Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Getting Challenge Tour events finished quicker

OK, here's a follow up to the previous post. I've gone through the timestamps of every game from the last 128 onwards of Challenge Tour 1, and then the first match played on each board in Challenge Tour 2. Here is what the board usage looks like:

This should just about fit in the blog template I have in place, if it looks shit on mobile I apologise, but it probably needs to be large enough that you can get a good view of what's going on. Putting things simply, each board is a line that goes along horizontally. The time along the top of the image is real time, and then everything in the actual chart is showing when an actual match is played on that board, and in which round.

Needless to say, I've been cheap and done this on Google Sheets (if you want to see the raw sheet, drop me a line and I'll send you the link), but to give you a clue, the dark and light purple are the round of 128 games, the horrible electric blue is the last 64, then it carries on through orange, green and so on until we get to the final. Then we have the second event start, where we colour in red the first game being played.

Now let's be extremely clear - these board assignments are not exact - they should be through the round of 64, but they've certainly shifted players around here and there, hence why if you look at board 15, there are two light purple blocks - namely because board 24 was so far behind at the time, they started their game somewhere else, which I've assumed to be board 15, as there was no other board available for the entirety of the time which that game was being played. There's similar things elsewhere. What actual boards are being used is not the big thing though. The key thing is to do the following. Draw a big rectangle from around half two in the afternoon to five o'clock on boards 17-32. See how many games are being played in that area.

This is an enormous resource, which when you're trying to play over 600 matches in one venue in one day you can't really afford to pass up, particularly when your scheduling requires the vast majority of players to come back the next day and do the same thing again. Even if we assume that it takes, I don't know, half an hour to switch all the Dart Connect tablets to the new system (which I guess is a huge overestimate, given they started event 2 within 10 minutes of event one being done), then you have 32 hours worth of board time on boards 17-32 alone to start the second event of the day. Looking at boards 9-16, they were all done not long after 3pm - that's another 25 hours of board time, being very conservative with setup time again.

Let's call it an even 50 hours of board time. That is going to be a massive underestimate, but I want to make a point about minimum gains - I think it's fair to do this, as you may have a bit added administration from what I want to say below. You can see from the chart I posted up that the time from an average nine leg match starting to the next one starting, barring huge lag while you're waiting for a player to finish a game on a slow board or section of the draw, is maybe 20 minutes. That would allow you to get through 150 games.

150 games. In a Challenge Tour event of the size we've had this weekend, that will eliminate HALF THE FUCKING FIELD before the first event has even finished. Just imagine how much quicker the event will finish if you do that.

How can you administer that? It seems easy to me. Let's talk through it:

- Halle 39, where they held the Euro Q-School, appeared to have half the boards on one side and half on the other. I assume Challenge Tour venues are arranged similarly, or at least in a similar fashion for all intents and purposes. Arrange the boards so that, if you label the board winners 1-32 going down the draw, the odd numbered boards are on one side of the venue, and the even numbered boards are on the other, and that from the last 32 onwards, you use the relevant odd numbered board (e.g. winners of boards 1/2 and 3/4 play on boards 1 and 3. Winner of that plays on board 1, etc etc), so the end of the first event is all played on one side of the event away from any clusterfuck on the new event.

- Register for both events at the same time. I assume this is done already. If not, do so, if someone is wanting to register for just the second event, they have a deadline of three hours after the first events starts (which here would be around 13:30). If you can't handle registration for two events at once, start registration for the second event immediately after you've drawn the first. There's enough hanging around in the early stages for people to do so at some point while they wait.

- Immediately draw the second event.

- Highlight who has been eliminated from the first event already (this is a simple vlookup for the Excel geeks among us if you just grab a player list from Dart Connect of the live first event) so we can easily see what games can be played straight away.

