Monday 23 October 2017

European Championship Preview

Before I get into it properly, a quick note that Antonio Alcinas and Alexsandr Oreshkin managed to qualify for the worlds by winning the Southern Europe and Russian qualifiers respectively - Alcinas is someone who newer viewers may not know a great deal about, but he was very good around five years ago when he made back to back World Championships, losing to Wade in straight sets but pushing Andy Hamilton all the way in the year when Hamilton reached the finals, and more recently has made two Pro Tour quarter finals, indicating he's getting back to near those heights. Oreshkin has played more recently, beating Paul Lim in a prelim two years ago and pushing Mervyn King very hard in the first round proper. Both also have stage experience from the World Cup and are making very welcome returns to the big stage.

Will include some graphs, indicating each quarter's form in Europe this season. The top line indicates a runner up spot, next line a quarter final, next line below the last 32 and the bottom line not playing/qualifying. Should be straight forward. Also worth looking at these in conjunction with the previous post when the draw came out.

The van Gerwen quarter:

Obviously van Gerwen is the dominant force here, with only Mervyn King managing to make a final outside of the world number 1, with Whitlock and White managing to break through to the last four on occasion. I'm not touching the van Gerwen/Dekker game, purely because van Gerwen is injured. If that causes you to want to gamble on Dekker and not having the game called off because of van Gerwen being a non-runner, go right ahead, 12/1's a big price for a race to six. White/Webster I had lined up as a 60/40 based what they've done this season, whereas the bookies have it closer to evens, with Webster at 11/10. If I used all my data, which included Webster's god mode at the end of last season, it's probably right to call it a flip. Ian's outearned him on the Pro Tour, outperformed him in Europe, and I think it's worth the shot here, albeit small - 0.25u White 17/20. Whitlock/Richardson's a weird one, when Richardson is on he really cooks, he clips twelve darters at the same rate as Whitlock does over all my stats, but he's just so hot and cold - not converting in fifteen darts often enough, not scoring great when losing the legs, averaging 4.5 a throw lower than Whitlock does - if it wasn't for Whitlock's form, I might say take the punt on James given the price, which at 3/1 is decent, but Whitlock appears to be clicking at the right time so will ignore this one. This leaves King/Norris, with Norris perhaps surprisingly a small favourite. Mervyn's just got better stats all round, Norris has to his credit brought it on TV, but in these European events with a quick race to six, he's not made a single final session, which is quite remarkable given that, unless I'm mistaken, he's been seeded for every event so would only need two wins to get there. I'm liking the situation here, Norris has gone out in the first round of the last two Pro Tour events to Meulenkamp and Jacques, managed to lose to Dobey in the World Series qualifiers and didn't look close to Cullen last time out - 0.5u King 6/5.

The Suljovic quarter:

The only quarter with no winners, but we do have three losing finalists, a further semi finalist and six out of eight have made the final session, so this should be competitive. Suljovic got an absolutely awful draw in Kim Huybrechts, but is installed as a 4/7 favourite. My previous post had this as 50/50, but before we all start rushing to bet on the Belgian, consistency is key. He's only cleaned 91% of all legs won in my sample in 18 darts compared to Suljovic's 95%, and is over two points behind on scoring when not winning legs, so this may more than counteract that he finishes in twelve darts at over 15% compared to Suljovic at just under 12%. Kim's last two Euro adventures were very good, but he busted round 1 of the Grand Prix and has had recent losses to Mick Todd and Zoran Lerchbacher over this distance, which isn't too convincing. The winner will play either the other Huybrechts or Gerwyn Price, which has Price as a bit shorter than 2/1 on. My earlier projections had him at 64%, which isn't far off the line, and I think I can bump that up enough on current form, Ronny's had a couple of iffy Pro Tour defeats last time out. Klaasen faces Kist in an all Dutch affair, with Klaasen being 1/2, which if you look back at my previous stats, it seems crazy, until you remember that Kist had an absolute stinker last time out in Göttingen, is worse in most categories and, overall, despite Klaasen's inconsistency, scores less than Klaasen when losing and hasn't finished even half of all legs won in fifteen darts. This just leaves John Henderson and Kyle Anderson, both within one place of each other of the FRH rankings. Anderson's a 4/7 favourite, which is close to the projection I had in my previous post. Henderson's hitting form though, which should compensate enough to make it no bets in this section.

