Sunday 30 July 2017

Matchplay roundup

Well, congrats to Phil for an unbelievable result, a real swingy match early on with a great run whereby, between them, six of nine legs were won in twelve darts or less, but Taylor managed to pull away in the end and claim the title. Can't help but feel the seventeenth leg was key, at 10-6 down but having the throw, it's only two breaks with some time to work, but five scoring visits to leave only 126, having just three big trebles in those with plenty of darts drifting into the 5/1, seemed to end the game - Taylor then left tops after twelve and Wright couldn't leave better than 161 after nine, the inevitable happens and it's then a full three break lead, needing to get those back before Taylor holds six times, it's a race against time Wright really couldn't win.

Taylor's final performance was really very good - four out of eighteen legs were in twelve darts, three of those in that nine leg spurt of mutual quality, as well as one to hold in the fourth leg with Wright waiting on 84 after nine, a further nine legs were won in fifteen darts or better. In the legs that Wright won Taylor was averaging nearly 105, indicative of the continual pressure that Wright was under. Wright, to be fair, did get seven of his eight legs in fifteen or less, three of them being four turn wins, but this kind of level indicates the limitations of this model - Phil wouldn't exactly have let Peter claim many legs at all in six turns. Wright averaged 94.6 on the Taylor winning legs, which isn't a bad tally, but he wasn't allowed too many chances to convert the lesser pressure into legs won.

We now have a Pro Tour weekend next weekend up, but then we have a bit of a summer break until we head to the Netherlands at the start of September as the European Tour returns (there's exbos down under but who cares), then the schedule ramps up - another European event the week after, Champions League the week after, the European event I'm going to the week after that and then we're on to the Grand Prix after another couple of Pro Tour events.

Updated adjusted FRH rankings - will post a top 40 to cover the whole Matchplay field, up/downs only cover the top 20, although as the Matchplay field confirmed post also lists a top 40, you can work that out yourselves if you so desire:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Peter Wright
3 Gary Anderson
4 Phil Taylor (UP 14)
5 Dave Chisnall (DOWN 1)
6 Mensur Suljovic (DOWN 1)
7 Daryl Gurney (UP 2)
8 James Wade (DOWN 2)
9 Raymond van Barneveld (DOWN 2)
10 Adrian Lewis (UP 4)
11 Michael Smith (DOWN 3)
12 Simon Whitlock
13 Jelle Klaasen (DOWN 3)
14 Alan Norris (UP 2)
15 Ian White (DOWN 4)
16 Kim Huybrechts (DOWN 3)
17 Benito van de Pas (DOWN 2)
18 Gerwyn Price (DOWN 1)
19 Joe Cullen
20 Mervyn King
21 Darren Webster
22 Cristo Reyes
23 Robert Thornton
24 Stephen Bunting
25 Steve Beaton
26 Kyle Anderson
27 Rob Cross
28 Justin Pipe
29 Mark Webster
30 James Wilson
31 Steve West
32 Brendan Dolan
33 Terry Jenkins
34 Chris Dobey
35 Vincent van der Voort
36 Christian Kist
37 John Henderson
38 Robbie Green
39 Jonny Clayton
40 Jermaine Wattimena

With the downtime, I'm not sure what to cover. I want to, as mentioned earlier, combine winning and losing averages and get a combined figure, I also want to look in detail at the precarious position Terry Jenkins is re: Ally Pally qualification, but apart from that, suggestions?

Matchplay final preview

There's your stats. We've got the most decorated player in the history of the game, who's overcome the best player of all time, his biggest rival throughout his career, a two time world champion and local opponent and a confident rising talent, against the current UK Open champion, who's come through several tough scraps against in form players who are all playing the best they've ever done. Will we have a fairy tale ending to Phil Taylor's career as he claims a sixteenth Matchplay crown to go with his sixteen world titles, or will Peter Wright put to bed the disappointment of choking away the Premier League and claim the first real big major of his career (as, while Wright will have been delighted with the UK Open, the Matchplay is much bigger and had both Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor play in it)?

The current form points to Phil being a favourite, as the bookmakers suggest. The profile of his winning legs is incredibly similar to Wright's - there's just the two legs throughout the course of the tournament where Phil has finished in five turns as opposed to Wright's six, but there's a big advantage in the amount of pressure Phil's put on when the opponent has won his leg, over a six point difference. Over all data (my database stretches back to September), and not just this tournament, Phil still leads this category, but by a much smaller margin, 96.89 to 95.09.

Wright is going to have to do a few things in order to pull this one off. Firstly, he's going to need to limit the amount of chances he gives Taylor to break, and force him to throw a twelve darter to get it. As the stats indicate, Phil will be there or there abouts in four visits if Wright doesn't kill in five turns, piling on the leg upon leg pressure is going to be critically important. He gave Daryl Gurney ten opportunities to break with a fifteen dart leg, Gurney only took five. You'd imagine Taylor will take more than that. Secondly, he's going to have to keep things close and then hope Phil doesn't turn it on when it matters. Against the two Dutchmen, Phil wasn't pressured at all - Adie kept things close through to midway through the fourth mini session last night, but Taylor, from 10-8 up, then put in a burst of five straight legs including three four turn kills - two of them breaks, to finish the game as a contest. Adie might have got the last of those to get a break back if it took place earlier, Phil only holding in six turns, but Lewis couldn't leave a finish after five of his turns. Finally, he's going to have to bag any cheap break chances that are offered up - if Phil doesn't check in five turns, he's going to have to be there to do so himself. Gurney only offered up the three chances to break in more than fifteen darts (two taken), I can't imagine Phil leaving any more than this.

For Phil, he's going to have to keep doing what he has been doing, but realise that he's up against an opponent that won't buckle midway through a match - Wright isn't going to be afraid of him, and Wright has been able to take Phil down in big televised leg play events over the past couple of years - Phil couldn't get a win in the 2016 Premier League, losing one and drawing one, lost a decider in the World Series of Darts finals, lost the Grand Slam quarter final (in what's probably the best comparison, given that was a race to 16), and they split their Premier League games this year before Wright edged the semi final. Whether the pressure of this being a big major and a potential career defining victory (to date) for Wright will tell if it gets down to the wire is another question, and one Phil will have to ask. If he just keeps playing as he has been doing, I can't see that Wright will be able to accumulate a big enough lead where he can get close to the winning line and have a lot of room to play with - a situation where Wright needs one more leg with Taylor not even on double figures seems incredibly unlikely.

I can't recommend any bets in this one, if I was going to bet it would be on Wright, but I can't see there being enough edge to start punting, so I'll call it a day for gambling on this one with a small 0.38 unit profit for the tournament. Even the handicaps for fun don't look that enticing, only being offered evens on Wright +2.5 if we were to think it will be as close as it could be (can't believe that some bookies are offering a Wright +1.5 market, as if you'd ever take the added edge of getting paid if Phil wins a sudden death leg).

Note re: adjusted in the averages section for new readers - a turn is a turn. I don't give free bonus points if you finish in 13 darts as opposed to 15 darts. It's still five turns. Darts in this respect is like waiting for a bus - unless you're at a stop early enough to get the one before, you're still getting on the same bus. A thirteen darter against the throw is equally as worthless as a fifteen darter if the guy throwing first also finishes in five turns - unless you play well enough to finish in twelve darts instead, you're not getting the break.

Saturday 29 July 2017

Matchplay semi final preview

(3) Peter Wright (5/11, FRH live ranking: 2) v Daryl Gurney (2/1, FRH live ranking: 6)

Previous rounds:
Wright 10-8 v Wilson, 11-4 v Reyes, 16-12 v Webster
Gurney 11-9 v van de Pas, 11-9 v Anderson, 16-13 v Suljovic

Previous rounds performance:
Wright 7 twelve darters, 17 fifteen darters, 96.55 winning average, 91.55 losing average, 94.73 overall average
Gurney 5 twelve darters, 17 fifteen darters, 94.25 winning average, 95.69 losing average, 94.84 overall average

Winning percentage projections:
All data: Wright 80.3 - Gurney 19.7
Worlds onwards: Wright 79.9 - Gurney 20.3
After UK Open: Wright 76.0 - Gurney 24.0
Last two months: Wright 78.7 - Gurney 21.3
Just the Matchplay: Wright 72.2 - Gurney 27.8

Head to head: Wright leads 9-3
Last meeting: US Darts Masters (15/7/17), 8-7 Gurney
Last competitive meeting: Pro Tour (20/5/17), 6-3 Wright
Last competitive major meeting: UK Open (5/3/17), 11-5 Wright

First up we have a redo from the same stage in the UK Open, as the highest seeded player left in the tournament, Peter Wright, faces off against the form player of the moment, Daryl Gurney. As you can see by the stats above, this has the potential to be quite a close match between players who had similar quarter finals, in that they both pulled away from leg 21 onwards after being slightly behind in a tight tussle. Wright's finishing slightly quicker than Gurney, while Gurney is keeping better order in legs where he's not winning by a few points, making the combined averages close to identical. Over the span of all data I have, Gurney's finishing in four visits at a decent 11% clip, while finishing in five visits at just shy of 57% - which isn't too great, and given he's won 38 legs this tournament, 22/38 is more or less band on his historical average. Wright meanwhile is just shy of 15% of legs in four visits, and only fractions of a percentage point below 70% of legs in five visits - which is a big difference and the reason why the win chances are so far in favour of Wright. Given Gurney's better losing average, it's entirely possible that he gets in more spots to nick a leg in six visits to hold, but I can't see this being sustainable over the long haul - over all data, Wright and Gurney's losing averages are the other way around compared to just the Matchplay stats.

