Saturday 15 July 2017

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.

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