Sunday 26 February 2017

Players Championship 1/2, UK Open bets

Interesting weekend of darts, with van Gerwen giving it a miss on top of the expected absence of Taylor, this opened things up for a few players, with Alan Norris capitalising for what I believe to be his third PDC ranking title, over the surprise package of Peter Jacques, while today's event saw the top two players that entered, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson, clashing in the final, with Anderson coming out on top in a one-sided final. Adie hit a nine but lost in the first round, but who else shall we give credit to?

Best weekend long performance - quite a few people outperformed their relative rankings, Wade didn't quite but a semi and a quarter is a solid weekend's work, Michael Smith made two quarters, Gurney made a semi and a last 16, Reyes made a quarter and a last 16, quite a lot of random names were also able to make at least the last 32 twice including Steve West, Chris Dobey, Jan Dekker, Dave Pallett and Zoran Lerchbacher. I think I'll give it to Smith, as he continues to rebuild form.

Best tournament long performance - has to be Peter Jacques with a final out of nowhere. Literally not even on my ranking board prior to this weekend, the non tour card holder produced a string of big shocks, Nicholson, Payne and O'Connor not being that surprising, but beating Anderson, Smith and Wade certainly is. Norris can certainly take a lot of credit for his win, Robert Owen also had a great run to the quarters today, knocking out Bunting, Jacques, Cross and Kellett.

Best single match performance - Anderson's been pretty dominant, running off a ton of unanswered legs, don't want to give two awards to Jacques, quite a few first round contenders today as Chisnall, Suljovic and Whitlock were all top five seeds to fall - I think I'll give it to Gary Anderson for his final against Peter Wright, he was that dominant.

Worst weekend long performance - Bunting, easily. Losing first round to Wes Newton and Robert Owen isn't a good look.

Worst single match performance - I'll go for a tie between Whitlock and Suljovic today, losing 6-3 to Darren Johnson and Joe Murnan respectively. I'd expect them both to come through that one. Lewis being able to hit a nine darter and still lose 6-3 to Henderson is also worth mentioning

Updated live top 20 rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Gary Anderson
3 Peter Wright
4 James Wade
5 Dave Chisnall
6 Adrian Lewis
7 Raymond van Barneveld
8 Phil Taylor
9 Mensur Suljovic
10 Jelle Klaasen
11 Benito van de Pas
12 Kim Huybrechts
13 Michael Smith (UP 1)
14 Ian White (DOWN 1)
15 Simon Whitlock
16 Alan Norris (UP 1)
17 Robert Thornton (DOWN 1)
18 Daryl Gurney
19 Gerwyn Price
20 Terry Jenkins

We now have all the information that we're going to get and there's enough bookmakers listing odds that I'll post up the round 1/2 bets for the UK Open. Will not be able to put up any official bets for round 2 matches that are dependent on round 1 results due to work commitments, but I should be able to get round 3 up on the Friday evening. So here goes:

0.5u Kamphuis 8/11 vs Meikle
0.25u Green 8/13 vs Pilgrim
0.5u Hogan evs vs Brown
0.25u Ferrell 13/10 vs Murray
0.5u de Graaf 1/2 vs Bates
0.5u Edhouse 8/13 vs Hewson
0.5u Pallett 4/5 vs Jenkins
0.5u Michael 10/11 vs Hudson
0.5u Kellett evs vs van Duijvenbode
0.5u Johnson 6/5 vs de Zwaan
0.5u Lerchbacher 8/11 vs Dennant
0.25u Biggs 10/3 vs Meeuwisse
0.5u Shepherd evs vs Barilli
0.25u Walsh 8/11 vs Carroll
0.25u Harvey 8/11 vs Davis
0.25u Pass 2/1 vs Parletti

Not finding a great deal of favourable big underdog matchups, just quite a few lines between evenly matches players per the bookies which I think may be a bit more one sided to my player than the line suggests. Should be an entertaining event.

Sunday 19 February 2017

UK Open Round 1/2 Preview

There's a couple of sites that have odds up yet, but I'm waiting until closer to the time to post up the tips. So the previews, sorted in order of the highest ranked player in each of the 32 round 2 matchups:

Robert Thornton (16) v Kevin Bambrick (319, Q) or Nicky Bell (Unranked, Q)

Bell has zero record on dartsdatabase - nada, nothing, zilch. He qualified from Nottingham and we know nothing other than that he's a plasterer, and if it's the same one that I found with a quick Google of Notts super league, is about a mid-70's average player. Bambrick we know a bit more about, he's played the Challenge Tour with little success, and is ranked on my system through one 6-2 win in a Pro Tour event nearly two years ago over Pete Dyos. Bambrick probably has the slight edge due to experience in the PDC system, but neither should trouble Thornton, who despite his middle of the road form should easily generate enough chances to win.

Daryl Gurney (18) v Ryan Palmer (130)

This is Palmer's second year with a tour card, and will likely end up losing it, as prior to his quarter final in the second qualifier, he'd previously had nothing better than a mincash on tour. That quarter final, where he beat nobody better than Andy Jenkins, was enough to give him the same cash as Gurney, who despite a quarter final in the worlds hasn't kicked on well, going out in every round to someone (apart from Klaasen once) he's at least live to, if not a big favourite. Gurney's stats, 12 darter percentage aside, are a lot better than Thornton's, indicating a much more solid game - more legs in 15 and 18, and putting on more pressure when losing legs. Palmer should be in trouble here.