- Start allocating matches to begin some small amount of time after the last of boards 17-32 have played their last game. Here you need to be able to work on the fly a little bit, given you're going to have players still active in the first tournament, but if you've done the first step you should be able to be ahead of the game to some extent. For ease of allocating games, you just need to do a bit of manual allocation for who will play the first couple of games - on the first set of games you're going to play, just allocate as many games as possible to players on board 1-4, maybe 5-8 if there's some space, whose boards are going to be in use for the first event through to the very late stages. Once they've got a head start, you can start assigning games to the boards that players would ordinarily be on, and given an hour you've got every other board available for everyone else to catch up.

This is not hard to do. It is not hard to do in the slightest. It just needs a bit of careful planning and organisation, which you would think an organisation with the word "professional" as the first word of their name would be able to do. Then again, if they can't work out if Alcinas was to retain his card until a few days before Q-School, then what do I know?

Monday, 27 January 2020

Big weekend just gone

Let's look at the WDF first - Matt Campbell won an event in Canada which sadly only seemed to have the final on Dart Connect, while Wayne Warren and Nick Kenny claimed titles in Romania, some interesting new names coming through that I've not heard of before, and a few that haven't been seen for a bit.

To the PDC, and the first Challenge Tour weekend is in the bank - let's look at the winners, as due to the top heavy nature of it, they're going to get first dibs at the Players Championship events, through at least twelve and possibly fourteen of the events. Robert Collins? That's believable. Scott Mitchell (who I believe did enough on the remaining events to top the table, Erik did the table but I can't find the tweet right now)? That's very believable. Matt Dennant? Fine. Jitse van de Wal? Now that's a real oddball winner, but fair play to the lad, the Dutch production line keeps producing them, will be one to keep an eye out for in next weekend's Dutch Open.

We zoom forward towards the Dutch Open now, it's always a fun event to try to keep track of. It's rumoured to be on Dart Connect, but we'll wait and see, it's not there yet - hopefully at a minimum I can find a stream and get the key parts logged in the database - but something I'll do at some point this week is take another look at the Challenge Tour and how it's scheduled, and how they can speed things up a bit. Mitchell won his event after last orders, which is a bit silly - obviously if you're running through 300+ players twice it will take a while, but the matches do have one thing on Dart Connect - timestamps. Using those, and this could take a while, I should be able to demonstrate how they can speed things up by better using their resources. It's what project managers, or wage thieves as they're better known, refer to as a Gantt chart - I'll plot when each board is in use, and hopefully it should show a bloody huge leak in how they run these events. The only small problem is that the board that are listed on Dart Connect aren't the actual boards they are using - at least in the later stages when they're down through to the last 32 onwards and it filters down to using "boards 1-16", that Callum Francis played Jerry Hendriks between 8:03 and 8:20 on board 7 in event 4, while Boris Koltsov played Graham Usher between 8:11 and 8:24 on board 7 as well is kind of a clue, but if I spot where there's overlap and allocate the overlapping game to the lowest numbered board available, it should still demonstrate what they can do to fix things.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Coverage of non-PDC events

With the WDF announcing a new ranking structure, I may as well put onto paper what levels I want to cover non-PDC events, so that I can try to get a better level of statistics from outside the main tour, so here's how far I plan to go down in each type of tournament (as always, this is reliant on statistics being available, with the growth of Dart Connect I would like to think I can get most of these):

Semi-finals - WDF Silver category tournaments
Quarter-finals - WDF Gold category tournaments, PDC Challenge/Development Tours, PDC-affiliated tours (SDC, CDC, DPA and Asian Tour)
Last 16 - WDF Platinum category tournaments (just the Dutch Open at present)
Last 32 - Any BDO major that runs, WDF "World Masters"
Full coverage - BDO worlds if applicable, WDF "World Championship"

As such, the Las Vegas Open's now in the books, and I have more stats on Danny Baggish than I had before the worlds...

