Monday 30 December 2019

Brief fantasy update

With nobody having selected Peter Wright (honestly? 266 points so far is a pretty nice haul given that nobody else that was picked got over 200 other than Aspinall), the winner of the event and the whole fifteen quid worth of dartscorner vouchers comes down to whoever has the best van Gerwen entry, and whoever has the best non-van Gerwen entry if they're ahead. So it's a two horse race - Andrew Francis is done and has 538 points on the board, with his team of Gerwyn Price, Nathan Aspinall, Mervyn King and Ryan Searle performing very well, and the only player that can deny him the prize is kingweed, who has van Gerwen still to play, but is nearly 200 points behind, so is more or less reliant on MvG hitting multiple nine darters to try to claw back what looks like a nearly insurmountable deficit.

Shame about James T, he'd pinned all of Lewis, Dobey, Humphries and van den Bergh, but went over the budget by ten points, so if he'd have left Matt Edgar on the bench then he'd have been clearly ahead, but oh well, what can you do.

Yet another BDO facepalm

There's a letter being distributed around Twitter right now, which is basically saying:

- They have no sponsor
- They've pissed away a shitload of money to a company that was supposed to get them sponsors, but oddly enough nobody is actually interested in getting involved with the current clusterfuck that is the BDO
- Five out of every six tickets for Lakeside the O2 are currently unsold, which given the prices (the cheapest I can see for their Friday night session is a remarkable £46, which is a tenner more than what I paid for the PDC worlds for a Friday night session) should come as no surprise whatsoever
- As such, the supposed ladies' prize pool increase is actually a decrease, and the men's event is similarly reduced in value

The hilarious thing is that Jacklin is somehow still blaming all this on "social media". I've not seen anyone so deluded as to what the problem is since one half of Labour not thinking that Corbyn is unelectable, and the other half of Labour not thinking that it's anything to do with their non-existant Brexit stance. For fuck's sake. If Des is still in his post this time next month I'll be stunned. Got to be at least a 4/1 shot that there is a BDO worlds in 2021 at this stage, they're more or less done, no idea what the PDC's discussions with the WDF have been as supposedly mentioned of recent, but you've got to think it's something to do with how to co-operate in a post-BDO era.

Anyway, the truth will out soon enough.

Worlds day 15 no bets

Slightly different post title, primarily on account of there being nothing I like. MvG first, and every stat I look at is pointing at around an 80/20 split in favour of the Dutchman, the 5/1 on Aspinall is moderately tempting, but it's surely a step too far and it's not that much of an edge. If it was 6/1, 13/2 or there abouts I might have a tiny stab, but that'd be about it. In the second one, I think the market's correctly adapted to Wright actually being quite good at darts after his emphatic performance against Luke Humphries, and being priced around a 55% underdog seems fine to me. I think it's more or less a coinflip, the best we have available is 13/10, that's not quite enough to recommend a bet, but it's not far off.

Generally it's a gun to head situation we take the underdogs. It isn't though, so we can just avoid the question completely. I think if you simply must have some action, then Wright +3.5 sets on Betfred has a bit more of a favourable price than most other bookies at 3/10, it's a big short odds I know, but I can't see Price blasting his way to a 6-2 or better victory.

One thing to mention - with only Nathan Aspinall left that wasn't a Premier League player, the Second/Third Division Darts seasons have come to a conclusion - in the second division, Ian White retains his title, a full point clear of Krzysztof Ratajski, with Jonny Clayton being the only other player to be over 50% of points won. In the second tier, a late run by Dimitri van den Bergh wasn't quite enough to displace Nathan Aspinall at the top, picking up an easy win over Josh Payne and running Nathan himself close enough, Nathan does win it by less than two tenths of a point, while Keegan Brown and Max Hopp are also within half a point of the leaders. Who actually goes where as a result is still a bit unclear - I'm assuming that none of the top three in the second division actually get in the Premier League, while one (or both?) of the top two in the third division do, until Wednesday night it's going to be difficult to say for certain what the lineup will be, as nobody knows what the PDC are actually going to do with it.

Edit - I've just noticed that Hearn's said they're repeating the contenders. Presumably to avoid them having to make tough decisions and/or to give Sherrock even more airtime.

As an aside, has anyone made their mind up as to whether Toni Alcinas has a tour card or not?

Sunday 29 December 2019

Worlds day 14 bets

And then there were eight, nice little 3/4 pickup yesterday, only Kim Huybrechts letting us down (who apparently went on a bit of a rant on Dutch TV after the game, but less said about that the better), there's a couple of surprising names to have got this far, so let's take a look at our quarter final lineup:

Aspinall v van den Bergh - We start off with what looks to me to be the most interesting quarter final, I don't really know why they couldn't have switched this to the evening session but it is what it is, Aspinall beat Anderson to reach here in an encounter which was pretty close throughout, whereas Dimitri needed to come from behind to knock out Adrian Lewis. The market favours Aspinall by more than 60/40 to repeat last year's semi final performance - I think these might be a bit more evenly matched than that, although Nathan's play in more recent months appears somewhat improved compared to the year long stats - there, Dimitri was winning quicker overall than Aspinall was, but losing much worse, now he's tightened up consistency but is just a little bit below on all categories. Tough one, 13/8 for the Belgian kind of feels right, but looking into more advanced stats just for this tournament we can see Dimitri's been gifted a very high proportion of slow legs, which is something I don't think Aspinall will do here. No bet, but it's close.

Humphries v Wright - Peter very nearly threw it all away against Jeffrey de Zwaan, going from a 3-0 in sets and 2-0 in legs lead to needing a tiebreaker to advance to the quarters, whereas Luke, after losing a first set in which he had three clear at tops to win, put away a fairly disappointing Huybrechts to win 4-1. Market has a lot of vig on it, but it's favouring Snakebite by around the 2-1 margin, and I think we need to go with class being permanent here - 0.25u Wright 5/11, this is a fairly small play given the odds we're getting, but while Wright's still scoring a couple of points better than Humphries in this tournament, Luke's peak level is close enough that I want to err on the side of caution. More or less any period up until extremely short form-based rates this as 4-1 in favour of Wright, but Peter hasn't been quite at his best in this event, Luke's winning leg speed has an extremely similar profile to Peter's - albeit his losing legs are over five points a turn worse.

van Gerwen v Labanauskas - Do I really need to look at this one? Year long, van Gerwen's over 90% to win easily. From the Matchplay inclusive onwards, it's 95%. That's more or less perfectly on the 1/20 he's priced at. Apart from possibly the Joyce match last year, when was the last time we had a less interesting quarter final? Taylor/Stompe in 2009 maybe?

Durrant v Price - This is probably the highest quality quarter final, Glen got past Chris Dobey in a deciding set, while Price was kept honest by Whitlock, but it never really felt like he was in any kind of danger. Price is going to have to go back to his on game that we saw against Hendo, not the off games that sandwiched them, while Glen's going to have to keep doing what Glen does, always staying in the position where he can threaten to take most legs in fifteen darts. The market is fairly similar to the Wright game, with the Welshman being about a 2-1 favourite, slightly more in fact, which I think is ever so slightly too short, with most larger samples floating around 64%, 62%, 65%, 67%, that sort of area, although over more recent months, where we'd think Price's form has increased, we see something quite odd - if I show what the master computer is spitting out for the last three months:

They can't be split. It really is too close to call. Price obviously has a much larger sample size, but there's really nothing to pick between the two, so with Price not having looked that great in a couple of games, and with this being probably the biggest game of his life (whereas Glen's played and won games of this length previously), I think we can stab at 0.25u Durrant 11/5, sure it's possible that Price just shows up, averages 108 and races into a huge lead, but that outcome is already factored in. With the longer samples showing that he is a bit too short, although not short enough that we'd ordinarily bet, I think this punt is fine.

Semi final bets tomorrow, unless Man City lose in which case I'll probably still be drunk.

Saturday 28 December 2019

Worlds day 13 bets

Durrant tip safely enough in, looked a little bit hairy for a while but he came through strong when it counted, today we'll know our complete quarter final lineup. One other note on yesterday, which goes back to something I posted on over the break - with Anderson losing in the last sixteen, does he have any Premier League claim whatsoever? Apart from getting what was a pretty easy passage through to the last eight of the Grand Slam and winning the World Cup, has he done anything at all that warrants a Premier League spot? Are Sky going to just use the Barney rule and invite Gary due to popularity when his performances don't warrant it? I kind of hope that Gary says he's not interested in just accumulation of more money and rules himself out, concentrating on the few ranked events he actually plays, but we'll see. In any case, Aspinall surely has to be a lock now. It was probably 98-99% before, but that remaining sliver of doubt is gone now.

Beaton v Labanauskas - Wow, what an opportunity for both these players, Beaton having looked solid enough against Kyle Anderson and James Wade without ever really hitting massive heights, some nice outshots aside, while Labanauskas got rid of Matt Edgar, Ian White in a great showing, and then Max Hopp in a fairly close affair. Market thinks this is incredibly tight, and I tend to agree - apart from a couple of weird samples where Darius appears to have a substantial edge from around April-May onwards, it's generally looking like either a coinflip, or Beaton having a 50-55% edge, which given the pricing isn't really enough to consider a bet here. Both will surely be treating it as a final.

Huybrechts v Humphries - Big shot in the other half of the draw here, Kim's come through a real close game with Nentjes, cleaned out a somewhat below par Rob Cross before being just that little bit better against Danny Noppert, while Luke looked solid against Devon Petersen, took out Wattimena in a match that went all the way, then experience told against young German upstart Nico Kurz. Luke is interestingly favoured, at around 60/40 - and I think we have a punt, 0.25u Huybrechts 6/4, on very long season long stats this seems about 57-58% in favour of Humphries, that in itself isn't enough to consider, but from say May onwards it's either 50/50, or the Belgian has a small edge, so I think we need to take the price here.

van den Bergh v Lewis - Winner of this will face Aspinall in what'd be a very interesting quarter final, Dimitri looked spectacular against Payne before being dragged down against Luke Woodhouse, while Adie needed to come from behind against Cristo Reyes and then had another game go the distance in one of the matches of the tournament against Darren Webster, Market has this evens for all intents and purposes, so 0.25u van den Bergh 10/11, he's simply played that much better than Lewis throughout the whole year, and surely Lewis having been through two really tough matches will have taken a bit out of him against the younger, fresher player. Projections show Dimitri at over 60% throughout, and we can't even say that's all inconsistency, take out the first few months and Dimitri's figure, while still a bit more than the tour average, does drop quite a bit, and Adie's actually overtakes it.

