburg. Clayton ought to advance, Robinson hasn't really got out of neutral since winning his card, UK Open aside, and it's a second game where the domestic qualifier has a chance. Adrian Lewis will have a tough game - Mike de Decker has been cleaning up in the associate qualifiers, while Kyle Anderson badly needs results to get to Blackpool, the stats are top 16 level, better than Lewis, he just needs to convert to results. Finally we have one of the weakest seeds in Simon Whitlock, and while Todd was very good in the first Challenge Tour weekend, he wasn't in the second and Nathan Aspinall should easily be favoured to make the final day out of these three.

Mensur Suljovic v Gabriel Clemens/Mervyn King
Dave Chisnall v Krzysztof Ratajski/Krzysztof Kciuk
Ian White v Kim Viljanen/Martin Schindler
Jermaine Wattimena v Steve Beaton/Michael Smith

This section really shows the strength in depth of the qualifiers in this event. Defending champion Suljovic needs a result to avoid slipping down the Pro Tour ranks enough that he might not even be seeded, and it's a harsh opener - Gabriel Clemens and Mervyn King are both in the knife fight to get into the Matchplay, King probably with enough in the bank while Gabriel has work to do, there's little to separate them statistically and they are not too far behind Mensur either. Chisnall doesn't have an easy opener, facing the winner of the Krzysztof derby, hilariously placed at the end of the afternoon session so the ref will have a field day - Ratajski ought to get through, and a game against Dave would be too close to call, but Kciuk has beaten Ratajski in a big game before, so who knows? Ian White's looking for a third straight win and a fifth straight final on the Euro Tour, he's not got the worst opponent whoever it is, Viljanen is competent but probably lacks the scoring to stay with Ian, while Schindler is playing a little better than his results suggest but is certainly out of form. Finally we have Wattimena against the winner of a ridiculous opening round game between Steve Beaton and Michael Smith - Beaton's hoovering up all the qualification wins and is playing at a level comparable to someone like Adrian Lewis right now, Smith's averaging a couple of points better than Beaton per turn, and Jermaine, despite being the Dutch number 2 and despite putting up nice consistent results, is worse than either player on the numbers. If Wattimena gets into Sunday evening he'll certainly have earned it.

Bets to come later, they're only out already from a handful of bookies and we're waiting on the domestic qualifiers to finish as well, they're only playing on four boards for just short of 40 players with just a dozen games in the bag as of right now, so with multiple averages below 70 and some winning averages in the 50's, this could take a while.

Monday, 10 June 2019

World Cup format

Nice of Willie O'Connor to take the results of the Scotland half knocking him out of the provisional Grand Slam places using the "this is fine" approach, powering through to the final with Steve Lennon, to grab the 12/13 priority as it stands, and with Peter Wright getting into the list now (nice to see Scotland finally claim the title), it's hard to see too many players who could legitimately knock one or both of them out. Suljovic could certainly threaten, but then after that you're looking at the likes of White, Lewis, Chisnall, Durrant or someone a bit more outlandish making a run to the final of one of the Matchplay, Grand Prix, Champions League or World Series finals. You could see one or two maybe doing something, but you need four to knock one of them out - and in the Champions League, it's more or less just Suljovic (if he's even able to get back in the top 8 by the cutoff) that could play there. It seems unlikely.

But to the reason for the post. There's been some talk on Twitter about how there's too much of a singles slant on things, Simon Whitlock being one player that's mentioned this (does he post if him and Anderson don't both lose their singles games to Canada?), and I think it's a fair point. I'm not the biggest fan of doubles, or of the tournament in general, but I think there's the potential to make one change that would address this, and also have the side effect of giving more players - especially from areas that don't normally get a great deal of TV time - the chance to play on a big stage. Make it three man teams.

How would you do this and keep things running in a reasonable timeframe? Here's what I'd do:

Round 1 - One game of triples, exactly the same as the current doubles except every player has to play.

Round 2/QF/SF - Three games of pairs. Teams select the order for players to sit a game out. If you've got one really good player, do you get him in early, or risk leaving it to the final game and not getting there? Tactics ahoy!