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Your 31 new tour card holders

So Q-School is done, so let's say, in increasing order of interest, who I'm most interested in seeing on tour over the next two years:

31 - Wayne Jones

Over the last couple of years, it's either been he's hit a disproportionate amount of twelve darters compared to the legs he's won, because that seems that's more or less the only way he's been able to win legs. Surely not going to be able to make that much of an impact.

30 - Steve Brown

Will probably be interesting to see where his game is actually at, up until the point where JDC commitments limit the amount he's actually able to do in terms of playing the tour, then he can't get anything going and just drops off after two years.

29 - Martin Atkins (Wigan)

He's been around for a while, and not done anything really remarkable, only just got over the line so will surely just be making up the numbers.

28 - Alan Tabern

Never that much of a fan of older players who've done not enough to retain their card, but do just enough to win it back. Seemed to show a little bit more than Jones so a little bit higher.

27 - Gary Blades

Kind of for the reasons I posted when he won his card - I just don't think he's good enough to be able to have a winning record on the tour. Maybe he can up his game, I don't know, if he's anything other than mediocre it's a bonus. Somewhat funking for him because of his name, but that's about it.

26 - Daniel Larsson

We've never really seen any Scandi's made a sustained impact on the tour, and I'm not convinced that Larsson will be able to do anything different. If he was a bit younger and showing an upward trend, I could believe things, but he's already 38 and wasn't impressive last year.

25 - Harald Leitinger

Perhaps this could be a bit higher given he's apparently alright in soft tip, but this just strikes of someone that won't be able to adapt to the full time nature of the tour given he's come from more or less nowhere.

24 - Peter Jacques

I think my only real interest is that he did show a pretty nice purple patch in 2017 that saw him get into the worlds, so there's something there. That there is something there is a bonus, so maybe that it's been basically absent for two years might be misleading if he's got through here.

23 - Kai Fan Leung

This is possibly misleadingly low. I'm hugely interested given what he's been able to do in this weekend - I'm just not convinced that he's actually going to play enough of the tour to make him worthy of a card. Maybe he stops around for a few months, gets some results and then decides to put in a full effort, that would be interesting. If he plays the first couple of months, wins £500 then heads back home, it's just be a waste of a card.

22 - Ryan Murray

Maybe I could have put the top qualifier from the points table higher. I don't know. I just look at his record, see he's been drakking around the Challenge Tour for years without ever really doing much of anything. Could easily be another one where he's hit some form at just the right time and it's unsustainable.

21 - Steffen Siepmann

Always nice to see more Germans on the tour, he's been gradually improving from where we've seen him on the Euro Tour, but I really don't think it's been enough to think he'll have any real chance of retaining his card.

20 - Darren Penhall

The main interest is in that I have no fucking clue who he is. He's crept over the line in the points table today, coming completely in from under the radar despite me having paid a decent amount of attention to this weekend. Could be that he ends up being outclassed at this level. If so, it may be at least a little bit of fun finding out.

19 - Aaron Beeney

Can't really justify putting him any higher. It's going to be an experience, and there may be a small amount of macabre entertainment to see how long it takes him to win a game, but that's about it really.

18 - Krzysztof Kcuik

He's had a little bit about him from where we've seen him now and again over the past two to three years. We saw with Kanik that the Eastern European guys were able to develop and do a little bit of damage, maybe it's the case with Kcuik that these two years are about getting the hang of a week in week out schedule, then he can come back stronger. He's still south of forty so there's enough time.

17 - William Borland

This could be potentially a little bit higher - it's good to see some younger Scottish players coming through, and he's going in the right direction, these two years should be the next stage in his development and do him a world of good, but I wonder if he's going to be ever so slightly outclassed.

16 - Derk Telnekes

He's been around the Dutch and BDO scene for a couple of years and has come through on the points table, but has he really done anything of note during that time? He's still fairly young, he did play Development Tour events last year, so maybe it's the right time for him to go full time and do something, I just think if he really had something about him we'd have seen more already.

