Saturday 15 July 2017

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.

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