(4) Adrian Lewis (9/4, FRH live ranking: 9) v (8) Phil Taylor (2/5, FRH live ranking: 15)

Previous rounds:
Lewis 10-7 v Beaton, 11-8 v Cross, 16-13 v Norris
Taylor 10-5 v Price, 11-3 v van Barneveld, 16-6 v van Gerwen

Previous rounds performance:
Lewis 8 twelve darters, 23 fifteen darters, 100.20 winning average, 84.80 losing average, 93.76 overall average
Taylor 5 twelve darters, 20 fifteen darters, 96.55 winning average, 94.52 losing average, 96.04 overall average

Winning percentage projections:
All data: Lewis 66.6 - Taylor 33.4
Worlds onwards: Lewis 81.3 - Taylor 18.7
After UK Open: Lewis 69.7 - Taylor 30.3
Last two months: Lewis 85.8 - Taylor 14.2
Just the Matchplay: Lewis 89.0 - Taylor 11.0

Head to head: Taylor leads 53-17
Last meeting: Premier League (11/5/17), 7-5 Taylor
Last competitive meeting: Pro Tour (21/2/16), 6-2 Taylor
Last competitive major meeting: European Championship (1/11/15), 11-10 Lewis

The second semi final is a Stoke derby between Adrian Lewis, who's come through three tricky opponents, although the game against Norris could easily have been a lot more straight forward having held a 13-5 lead, against Phil Taylor, who aside from the first half of his game against Gerwyn Price, hasn't really been troubled despite facing the two greatest Dutch players of all time, running out a 27-9 winner combined against the two. Looking at the stats, Lewis is finishing his winning legs much, much better, taking an average of five visits to kill, which is a good bit better than Taylor, who's used exactly the same number of visits to finish his legs as Peter Wright. The issue is that Lewis's inconsistency means that he'll throw in plenty of duff legs which the other guy's going to take - ten points lower on the averages in the legs he's lost than Taylor, and that's over a much bigger sample size. This will come down to whether Lewis can clock in enough twelves on the Taylor throw and be close enough if Taylor doesn't finish in fifteen to counteract legs he might give away on his own. I think he will do so often enough for it to be a bet as mentioned previously.

Friday 28 July 2017

van Gerwen in routine 16-6 wait what

Hmm, no idea what happened there. Obviously the markets are loving the fact that Phil managed to beat Michael van Gerwen, and ignoring that Adie outperformed Phil tonight, smashing in five twelve darters for fun compared to Phil's three, that they both finished 12/16 legs in fifteen darts or less, and in both previous rounds he's played better. Shoving everyone's results into the master computer puts Adie at a 46% chance to bink the whole thing, yet he's a huge underdog on the market. 0.5u Lewis 11/5 v Taylor. Still mostly in shock to be able to analyse more deeply than that to be quite honest, but Adie's been playing incredibly, foot off the gas towards the end of the Norris game excepted.

Thursday 27 July 2017

Matchplay quarter finals 1-2

Going to consider them both as one, as they played out fairly similarly - neither player able to get much of an advantage at all until the fourth break, when one player put on the afterburners and got a more or less uninterrupted string of legs to overcome what was an 11-9 deficit. Suljovic played fine, 8/12 legs in under fifteen darts, two of them being twelves, 96.5 on the Gurney winning throw - there were five legs where Suljovic had left himself an easy two darter (i.e. doesn't need a treble) on the Gurney throw after twelve, Gurney just kept cleaning up. Suljovic missed chances - the 24th leg where, on throw to lead 13-11, he only hits three trebles in 18 darts and doesn't leave a double, being the key one, but you'd have hoped he'd hit his favourite double to break in the last leg to break and pull it back to 15-14. Gurney's game wasn't spectacular - just the one twelve, on throw where a fifteen would have worked fine, and being able to get six legs in six visits, five holds and the key 24th leg mentioned earlier. Only 91 on the Suljovic throw - he did let Mensur hold in seven visits after only leaving 100 after six, and allowed a break in six as well despite leaving an out after 9 darts.

In the other game Wright managed four twelve darters, two of them important breaks, but also was allowed to win six legs in six visits, three of those breaks - the gong show of an opening leg, the seventeenth where Webster had four darts at double, and the 21st, which was a mutual doubling meltdown. Webster pinning chances in just two of those would make this a hugely different match, especially if it's the first two - 13-7 is a big deficit to claw back. Webster couldn't generate a single twelve darter, while he got nine of his twelve legs in fifteen darts, he'd like to have been able to convert his 90 average on the Wright throw into legs - considering in those three legs mentioned he missed twelve darts at double alone, that's not too terrible.

Wright/Gurney as a semi final should be one sided - the model has Wright at 80/20, while the odds are around 68/32. I looked at recent form a touch when looking at the Suljovic/Gurney game, and this one is interesting as they both had mediocre openers and have improved since then. Gurney's played one more leg with the overtime against Benito, and the only difference in speed of winning legs is that Wright's hit two more twelves (7-5) to Gurney's three more eighteens (15-12). Plug those figures in alone to the model, and it spits out 72/28 Wright, which is a fair bit closer. In this tournament, when scoring not on throw, there's less than half a point between them on average, Wright just ahead but both on 91. I can't really recommend a bet on this one.

One quick bet

1u Lewis 4/9 vs Norris, as stated in the previous post I think he's a substantial favourite vs Norris, the only worries are his back and how it will stand up over a long format as the quarter finals onwards are, but I would think that he should be dominant enough that it won't last too much longer than the Cross game and they should factor in breaks sensibly (i.e. not after 5, 10 and then cut away from the action if it's 10-10 and going to a tiebreak), I'd guess every five legs to the 20th, at which point I'd have guessed Lewis should be in the region of having 12-13 legs in the bank and not needing much more if they do play out from there. van Gerwen's 2/11, and I'm surprised he's that short against Phil, it's too short to consider a bet, Taylor may still have the game to get it to leg 20 even or no more than a couple of legs down and it could start getting twitchy, at least enough that I'll ignore the game.

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Bunch of quick Matchplay postings

Tonight's session ran on for far too long and I'm exhausted, so I'm going to collate a bunch of stuff very quickly.

Chizzy/Norris saw Alan hit three twelve darters, and also win six legs in more than five visits - three of which were breaks, the perfect storm of playing well when it mattered (one twelve was to break to get within a leg of the match, another was on throw to close it) and Chisnall missing doubles. It's what I thought needed to happen, and it did. Lewis/Cross was high quality, Lewis winning every leg he won in under fifteen darts, limiting Cross's chances to break - after Cross broke in four visits to get it back on serve before the second break, there was a five leg spell where every leg was held in five visits - Lewis needing 130-140 if given a shot, Cross on 42 and 36, Lewis holding there was key as Cross pressured great, averaging 99 in losing legs. Taylor/Barney was a bit of a damp squib, Taylor holding in six visits three times, breaking in five visits five times - taking what was offered without really getting out of second gear, a couple better than Barney's neutral, while again he averaged 99 in Taylor's winning legs, this seems a touch misleading as it was due to quite a few missed doubles. van Gerwen/Whitlock was painful to watch, Whitlock getting his three legs in five visits but averaging 86 otherwise, van Gerwen not really being pressured, getting his normal two twelve darters but getting four legs in six visits isn't that clinical.

Updated winning percentages:

van Gerwen 63.14%
Lewis 17.39%
Wright 10.79%
Suljovic 4.53%
Taylor 2.69%
Webster 0.88%
Gurney 0.46%
Norris 0.12%

Now you might look at these and think "how the hell can Suljovic be nine times as likely as Gurney to win given Gurney's form" - well Suljovic is on form as well. I have him as a 71/29 favourite based on all stats. This dates back to September. If I filter on the worlds onwards, where Gurney made the quarters, it's 63/37 - still for Suljovic. If I filter from after when Gurney won his first title, it reverts to 74/26 to Suljovic. If I filter just since May, it's now 78/22 Suljovic. I won't go on filtering even smaller and smaller subsets, but if I filter on just the Matchplay, it's only 54/46 Gurney. I see little reason not to take 0.5u Suljovic 29/20 as Boyles seem oddly bullish on Gurney in comparison to everyone else. Wright I've got at 75/25, I don't think that this is worth a Webster bet even getting 5/1, it's somewhat unknown for him over this distance and Wright looked better in the previous round. If you want to have a micro punt, go ahead, I won't. For the top half, where there's barely odds available, I've got Lewis as a massively prohibitive favourite, he's playing that well that Norris is going to have to step up even more again - the only question is the back, but it didn't seem to bother him today, will probably back Lewis but not quite so strong as if I knew he was 100%. In the main event, I've got van Gerwen as almost as big a favourite as Lewis, at around a 7-1 advantage, so once odds mature I'll probably be taking some action on the Friday night.

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Matchplay day 4 analysis, round 2 top half preview

Preview first:

(5) Dave Chisnall (1/3) v Alan Norris (11/4)

Round 1: Chisnall 10-7 v King, Norris 10-6 v Huybrechts
Head to head: dartsdatabase down again so who knows

Match up of two people who ruined my bets in the previous round, Chisnall looking solid in the face of some King pressure and pulling away when it mattered, whereas Norris didn't exactly set the world alight, and didn't need to, as Huybrechts played even worse. Either player performing like they did in the previous round should result in a Chisnall win - Norris is going to have to up his game to what it was 4-5 months ago during his UK Open/Pro Tour runs in order to get close to Chizzy in this one, and then probably hope that his opponent does his frequently done thing of missing doubles at key moments. The model projects this as 74/26, which is as near as damnit to the betting line, which is good as I really don't want to bet this one.