15 - Andy Hamilton

The Hammer's back after a couple of years off the PDC circuit, that might have done him the world of good and he's able to come back invigorated and able to try to come back to the levels he was at a decade ago. Then again, he's not massively set the BDO on fire, he did a bit more in 2019, but 2018 was a bit of a truncated attempt. He's got the class, so if he can find it, it should be fun, if possibly sporadic.

14 - Boris Krcmar

I love the potential of soft tip players shifting over, he's very respected in that form of the game, and clearly has enough quality in the steel tip game to have gone over. The only question is why he didn't try it earlier? Maybe he has his reasons and he can jump on things and make an impact. We'll see.

13 - Jeff Smith

Similar to the Hammer, except the difference here is that he's been in a world final (albeit BDO) more recently, and with his Canadian location it's questionable as to how much he'll actually be able to play the circuit. I hope he gives it a go, we know what he can do, and after the tragedies he had with his business away from darts it'd be a feel good redemption story if he's able to make a real impression on the PDC circuit, plus having North American representation is always a good thing.

12 - Bradley Brooks

I'm always going to be somewhat impressed of someone who was able to win his card the first time at the age Bradley was able to do, gain the experience and have a few decent moments, then not let the initial experience of losing a card put him off at all, winning it straight back. He was one game away from the worlds in the PDPA qualifier, so maybe the last couple of months have seen an uptick in form and he can hit the ground running.

11 - Dirk van Duijvenbode

He's really good. Honestly. The numbers don't lie, he just needs to do it more consistently on the main circuit. The performances he put up in qualification are no joke, I think he just needs one decent result on a largish stage to put that whole Barney busted 180 issue behind him. It's coming, I think it's just a case of when.

10 - Adam Hunt

Winning the Q-School Order of Merit isn't easy, Hunt's been there or there abouts for a while now, and like Brooks he was also one game away from making the worlds in the PDPA qualifer, he's still fairly young and may have accumulated enough experience at this stage where he can actually make a tour card stick after two years.

9 - Nick Kenny

There's been a lot of people talking up his performances on the BDO circuit this season, so I think I'm going to give them enough credit to put him up this high. He got up to the number 6 seed for a reason and is still a few years away from 30, so maybe 2019 was the year that the senior circuit's started to click, and his game is in the place where he can properly attack the PDC scene. We'll see.

8 - Karel Sedlacek

Always exciting to see new nations represented on the PDC scene, and Karel winning through to become the first Czech player to get a tour card is going to be exciting. At the very least, seeing him in Prague is going to be an experience, but I get the feeling it's just a case of opportunity. Maybe not straight away, but maybe it's a case of a Suljovic or a Ratajski that it takes a bit of time, and then he explodes. We've seen spurts at least, so it's a possibility.

7 - Mike de Decker

The Belgian's been on the fringes of the main circuit for a while now, and has won his card back after a couple of year absence - still developing, and developing strongly given his performances in the European Tour in 2019, this feels about the right time for Mike to properly transition to the senior circuit.

6 - Jason Lowe

This might seem quite low, but the guy appears really good. From what people have said he's been bossing the lower reaches of darts which aren't really tracked by major sites, but when we last saw him on the PDC, he looked in great form in the early stages of 2018. If he's not dropped off much in levels from then, and just hasn't been appearing when we can see him, then it's entirely feasible he can jump straight in and show up in the worlds from the Pro Tour in twelve months time.

5 - Scott Waites

How much is he going to play? That's the critical question. I think everyone wanted to see Scott on the PDC circuit 5-10 years ago, it's simply never happened for one reason or another, and what he did play on the BDO scene hasn't been extensive. If, and it is an if, he puts everything into it and gives it a full two years at 100%, then we know Waites' upside and it could be very exciting indeed. We'll see what happens but the potential is there.

4 - Martijn Kleermaker

What's interesting about Kleermaker is that he's had an exceptional twelve to eighteen months on the floor - which is where he's going to need to do things, at least initially, if he's going to make an impact on the PDC. From what he's been saying it seems like he couldn't wait to make the switch, he's done so, all the quality is there, I've got the sense that he's going to be another Danny Noppert-type switcher that might start to come truly good given a year or two.

