Monday 26 November 2018

World Championship draw - first impressions

Glad that I called two of the three PDPA qualifiers correctly on Twitter at the quarter final stage, Razma losing a deciding leg to Aden Kirk (really?) being the only upset, Adam Hunt and Stephen Burton claiming the last few spots. So what are my early takes on it?

- Pity about that draw for Raymond Smith, I thought he was playing well enough to stand a chance of taking a seed down, but if he gets through Tabern he gets van Gerwen, oh well. Maybe if he gets it to 1-1 in sets it gets nervy?

- Ironic that the highest ranked player per the Pro Tour that wasn't a seed gets the worst seed. Good shot for Noppie to make it to the third round.

- That's not a bad draw for Adie, I really don't see Stevenson or Evetts as the sort of players that'll be able to push him enough given his form this season.

- Awful for Barney to get Labanauskas. Could easily see him losing that one. Edgar's there (Cadby out, sigh) but Darius ought to come through it.

- Joyce can't be too displeased to get Dobromyslova, and Whitlock can't be too displeased with either you'd have thought.

- Lennon has a real chance to do some damage in this tournament. Bailey is not the easiest out, but Norris should be the dog, and then Whitlock wouldn't be unbeatable.

- Ratajski and Asada is, looking at the whole draw, the match of the first round. Wade in the next round isn't the easiest but either of these on their day, especially Krzysztof, can pull the upset.

- Brown ought to handle Sedlacek and then Klaasen, could be a repeat run from last year?

- Nicholson has to love getting Burness, who's not done a great deal on the Pro Tour, but Ando in the second round? No thanks. That said, Paul has the game if Gary isn't quite on it immediately.

- Barnard could do well here. de Sousa had some alright numbers in the qualifier but Michael I think has the edge, and Wattimena isn't beyond him at all.

- van der Voort's been moderately quiet, but ought to be able to dispatch Ilagan and then maybe threaten Webster if his game clicks.

- Dobey/Koltsov ought to be another good one, Chris's game looks to be getting back to its best and Boris has looked real dangerous on occasions. Beaton is probably the favourite against either but not by much.

- Ross Smith against Paul Lim could be an exciting game, but Gurney should be too strong for either.

- Schindler/Harris is another great first round matchup with both hitting great stuff on the various secondary tours and showing it on occasions on the main tour, Jamie Lewis can't be liking what he'll be facing here.

- Payne/Smith will depend on how Smith plays, we've not seen much of him of late. Chizzy will need to be on point against either.

- Thornton I'd have thought will be fine with Larsson, who we've seen look OK on occasions but might not have a good enough long game to stick around. Kim Huybrechts is certainly a beatable opponent, but the Belgian has got to be thinking the draw could be worse.

- de Zwaan/Kumar could be hilarious, and that is possibly the worst draw Cross could have got. It really wouldn't surprise me if the world champ falls at the first hurdle.

- Evans against Rowby could, if Rodriguez shows up, be a real highlight, and either of them can beat Cristo Reyes on current form.

- van den Bergh has a good start against Chuck Puleo, the Americans haven't been overly useful for a while now and stage Dimitri ought to come through with ease and set up a mouthwatering tie against Jonny Clayton which could go the distance.

- Humphries and Hunt could be pretty tight, Luke might have the edge but not by a massive amount, but whoever comes through should have a tough time against a resurgent Stephen Bunting.

- Searle was the last man in before Cadby withdrew, and gets Burton from the PDPA qualifier, it's one those of us that pay attention to the tour will know will be a solid game but could go under the general public's radar. Suljovic however is likely a step too far for whoever comes through.

- O'Connor can't be too displeased at getting Meeuwisse, the winner of that qualifier has been dangerous on occasions and we've seen Yordi do alright on the main tour, but Willie should have the edge and be a live dog against James Wilson.

- Meulenkamp's drawn Portela, and should be a sizeable favourite, Ron seems to be picking up a bit more consistency and it seems less and less likely that he'll allow the Brazilian enough chances to get out of the first round. Michael Smith is a really tough ask but if Ron's clicking he can easily storm a couple of sets in no time, so it won't be automatic for the St Helens native.

- Clemens has to love getting Kirk, who's been pretty weak on tour all year and Kirk having more stage experience (seems a long time ago that he beat Taylor in the UK Open now) ought to be counterbalanced by Gabriel being a much better player this season. Hendo seems like quite an even matchup assuming Clemens advances.

- Alcinas will be happy that he's got the guy that isn't Irwin in the first round who's got to be of debatable quality, but getting Peter Wright in round two isn't the nicest draw, against who he's 0-7 all time.

- Mansell's solid game should be enough to see off the Canadian qualifier Jim Long, and probably Benito as well. Can't see van de Pas having enough game to defeat Mansell's B-game right now.

- Dolan has got a good matchup against the Chinese qualifier Liu, the Chinese players used to be pretty bad but the one last year wasn't too bad and Liu beat him in the final. That said Brendan should still advance to face Cullen, which might not be a bad game.

- Dekker's got Lisa Ashton, who in the qualifier yesterday wasn't finishing legs anywhere near quickly enough often enough to make me think this isn't an automatic Dekker win, then again Dekker's incredibly prone to throwing junk for legs on end, which Ashton could exploit if it happens. Mervyn King in round two would be a solid test for Jan if he did get through, Jan's top game is probably better but we don't see it enough.

- Aspinall against Nentjes is an intriguing game between two fairly young players, Geert looked alright in the UK Open qualifiers and an England/Netherlands match is often fun to watch. Gerwyn Price on current form should handle either with little trouble though.

- de Graaf against Malicdem is one where anything can happen - we've seen that Noel can hit decent heights, as can Jeffrey, but they can both be rank average for huge periods. Could be the surprise match of the round or a donkfest. Kyle Anderson ought to be solidly favoured against whoever comes through it.

- Wayne Jones makes his return against Devon Petersen, who seems to be hanging around the circuit purely based on getting random invites and easy qualifiers to the worlds. Wayne's played much the better darts this season and if he hits his game could possibly give White trouble if White has TV jitters again.

- Finally Richard North will look to take out Marijanovic, who's not the best draw he could get by any stretch of the imagination, but one he should take out given his general better play over the year and recent increased TV experience. Steve West isn't a nice draw to get, and while it could easily be worse for the qualifiers, isn't an opponent where they should be favourites, but they'll definitely be live.

Sunday 25 November 2018

This Premier League selection meeting is going to be fun, or is it

Well that was an interesting end to the season. Daryl Gurney's gone and binked the Players Championship finals, and as such pretty much retained his Premier League place. What an absolute clusterfuck that is going to be. We've now got van Gerwen, Cross, Wright and Anderson close to clear as the top four with Gurney not far behind, Price will be in, Wade will be in, leaving out Barney for a farewell tour seems inconceivable, leaving out Suljovic seems equally ridiculous, leaving out Smith given he was the runner up last year, won a World Series title and has put up sensational numbers all year would be just as daft. That's ten right there, so maybe it's suddenly become quite easy. I don't know. Maybe if Lewis smacks up Barney, shocks MvG, makes Wade looks silly and then at that point we're only in the semi finals, or someone else makes a deep run to make a case, then it gets interesting.

I'm going to post a bunch more tomorrow evening once the worlds draw is done, but let's just say this - it seemed pretty clear when first reading that the spot for whoever won the world youth would go to the Pro Tour. Now it's not so clear, and it seems as if Matt Edgar will now need to go through the qualifiers as the world youth spot will be released to the PDPA qualifier - unless Corey Cadby can't play. We're less than 24 hours from the draw. We surely must know by now if he can or not. This is complete amateur hour stuff. Couple in the fact that apparently Hearn on Twitter has said that the first round draw is going to be the Pro Tour 32 in one pot and everyone else in another (seemingly in June but nobody noticed until now), and we have the beyond stupid situation where it would be hugely beneficial for one of van den Bergh or Schindler to have thrown the world youth final and qualified through the Pro Tour rankings. It also goes counter to the idea that Asada won through the Japanese qualifer and that Asian Tour spot he would have used then goes to the Asian Tour. Then again, Luke Humphries had a spot through the Development Tour, but didn't use it as he was in through the Pro Tour, so that went to the Development Tour. We are talking about a sporting organisation with multi-million pound prize pools in a single event, and we're still only working out right now who is in and who isn't. It took us forever to work out what the heck was going on with the Nations League, but UEFA at least announced all the rules in advance, it was just the rest of us trying to work out what was going on as it was such a new concept. It's not like there's no precedent for the PDC to just make things up, just last year they announced wildcards from nowhere to get Ratajski etc in. It's incredibly disappointing that they can't get something that's clear and unambiguous well in advance - you run on a yearly cycle, the year starts in six weeks. Sort it out.

New FRH rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Rob Cross
3 Gary Anderson
4 Peter Wright
5 Daryl Gurney (UP 2)
6 Gerwyn Price (DOWN 1)
7 Mensur Suljovic (DOWN 1)
8 James Wade
9 Simon Whitlock
10 Michael Smith
11 Ian White
12 Phil Taylor
13 Darren Webster
14 Jonny Clayton (UP 1)
15 Dave Chisnall (DOWN 1)
16 Joe Cullen
17 Adrian Lewis
18 Stephen Bunting
19 Mervyn King
20 Steve West

Not that much movement in the top 20, oddly enough. Lennon breaks into the top 32, Noppert is only a couple of places behind, making a weird spot where we have a Dutchman at number 1, no others in the top 25, but five in the next ten spots after that. Dobey's back knocking on the door of the top 40, while Stephen Burton is in the top 80.

The final roll a dice to decide the number of world championship spots qualifier takes place tomorrow, as does the draw, unless some nameless hack gets caught in traffic again, so hopefully 24 hours from now we get some clarity and we can start talking about the darts, rather than technical bullshit. Congrats to Daryl, congrats to Lisa, and let's hope we get some interesting draws. I wanted to see Noppert draw Ratajski and have a knifefight. I wanted to see Evans draw van der Voort and the game be over in five minutes. I wanted to see Kumar draw Puleo and not have a clue what was going on. I wanted to see Ashton draw Dobromyslova and then get van de Pas for peak publicity. Alas, we can't have nice things.

As an aside I'm probably moving to a new domain soon. Will let you know when/if it happens.