(4) Adrian Lewis (4/6) v Rob Cross (11/8)

Round 1: Lewis 10-7 v Beaton, Cross 10-7 v White

There were a lot of questions about Lewis as to whether he'd perform after his time off, and the answer seems to have been yes - eight out of ten legs won against Steve Beaton were in fifteen darts or less, which is a very high standard, and given his relatively small sample size in my database (which started when he began taking all the Euro Tour off last year), it increased his winning chances in a lot of projected matchups. Cross wasn't fantastic against White, he got two twelve darters, which was one more than Lewis, but was allowed to win six of his legs in more than fifteen darts, which if Lewis does to him as he did to Beaton, will result in a defeat. This seems far too close a line based on Cross hype - 1u Lewis 4/6

(8) Phil Taylor (8/11) v (9) Raymond van Barneveld (5/4)

Round 1: Taylor 10-5 v Price, van Barneveld 10-8 v Cullen

This was the game that everyone wanted to see when the draw came out, and we've not been deprived of it despite spirited efforts by Gerwyn Price and Joe Cullen. Neither of these behemoths of darting history performed that well in round 1, Taylor doing slightly better, but not by much, and while Barney has the historical stat edge, the master computer saying he's around a 58% favourite, this seems like a game where it's going to be all about emotion, nerve and experience and this can go all out of the window. I won't discourage a Barney bet, but there's enough intangibles here that I'm going to avoid it and enjoy what may be their last TV matchup (that counts)

(1) Michael van Gerwen (1/14) v (16) Simon Whitlock (21/2)

Round 1: van Gerwen 10-4 v Bunting, Whitlock 10-5 v K Anderson

Both players advanced fairly comfortably in round 1, van Gerwen hitting par for the course, with a couple of dodgy legs including one where he missed more doubles than he usually misses in a month, while Whitlock couldn't generate a twelve darter, but hit enough fifteens to deny his compatriot the chances needed. Whitlock won't be completely dead, he did after all have one dart to beat MvG in a major last season, albeit over a much shorter format - this is longer, and I've got it as a 91/9 game - i.e. betting either player is not a good idea.

Now for the round up:

Mensur Suljovic 11-6 Justin Pipe

Can't say that I watched this one, train delays back from work caused me to need to run over in preparing the previous post, Mensur was around average - one four visit kill, and enough in fifteen to never really give Pipe a chance, who was mostly feeding off scraps, and might have kept it a bit closer but for some missed doubles on occasions. Pipe couldn't raise his game enough to beat Suljovic at par for the course, but has to be somewhat happy with getting here and getting a win.

Darren Webster 11-7 Steve West

Weird one, after neither really got going for the first session until Webster fired in a twelve to break, they then both started breaking for fun with some quality legs. West couldn't quite produce enough fifteens, allowing Webster to break him in fifteen darts on three occasions which proved to be the difference, it wasn't until he was 9-5 down that he held after leg three, by then it was too late. Webster's performance was decent, eight out of eleven in fifteen darts, two of them being twelves, he may need to tighten up some of his doubling in the next round though.

Daryl Gurney 11-9 Gary Anderson

What a game. I thought Gurney was already a lock for the Premier League, but he is now, as he rises to within four thousand pounds of sixth in the world in my adjusted rankings (although Barney will push that higher with a win tomorrow). Anderson was really pressuring - over 105 in the legs Gurney won, while this is easier as Gurney managed four twelve darters and only finished one leg in over fifteen darts (the hold to go up 10-8), it's still impressive. Gurney was only broken twice all match - once with a twelve darter while waiting on 84, and in leg two having missed two darts for a 14/15 dart leg. There's zero reason why he can't reach the final having put the questionable performance in round 1 behind him tonight.

Peter Wright 11-4 Cristo Reyes

Leg in, leg out consistency was the key for Wright here - ten out of eleven legs in under fifteen darts, including two breaks in four visits at key points (one with Reyes waiting on 36 at 6-3 before the final break, one with Reyes nowhere after Reyes immediately broke back) to put the game away at a stage where it looked like it could still be in the balance. Reyes didn't play badly, he was just given very few chances, and had some poor legs to give Wright free chances, which he took (twice allowing Wright to break in fifteen without even being on a double if he was allowed to return). Like Gurney, this was a return to form after a questionable first round, although possibly not immediate form, more from a few months ago. Peak Wright regardless.

Revised top half/overall win percentages

I've put the new data in, here's what we've got (this is ignoring the in-play Suljovic/Pipe game)

To reach the semi final:

van Gerwen 76.72%
Lewis 54.95%
Chisnall 33.77%
van Barneveld 13.65%
Taylor 7.06%
Cross 5.97%
Norris 5.30%
Whitlock 2.56%

To reach the final:

van Gerwen 66.16%
Lewis 14.61%
van Barneveld 7.94%
Chisnall 6.36%
Taylor 3.43%
Whitlock 0.85%
Cross 0.36%
Norris 0.28%

To win it all:

van Gerwen 50.45%
Anderson 28.89%
Lewis 6.36%
Wright 4.59%
van Barneveld 3.45%
Chisnall 2.07%
Suljovic 2.01%
Taylor 1.17%
Webster 0.35%
Reyes 0.33%
Whitlock 0.18%
Gurney 0.08%
Cross 0.04%
West 0.04%
Norris 0.03%
Pipe 0.00%

Analysis/bets of Wednesday and a roundup of tonight to follow after this evening's session

Monday 24 July 2017

Matchplay day 3 analysis

Simon Whitlock 10-5 Kyle Anderson

Can't help but feel like Anderson missed a few tricks here, he should have nicked the first leg but had bad third/fourth turns having stolen the darts, which might have given the game a whole different outlook. After that through to the break he didn't do a great deal wrong, Whitlock was mostly efficient in preventing break chances, then he managed to claw it back to 7-5, and then we saw the bad parts of Anderson - a leg where he didn't score, with a chance to break and get back on serve he left only 170 after twelve darts, then to hold to stay in the match he only generated one dart at double having left 121 after nine. Whitlock was solid, but that won't cut it next round - there's very little that will cut it next round though.

Adrian Lewis 10-7 Steve Beaton

Adie looked good here, although the game could have been completely different had Beaton managed to finish 112 in the second leg in the six dart he'd expect to have with Lewis on 140. His icing of the match with a four visit kill to deny Beaton the chance to force him to hold throw and avoid overtime was clinical, 140-140-140-81 out is always a great leg, and he was relentless throughout, eight from ten legs won being in fifteen or less. Beaton kept things interesting, taking advantage of a bad leg six to pull level and hold to 5-5, but not finishing 221 in nine after the break was key, that gave Lewis the break he needed and he didn't give a chance after that. Lewis looks solid, if not quite as explosive on this display, and should be able to overhaul Cross next round if he keeps this up.

Michael van Gerwen 10-4 Stephen Bunting

This threatened to be a whitewash for a while, with van Gerwen rolling the first seven legs, but Bunting was then able to hold twice where van Gerwen didn't really threaten the throw, only leaving 156 after twelve in one and not leaving a finish at all in the same, before Bunting got a break back with van Gerwen missing more darts at double than I usually do in the first leg after the break. It was only a tiny chance, and Bunting couldn't capitalise, you can't expect to win a leg against Michael leaving 90 after six visits, he got one more break but a 160 out for the second four turn kill of the game would put things to bed. This was hit and miss, the legs van Gerwen lose were really mediocre, averaging under 80, and the legs he won were around par for the course. It's a win in the books, but average. Average for MvG wins against more or less anyone though.

Rob Cross 10-7 Ian White

There were plenty of chances for White here - he was doing well enough to finish his first two legs on throw in fifteen darts, but that would have won any of Cross's first five legs on throw. White missed a few, mostly at big combo outs - 151 in the opener, 118 in leg 7, 121 in leg 13, as well as two clear in the deciding leg on the Cross throw. Nick one of those big outs, and that, for want of an awful big cliche, could have been a big momentum changer. Cross was showing some good power legs on a couple of occasions, a twelve straight out from the final break and an eleven to break back and lead 9-7 after White got it back on serve, but will definitely need to tighten up his game, less than one in three on outs contributed a bit to only finishing four of ten winning legs in under fifteen darts.

