Thursday 31 August 2017

Five things to watch for in Maastricht

Finally back to competitive darts, and we've just closed up with the European and domestic qualifier (which, following the announcement of the 2018 schedule, the Dutch will have two of next season, something I called out for a few weeks ago - taking one off Germany is fine, but I do have to wonder about Denmark as a new venue for an added country unless the home nation qualifier is actually for the SDC as a whole), so with the draw done, here's what I'd look for:

1) How does Michael van Gerwen bounce back?

This is kind of key from a betting standpoint, as he's taken time off for the birth of his kid, and took a beating from Phil last time out, but in terms of the draw it's not the nicest - Michael/de Zwaan should be OK, but then the possibility of King/Kyle Anderson/Pipe followed by Daryl Gurney in a quarter final could be a tricky one.

2) How does Justin van Tergouw perform in the senior ranks?

I was a bit surprised to see him take part in the qualifier, and was more surprised to see him take out Vincent van der Voort in the final round to get a first round tie against Christian Kist, which should be a good test for the youngster.

3) How do the Germans do when not on home soil?

They took a good contingent to the qualifier, and Hopp, Schindler, Blum and Berndt got through, which is a decent return - Blum's drawn Beaton, which should be a win for the Adonis, but the rest have winnable games against Jimmy Hendriks, Chris Quantock and Kirk Shepherd. They all need to start doing it when not taking the free money at home and this would be a good place to start.

4) Grand Prix deadline closing in...

With money in the bank counted, Richard North and Ronny Huybrechts are very close, North had made this event and the next one already, but Ronny did the double this evening to keep him alive (despite facing a nine darter from, of all people, Robert Allenstein) and just a grand behind North if Burton's maths is right, which it usually is. Just a monkey ahead of North is Steve West, for whom this is his last event. He has Ryan Searle, who I fancy for a bet at the odds offered - 0.25u Searle 9/4, while Huybrechts has a tough match against John Henderson, while North faces Mike de Decker. van der Voort not making it today in the domestic qualifier probably puts him too far back, a double could have given him chances. Above the first three mentioned, there's a near four grand gap to Pipe/Henderson, both of whom play here but not in Mannheim, so it's likely two from three barring something extremely crazy.

5) Who can make first round statements?

There's quite a few decent games in the opener between quality players, who are either in the lower ends of the top 32 or on the fringes - Huybrechts/Henderson I've mentioned already, Rowby-John Rodriguez against James Wilson is an interesting one, John Michael and Jeffrey de Zwaan could be fun lower down, as will Steve Lennon and Ratajski. Jamie Bain against Robert Owen shouldn't be a bad opener either.

On the betting side I fancy a couple of micro plays - 0.1u Harry Robinson 9/2 v Jamie Lewis, Lewis shouldn't be that big a favourite against anyone, 0.1u Ulf Ceder 19/4 v Nathan Aspinall for similar reasons. Oddschecker is missing the van Tergouw/Kist, North/de Decker and Wilson/Rodriguez matches for some reason, I'd have guessed bookies were slow at picking up the home nation qualifer, but they've got de Zwaan's game up and the European qualifier was from the same source so...

Sunday 27 August 2017

Worlds potential winners and losers

I've found it hard to get any real interest in the two World Series events that have taken place this and last weekend, with them being unranked and having almost all of the local players go out more or less without a fight, Cadby excepted, I suppose the only real thing of note is that Gurney's continued to perform and Wade's looked a bit better, so ignoring that and given that we're now less than four months out from Ally Pally, I'm going to take a look at the potential big winners and losers in the Order of Merit looking back to 2016.

Potential big losers:

1) Adrian Lewis

Lewis made the final in 2016 and wasn't too far off being able to beat Gary Anderson to claim a third title, but despite him returning to some form in the Matchplay, he will do very well to not plummet down the rankings. Currently fifth once all money that won't count by the cutoff has been removed, that would give him, as things stand, a last 16 match against Michael Smith, a quarter final against Phil Taylor followed by a semi final against Michael van Gerwen. It's hard to be too confident in any of those.