Wright v de Zwaan - Boy, this one is going to be incredible if both players turn up. Wright hasn't really got out of third gear in taking out the Asian pairing of Malicdem and Asada, but just doing enough to get through, but while de Zwaan was a bit mediocre in scraping over the line against Darin Young, he was incredible against Dave Chisnall with one of the performances of the tournament so far. The bookies can barely separate them with Jeffrey just the right side of evens from a punters' perspective, but I think we have to go with 0.25u Wright 5/6, it's only up until very, very recently that this doesn't project as an easy 2-1 game in favour of Peter (or better), Jeffrey's level of play in this tournament is obviously a huge concern, but will he be starting to think ahead a bit? Wright's obviously been here a lot more often than Jeffrey has, if de Zwaan wins this he should be a big favourite in the quarters, possibly (probably?) get into the Premier League, certainly be live in the semis... this could possibly be the biggest match of his life, how will he react?

Durrant v Dobey - Glen got through a struggle against Gurney yesterday where nobody could hold their throw for long enough more or less right up until the point where Glen was throwing for the match, this was after an easy enough win over Damon Heta, by contrast Dobey averaged over a ton in a great performance against Fallon Sherrock, who continued her own great form for 3-4 sets before Chris pulled away, Dobey having previously got away with one against Ron Meulenkamp. Market has Glen as favourite, but not by much at 8/11, it's rightly recognising that Chris is very good, but he's not that good - 0.25u Durrant 8/11, Glen's projecting at a 2-1 favourite, or better, in more or less any sample I care to look at, and if you're looking at Chris's averages in this tournament, they are seriously inflated by running into players hitting big legs against him on a regular basis - apart from Michael Smith nobody has a higher losing average than Dobey in this event. Glen's won around the same proportion of legs as Chris and has won them faster.

Price v Whitlock - Final game of the event and I don't really feel the need to go into a great amount of detail, Price was an easy winner over Hendo yesterday after a mediocre performance against O'Connor, while Whitlock, after an easy win over Ward, looked pretty mediocre throughout against King, it's only that King simply fell apart after five legs. Simon's so hugely outclassed here, the line of 2/13 on Price does not look unfair in the slightest.

Quarter final tips to follow tomorrow morning.

Friday 27 December 2019

Worlds day 12 bets

Post-Christmas now, and we're really filtering the field down now - 30% will go today, over 40% tomorrow, then it halves down from there. Six games today, closing out the round of 32 and getting our first couple of quarter finalists, what do we like here?

Whitlock v King - Enormous amount of experience on show here. Combined age of over 100, but both players still going strong in the top 20 in the world, although while Whitlock appears to be trending downwards to some degree, King's staying at a good level and getting decent TV results. Whitlock had few troubles with Harry Ward in the first round, whereas Mervyn got into a swingy match against Ciaran Teehan, just coming through in a deciding set. The market can barely separate them, having King only just over evens and Whitlock just the other side. I think I can avoid this one, although Mervyn is very tempting - he's close to around 60/40, fluctuating down to around 55/45 over longer samples, but from around the Matchplay onwards, it's closer to 50/50, and with King there's always the underlying question of whether he can hold out physically for what's now a best of seven match.

Gurney v Durrant - Now here's the match of the third round, although there's plenty of games that have put down markers that'll prove hard to beat. Neither dropped a set in the opening round, both averaged around the same, and the market can't split the two. I think I have to go with 0.25u Durrant 19/20, I've talked about Gurney having a consistency advantage, but against Durrant, who's also very much on the better side of that metric (against a database-wide season long sample of 4.9, Daryl is at 2.2 to Glen's 3.1), I think a bunch of that underrating in the projections, which go of winning legs, is negated, and Glen's higher overall scoring will see him get home here just enough that we have an edge on the game. Heck, from after the Matchplay, Glen's consistency is actually better than Daryl's, so we'll definitely go with it.

Dobey v Sherrock - The entirely of this match comes down to two questions, given that Dobey is not that far off the quality of player that Fallon's already beaten. I'm ignoring the crowd being one-sided dicks, as that's taken for granted. The first is whether Fallon can keep this going over an extended best of seven length, which is uncharted territory for her. We just don't know, but we have to assume she will have prepared for it. The second is whether she can keep pinning what Burton was saying as a large number of doubles last dart in hand - by the looks of things, nine from the eleven she hit were with the last dart. That seems unsustainable. Big questions, and while her winning points per turn is actually higher than Dobey's, the overall points per turn is about four points lower, so with the line being 9/2, I think there's no real value in the game. Chris should win, Fallon isn't without chances, but the chances are, in my eyes, correctly evaluated.

Price v Henderson - Gerwyn will be hoping he's not dragged into such a tight game as he was in his opening round against O'Connor (oh, what would have happened if Willie didn't miscount in the tiebreak), while Henderson will be hoping that Price continues to play a bit below par and that he can throw to the level he did against James Richardson in his first game straight sets win. The line is about the same as the Dobey/Sherrock line, which I think is fair enough. The projections I have are putting Price in the low to mid 80% range of chances to round off the last sixteen lineup, so I can't see any true value here.

Anderson v Aspinall - Into round four and we get, unless both Price and Whitlock advance earlier, the only last sixteen match featuring two top sixteen seeds, both having fairly similar routes - easy enough game in round two (Aspinall's looked easier on paper but, with how their opponents played, was tougher on the actual oche), while both got into a 4-3 battle in round three, Ando needing to come from behind as Searle's game collapsed, whereas Nathan needed to see off a roaring comeback from Krzysztof Ratajski. Ando's scored ever so slightly more in this tournament than Nathan, Aspinall winning significantly quicker being counteracted by Anderson scoring significantly heavier when losing legs, so this should be close and the market reflects this. It's hard to truly call this given Gary's limited sample throughout the year, but what we do have tends to agree with the line - Nathan's 6/5 and he does project to be a small underdog.

van Gerwen v Bunting - Interesting one here, Michael's yet to really hit his true heights in his first two games, whereas Bunting had one very close game against Perales, and then one not so much against Jonny Clayton. We're obviously not backing van Gerwen at 1/10 given Bunting passes a de minimis test of competence, but Stephen at 7/1? Can we? No is the simple answer. The worst projection I see for van Gerwen is winning around 85% of the time, and it gets up to over 90% if we look at the last three months of play. It's a test of your belief in Bunting's levels - if he does play like he did at times in Minehead and as he did against Clayton, he can certainly get this to 1-1, 2-2 in sets and then who knows. I'm being objective and ignoring it, but if you want to go with Stephen (on the handicaps it might be even better, Bunting +3.5 sets is available at 4/7 which I think I'll have a non-tracked bit of), then go right ahead, don't let me stop you.

Back later this evening for tomorrow's remaining round four matches - I might split the post and get the afternoon session, which we know the line up for, out of the way early, and then the evening session later on.

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Ally Pally trip report & Premier League thoughts

Everyone loves a good trip report, so let's have a bit of waffle about Friday's evening session.

I wasn't initially intending on going to the worlds any time soon, but the Premier League putting out fixtures that sent us down to Brighton during the worlds meant it was a no brainer - take the Friday afternoon off work, watch the darts, stop over in London and then do the football the day after (praying that Sky etc didn't move our game for TV, which they didn't).

Trip down was relatively uneventful, whoever's running Virgin's trains nowadays even having surplus bacon rolls available on my train down which they were giving away outside of first class, which was nice. Quick beer in the Euston Tap on arrival, before checking into hotel by Tottenham Hale tube, then kicking across to Ally Pally.

Quick Victoria/Piccadilly line change up to Wood Green, and there's plenty of people heading up the escalators doing the usual darts chants, mostly German which makes sense, although I wouldn't find out until later just how German-populated the event would be. Work out what bus stop we needed, pile on and after a shortish uphill drive we're dropped right outside the venue. Excessive entry searches ensued (I can only assume in retrospect they were searching for coke and other illicit substances), then once in, I pick up a payment card, grab a beer (£5.50 Amstel, jesus) and some tea, and sit down in the fan village bit with some people who had come over from Gladbach (Rheydt more accurately), before having a wander round. Hills had more or less a full bookies setup, not really sure who wants to come to the darts and then bet on the all weather at Wolverhampton, similarly I'm not sure who would want to pay twenty quid for a photo with Colin Lloyd and a trophy he's never won, but there you do.

Anyway, into the arena, and my seat's nowhere as near to the stage as I thought it was when I booked it, being more or less in the back left corner if you were looking out from the stage. It was on the exact angle where it goes from the seating being side on to being diagonal to the stage, and there is nowhere near enough legroom to compensate. Don't buy tickets anywhere near here if it can be avoided. Was still a good forty minutes before the first game on and fairly sparsely populated at this stage, was a couple of people on my row, I forget exactly where they were from but I seem to recall somewhere between Mannheim and Karlsruhe, a few rows behind me are the guys in the brilliant "car wash" fancy dress which I don't know if it made it to TV (I think it did to German TV, certainly saw both ARD and sport1 floating around near where I was and one of them bagged them), the Oompa Loompas were also nearby. First game kicks off, a few people from Hannover grab the front row right in front of me, was a decent enough game, plenty of people singing along to Aspinall's walk on which he played up a little bit too much for my liking. The Queen downs a pint (if you ever hear the crowd going ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, WHEY! it's someone being challenged to down a pint and then being successful, context of which is never picked up on Sky obv). A couple of lads from Dresden take the spare seats next to me just as the Aspinall game finished, I reload on beers as we get the Cullen/Kurz match starting.