Revised bottom half percentages

Quick one before we start tonight's session:

To reach the semi final:

Anderson 74.67%
Wright 56.11%
Webster 23.02%
Suljovic 21.94%
Reyes 19.93%
Gurney 3.33%
West 2.93%
Pipe 0.05%

To reach the final:

Anderson 61.93%
Wright 19.02%
Suljovic 11.42%
Webster 3.47%
Reyes 2.98%
Gurney 1.04%
West 0.14%
Pipe 0%

Sunday 23 July 2017

Matchplay round 2 bottom half preview

Sod it, I'm looking at this now before I go to bed:

(7) Mensur Suljovic (1/3) v Justin Pipe (3/1)

Round 1: Suljovic 10-4 v Henderson, Pipe 10-5 v Klaasen
Head to head: Pipe leads 9-2

That head to head stat is a mild concern, especially when you factor in it's not just Pipe stat padding during his peak when Suljovic hadn't started his rise, five of those games come in the last 2 years, and Pipe leads those 4-1. Suljovic looked fine today, seeing off Henderson with little trouble and looking good doing so, albeit without any four turn legs, whereas Pipe, as described earlier, did little to suggest that his small uptick in floor form that got him here translated to the stage, as his numbers were just as poor as his stage game over the past year. The model is putting Suljovic at over 95% to win this one, he's not a less than 100% Klaasen and should put Pipe out much more than the market suggests - 2u Suljovic 1/3

Darren Webster (8/11) v Steve West (11/8)

Round 1: Webster 13-11 v Wade, West 10-5 v Smith
Head to head: Less than two games

The only all-unseeded clash so far, and barring a Beaton/Cross double tomorrow (not unbelievable) or a Bunting/Anderson double (OK then) it will be, this has opened up hugely for either player with the prospect of either Cristo Reyes or Peter Wright in a major quarter final. Webster was a bit lucky in that Wade managed to first blow his lead, then miss match darts, while West put in what was so far the performance of the round in blitzing Michael Smith in the first game up, killing my accumulator before things even start just like Liverpool in lunchtime kickoffs. West's performance has done enough to his numbers, which aren't a huge sample size compared to others still in the field, to change things from the pod 6 analysis post a bit, whereas previously he was below 20% to win this, he's now above 25%, but that is still some way short from what the line is hinting at. Webster has the advantage in TV experience over this sort of format I think, but West's game was so good that I don't want to go completely nuts and will just stick with 1u Webster 8/11

(2) Gary Anderson (2/7) v Daryl Gurney (7/2)

Round 1: Anderson 10-7 v Kist, Gurney 11-9 v van de Pas
Head to head: Anderson leads 6-4

This game was hyped as a potential match of the round ignoring the Taylor/Barney thing, with Gurney's improvement in form to the point where he's got to be extremely close to the Premier League at this stage, and his win over Anderson in Vegas just a week ago. This week, Anderson slotted in a very tidy game against a dogged Christian Kist, showing few weaknesses or dips from his historical form, whereas Gurney was not good, and managed to grind it out by keeping the pressure on and taking the chances that Benito allowed him to. Anderson is a big favourite in the market, does Gurney's recent form make it a bet for Gurney? I don't know. I have an extra 20 won legs on Gurney than Anderson in my sample (as he plays the Euro Tour more often mostly), and Anderson has as many five visit turns and twice as many four visit turns. I'm going to give Gurney the benefit of the doubt and say that today was an off day, and that he's doing more over his averages over the last twelve months right now that I'll refrain from betting Anderson.

(3) Peter Wright (3/10) v Cristo Reyes (4/1)

Round 1: Wright 10-8 v Wilson, Reyes 10-3 v Thornton
Head to head: Wright leads 7-1

While Wright leads 7-1, that one was their last meeting last month in Europe, while the other seven have all been close - four 6-5 results, two 6-4 results and a 10-7 in last year's European Championship. Wright averaged under 90 in grinding it out against James Wilson and will need to be much improved here against Reyes, who slammed in a ton plus average against a mediocre Robert Thornton, killing everything very tidily and getting over a ton in the legs that Thornton won. There's vig being offered, and it's from most bookies favouring Wright as opposed to a couple liking Reyes (relatively), so this might be a bet. The new figures have shifted things a couple of percentage points in favour of Reyes, I'm not entirely sure how given that Wright has an enormous sample size, the largest in my database, and Reyes didn't exactly crush his historical form, but there you go - the model has things at 70/30, which looks more than enough to predict the upset happens enough for a profitable bet - 0.25u Reyes 4/1

Matchplay day 2 evening analysis

Dave Chisnall 10-7 Mervyn King

Infuriating one this, started off extremely sloppy with neither player able to get anything like a good leg until Chisnall broke in fifteen to lead 3-2 at the break, the game then picked up but wasn't spectacular until we got to 6-6, then Chizzy fired in back to back twelves before Mervyn had a very bad scoring leg, manufactured a dart at tops to hold which was badly shanked, allowing Chizzy to break in eighteen darts. Mervyn did break back in fifteen after Dave missed three match darts, but missed a dart for Shanghai on twenties to hold and Chisnall closed it out. Annoying as King should have been 4-1 up at the break really, and kept things in general good order. Chisnall's numbers look OK and should be fine for round two, but he'll need to improve in a quarter final if he gets that far.

Phil Taylor 10-5 Gerwyn Price

Finally we get to see Phil throwing competitive darts for the first time in over six months, and he started like a train - wins the first leg then has one of those crappy online stoppages for no reason as Price held in seven visits, holding in five turns and breaking in four with a great 151 out, but fair play to Price, he held things together and hit straight back with a twelve of his own on a 170 out. Things went with throw in the second session, pretty poor in that only one leg was killed in fifteen darts, then Taylor won every leg without ever really being troubled - holding two in fifteen (one under no pressure, the final leg being under big pressure, Price donking away his look away 180 by hitting single one first dart at 100), holding in seven in a doubling clown show, then stepping in when Price twice couldn't finish his own throw in eighteen darts. Against Barney he'll need to be much improved, his figures are bang average.

Raymond van Barneveld 10-8 Joe Cullen

Hats off to Cullen here - he's the second player this week to throw four twelve darters in defeat (after James Wilson), and it would have been very easy to capitulate after going 7-3 down at the break, but he kept things going and clawed his way back into it, and but for a couple of key missed darts at double late in the game in Barney's late winning legs (tens to kill 140 in the decider, three clean at tops in the clownshow fifteenth leg which iced the game as Barney broke in nineteen darts) he could easily have nicked this. Barney, if we're comparing with Phil, did a bit worse - both had five legs won in less than fifteen, one of which each was a twelve, but Barney was allowed to win two legs in over six visits, Phil only the one, and Phil was about three points higher on the losing average, so their next round game might be close.

Alan Norris 10-6 Kim Huybrechts

Some day, hopefully in the not too distant future, Huybrechts will actually be able to put a string of legs together that we know that he's capable of, and was showing in the first three legs, before he then proceeded to lose eight legs in a row, seven of which he could have won if he had just finished a leg in fifteen darts - 15 Dart Bot beats Norris 10-1 here. Kim's average in losing legs was actually over 90, which surprised me given how easily Norris was allowed to accumulate his lead, but Kim was on 40 or less in all but one legs he lost. Norris will need to do much better against Chisnall in the next round - while Dave can be a world champion in faffing around on doubles, probably beating Huybrechts in the final of that event, he should generate enough chances to get the fifteen dart legs he needs to dispose of Chuck.

Bit of a disappointing session betting wise with the Huybrechts/King losses, leaving us, barring a Bunting shock, either around a unit down or a fraction of a unit up after round 1 dependent on the White/Cross result. For round 2, I'm needing to recheck some numbers tomorrow evening, and bookies were a bit slow in getting Tuesday lines (the Anderson/Wright half) out, but at a quick glance Suljovic, Webster and Reyes look like they should be plays, keep an eye out tomorrow evening as I should hopefully have Tuesday analysis up during the Whitlock game (think he's first up), probably won't be as in depth with pretty graphs and everything but should drill to the facts that matter.

Matchplay day 2 afternoon analysis

Justin Pipe 10-5 Jelle Klaasen

Strange one, Pipe's speed of finishing was more or less on par with his historical finishing, getting four legs in fifteen darts out of ten is bang on his 41% long term figure, and getting a further four in six visits is close as well (hard to be precise, he's at 86%), so how did Jelle not exploit this? It's primarily bad play on his own throw - first two legs he let Pipe break in six visits and seven visits, and let him break a further time in six visits in leg 10. Add to that letting Pipe hold leg seven in seven visits, all of which took place before the final break, put him too far behind, and he wasn't playing well enough to claw anything back.

Cristo Reyes 10-3 Robert Thornton

Another near full point in the bag for FRH bet followers as Reyes ran riot on Thornton, while there was just the one twelve dart leg, to get the first break and lead 3-1, he clocked in with another six legs in fifteen darts or less and didn't win any legs in more than six visits. This wasn't going to give Thornton too many opportunities - legs three, five and thirteen were the only chances Thornton had to break in fifteen darts, in which he didn't leave a finish, couldn't kill 112, then missed three clear darts at 40, but at 9-3 down it was a lost cause anyway. It wasn't a horrible standard by Thornton, averaging 89 when losing and getting 2/3 legs in fifteen darts, but he needed to step up against Reyes in this form, and didn't.

Daryl Gurney 11-9 Benito van de Pas

This was a bad match, at least as far as standards go, and a weird match. Gurney won 11 legs, of which nine needed more than five visits, which should have given Benito enough chances to claim the victory - 15 Dart Bot would be leading 8-1 with the tenth being undecidable given Gurney's position when Benito broke in twelve, and wins 10-3 at the very worst. That said, Benito averaged just 83 when losing legs, which is going to give Gurney enough margin for error to get by, while Gurney was averaging over 100 when Benito won his legs. He's going to have to step up his game against Anderson, at least to what he's been doing in recent times.

Mensur Suljovic 10-4 John Henderson

Solid enough game from Mensur, grabbing six out of ten legs in fifteen, with three of the others coming in the opening session where Henderson couldn't capitalise - not even getting a dart at double in leg three despite having six visits, only getting a last dart at bull in the sixth visit the leg after, then missing three clean at double 19 to go into the break 5-0 down. Henderson averaged 82 when losing, which isn't enough against someone with Suljovic's consistency to really challenge.