2) Jelle Klaasen

In the other half in 2016, Jelle was able to get a career-defining win over Phil Taylor in the last sixteen, and followed it up with a deciding set win over Alan Norris before capitulating in the semi final to Gary Anderson. Since then, he's not won a tournament, not been able to make serious inroads into a televised major after the 2016 UK Open, and has had injury struggles which have prevented him from gaining any real consistency. While this will change a bunch before the cutoff, if things froze right now he'd face Kyle Anderson in round two of the worlds, which is frankly a horrible draw, and Mensur Suljovic in the round of 16 would be equally tough.

3) Jamie Caven

Hey guys, remember when Caven won seven consecutive sets to reach round three of the world championships? Me neither, but it supposedly happened less than two years ago, and barring miracles all that's being wiped off the slate as Caven's career path threatens to do a Newton/Hamilton etc without the peaks that they had.

4) Alan Norris

As mentioned above, he managed to get to the quarters in 2016, losing to Klaasen, and looked really good while doing so, taking out Thornton, Murnan and Mark Webster en route - unfortunately, like all his opponents, his form seems to have slipped substantially since then, and his current ranking of 14 isn't likely to rise much, and even if it falls, it's hugely likely that if he was to get to the round of 16, and I'd fancy most round two opponents over him, he's going to run into a truly elite name which he cannot hang with at present.

5) Gary Anderson

He's playing some really great darts, and should be the favourite to reach the final, but he is defending the title money, which is always going to be difficult. He's lost some questionable tight games over medium distances, and he could easily draw a Terry Jenkins or Robert Thornton in round two that could give him issues, and a few of the players in the 15-18 bracket would fancy their chances in a race to four sets.

Potential big winners:

1) Michael van Gerwen

Little analysis needed, he's only defending a third round defeat to Barney, and there's nobody artificially low at present that should give him serious trouble before we get to the longer races to five or more sets.

2-3) Simon Whitlock and Kim Huybrechts

Grouping these two together given their relative similar situation in terms of money defended and rankings - two years ago Whitlock lost to Ricky Evans and Huybrechts lost to Dave Pallett in deciding sets in the first round, both of which they should consider to be disappointing, but this year they've been playing well enough that they shouldn't have a first round hiccup unless they get a bastard draw like a Rob Cross (if he isn't seeded by December, which is entirely possible) or one of the many solid players on the Pro Tour rankings that can be excellent on their days. Right now, Whitlock would be seeded 15 and Huybrechts 18 - drawing each other in what could be a virtual "final" of a second round match.

4) Cristo Reyes

Two years ago he played like complete arse in losing to Wes Newton in the opening round, he's a much more complete and solid player at this stage in his career, and his current ranking is such that he should avoid the truly elite players until at least the round of 16, and we've seen that he can hang with the best on this stage.

5) Rob Cross

This is a multi-way tip - if he doesn't get enough in the bank in the remainder of the year to get a seed, he will be without question the number one name on seed's lists as to who they want to avoid, but if he is seeded, he may not get much beyond the lower ends and get to a real top seed in the second round, where it's still only a race to four sets - and he certainly has the game to be able to defeat anyone over a small-middling distance. Whichever way it goes, he can make serious inroads into this event and then really start to skyrocket in his second year on tour.

Sunday 13 August 2017


I don't usually comment on exhibitions, but given the results from the other side of the world, I thought I'd quickly look at Cadby's stats, given that for those that aren't already properly in the PDC system these can still be quite meaningful. He won 37 legs across the weekend, of which:

- Only one was a twelve darter (the very first leg of the final) - this is surprisingly low, given that in the worlds he managed four out of eighteen.
- Twenty-six were fifteen darters, putting him at a very respectable 73% of legs won in fifteen darts or less, which is elite throwing if he can do this continually over a good sample size. To put this in perspective, only van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis are above 70% given a reasonable sample.