Briefly interesting hypothetical

Why I'm still trying to work out why Gurney went for bull with one dart in hand at 66, which makes less sense than any reasonable route I've ever seen used, here's a hypothetical that was brought up by casualfan.gif that I'm watching the final with:

"The bull should be worth more, as it's so much smaller than the treble"

OK, that's more interesting than a corporation with eight figures worth of prize money still not seemingly having any actual rules as to which players get into their richest tournament of the year less than 24 hours before they make the draw, but go on - if we say the 25 stays 25, and whatever we make the bull be an out for however much we make it (i.e. if we make it worth 61, we can take out 181 by going T20-T20-bull), what's the breakeven point (in steel tip) where we stop going at treble 20 and start going at bull instead?

Players Championship semis, Ashton makes it

Nice to see Ashton, who's probably the best female player still, make Ally Pally, I'll have to go back and look at the DartConnect stats to see how she actually played, winning a lot of games to nil is irrelevant given that quite a lot of the field seemed quite, quite bad, but she's there and the two qualifiers have probably given the right results. We've got Ando/MvG and Gurney/Noppert (for the love of god why couldn't Bunting have held in leg ten and got to 7-3), so what've we got?

Gurney/Noppie's priced with Daryl a 2/1 favourite, this looks close to correct, I'm only seeing Gurney at 71% season long and Noppert seems to be a player that I might be underrating.

Ando/van Gerwen is actually closer. Anderson played like an absolute dream against Clayton, winning half of his legs with twelve darters, but let's note here - van Gerwen has not been playing bad at all, and managed to get seven legs in par as well, same as Ando, he wasn't quite as explosive but this is just like the Grand Slam semi final except where it's a bit of a shorter race. Michael should win this a lot more than the market suggests - 0.5u van Gerwen 8/11.

Players Championship quarter finals

And then there were eight. Here's some stats so far:

Already resized this once and it was still too wide, but you should be able to get the gist of it. We can see that van Gerwen and Anderson are, as you'd expect, the pick of the field, but while Gurney's not killed legs as quickly as Bunting (or, in par, Dobey), his scoring when he's lost legs is putting him third on points per turn. Lennon's right down at the bottom mainly because he had a few of those comedy legs where nobody can hit a double. It's sorted by overall points per turn, with the various PPT metrics being the lines on the right axis, and the bars showing the speed of finishing legs when the player's won.

But never mind that, I hear you say, who's going to win through?

Gurney/Dobey - This has opened up into a huge opportunity for Daryl, likely being the favourite to advance to the final after seeing off compatriot Brendan Dolan in the last sixteen, and will face Chris Dobey, who likewise will also see this as the chance to really make a splash on the big stage, having made a TV quarter final two years ago but not doing a great deal on TV since. Dobey dodged some match dart bullets against Wade but got over the line (and gave us all a few quid in the process by the way), and the market is thinking around two to one in favour of Gurney, perhaps a bit more one sided towards near 70%. I think Dobey's got a little bit more of a chance than that, over a best of nineteen which this round is I'm seeing in the high 30's for his win chance season long, but if I filter just since the summer break, the line looks close to correct. So I'll leave it, Daryl has been here and done it in a TV event and will likely handle the situation better.

Noppert/Bunting - Danny made things look pretty easy against Ratajski in the previous round, which makes you ask a couple of questions as to how Krzysztof can handle a longer match given that in his last two race to 10's he's won seven legs combined, but that's a question for another day really. Stephen edged out Peter Wright, getting the break just before the final ad break but giving it straight back, then from 6-6 holding out to get the victory in what's been a fairly solid tournament for the Bullet. The market has this fairly close, just favouring Bunting, I'm looking at 60/40 season long which is close enough to the line to not bet at 3/4, but over the last few months (where, oddly, Noppert has done most of his damage), I'm seeing this as an overwhelming Bunting win. We're talking Anderson versus random player level of dominance. 0.25u Bunting 3/4, Noppert really hasn't been finishing legs quickly enough for my liking, and Bunting was in the treble like a dream yesterday, which is usually one of the key signs he's on. Bunting won eight of his legs against Wright in par - Noppert only managed three against Ratajski. Let's go with it.

Anderson/Clayton - Gary just annihilated Cullen with an eight leg run to close out a 10-2 victory, indicating that he's arguably in a 1a/1b situation with van Gerwen as to who's playing the best right now, while Clayton was able to get ahead early against Ricky Evans and close out a 10-5 victory to make him, along with van Gerwen and Gurney, one of three players to make this stage two years running. The market understandably favours Anderson strongly in the 1/5 region, which seems not only fair, but a potential value bet, especially given how he's performed so far this weekend (and Clayton has for that matter). Ando's around 75% season long but just over 90% on current form, I always favour the longer sample so I won't be piling in, but wouldn't criticise anyone who wanted to do just that.

van Gerwen/Lennon - MvG was very nice yesterday evening with four twelve dart or better legs in a 10-4 win over Stephen Burton, who certainly didn't look overawed and had his own decent spots as he gears up for the last chance worlds qualifier where he should be one of the favourites. Lennon came from a big deficit against Clemens, playing really quite solidly once 5-0 in the hole but prior to that Lennon himself has said he's not been playing too great but getting results. These two have run into each other a few times this year, but Lennon's only once been able to get really close, and I don't think the 12/1 you can get offers any real value, I'm seeing about 12% season long but just 7% on recent form, and given how Lennon's played this weekend I really can't see how he can win this one unless van Gerwen's form falls completely off a cliff.

So just the one bet, feel free to stick the big two into it to boost the price a touch, I should be back before the semi finals to look at them, and by then I'd have thought the UK ladies' qualifier should be close to completion so may take a look at that as well.

Saturday 24 November 2018

Players Championship round 3

Back to break even for the tournament. A case of what could have been, with Searle and King both losing deciding legs and both having match darts, but I'll take Clemens, Dobey and Burton again getting the job done at solid odds against.

We're now into the last sixteen and had a few more big names fall - Ian White the biggest one as far as seedings go, but we've lost Smith, Lewis, de Zwaan, Chizzy, Whitlock... this gives us a draw of Dolan/Gurney, Wade/Dobey, Ratajski/Noppert, Wright/Bunting, Anderson/Cullen, Clayton/Evans, Lennon/Clemens and van Gerwen/Burton. Let's project all of these:

Dolan/Gurney - Draw's opened up nicely for Gurney with White falling, but Dolan's not going to be a pushover by any stretch of the imagination, if he's beaten the #1 seed then he really shouldn't fear anyone. Gurney played better this afternoon though, despite surviving match darts, and projects at 70/30.

Wade/Dobey - James will be looking to go deep in another TV event, while Dobey's looking to use the event to get into form for the worlds and a push up towards the top 32 in 2019. Dobey had a solid win over Chisnall, while Wade was in an up and down battle with Aspinall, and the projections have them fairly close - 55/45 in favour of Wade.

Ratajski/Noppert - Anyone feeling that Krzysztof in on a career trajectory similar to that of Suljovic from maybe five years ago? It's got that kind of feel to me anyway. He came from a 3-1 hole against Lewis to win 6-3, while Noppie needed every leg to see off Mervyn King. He may need to up his game as Ratajski's favoured 65/35, but over a longer format will Noppert's experince (having made the Lakeside final lest we forget) be key?

Wright/Bunting - The only last sixteen matchup that's gone as seedings would suggest, Peter ran away with it against Hopp after Hopp hit a nice twelve to level it at 2-2, while Bunting was 5-2 up against Razma and could easily have been 5-5 but for Madars to miss a lot of doubles in the tenth leg, allowing Stephen to hold in 23 darts! Wright's over a two in three shot here and nearly 70/30, so Bunting has work to do to reach the quarter finals.

Anderson/Cullen - We have a repeat of their instant Matchplay classic, with Ando brushing aside Whitlock with ease to continue a great run so far, while Cullen was caught up in a dogfight with Beaton, who missed one dart to level at five and throw for the match. Cullen's showed he can hang with Anderson over a decent length match, but he's an 80/20 dog to actually get the win tonight.

Clayton/Evans - Clayton can think himself a bit lucky to be here, with Smith missing a match dart before Jonny finished 80 for the game, having missed six match darts the leg before. Evans moved on with a surprisingly easy win over Jeffrey de Zwaan, averaging just shy of a ton and doubling well to reach the last sixteen. The in-form Ferret rates at nearly 60/40 to advance to Sunday and maybe repeat his run from last year.

Lennon/Clemens - Bit of a surprising last sixteen tie, both players needing all eleven legs to get through, Lennon in a really poor quality game against Reyes which he honestly should have lost, while Clemens played decently for a second game in a row to edge out James Wilson, a nice twelve dart leg in the decider on throw being the difference. The model can't separate the two, making it a true coin toss in what's somewhat uncharted territory, at least for Clemens.

van Gerwen/Burton - Michael nearly swept Keegan Brown, leading 5-0 at the break before Keegan nicked one consolation leg, while Stephen held off Darren Webster in a swingy match, winning the first three and last three legs to take it 6-3. How will he adapt to playing on a big stage for the first time against the best player in the world? We'll see, the model thinking it's a 90/10 sort of game.

What are we betting on? Nothing on Dolan/Gurney, we're getting 10/3 which is an alright little edge, but Gurney will surely be locked in for this one. 0.25u Dobey 13/5, that's a shorter price but we have a much better win percentage for Dobey than we do for Dolan. The Ratajski game's not on oddschecker yet but I'm seeing an 8/15 line which indicated there'll be little value, similar for Bunting really, only 3/1 isn't quite enough. Anderson's bang on the correct line at 1/4 so nothing there, Clayton/Evans also sees Evans at slightly north of the 6/4 which I'm thinking's a fair line. Lennon/Clemens has the market agree with me in that it's too close to call, and while there's a bookie offering up 33/1 on Stephen Burton, I'm not going to touch that one as there's just too much chance he underperforms in an alien environment, even if he has no pressure whatsoever (which of course would come back on if he gets to the second break level or close to it).

