Friday, 28 December 2018

Worlds last 16 - Bottom Half, now sadly featuring Devon Petersen and Benito van de Pas

We're now about a 6/1 double away from that being a quarter final, jesus christ

(2) Rob Cross (1/4) v Luke Humphries (10/3)


It was one hell of a break between Cross taking down Jeffrey de Zwaan on the opening night in what was until yesterday the match of the tournament (Anderson/Dobey being one hell of a game and is must see TV), but there was no real sign of any rust developing as Rob strolled to a 4-0 victory over Cristo Reyes to book his place in the last sixteen. Luke Humphries, having come through an extra match and not starting until three days after Cross did, has had a bit more rhythm to his appearances, taking out Adam Hunt with relative ease, putting up an extremely impressive display to defeat a resurgent Stephen Bunting, before taking down a hit and miss Dimitri van den Bergh to reach unchartered territory. Rob's been the standout performer along with van Gerwen in the games he's played so far, winning the vast majority of the legs he's won in double quick time (it's bang on an average fifteen darts per leg) and still averaging over 97 in the legs he's lost for a 99+ overall points per turn so far, only van Gerwen is that high and nobody else breaks 94. Luke's not played bad at all, but is only just in the 90's for points per turn. The season long projections echo the line quite tightly - 1/4 Cross implies a bit less than an 80% chance once you take out the vig, over more recent projections Luke has more of a chance, rating at better than one in three, which makes sense if you think that Luke's best run apart from here came in the last Players Championship event, so while you might think that Luke could be value, Cross is playing too well. I wouldn't be surprised if this remains somewhat close and Humphries can nick a couple of sets, but with winning the throw making such a huge difference in correct score/handicap betting I can't suggest anything, one break of throw for Cross could be 4-1 or 4-2 dependent on who wins the bull.

Ryan Searle (9/2) v (10) Michael Smith (1/5)


The other game in that quarter sees Ryan Searle take on Michael Smith. Searle had a comfortable opening win against Stephen Burton, before surviving a Suljovic onslaught in the opening set to take the chances he was given and grab a big upset victory. Willie O'Connor would be his last 32 opponent and couldn't score enough to really threaten Ryan who's now in or close to the top fifty in the world, which given three months ago he was probably losing his tour card is remarkable. Smith's not been firing on all cylinders, taking out Meulenkamp first up without looking impressive while doing so, before being given a tough test by John Henderson yesterday, going 2-1 down in sets which all went to a deciding leg before running 9 from 10 to get home. Searle really has nothing to lose and for Smith it's mostly a case of not doing anything stupid - if he can get through this he'll face probably Cross for the right to be a huge favourite in a World Championship semi final regardless of opponent. Searle clearly can't be taken lightly given he's beaten a player ranked higher than Smith already, and I think I read it similarly to the Cross match - Searle taking a set or two wouldn't be a surprise, the projections point to tiny value for Ryan but not enough margin to go for the underdog. Smith's performance between rounds 2 and 3 trended up, and he seems to be having a lot more maturity in terms of getting wins when he should do over the past year or two.

Nathan Aspinall (4/7) v Devon Petersen (6/4)


In the bottom quarter, or as we like to call it, the wide open omnishambles quarter, former world youth finalist and Pro Tour winner Nathan Aspinall takes on Devon Petersen, who's single handedly sending me to the poor house, I think that rather than being down 10% on investment, if Jones had pinned any one of the six match darts he had in the opening round I'd be up 15%. Nathan easily dealt with Geert Nentjes before having a cracking come from behind win against Gerwyn Price, and made this stage by taking out Kyle Anderson in a solid game, Kyle didn't play badly, Aspinall just did a little bit better. Devon as mentioned survived a clutch of match darts in a deciding leg against Wayne Jones, before coming from two sets down against Ian White, who was playing incredible stuff in those sets, and then came from a set and a break down to Steve West, who had what was real comfortable scoring and fast finishing both desert him enough to allow the South African back into the game. Now the first question that needs asking is whether the projections are hugely underrating Petersen, and whether him playing terribly for the entire season should suddenly turn around in the course of a couple of weeks. If we look at what he's done so far, he's won less than half of the legs he has won in fifteen darts - people are letting him in. This isn't Petersen playing brilliantly, although in fairness to Devon five of those seventeen legs were twelve darters or better to be one of the few players above 10% in terms of legs won being within twelve. He's still a couple of points below Aspinall on all of winning, losing and overall points per turn in this tournament, and if I ran a projection based just on the 35 leg sample of legs they've each won, Aspinall still rates to win this game 70% of the time - which is more than enough to bet on. 0.5u Aspinall 4/7, I really should go higher but there's intangibles - Petersen's now secured his tour card so maybe the pressure is off, maybe Aspinall realises the huge opportunity that he has and crumbles under the pressure, I can't not bet but maybe being cautious and not going a full unit is appropriate.

(30) Benito van de Pas (15/8) v Brendan Dolan (8/15)


And so we come to our final game, and the highest seed left in this quarter was the lowest seed at the start of the event. Benito van de Pas overcame a dramatic fight against Jim Long, who missed a match dart, and then got by a deeply disappointing Toni Alcinas yesterday to reach a couple of rounds further than many pundits thought he would. Dolan is doing the same, with many people thinking that he'd easily beat the Chinese qualifier Liu, which he did, but then turned over an out of sorts Joe Cullen, before getting into a bit of a slugfest with Mervyn King, which didn't see fireworks, just plenty of "proper darts" from both players with Dolan racking up twelve legs in fifteen darts or better. If you'd have asked Brendan whether he'd be a near 2-1 favourite in the last sixteen three weeks ago, he's probably have laughed at you, but here we are. We should sanity check the Benito stats, given that like Petersen we've gone against him in all his games (although the Long game was a throwaway micro punt), so let's do that. Dolan, over the 29 and 33 leg samples that they've put up, actually projects to win more often than over the year long stats. Benito hasn't hit a single twelve darter all tournament and has more than 20% of the legs that he's won being in over eighteen darts - three in each game, you can excuse Long somewhat but Alcinas was letting him off good and proper - if Alcinas converts all of those, he wins the first set 3-1 rather than losing it by the same score, and the second set also goes to a decider. 0.5u Dolan 8/15, this is a good edge and Brendan is exactly the sort of professional veteran that will hoover up the opportunities that the Dutchman will surely give him.

Couple of quick thoughts on yesterday, other than what's been mentioned already - that Anderson/Dobey game was a classic, it's just a pity that Dobey had an off leg straight after the second break that allowed Ando to easily run it off against the darts. I think that coupled with the sorts of performances he was putting up at Minehead and on the floor are those that'll give him the belief that'll push him up into the top 32 and finally not finish on the wrong side of the line for the likes of the Matchplay etc. van Gerwen looked extremely good, Adie didn't do a great deal wrong in fairness and if he had a couple of bounces go the right way in the mid stages of the match he could have kept it a bit more interesting, but you can't do much against someone that wins 12 of 14 legs in fifteen darts, half of those being in twelve. As someone pointed out on Twitter, Adie lost four legs because he didn't throw a nine darter. That's kind of tough to play against.

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