This rounds out the Tuesday schedule, which looks like Suljovic/Pipe, Webster/West, Anderson/Gurney and Wright/Reyes - I'll update the figures and preview the second round, if not tonight, some time tomorrow.

Matchplay day 1 analysis

Steve West 10-5 Michael Smith

No real words to say here, this was a pretty amazing display from West, slotting in four legs in twelve darts or less, a further three in fifteen, two of them breaks, and a not at all shabby 96 average when Smith won the leg. Smith, however, had his chances - twice West was able to hold when Smith had six visits to the board, in leg 7 when the scores were still level, and in leg 13 when West was two away from victory - in neither situation did Smith get a shot at double, crazily opting to go for bull with two darts in hand at 90 with Smith waiting on tens can't ever be the percentage play in the first instance, the second time he didn't get a good scoring visit until the fifth turn where he left 118 and couldn't hit a treble, just one more treble at any point earlier in the leg should give him a dart. Grab those breaks and it's 7-7, as was he had to make do with the legs he did win being alright, all in fifteen or less, but under 90 on the West winning legs isn't going to cut it.

Darren Webster 13-11 James Wade

Not the highest quality game - in 24 legs they combined for only two twelve darters, but a fair bit of tension in it, with Webster being able to get the scrappy legs - while their number of four and five visit leg wins were identical, Webster won five legs in sixteen darts or more to Wade's three, which was the difference. He was also pressuring a bit better, scoring over 95 on the Wade winning legs, compared to Wade being down at 91, so in those scrappy legs he was likely getting into spots where cleaning up was a bit easier. He'll play West next up in a section of the draw that is wide open.

Gary Anderson 10-7 Christian Kist

Ando did OK here but was made to work by Kist - of his ten won legs, two of them being twelves and six more being fifteens is more or less what you'd expect, and an average of 98 on losing legs is very good. Kist put up a decent showing, with a twelve darter of his own, and only two of his legs won needing more than fifteen darts, with a 96 average on the Anderson winning legs making sure that he was there if Anderson gave him chances, which he did on occasions, he broke Anderson four times and given that he only hit the one twelve darter, Anderson could tighten up his game, and may need to next round.

Peter Wright 10-8 James Wilson

On the numbers this looks like a bit of a confusing clown show - there were five twelve dart legs in the match, but four of them were from Wilson, whose other four legs were all in six or more visits, while Wright could only get four total legs in fifteen darts or less, getting by with four holds of throw in six visits where Wilson couldn't do enough - he wasn't waiting on a double in any of those, and needed over 100 in three of them. It's only really a Wilson collapse towards the end that saved Wright - from 8-6 down, Wilson was given a sixth visit on his own throw to finish a single darter, which he didn't, then somehow is allowed a seventh visit on the Wright throw having not had a dart at a double in the previous six visits, to which he proceeds to miss three more at a single darter, and finally can't finish in fifteen darts, with a visit of 43 and a bounce out meaning that 100 needed to go, and didn't. Couldn't do anything with Wright going out in twelve last leg but the damage was already done.

Saturday 22 July 2017

Correct score betting

With nothing further to add in terms of the Matchplay at this stage, with all analysis done and all bets down, a couple of things popped into my mind recently that I wanted to mention briefly.

The betting aspect of this blog is all about straight match results, but I know that some people like to do other novelty bets like correct scores, most 180's regardless of the amount of bookmaker vig compared to just betting one player to win, which is fine for entertainment value. What I would say is to consider the following:

1) The better player in a match is probably going to win the bull more often and choose to throw first in the opening leg (at least in leg play, Taylor certainly did put the other guy in in set play where who goes first effectively doesn't matter, and they re-bull in a deciding leg anyway)
2) Players are more likely to win a leg on their own throw than they are to break (assuming no enormous skill disparity which you never see in the professional game)
3) As such, it's more likely that players will hold to win a match - and if a favourite does so, there will be an odd number of total legs played in the game (and vice versa, if you think an underdog has chances, there will be an even number of legs played if he holds to win and loses the bull)

With that in mind, if we're correct score betting on Anderson/Kist and Webster/Wade tonight, surely we want to be going 10-3 Anderson and 10-8 Webster (as examples, I've not looked back at my calculations to see the most likely winning points) if we think the favourite throws first more often? Perhaps something to have a look back at and see how much correlation there is between throwing first and winning scoreline.

Also, an awful lot of my analysis has just covered winning legs, and while I've made reference to how players do in losing legs, and also compared the average difference between the two (check the post called consistency, at least that's what I think it's called), but not really tried to combine the two. This is something I should be able to do easily, I've got the number of visits and points scored for each circumstance already and weighting them to number of legs won and lost should be trivial, I'll look at this after the Matchplay is done I think.

Monday 17 July 2017

Matchplay pod 8 - 21 world titles against the young pretenders

Phil Taylor (World rank: 8, FRH rank: 18, match odds: 4/11, tournament odds: 25/1) v Gerwyn Price (World rank: 18, FRH rank: 17, match odds: 11/4, tournament odds: 200/1)

Phil Taylor's last competitive dart was thrown in 2016 as he went out of the world championships to potential second round opponent Raymond van Barneveld. Since then, he finished a creditable third in the Premier League, but an exhibition is an exhibition, even if there's hundreds of thousands of pounds in prize money riding on it. He's always loved Blackpool, but with him no longer having the aura of invincibility he had around three years ago, is he there for the taking?

Gerwyn Price will certainly think so. Making a first major final at the UK Open, he's elevated himself to the position where he's getting World Series invites and knocking on the door of the top 16 in the world. He's not been in a position to win anything else, but has made several final sessions in Europe and is putting himself in the right areas.

Taylor is listed as not quite a 75% favourite in the market, I have him slightly above that mark, which makes me think the line is good enough here to not warrant a bet.

Raymond van Barneveld (World rank: 9, FRH rank: 7, match odds: 4/11, tournament odds: 50/1) v Joe Cullen (World rank: 21, FRH rank: 19, match odds: 11/4, tournament odds: 300/1)

Curiously the same match odds as the other match. Barney indicated that he'd be playing the full tour this season - dartsdatabase has just gone down so I can't check at a glance, but it worked for a little bit, recently not so much. He's not had a ranking cash since April in Europe, and hasn't really gone deep in much, the UK Open quarter final being as good a finish as any. He's clearly still got the talent, although hasn't converted it to results, only finishing mid table in the Premier League.

Cullen's finally made the breakthrough he's been threatening for years, picking up one tour title earlier this season back in April, and adding a second right at the cutoff. A last 16 at the UK Open wasn't bad, he did see off Cadby in style at the world championships as well, and he has been making the final session of European Tour events with regularity. I think he finally believes, and is going about the game the right way, a run at a major is the next step.

This may be too soon though. Barney's just too strong, but the market seems spot on - I have Barney at 73% here, so there's no value either way.

In round two, I think everyone hopes to see a Taylor/Barney match, possibly for the last time. If we do, it should be quite close, Barney not being quite a 60/40 favourite on the numbers. Barney would be better than 80% against Price, while Taylor would be just short of 70% against Cullen. If both the young'uns win, Cullen would be aronud 60/40 against Price, having slightly the better numbers when winning, and comparable when losing.

Matchplay pod 7 - There can be only one who's simply the best

Mensur Suljovic (World rank: 7, FRH rank: 5, match odds: 2/7, tournament odds: 66/1) vs John Henderson (World rank: 32, FRH rank: 37, match odds: 7/2, tournament odds: 1000/1)

After taking time off after the world championships and missing all of the UK Open qualifiers, Mensur Suljovic has hit form in style as he looks to go deep in a really big major for the first time. Five times a quarter finalist or better in Europe this year, including two finals, apart from one slip up to Joe Murnan he's got an impressive record of no first round losses in any event. He has very few real weaknesses - four visit kills in 1 out of 8 legs, 2 out of 3 legs in fifteen or less, 92 in losing legs, it creates leg on leg pressure for the opponent, and we know that if given chances, Suljovic will take them.

Henderson's come into a little bit of form at the right time, making the final session of the European Darts Open and following that up with a tour quarter final to ice his place here the weekend after. Apart from that though, you need to go back before the UK Open for the last time he even made the top 16 of any event, giving him a form point total that beats only three players in the field.

Henderson's stats aren't awful in terms of all players - just under 10% of legs finished in four visits, solidly over 50% in five, but they're not elite numbers and rank solidly behind Suljovic in every relevant statistic. That said, he keeps it just about close enough that the numbers rank him as having a one in four shot of taking this match down. I think there's enough margin of error that this may be an overestimate and the line is spot on.

Jelle Klaasen (World rank: 11, FRH rank: 10, match odds: 4/9, tournament odds: 150/1) v Justin Pipe (World rank: 30, FRH rank: 29, match odds: 9/4, tournament odds: 1000/1)

Klaasen's had an OK season so far, despite struggling with injury and missing a bunch of time - three runs in Europe to the last four, one of them a final, indicates good stage form. One does wonder if he came back too early, with two opening round exits in the last Pro Tour events, but two weeks earlier he did 6-0 Rob Cross, which is no mean feat. Klaasen's very hit and miss, but when he hits, he's on, he just doesn't do it consistently enough.