Terry Jenkins (20) v Wayne Jones (78) or Lee Bryant (246)

Jenkins only played the second weekend, locking up the first round bye in qualifier 5 but doing nothing in qualifier 6 to go better, and given he lost to Painter, Newell and Ronny Huybrechts he certainly could have done. His numbers are still solid - 12 darters in the double figures percentage wise, and just above 50% on 15 darters, although there's too many bad legs and the scoring on losing legs is only 86/throw, which isn't the greatest. Jones hasn't played in a TV or European event recent enough for me to have figures, and he qualified through three mincashes, the same as Bryant did, which for the latter is an OK start to your PDC career having won his tour card on day 1 last month, compared to Jones who's probably close to the end. Bryant picked up the scalp of de Graaf in qualification which is about the best he did (he also beat Caven, but given how comedy Caven is I think de Graaf is more important now), while Jones beat Robbie Green and that's about it from the top 50. Jenkins will have the class but his opponent will be down to youth (relatively, Bryant he is in his 30's) versus experience.

Stephen Bunting (21) v Mark Webster (24)

Oh boy, Lakeside winners clash. Both were just one win short of going straight to the last 32, missing out on countback, so neither is in bad form, Bunting qualifying with three cashes, but Webster with five, so a bit more consistent, coupled with a bit more recent class, at least looking back at the worlds. Bunting's figures across the board are very slightly better, with over 10% 12 darters in comparison to Webster down at 6%, but has a worse record looking at percentage of legs won, then again Webster is 4-0 vs Bunting lifetime which is the best record of anyone against Bunting. Looks close all round.

Justin Pipe (29) v Vincent Kamphuis (71) or Ryan Meikle (106)

Pipe only just snook into the top 64 with two mincashes and a last 32, following on from a first round worlds defeat - he has more legs won than losses in the last six months of tournaments I've tracked (which is the Euro Tour or better, excluding the Grand Prix), but the numbers suck - just 1 twelve darter out of 56 legs, under 40% in 15 darts, under 85 on the scoring when he's not winning. He's there for the taking and Kamphuis might do it - doing enough on the tour to make the Players Championship Finals he's no mug, and while on tracked legs he's losing more than he wins, he has got 11 out of 16 legs won in 15 or less, and his scoring when he's not winning is comparable to Pipe's. Meikle is a wildcard, I've got an 8-6 legs won/legs lost record on him, scoring is better when he's not winning and he has hit a 12 in one of those 8 legs, but three of them were in 19 darts or more. He has literally today won a Development Tour event, but only got in at the last second and hasn't really set the Pro Tour alight so far.

Vincent van der Voort (30) v James Wilson (32) or Gary Eastwood (Unranked, Q)

Let's take the unknown one first - Eastwood is back after a seven year absence, tried Q-School from 2012 to 2014 and got past the last 128 on one day out of twelve, and won through at Twickenham, but I can't see him troubling someone with Wilson's class, although his qualification was poor - only getting the one last 32 on day five, while van der Voort managed this three times. I have a much smaller sample on Vincent than James, who was doing a lot better in qualifiers than Vincent over the relevant time period, but van der Voort's numbers look better in all aspects except scoring when losing, where Wilson is a couple of points better. I think this is sample size related (I only have van der Voort winning 24 legs compared to Wilson's 80, with Wilson just over .500 in pure wins/losses while van der Voort also lost 34 legs) so won't put too much into this. Should still be close.

Jamie Caven (33) or Dan Read (Unranked, Q) v Darryl Pilgrim (Unranked, Q) or Ben Green (Unranked, Q)

Caven's luckbox is huge. Not only does he sneak into this at all by getting a gift with two opponents jobbing 6-0 to allow him to qualify, he then draws a pub qualifier followed by another pub qualifier. In the legs I have tracked he is 27-39, only ten of those legs coming in 15 darts or less, and his losing average is a shade under 85, so not threatening that much either. His opponents? Read's still young enough to play the Development Tour, and played this weekend getting no cash, and while playing this and the Challenge Tour he's got a lot of experience, it's mostly been of losing - he did make a quarter final in June but there's more non-cashes than there are cashes. Green's here for a second year, he got a first round bye last year when Jason Hogg didn't show then lost 6-3 to Caris, since then he's played the Challenge Tour, making a quarter final, and also got to the last 80 of the World Masters. Pilgrim is on debut, having no record other than a last 32 in the England Open in 2009. He seems to play superleague in Surrey, but their website doesn't show any stats easily. Would fancy Green having been here before, and he might have enough to trouble Caven.

Jamie Lewis (35) v Keegan Brown (55) or Paul Hogan (309, Q)

Lewis was safe having got a last 16 on day 2, but did little since then and is scrapping to stay in the world top 32. He has decent numbers but is just in a situation where he runs into better players. Brown's another youngster who after looking like he'd push through to the next level, stalled when looking to get to the stage Lewis is at now and collapsed in form, being the highest ranked player in my rankings (Kyle Anderson excepted) to not make the worlds. His limited numbers aren't great, you never want to win in 19 or more as your most frequent result, and his scoring when losing legs is only 82. Hogan meanwhile is older than both these combined and has all the experience in the world. I have his stats from the BDO worlds where he really should have beaten Durrant, and he has 34 out of 36 in 18 or less (split evenly between 15's and 18's), so while Lewis is a bit more explosive, Hogan is certainly comparable in quality, and has course and distance doing well here.