BDO worlds, PCF round 1 roundup and round 2 preview

Quite a few things to get through this morning, and not a whole lot of time to get through them, so let's kick things off with the BDO worlds draw which came out recently. Not a great deal to say other than that rigging the prelim so that the players from the international lists don't face each other seems silly, why not give everyone a fair crack? Hogan could have done without getting Newton, then again if Newton can't even qualify for Lakeside directly, how good is he nowadays anyway? Should be safe for Paul to get up to at least the quarters and Unterbuchner. Durrant possibly facing Smith-Neale again is interesting but other than that he looks a class apart, at least in his quarter, Mitchell and Williams in the bottom quarter could be fun with Parletti being a wildcard and a group of potentially dangerous international players. McGeeney ought to get to at least his quarter final, but a possible opponent of Waites may not be trivial. Whilst in the ladies, Ashton getting Suzuki is about as bad a draw as you can ever get.

Yesterday we dropped half a unit, we didn't see a huge number of upsets, at least ones that we were on, outside of Stephen Burton nicking it against Wattimena, only four other seeds in the top twenty going out and we were just betting against Mansell (and against Razma you can hardly call it an upset). At least we got the two bigger punts on de Zwaan and Brown correct. We had some chances - Gilding never got going, Hunt had no chance against Lewis in that form, Anderson just needed to hold throw better, letting Whitlock break you in six visits three times is comical. Stevenson had the break several times but neither player was playing well, Thornton was outplayed, Smith wasn't too far away, Hendo was a last leg decider which needed a big out from Cullen to save it, Rowby was hanging around but really couldn't put in the killer leg, while de Graaf never really showed up despite getting a 2-0 lead. We'll have these days where you get a few losses if you're betting on quite a lot of underdogs.

Today we've got the last 32 in the afternoon and then the last 16 in the evening - I should be back with a preview for that, but for this round, what do we have?

Gurney/Searle - 0.25u Searle 23/10, Searle looked pretty solid in defeating Payne, a 121 out to break with a twelve darter being the key shot, and Gurney got into a bit of a battle where a conventional 85 average was enough. Projections have Searle over 40% which is enough at longer than 2/1.

Bunting/Razma - 0.25u Razma 23/10, same line, similar analysis - Razma clocked four legs in fifteen darts against Mansell while Bunting could only manage three in edging Richard North, and the projections give Razma more than 40% (it's actually more than 45%), so I'm liking this potential upset.

Wade/Aspinall - 0.25u Aspinall 11/4, see exactly the same analysis for the previous two games. Nathan played just fine in rolling Schindler who perhaps has the world youth final on his mind, while Wade didn't really finish quickly enough against Smith and will need to do better today or he'll lose.

Wilson/Clemens - 0.25u Clemens 9/5, it was a statement win from James yesterday in beating Dimitri quite comfortably, while Clemens is the complete opposite in terms of stage/floor form, who did enough to defeat a misfiring Gilding. The game projects as almost a coinflip so 9/5 looks quite nice here.

Chisnall/Dobey - 0.25u Dobey 23/10, Dobey looked good in seeing off Ron Meulenkamp in the first round with five five visit kills, Chizzy didn't look bad at all really in defeating Jamie Lewis who was chucking alright himself. This doesn't seem quite as clear cut as the others in that I'm only seeing Dobey at 36%, but if he wins 30% of the time it's break even so it seems just enough to go with yet another underdog punt.

de Zwaan/Evans - no bet, it's close to a bet on de Zwaan at 8/13, I nearly have him winning two out of every three so if they'd chucked out a slightly better line I'd jump on it. Seems with de Zwaan that if he gets a start in a tournament he'll run with it, he was OK against Klaasen but it's all that he needed to be, if anything Evans played slightly better in seeing off Jan Dekker.

Reyes/Lennon - 0.25u Lennon evs, Cristo pulled off the shock of the tournament in taking out Rob Cross yesterday, which will no doubt create a whole bunch of narratives in conventional media, and naturally the market seems to have overadjusted in one game to make Lennon, who's been playing better all year and I'm seeing at 60% to win, the slight underdog. It's not like Reyes was sensational - Lennon actually played better yesterday.

Burton/Webster - 0.25u Burton 9/4, shouldn't come as any surprise to those who saw the tournament projections that this bet was coming, the model is giving this close to a 50/50 split, so north of 2/1? Let's go with that, Webster was fine but Burton was really good in defeating Wattimena, all but one leg won in five visits, Darren will be a tougher test but does Webster really win this seven times out of ten? I think not.

Anderson/Whitlock - no bet, there might be really tiny value on Simon if it wasn't for the fact that Anderson had the performance of the round (only Ratajski and White really pushing him close) in a demolition job of Alan Tabern, while Whitlock just did what he had to in taking the legs Kyle Anderson gifted him. Whitlock at 11/4 when I'm seeing him win less than one in three isn't a tempter.

White/Dolan - no bet. Finally White does on TV what he's been doing all year on the floor, he looked glorious in a defeat of Scott Taylor, every leg in less than fifteen darts including two in twelve for a conventional 111 average. Dolan wasn't bad playing early doors against Barnard but 4/11 White looks a pretty fair reflection with the model seeing White at 73% to take it down.

Noppert/King - 0.25u King 5/4, I bet against both of these yesterday and both won, King's quite frankly shockingly bad play makes this a potential red flag, but I'm seeing him at 57% season long and he's odds against, so I think we have to do it. It's not as if Noppert did anything sensational, and you don't think King will have two games that bad in a row. Probably won't be a great game regardless but the value looks to be there.

van Gerwen/Brown - no bet, let's just be thankful that van de Pas didn't get the upset as that could have got really ugly. At 7's there ought to be tiny value on Brown, I'm getting him at around 18% in the last round that's the real banana skin stage before we go longer in the evening, but Brown really didn't show up yesterday and was probably fortunate to be playing someone so out of form. van Gerwen wasn't his explosive best, but didn't need to be, and shouldn't need to be here either.

Smith/Clayton - no bet, perhaps ought to consider Jonny who has been playing better stuff of late, but a 35% season long at 9/4 isn't really something to consider against Smith, who bagelled van der Voort in a game where the adverts after leg five probably lasted longer than the match itself. Clayton was professional yesterday but will likely need to step up his game here to compete, he can but I'm not putting money on it.

Wright/Hopp - no bet, both players had to come from a break down early to beat Alcinas and West respectively, the question here is whether to punt on Wright, 4/9's a decent price but given that his recent form isn't the greatest and Hopp tends to be underrated in the model a touch and probably has confidence, a model projection of 73% doesn't quite cut it. They had the same distribution of leg winning speed yesterday so maybe this is tighter than the model thinks and the market's right.

Lewis/Ratajski - no bet, it's a rerun of the second Players Championship final which got Ratajski into a whole heap of spots (and kept Lewis out as a result), and while Lewis played extremely well in not really giving Hunt a sniff, one mutual comedy leg aside, Ratajski took out the in form player in Gerwyn Price and the form over a short course is such that the model can't split them, the market's similar so let's just enjoy a competitive high quality game.

Beaton/Cullen - 0.25u Beaton 13/8, Steve wasn't brilliant against Huybrechts and if he wasn't gifted a couple of easy holds, especially in the decider, he could have been out, but Cullen was fairly average in defeating Henderson, and his floor form all year actually sees this game be called a coinflip, so I'll take this price.

A lot of underdog punts here, let's hope some of them come in.

Thursday 22 November 2018

Averages rise against better players

Ochepedia posted something about the highest averages against van Gerwen this year, so I thought I'd do something that I've been meaning to do for a while. As any fool knows, your average goes up if your opponent is not allowing you darts at a double. So, as my database has a column in it which says who the opponent is, it's pretty trivial to shove a filter on the number of legs played and the points per turn for a given opponent, namely MvG:

Now this obviously doesn't show everyone, and for some unknown reason it's only showing 1055 legs against van Gerwen when I've got 1064 in the sample (got to be a typo in the opponent column somewhere), but basically, if the last column is positive, your guy is doing better against the field than van Gerwen, and if the last column is negative, your guy is doing better against van Gerwen than the field. I think the numbers speak for themselves, but what the hell is Clayton doing? And to think he has a televised win over him!

PC Finals round 1 bets

Afternoon, main stage:

de Zwaan/Klaasen - 0.5u de Zwaan 4/7, Jelle's really not played anywhere near well enough to get home in this one often enough.

Hopp/West - no bet, they're correctly summising that West is the favourite and it's about what my projections suggest. It's nearly a West bet, but not quite, watch for Hopp steam I guess. Maybe if you have access to a German bookie and can get on West at better odds?

Brown/van de Pas - 0.5u Brown 4/6, if anything this is a better bet than the de Zwaan bet, van de Pas was parachuted in at the last moment and has been poor all season, it's weird that the post-Matchplay sample favours Benito but I'm going to put that down to sample size weirdness, he did have that one good game against, who was it, Michael Smith I want to say? If that's the whole winning sample or near it it will skew projections.

A Lewis/Hunt - 0.25u Hunt 4/1, at a one in three shot on the season long projections and even better of recent, I think this is worth the shot, Hunt's kind of been threatening to do something good for a while now, could this be the time?

Whitlock/K Anderson - 0.25u Anderson 13/10, I'm still yet to be convinced that Whitlock is the better player. The numbers shouldn't lie here, it's a big event for Kyle defending nothing and he ought to step up here.

Gurney/Thornton - 0.25u Thornton 3/1, Rob's been playing just about well enough on occasions that there's a bit of value here. Pressure is on Gurney to do something, as with recent developments he could easily be on the outside looking in to the Premier League.

Wade/Smith - 0.25u Smith 7/2, this should be a lot, lot closer than the bookies suggest. Wade's clearly not playing badly, but Smith is playing some very nice stuff and has been doing all season, it was only 6-5 in Gibraltar between these two and in the World Series finals if he pins some doubles that could have been similarly close.

Afternoon, second stage:

Dolan/Barnard - 0.25u Dolan 4/5, this is close to a no bet, but given Dolan's greater experience in major championships and better recent stats, I'm going with it. 60% chances season long is just enough on its own.

Payne/Searle - no bet. I can barely split these and the bookmakers' can't either. Could be one that comes down to who wins the bull, it's that tight.

Aspinall/Schindler - no bet. I've got this really close, so perhaps there's a potential nibble on Nathan at 11/8, especially if you factor in recent form, but Schindler's exponential growth of stage experience of late could be key.

Clemens/Gilding - 0.25u Gilding 6/5, season long there's not much here, but of late this looks a good Gilding shot, Clemens has yet to really translate his game to the stage (heck, he's not even been able to get there as often as he should do).