Now from here, it was like playing in Germany. It was a super partisan crowd - well behaved, it wasn't as if people were booing Cullen as we saw for Evetts and Suljovic earlier, but it was certainly extremely pro-Kurz. Similar followed for Hopp against van de Pas, beers were flowing, managed to see one guy get carted out by about eight stewards which is surely included in the price of the ticket, then we get onto the epic Wright/Malicdem game. How Noel didn't manage to finish the game off, I don't know, he just had some sloppy visits in the key moments in the final set when he'd been able to get a lead, but my god, the reaction to the 140 out from Wright was incredible.

Match eventually finishes, grab a bus in the direction of Finsbury Park with the entirety of the top deck singing random songs about potato salad and how half of the Ruhrpott teams are terrible, finally getting back to the hotel for about one. Would definitely say that any darts fan needs to experience it once, but personally I'd much rather go for a European Tour session, where you're getting more games, less downtime, it's cheaper and the crowd's a bit more darts orientated.

To the second part of the post. What the fuck are they going to do about the Premier League this year? Let's post the FRH top 20 as it is right now:

You've got to think that the top five are locks based on a combination of general play and popularity. Then what? Gurney I think surely remains based on possession, having won a Euro Tour, three major semi finals (if you include the Premier League itself), and he seems a popular enough player. Chisnall was looking like he was close to doing enough, having made a major final and having won a Euro Tour, but I kind of get the impression that he needed to do a bit more than he did do at the worlds to seal the deal, so I think he's currently on the outside looking in. If I skip past Wade for a second, Aspinall surely has to be close to a lock having won a major and another TV title, and probably being the most likely player to win his quarter at the worlds right now. Wade? He did it on the tour, but it was all earlier in the year and he's done little on TV. White was getting close having finally made a TV semi final but needed to do a lot more at the worlds.

That just gives us seven right now. Let's look outside the FRH top ten - do they invite back Gary Anderson? Would he take an invite if offered, or concentrate on ranked events? Do they even invite him based on anything other than popularity? If he loses to Aspinall, what's he actually done this year? It's got to be very close for Durrant, he's made three major semis, is still alive, if he can push past Gurney and then (probably) Dobey, it's going to be extremely hard to leave him out. Then who? Suljovic surely played himself out losing to Sherrock. Lewis has done little all year, but at least has been at that level previously, is still alive, and is in a winnable quarter. They surely never invite Ratajski for similar reasons to why they didn't invite Suljovic for ages. Bunting - if he can shock MvG and then win through to the semis, then maybe? Cullen, Whitlock and Clayton all seem hugely unrealistic. Dobey's been doing it on TV, maybe he's in with an outside shot if he makes no mistakes against Sherrock, can turn over the winner of the Durrant match (which doesn't seem completely unrealistic), then hang around with Price in the quarters. Who knows. Other than that, you're more or less looking at someone who's still in the worlds who can make a miracle run. de Zwaan's playing well enough that he could turn over Wright and make a semi. Probably too soon for both Dimitri and Luke Humphries, and I don't think the PDC want to be chucking them in as a result. I can't see anyone else.

So what do they do, unless they pick the likes of Wade and maintain the status quo? I don't think they can seriously repeat the Contenders gimmick without rehashing a lot of players that did it in the previous year, which loses a lot of the novelty. If they were going to do a year where they had a play-in event for eight players that were on the borderline, surely it's this year. I guess they just invite Sherrock and be done with it?

Sunday 22 December 2019

Worlds day 11 bets

Final day before Christmas incoming, and we'll trim the field down to 20 who'll come back for the title from Friday onwards, suppose the only real big surprise today was Wade going out to Steve Beaton, while both our bets lost (still frustrated about how Ratajski simply couldn't follow up a break with a hold, Clayton just never got going), neither of them were those we thought were locks, more close games where we thought we had enough of a lean one way or another. To Monday we go, six more games incoming:

Kurz v Humphries - Huge chance for either of these given the winner plays Kim Huybrechts, we could potentially see this one for years to come. Kurz only played Friday, whereas Humphries has had much more of a break after taking out Petersen then Wattimena pretty early on in the event. Odds are in favour of the world youth champion, as you might expect, but only at 4/7, which I think is fair enough. We've not got much of anything on Kurz beyond this event, and in this event he's scoring about a point and a half less per turn than Humphries is. Over a game of this length I think that's enough, Luke does have the advantage of course and distance here, whereas it's clearly going to be the longest game of Nico's short career. Will leave it alone.

Lewis v Webster - Now here we've got two players with a lot more experience and data. Webster looked pretty decent for the first time in a while over Yamada, whereas Lewis got in a real slugfest with Cristo Reyes in which, while lucky to come out on the winning side, he showed some signs of what we know he can do. Lewis is the favourite, but nowhere near as much as I thought - it's about 60/40. Overreaction to their first games? Maybe. Then again, as mediocre as Darren's been all year, I'm not seeing enough of an edge for Lewis in enough time periods to make me want to bet on Adie. It fluctuates from just a bit over 60% to near 70%, so if their first round games had have turned out the other way, I might have gone with it, but if Webster's turned enough around that he is playing better than he has done for a while, any perceived edge goes away. No bet again.

Woodhouse v van den Bergh - Seems like it's a long time again since we saw Luke dump Michael Smith out, whereas it was only yesterday where Dimitri lit things up with a three figure average over Josh Payne. There's enough credit given to Luke that the Belgian, while he's the favourite, isn't even 1/2 to take it. I think that there's enough combination of Woodhouse's quality and Dimitri's propensity to have real bad games from nowhere that it looks a fair line.

Chisnall v de Zwaan - This could be the game of the day (if it's not this one, it's the last one), could be 180's and general high scoring everywhere. Both had some struggles getting through, Jeffrey more so, but averaged pretty similarly. Line's about the same as the last one with Chizzy around 65/35, which is another one that I think I can avoid. Season long I might have looked at de Zwaan, with the projections for long run samples getting near to 60/40, but the projections gravitate towards where the line is actually at once we get down to in and around the Matchplay onwards. Moving on then.

Anderson v Searle - Gary had no issues with a bit below par Brendan Dolan, whereas Searle played really well in the second round against Steve West in a game where he needed to play well, otherwise it might have been a bit closer than the 3-0 set scoreline suggests. Gary's 4/11, that looks about right to me. Season long the projections look just fine, over the last 4-6 months it swings a bit more towards Searle, with Ryan maybe getting about a 40% shot, but over the last few months he's not been winning too many and has been wildly inconsistent. If Ryan can play as well as he did in the previous round and drag Gary into a longer game, then maybe he has a shot, but I won't be punting on it.

Wright v Asada - After one of the games of the year, Peter's in against another Asian Tour player in Asada, and is simply too short. 0.1u Asada 11/2. Peter was not underperforming in the slightest on Friday, he simply got tested heavily by someone in Noel Malicdem who's comparable to Seigo in strength, and we only need a combination of Seigo hitting peak form and/or Wright having a bit of an off day to work 20% of the time for this to look really good.

That's your lot for before the break - wishing all readers a happy holiday period, I might pop back at some point before Friday to trip report Ally Pally if I have the time, but if not, I will be back with tips for Friday's matches.

Worlds day 10 bets

Hard to think a sixth of the field has gone since the last time I made a tips post, but they've got 96 players to work through and it has to be a bit fast and furious initially. You know you're getting towards the business end when they cut back to three games per day, as they have today, and we'll see Michael van Gerwen be the first player to reach the last sixteen, unless Ricky Evans can pull off a monumental upset (afternoon edit - whoops, these are all actually last 32 games, was looking a couple of days ahead to where there's a mix between two rounds). Before that one, we've got five games to look at, so let's look from the top.

Clayton v Bunting - Jonny was really good against Jan Dekker on Friday afternoon, only giving up the three legs, scoring heavily, not missing doubles, the 95 average probably being a fair reflection, while Bunting has had a couple of extra days rest following his titanic struggle with Jose Justicia, which he could probably have needed. The bookies have this even for all intents and purposes, neither player being even as long as evens, and while you'd expect that from a 16 v 17 seed matchup, I don't think it's that close. 0.25u Clayton 19/20, he's projecting at around a 60/40 favourite, if not a little bit better, in all but the most recent of recent samples, if how Bunting did at Minehead worries you, then fair enough, but at the same time, it's always been just glimpses for Stephen, he needed an 84 checkout on the bull to prevent a guy who's just lost his tour card from beating him in the previous round.

Labanauskas v Hopp - Max's game against Benito was a serious grind on Friday night, at least that's what it felt like at the venue - while I never really felt van de Pas was playing at Hopp's level, he was just about doing enough to stay around and force the last set. Darius meanwhile has had a whole week off after his shock victory over Ian White, a game that could only really be described as perfect timing - it's pretty hard to score eight maximums, hit >50% on doubles and average 100 and lose. The market also has this as very close, possibly on account of that win from the Lithuanian, and this seems almost about right. Season long this is nearly 60/40, but trim off the first month or so and it's either a flip, or there's only a very marginal edge with Hopp being 10/11, so I can avoid this one I think.

Aspinall v Ratajski - Nathan looked pretty good on Friday it has to be said, against a real potential banana skin in Danny Baggish, while Ratajski didn't look that great against Lerchbacher, at least on normal metrics, although after the first two legs of the second set he didn't need more than fifteen darts to win any of the eight legs he took, finding the extra gear. He can't afford to take a set off like he did in the opener, but now that he's finally got a win on the stage, I don't think he does - 0.25u Ratajski 13/10, all the projections I see have it between the range of 50/50, or 55/45 in favour of the Pole, so to get a small odds against advantage seems enough to go with.