Andrew Gilding (41) v Ryan Murray (229) or John Ferrell (316, Q)

Gilding cashed the first five qualifiers for a solid return, although he could have done a bit better perhaps - his losses including games against Mark Barilli and Barrie Bates (twice), so not unwinnable at all, and he didn't run into anyone truly overpowering. Currently running at a 50/50 split in 15's and non-15's while scoring 85 when not winning, it seems a long time ago since he had his golden spell - it was two years ago. Murray's in a fourth UK Open, not having cashed before, and got in through a last 32 performance on day two with a standout 6-0 drubbing of Thornton. Ferrell cashed here two years ago, and has a track record of over 20 years, taking a set off Warriner in the 1999 PDC world quarter final. That cash saw him beat Darren Webster, then lose 9-2 to Taylor. I think Ferrell is live in round 1, but Gilding should be good enough in round 2.

Jermaine Wattimena (42) or Kai Fan Leung (225) v Devon Petersen (51)

Leung is from Hong Kong and played Q-School, and cashed three out of six qualifiers, his best run being to the last 32 where he beat Razma, Baxter and Jamie Lewis, which isn't bad going, beyond that I know little about him. Wattimena has got a lot of TV and European Tour experience, but I'm not convinced he's any good - only 30% of the legs he's won have been in under 15 darts, although he is over 92% in under 18 and is a fraction under 85 in non-winning legs, which gives you a good idea of where he's at - simply not killing legs quickly enough to beat anyone around the top 32 with any regularity. Petersen isn't much better though - his 15 dart percentage is at 33%, and he is in the low 70's in 18 dart legs, and scoring worse in legs he loses - at 82, that's meaning that he will allow Wattimena the chance to clear up in 18 darts far too often.

Jonny Clayton (50) or Jimmy McKirdy (Unranked, Q) v Mark Frost (58) or Jamie Bain (181)

McKirdy won the Chester qualifier, and averages in the sixties according to latest superleague stats, so Clayton should be far too strong. Frost had three last 64 outings to make it, as did Bain - the same money as Clayton, who did it in one shot on the final day. Bain regained his tour card, and didn't do a massive amount last time, making a handful of last 16's but not enough to stick around. Frost lost his, just, and the figures I have on him aren't pretty, not winning many of his legs quickly at all and scoring 77 when losing. Bain should have a shot, but Clayton is clearly the best player of this segment.

Mick McGowan (52) v Dean Reynolds (Unranked, Q) or Andy Roberts (Unranked, Q)

Reynolds turned down the tour card he could have had from the Development Tour last year, opting to continue to craft his art in the BDO system, which seems fair enough, he's still young and has unfinished business after a shockingly bad Lakeside. Roberts is making his fourth appearance ten years after his first, his best run being in 2009 where he beat Beaton and nearly went further, losing 9-8 to Alex Roy. Reynolds likely takes it, and then has a test in McGowan, who had a good run in the final qualifier to cement a first round bye, although not against the toughest opposition and his run ended in a whitewash to Wade. McGowan's numbers are very steady - not hitting a single 12, he is finishing over 60% in fifteen or less and not letting many legs get deep. It'll be a close game which Reynolds could edge if he plays well, if not, McGowan will punish.

Jeffrey de Graaf (53) v Barrie Bates (161)

Surprising resurgence from Bates whose career was for all intents and purposes over, the former finalist picked up £1,750 in the second weekend to be within one game of the money, and was picking up form on the Challenge Tour in 2016 and was also two games away from qualifying for the worlds, losing 5-4 in the last 16. de Graaf had the same qualifying money, getting most of it in qualifier 4, where he made the last 16, beating Thornton and van de Pas before losing to Michael Smith. He doesn't kill quickly - only 8 out of 21 legs won being in fifteen or less, but scoring in losing legs is over 86 and he doesn't let that many get beyond 18 darts, so I think he'll take this one.

Ron Meulenkamp (54) or Royden Lam (230) v Lee Evans (120, Q) or Andrew Davidson (236, Q)

Meulenkamp got a grand in the first weekend but nothing in the second so enters at round one - he seems fairly solid if unspectacular. Lam picked up a mincash in the first weekend and £750 in the second to end with the same money as Ron, and probably edges things in terms of big stage experience, even if most of it is soft tip. Evans isn't on the tour but did OK in the shots he got, making the money of this event each of the last two years, needing to beat Rowby John Rodriguez last year and Ronny Huybrechts the year before. Davidson also cashed last year, with good wins over Dekker and Reyes before going down 9-5 to Darren Webster. This seems fairly even throughout, Evans and Meulenkamp probably have the edge but I don't think anyone can be written off.