3 - Wesley Harms

Wesley got to where he was seeded in this year's BDO worlds for a reason. He's shown resilience - he was impressive earlier in the decade, then dropped for a few years, now has made a resurgence to get to the levels where he currently is. While he's been around for a while, he's only 35, so has the combination of a good level of BDO senior experience while not being too old to really make a difference.

2 - Damon Heta

We need another player from Damon's area of the world to start pushing through, following Whitlock's seemingly gradual decline, Anderson's inconsistency, Cadby's off-oche issues and Harris just failing to get onto the circuit yet again. It's a bit rare to see someone that's won a PDC TV title only just winning a card, but we saw then what Heta is able to do, the big question now is how he's able to make the difficult transition to the other side of the world.

1 - Lisa Ashton

Can there be any other number one pick? Sherrock made the headlines, but this is a far bigger story. Ashton winning through a completely non-segregated qualifier to get onto the main tour for a two year span, is what's really making the breakthrough for ladies' darts. It's an enormous event. It sets up the possibility where we could realistically get five ladies into next year's worlds - Ashton through the Pro Tour if she's able to step up, as I think she can, and if Suzuki can do the business on the Asian Tour and Dobromyslova can play the EADC, then it's not beyond the realms of possibility.

Q-School proposed reforms

Well today's not got off to a good start, Richardson, Asada and Vandenboegaerde are all done already, Ashton's not added to her overnight tally so is very much hanging on and hoping that the eventual winners have a bunch of points already, so as promised earlier, here's how I would reform Q-School. This is very similar to something I have previously posted, but I can't for the life of me find the post, so I won't link it. I'll outline a bunch of principles first:

1) It should be easy to administer

This is the foremost one. There's no point in suggesting a brilliant new system that'll perfectly produce the best results if it's impossible to run. The PDC would need to operate it so it needs to be realistic.

2) It should be easy to understand

There's plenty of players in the darting community that don't seem like they're the sharpest knifes in the drawer, so it's got to be fairly straightforward. This, in combination with point 1, is probably a bit reason why they have the system that we have at the moment.

3) It should be more equitable than the current system

We all want the best players to be playing in the PDC, so any proposed changes should make it more realistic for the best players to come through at the end.

4) It shouldn't prevent anyone who wants to come and have a go to do so

There's always talk at this time of year that there should be some sort of limitation on who gets to play, be it some pre-qualifier, some sort of average requirement (yes, really), whatever - Barry's always said that it's a meritocracy so that as long as you make him money as long as you're good enough, there should be a pathway open.

5) It should be easily expandable

The number of players entering seems to show no sign of slowing down (although given the BDO system can't possibly get any lower, this may tail off slightly), so any system should be able to cope with ever increasing numbers.

6) It should require players to commit to four days

This is, for all intents and purposes, a job interview. If you can't take it seriously enough to commit to taking 2-3 days off your day job then you shouldn't be playing it.

So, with those points in mind, here's how I would go about things. The first thing I would do is, for each venue, is to seed 64/96/128 players, not in any particular order, more just so that they can be evenly distributed and prevent any real difficult boards on day 1 with two, three or four on each board. I would go with seeding:

- Any players who have lost their tour card from the previous year
- Any players who are in the top 16 of the Challenge/Development tours
- Any players who are in the top 4 of PDC-affiliated tours
- Any players who have qualified for the WDF's season ending event
- The semi finalists from whatever ladies' worlds we have going forward
- Top up with players alternating from the Challenge/Development Tours until we hit the magic number.

Once that's in play, we draw however many out for each of the 32 boards evenly, then draw out everyone else as evenly as possible to a board.