Wade v Beaton - James had no trouble with Ritchie Edhouse, at least in terms of the overall set score, Edhouse did win five legs in a 3-0 set loss and average more than Wade, he just missed way, way too many doubles. Beaton looked magnificent in places in his win over Kyle Anderson, hitting treble 20 a lot and hitting some big outs, but only ending averaging 92. Odd game. This is one of only two games today where there's a significant favourite with Wade being about 70/30 in the market's eyes, that I think is pretty much bang on the money, at least season long, so I'll pass, although the one caveat I'll add before you put Wade into an accumulator is that if you look at the Matchplay onwards, it looks a bit more like 60/40 after Wade's best spell drops off the sample, so be cautious if you simply must bet.

Huybrechts v Noppert - All-Euro clash, as Kim comes off a surprise (in the general public's eyes, we of course backed it) victory over a Rob Cross who really wasn't at the races, while Danny Noppert got through a decent test against upcoming talent Callan Rydz in a five setter. Noppert is a small favourite, although it's only in the 60/40 range, which is where I'd have put it without looking at the stats. The stats are a bit variable - depending on what period you're looking at, it floats between two to one in favour of Noppert, to just 55/45 in favour of the Dutchman. I'd have thought we might have a bit of an opportunity here given Kim's last win and given that Noppert, despite being a former Lakeside finalist and now PDC TV finalist, always seems a bit underrated, but I guess not.

van Gerwen v Evans - Seems a while since that game against Klaasen, doesn't it? That's because it was. Only question here is whether Ricky can do a bit more of what he did on Friday afternoon against McGeeney, at least after the first set where he was more or less gifted it and didn't need to get out of first gear. If he can do what he did in the last two legs for a run of about an hour, then who knows? I know not to put any hard earned cash on it, Evans is 9/1, which is only the tiniest of tiny value, and if you look from around May or June onwards, after which Evans hasn't really been on it, van Gerwen projects to win over 90% of the time, so any tiny value evaporates. Just leave the game alone.

Fantasy scoring is now updated after a couple of days away by the way. Monday tips to follow later.

Friday 20 December 2019

So I'm at Ally Pally

Some quick thoughts:

- Payment card system works alright. Not sure why they couldn't get it working in such a way that we could just use our existing contactless cards, but there's probably some technical reason why. Took no time at all to pick one up, so fair enough I get
- Hills are plugging their betting stalls a lot obv
- That's the most ridiculous level of search I've ever seen, puts the TSA to shame. I'm pretty sure I can't actually fit a tactical nuke in my wallet, but if I tried, they'd have found it

Didn't get chance to see any of the afternoon session, but glad to see that Clayton's level of dominance was as expected, shame Teehan couldn't complete the comeback, seems entirely possible that van Gerwen doesn't lose a leg in the third round, and rumours of Darren Webster's demise seem a bit premature.

Might be back later tonight with post session thoughts, we'll see.

Thursday 19 December 2019

Worlds day 9 bets

Brown v Asada - I'm pretty sure that this isn't the game that Keegan would have wanted before the draw, but it is what it is, and they can't be separated in the market. That appears alright to me, Keegan's a quality operator these days, but Seigo's incredibly talented and if he can avoid starting a little bit sluggishly as he did against Mansell, then he's got every chance. Avoiding this game but it should be very tight.

Whitlock v Ward - Would normally be looking at an auto-Whitlock lay with the Aussie at nearly 1/3, but this is one of those odd spots where we're not going to do so. Harry's been better than the line throughout the year, but the quality's front loaded and after the first few months have gone, projections really don't like his chances at all. Won't bet this one, Ward's first round win was ground out and lacked enough quality to make me think he can get through Simon in this one.

West v Searle - Coinflip in the market. That looks alright to me. Over year long samples, this appears about 55%, 60% in favour of Steve, trim it down a bit and it goes the other way. Neither's done a huge amount this year that gives me much confidence in their ability to get over the line if this gets into a drawn out affair which is frankly threatened, so I'll take the safe option and not touch the game with a barge pole.

Lewis v Reyes - Simple one to analyse this, the line is at 2-1 in favour of the Stokie, which is too much. Cristo's not been brilliant this year, but to say Adie has would be an exaggeration, this is more of a 60/40 game in my eyes, or possibly closer, that Reyes has managed to get through a real tough game in the opening round can only help. 0.25u Reyes 2/1.

Gurney v Pipe - Wish we were talking about Gurney against Pratnemer, oh well, it is what it is and the market's at near 75/25 in favour of the Irishman. That's too much, Justin's been playing too well all season and is not that far off Daryl at all. Like Cristo, he's also come through a tough game (albeit against someone not quite so highly regarded, but you wouldn't think that on performances), and that's got to boost confidence hugely. 0.25u Pipe 11/4, seems very much worth the shot.

Durrant v Heta - The game I think a lot of people were waiting for, regardless of who came through the opening round to face Glen. It's Damon, and his opening round game was very solid, if not spectacular (although if he'd pinned a couple of big outshots we might be saying something very different). Damon's 9/4, is Glen that much better than Jose de Sousa that we shouldn't pile on Damon again at more or less the same line? He's not *that* much better, but it's enough that it looks fair.

van den Bergh v Payne - This game is priced close? Really? 0.5u van den Bergh 4/5, Josh is pure and simply considerably worse than Dimitri, and unless I've missed some serious news on the Belgian I don't see how this isn't an automatic lump on.

Suljovic v Sherrock - 0.1u Sherrock 8/1, what the hell, it's a big price and to say she can't repeat it twice in a row about 15% of the time isn't ridiculous. Mensur's a step up from Evetts, but not that much of a step up. Go with the tiny sizing to give a bit of interest, her performance in round one was a lot better than a lot of people that came through.

Worlds day 8 bets

Thank fuck Noppert got us out of today's hole to some degree. Also, as I posted on Twitter just now, if Barry really wants to give the ladies opportunities to prove themselves against the men, why doesn't he just offer the BDO world champ a tour card? One card out of 128 (suppose it becomes two after a year) is no worse than reserving two places in a field of 96 to your premier event, if you're the best of the best in your particular field, then why not say you have two years to prove you can cut it week in week out. If convincing is needed, just waive any tour card holders can't play in BDO televised events (if they still exist in six months) for ladies' events.

Day 8, and it's the day I'm there! Pretty excited I have to say, although I really wanted to see Hopp v Clemens. Fuck you Benito. What do we actually have?

Webster v Yamada - While it's incredibly tempting to just bet on Yamada on account of him not being Darren Webster, and 10/3 is awfully tempting, I'm not sure he really did enough in the opening game to make me think he can nick this enough to make this a sensible investment. It wouldn't surprise me if he did, but I think Darren's game is still just about solid enough that he ought to close this game out round about where the line is.

King v Teehan - This is a tough one to call. Ciaran's price at just the right side of 2/1. Given everything we've seen of King over the year, and the limited amount we've seen from Ciaran prior to this tournament, I'd be tempted with a bit of Mervyn here, but Teehan looked a fair bit better in the first round than he has done previously. Gun to my head I probably still think Mervyn's the better side, but there's enough uncertainty to avoid the whole spot.

Clayton v Dekker - Jan's straight back tomorrow against Jonny Clayton, and he's only 2/1? That's pretty comical if you ask me, 0.5u Clayton 5/11, regular readers will know that I'm of the opinion that Jonny's underrated generally speaking, and this continues here, this looks like more of a 75/25 or 80/20 game looking at all the evidence. Jan didn't do anything special this afternoon to make me think otherwise.

Evans v McGeeney - Good old tour card on tour card violence here, and the market has it quite close, with Ricky being just the tiny favourite. I can see where they're coming at with this one, Evans only just scraped into the seedings and McGeeney has form over longer formats, but it looks round about correct to me. Maybe there's the slightest of value on Mark, but it's really not worth pushing.

Aspinall v Baggish - To the evening we go and I'll probably be half cut by this stage, Nathan's the big favourite here, so naturally it's correct to look at whether Danny can pull this out often enough. I'm inclined to say no - he got several of his legs in scrappy, slow affairs, which he simply won't (or, at least, shouldn't) be able to do against someone of Nathan's calibre. Plus, I really can't back against a Stockport native when I'm there.

Cullen v Kurz - Wow. This is a lot closer than I thought it would be. Cullen's the right side of 1/2? Nico played well, but I'm not sure he played that well. Joe's shown a fair bit of class and ought to be able to deal with what could be somewhat of a partizan crowd if what I think'll happen will happen, 0.25u Cullen 8/15, would probably go a bit larger but Kurz's data is still somewhat limited.

Hopp v van de Pas - 0.25u Hopp 8/11, Benito I think got away with one yesterday, the price is favourable, and it should be really favourable conditions for Max to progress. I'm very, very tempted to go half a unit, but I'll temper the yolo urges in case what I said yesterday is correct and Benito has actually turned a corner. Probably just leaving money on the table, but being cautious with Hopp might not be the worst idea.

Wright v Malicdem - Can't really justify going for Noel. Against most players I'd take the stab, but Peter's been extremely good over the last few months and I think there's enough instances where he just shuts the door by rolling out with several fifteen darters in a row. Noel beat Rowby but didn't need to perform that well to do so, he's got extra gears but it would have been nice if he'd shown them in order to think about going for it against a top level player.

Going to roll out Saturday's picks shortly, keep 'em peeled.

Hi Poochie, you look like you've got something to say

Yes I certainly do. In fact, two.

First, about how betting works. If I suggest a bet, it is *not* because I think that something is a lock to happen. This may be obvious, but there's certainly a potential disconnect between myself suggesting that Pratnemer is value at 11/2 and Meulenkamp is value at 7/4, and some people thinking said picks are mortal locks that are guaranteed to win. Should be simple to understand, but you never know with some people, both had match darts, I think I'm on the better side of both. You just need to trust the process and keep putting yourself on the right side of bets, if you lump on whoever's playing MvG at 6/1 every time and you think whoever MvG is playing has a 20% shot, then 80% of the time you lose. That doesn't mean it's not profitable.