Jan Dekker (56) v Ritchie Edhouse (131) or Rob Hewson (231)

We mentioned Dekker just now, and he'll be disappointed after getting £1,750 in weekend one not to add to it, that pace would have seen him in the money. He has made the last 16 of here two years ago, but seemed to go backwards last year, not making the worlds. Edhouse got here by beating Michael van Gerwen, which is nice, and had some success on the European Tour last year before getting his tour card this year to give things a proper go. Hewson also made a last 32 run to qualify, beating Whitlock in the critical game, and is still young enough to play the Development Tour with some OK results. Think Edhouse takes the first rounder and is live in the second, simply because Dekker's so unpredictable.

Dave Pallett (59) v Andy Jenkins (61)

Pallett's slipped off the radar quite a lot after a very poor 2016, and will need to rebound to retain his tour card following this year. Two grand in the qualifiers is alright, beating Bunting and Green in a last 16 run which made up most of it. The limited numbers I have from a couple of Euro events are actually OK, a bit better than Jenkins' sample, who did £250 better in qualifying, again most of it coming from one last 16 run, where he also beat Bunting. Either could take this, it's pretty even and will depend on who shows up - Pallett probably has both a higher peak and a lower floor.

James Richardson (60) or Antonio Alcinas (157) v Steve Maish (235, Q) or Neil Smith (Unranked, Q)

Richardson and Alcinas are both players who can beat players much better than their rankings suggest on their day, the thing is that it doesn't happen that often and, particularly for Alcinas, hasn't happened for a while. Both crept in with the minimum needed, Alcinas with the last day desperado effort, beating Chisnall and then Kamphuis in a critical deciding leg, while Richardson got his last 32 run the day before, the final hurdle being Kyle Anderson. If Alcinas is beating Chisnall he's probably in form enough to threaten, but Richardson's been alright for twelve months now. Maish should need no introduction, cashed last year as a pub qualifier but got blown out by Kim Huybrechts. Plenty of experience here, while Smith only has one other tournament on record - the 2004 British Classic. That he came through an event with two qualifiers is a slight concern, but I don't think either qualifier can make the money whoever their second round opponent is.

John Michael (62) v Pete Hudson (87)

Michael only just missed out last year and was pretty safe after a last 16 run in the opening event. Dolan was the biggest win, and we've seen what he can do on a number of occasions. The numbers I have from the worlds and a couple of other events indicate that he may give Hudson chances - Hudson made the semi final of the same qualifier, but couldn't add anything to it, having beaten Rob Cross, Mervyn King and Benito van de Pas in that event. Hudson's been on the world stage before, and can certainly score enough that he can take it, but he can also disappear for legs on end, Michael should pressure throughout.

Dirk van Duijvenbode (64) v Stuart Kellett (77)

van Duijvenbode's another player like de Zwaan who dropped off the radar this past twelve month, probably still scarred after that 180 bust versus Barney in the worlds. His qualifying was consistent - two grand with nothing more than a last 32, while Kellett, who was very close to making the worlds in the PDPA qualifier which effectively cost him his tour card, got to the last 16 in the third qualifier, beating Kyle Anderson, but lost to Mick Todd which is a surprise. Kellett never really did it on the PDC circuit, but still has some time on his side - this may be an important event for both to kickstart their careers.

Jeffrey de Zwaan (68) or Darren Johnson (94) v Johnny Haines (163, Q) or Wayne Morris (Unranked, Q)

Johnson and de Zwaan both qualified with a grand, so even on that front. de Zwaan has gone off the boil after doing enough to make the 2016 worlds, and didn't beat anyone notable in his last 32 run which got him here. I have slightly more data on Johnson, but not much on either, and while de Zwaan will probably end up being the better player, Johnson's stuck around the circuit for long enough that he has more experience, and the limited data I have is slightly better. Haines is a fairly familiar name having only just dropped off the PDC circuit and having made that version of the worlds in 2013. Morris won the Greenock qualifier, has no dartsdatabase record, and nothing easily searchable to get a read - the brief writeup on the PDC site says he's a former Scottish youth champion, whatever that is worth. Haines I think wins, and could challenge either opponent.

Zoran Lerchbacher (73) v Matthew Dennant (142)

Lerchbacher's the only Austrian here, which given their relative strength nowadays is somewhat of a surprise. A last 16 run in qualifier 4 is why he is here, notably beating Adrian Lewis. He's alright, but doesn't kill in 15 that often, lets too many legs go beyond 18 darts, and his scoring in losing legs is only 82. Whether that'll be enough to beat Dennant is the question - a sole cash in the first event is enough for a first round bye when that cash is for £1,500 - he didn't beat anyone better than Jan Dekker, but still needed five wins. He has a cash here from 2013, and is in the second year of a tour card needing cash urgently to retain it, having not done much at all. Limited data of one European Tour game suggests Lerchbacher should be the favourite.

Ronnie Baxter (76) or Paul Rowley (228) v Richard North (171)

Baxter had an OK end to 2016 but it wasn't enough to retain a tour card, but he did win it back at Q-School, and will look to add to the £750 that qualified him, all earned from one event, edging Wattimena in the critical game. We know what he can do and he can still show up, and if he does he should beat Paul Rowley. Rowley, like Baxter, won a card in January, and got slightly more cash in qualifying, a last 32 in the opener beating Burnett and Thornton was nearly enough, and a mincash made him safe. He's made the last 64 here in 2009, and had a tour card from 2011-12 so has some experience (although Baxter obviously destroys him there), but has mostly been playing the Challenge Tour and doing while not bad, not great, and on the full tour has never really done it. North also won a tour card in January, and has three grand already, which only just missed out on a bye to round 3 on countback. He also has a cash as a pub qualifier, this time from 2011, and was young enough to play the PDC world youth in 2012, so still has time on his side. Whether he has the game to handle Baxter in a big game is an important question - having beaten Adrian Lewis, Norris and Gurney in his cashing runs, it's very possible.