But, you might ask, what about when Cadby was losing? How often did he not end up hitting a six visit kill because his opponent finished in five visits? It's a fair question given the quality of opponents he was facing, namely three of the FRH top ten and an opponent who won a tour title last weekend. He lost 28 legs this weekend, of which:

- In 11 legs he was only allowed four visits to the board. From these, he was left on a single dart finish on five occasions, single to double on another, and under 80 on a further two legs - so in quite a large number of these situations he clocks in a further fifteen dart leg. On balance, on two occasions he wasn't on a finish at all, so there is that
- In 11 more legs he was only allowed five visits to the board. On five of these again he was waiting on a single darter, and a further three he was needing just a single to leave a double. So, in fairness, he could have hit a few more six visits legs very easily if given the chance, and he was putting on the pressure to force the other guy to go out.
- The remaining visits he didn't finish in six visits, which is not an enviable situation to be in and is something he'll ideally want to cut out of his game. None of them were complete busts - on each occasion he was left on a double, but at the highest level he'll need to be getting these legs in the win column. These drag down his overall losing average to 92.79 - if he'd checked these out instead, his losing average would be over 97.

He's in an interesting spot now - he's over for the Grand Slam, and I would assume that he will stick around for the world youth, but then what? If he doesn't retain, he's not going to Alexandra Palace unless he claims the Oceanic Masters (perfectly possible) given he didn't top the DPA rankings. Can he sign on as a PDPA member and try the last chance PDPA qualifier? Is he eligible to play the BDO qualifier a couple of days after that? Will the PDC make their mind up what's happening with the qualification given they removed the four European ranking places? It'll be an interesting November for him whatever he does.

Monday 7 August 2017

Jenkins watch

With not many months at all until Alexandra Palace, it's getting increasingly down to the wire as to whether we'll see Terry Jenkins on the stage, who's currently ranked 28th in terms of money that will count towards seedings. Let's have a quick look at the ten players ranked immediately below him - the figures indicated show the amount of money they're currently behind, not counting any money that's guaranteed already:

#29 Justin Pipe (-1500) - has qualified for two European Tour events next month and, barring shenanigans, the Grand Prix, so he's clear.
#30 Brendan Dolan (-6000) - has qualified for one European Tour event for a grand, will not be making the Grand Prix, but is looking fairly safe for the Players Championship Finals for another minimum two and a half grand, so will need 2500 from either making the last European Tour (qualifier is in Dublin, which may help), winning in the one he's at already, or from the remaining Pro Tour events. This looks to be a fairly decent shout.
#31 James Wilson (-8250) - Similar to Dolan, except not as safe for the Players Championship Finals, so will have some work to do, but on the other hand he is in a much better position to qualify for the European Championship, so one win in Maastricht could easily count for six grand towards closing the gap.
#32 Vincent van der Voort (-11000) - The Euros haven't had their qualifiers yet, so with Vincent having one home qualifier and two continental ones to catch up on, he's probably getting a couple of grand minimum (should figure he qualifies at home, and he's got a 50% strike rate in qualifying on the others), which would see him make the European Championship fairly certainly. He's also right on the cutoff that Burton's projecting for the Players Championship Finals, so that eleven grand gap looks very certain to disappear.
#33 Christian Kist (-19500) - Now the gaps are getting larger, but the difference between van der Voort and Kist is that Kist's been doing work this year - he is close to a lock for the three majors still to be held, which brings things down by two thirds, and like van der Voort has a home qualifer and three other European events to take part in. I'd be more surprised if Kist didn't pass Jenkins than if van der Voort didn't.
#34 Chris Dobey (-20250) - Nothing in Europe to look forward to and looking unlikely to make any majors other than the Players Championship Finals, for which he still needs some money, I doubt that he can catch Jenkins before the cutoff.
#35 Steve West (-22250) - Has one European qualification in the bank, which puts him tentatively in the Grand Prix, but could do with a win for some added safety. He's not looking like making Hasselt, but is solidly in the Players Championship Finals, so if he has a couple of tour runs, he could come close.
#36 John Henderson (-24250) - Henderson's safe in every major and one Euro Tour, so needs another ten grand from somewhere. This isn't that bad a shout - he could make the last European event, should be at least live to win one round in the Players Championship finals, and still has four Pro Tour events to go. Could be a coinflip
#37 Jamie Caven (-25750) - LOL
#38 Rob Cross (-30250) - Thirty grand isn't that much when you consider that twelve and a half of it is in the bank from the remaining majors, he is seeded for the rest of the European Tour events, which while counting for nothing yet, will count for three grand a piece if he wins one match, and he's Rob Cross.

