Thursday 28 December 2017

Quarter Final Preview Megapost

72 men entered, 8 remain

Let's first talk about the lines. The bookies have the Lewis and Taylor matches as flips, Cross as around a 75/25 favourite, and van Gerwen as a 85/15 favourite more or less. If we've learned anything from this tournament it's that we should take nothing for granted, so how shall we go about analysing these games?

We'll kick off at the start with the van Gerwen/van Barnveld match, which with no disrespect meant to anyone else left in at this stage, is one of the two games that will create the most interest. They've met twice before in world championships - van Gerwen put Barney out in the semi final last year 6-2, in a game where both were playing very well and one where commentators that don't grasp that averages are positively correlated will have gone "Barney's averaging some big number and he's getting destroyed". However, two years previously, Raymond pulled off a big upset in a 4-3 victory at the last sixteen stage resulting in a level series at this level. This game is right in between the two in terms of length, and they've got a big history of games to draw upon - 50 previous meetings per dartsdatabase with Michael holding a 31-18-1 lead, although once van Gerwen started getting it, it's been a bit more one sided - following Barney's win in the Grand Slam final in 2012, van Gerwen's had a 27-9-1 clip - half of Barney's wins were when van Gerwen was still a kid, he had an eight game losing streak but that was over five calendar years.

Barney's really had no trouble to this stage, Vincent was looking alright early but couldn't put together anything consistent and seemed to go to pieces once behind, whereas van Gerwen should have been 3-2 down in sets to Gerwyn Price, but put him away fairly easily once the Welshman blew his chance. The best we can get on Barney is 11/2, which needs us to get to around 16% equity in order to consider a bet on him. He seems live in this one, has potentially crucially had a day off which should help him more than it would help van Gerwen, and he's playing well - Michael's not really looked quite himself, which is odd to say given that he's managed to dispatch an opponent in twelve straight legs without reply earlier in this tournament. It probably doesn't happen, but it is a good price and if it stays close through four sets the crowd could get into it - 0.1u van Barneveld 11/2

Second game is Dimitri van den Bergh, fresh off a biggest win of his life against Mensur Suljovic, in straight sets no less, against Rob Cross, the story of the year to date who's looking to push through to yet another potential showdown against Michael van Gerwen. I can't find any head to head record in dartsdatabase, while they do have a minimum of two games, it's probable that there may be nothing previous, and one game isn't going to mean a great deal. Dimitri beating Suljovic wasn't that much of a surprise - my read before the game was that the line looked OK and given Mensur didn't look too great in his first couple of games he seemed live. Dimitri was able to get twelve legs, but was allowed to get half of them in more than fifteen darts. Cross got past a determined John Henderson in this round, getting 10/13 legs in fifteen darts, and while the scoreline looks one sided, the actual game could have been a lot closer, with the big Scot hitting some key scores to threaten to take sets only for Cross to come through when it mattered.

Cross is priced up at 3/10 which seems more or less on the money. Both are in unchartered territory and this should be a good game, particularly since Dimitri was able to get a win over a big name on a big stage, and he has the potential to keep things close, but even if he does, Cross showed against Michael Smith that he can come through if the other guy lets him off, so I'll not be betting on this one.

The third game is the unlikely lineup of Darren Webster against Jamie Lewis. Jamie's been a revelation, dominating his first three games (including the prelim) before not quite hitting the huge peaks that he did earlier against James Richardson, but still keeping up the scoring power for long enough to come from a set down to win 4-1. Webster had probably his best game to date to dispatch the Spanish qualifier Antonio Alcinas (not having any of that Toni bollocks) in straight sets, but in that game he only won half of his legs in fifteen darts. Tag on that against Whitlock he could only get one out of twelve legs won in fifteen darts, that asks the question - will Lewis be able to deny him the chances he's been taking to get him to this stage?

I think it's perfectly possible, and I think a few of the intangibles have been answered in tonight's game against Richardson. Up until that game, he's basically been playing with no pressure, not expected to do anything, and he's played a lights out game. Against Richardson, he was the favourite and expected to win, and probably my strongest play of the tournament if you factor in the bet sizing and the odds - and he came from a set down (on Richardson's throw to be fair), still managed to slot in another three twelve dart legs, which added on to the six fifteen dart legs to make 9/14 legs won in par. Webster's an opponent kind of in the middle - he's not as good as Wright, he's better than Richardson, but he has Richardson's dogged mentality to be able to grind things out. We can grab 5/6 on this one, which I think I will, I'm just going to go for a soft 0.5u Lewis 5/6, if only because there's a small sample, but he is doing enough to make me think he gets there often enough.

Our final game could potentially be Phil Taylor's final game ever (until he gets bored in ten months and enters the BDO qualifiers for a laugh and binks Lakeside), as he faces Gary Anderson, twice winner here. Phil seemed to be, at least on the numbers, finally clicking against Keegan Brown, averaging 101 and slotting in 9/12 won legs in fifteen darts, which included three twelve dart legs. Anderson was able to come through against Steve West, but that game could have been a lot closer than the 4-2 scoreline suggested - West had 60 for the set but only managed to get one dart at double, shanking the first attempt into the five and allowing Ando to pin 104 to break, he missed another dart at double for the fourth set to boot. Pin those and we're talking about him here instead, oh well. Ando's looked progressively worse in each game to this stage, whereas Phil's looked a bit better each time, which is an interesting trend.

It's a big step up in quality for Phil - nothing against Dobey, Pipe or Brown, but Gary Anderson is an entire different level of quality. The bookies have him as a tiny, tiny favourite, and the question is whether Phil can maintain the level of play he has over a nine set match. Both players have played today and will be straight in, but you have to think that the short turn around will favour Anderson, and the recent head to head favours Anderson - 3-1-1 in his favour, while none are ranked Phil only got the one win in the second round of the Premier League, when both were probably looking safe to advance anyway. I'm going to avoid this one.

Enjoy the event, it should be spectacular.

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