Final - Expand to seven sets, have it go:

C v C
B v B
A v A

So three sets of doubles and singles, with triples as a decider if needed. If it gets to the very end, everyone's going to have to contribute. In every round, everyone needs to contribute. It shouldn't affect timings at all, you might need to start the final session a bit earlier, which I think's doable as the format in the afternoon session doesn't exactly lend itself to long matches.

There's one pressing issue that needs addressing - how would adding a third player to each country affect the competitive balance of the tournament? I don't think it would make an enormous issue - if anything, it limits the reliance a team can have on one player (like Wattimena), and there can't be a huge number of countries that have two good players then a huge dropoff. Let's look at the teams we had this year and put up some potential third wheels - nothing scientific, I'm not going back through the rankings to work out who someone would be for certain, I'm just chucking potential names out there:

England: Cross, Smith (Wade/Chisnall/Aspinall/Lewis/whoever)
Scotland: Anderson, Wright (Henderson)
Wales: Price, Clayton (Lewis)
Netherlands: van Gerwen, Wattimena (de Zwaan)
Australia: Whitlock, Anderson (Cadby)
Northern Ireland: Gurney, Dolan (Mansell)
Belgium: Huybrechts, van den Bergh (other Huybrechts/de Decker)
Austria: Suljovic, Lerchbacher (Rodriguez)
Brazil: Portela, Valle (Rangel)
Canada: Murschell, Long (Smith, Part, Fatum)
China: Zong, Liu (anyone who can get a visa)
Czech Republic: Sedlacek, Jirkal (Benecky)
Denmark: Laursen, Heinsoe (come back to me on Thursday - Lokken maybe? Dartistik I'm looking in your direction)
Finland: Kantele, Viljanen (ULF)
Germany: Hopp, Schindler (Clemens)
Gibraltar: Parody, Lopez (Duo)
Greece: Michael, Symeonidis (Pantelidis)
Hong Kong: Lam, Leung (Shek)
Hungary: Szekely, Vesgo (Kovacs)
Ireland: Lennon, O'Connor (Cullen/McGowan/one of the kids)
Italy: Micheletti, Tomassetti (Petri)
Japan: Asada, Muramatsu (Ono, Suzuki?)
Lithuania: Labanauskas, Barauskas (Sakys)
New Zealand: Harris, Puha (Irwin surely can leave the country by then, Parry etc otherwise)
Philippines: Ilagan, Malicdem (Perez)
Poland: Ratajski, Kanik (Kciuk)
Russia: Koltsov, Kadochnikov (Dobromyslova?)
Singapore: Lim, Lim (find a third Lim?)
South Africa: Petersen, Bouwers (Scheffer, Arendse)
Spain: Reyes, Alcinas (Perales)
Sweden: Nilsson, Caris (Larsson, Engstrom, gonna need two now, thank you Magnus)
USA: Young, Puleo (Butler still active? Lauby? Gates?)

I think oddly enough that the team that would get done over most by such a change would be our beaten finalists, although that's maybe only because they're a couple of years away from some of the youngsters making a real breakthrough - McGowan could hold his own at least. I don't think any of the teams that are already strong would suddenly become unbeatable, and I don't think that it would hugely affect the balance amongst the teams with large pre tournament title equity. It'd also probably help the German team the most, given the really small gap in quality between Clemens and the current team (if you're not going to argue that Clemens is better than Schindler already), and we all know the PDC would do almost anything to boost the German market. The lower tier teams would remain that way, but if some of the middling teams get diluted a bit, maybe more would be able to pull off an upset.

It is a bit odd in that this has been one of the better World Cups I remember us having in recent years, but it's also the one which has created the most discussion. I do think there is a bit of a gap in the market for doubles tournaments (maybe they could hold a one off event the day prior to the Grand Prix - think of the puns), and I think that there's certainly big value in getting more players from around the world onto the stage. This'd possibly tie both of these together nicely. Thoughts?