Joyce/Lennon - no bet. 3/4 Lennon looks close enough to where the projections are. A shorter projection over the last few months loves Lennon, so if there's not enough bets for you already, maybe what the hell? He's certainly got the stage experience advantage.

King/Stevenson - 0.25u Stevenson 2/1, he's doing just about well enough that this could be on. Over a 40% win projection season long and nearly 50/50 on more recent stats makes the price offered look tasty.

Bunting/North - no bet. Season long makes me want to bet North, more recent games make me want to bet Bunting, in these spots the correct answer is usually not to bet at all, so I won't.

Mansell/Razma - 0.25u Razma 21/20, getting odds against on a 55% projection seems just fine.

Chisnall/J Lewis - no bet. This is real close to going on Jamie, and I wouldn't blame you if you did, but I wonder whether it being the second stage will make a difference, Lewis brings his best stuff on the big stage. Maybe if it's flexed to the main stage if they have time, go with it?

Evening, main stage:

White/Taylor - no bet. Season long line looks basically spot on. Looking at more recent stats we should pile on White, but in TV events that has generally not ended well at all.

G Anderson/Tabern - no bet. Tabern at around 15/2 might potentially be live, but you've got to think after last weekend Anderson will bring his best game and Alan can't live with that.

Cross/Reyes - no bet. Nearly went with Cross based on recent form, it's just about profitable at 2/5 on the season long stats and clearly is after the summer, but you just don't know with either of these players.

Ratajski/Price - no bet. 6/4 on Krzysztof is nearly value given I'm thinking he's in the mid-40's for how often he wins, but playing off Ratajski's form in short formats against Price's form and confidence in all formats, I don't know. Best to leave it alone, if more money comes in on Gerwyn and the line shifts then take a look.

Wright/Alcinas - 0.1u Alcinas 5/1, another game between a dangerous Spaniard and a middling form top five player. This time we've clearly got the odds to bet, seeing Alcinas above 30% to win over the course of the season, and even more if we filter more recently. The only real question is whether we actually bet more.

van Gerwen/Edgar - no bet. Market doesn't seem to be overvaluing van Gerwen for once, Matt at 10% being offered a best of 11/1 isn't of interest.

Smith/van der Voort - no bet. It's close to a bet on Vincent, I've got him having a bit more of a shot than the 3/1 suggests but there's not enough edge, and the much improved chances based on more recent games doesn't really convince me enough - Michael's picking up his game at the right time.

Evening, second stage:

Wattimena/Burton - 0.25u Burton 9/5. I've been betting against Wattimena quite a bit as the numbers don't stack up. Chuck in a player who's pulling similar, if not better, numbers who's been pretty decent in these short formats all year, and yes we will take nearly 2/1.

Henderson/Cullen - 0.25u Henderson 7/4. Weird game to have on stage two? Can't split them all year, Hendo's doing better statistically of late, Hendo's a solid underdog in the market so we'll go with that.

Clayton/M Webster - no bet. It's a similar game to the Bunting game in terms of analysis really, Webby's done just enough all year that 9/4's worth looking at, of late, it's the other way around.

Evans/Dekker - no bet. Nearly enough for Dekker, 13/10 at north of 45% chances looks OK, and he does better in recent games (and likes this venue it seems), but I think Evans will have the confidence from the final he made.

Wilson/van den Bergh - no bet. Dimitri's installed as the market favourite at about the line I think is correct, so happy to move on to the next game.

Noppert/Rodriguez - 0.25u Rodriguez 7/4, I think Noppert's the favourite here but really not by as much, seeing Rowby having around a 45% shot. Sure, there'll be games where Rowby plays complete trash, but having won his worlds qualifier I'm guessing he might show up. Might this be a game where his trash games resulting in losses inflates his projections a bit? Maybe, we'll find out. He's got plenty of bad winning legs in the stats.

Dobey/Meulenkamp - 0.25u Dobey 19/20. Bookmakers can't separate them, but I'm seeing Dobey with a solid near 60% chance over the course of the season. Over the shorter course it's more even, but it wouldn't make it a bad bet.

D Webster/de Graaf - 0.25u de Graaf 9/4, this could be one where Jeffrey's been under the radar enough that his winning chances are understated. Then again, Jeffrey's one like Rowby where the games where he plays bad (and he's incredibly hot and cold, maybe more so than anyone on the circuit) doesn't get truly reflected in the stats. Still, north of 2/1 with around a 40% probability of the win season long (and he's actually the favourite of late) looks decent to me.

Beaton/Huybrechts - no bet. Some good games on stage two this evening, isn't there? The line is a flip, as Beaton's only at 53% season long against Huybrechts I can't recommend anything. It's one where it feels like Beaton should be the favourite, and also one where if we just look after the summer break, it leans more to Beaton at a 60/40 split, but I'll avoid it.

I'm making that bets on half the games, it seems like the right ratio, if you're betting on everything you're doing it wrong, but in this sort of tournament we're probably going to get shots to utilise wider knowledge of the players and spots where there's favourites that are too short too often, which tends to be where most of the bet suggestions have come from historically. Let's go!

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Players Championship Finals - let's project the bracket

Using two sets of data - the whole year, and just after the Matchplay. If a player's projected to win in both sets of data, they move on, if it's a tie, whichever data set won by the most decides it.

Top quarter:

Second quarter:

Third quarter:

Bottom quarter:

Last 16 onwards:

Yes, based on form since the Matchplay, van Gerwen would be rated to beat Rob Cross nearly 95% of the time. Odd that, isn't it?

Should mention that in my haste to get this up, I completely neglected to put the Grand Slam final into the master computer, but it wouldn't have affected any results, so I'm not running anything again.

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Players Championship Finals - high level preview

I'm off work Thursday so will be able to produce the bets and some more forward projections then, but for now, let's look at each section of the draw and see what we think - and it's a good job I checked the PDC website as Suljovic is out, giving van de Pas a route in. How Benito did enough to even get 65th, I have no idea, but that's where we are:

Section 1 - (1) White v (64) Taylor, (32) Dolan v (33) Barnard, (16) Gurney v (49) Thornton, (17) Payne v (48) Searle

Important section for two players here - Ian White's gone from probably being in the Premier League, to probably out unless he does something special here, with the Barney farewell tour being announced and Wade and Price saying "I'll have a Premier League spot thanks" in the last couple of months. Gurney also needs a bit of a run having not won an event this year, his ranking's still up there but that's really all he's done since coming from a bit too far back to really threaten to make the Premier League finals day. Of everyone else, Taylor's only here on account of one good day and shouldn't threaten, Dolan has looked like he's at least stabilising his form but Challenge Tour legend Barnard is a tough out, Thornton's looked quite decent in spots this year but it's too sporadic and mainly showed on a good qualifying streak for here, while Payne and Searle will both look to build on the Grand Slam and see this as a decent opportunity to maybe make a bit of a run.

Section 2 - (8) Wade v (57) R Smith, (25) Aspinall v (40) Schindler, (9) Chisnall v (56) J Lewis, (24) Dobey v (41) Meulenkamp

Tricky section. Wade is the form player, but Smith's been showing he wasn't just a nine darter flash in the pan and won't be a walkover. Aspinall against a German at this time of year at Minehead will bring back memories of the world youth defeat to Hopp, an event that'll be on Schindler's mind as well as both look to do something in a TV major, Chisnall/Lewis could, if Lewis turns up, be one of those games where both average over 100, while Dobey's made a couple of good floor runs this year as he looks to regain his 2016 form - Meulenkamp however seems to be getting the floor and we saw in Ireland that he's got a dangerous game.

Section 3 - (5) A Lewis v (60) Hunt, (28) Ratajski v (37) Price, (12) Noppert v (53) Rodriguez, (21) King v (44) Stevenson

Lewis has got a pretty high ranking given he's not actually won one of these this season, Hunt's been one to watch for a couple of years now but hasn't really made a statement run after getting his card back from the Development Tour. Ratajski/Price will be one of the ties of the round and a Lewis/Price second round match could be explosive. Noppert's got an OK draw against Rowby, who's got enough game to have won one of the regional qualifiers for the worlds but is still way too inconsistent, while this year King's shown he can still win at the Pro Tour level, Stevenson being a tricky customer but one who probably did his best work earlier in the season.

Section 4 - (4) Wright v (61) Alcinas, (29) Hopp v (36) West, (13) Bunting v (52) North, (20) Mansell v (45) Razma

Loaded section here. Wright is the top seeded player but has had, by his standards, a mediocre year and Alcinas is the sort of player who on his day can be a huge banana skin. Hopp's made the breakthrough on the senior level this year but Steve West is arguably the best player on the circuit who hasn't won a PDC event and ought to be the favourite to come through. Bunting's been alright this year and played well at the Slam, and has cut a lot of the early floor exits out of his game, while North's had a bit of success in making TV events and is getting more comfortable this season. That just leaves Mansell, who on top of his tour win has also got to the quarters on a couple of occasions lest you think it's just a complete one off, against Razma, whose final late in the season was probably a bit late to save his tour card but reminded us of how good he can be, which we'd really not seen since his BDO days.

Section 5 - (2) G Anderson v (63) Tabern, (31) Whitlock v (34) K Anderson, (15) Beaton v (50) K Huybrechts, (18) Henderson v (47) Cullen

If section 4 was loaded, wait until you see this bit. Anderson's brought his best game to the TV this year and ought to handle Tabern, who's done enough to make it here just but has done more work in Europe. Whitlock/Anderson is a tasty Australian derby as Whitlock looks to do what he can to tie up a Premier League return, while Kyle's got this and the worlds where he's defending nothing and should shoot up the rankings accordingly. Beaton's not going anywhere and faces Kim Huybrechts, who's had another disappointing year, at least in the Players Championship series, while Cullen's bossed Europe but has been frankly bad domestically, ending up with Henderson in round 1, who's not made it past a quarter final this year but is usually good for at least a board final, and will be a tough task for the Rockstar.