Willie O'Connor (80) v Steve Lennon (206)

An all-Irish clash up next. O'Connor has shown plenty of brief flashes of what he can do, but has never really kicked on to the next level. I suppose it's not too late at the age of 30, and he still just about has a tour card, but will need to do the likes of what he did in the first qualifier more often, where he reached the quarters, knocking out a few decent players but not hitting any top 32 calibre opponents. Lennon made the world youth quarters, and had two good runs on the first two days of Q-School before grabbing the card outright on day 3 when he'd be safe for one on points otherwise. Two last 32's and a last 64 were good enough for a first round bye, his best win was over Norris, but otherwise only beat some of the top 64 Europeans in terms of notable names. Think this a case of which O'Connor shows up, he seems like a stage player so that may be enough - he leads that in experience at least from the Grand Prix.

Yordi Meeuwisse (84) or Martin Biggs (Unranked, Q) v Jonathan Worsley (124) or Dave Prins (Unranked, Q)

Meeuwisse's in the second year of a card, and is doing OK but needs to start making runs more often, and this would be a good spot to start. He missed out on cashing by one game last year, losing to Robbie Green, and only got in this year by beating Willy van de Wiel in a deciding leg in the last 64 of the final qualifier. His opponent, Biggs, is an unknown who won at Coventry, but looks to be about an 80 average player at inter-county level so shouldn't be without chances. Worsley is also in the second year of a card and like Meeuwisse missed out on a cash last year by one game. He qualified through three mincashes, and did knock off Dolan and Gurney in those efforts. Prins comes back for another effort, and was most recently here in 2015 where he made the last 96. Making the last 16 of Lakeside in 2014, he can play to some extent, and could be a danger to any of these.

Tony Newell (86) or Mark Layton (Unranked, Q) v Brian Woods (118) or Damian Smith (Unranked, Q)

Newell's been around the tour for a while and is one of those that's frequently described as a dangerous player while never doing anything to show why. He cashed last year, beating Paul Hogan then winning only one leg against Adrian Lewis. Layton has been here on more than one occasion and cashed in 2012, and has cashed the World Masters previously, and has also won a couple of decent quality opens in the last couple of years. Woods regained a card in 2016 but had a really poor year, his last 32 run to make it here got him more money than any event in 2016, and he didn't have to beat anyone better than Alan Tabern to do it. Smith has had a couple of poor attempts at Q-School and has some cashes on the Challenge Tour including a semi final in 2015, but nothing to really scare Woods. It should be the two PDC players to move on with Newell to make the money.

Mark Barilli (90) v Kirk Shepherd (178)

A card holder with a few Lakeside appearances, Barilli's never really been able to adapt to the PDC game. He made the last 16 in the second qualifier then didn't play any of the others, not beating anyone better than Gilding in the process. Shepherd had a great Q-School, and made the last 16 of the first event, only needing to beat Painter of note, but that was enough for a first round bye. It's the sort of game that Barilli needs to win if he's to be taken seriously, and one that Shepherd could use to get some solid cash behind him as he looks to accumulate and retain the card in two years' time. Shepherd probably has the form.

Ted Evetts (92) v Paul Milford (151) or Brian Dawson (Unranked, Q)

Evetts has looked fairly tidy when he's got near a stage - not making a real hash of anything, just running into better players as he gains experience. This is a good shot at making another name for himself in a TV major - he hit a nine in qualification, and got his bye to round two from two last 32 runs. Milford lost his card this year, and didn't get close to regaining it at Q-School with just one run to the last 32. Three mincashes were just enough to creep into the field, not beating anyone above the calibre of Jamie Caven to do so. He crept in last year and missed out one before the money, so, unlike Dawson, he knows this stage. Dawson was a Lakeside quarter finalist in 2015, and has a lot of experience on the BDO side - last 16 of the most recent World Masters, previously a quarter finalist at the Zuiderduin, his numbers at this Lakeside in a close loss to Jeff Smith were respectable. I fancy he should beat Milford, but Evetts can step up and get into the money.

Alan Tabern (118) or Scott Robertson (Unranked, Q) v James Carroll (Unranked, Q) or Brandon Walsh (Unranked, Q)

Tabern, after having a resurgence in 2014 on the Challenge Tour to regain his card to the main tour, did nothing with it and lost the card for this year. A last 32 appearance straight off the bat was topped up by a mincash, and this is a decent opportunity for the Saint in a section with three pub qualifiers. Robertson is returning for a third crack having won at Aberdeen - he cashed in 2012 and was one short of doing the same twelve months later. He's been a bit under the radar in terms of tracked events, but in intercounty he's averaging below 80, so Tabern should make it through this one. Carroll has no dartsdatabase record having won in Liverpool, and very little can be easily researched about him. Walsh is quite young, having played the world youth in 2014, but has dropped into obscurity a bit, having played the Challenge/Youth tours extensively in 2014, he's cut right back before qualifying for here. He isn't on debut, having played in 2011, and did have a Pro Tour last 16 in 2013. Think Walsh might have a bit more about him but would need to see odds given the lack of info on Carroll.