The Wright quarter:

Some big hitters here with four major title winners and two winners on the Pro Tour to go along with Peter Wright. Wright's first up against Ratajski. Wright is 2/9, which over a short format against a player who's completely dominated his qualifying section and made it to Alexandra Palace on European Tour money alone, as well as winning a BDO major, seems too short. My figures had this as 60/40, even if I'm off by a full 15 percentage points and he only has 25% equity this is still a profitable bet. 0.25u Ratajski 18/5. It's a concern that they have met three times in Europe this year and Wright's won all three, leading in legs 18-7, but Ratajski should be much more confident now. The winner will face either Jonny Clayton or Dimitri van den Bergh in what's a big chance for either to put some serious money in the bank to push towards the top 32. My stats have Dimitri as the favourite, whereas the bookies have Clayton leading the way. Clayton has made the senior breakthrough but van den Bergh probably has a touch more stage experience and is still crushing the Development Tour. With Clayton being confident I'll be a touch cautious here - 0.25u van den Bergh 6/5. Cullen against Bunting is our next game with Cullen only 60/40 at the bookies, whereas I have it closer to a 2/1 edge. Cullen has two Pro Tour wins this year and is beginning to get the hang of both the stage and the floor, and won both meetings against Bunting last year, at the UK Open and in the European Tour, both at big stage levels. Bunting's trending up but not enough for my liking - 0.5u Cullen 4/6.  This just leaves Gurney against Beaton, which my stats say is a flip but the bookmakers have our newest major champion as a 1/3 favourite. My stats don't count the Grand Prix given the unorthodox format, but Beaton clearly leads in experience, has made a European final this year, has won a Pro Tour event this year (beating Gary Anderson in the final, who just crushed Gurney 6-1 the round before) - should Gurney win? Yes. Should Gurney win more than 75% of the time? Probably not, 0.25u Beaton 3/1. Bets in all four games, my god.

The Smith quarter:

A winner and two finalists here, with another couple of players reaching the semi finals - several solid players and some dangerous wildcards. Michael Smith is your winner and he faces Nathan Aspinall - someone who doesn't have a tour card but is very good when he wants to be, as he was in reaching the world youth final a couple of years back, and in general has been in Europe. My previous stat post had Aspinall as fairly close to Smith, but still a dog - Smith busted round one in the previous two majors and has the pressure on him, and my sample on Aspinall isn't that small, but I think Smith gets through this one enough. The winner will play a Dutchman as van de Pas faces van der Voort in what my stats said is the most finely balanced first round game. The bookies favour van de Pas, possibly based just on rankings and a good recent Grand Prix where for the first two rounds he looked fantastic, but Vincent's been pulling into form of recent with his back seeming to hold up. There seems to be a bit of vig on the market so I may add van der Voort if if drifts a bit more but 5/4 is nothing to write home about. The other bit of this section features Rob Cross against Martin Schindler, both making names this season, Schindler for having the best record of any German and reaching the World Championship, whereas Cross has just crushed everything. Cross is shorter than 1/3, and my previous projection looks to be bang on the line. I can't see Schindler being able to hit enough good legs over even a short format to warrant a bet, Cross should have learned from a disappointing last time out on TV against Beaton and bring this home. This leaves Dave Chisnall, last man not to be seeded, against Cristo Reyes, two big scorers who can miss doubles in chunks on occasion (although Reyes is generally solid in that department). Chisnall's 2/5 and it looks to be an accurate line with me projecting him at 72%, gun to head I'd go Chizzy based on Reyes doing most of his best work before the summer break, being a touch lacklustre since the Matchplay, but there isn't a gun here so I just won't bet.

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