Section 6 - (7) M Smith v (58) van der Voort, (26) Clayton v (39) M Webster, (10) de Zwaan v (55) Klaasen, (23) Evans v (42) Dekker

Real Dutch feel to this section with four of them in here. van der Voort's been forgotten about somewhat but has done enough to creep in to this as well as the worlds, but Michael Smith's been getting a lot closer to a TV title this year and ought to advance in a 180-filled quick game. Clayton/Webster is a Welsh derby with Clayton making one final lest it go forgotten focussing on his European Tour victory, while Mark's got to a semi and a quarter and might be trending at the right time given his qualification for the Slam. It's a Cobra-off with de Zwaan having a breakout year against Klaasen, who's just been doing enough to sneak into televised events while not doing anything really notable, and Evans, like Clayton, has won quite a few boards under the radar while you're all noticing his European Tour final, while Dekker's not done quite that much but consistent board finals shows he's starting to properly get the PDC circuit.

Section 7 - (6) Cross v (59) Reyes, (27) Joyce v (38) Lennon, (11) Wilson v (54) van den Bergh, (22) Clemens v (43) Gilding

Another interesting section. Cross has had some struggles on TV trying to back up his world championship win, and the sort of player you don't want to face in a short format is someone with Reyes' upside. Joyce's floor form has been excellent with eight board wins but has tailed off slightly in the latter half of the year, while Lennon is looking to push up towards the top 32 and similarly has a good record of picking up a grand here, fifteen hundred there. Wilson's chucked himself into the West discussion for the best player who's not won an event yet, making six quarters or better to get a high ranking, but facing Dimitri on TV isn't the draw he would want, if Dimitri can sort out the floor game which is still not really firing (at least at senior level) then look out. That leaves us with Clemens, the third German in the field who's made one final and another semi for a good opening season, if only he could have added more on the European Tour, against Gilding, who's shown spurts of his (excellent) best game and will look to be more than just a Durrant spoiler as he tries to back up his recent floor semi final.

Section 8 - (3) van Gerwen v (62) Edgar, (30) Brown v (65) van de Pas, (14) Wattimena v (51) Burton, (19) D Webster v (46) de Graaf

Another four Dutchmen here, all in separate matches. van Gerwen we know about and should have enough to handle Edgar, whose late few wins have seen him get here just, Brown's gone from having a real tough opening opponent to almost a free win against van de Pas who's been frankly dreadful for a second straight year, Wattimena's not been that impressive statistically but keeps getting the wins and keeps taking his board, and he'll face Stephen Burton, a relatively unknown player who's going to lose his card but has had a good floor record in reaching board finals. Lastly we have Darren Webster, who's solidified a top 16 spot and looked pretty good on TV for a second year in a row, against de Graaf, another Dutchman who's flown under the radar but eight board finals to back up an early semi final has secured his place in the field. Hugely hit and miss, but if he hits, anyone is in trouble.

Back later in the week with the bets and projections.

Monday 19 November 2018

Farewell Barney, we barely knew ye

So Barney's announced he's going to retire, and, per the PDC website, "explained his decision and his plan for 2019 following his penultimate World Championship".

Whoa. Hold on a minute right there. Let's look at this table:

That's the current order of merit from Barney down to the edge of the top 32 (I had a Comic Sans moment, I do apologise). Now you'll note that Barney's defending an absolute packet in the next two months. It's around 40% of his current Order of Merit ranking. If Raymond is to make this year his penultimate World Championship, he's going to need to qualify.

Now, of course, he could defend a huge chunk of what he wins at the worlds, and he's fine. But he's down at number 29 in the FRH rankings for a reason. So much of his money is loaded in the back end of 2016 and 2017. Everyone on that list, while they're all defending some money at Minehead, are all at Minehead. Barney isn't. If Barney doesn't get a huge wedge at Ally Pally, he's out of the top 16. With that, he's out of the Matchplay and the Grand Prix - and to get back in he'd need to do well in the Pro Tour, and as of right now he has £500 in the rolling Matchplay qualification race. From 2017, he'd have £20k disappearing from the UK Open and its respective qualifiers - while he doesn't have to qualify this time, he'd still need to defend some of it. He'd have a further £11k from the Matchplay, £15k from the Grand Prix and then another £15k from the Grand Slam and Players Championship Finals - all he has counting towards the 2020 worlds right now is the £40k from the 2018 worlds, and any ranking money he's won this year. Which is about £31k. With Barney being in a seeding spot where he's extremely likely to face a high level seed in the last sixteen of the worlds, let's give him last sixteen money of £35k. That's still barely six figures - which is a clear 30 grand off what Hopp is currently on for the last seeding spot. Where's that shortfall going to come from? Unless he binks the UK Open or goes deeper in the worlds than his seeding would suggest, then he's simply going to have to play the Pro Tour somewhat extensively. His best bet would be to hit the European Tour early and hit it hard - get in there, get a couple of Sundays and then get into the finals event.

A couple of other things - I guess that makes the decision of whether they're going to select Barney for the Premier League very obvious, and was it a two year visa that Kyle got? I'm guessing it didn't start until after the worlds so he should be OK, but with a couple of free hits incoming, it's a real chance for him to push up the rankings.

Sunday 18 November 2018

Gerwyn Price doing Gerwyn Price things shocker

The less said about the antics the better, it's already been done to death on social media, Price celebrates a bit too much and would probably be a better player for it but it's what he does, but it's this simple - if Anderson holds the twentieth leg, this never becomes a story as he's then run five straight in that mini-session, is two breaks to the good and wins the game from there. From that point Anderson basically goes on tilt because Price won't go away, and the last few legs are probably best consigned to the dustbin from a darts point of view.

Still, fair play to Gerwyn who's locked up a Premier League place again you have to think, what price he plays Ando in Aberdeen, Glasgow etc. Elsewhere, Devon Petersen won the Devon Petersen qualifier for the worlds, which is kind of like the Diogo Portela qualifier in terms of giving mediocre players free money, and Marijanovic won the German superleague finals, so we're now down to five players left to be decided - although we know one of them should be Matt Edgar when Schindler or van den Bergh vacates their Pro Tour spot.

New FRH rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Rob Cross
3 Gary Anderson (UP 1)
4 Peter Wright (DOWN 1)
5 Gerwyn Price (UP 7)
6 Mensur Suljovic
7 Daryl Gurney (DOWN 2)
8 James Wade (DOWN 1)
9 Simon Whitlock (DOWN 1)
10 Michael Smith (UP 1)
11 Ian White (DOWN 2)
12 Phil Taylor
13 Darren Webster
14 Dave Chisnall
15 Jonny Clayton (UP 2)
16 Joe Cullen (DOWN 1)
17 Adrian Lewis (DOWN 1)
18 Stephen Bunting (UP 2)
19 Mervyn King (DOWN 1)
20 Steve West (DOWN 1)

Anderson, despite the final defeat, edges Wright by about a thousand points to climb up into the top three, while Price is in the top five for the first time. Anyone else think that the top ten there as it stands seems like the best Premier League line up you could select as of right now?

Dimitri's up to #34, Payne is into the top 50, while Durrant and Unterbuchner now occupy spots within the top 100.

One last thing - in the final leg, with one dart in hand and 181 remaining, Anderson stops to think and goes for 11? Is the only way that he thinks he can turn the tide of the match to hit the big fish and cause a huge crowd reaction? If so, why the hell does he go and hit the treble? I think the last time I saw someone go for 11 in that spot was in Lakeside over a decade ago, I want to say it was Ross Montgomery but I really can't remember, but at least whoever it was then had the excuse of being basically dead in the match and they had a high checkout prize, which was probably worth quarter finalist money at the time.

Grand Slam final day

So we have an Anderson/Price final. Gerwyn basically has to be back in the Premier League at this stage, he's done so much in the TV events as well as winning a European Tour event, I really can't see a scenario where he's left out. That was a great run of legs to get things done at the end, I wasn't watching but Suljovic letting him win four legs in succession in six visits makes you wonder a touch. Meanwhile Anderson got home, van Gerwen basically just gifting him a few legs - the eighth, sixteenth and twenty-fourth looking really bad which gave Anderson three breaks, if he can just hold in eighteen darts in all of those he leads 15-13 rather than being out. Then again, Anderson was putting on great pressure - 107 average when he's losing the legs is requiring van Gerwen to finish as quickly as he did, and the legs he did win were quick (five legs in four visits and another four in five visits isn't bad at all).

So to the final - really can't look past Anderson. The projections from year long stats say 74/26 Anderson, which with Price being 9/2 might be worth a bit of a stab at the underdog. He was certainly putting up enough power legs against Suljovic to make you think it's possible. Since the summer break however it tilts towards Anderson overwhelmingly - 89/11. When you think that Price is in form, that should draw a huge red flag if you were thinking about betting Price. I don't like going for handicaps as a win and a loss could easily be decided by who wins the bull, so I might just have a small casual punt for funking value, evens for Price to get up to 11 legs doesn't seem too bad I guess.

A Swiss tournament, and how it works in practice


When talking about the future of the Grand Slam a couple of posts ago, I mentioned that rather than having a group stage, they should run it as a Swiss format instead, which I've always thought makes things a lot fairer and interesting in any tournament where you don't have a straight knockout, and while I've also suggested it for other things (it would be perfect for Q-School, as it's designed to order competitors as a whole and with Q-School, you don't care about a winner, just the top however many players to fill tour cards), I don't think I've ever explained or demonstrated how it works in practice. So let's have a go at it.

The gist of it is that you play a certain number of rounds of games. In the first round, you can match players up in a number of ways - either completely randomly, via some sort of seeding system, or a mixture of the two, it doesn't really matter but for this demonstration I'll divide the players into two pots and draw one against the other.

In future rounds, you are drawn against a player who, as far as it reasonably possible, has the same number of points as you. Here, it'd be the same number of legs won.

Who will we have in? I suggested you could expand to 40 players if you got rid of the group system, so let's do that. Let's have everyone that won a PDC tournament this year on top of those that qualified anyway:

1 Cross, 2 van Gerwen, 3 G Anderson, 4 van den Bergh, 5 Wade, 6 van Barneveld, 7 Wright, 8 M Smith, 9 Suljovic, 10 Payne, 11 Cadby (as this is all hypothetical, I'm letting him back in), 12 Whitlock, 13 Clayton, 14 Price, 15 White, 16 Hopp, 17 Ratajski, 18 Mansell, 19 de Zwaan, 20 King, 21 Aspinall, 22 Noppert

We're going to invite back the same 8 BDO players, so that leaves 10 spots to fill. Let's go with the winners of subsidiary tours that aren't already qualified:

23 Barnard (Challenge Tour), 24 Humphries (Development Tour), 25 Labanauskas (Nordic/Baltic Tour), 26 Ilagan (Asian Tour), 27 R Smith (DPA Tour)

Crap, that's still five spots to fill. We still need to have a PDPA qualifier, so we'll go with four spots from that as well as the women's world champ:

28 Ashton, 29 Chisnall, 30 Gurney, 31 K Anderson, 32 Lewis

Here I've just gone with the four players not qualified with the highest points per turn this season. We then have 33 Durrant, 34 Mitchell, 35 Unterbuchner, 36 Harms, 37 Williams, 38 McGeeney, 39 Robson, 40 Smith-Neale.