Day 1 - Cut to 256 players

The first thing to do is to get to a manageable number of players. If you want to be a "fun" player, then go ahead, but you're probably only going to be around for one day. On each board, you basically play King of the Hill, or winner stops on, or whatever you want to call it. Each board:

- Randomly orders the players into a list, the first two throw for the bull and play one leg
- The winner stays on, the loser goes to the back of the list
- The next player comes in and has the darts in the next leg
- Repeat until everyone has had two opportunities to play
- Whoever is the winner at that point stays on the board, but the list is then redrawn to prevent the possibility of the same matches taking place over and over. Keep redrawing every two orbits.
- Once someone has reached some set number of legs (back of a fag packet calculations give between 8 and 10 as the magic number), they have qualified for day 2 and take no further part. They vacate the board, the loser goes to the back of the queue as normal, then the next two bull up and we continue as normal.
- Repeat until we have players ordered 1-8 who've got the required number of legs. They all qualify, everyone else is eliminated.

I think this works well. If you're good enough to be able to play at the PDC level, you should be able to get a string of games where you keep breaking and pushing your points tally up. There's no theoretical maximum of how many players this can accommodate. Every player has their chances - you come in with the darts, if you can't hold your throw at this level then that's too bad. It's also not a complicated system - anyone who's here has probably been in their local at some point and there's been winner stops on, it's very straight forward.

Day 2 - Cut to 128 players

Here's where we go to a Swiss format. For those who haven't seen it before, a Swiss tournament lasts a certain number of rounds, and in each round you play someone with the same won-loss record as yourself. This can be organised without a huge amount of complication. We've got lists from 1-8 for each board from yesterday, draw so each board has a player 1, player 2 etc as they finished on day 1. Then they all play 3 games like so:

Intuitively this shouldn't be too hard to understand if you've ever player a knockout - you know in one of those who you'll play if you win a match, the only twist here is that it works both ways - you know who you'll play if you lose a match as well.

You'll then have eight players labelled as the winner and loser of each of matches 9-12. You then repeat the cycle once more, pairing eight winners of match 9 on each of four boards, eight losers of match 9 on each of four boards, and so on. Like the first stage of day 2, this can be pre-drawn and highlighted so that everyone can know where they're going for the first three games of the day, and then once you've played those, you know which board you're going to dependent on your results. This can be drawn the night before for added clarity.

Once you have five wins on the day, you have qualified for day 3. If you have five losses on the day, you're eliminated. After the second cycle, you'll have 28 players already through, 28 players out, and then the remainder on between 2 and 4 wins (and losses). At this point it doesn't easily break down into the same multiples, so you'd need to draw round by round. For the seventh round, players with a 4-2 record play other players on 4-2, winners advance, similar with players on 2-4 except here the loser goes home, while players on 3-3 will end up on 4-3 or 3-4. Round 8 is similar, players on 4-3 go up against each other to advance, players on 3-4 play to survive, then the final round will see everyone on 4-4 play one more match where you'll make day 3 or go home. 128 players will get through the day and come back for day 3.

This involves quite a large number of games on each board, so I imagine to have things finish at a reasonable time, you'd probably be limited to a best of 7 format. That's fairly short, but Q-School is only best of nine now, and you're given plenty of chances to get the job done.

Day 3 - Cut to 64 players

On day 3, we do a similar process, except as we have less players, we have a bit more time - here the "correct" number of matches to play a field of this size without having the possibility of players with different records facing each other is to get to four wins. With half the number of players and two less rounds to play, you can easily extend to best of eleven matches, i.e. a standard Pro Tour length match. Rather than assigning eight players to each board, you assign four players to each board for pairs of matches - first game is random, second game is winner v winner and loser v loser. This'll leave you with 32 players on 2-0, 64 on 1-1 and 32 on 0-2. Group four players together with the same record and repeat the cycle. After this, you'll have eight players through, eight players out, 32 on 3-1, 48 on 2-2 and 32 on 1-3. Group into fours again - the 3-1 groups will see three players advance, the 1-3 groups will see three players eliminated, the 2-2 groups will see one through, one out and the remaining two on 3-3. Finally, you'll have 40 players on 3-3, each of them plays another, and you get your final 20 players making day four.