Secondly, the whole Fallon Sherrock to New York thing. Let me preface the entirety of the following by saying that, as it's an exhibition, my underlying thought is that I couldn't really care less. But at the same time, let's look at the whole concept. The World Series has often been used to give big stage playing time to those who are just outside of the Premier League, and once you factor in that there will be a core of Premier League players that are going to take up probably half, if not more, of the PDC's invites, there's limited spots to use. If we look at players last year who weren't already established Premier League-level regulars, or otherwise standard Australasian invites, we had Aspinall and Price in Vegas. That's pretty much it. Suljovic has played the last couple of German events. Gurney and Price played a couple in 2018. Dimitri and Jamie Lewis played the German one in 2019.

That's not many spots. Sure, Barney's retired, and they may think that just frees up a spot to use as they will. But hold on a second. There are an absolute shit ton of players that are on the Premier League edges that have never played a World Series event. Ian White, Joe Cullen and Krzysztof Ratajski have all won European Tour events this year. Glen Durrant would surely be in the equation. Chris Dobey would surely be in the equation. What about bringing back a Dave Chisnall? Jeffrey de Zwaan is developing. Jermaine Wattimena is developing.

The main problem I have, other than that Sherrock isn't a tour card holder, is getting the spot based on one win and certain attributes, and has been a losing player on the Challenge Tour (if you look at money out based on money in, she has a -80% ROI before expenses), is this - does it really add value from a publicity standpoint? The PDC's already hit the fucking holy grail of publicity, does announcing Sherrock for New York actually add anything? Especially if you do it right now - could you not have waited a couple of weeks rather than piling in on what's already still a decent sized media deluge? If it's a super cunning plan to actually boost the American game following their decent showing in this years' worlds by giving one of their domestic qualifiers a game they should win, then that's very clever, but something I don't think is in Barry's repertoire. Also, a couple of serious questions - if Corrine Hammond returns to form and beats Sherrock in the opening round of the BDO worlds while Fallon's averaging 72, what then? Additionally, what would they have done if Mikuru Suzuki had finished 176 in six darts in the deciding leg against Richardson and won herself? Do they invite both? One? Neither? Suddenly remember that they don't have an Asian outlet in the World Series and think that now's a great time to (re)create the Tokyo Darts Masters? Honestly.

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Worlds day 7 bets

All in all, Madars Razma not winning when throwing for the match aside, today was, in the words of that great philosopher Ice Cube, a good day. Or, in the words of Nico Kurz, phenomenal, I'm so fucking happy. Let's plow on to day eight as we get close to finishing off the opening round games.

Pipe v Pratnemer - Tough one to consider. Aside from his small foray into the World Masters, we don't know much about Ben, that said, 0.1u Pratnemer 11/2, this is one I expect to fail fairly often, but not over 80% of the times often. Pipe has been much improved in 2019, but you would have to think that the crowd would be against him, Pratnemer's not a complete noob and he's come through a decent level qualifier, so I think it's worth having a bit of a prod at this. As I say, this likely looks stupid when Pipe only concedes two legs, but that's a big price.

Joyce v Dekker - This'll close out round one, and the market has Joyce as a decent, near two to one favourite. Given Ryan came through the Pro Tour, which Dekker wasn't really close to, that doesn't seem unreasonable, and I think I can get away with no bet here. Season long it maybe points to Dekker, but from around April onwards it points solidly in favour of Joyce, possibly enough that we should consider taking the 8/15. I certainly wouldn't hate it if you guys went with it, but I won't be recommending a play here.

Henderson v Richardson - Round two under way fully now, and this one might be a tough one to call, Hendo's not been in the greatest of form, and I don't think Richardson's really lit it up, although he at least managed to fall over the line against Suzuki in the opening round. Market looks a bit better than 60/40 in favour of the Scot, season long that looks close enough, although once we get past the first few months and into the summer and beyond, it leans pretty solidly in John's favour. Think I can pass this one, James has a habit of doing fun things at this event and at least has a win in his favour already.

Beaton v Anderson - Bookies can't split these two. I'm seeing nothing but Anderson. Sure, I've been wrong about this a few times, and what he's been saying in his interviews maybe goes some way to explaining things, but he managed to grind it out in his opening round from a decent sized hole, if he was that lacking in confidence then he wouldn't do it. 0.25u Anderson evs, I still believe at least.

Dobey v Meulenkamp - Ron's straight back after seeing off the interesting challenge of Ben Robb, who reeled in the biggie but didn't do a great deal else as the Dutchman won in straight sets. Dobey's more or less a danger to go deep in anything now and will provide a tough test. Chris is near 1/2 here, which I'm thinking is a bit much - 0.25u Meulenkamp 7/4, the projections I'm looking at are more or less seeing it as a flip, or if Dobey's a favourite, more a 55/45 favourite, not near two in three. Thinking the straight return will benefit Ron as well.

Noppert v Rydz - About the same price here, market clearly showing Callan a lot of deserved respect. I think there's still a bit of underlying disrespect for the quality of Noppert's game, despite him making a major final just last month, so 0.5u Noppert 1/2. Rydz beat Lennon, but Noppert seems a fair bit better than Steve right now, and Rydz didn't really set the world on fire while doing so, Danny should have too much here.

Chisnall v van der Voort - This one should be tasty, Vincent looked good in the first round and Chizzy's looked good all year. Market thinks Dave at around the 70/30 mark, which I think is a fair enough assessment. Vincent's game is strong enough that he's not without chances, but Dave's a clear tier or two above him as of right now so the market's adapted more or less correctly I reckon. Easy enough to avoid.

Price v O'Connor - And now to the main question of the evening, will Price continue his record of fucking up early in a World Championship? 4/1 reckons he does. I won't be partaking in that one. That seems about right looking season long, but cut out Willie's early season form and the 1/5 available on Price, while not worth an investment, appears acca safe.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Worlds day 6 bets

That Sherrock analysis aged well. God damnit Robbie King. Still, Damon Heta and Noel Malicdem keep us moving onwards and upwards, de Zwaan and Young are still playing as I start writing this, but let's start looking at Wednesday's action:

Meulenkamp v Robb - 0.5u Meulenkamp 5/11, Ron's had a really solid season on the Pro Tour, and while Ben could well be better than I expect, which would continue a trend of the international qualifiers being better than first forecast, I can't really see it being to the extend where he beats Meulenkamp one in three. This ought to be very safe.

Mansell v Asada - 0.5u Asada 5/6, Seigo's part of the really, really good section of the Asian Tour qualifiers, Mansell's lucky to be here, this really doesn't seem like a flip in the slightest. This is the same Asada that beat Ratajski and pushed Wade all the way last year, let's not forget.

Ward v Razma - Tricky one to forecast this. Razma seems favoured enough in my projections, but his range is so polarised, I think we still need to go 0.25u Razma 4/5, if only because he has a clear higher peak and I'm thinking Ward's a bit overrated on account of having won a Pro Tour perhaps somewhat fortunately. It's not as if the projections are close to the line, they see Razma as a 2-1 favourite, so if you think it's off on account on him hitting a lot of real good legs and several bad ones, it's got a lot to move.

Bunting v Perales - Last Jose standing is Justicia? Really? Oh well. Nothing on this one, Bunting's 3/10, which I think is possibly small value, backed up by his good tournament last time out, but it's not by a huge amount, I'm thinking he should be around 1/4, maybe 2/9, so no need to chase what'd be a fairly small margin.

Wilson v Kurz - 0.1u Kurz 11/5, small flyer. What we've seen from Nico in relatively limited action has looked good, from what we've seen from Wilson this season, not so much, although if he is over the worst of things and getting back to his best then he may be able to close this out enough that it's bad, so just the micro punt here.

Payne v Portela - No bet on this one. We've not seen enough of Portela to really judge where his game is at, but I don't think it's really good enough to be able to trouble Payne that often. Then again, with the relatively mediocre season Josh has had, I don't want to be getting involved at near 1/3 on, that just seems like a recipe for disaster.

Clemens v van de Pas - No bet on this one either. Benito's just about done enough that he may even be slightly better value than the 5/2 that's being thrown about, he was mentioning recently that he's tweaked some things which might be working, he's come through the qualifiers so maybe he's right. Gabriel *should* have more than enough, but we've seen enough weird stuff so far that I won't be putting money on it.

Wade v Edhouse - Will pass on this one as well. 2/9 on Wade looks to be just about enough, if it was any shorter I might have been tempted with a micro stab at Ritchie, albeit despite his win tonight rather than because of it, it certainly trends more towards Edhouse on shorter samples, but you really, really have to think that with White gone, Wade just steps in and reaches the quarters with no real troubles at all.

So we have four bets, one good odds on shot, two flips and a bit of an underdog shot in the dark, let's see how things go, Darin's hanging around against de Zwaan so maybe there's another upset coming?

Monday 16 December 2019

Worlds day 5 bets

We've got all of Tuesday's fixtures lined up already, so rather than scramble eight games after tonight's session, let's have a look in advance to see what we want to do with them, nobody's talked me into a Kantele hero punt (and the line hasn't changed either), so let's get straight onto Tuesday, starting with the afternoon session:

Searle v King - 0.1u King 5/1, this is very much a flyer, but there is a little bit of logic to it. The standard of the international qualifiers this year has improved yet again, even those qualifiers that are priced at these sorts of odds, or even worse, so while we've not seen King yet, it's not offputting. Secondly, the nature of King - the Oceanic Masters, and the Aussie circuit in general, is tough, and we've not seen many complete mugs in the past. Finally, Searle isn't exactly coming in with incredible form. Searle should be favoured, and ought to win, but 5/1 looks way too long.

Reyes v Ilagan - This is tempting, especially given how every single Asian player so far has outperformed expectations (possibly Lim excepted, but Woodhouse be good at darts), but we're not getting the best of prices at 6/4 on Lourence. Reyes has picked up a bit of form of late as well, so while this ought to be fairly close, I can't say with enough confidence that Ilagan vastly outperforms the 40% we need to win here.