Scott Taylor (140) v Brett Claydon (172, Q) or Paul Barham (Unranked, Q)

Taylor had a good qualification, making one last 16 run and cashing on three other occasions, following winning his tour card in January. He did beat Beaton in that run, but nobody else of note, and looking at previous stats he seems very hot and cold - 5 from 9 in 15 or less, but also lost 15 and only averaged 77 while doing so. Claydon made the last 16 in a qualifier last year to make it and fall a round short of the money, but didn't attempt Q-School and seems to be trying the BDO circuit. Just about averaging 80 in county, he'll need to come through Barham, who is still fairly young, having made the semis of the world youth in 2012, a year where he made the worlds proper from Youth Tour exploits. He's averaging a similar amount in county, so this could be close, but Taylor has the bye for a reason and I think he makes the last 64.

Ross Twell (212) v Paul Harvey (244) or Joe Davis (245)

Twell has a card from the Youth Tour, at least by the looks of it, where he had three wins last year, and was a tour card holder from 2014-15 as well. Three cashes including a last 32 run were enough to face either Harvey, who cashed here in 2011 and punted at Q-School but fell off after an OK first couple of days, or Davis, who did worse but made the last 32 on day 3 out of nowhere beating Lynn, Caven and Leung. He did play the Development Tour a few years ago with no success, so I think Harvey may be the better player, but Twell is likely the best of the three.

Martin Lukeman (216) v Matt Padgett (217) or Paul Cartwright (Unranked, Q)

Lukeman has a Challenge Tour win in 2015 and a few other decent scores, as well as making the semis of the BDO Gold Cup last year, and got three cashes including a last 32 run to make the second round here - he beat nobody good to reach that stage but ran Beaton close to lose 6-5. Padgett has been around for a while, but hasn't had a card since 2015. He made the worlds in 2011 and the last 32 here in 2013, and got a Challenge Tour win last season. Cartwright made this event in 2011 but fell well before the money to Kirk Shepherd, so I think Padgett has the experience and the quality, and should be more than live to come through Lukeman as well.

Alex Roy (234, Q) or Kevin Edwards (Unranked, Q) v Gareth Pass (Unranked, Q) or Dave Parletti (Unranked, Q)

So we're guaranteed at least one qualifier in the last 64. Roy is the standout name, having played here since the dawn of time and making the money last year. Edwards has a couple of previous appearances but didn't get out of the preliminaries, Pass fell away from the scene (at least the tracked scene) after losing a card in 2013, which was the last time he played here, but has some tour experience, and Parletti returns for a third straight year, but lost in the last 128 on the last two occasions. Roy has to be the favourite just based on a wealth of experience, that he keeps coming back here shows he still has the game within him, and this is a fairly favourable draw.

Sunday 12 February 2017

UK Open Qualification - Weekend 2

Urgh, Mensur, why you not play

Bunch of action. Congrats on Michael, Simon and Peter on binking their respective events, and the field is now set - there has to be a bunch of hugely disappointed players, amongst others Robbie Green, Steve West, Max Hopp, Rowby John Rodriguez and Dimitri van den Bergh - none of which you would describe as being out of form, but at the same time huge credit to a lot of players who you wouldn't have thought might qualify, at least not direct to the money, such as Chris Quantock, Mick Todd and Ryan Searle. Interested to see what Dobey can do from this stage - having not qualified at all last year, he's now straight into round 3, so gogogo.

Best weekend long performance - going to split this between Mervyn King, Michael Smith, Gerwyn Price and Kim Huybrechts - all cashed all three and did so deep enough to register decent cash, none of them messed up early, and while none of them went hugely deep, they all did more or less as well as you might expect.

Best tournament long performance - two horse race between two players on Saturday's event - it's either Ronny Huybrechts with his nine darter and wins over Gary Anderson, Terry Jenkins, Ian White, Darren Webster and Michael Smith, four of which were in deciding legs for bonus clutch points, or it goes to Rob Cross, with wins over Wade, Chisnall, Thornton and Klaasen in his run to the semi final. Hard to say but I think I have to give it to Huybrechts for the grittiness combined with the brilliance.

Best single match performance - Michael van Gerwen's two nine darters, next.

Worst weekend long performance - got to go to Josh Payne. Was flipping between him and Joe Murnan, until I saw Murnan whitewashed him yesterday. Losing in the last 256 to whatever a Craig Gilchrist is, then the aforementioned result, then being edged by Simon Stevenson isn't great. Oh well, enjoy your weekend off.

Worst single match performance - there's a few contenders, but I think I have to give it to Jeffrey de Graaf. You could have got rid of Jamie Caven from this event, but you had to lose 6-0 and let him in on tiebreakers. I am disappointed.