Done. 40 players. We will play four rounds of six legs each, for the first round, we'll go completely randomly. It should be noted that when I simulate things, I'm going to need to proxy for Ilagan, Smith and Ashton - looking for players that I think should be around a similar standard, I'll go for Quantock, Stevenson and Langendorf respectively. Whether these are accurate really doesn't matter, but let's go randomise and simulate:

Friday evening:

Raymond Smith 3-3 Wesley Harms
Michael Unterbuchner 1-5 Gary Robson
Michael Barnard 2-4 Mark McGeeney
Josh Payne 3-3 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Kyle Anderson 4-2 Nathan Aspinall
Luke Humphries 1-5 James Wade
Rob Cross 3-3 Dave Chisnall
Jonny Clayton 4-2 Gary Anderson
Corey Cadby 4-2 Mickey Mansell
Peter Wright 4-2 Gerwyn Price

Saturday afternoon:

Scott Mitchell 2-4 Dimitri van den Bergh
Ian White 2-4 Darius Labanauskas
Michael Smith 4-2 Adam Smith-Neale
Mensur Suljovic 4-2 Krzysztof Ratajski
Lisa Ashton 1-5 Danny Noppert
Max Hopp 2-4 Mervyn King
Adrian Lewis 2-4 Jim Williams
Michael van Gerwen 5-1 Lourence Ilagan
Glen Durrant 1-5 Simon Whitlock
Raymond van Barneveld 1-5 Daryl Gurney

That's the first round done. Now we match players with the same number of legs won with each other, starting at the top: Robson, Wade, Noppert, van Gerwen, Whitlock and Gurney all had five legs and will face each other, McGeeney, Kyle Anderson and everyone with four legs will play each other and so on. We just need to make sure that those with three legs don't have a rematch, which may come up more often in later rounds. So let's go:

Saturday evening:

Luke Humphries 2-4 Michael Unterbuchner
Michael Barnard 2-4 Nathan Aspinall
Josh Payne 4-2 Raymond Smith
Wesley Harms 4-2 Dave Chisnall
Kyle Anderson 3-3 Mark McGeeney
Gary Robson 3-3 James Wade
Jeffrey de Zwaan 3-3 Mickey Mansell
Jonny Clayton 4-2 Corey Cadby
Gerwyn Price 1-5 Gary Anderson
Peter Wright 4-2 Rob Cross

Sunday afternoon:

Scott Mitchell 6-0 Adam Smith-Neale
Max Hopp 3-3 Adrian Lewis
Dimitri van den Bergh 5-1 Mervyn King
Darius Labanauskas 1-5 Mensur Suljovic
Jim Williams 1-5 Michael Smith
Lisa Ashton 1-5 Glen Durrant
Lourence Ilagan 4-2 Raymond van Barneveld
Ian White 6-0 Krzysztof Ratajski
Simon Whitlock 0-6 Daryl Gurney
Danny Noppert 3-3 Michael van Gerwen

These all split up nicely enough to allow nobody to play back to back - note that because we had an odd number of players with four wins, we've needed to bump a player at random with three wins, which turned out to be Cross (similarly, that forced Mansell up into the three win pool). So after two games, Gurney leads the field on 11 with van den Bergh, Suljovic and Michael Smith behind on 9, eight players on 8 and so on until you have Smith-Neale, Ashton and Ratajski on 2. On to round 3:

Sunday evening:

Raymond Smith 6-0 Michael Barnard
Luke Humphries 2-4 Gerwyn Price
Wesley Harms 1-5 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Michael Unterbuchner 4-2 Dave Chisnall
Josh Payne 2-4 Mark McGeeney
Mickey Mansell 2-4 Rob Cross
Nathan Aspinall 3-3 Corey Cadby
Jonny Clayton 6-0 Gary Robson
Gary Anderson 3-3 Kyle Anderson
James Wade 2-4 Peter Wright

Monday evening:

Max Hopp 1-5 Simon Whitlock
Glen Durrant 4-2 Jim Williams
Adam Smith-Neale 2-4 Krzysztof Ratajski
Danny Noppert 4-2 Ian White
Mervyn King 3-3 Darius Labanauskas
Adrian Lewis 5-1 Lourence Ilagan
Mensur Suljovic 3-3 Michael Smith
Lisa Ashton 1-5 Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen 4-2 Scott Mitchell
Daryl Gurney 4-2 Dimitri van den Bergh

So far, it's worked out that the players on each number of points have split nicely so we didn't have any players going on back to back sessions on the same day, this might be unavoidable in some scenarios but it's now moot, as everyone is back on the Tuesday. Right now the cutoff is on 10 legs as to whether you'll finish in the top sixteen and advance to the knockout stages, so what is good to do here is to schedule the games that probably aren't going to matter in the afternoon session, and then have the evening be full of matches where anything might happen. So let's go with it:

Tuesday afternoon:

Lisa Ashton 2-4 Adam Smith-Neale
Luke Humphries 4-2 Michael Barnard
Max Hopp 3-3 Lourence Ilagan
Mickey Mansell 0-6 Krzysztof Ratajski
Gerwyn Price 4-2 Jim Williams
Darius Labanauskas 2-4 Dave Chisnall
Peter Wright 2-4 Danny Noppert
Daryl Gurney 4-2 Jonny Clayton
Jeffrey de Zwaan 3-3 Mensur Suljovic
Michael Smith 4-2 Michael van Gerwen

Tuesday evening:

Gary Robson 4-2 Mervyn King
Wesley Harms 3-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Mark McGeeney 1-5 Dimitri van den Bergh
Raymond Smith 1-5 Gary Anderson
Michael Unterbuchner 2-4 Josh Payne
Rob Cross 2-4 Corey Cadby
Nathan Aspinall 2-4 Ian White
Kyle Anderson 3-3 Scott Mitchell
James Wade 2-4 Simon Whitlock
Glen Durrant 2-4 Adrian Lewis

This would give us a final standings of:

19 - Daryl Gurney
16 - Jonny Clayton, Michael Smith, Peter Wright, Dimitri van den Bergh
15 - Mensur Suljovic, Gary Anderson
14 - Danny Noppert, Michael van Gerwen, Jeffrey de Zwaan, Simon Whitlock, Ian White, Adrian Lewis
13 - Kyle Anderson, Scott Mitchell, Josh Payne, Corey Cadby
12 - Mark McGeeney, Raymond Smith, Glen Durrant, Gary Robson, Krzysztof Ratajski, James Wade
11 - Michael Unterbuchner, Rob Cross, Nathan Aspinall, Wesley Harms, Raymond van Barneveld, Gerwyn Price, Dave Chisnall
10 - Mervyn King, Darius Labanauskas
9 - Jim Williams, Max Hopp, Lourence Ilagan, Luke Humphries
8 - Adam Smith-Neale
7 - Mickey Mansell
6 - Michael Barnard
5 - Lisa Ashton

Now it's pretty easy to see that the cutoff is on 13 points, and the usual tiebreaker in these sorts of events is to go by the strength of schedule - i.e. look at who you played and see how many legs your opponents won. This generally works alright, so let's see what happens if we work out the seedings for the knockout stages, listing the number of legs won by the opponents in brackets:

(1) Daryl Gurney - 19 (57)
(2) Jonny Clayton - 16 (59)
(3) Dimitri van den Bergh - 16 (54)
(4) Peter Wright - 16 (48)
(5) Michael Smith - 16 (46)
(6) Mensur Suljovic - 15 (52)
(7) Gary Anderson - 15 (52)
(8) Michael van Gerwen - 14 (52)
(9) Simon Whitlock - 14 (52)
(10) Danny Noppert - 14 (49)
(11) Ian White - 14 (47)
(12) Jeffrey de Zwaan - 14 (46)
(13) Adrian Lewis - 14 (40)
(14) Kyle Anderson - 13 (51)
(15) Scott Mitchell - 13 (51)
(16) Josh Payne - 13 (49)
(17) Corey Cadby - 13 (45)

You'd need to find some other tiebreaker between Suljovic and Gary and then Kyle and Mitchell (no real point between van Gerwen and Whitlock), would probably flip if it's just for seedings or playoff if it's to see if you got through or not, but that's by the by - hopefully this demonstrates how such a tournament could work.

Saturday 17 November 2018

Grand Slam semis - the match we've all been waiting for

So, we finally get the game we want - Michael van Gerwen, the undisputed number one player in the world, against Gary Anderson, the player that's managed to clean up many of the major titles this year and is supposedly disputing this undisputed title. They've not met in a ranked event over more than a race to six since the last world championship that van Gerwen won, so to see them over a long format with something tangible on the line should be mouthwatering.

But first, let's look at the other semi, which sees Mensur Suljovic, who dealt with Dimitri fairly comfortably, against Gerwyn Price, who needed every last leg to handle Simon Whitlock in what was otherwise a high quality affair until precisely the point when Whitlock broke to lead 15-13 and get in a seemingly unassailable position, where it became really quite comical. Price has had a pretty good record in recent months, to the point where if you ignore everything he said in the aftermath of this year's event, he should be close to getting back in the Premier League. Suljovic has also had a great season with a run to the Matchplay final being the highlight, but what should we make of this faceoff between the two players relegated from the Premier League?

It's a tricky one, and it's a close one. This year, Mensur beat Price in the Premier League, lost in a decider in a Euro Tour event, then won a deciding set in the Grand Prix. Not a huge deal there. Prior to that, Mensur beat Price comfortably in last season's European Championship, but only had one win in eight meetings before then. Price ought to draw some confidence from that, and his general level of play indicates he's peaking at the right time. The line favours Suljovic around 63/37, which frankly seems a bit much. Gerwyn's been playing some outstanding darts after he's got over his foot injury and I'm thinking this is a much tighter game - 0.25u Price 8/5, he'll have the belief that he can do this and is producing the results.