Rodriguez v Malicdem - This is different though, 0.25u Malicdem 21/20, and there's a couple of reasons why. Firstly, Rowby has yet to show that he's got the completely awful game out the system, so it could be maybe one in three where we instantly win regardless of how well Noel plays. Secondly, Rowby's probably worse than Cristo, and Noel's probably better than Lourence, which is good enough for me.

Ratajski v Lerchbacher - You could have got 1/2 Ratajski as a conditional bet against Lerchbacher before Zoran beat Jamie Hughes. Oh well. That would have been a great play, 3/10, not so much, depending on what sample you're using, Krzysztof's anywhere between a 1/3 to 1/5 favourite for this one, so there's not real value, and given Zoran has shown that his A-game is still available, I wouldn't even call it acca safe for those who are that way inclined.

Edhouse v Koltsov - Evening session now, and we go with another international qualifier, 0.25u Koltsov 11/8, we've seen enough of both Boris and Ritchie from their Pro Tour outings that we can be fairly confident in assessment of their games, and I'm thinking season long that Boris is no worse than a flip against Ritchie. Koltsov probably has the higher peak as well, and he's even got more big stage experience, so I'll go with this.

de Sousa v Heta - Game of the round, and I'll go with yet another international qualifier, 0.25u Heta 9/4. Obviously I know de Sousa is really fucking good, but is he that much better than someone who's won a TV title this season that he wins this match more than two times out of three? I'm not so sure, Damon's a very competent player, and while Jose easily has the game to blow him away 3-0, Damon's done everything right to date in his preparation and I think is certainly worth the shot at this price.

Evetts v Sherrock - No bet here. It's a really, really big price on Fallon, and if I knew for sure that she'd be able to recreate what she did in the qualifier, then I'd be all over the 9/1 that's being presented. But the difference between this game and last night's Mikuru game is that Sherrock is worse than Suzuki, and Evetts is probably one of the most underrated players on the planet, and I'd certainly take him over Richardson. No thanks.

de Zwaan v Young - Nothing here either. Darin's kind of freerolling, and has shown that when he gets towards the finish line he's not suddenly going to start to feel the pressure, so I don't want to start investing in Jeffrey at shorter than 1/4. Young having a 20% shot at this one doesn't seem a ridiculous statement, even if Jeffrey is a lot better than Barney is right now. Just needs some solid holds, a big out from nowhere to break, and all of a sudden you're two sets down, and Young's certainly capable of that.

So, four international picks. Let us know your thoughts, but one thing that I want to mention is something that @jetze_jan (decent follow by the way) on Twitter pointed out, in that the PDPA posted up something to the effect of that if someone (Barney this means you) in the top 64 doesn't take up their tour card for 2020, that place will go to Q-School qualifiers. Now, this might have changed in the last two years, where Taylor's retirement bumped Schindler up into the tour card places, it might not have, but I'm pretty sure I'd have noticed if the rules had changed. Sure enough, Jetze tweeted again earlier today to say that the post was deleted, and it now says the 2020 rules will be confirmed shortly. I'm sure Toni Alcinas will be pleased to know that this is all under control and finalised, and that the governance of the sport's leading organisation is once again beyond question.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Worlds day 4 bets

Let's just keep laying top 8 seeds, it's clearly sustainable

Summary of day 3 - my god, Kyle Anderson keeps making things so difficult for himself. Zong played a hell of a game, but really, Kyle, this shouldn't have been close. Ross Smith was clearly a level or two below his standard and Ciaran Teehan was likely the opposite, which is more than enough for a 3-0 drubbing, Brendan Dolan got through in straight sets, but as Brendan said post match, it was a lot closer than it looked, Kumar played well, if he can nick that first set it could have been a lot, lot different. The Ian White... I'm really not sure what happened there, actually I am. Look past the conventional stats. He smacked Darius up in the legs he won with four in four visits and four in five visits. Then he averaged 85 in the legs he lost. Even that out and he wins.

Evening session, Arron Monk doesn't show up at all, Justicia didn't play great, didn't need to, advances, whatever, Danny Baggish ground out a not particularly pretty game, Boulton hit a bunch of 180's and finished alright, just seemingly not much else in between. Mikuru Suzuki probably should have beat James Richardson, coming from a 2-0 hole in sets to force a deciding leg, probably just a couple of missed doubles at key times, but fair play to James for sticking in there against a hostile crowd. Then Luke Woodhouse made us all rich by just nicking enough five visit legs and getting past a fairly off the pace Michael Smith. I say that, he averaged nearly 100 in the legs Luke won, he just didn't get let in. Sweet for us I guess.

Tomorrow there's just the evening session so I'll blast out the bets now:

Lennon v Rydz - Hmm, seems to be quite a bit of adjustment already on Lennon's relative form this year, in that Callan's only 6/4. If you've not seen Rydz before, expect maximums. The line's more or less where I'd expect it to be in terms of projections, which is a shame, thought there might have been value one way or the other, either not recognising that Steve's playing a bit better than his form suggests, or not recognising that Callan's really fucking good. Oh well, next game.

O'Connor v Kantele - I really want to bet on Marko in this game. I really, really do. His performances over the course of the year aren't such that Willie should be a 1/3 favourite in this one, and if you cut back more recently after Willie won his event, it's screaming out to bet on Marko. There's just a few things here - one, Willie's actually won an event. He knows how to win. Two, Willie's very streaky, and given his performance in Minehead that's a worrying sign. Finally, is there any set of nations that have disappointed so consistently on the worlds stage quite so often as the Scandis? I'm going to look back at this in 24 hours and wonder why I didn't punt, I'm sure, but I'll pass.

van der Voort v Barry - I really wish I had data on Keane. I really, really do, it's a tempting price given how highly he is rated, but I simply don't have it, so I've got to pass this game up based purely on two things - Vincent's had a highly underrated season, and I don't think we're getting enough value on Keane to think that he can nick this often enough given point one.

Anderson v Dolan - No bet here either. We've got limited info on Anderson, but he's played enough of the tour that we've got a fairly good idea of where he's at, and he's floating in such a spot where the model is saying that Brendan's got between a one in three and one in four shot. Brendan's 11/5 at a best price. Most things point to the idea that Brendan should be towards the better part of that range from his perspective, so I won't be betting on this one either.

So nothing right now. I might wait and see if there's any crazy Irish money flying around given the nature of the schedule, if Marko drifts out to 3/1 I might take a small stab and post just before the event tomorrow, but don't count on it. For now, let's thank Luke Woodhouse for putting us into an alright position early into the event.

A brief interlude

As we typically get a lot of newer readers over the World Championship period, and as I've got a bit of time before today's session kicks off, some people might look at the sidebar and wonder "Second/Third Division Darts? What the hell is that", so as we're close to the end of the season, I thought I'd reiterate on what it is.

Basically, we have the Premier League. I've always wondered what would happen if we had a level below the Premier League. So I made one. Initially I picked a mix of the highest ranked players in the FRH rankings (which are explained in the FAQ post) and some wildcards that made sense to me. Then, when I got to the second season, I also included the previous year's winner, and expanded to a third division - where, kind of like the Challenge Tour/Development Tour split, I put an age limit on it, only considering players aged under 30 at the time of selection, which is the worlds final day when they also announce the Premier League lineup.

The actual scoring is based on head to head legs between each pair of two players, summed over the course of the season. If they don't play at any point in the year (which is actually fairly common, of the 45 matchups in the second division, we've not seen 15 of them, and if anything the third division is worse), they get a point a piece. If they score the same number of legs against each other over the course of the year, again they get a point a piece. If one player scores more than the other, the points they get goes up linearly based on needing 75% of legs or more to get a 2-0 victory. I think I'll tweak that to needing 70% next season to widen the points differences, but I'm not changing it retrospectively for 2019

How I'll select this season is fairly similar to this season, but with a couple of minor tweaks to take into account we now have a third division - for the second division, I will go with:

- After all players selected for the Premier League are eliminated, the top two players in 2019's second division (currently Ian White and Krzysztof Ratajski) get selected for the second division.
- The winner of the third division (currently Nathan Aspinall, with Keegan Brown in second if Aspinall makes the Premier League) is promoted to the second division.
- The four highest ranked players in the FRH rankings are selected (it is hard to say what lineup they will go with, but if we exclude a core of van Gerwen, Price, Cross, Smith, Wright, Gurney, Wade and maybe Aspinall, the six highest not selected are currently Chisnall, Gary Anderson, Suljovic, Durrant, Adrian Lewis and Cullen).
- There would then be three wildcards selected by yours truly.

For the third division, I will go with:

- The two highest finishing players from the previous season that are still eligible (if Aspinall jumps to the Premier League and Brown wins promotion, this is Max Hopp and Danny Noppert).
- The world youth champion (this would have a proviso in future years that the winner has a tour card, but Luke Humphries does) if not already selected.
- The four highest ranked players in the FRH rankings (the top seven, accounting for the possibility of second division wildcards, are currently Chris Dobey, Jeffrey de Zwaan, Ricky Evans, Dimitri van den Bergh, Steve Lennon, Josh Payne and Ted Evetts).
- Three further wildcards.

Obviously a lot can change depending on how players do at the worlds and whether anyone plays themselves into the Premier League, moves themselves hugely up various rankings, etc etc. It'd hugely suck if they don't select Gary Anderson for the Premier League given how little of the tour he plays, but it is what it is, at least I avoided selecting Cadby the last couple of years, which'd have been even worse.

A word in advance - I'm going to put up the Friday/Saturday/Sunday bets on one post, given that I'm at the event on Friday and then at football far away from my computer on Saturday, so pay close attention on Thursday evening. I've not completely checked the schedule, but if Saturday/Sunday are reliant on other matches to finish (which I doubt as I think they're all second round games and the first round will be done by then?), I may put up conditional predictions and picks. Stay tuned, Monday's picks will follow later this evening.

