Monday 17 July 2017

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.

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