So how can Jenkins qualify? He's going to have to play something. Getting to Ireland seems key - play the last European qualifier and the two Pro Tour events there and get something on the board, then reassess. Annoyingly, the Grand Slam qualifier (which all of these can play as well obviously) doesn't tie in with any ranking events, but the last two Pro Tour events are midweek, which may see a weakened field from a few of the players who are still part time.

Sunday 6 August 2017

Players Championship 17/18, Euro Tour qualifiers

So we're now done for the summer break - nothing in the remainder of the month apart from exhibitions. This has closed up a fair bit in terms of qualifications - there's now just the two European Tour events before the Grand Prix cutoff, for which the UK based players have had their qualification events already, there's only one event for the UK players on the European Tour left to qualify for, we're now over 80% of the way done with the Players Championship series so there'll be a lot of spots locked up now, and of course this all leads up to the worlds at the end of the season. This weekend:

Performance of the weekend - There weren't many of the big guns out this weekend, so there were opportunities for many players to take full advantage, but quite a few of the bigger names in there didn't do too much - Chizzy got the win just now and Gurney won both his boards but went no further, Smith got to a semi final but then went out first chance today after getting a round 1 bye, so I'm looking a bit further down. Stephen Bunting is a contender with a semi final and a quarter final, but let himself down a little bit with a double failure in the European qualifiers, surprisingly in a decider to Robert Owen and a whitewash to Andy Hamilton, Brendan Dolan had a bit of a return to form with a quarter final, last 32 and one European qualification, much further down Chris Quantock, Ryan Meikle, Yordi Meeuwisse and Paul Harvey should be happy with their weekends, but I'll give this to Kyle Anderson - grabbing a maiden title, hitting a nine dart finish in the process, qualifying for two European Tour events (which he shouldn't need to do much more often now), the only downer is a surprising defeat to Keegan Brown today.

Best tournament performance - That I gave Anderson the weekend award should tip you off that I'm going to give this to Richard North for a first tour final, doing a Steve West and getting it just in time for a possible qualification for the Grand Prix - currently according to Twitterati maths he has the last spot, and only European qualification and good runs by continental players (mainly looking at Ronny Huybrechts, but van der Voort and van den Bergh aren't without chances if they make a deep run) should stop him, and given he is playing in both remaining events, he should be able to get over the line - shame he put in a bad final leg when it really mattered after being lights out all day. Chizzy winning is obviously worthy of a mention, Jermaine Wattimena had a great run to the semi final yesterday, only being beaten by Kevin Painter making a final out of nowhere, whilst Ryan Searle continues with an impressive opening season, staying close but just outside of worlds qualification.

Best single match performance - Andy Hamilton with the 6-0 over Bunting given that Bunting's been playing well this weekend is in with a shout, Brendan Dolan with the same scoreline today over Darren Webster is worth a mention, another mention for Paul Harvey, while Vincent Kamphuis isn't the toughest opponent, getting the whitewash is always nice. I'll give it to Dolan - Webster's been in such red hot form that it seems more impressive, especially having just come through 6-5 duels with Simon Whitlock and Devon Petersen. One more leg against Chisnall in the following round and who knows what would have happened?

Worst weekend long performance - Benito van de Pas lost in the opening round both times to James Richardson and John Part, I don't really need to look any further. Rob Cross was subdued with just one and done in each events, going out to Ryan Meikle (who's getting an awful lot of mentions in the last few posts for no real reasons - did I mention he beat the number 1 seed today?) and Chris Quantock, Chris Dobey also has to be disappointed to not qualify for either of the European events (losing out to Jamie Caven of all people) and going out in round 1 in both Players Championship events, where qualifying for one or both and having modest runs would have kept him in Grand Prix contention, and given he's less than a grand above the cutoff for the worlds as of right now, every quid could end up counting.

Worst single match performance - There's not a huge amount to talk about in this category and I don't want to give it to Webster for being on the wrong end of the best single match, I don't want to give it to Bunting either as it'd seem unfair when talking about him straight off the bat in the best of the weekend. Could go with either of Dobey or Wilson losing to Jamie Caven as part of their weekendus horribilises, but I'll just save this and give it out when something really bonus deserving comes up the next time around.