Saturday 14 December 2019

Worlds day 3 bets

Kim Huybrechts! System works sometimes! Sure, it'd work better if Luke Humphries hadn't played the game of his fucking life, and if despite that Jermaine Wattimena had have put him away in leg ten, but still! Profit!

Some quick thoughts on today - was a bit surprised at how easy it was for Labanauskas, but he was lights out for the first two sets, the best I've seen him play in a long time. Meikle/Yamada was a decent quality game for the first couple of sets, then it got super scrappy and Yuki edged through, will see what happens in the next round. Paul Lim wasn't bad, Luke Woodhouse was just better, mentioned the Jermaine game, now we have the evening session. McGeeney/Campbell went roughly how I thought it would, Matt was probably a bit better than I thought but Mark still came through, that Lerchbacher game was a big shock. Zoran played great stuff, probably the best for eighteen months, then Barney. My god. That interview afterwards on livedarts, he seems like a broken man.

So, tomorrow:

Anderson v Zong - Don't think I'll be touching this one, Kyle's 1/8 which I don't think is even remotely good value given Kyle's inability to turn performances into results, Zong probably has just enough in his game where he might be able to click immediately, nick a set and put some nerves into play, so I'll pass on it.

Smith v Teehan - Don't think I do anything here. Ciaran's been around the scene a bit, so I have a rough idea of where his game's at despite not a huge amount of data, the market pricing Smith at 1/3 seems fair enough in my opinion.

Dolan v Kumar - 1u Dolan 1/10, I think we may as well print the tenth of a unit. One thing I didn't realise when I wrote up Nitin's preview is that he played some of the Asian Tour, and a sub-70 rating on that tour against someone of Brendan's experience and current form I don't think cuts it even 5% of the time.

White v Labanauskas - Into a second round game, and I don't think I can bet on this one. As impressive as Darius was in the first two sets today, I don't think it's going to translate to beat someone of White's calibre as often as required. He's 7/2, and season long I have Darius at about 25% to claim the match, once we cut down to more recent samples it drops. If you think he can come back tomorrow and repeat that performance then don't let me stop you, but it's very hard for me to recommend betting against Ian here.

Monk v Perales - Looking at the roughly 60/40 line in favour of Monk, I'd have thought it'd be a slam dunk bet in favour of Arron, and over the course of the year, it looks that way - season long it's around 75/25. The worrying thing is that Arron did much of his better work early in the year, if I trim down to, say, June onwards, then it's much closer to where the line stands. I think I will go 0.25u Monk 4/6 if only because it pops back up nicely enough into Arron's favour if we trim down further to post-Matchplay form, Arron has at least played on this stage before which should count for something.

Boulton v Baggish - Can we get a USA double? I think there's a shot, and I really wish I had a lot more reliable data on Danny to think about laying Andy in this one. I do think there's a good shot at an upset, but Danny's already priced up at 11/8, which doesn't offer a hugely enticing punt. It could look silly if Danny blows him out, which I think is a possibility, but Andy's a very experienced competitor and I think I'd need a bit longer price to really consider going for the American here.

Richardson v Suzuki - This one's going to be super intriguing, I kind of want to look at this objectively and think that James should be that much better and we should just print on Richardson, but Mikuru's got enough about her, and there's enough possible flaws in James' game, that a 1/5 price is probably one to pass on.

Smith v Woodhouse - Luke's beaten Paul Lim, now we get someone at the opposite end of the career trajectory, but I think there's enough of a chance that he can go a round further - 0.1u Woodhouse 9/2. I'm seeing a lot of samples where Woodhouse is easily in the one in four, maybe even one in three range - Smith's last year's finalist, sure, but Woodhouse has shown enough over the course of the year that he's competitive enough, if he can beat Gurney and whitewash Lim on your first two appearances on different TV stages, then what's to say he can't nick this enough that 9/2 is value?

Friday 13 December 2019

Worlds day 2 bets

Not nice to start off on a loss, Luke hit some nice shots at key moments for sure, but Devon had his chances to close the game out and will surely be a bit disappointed with how the game turned out. In the other games, it's all about Jelle Klaasen - suffering a minor scare early against Burness but then progressing, and giving MvG something to think about for a good set and a half, van Gerwen hitting a 170 to bink the second set, and then a 130 out, also ending on the bull, to clinch the match for all intents and purposes. That leaves Huybrechts and Nentjes, the first game to go to a deciding set, Nentjes definitely had his chances as well but Kim was able to do just enough (including a 164 kill for no real reason, other than that he could) to get through. Eight games tomorrow, both Huybrechts and Humphries are back in action along with another six first round games, what do we have?

Labanauskas v Edgar 2 - Electric Boogaloo - Market favours the Lithuanian, slightly more than 60/40, which I think is the sort of price we can avoid. It's a weird one - season long, the projections I have rate Darius at around 70/30, which we can bet, but closer polls, if we say from after the Matchplay onwards, put Edgar at around 55/45. Do you favour form or class? Fortunately, we can just pick neither.

Meikle v Yamada - Ryan's strongly odds on, which feels about right, the rest of the Asian lads that are here are all going to be competitive, but Yamada feels like he's been tacked on through the back door and is a bit behind the pace. At shorter than 1/3 I can't really recommend a punt on Ryan, he's got enough game that he should win this comfortably, but you never know how someone's going to adapt to a big stage, and the rewards just aren't worth the potential risks.

Woodhouse v Lim - Another similar game, and this one is priced incredibly close to call. We know much more about Lim than we do Yamada, but we know enough about Woodhouse to think that 0.25u Woodhouse 5/6 seems sensible enough. Luke probably won't have it all his own way, but has shown enough over the course of the year to make me think he should be a bit more of a favourite than that. I kind of hope I'm wrong as I'd love another Paul Lim story to develop, but I've got to follow what I think looks like value.

Wattimena v Humphries - This should be a good contest, but one where I think there's a bet - 0.25u Wattimena 19/20, I can kind of see why they price this up fairly evenly, but come on now, Jermaine's in the top 20 in the world for a reason. Season long, I'm seeing Jermaine about 55/45, which in and of itself wouldn't be enough to bet, but it cuts to 60/40 and even stronger the more and more we look at form, so we'll go with it.

McGeeney v Campbell - They're loving McGeeney in this one, pricing at around the 75/25 mark. This seems about right to me, Matt I don't think has really done enough or been convincing enough to suggest he can grab this more than the one in four he'd need to in order to back him at the price we have. Then again, you don't qualify for the PDC worlds if you're a complete mug, and Mark's not set the scene on fire quite enough that I'm going to fire at 3/10 against anyone really.

Hughes v Lerchbacher - Same price in this one. Looks about right to me. Year long this is 80/20 Hughes, there's bits of samples where Zoran climbs to around 70/30, or maybe even a little bit better, but there's not enough convincing information to make me think there's value. Jamie should be comfortable, but there's enough level of potential weirdness that I'll leave this alone.

van Barneveld v Young - This one's even shorter. It's so tempting to go with Darin at a shade under 5/1, he's not lacking for experience and isn't going to just give the game away, but if there's one tournament where Barney isn't going to leave anything on the table it's going to be his last one. Simple enough avoid for me.

Cross v Huybrechts - Rob's almost as short against Kim as Raymond is against Darin. I don't really think that's fair. Year long, it probably is, but if I cut out, say, the first three months of the year, then Kim's chances look a heck of a lot better than what the market suggests. Hell, if I just look at the last three months, their winning and losing averages are *identical*, right down to the hundredth of a point (obv Cross has more sample and a better win percentage), and it looks awfully flippy. 0.1u Huybrechts 7/2, seems it's worth the stab to me.

Fantasy game closed

Scoring link HERE

Not many entries, but at least it means those that did enter have a decent chance of winning, apart from the people who went over budget. So what I'll do with those entries is leave them in the scoreboard so they can watch along, but leave them ineligible for prizes as their entry was invalid.

I guess what I could do is to do the following - as they're all only one player over budget is, in the event of one of those entries finishing top, and given they'd need to remove a player to make their entry valid, is to take away their highest scoring player - then if they'd still have won after that, allow it? Thoughts?

Worlds day 1 bets

It's finally here! After weeks of anticipation, media hype and build up, the moment we've all been waiting for is upon us. But enough about the end of Corbyn's career, let's look at the darts, and today's one of those odd first round sessions where we know all of the players as (at least for the next few days) everyone's a tour card holder. Let's go from the top:

Klaasen v Burness - Jelle should win this. Then again, Nicholson should have won it last year, so what do we know. Klaasen's rated around 70/30 in the market, I think that's close to right. There may even be a small hint of value in Klaasen, I'm seeing some samples where he's up towards 80% to win this opening game, but at 4/11 given the fragility that we've seen in Jelle's game now and again, I really can't recommend it.

Huybrechts v Nentjes - We're seeing more or less a similar line here, and again I think we're close to a bet, but not quite there - however this time, it's the underdog that we're looking at. Geert's got a few samples where I'm thinking he should take this one time out of three, so to be offered 13/5 looks awfully tempting, especially if you're looking at the more recent form guide. I don't think it's quite enough, while Geert's played here before, I think that Kim's level if experience should count for a little in this situation and we can pass it up.

Humphries v Petersen - This one's priced a little closer at 60/40 in favour of the World Youth champion, and I think we have our first bet here - 0.25u Petersen 6/4. It's only Spreadex that are offering up this price, but I think even the 11/8 that's more widely available is probably still worth the shot. Season long, I'm seeing Devon as having about a 45% shot to claim this, but if I trim down to smaller more form based sample sizes, it becomes 50/50, and even towards Devon having the edge. We also have the unknown factor - this'll be the first time that Humphries will be announced as a world champion, with that comes a bit of added pressure. Plus, if Devon outperforms his season long form like he did last year (to our huge cost), it looks better and better for taking this side of the action.

van Gerwen v Match 1 winner - I can't really recommend anything here. There's a few conditional markets - Betfair has van Gerwen at 1/20 against Klaasen (and obv even shorter against Burness), 365 has the van Gerwen stage of elimination at 10/1 to be round two, so that's the sort of thing we're looking at. It's a little bit short, but it's not horrifically short, and I can't really see myself wanting to bet on Klaasen against MvG. Easy enough game to avoid.

