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.

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