Updated live top 20 in adjusted rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Gary Anderson
3 Peter Wright
4 James Wade (UP 1)
5 Dave Chisnall (DOWN 1)
6 Adrian Lewis
7 Raymond van Barneveld (UP 1)
8 Phil Taylor (DOWN 1)
9 Mensur Suljovic
10 Jelle Klaasen
11 Benito van de Pas
12 Kim Huybrechts
13 Ian White
14 Michael Smith
15 Simon Whitlock
16 Robert Thornton
17 Alan Norris
18 Daryl Gurney
19 Gerwyn Price
20 Terry Jenkins

Friday 10 February 2017

GOAT Simulator

In the wake of Michael van Gerwen's two nine darters in the same match today at Wigan, you do have to wonder whether he is the greatest of all time. For me it's no question - it's yes. Sure, Phil may have won sixteen world titles, but the level of competition must have been lower. A lot lower. Taylor certainly played at an elite level, but in my eyes he's effectively a flat track bully. Start van Gerwen's career in 1985 and he's already on 20 world titles, and he'd still be the right side of 50.

Fortunately, the type of stats I use aren't concerned with level of opponent. I'm pretty tempted to go look back at some of the peak Taylor finals in terms of averages (probably would consider the 6-0 vs Priestley in 98, 7-0 vs Part in 01, 7-0 vs Manley in 06 and the 7-1 vs Barney in 09, to give a spread throughout his career - may also chuck in the 6-1 vs Bristow in 90 from the unified days), of which I know at least the Manley final is on Youtube allowing us to pull the stats. Picking these games would be representative of the best of Taylor on the most important stage where we know he's giving it everything, and to see what he did will be hugely enlightening.

Naturally, there is the accusation that improvements in technology make the more recent player better, but there's been tungsten darts since Taylor was a kid, and while the boards nowadays have thinner wires and no staples, looking back at that 1990 final, it's not like the staples would reject any high scoring darts, and in general I don't recall masses of bounceouts.

Monday 6 February 2017

Staying alive

Sadly not a Steve Beaton post. In the wake of the Super Bowl, we have a situation that comes up a lot in darts that is similar to American football - you have a spot where you are deep in opposition territory down by, say, 10 points, and you are on fourth down with not long left. The conservative play is to kick the field goal and make it a one possession game, but it's usually the wrong play, as it takes time and skill to get all the way down the field to then score the game tying touchdown, when you've already done that - you need a touchdown, so go for it now, then you know what you need to do if you don't get it, if you do, you then only need to get into field goal range, which is somewhat easier. There's similar spots like, when losing by 15 points, teams will usually kick an extra point after scoring to ensure a 1 possession game, which then goes horribly wrong if they mess up a two point conversion later - go for the two now, and you have time to play faster knowing you still need two scores.

The darts comparison comes with checkouts of things like 132 or 135. The common play is to go for 25/bull first, as that keeps things alive assuming you hit. But is it maximising your chances of winning the leg? If you hit 25, you still need a treble to then leave a shot at bull - which if you miss, is likely to still leave you on a two dart finish, either 25 or missing completely and not lucking out and hitting single 10, 18 etc. The bull could be obscured by your first dart, but at the same time, it could easily leave you with a good marker so I'm inclined to say that may end up evens in the long run without any observed evidence to the contrary. If you miss your treble after hitting 25, you're on 88/90, which is still going to need a treble to leave a 1 dart outshot.

Hitting the bull first on either checkout leaves you with a treble-double outshot, and in both cases you still need a treble to leave a 1 dart outshot if you miss. Of course, you can go for a second bull on 132, which leaves fat 17 for tops if you hit 25.

The question is whether this is more likely to kill the leg than not going for bull first? Say you go for treble 20 on 132, or treble 19 on 135. If you hit, then in the first instance you can stay there for double 6, particularly if it's a good marker, or go double-double, either 18's twice or 20's and 16's. In the latter case, you can go double 19-double 20, try for treble 18 for double 12, it'll be situational depending on what your opponent is on. If you miss, then just stay on the same target and get four more of the same score to leave double 16 (you can deviate to other doubles if you hit treble second dart obviously) or tops.

Is this more likely to finish than going bull first? If you have enough time for two visits, it seems almost certain. If you only have enough time for one visit, then you're going to need to run some numbers as to how often you hit each target and work the probabilities from there. My gut feeling would be that going bull first kills less often in that visit, but people seeing that your chances of finishing if going for a treble is zero, rather than something larger if you hit some part of the bull, lead people to go for the worse route knowing they have a backup plan, regardless of how unlikely it is.

Your opponent's score is huge in this as well - going bull first if your opponent is not on a finish is idiocy, but what if he's on 161? This seems equally mad. If going bull first finishes more in one visit than not, then it needs to do so often enough that it outweighs the times you lose the leg by either your opponent finishing, which doesn't happen very often, or by your opponent finishing on a second leg because your bull usage has left you a two dart finish rather than a probable one dart finish at an easy double, which you then miss.

Stats for how often people finish on various outs already exist - anything beyond 120 is already, at best, around a 10% chance. The rest would need to be worked out, it's a case of getting the data. I'd assume that some players have already done the sort of analysis needed (probably the Dutch I'd guess), but you never know. Of course, the trick is to start counting earlier and hit the bull the visit before to not leave the shot in the first place.

Sunday 5 February 2017

UK Open Qualification - Weekend 1

PDC ranking season is now under way - congrats to Peter Wright for taking down two of the three events, ending his enormous losing streak to Michael van Gerwen in the process, and nice work by Simon Whitlock to continue to trend up in form and take the other one. Good job by Mark McGeeney on winning the Dutch Open, which surprisingly saw Noppert fall out at the last 256 stage. Got to credit anyone that takes down a tournament that requires a round of 4096.