New adjusted FRH rankings:

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

Lower down, Kyle Anderson stays unchanged despite his win as there was a big gap between him and Beaton above him (which is now obviously a lot smaller), Kevin Painter leaps up to 43 following his final, Richard North is now less than £100 off the top 60, while Ryan Searle is within a grand of the top 70.

Thursday 3 August 2017

Half term report - averages

As mentioned in a previous post, I thought I'd post up the total averages of players in my database at some point. I'm going to do this for the time period following the PDC worlds, which seems like the end of a season. I do this for two reasons - one, it allows the BDO players to get a sample size to be included, and two, anything prior to that may be of limited use anyway. This includes all European Tour events, the UK Open (where stats were available on board 1/2) and the Matchplay, and from the BDO, Lakeside and the World Trophy.

A reminded that the stats I use just consider visits. In my model, killing in 13 darts counts the same as killing in 15 - so if your favourite player doesn't average over 100 (clue - that's everyone), that's because you'll need to be doing more four turn legs than six turn legs as well as playing at an elite level when you do lose a leg. I've also put a minimum 50 legs played criteria in, if only because I don't think Ryan Meikle's a top 10 player. So, without further ado, the 2017 average table:

1 Gary Anderson 98.40 (56 legs played)
2 Michael van Gerwen 98.32 (296)
3 Phil Taylor 97.36 (103)
4 Peter Wright 95.22 (477)
5 Raymond van Barneveld 94.65 (135)
6 Michael Smith 93.61 (254)
7 Adrian Lewis 93.54 (173)
8 Dave Chisnall 93.54 (212)
9 Mensur Suljovic 93.37 (290)
10 Ian White 92.86 (187)
11 Mervyn King 92.77 (193)
12 Joe Cullen 92.76 (209)
13 Rob Cross 92.56 (191)
14 Daryl Gurney 92.53 (317)
15 Kim Huybrechts 92.42 (185)
16 Cristo Reyes 92.38 (198)
17 Darren Webster 92.32 (117)
18 Simon Whitlock 91.95 (200)
19 Steve West 91.90 (89)
20 Gerwyn Price 91.82 (236)
21 Darren Johnson 91.67 (62)
22 Kyle Anderson 91.26 (91)
23 Benito van de Pas 91.10 (200)
24 Glen Durrant 91.09 (174)
25 Danny Noppert 91.04 (153)
26 Vincent van der Voort 90.65 (127)
27 Peter Machin 90.40 (61)
28 Jamie Bain 90.06 (65)
29 Jan Dekker 89.94 (62)
30 Paul Hogan 89.94 (121)
31 Dimitri van den Bergh 89.69 (126)
32 Jamie Hughes 89.67 (111)
33 Martin Adams 89.64 (115)
34 James Wade 89.56 (133)
35 Jonny Clayton 89.29 (72)
36 Stephen Bunting 89.27 (154)
37 Robert Thornton 89.17 (56)
38 Alan Norris 89.09 (258)
39 James Richardson 88.84 (105)
40 Wesley Harms 88.80 (56)
41 John Henderson 88.77 (135)
42 Scott Waites 88.69 (82)
43 Justin Pipe 88.60 (91)
44 Darius Labanauskas 88.49 (90)
45 Jelle Klaasen 88.22 (225)
46 Krzysztof Ratajski 88.14 (181)
47 Mark Webster 88.11 (76)
48 Christian Kist 87.92 (120)
49 Geert de Vos 87.74 (90)
50 Ronny Huybrechts 87.70 (54)
51 James Wilson 87.17 (104)
52 Jeffrey de Graaf 87.03 (50)
53 Jeff Smith 86.91 (68)
54 Chris Dobey 86.82 (69)
55 Dirk van Duijvenbode 86.78 (75)
56 Scott Mitchell 86.75 (56)
57 Darryl Fitton 86.48 (113)
58 Mark McGeeney 85.42 (56)
59 Nick Kenny 85.04 (54)
60 Chris Quantock 84.85 (71)
61 Martin Schindler 84.58 (90)
62 Zoran Lerchbacher 84.51 (51)
63 Martin Phillips 84.27 (77)
64 Dean Reynolds 80.80 (52)