Pipe backdoored his way into this, but is likely to just be making up the numbers. His semi final on the final weekend to qualify is his only run beyond the last 16 since October, and he ranks the lowest in every single stat I'm using here outside of form points - of 84 legs won in the sample I have, just two were won in four visits, he's only just over 40% of legs won in five visits, and averages only 85 when losing - this isn't much worse than Klaasen though. In producing the initial post of all possible winning chances, I took every final permutation to two decimal places, and van Gerwen was 100% against Pipe.

If it wasn't for the injury and unknown form, Klaasen should be a much bigger favourite. It's tempting to bet on him anyway given he has the best draw he could get, the odds put him at 70% to win, and I have him at 85%, so I wouldn't blame anyone for going on Klaasen here, but I'll pass as I think there's plenty of good first round spots already described, without needing to venture into unknown variables.

In round two, Suljovic would be over 95% against Pipe, and is around a 2-1 favourite against Klaasen by the numbers. If Hendo makes it through, he'd be at 80% versus Pipe, and not in bad shape against the Dutchman - still a dog, but over 40% winning chances.

Sunday 16 July 2017

Matchplay pod 6 - Now if we make a stand, we'll find our promised land

James Wade (World rank: 6, FRH rank: 6, match odds: 2/5, tournament odds: 50/1) v Darren Webster (World rank: 29, FRH rank: 24, match odds: 5/2, tournament odds: 300/1)

A wide open section of the draw featuring probably the weakest top 8 seed, one of the strongest non-top 8 seeds, a recent Pro Tour winner and a wildcard, first to look at is James Wade against Darren Webster. After a quarter final in the worlds, which is more or less what was expected, Wade has had a mediocre 2017 by his standards, having the best run of his season early on in the last UK Open qualifer, reaching the final with some good victories, following up with a semi/quarter Pro Tour weekend, but then drew Adrian Lewis straight off the bat in the UK Open and lost, and following that, there's not much to shout about apart from a couple of semi finals in April.

Darren Webster had a big break through last weekend, winning on the Pro Tour for a first ranking title in a decade, to get a tournament win to go with the elite form he was showing late last year. Like Wade, he lost in the first money round of the UK Open in a surprise loss to Ronnie Baxter, and aside from the win mentioned, hasn't made as many runs past the last 16/last 32 as he'd have liked, and has had a fair number of hiccups in opening round losses to the likes of Tony Newell, Aden Kirk, Jamie Bain, Mike de Decker and Jimmy Hendriks.

Wade's stats always look mediocre - he's the only top 10 player that doesn't finish at least 10% of his winning legs in twelve darts or less (Webster does), and is only just the right side of 50% in terms of legs won in fifteen darts or less (Webster isn't much better, but is still three points higher). He does have a losing average of 90, indicating that he will be pressuring, and grinding out legs in a sixth visit if given the opportunity, which is where a lot of the Wade cliches come from. Webster might let him in a few times on the Wade throw to do that, but he's playing well enough that he should be able to exploit Wade's lack of ability to break someone throwing fifteen darters. 0.5u Webster 5/2

Michael Smith (World rank: 10, FRH rank: 8, match odds: 3/10, tournament odds: 66/1) v Steve West (World rank: 39, FRH rank: 33, match odds: 10/3, tournament odds: 750/1)

The other match in this section sees Michael Smith, a multiple time European Tour winner who's yet to reach a major final or get past the second round at Blackpool, against Steve West, a player on debut looking to push up into the top 32. Smith managed the first win in a while after a real bad 2016, taking the title in Gibraltar to climb back into the top 10 in the world, and has added a few other very solid results - reaching a European final and semi final in successive weeks, his form in Europe being such that he's likely to be a top 4 seed for the European Championship, and has been clocking up a good selection of quarter final or better returns in general.

West has done little this season, outside of a couple of Pro Tour semi finals. He's here mostly on account of his form in late 2016, where he made a final just in time to qualify for the Grand Prix. This year, he's had six first round exits in Players Championship events, and didn't get a single cash in qualifying for the UK Open. He's doing well enough that he should be absolutely fine for making the majors outside of the European Championship, so maybe I'm being harsh, but it's certainly not been as good this season as parts of last.

Smith should be far, far too strong here given he's rediscovered his form - West only finishes in five visits 43% of the time, so Smith should have plenty of margin for error if needed, and get plenty of opportunities to break the West throw. My stats have Smith at an 85% chance of victory, which might even be on the low side considering both players' respective game right now. 1.5u Smith 3/10

In round two, Smith should be a favourite, against either opponent, but not by as much as he is here, there's a bit of variance but still should be 60% or better against both Wade and Webster. If West did pull off the upset, he'd clearly be a dog again in round two, with less than a 30% chance against either opponent.

Saturday 15 July 2017

Matchplay pod 5 - Chizzy! Chuck! King! Kim!

Dave Chisnall (World rank: 5, FRH rank: 4, match odds: 1/3, tournament odds: 33/1) v Mervyn King (World rank: 20, FRH rank: 20, match odds: 3/1, tournament odds: 250/1)

The highest ranked player in the tournament not to have won a major, Chisnall sets out on what would be a very tough run - King's one of the players you wouldn't want to be facing, his next round opponent wouldn't be pretty either, the quarters might be OK but he's in the same half as van Gerwen again, if he gets that far. Chisnall's not had a particularly good 2017 so far, getting drawn against Peter Wright early in the UK Open, and only having the one ranking final to date, losing out to Adrian Lewis. He had a pretty good Premier League after a slow start to end up fifth, and hasn't been doing too badly in other non-ranking events, but he's outside the top 10 for qualifying for both the European Championship and Players Championship finals, so he could be doing better.

King has been playing some of his best darts for years of recent, in reaching the final of the last European Tour event he was spectacular, only coming unstuck against Peter Wright, and while he's not done too badly this season (actually leading Chisnall in form points), he might have wanted his UK Open game against Tabern over again, and could easily have taken out Rob Cross in a Pro Tour final, and there's been a few deep runs where he's lost to players in the 11-20 ranking bracket, who I guess he thinks he should beat.

I think this is a lot closer than the odds make out. Looking at the graph, King is not that far off Chisnall's numbers in all aspects, while Chisnall's better in all aspects, it's not by much. This seems like a clear play given the odds we're offered, I'd probably still bet this at 2/1 - 0.5u King 3/1

Kim Huybrechts (World rank: 13, FRH rank: 13, match odds: 4/6, tournament odds: 150/1) v Alan Norris (World rank: 19, FRH rank: 16, match odds: 13/10, tournament odds: 250/1)

In a season where Kim Huybrechts is looking to push on to the top 10, he's been a bit disappointing. Finishing bottom of the Premier League in the circumstances isn't a big deal, but he's only made the one final so far this season, additionally he's made two semi finals. This is a rematch of the UK Open, where we bet Huybrechts at almost exactly the same odds, only for it to all go wrong in the deciding leg. He'll look to push on here and start to accumulate serious ranking money, which someone with his quality should be doing - it's just a case of doing it leg on leg, and not letting the pressure off.

Norris in contrast does have a tour win, taking the opening Players Championship over Peter Jacques. Since the UK Open though, his form has declined, with just the one semi final and two quarter finals, and a string of last 32 exits in Europe to qualifiers such as Jamie Bain, Dimitri van den Bergh and Jan Dekker. Similar opening losses on the Pro Tour to Robert Owen, Andy Jenkins, Ted Evetts and Tony Newell are also questionable results.

Both of these players are often inconsistent and see a big dip in average when they're not winning legs, but Huybrechts is still doing more when losing than Norris is by three points on the averages. Both are in the sixties for five visit finish percentage (Norris low, Huybrechts high), but the Belgian finishes in four visits considerably more often, a full 18% of winning legs being good for the fifth best in the field. He is that good, and I'm going to try to rectify the UK Open loss. The model has Kim winning 75% of the time - 1u Huybrechts 4/6

In round 2, Huybrechts would project as favourite against either opponent - a small one against Chisnall and 2-1 against King, while Norris would be around a 60/40 dog to King and a similar size dog to Chisnall as he is here. I have to think that round 2, if Huybrechts makes it, will be another Huybrechts bet.

Matchplay pod 4 - World champ vs world champ! Floor specialist vs floor specialist!

Adrian Lewis (World rank: 4, FRH rank: 15, match odds: 1/3, tournament odds: 40/1) v Steve Beaton (World rank: 25, FRH rank: 25, match odds: 5/2, tournament odds: 500/1)

We conclude the first half of these previews with an interesting section, in that the top seed, Adrian Lewis, who on his day can be absolutely unstoppable, has been withdrawing from tournaments left, right and centre, recently due to some undisclosed injury, and later on this year as his wife is expecting. As such, it's hard to get a decent read, but that the FRH rankings are disregarding over 70% of his World Championship final money, and that other players in the lower half of the top 16 are stepping up their game, he's dropped a chunk. Another victim of Paul Hogan at the UK Open, he's been indifferent when he has played, making the final of the first UK Open qualifier and getting a Pro Tour win in April, whilst going out early in floor events to Mickey Mansell, John Bowles, Zoran Lerchbacher (twice), Jan Dekker, Richard North - players he should be beating with little trouble.

Beaton has had an excellent last month, getting a Pro Tour victory with wins over Chisnall, Cross and Anderson in the final, and making a semi final in the next weekend of tournaments. UK Open qualifying was consistent with three quarter finals, he's hit a nine dart finish this year, although he's been a bit disappointing in Europe, failing at the last qualification hurdle three times and only getting one win once he has made it. But with the recent form and Lewis's unknown playing capabilities, does he have the game to challenge the twice world champ?