So what happened of note in the UK Open qualifiers? Will look at this by giving out some awards:

Best weekend long performance - Fairly easy to give this to Wright, but I'll give this to Steve Beaton instead - only denied by Wright in the quarter finals in the first, beat van Gerwen in the second before losing a deciding leg to Chisnall in the quarters again, and a run to the last 16 today. Solid, consistent play sees him up in sixth of the merit table, and gives him a good base to work on for qualification for major tournaments.

Best tournament long performance - Could give this to Pete Hudson or Mick Todd making a semi final out of nowhere, but Whitlock taking it in a field this tough, needing to take out three of my live top four in the last four rounds, has to get the nod.

Best single match performance - Anyone taking down MvG should be in with a shout, but Ritchie Edhouse? Good work. Pity that seemed to drag him down, losing to Willie O'Connor in the next round with Devon Petersen and Ricky Evans to follow isn't a hard run to continue.

Worst weekend long performance - Comparable to expectations it's easy to give this to van Gerwen, but instead I'll go with Robert Thornton. Everyone who entered three events (Taylor, Suljovic and Jenkins didn't, and Taylor hasn't entered the next weekend, so no UK Open for you) made at least 750 quid until you get down to Justin Pipe - except Thornton, who just edged Chris Dobey before losing to Paul Rowley, whose record isn't exactly good, lost 6-0 to Ryan Murray (career earnings prior to that tournament - £190), and then lost 6-3 to Keegan Brown. At just £250 on the board he has work to do, and it is really easy to see a repeat of last year where he needs to come through early rounds and not cash.

Worst single match performance - Can't really give a worst tournament long performance, as it amounts to the same as this - Caven losing every game including a 6-1 to Joe Davis is close, or 6-2 to Lee Bryant... maybe give Caven worst for the weekend and give Thornton this for the 6-0 loss? I think I'll do that instead.

If we say that £1k is going to be enough to make it for sure, there's an awful lot of little known names that have already booked their places - on top of people mentioned above, Ryan Palmer on £2k is interesting, Richard North, Chris Quantock and Matthew Dennant on 1500, Martin Lukeman on 1000 with new tour card holder Steve Lennon?

These conclude next weekend, and there's plenty still to play for, a Sunday of F5ing awaits. Updated top 20 in adjusted rankings following this weekend:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Gary Anderson
3 Peter Wright
4 Dave Chisnall (UP 1)
5 James Wade (DOWN 1)
6 Adrian Lewis
7 Phil Taylor
8 Raymond van Barneveld (UP 1)
9 Mensur Suljovic (DOWN 1)
10 Jelle Klaasen
11 Benito van de Pas
12 Kim Huybrechts
13 Ian White
14 Michael Smith
15 Simon Whitlock (UP 1)
16 Robert Thornton (DOWN 1)
17 Alan Norris
18 Daryl Gurney
19 Gerwyn Price
20 Terry Jenkins

Wednesday 1 February 2017

The Curious Case of Corey Cadby

Of course, once the Masters started, all the stats on the PDC site reappeared. Thanks for that. I've now added the Players Championship Finals and the European Championship to the master computer, and will add other events in in due course.

Looking at those figures below, there's quite a lot of names you'd expect. But what about Cadby? A lot of people, myself included, expected him to go to Q-School, but he hasn't, so what now?

I think there's a huge case to play the BDO circuit. While those stats are based off a total of 24 legs played, I don't think there's a significant risk of huge decline in them due to sample size. We've seen him beat Taylor on TV, we've seen him put up an obscene average against Wright on TV, we've seen him win the world youth, and the likes of Schindler/van den Bergh/van Peer aren't bad players to have knocked out. Even if his 12 darter percentage dropped to a possibly more sensible level of 15-20% or so, these are better figures than anyone did in the BDO worlds. So why not, while you're able to do so, qualify for that one and have a very live chance of taking down the £100k prize, which will surely allow you to attack the PDC circuit with a lot more security?

Looking at who qualified from the Australian merit table, this should be easy enough through that, if he doesn't opt to go for other events. It's a bit late for the Dutch Open, but there are surely plenty of opportunities to go for opens with a lot of ranking points and combine them with Development Tour weekends. He has 20 grand in the bank minus expenses/tax/PDPA tax etc so he should be able to, and can easily add to that knowing he is in the Grand Slam for this year. I think he's already well ahead of that the DPA circuit can do, so why not test yourself against the best of the other side? I'm not sure on the specifics, but I wouldn't have thought that playing the DPA events would limit BDO eligibility. Certainly something to think about.

At the other end of the career spectrum, I don't get why Terry Jenkins has not entered the UK Open qualifiers taking place this weekend. I get why he wants to not play the floor and just play the TV events - but you need to qualify for them. Obviously this will help with the UK Open, but right now he is outside the top 16, so would need to rely on the Pro Tour to qualify for anything. His work last year currently sees him in 5th for Matchplay qualification, but less then 9k above the last man out right now. He is outside the Grand Prix qualification spots. I've got him at about £110k as to what would count for the worlds qualification if he plays nothing else - which might get you in, but not by much. Why not play these which effectively count double for qualification?