For the main event, I think this is a fair bit easier than what the bookies might say. van Gerwen's been pushed twice by Clayton this week - he got the group stage game but couldn't get the long knockout win, and van Gerwen didn't play badly in either. Generally speaking, when he has lost this season, he has not played badly while doing so. Ando's been playing fantastically well, but today against Unterbuchner, he didn't get a twelve dart leg once! That's unheard of. He got a few when he smacked White about, but aside from that he's not shown quite the game that I think he'll need to beat van Gerwen over a game of this distance. I'm seeing van Gerwen as a bigger favourite than the line that we can get, which doesn't happen that often, so 0.5u van Gerwen 1/2, these are two of the players that I have the biggest sample size on and it's a long format where the sample size should show, if I'm seeing van Gerwen winning nearly 73% of the time I'm OK with opening the throttle here a bit.

In worlds news, Anastasia Dobromyslova got through the rest of the world qualifier today, whitewashing a domestic player in the final but beating Suzuki in the semi which for all intents and purposes seemed like the final, was funking for Dana but what can you do. In idiotic management news, Tahuna Irwin, who'd got the New Zealand spot, had his management apparently shit the bed comically to the point where he was refused entry to the country trying for the world youth and has been banned from entering the UK until this time next year. That's a pretty major error, what they do to fill his spot I don't know, Harris is obviously already in, they could try either the player that Irwin beat in the final of their qualifier or the next best New Zealand player, either of which I'm thinking will just end up making up the numbers. It's a shame, Irwin's only 21 apparently so has a bunch of time and this would be the sort of experience that would be incredibly useful.

One last thing on the Slam - I do wonder whether Suljovic, if he were to defeat Price, would have the stamina to go through two games of this distance on one day. These are really long matches - Price I'd have no concerns about, and I wouldn't worry about the winner of the other semi final either, but have we ever seen Suljovic in this sort of situation. I don't know. Also, in the build up to the worlds, I have the entirety of every single PDC ranking event for every single player that has qualified, along with a bunch of other information, into a spreadsheet, which will feed into a nice visual, so I can just pick the player, have things automatically update in my software, then copy/paste into a huge preview PDF. This should be epic.

Thursday 15 November 2018

Grand Slam quarters - yawn

I will never, ever understand why they fix the draw the way they have done, so that we get three rematches at the quarter final stage. Just stick all the runners up in the opposite half to the winners. It's not difficult. If a runner up needs to play two games in two days or has more than one day off, it's not a big deal, by the time you get to the long games in the quarter final stages, it's all level. The PDC do a lot of things right, this is another thing they do which is unbelievably dumb.

As such, with the only new game we're seeing being Dimitri (nice nine lad, shame about the next seventeen darts) van den Bergh against Mensur Suljovic, which is a repeat of two televised events we've seen in the last twelve months, I'm going to be brief here:

0.25u van den Bergh 13/8, I'm seeing him at above 46%, even in a best of 31 distance. We all saw what Dimitri did the last time they met in a long game at the world championship, and heck, the kid just hit a nine, if this isn't peak Dimitri confidence, who knows what is.

No bet on Price/Whitlock. The line's a flip, with Price being the slightest of odds on favourites. I'm seeing this as 53/47 Price, so there's nothing of any real value here, I'm thinking on recent form we should be on the eye out for any Whitlock bets in case the line moves but I'm not holding my breath.

2u Anderson 1/7, that was a pretty nice display by Unterbuchner, but this is an extremely easy spot to milk a quarter of a unit, Gary's been lights out all year on TV and I think this is nearer a 1/14 or even 1/20 line in all honesty, it's a huge jump from race to 10 to race to 16 and also a huge jump from Wade to Anderson.

No bet on van Gerwen/Clayton. I was able to bet on Clayton at 9/1 in a best of nine. We are now in a game more than three times the length which hugely, hugely improves things in favour of the favourite and I can't even get 9/1 again? What changed bookies? What changed? Surely you're not overreacting on the basis of a nine leg sample size? The line looks right now, but you would think if they were consistent they'd have van Gerwen as an even larger favourite than what he was in the group stages. Very, very silly.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

The future of the Grand Slam

As we await the knockout stages, I read something that Mason retweeted earlier in that Durrant is looking at Q-School, which makes perfect sense for anybody given the BDO's relaxation of eligibility criteria. That leaves the question though - if Durrant goes (and you think that if he did try Q-School, he'd get in easily), who exactly is left in the BDO system that would be worthy of a spot at the Grand Slam?

You'd think that if Durrant retained, they'd let Durrant play it, but who else is going to be left in the building? Let's look at their seedings for the worlds and see what the situation might be:

McGeeney's said he's trying. Williams you'd think would have a go as he's still young enough and probably good enough to at least have a chance of saving his card. Harms surely will. Mitchell you'd think would have done so already, but probably has the game. Unterbuchner really ought to given the European Tour. Robson probably not. Veenstra might. Waites, see Mitchell, although at seven years younger he's got more time to have a run. Landman I don't know. Parletti has been in and out so you think he would. Warren, Montgomery and Phillips you can't see it. Mandigers and Day you'd think would go for it.

That's not exactly a huge number of players that are rating to actively stay. We all know it's a completely different ecosystem nowadays, where there was somewhat of a choice to be made back in 2007 when the thing kicked off. Right now in 2019, you'll have three groups of players - the BDO diehards who are seeing out the end of their careers, those that did try Q-School but didn't crack it, and some younger players that are looking to get experience on the circuit, perhaps in conjunction with the Challenge and Development Tours. Which of those groups of players adds value to the tournament? I'm struggling to think who would if we see the expected level of Q-School entrants, at least to fill eight spots. You'll have some decent players miss out on getting a tour card for sure (Jamie Hughes springs to mind from last year), but if someone went for one and didn't get one, what does that say about their current standard?

I'm thinking the tournament's going to need a revamp. If you're keeping the same number of players, then have:

- Top 20 players who've won something in the PDC
- Winner, runner up of Lakeside, World Masters winner and World Trophy winner. Add winners of lesser tournaments (Zuiderduin, Dutch Open, whatever) until you get to four players.
- Winner of PDC Asian Tour, Nordic and Baltic Tour, DPA rankings and the women's world champ
- Four spots from a PDPA qualifier, increasing if the initial 20 isn't filled.

Or expand to 40. Add an extra two spots to a PDPA qualifier, add an extra two spots to the 20 who've won something, two spots to other winners of A+ category BDO events, and two to random PDC tour winners (maybe not the Development or Challenge Tours, as the former's got two spots effectively from the world youth, and adding from a second tier seems counter-intuitive) - something random from North America? The best player on the European Tour rankings not otherwise qualified?

If you do expand to 40, you could either go five man groups, or just bin the whole group concept and have four rounds of Swiss matches. Play eight legs against an opponent, then keep matching players with the same number of legs won against each other, top 16 advance to the knockouts. With everyone in one place there's really no need logistically to have a group stage system, you can accommodate everything by just having an extra session on the Monday and Tuesday afternoons (or Monday afternoon and the Friday night before? Making the Tuesday night the session where everyone in the 11-30 bracket plays off?)

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Ian White must really like Thursday nights off work

Honest to god, there's something psychologically wrong with that lad. How you miss that many shots at double I have no idea - he's gone from what was probably a 90% to 95% chance or more of making the Premier League following his European Tour win to being on the outside looking in because he's botched two TV tournaments in a row. I don't know what's going to save it at this stage, you've clearly got van Gerwen, Anderson, Cross, Wright, Suljovic, Wade and Smith in, Price is doing everything a lot better, Whitlock's made a major final, Hopp's made a major semi and won two titles (and, more importantly, is likely a hell of a lot more marketable), Gurney may be there or there abouts, Chisnall hasn't been completely stinking the place up, and that's without mentioning Barney, who cocked it up again tonight. Dear oh dear.

So we've got our last sixteen lineup. Pretty shocked that Harms was able to get by, but that looked a pretty high quality game, Ratajski did the business very efficiently, other than Robson putting up a decent effort in trying to come back, even if it doesn't show statistically, I don't think there's a great deal to talk about. So, what do the matches project as? Let's take a look:

Bunting/van den Bergh - 39/61. It's giving Dimitri a bit more of a chance than the market thinks. This seems somewhat fine as stage Dimitri and floor Dimitri are two different animals, but there's not a great deal in the overall points per turn and with Bunting playing some really good stuff in the group stages, I'm tempted to pass this one.

Price/Payne - 63/37. Price is a lot shorter of a favourite on this one, and rightly so as he's in red hot form. If I take it from after the break it's nearer 70/30 - which kills any edge we'd have on a Payne bet almost completely. Gerwyn should get past this one you'd think but Payne's not going to make it easy.

Cross/Suljovic - 58/42. There's not even a point in the season long points per turn thanks to Mensur being a heck of a lot more consistent when he's losing, and the projections as always only consider legs completed, i.e. won, with Cross 4/5 and Mensur 6/5 if you reign in Suljovic a couple of points due to consistency then there's little to be had here.

Wright/Whitlock - 63/37. Line's bang on Wright being a 2-1 favourite. Do we bet Simon? There's nearly enough edge there, Wright's not put up hugely convincing conventional numbers, Whitlock's already on a free hit after coming through that thriller against Price where he needed four straight to survive, and he beat Wright over a same length match in the previous major. What the heck, 0.25u Whitlock 2/1.

Anderson/Harms - 94/6. Taking that with a pinch of salt, Harms' stats come from only 34 won legs. That said, saying Anderson is anything other than a prohibitive favourite would be comical.

Wade/Unterbuchner - 82/18. Wade's 1/4, so this looks in the right ballpark. With Wade having the level of confidence he does at the moment it's really, really hard to recommend taking the German lad without a much bigger edge, it's only really missed doubles by White that's allowed him to advance rather than Unterbuchner doing anything truly outstanding, only breaking a conventional average of 90 against Hine.