At a maximum of thirteen games on a board, this isn't the longest day even at best of eleven - it may be more sensible to have the last couple of rounds of day 2 come back this morning to finish off to balance the lengths of the days a little bit. This also gives more incentive for players to get through early on day 2.

Day 4 - all play all for the cards

We're down to 64, and we have 32 boards available. Everyone can play at the same time. Could we eliminate any form of randomness whatsoever and have everyone play everyone else? Let's do some maths - if we assume just one leg on throw each against each other, and some time to work around between each game, I would have thought you could get through five matches per hour. With there surely being few players that are poor left, they should be able to get through a leg each and move to the next board in less than twelve minutes, particularly if you are clever with the scheduling. This isn't too hard, set up four pools of players labelled A-D. Have pool A start on boards 1-16 and not move. Have pool B play them and move down one board each time. Meanwhile pools C/D are doing similar on board 17-32. Once all games are done, take a short break, then have A play D and B play C in a similar fashion (switching the groups which stay still so you've not got the same set of players continually moving boards). Have the last two sets of boards play off, then finally you just need to play the players in each pool against one another - this can be pre-ordered on a set of eight boards to minimise movement.

This'd probably be the longest day, but I don't think it would take substantially longer than the current setup, or a current Challenge Tour day, and it has the huge advantage that there is *no* possible unfair draws, as you play every possible opponent. Sort by legs won, then assign cards.

That took longer than I thought to post - looking through Twitter it looks like Kleermaker, Telnekes, van Duijvenbode and Larsson have clinched cards, while Harms, Kciuk and Krcmar are all very close, the UK's a bit more of a mess but it looks like Edhouse is probably the biggest casualty since I started writing. Back later with the full roundup.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Q-School day 3

Getting close to the business end now, first our direct tour card winners. First guy in was Karel Sedlacek - should be familiar to most, previous world championship contender, European Tour quarter finalist, very welcome addition to the tour who beat Berry van Peer in the final, along with some decent scalps beforehand. Second player is Jeff Smith, had a fairly quiet 2019, but the Canadian's back on the pro circuit, denying Seigo Asada in the final, didn't have the trickiest run, but we know what he can do when he's on it, question is how much he'll be able to play really. Finally we have Aaron Beeney. OK then, here's what he's done previously to this weekend:

That's, er, not great, and it's from a year ago, here's what he did today, after losing 5-1 yesterday with a 65 average and 5-4 on Thursday with another sub-70 average:

Jesus christ. He's won EVERY game from the last 128 onwards averaging lower than his opponent, and hasn't broken 90 in a single match. I don't recognise a single player he's faced up until he got through to Dave Ladley (Ricky Clarke I guess rings a slight bell?), and even then it's not exactly the top tier of possible opponents. When you consider from the last sixteen stage the other half had, as well as Smith and Asada, John Bowles, Paul Nicholson, Ryan Murray (maybe not that well known but he has 14 points already and is effectively guaranteed a card), Lee Evans, Ryan Hogarth and Willie Borland, that's a sign of how silly Q-School is. I've posted several times previously in the past about how you could reform Q-School to make it more equitable, fairer and give the cream every chance to rise to the top, while still not being difficult to administer, I'll repost something later.