Lewis is better on every statistic, but Beaton can smash in four visit legs frequently enough to compete against Adie's specialty. It's the five visit legs that are the problem, he doesn't really throw enough of them and will let Lewis off too often in all likelihood. The model gives Lewis as an 80/20 favourite, and I can't see Beaton's form being enough to reach a point where I want to bet him. It's enough that I don't want to bet Lewis either, he only needs to be dragged down to 75% for it to be a no bet, which isn't an unreasonable guess.

Ian White (World rank: 12, FRH rank: 11, match odds: 11/8, tournament odds: 250/1) v Rob Cross (World rank: 49, FRH rank: 31, match odds: 8/11, tournament odds: 66/1)

White's usually good for a ranking win or two per year, and while he's not done that, he's come close a few times - twice a beaten finalist, once to Gary Anderson, and the other to his opponent here, Rob Cross. He should have made a first TV semi final at the UK Open but fluffed his lines against Gerwyn Price, but generally he's putting in the work, making the last eight of ranking events eight times outside of those mentioned already. He'd certainly have favoured almost any other opponent in round one here, as he defends a quarter final from two years ago.

Cross's hype has got to the stage where the bookmakers make him a small favourite in his opening match, but substantially shorter to win the whole thing compared to White, which seems a bit counter-intuitive, but let's ignore that for now. Two ranking titles in your first season is unbelievable, and they're clearly not flukes, backing it up with a further eight quarter final or better appearances, and it took Peter Wright to stop him in the UK Open at the last sixteen stage. With wins over everyone up to and including Michael van Gerwen, he's clearly a danger to anyone, so we bet him here, right?

Well, no, not really. The model has this as a coinflip for all intents and purposes, White's impressive ability to get the key legs in four visits being a weakness in Cross's game, at least on what's been televised. White maintains pace with Cross on the other stats, only 3% behind on five visit legs, only a point behind on losing average, this is going to be very close. While I don't think it'll affect him in the slightest, Cross does lack a bit of TV experience as well, and while he did get the win over Ian in one of his finals, White has won their other three matchups this season, including one last weekend. Think there's some small value here, so 0.5u White 11/8.

In round two, if Beaton does pull off the upset, the stats put him at very close to even money against either potential opponent. Naturally, the stats thus give Lewis a similar chance of winning against either opponent as he does against Beaton in round 1, albeit with all the same caveats mentioned above, but at that stage we'll have seen Lewis play and be able to adjust appropriately.

Matchplay pod 3 - Scotland versus debutants

Peter Wright (World rank: 3, FRH rank: 2, match odds: 1/10, tournament odds: 6/1) v James Wilson (World rank: 35, FRH rank: 28, match odds: 6/1, tournament odds: 500/1)

Peter Wright managed to secure a first major title this year with an impressive victory in the UK Open, nearly added the Premier League, and will be very much looking to add to that tally with what looks to be a favourable draw through to the semi finals. Wright's managed to win seven ranking titles this season, but outside of the wins there's been some questionable results - a loss to Kim Viljanen in Austria, a loss to Wayne Jones in round 1 on the floor, some moderately early exits to players he'd expect to beat elsewhere such as Paul Rowley, Paul Nicholson, Christian Kist and Vincent van der Voort.

Wilson's had a really poor season and made it here as the twelfth Pro Tour qualifier, a quarter final in Gibraltar and a semi final in Milton Keynes being enough to make him safe, but most of his ranking money came from the run up to last season's Grand Prix, where he made almost half of his money in the rolling Order of Merit in August/September. Aside from those two scores this season, which happened within a week of each other, he's not even reached the last 16 of an event. He only just qualified for the UK Open and didn't cash, while he's done well in European qualification he's lost in the first or second round, only beating Lee Bryant outside of the Gibraltar run.

Wright is a big favourite here like the other top three seeds, but unlike them he's actually a prohibitive favourite - only getting to 89% win chances, which isn't enough at 1/10. He's a much better player than Wilson, the big difference being the number of legs won in fifteen darts, which Wright does in 70% of legs to Wilson's 50%, which is a level of consistency that Wilson will find hard to combat, given his twelve dart percentage is down in the single digits. Over a race to ten I can't see a winning path for Wilson, at least not often enough to even think about backing the underdog in this one.

Robert Thornton (World rank: 15, FRH rank: 21, match odds: 21/20, tournament odds: 250/1) v Cristo Reyes (World rank: 28, FRH rank: 22, match odds: 10/11, tournament odds: 250/1)

A very close first round matchup looking at all the stats above, while there's a big difference in the official rankings, everything else is fairly close apart from Reyes doing a lot better when losing legs, a full six points higher than Thornton, but as we all know, Thornton is very hot and cold, so we can expect this. Robert has had some decent runs on tour since a real mullering by Joe Cullen in the first money round of the UK Open, making a semi final and a quarter final in one weekend at Wigan in June, and also making a run to the final at the same venue in April, results that were just enough to keep him in the seedings. On the other end, he's now needing to qualify for Europe and has only hit twice out of nine attempts, and has first round losses on tour to Richie Corner, Paul Rowley and Steve Lennon.

Reyes makes his debut here, and the bookies rate him as a small favourite. Now doing well enough on tour to be seeded for quite a few of the European Tour events, where he's been able to make some of his best runs since joining the PDC, with two semi finals in June. While he's not been able to get that far this season on the Pro Tour, he has an incredible number of last sixteen and last 32 performances, grinding out £1000 or £1500 each time, and in other European events he only slipped once as a seed to Ulf Ceder, picking up three grand on another four occasions.

Thornton is a slightly more explosive player, but Reyes isn't too far behind in terms of twelve dart percentage, only 2-3 percentage points, while Reyes is five points ahead in fifteen dart percentage, and a similar level in eighteen dart percentage. What he's doing when losing was mentioned earlier. Reyes can close to match Thornton in his only real advantage and is a lot more consistent everywhere else, and while Thornton's come into a little bit of form, Reyes is also in form and has gained a lot more confidence on stage. This is more like a 60/40 game than the coinflip the bookies suggest, so 1u Reyes 10/11.

In round 2, Wright should be around a 3-1 favourite against either opponent, both times projecting in the 70's for win percentage (the high end vs Thornton, the low end vs Reyes), so if Wright is as short relatively in round 2 as round 1, then particularly there may be chances for a Reyes bet. If Wilson pulls off the shock, he should be live against Thornton, but would still need 2/1 to bet on him, while against Reyes he'd be outmatched - Reyes projecting to be a 75% favourite.

Matchplay pod 2 - No Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman go double Dutch

Gary Anderson (World rank: 2, FRH rank: 3, match odds: 1/9, tournament odds: 5/1) v Christian Kist (World rank: 38, FRH rank: 36, match odds: 8/1, tournament odds: 750/1)

Our next set of matches see the two time world champion Gary Anderson, looking to add to his title haul with a Matchplay win, an event where he's not even reached the final, up against another former world champion in Christian Kist, who is on debut here as he's building up a bit more consistency in the PDC. Anderson has the third best form points stat in the field behind the other players in the top two, which is impressive given he's ignored the European Tour completely and certainly hasn't played much of the Pro Tour, but when he has played he's looked incredible, winning three events, making the final of three more, as well as looking strong in unranked events, the only blot is really the UK Open (Hogan though) as well as the comedy that was the World Cup, but who cares about unranked pairs matches.

Kist has a huge task ahead of him, and while he's getting better, hasn't really been doing much, not having made a quarter final since the Players Championship finals back in November. Not completely safe for this until the final weekend, he's mostly here on the back of a good end to 2016, including one Pro Tour final, and consistently qualifying for European Tour events, having played in seven but never getting more than one win in any of them.

Anderson absolutely dominates Kist in every stat going - Kist has the lowest losing average in the field, while Anderson has the highest, and Kist cannot produce enough good legs, only getting a twelve darter once in every seventeen legs, not finishing in fifteen more than half the time, and having an overall record of more legs lost than won. Anderson, according to my projections, has the greatest winning chance of any player in round one - better even than Michael van Gerwen. As we went with that match at shorter odds than this, I think we need to go even bigger here - 3u Anderson 1/9

Benito van de Pas (World rank: 14, FRH rank: 14, match odds: 6/4, tournament odds: 250/1) v Daryl Gurney (World rank: 16, FRH rank: 9, match odds: 8/11, tournament odds: 150/1)

This one looks close on paper, with two young players who've been mentioned in dispatches as possible Premier League players in the next couple of years, going up against each other for the right to likely face Gary Anderson in round 2. After a very good 2016 on the floor where he collected three Pro Tour titles, but couldn't really do it on TV, albeit he did play great stuff at the worlds when losing to Anderson, Benito hasn't been truly at his best this season. The run to the final of the German Open aside, the Dutchman hasn't been able to make it past a quarter final all season, had a relatively early exit at the UK Open to Alan Norris, and has dropped multiple first round games in the European Tour to further hurt his ranking money. It's generally thought that while his floor game is up to scratch, it's lack of TV quality that's holding him back, but if the floor game is wobbling a bit, that's a big concern.

Gurney is exactly the sort of player to capitalise from this. He finally made his breakthrough to the elite level this year, following his World Championship quarter final, he made the semi finals of the UK Open, and then broke the title duck in April with a good win in Barnsley against Kim Huybrechts. This seems to have taken the handbrake off - since then he's made three further finals, and has a current streak of eleven singles events where he's made at least the last 16.