Clayton/Ratajski - 46/54. More or less exactly how the odds line up, so there's not going to be anything here. As an aside, it's now annoying that Kciuk is in my database and steals Ratajski's autocomplete when adding new data. This should be really very tight and a probable tie of the round. That said...

van Gerwen/Smith - 73/27. Smith's 7/2, which might be a tempter, then again van Gerwen has made Smith to look very silly in multiple games this season, winning their Premier League initial stage matches 14-3, the final 11-4, two Euro Tour semis 14-2 with just the one 8-4 win for Smith in the event in Shanghai he won. If Smith had been doing anything god mode style in the group stage I might have thought about it, but he really hasn't.

So that's your lot. One bet. Oh well, it is what it is.

Grand Slam day 4 bets

We ran through the permutations yesterday so I'll not repeat myself, was a real pity that Durrant couldn't make it through the group with Price throwing away a basically won position, other than that not a great deal of surprise, Payne managing to get enough legs on the board to advance ahead of Hopp but not the last one he needed for the win to give me the double. Today:

Wade/Webster - Dead game, Webby getting the win might be worth the tiny punt as it should push him into third and he'll know the extra couple of grand might be critical when it comes to retaining a tour card at the end of next year.

Anderson/Hine - Also a dead game, Hine realistically too far back to grab third in the event he did pull off a miracle, 1/7 Ando looks to be close to my projections so while it's probably safe to put into an acca, I won't be recommending an outright punt.

White/Unterbuchner - 0.5u White 1/2, he is that much better than the German and it'd take a real TV special from White to not get through here.

Brown/Harms - Market seems a bit close here? Brown's generally outperformed Harms and he's only rated 60/40? I really don't see how that's close to correct, 0.25u Brown 4/6, would probably go more but Harms hasn't really helped sample size with the drubbing he got versus Wade.

van Gerwen/Murnan - Now we get to the complicated groups, but this isn't a complicated match, 1/16 is a bit too short to bet, but not by much.

Clayton/Robson - This ought to be Clayton's, but Gary's shown just about enough that 8/15 isn't really a tempter.

Ratajski/Smith-Neale - Battle of the World Masters, Smith-Neale being very much the definition of a live dog, although the 35% I'm seeing is more or less where the market lies, so no thanks.

Smith/van Barneveld - The market here is clearly too close and 0.25u Smith 3/4 with Barney looking fairly ordinary and it only being four missed match darts that make this not a dead rubber. Only real danger is that Smith-Neale pulls the upset and Smith knows he's already through, or otherwise Smith gets the legs he needs and pulls back a bit. He ought to be too professional for that though.

Will look at the first knockout games later this evening probably.

Monday 12 November 2018

Bet on out of form player against van Gerwen. It works sometimes!

That was quite nice, but what for today?

Cross/Searle - After the Webster/Taylor incident two or three years back, I don't touch dead rubbers, and the odds look close enough to correct in any case. There might be small Searle value, Cross only needs three legs to lock up the group and a Searle win would give him the potential for more ranking points, but no.

Gilding/Durrant - Might be small value on Gilding here, but probably not - he needs a 5-0 to stand any chance of progressing so one leg for Durrant and it likely falls apart. Duzza just needs the win here and he should be professional enough to do that.

Whitlock/Price - Line's a flip and I'm thinking it's close. Price tops the group with a win, and just needs three legs to advance. With this being the second game, Whitlock will know exactly what he needs to do - if Durrant loses, it's just a win, but if Durrant wins, he's going to need a big win, at least 5-2. That said, if Durrant does lose then Price knows he's already through...

Suljovic/Schindler - Is there small value on Martin? Probably not - he must win by four to stand any chance as that'll put him ahead of Mensur, and then hope Mitchell gets a shelling, which seems unlikely. Probably just playing for pride here is Schindler, with Mensur needing a 5-3 to guarantee advancing Suljovic is likely not letting up here.

Bunting/Mitchell - Can Scotty get through here? Both players have been chucking some very nice stuff this weekend, Bunting can afford a deciding leg loss to advance with certainty, but a win to sweep the group would be nice. Mitchell needs to outperform Suljovic, it's basically that simple, and the good news for our BDO fans is that he'll know in advance what that is.

Hopp/Williams - Both have plenty of work to do here. Williams must win by at least two legs, and really more unless he wants to rely on Wright to really hammer Payne, a result he needs anyway, it just becomes a question of scoreline. Hopp will advance with a 5-1 result, while a smaller win might be enough if Wright does beat Payne. I'm thinking a tiny nibble of 0.25u Williams 13/8, he's shown just about enough here and season long to make me think he can extend his tournament.

Wright/Payne - Peter tops the group with a win, a 5-4 defeat also probably likely to be enough. Payne's in a decent spot, if Hopp loses then Payne should be safe if he can pick up a few legs, and like Mitchell earlier he'll know the permutations. Wright could easily be safe by the time the match starts, and with it being the more critical game for Payne, let's go with it given the model thinks it's a good bet - 0.25u Payne 16/5.

van den Bergh/McGeeney - Our only straight shootout, winner moves on, loser goes home, Dimitri's easily outperformed McGeeney so far, nearly beating Cross while Mark averaged sub 80, while averaging a bit higher against Searle where they both had the same result. It's a stage game which'll help the Belgian, but 4/9 isn't quite enough odds to justify a bet here.

In the other groups which play tomorrow, we've got straight elimination games between Brown and Harms and then White and Unterbuchner, with Wade/Webster and Anderson/Hine being dead games, while in the other groups van Gerwen just needs a win against Murnan to join a likely group winner in Clayton, who faces Robson. Gary has an outside chance but needs a 4-1 win to overhaul a big leg differential, assuming van Gerwen wins. The final group is Smith looking to get a win against Barney to top the group, he just needs four legs to advance, or a Ratajski loss. A 5-3 Barney win puts them level on everything, so if that happens and Ratajski wins, I guess we have a nine dart shootout? Ratajski just needs a win to move through against Smith-Neale, while Adam requires a minimum of a 5-3 win, ideally 5-2 or better to avoid tiebreak scenarios, and then to hope Barney loses. It's a good old mess as it always is.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Grand Slam group stage 2 and what we learned from day 1

I assume that it was deliberate that all the seeds on day one played all the BDO players in a 1v4, 2v3 format, which I think is a shame as it puts a heck of a lot of pressure on all the BDO players as, Durrant aside, they all lost the first game - you'd expect it to happen most of the time anyway regardless of when it happens in the group, but it's a whole different dynamic if, say, Williams beat Hopp or Payne before facing Wright. Oh well, we'll see if they can rebuild in the losers matches today, a lot of them seem like they could be live and make for an interesting final match against someone who isn't necessarily one of the PDC's top players.

Ratajski getting home against van Barneveld just put us up for the event, I don't know how long Hopp will be able to get clutch bull finishes for, seems hugely unsustainable. Today, what do we have?

Searle/McGeeney - 0.25u Searle 4/5, McGeeney did little to suggest that the numbers I have on him are inaccurate, his scoring was OK but he just couldn't hit a double. Searle did fine and ought to take this one.

Payne/Williams - No bet here, the line looks close enough to where I think it should be, Williams did just about enough, if anything Payne may be undervalued but taking Wright the distance is just about enough for me.

Schindler/Mitchell - 0.25u Mitchell 11/10, I'm going to trust the model here, even based on limited sample sizes. Mitchell wasn't too bad, although he could do with upping his scoring a touch. Looking at the losing legs season long, as Mitchell has a huge lead on winning legs albeit on a short sample, they both average within a quarter of a point of each other. That's good enough for me.

Whitlock/Gilding - Gilding, two legs where he gave Price far, far too long to win through missing four darts at double in each leg aside, was a bit better than the scoreline suggested. Whitlock really couldn't do too much against Durrant, only getting darts at double in one leg that he lost. 0.25u Gilding 9/4, the pressure's on Simon here and Gilding has a massive incentive to win.

Suljovic/Bunting - This is probably close to a Bunting bet, I had it 60/40 Suljovic before the event and nothing much has going to have changed over one game, the average from Bunting is probably a lot better but for that mutual comedy first leg - 0.25u Bunting 2/1, that's a decent price in a short race.

Cross/van den Bergh - It's weird that the projections had Dimitri winning 40% of the time, and that's exactly where the line is. Will pass.

Price/Durrant - Line again looks close enough with Glen being a small favourite.

Wright/Hopp - 0.25u Wright 5/11, it's only a small bet because I don't think our edge is that huge, only getting Wright at 73%, Wright was pretty tidy barring one leg on throw and was pressuring Williams quite well so he should get home here.

Hine/Unterbuchner - Nothing here. Hine's probably one of the weakest PDC players in the field and Unterbuchner can be dangerous, but Hine still ranks well enough that he only projected as a small underdog and while Hine was pretty average against White, Michael wasn't doing anything amazing in a loss to Anderson either.

Murnan/Robson - Pick your poison here, I could barely split them, albeit off of a small Robson sample, the bookies can't either, let's just leave it alone.

Webster/Harms - Now we come to a BDO player with an even smaller sample than Robson, not sure I want any piece of this with Mark being the very slight favourite - Harms was at least scoring alright which may give him darts against Webster, which he didn't really get against Wade until it was too late, while Webster wasn't great at all and could easily have lost 5-0 himself. Avoiding, if only because Harms may already think he's out. Then again, if that gives him no pressure...

van Barneveld/Smith-Neale - Adam had a couple of OK scoring legs and a couple of duff scoring legs to start against Smith, which was enough to put him 4-0 down, he fought back a bit but it was too late then, Barney was there or there abouts in the legs that Ratajski won, I'm thinking Barney showed enough that I don't want to bet on the new World Master, which I'll probably regret.

Wade/Brown - 0.25u Brown 5/2, sure Wade is winning of late but Wade is nowhere near that big of a favourite here. If he'd smashed Harms out of the park then maybe, but he didn't, Brown simply cannot miss as many doubles as he did last night though.

Smith/Ratajski - Had Smith at 65%, he's 8/15, seems good enough a line to me.

van Gerwen/Clayton - 0.1u Clayton 9/1, is Clayton more than a one in ten shot? Over a race to five? Maybe on current form this happens less than the season long projections suggest, which includes Clayton beating van Gerwen in a best of eleven, but hey, stranger things have happened and it's not as if Clayton hasn't played van Gerwen on TV before. It's close to a free hit for the Ferret knowing he'll come back against Robson last game regardless.

Anderson/White - 0.25u White 23/10, it's White on TV but he chucked well yesterday so he should win this more than the roughly 30% of the time he'd need to for this bet to be profitable.