So, to the points. The UK qualifier is a bit easier. Murray's in, Hamilton's effectively in, Heta and Jacques are both on 11 and should be fine, Steve Brown's stuck on 10 and will stay on 10 as he says he has some JDC stuff to fix, will that be enough? Ashton, Tabern, Hunt, and Atkins (I assume Wigan) are all on 9 and could do with another couple of points to be absolutely safe. Pilgrim is on 8, then there's a whole clutch of players on 6/7 points who could do with winning their board as a very minimum to stand a chance. Nicholson, Fitton and Richardson are some obviously notable ones aside from a few players who went deep today that have already been mentioned. Think Edhouse is on 5 or 6 as well (I'm counting 7, but I think he was missed on the PDC graphic? [edit - missed him in the bottom left, he is on 7])

On the EU side, it's a right mess. Kleermaker, Telnekes, van Duijvenbode and van Peer are all on 12. Larsson, Tricole and Kciuk are a point back. There's only seven cards on countback so everyone else is outside. Harms and Krcmar are one off, Munch, Lerchbacher and Rusty-Jake are two off, then it expands exponentially - Harris, Huybrechts, Nilsson and Vandenboegaerde are all on 8.

There's quite a few big names who are in bink only mode - in Europe you're needing 5/6 by now to stand any chance without binking it all, so Perales, Koltsov, Nijman, Pratnemer are looking in real trouble, probably chuck Veenstra, Mandigers and Unterbuchner in as well. In the UK you're probably needing about the same, so Jim Williams, Menzies, Burton, David Evans, Norris, Jenkins, Barry, McKinstry, Mitchell, Rafferty, Fullwell, Monk, Sherrock, Waites (if he shows up again), and Scott Taylor (same) are all needing that miracle run.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Q-School day 2

Second day's in the books, and we got some known winners. Let's start with the Euro qualifier, where Mike de Decker got his card after a year of more or less qualifying every weekend for the Euro Tour events from the associate qualifier, certainly seems well deserved and will be a great addition to the tour. He beat out Dennis Nilsson, who after a bad first day put himself into contention to get a card, as did everyone else who made the quarters, as nobody at that stage had a great day 1. Kleermaker's more or less a lock now after a last 16 run, it'd be hard to shift Sedlacek after the same, while Tricole hitting another last 16 has put himself into a solid position along with Krcmar adding a couple of points today.

To the UK. Bradley Brooks is back on the tour, he won through over Damon Heta, scary to think he's burned through one tour card already, won a second, and he's not even twenty. It's an unorthodox way to develop, but it's clearly working if he's won the card outright straight back again. The other outright winner is Kai Fan Leung, who's been putting up some silly averages over both days and got home, just about, over Lisa Ashton, who was the talk of the twittersphere this afternoon/evening. I don't think I'm the only one that thinks that if Ashton would have won the card outright, that'd have been a far, far greater achievement than Sherrock winning a couple of games at the worlds. Oh well. I guess the thing we really need to hope from here is that Leung actually uses the card, unlike how Royden Lam did next to nothing after he won it, apparently according to some social media quotes, he's "thinking" about bringing his family here. OK then. Maybe just suck it up here for three months and see how it goes.

On the countback in the UK, Ashton's obviously in a great spot on nine already, as is Heta - it'd take a calamitous collapse or back to back horror draws for them not to get the one or two points that'd make them secure. There's a good few familiar names up there - an odd one is Steve Brown from nowhere leading the table with Ryan Murray. Andy Hamilton, Adam Hunt, Tony Newell and James Richardson all hold countback spots right now, while Ritchie Edhouse and Andrew Gilding are just outside looking in. It doesn't take a huge deal to get in right now, but if you've not got anything right now, a bad Saturday will make things out of reach for sure. Mitchell, Asada, Scott Taylor, Monk, Barry, Jenkins, Suzuki, Waites - none of them have scored a point. If you think that you need five to get on right now, and there's plenty of people on 3-4 who may well push up to six or more after tomorrow, you need to set some sort of platform to attack on Sunday as a minimum. Remember that 10 points wasn't enough for everyone last year. Plenty of people just on a single point - Fullwell, McKinstry, Williams and Rafferty all need to do something desperately tomorrow.

Interesting news from the WDF today as well:

So they're basically saying that when the BDO goes busto, they'll take over the World Masters, and have a largish end of season event similar to the current BDO worlds, which is exactly what I said they should intend on doing. This is nice to see.