The stats have the two lined up very, very closely - Gurney comes in as a favourite, but it's not even 52/48 on the raw numbers. On current form, I think that needs to be pushed up a bit, probably to the point where it's a no bet situation. If Gurney continues playing the way he is and if Benito can replicate some of what we know he can do this will easily be the match of the round.

Looking at the second round, Kist would be around a 3-1 dog against either opponent, but it's likely to be Anderson who's up. Anderson should be the favourite against either, in the high 80's percentage wise. I'm high on Anderson, but especially if he faces Gurney, it'll be very interesting to see what the books do in terms of pricing, especially if Anderson doesn't look completely convincing.

Matchplay pod 1 - two world champions and men down under

Michael van Gerwen (World rank: 1, FRH rank: 1, match odds: 1/16, tournament odds: 4/5) v Stephen Bunting (World rank: 22, FRH rank: 23, match odds: 12/1, tournament odds: 400/1)

First up we have the reigning and defending champion of just about every relevant title in darts, and the greatest player of all time, Michael van Gerwen, opening his defence in what looks to be a comfortable opponent in Stephen Bunting. van Gerwen's not played close to every event as he did last year, and hasn't looked as completely invincible as he did in 2016, but he's still managed to collect six ranking titles so far, including three European Tour wins, and also won the Premier League. There's still no question he's number 1, but other players are getting closer to his level in a lot of situations - but not in terms of pure unbeatable legs, his stat of 30% of legs won in twelve darts or less is so far ahead of anyone else, it's unbelievable (of this field, only Gary Anderson even has above 20%).

Bunting, meanwhile, continues to struggle and is having a quite awful fourth season in the PDC - the pressure ought to be off now as he's now not defending what he made in his debut season, but he's simply not playing anywhere near as well as we know he can. Following his first round World Championship exit to Darren Webster, he didn't even make the money at the UK Open (neither did van Gerwen, so at least he matches him on something), and has made one quarter final all season. Bunting, oddly, did win the last matchup between the two in Barnsley on the floor last year, but their last TV matchup, in the unranked 2016 Masters, van Gerwen won 10-1.

I think that we see something of the same here, Bunting would be outclassed even if he was to turn on his best form, the question is at such short odds, do we bet van Gerwen? The numbers reckon that based on how quickly they finish legs, van Gerwen wins this over 95% of the time - more than enough to justify a bet, it'd be very easy to go crazy and put lots of units on, but I'll be somewhat restrained and just look for a small gain with 2u van Gerwen 1/16.

Simon Whitlock (World rank: 17, FRH rank: 12, match odds: 4/6, tournament odds: 200/1) v Kyle Anderson (World rank: 31, FRH rank: 26, match odds: 11/8, tournament odds: 300/1)

An all-Australia clash is up next, with Simon Whitlock barely holding on to the number 16 seed (as you'll see, if the cutoff was the middle of last week, he wouldn't be seeded), against the occasionally brilliant Kyle Anderson. Whitlock has continued the resurgence in his career well into his fifth decade, picking up two UK Open qualifier wins, reaching the quarter final of the event itself, and another Pro Tour win the weekend after, but since late April his form has dipped quite a bit - first round losses on the floor to Matt Clark, Jon Worsley and Richard North, an early loss to Steve Hine, and he's bricked the first round of three European Tour events for no (official) ranking cash.

Can Anderson capitalise? Visa issues caused huge disruption to him late last season, but he's back now looking to make the breakthrough to push higher in the top 32 - he's going to be in a false position for a while as a result of no World Championship cash, so come the end of 2018 he'll be in a position to skyrocket, but here and now he's doing OK if not really making the inroads he is capable of. A semi final last weekend is the best he's done this year, but then ruined the weekend by losing in round 1 to Wes Newton the day after, so while the form may be inconsistent, the possibility of hitting peaks is there. Four quarter finals, including one in Europe, are keeping things ticking over, his whole dartsdatabase record is a steady string of four figure cashes.

My projections have this as a 57/43 matchup, which is very close to what the linemakers have it, so I won't be betting on this one - the questions are mainly can Whitlock halt what appears to be a downturn in form, and which Anderson will turn up. If one plays badly and the other doesn't, then that should decide things quite comprehensively, if they both play well, Whitlock should just have enough to grind it out over a longer format than on the floor, if both play badly it could be a trainwreck. That it's a matchup between World Cup partners also adds dynamics that further lean me to avoid things from a betting standpoint.

Briefly on round two, I have van Gerwen only not making the quarters one time out of eight, being more than a 90% favourite against either potential opponent, with Whitlock being the slightly tougher opponent, in that he should win about 9% of matches as opposed to 7% or so. If Bunting shocks the world then he would come in as an underdog against either as of the stats right now (around 30% versus Whitlock, 37% against Anderson), but if he were to do so that'd likely push his numbers up a chunk, although probably not enough to push him to favourite status.

Early warning - limited coverage of European Tour 11


First few matchups of the Matchplay are being written up this afternoon, but I'm posting advance notice that there'll be next to no coverage of the European Tour event in Riesa in late September, as I'm on holiday. That said, said holiday is booked in, er, East Germany, so I'll be at the last 16 session. I have a table.

Thursday 13 July 2017

Matchplay first round writeups coming this weekend

Quick filler post to explain what I'll be posting in each writeup:

- I'll list their current (official) world ranking as of when I pulled the data (Wednesday), so it doesn't exactly reflect the seedings when the draw was made
- I'll list their current FRH ranking, as detailed in a post way back towards the start of the blog (i.e. money won starts decreasing gradually after a few months, rather than not at all and just disappearing after two years)
- I'll post a series of 100% stacked bar charts detailing some stats, namely frequency of finishing in four/five visits of fewer, losing average (these three stats are normalised so that the score of the lowest ranked player gets 10 points, the highest ranked player gets 30, and everything else scales linearly in between, so the most dominant stat you'll see here is someone having 75%), and something I call 2017 form points - in ranking events dating back to the worlds inclusive (so Phil doesn't get a zero), you score 1 for a last 16 finish, 2 for a quarter, 3 a semi, 5 for runner up and 8 for winning, with your best five scores counting (so the best you can get here is 40).
- Then I'll get into the analysis and any bets that I'd recommend.

Interesting to see that the big names from the States didn't make the end stages of the qualifiers over the last couple of days - would have thought one of Young, Butler, Part or Smith would have made it through, or at least made it through countback. Especially Smith, who I was glad to see played and has seemed to be the best of the bunch that have made TV regardless of code, but he was the only one of those four to even make a semi final. Pity really, would have been fun to see him challenge one of the big PDC names.

Tuesday 11 July 2017

Matchplay outright and sectional analysis


Nice of the PDC to push the time they say the draw will show up on Facebook back at quarter of an hour increments, only for it to never arrive and a quick F5 on their own site to show that it's done. Match by match analysis to come (will consider it in pods of four players, so eight posts in total), but for now, I've shoved the stats into the master computer, ran every single permutation of matches against each other and come up with the chances of each player winning their quarter, half of the draw, and the thing outright.

Caveat emptor - this considers all competitive darts since September. It's not filtered by recency, as I don't want a bunch of divide by zero errors on Phil, it doesn't take into account consistency and is only considering winning legs, and doesn't take into account things like Adie being injured, Jelle being injured (although it obviously factors in competitive games he's played while injured) and form. Where players are grouped in later rounds, they are still sorted in order of winning chances.

First quarter:

van Gerwen 74.05%
van Barneveld 12.79%
Taylor 8.22%
Whitlock 2.17%
Cullen 1.09%
Anderson 1.07%
Price 0.41%
Bunting 0.19%

Second quarter:

Lewis 38.23%
Huybrechts 27.33%
Chisnall 17.00%
King 5.43%
White 3.93%
Cross 3.45%
Norris 2.42%
Beaton 2.21%

Third quarter:

Anderson 74.82%
Suljovic 13.98%
Klaasen 4.94%
Gurney 2.69%
van de Pas 2.14%
Henderson 1.26%
Kist 0.14%
Pipe 0.02%

Fourth quarter:

Wright 47.39%
Smith 26.53%
Webster 9.57%
Reyes 9.20%
Thornton 3.77%
Wade 2.57%
Wilson 0.69%
West 0.29%

Top half:

van Gerwen 64.21%
Lewis 10.32%
van Barneveld 7.93%
Huybrechts 6.73%
Taylor 4.45%
Chisnall 3.36%
<1% - Whitlock, King, Cullen, Anderson, White, Cross, Norris, Beaton, Price
<0.1% - Bunting

Bottom half:

Anderson 61.05%
Wright 17.35%
Suljovic 7.23%
Smith 7.03%
Reyes 1.64%
Webster 1.64%
Klaasen 1.58%
<1% - Gurney, van de Pas, Thornton, Henderson, Wade
<0.1% - Wilson, Kist, West
<0.01% - Pipe


van Gerwen 49.45%
G Anderson 28.70%
Wright 4.47%
Lewis 4.46%
van Barneveld 3.70%
Huybrechts 2.70%
Taylor 1.72%
Suljovic 1.37%
Smith 1.25%
Chisnall 1.13%
<1% - Reyes, Whitlock, Webster, Klaasen, King
<0.1% - Cullen, Gurney, K Anderson, van de Pas, White, Thornton, Cross, Norris, Henderson, Beaton, Wade, Price
<0.01% - Bunting, Wilson
<0.001% - Kist, West
<0.0001% - Pipe