Last couple of hours to get in on the fantasy comp, I've posted about it enough so just read down for the details if you want to beat the 5pm deadline.

Thursday 12 December 2019

Worlds eve

Bets for day 1 will come tomorrow afternoon, but for now, some quick points:

- Don't forget to enter the fantasy comp - full details are HERE and a reminder you can win stuff, there's not many people entered as of yet so take a shot at it

- While everyone's been focussing on the PDC, it seems the BDO are lurching from one disaster to another, seemingly selling next to no tickets for the worlds, and also seeing the Dutch Open (which is probably their fourth biggest event now?) saying they'll no longer offer BDO rankings points due to some daft new rules that the BDO wanted to introduce. When you can't even run your own comps right (see the World Masters), or seemingly promote your own comps either, it's probably not a good idea to piss off one of the few big comps you have left that does run things right.

Worlds predictions - these might look stupid very quickly, and it's just gut feeling and nothing to do with actual statistical analysis, so don't bet based off this people:

R1/2 (24-8 split between Pro Tour and international qualifiers, as some people have been looking at that):

van Gerwen > Klaasen
McGeeney > Evans
Clayton > Joyce
Bunting > Monk
Wade > Koltsov
Anderson > Beaton
White > Labanauskas
Clemens > Hopp

Dolan > Anderson
West > King
Aspinall > Baggish
Ratajski > Hughes
Smith > Woodhouse
van den Bergh > Payne
Lewis > Ilagan
Meikle > Webster

Cross > Huybrechts
Noppert > Rydz
Cullen > Kurz
Wattimena > Humphries
Wright > Malicdem
Asada > Brown
Chisnall > van der Voort
de Zwaan > van Barneveld

Gurney > Pipe
Durrant > de Sousa
Evetts > Suljovic
Dobey > Meulenkamp
Price > O'Connor
Richardson > Henderson
Razma > Whitlock
King > Smith


van Gerwen > McGeeney
Bunting > Clayton
Wade > Anderson
White > Clemens
Dolan > West
Ratajski > Aspinall
Smith > van den Bergh
Lewis > Meikle

Cross > Noppert
Wattimena > Cullen
Wright > Asada
Chisnall > de Zwaan
Durrant > Gurney
Dobey > Evetts
Price > Richardson
King > Razma


van Gerwen > Bunting
White > Wade
Ratajski > Dolan
Smith > Lewis
Cross > Wattimena
Wright > Chisnall
Durrant > Dobey
Price > King


White > van Gerwen
Ratajski > Smith
Cross > Wright
Price > Durrant


White > Ratajski
Price > Cross

Final: Price 7-4 White

That'd hit a nice 100/1 each way punt... as an aside, Ratajski's 10/1 to win his quarter, that's got to be worth a shot.

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Worlds 16/16 - Whitlock, Ward, Razma, King, Smith, Teehan

A reminder before I conclude the previews that you have less than 48 hours to enter our fantasy competition - link is here if you can't scroll down a few posts, it takes five minutes and you could win stuff, what better way to have an interest in an opening round game that you otherwise wouldn't care about?

Feels like it's the beginning of the end for Simon, and that his best days are long, long behind him - you simply can't be a serious top sixteen player if you're not able to make a single Pro Tour quarter final all year, and his scoring over the course of the year, at below 90, is extremely pedestrian, rating lower than players such as Martin Schindler and Dirk van Duijvenbode - neither of which are here. He's not defending a huge amount in this tournament so I guess he's about for at least another season, but are there any signs that are pointing in the right direction? I guess there's some, Simon still managed to make a European Tour final this year, beating Reyes, Ross Smith, Cullen and Hopp, and was able to make the final session on another couple of occasions, although these were a few months ago now and seemed to be in events that some players gave a wide berth to. He's only actually gone out in the first round on TV once, which was when he drew Michael Smith in Dublin - he made it through Dekker and Clemens at the UK Open, he beat John Henderson at Blackpool, beat Adrian Lewis in Göttingen and then de Zwaan in a weird game last month, but none of those are truly the elite of the elite. He seemed almost subconsciously to be picking his game up ever so slightly later in the season, to the point where I actually backed him to win a game for the first time in months, but it's not a huge deal - maybe he needs to trim his schedule down a bit, stop messing around with Allen key points and bizarre checkout routes and simplify things a little to extend his career, first thing would be to play to his seeding here, which is possible if he plays to the best of what he's able to do right now.

Someone at the opposite end of his career is Harry Ward, the youngster who claimed his tour card outright on day 1 of Q-School after several years being on people's radar on the secondary circuits (which he still plays, at least the Dev Tour). What could he do on the main tour this season? I think people were a bit surprised to see him race straight to a quarter final in his first event of the season, although the highest ranked player he beat was, oddly, Simon Whitlock, but hey, lots of people make quarter final runs on the Pro Tour. What did surprise a lot of people is when he managed to win one. I don't think anybody saw that coming, but in Barnsley back in May that's exactly what he was able to do, getting a second round win against his opening opponent here, then winning three of his last four matches in deciding legs - Michael Smith, Aspinall, de Sousa (the only game that didn't go the distance) and then Max Hopp in the final. It's a great achievement, which he was able to sandwich with another couple of quarter finals before the summer break to guarantee his place here. As a new tour card holder, it was not enough to get close to the majors, that's always tricky unless you do something more incredible than just one win, maybe if he'd got to more European Tour events (only the two, losing heavily to Noppert in the first and then beating Reece Robinson before Suljovic won every leg in the second) he might have had half a chance, but still, it's all points on the board and with a worlds berth he gives himself a very good chance of retaining his card after 2020. Just the two majors, mincashes in both, Jan Dekker and Darius Labanauskas doing for him, but if you offered him this year twelve months ago, he'd take it.

It's a PDC worlds debut for the Latvian Madars Razma, who has previously played Lakeside on multiple occasions and gained a reputation along with nearby neighbour Labanauskas of being a very dangerous opponent, and that's more or less what he's done - he has a ridiculously high percentage of legs won in four visits compared to his scoring level, if he strings good darts together then anyone's in trouble, he just doesn't do it often enough. Razma picked up form too late in the day to retain his card in 2018, but won it straight back comfortably enough and is still trying to get used to the Pro Tour, making it here through the SDC rankings, winning four events and making another three on that circuit to comfortably qualify. On the main tour it's been a struggle for consistency - the UK Open was the undoubted highlight, Razma beating fellow SDC competitor Dennis Nilsson, Mark McGeeney, George Killington and Jelle Klaasen to reach the last 32, where eventual winner Nathan Aspinall would easily defeat him. Otherwise it's been a grind - only four board finals, and he only won one of them, grabbing the scalp of Joe Cullen in that one. He made four European Tour events, which isn't too bad I guess, but went 0-4, losing to Matthew "you could have denied the whole Glen Durrant story" Dennant, Keegan Brown, Chris Dobey and Justin Pipe. He wasn't able to put enough together on the Pro Tour to make the Players Championship Finals, and it already looks as if it may be a struggle to retain his card again, so if he can get through the opening game and get to one of the weaker seeds, he can help himself out enormously.

The final seed we'll look at is Mervyn King, and it's been a very nice year for the veteran who's closing in on twenty-five world championship appearances, playing at more than a good enough level to retain a top 32 spot and still showing a peak game that can challenge the best. He's even throwing at double top now and again when it makes sense to do so, that's how confident he is at the moment. His floor form wasn't the best, just the three board wins on the Pro Tour, all early in the year - although he did take one to the semi final stage when he got a bit of the luck of the draw. He only managed to make it through to the final day on the European Tour three times, this is despite still being among the seeds for the most part, so why has it been a good year? The majors. Three quarter finals is a haul that a lot of players in the top 16 would be happy with, but let's have a look at who he played. UK Open? Last 32 is deceiving as he got the bastard draw to end all bastard draws - van Gerwen and then Cross. Obviously that means he beat the former. Matchplay? He beat Aspinall and Gary Anderson. Grand Prix? He beat Dimitri and Wade. Players Championship Finals? He beat Pipe, Chisnall and Cross. The only real blot was a first round loss to Cullen in Göttingen, but I think Mervyn would take what he's been given on TV in all honesty. It's a good draw, he should make it through to the last sixteen, and if there's one player that can ignore all the Gerwyn Price theatrics, it's King.

It's a bit of a tricky draw though, as Ross Smith is a potential opponent for King in the last 64. Smith's in through the Pro Tour for a return, and it's just been consistent performances throughout the year, rather than huge standout moments on the floor. He was, of course, helped by a good record in Europe, making more than half the events to qualify for the major at the end of the series, where he did get his huge standout moment of his career, a 114 out in the deciding leg against Michael van Gerwen to get to the last 16 of the European Championship. That European Tour record saw him beat a couple of seeds in Whitlock and Wright, but on the Pro Tour, it was just the one quarter final late in the season, where he did beat Ratajski and Cross. As I say, consistency, nine board finals or better. In the other majors he played, Smith had a great run to the UK Open quarter final, beating Norris, West and Wade in the extended games from the last 64 before hitting Aspinall in the quarters, and he also got more stage experience after winning through the Grand Slam qualifier - he got a tough draw against van Gerwen, Lewis and Jim Williams, and was probably a bit disappointing in only winning the five legs and finishing bottom of the group. Smith isn't too far off doing enough things right to really start climbing up to the top 32 in the world, but a win here in the first round is a minimum ask really.

The last player we'll look at is Ciaran Teehan, who makes his world championship debut after finishing high enough up the Development Tour rankings to claim the second spot, after all the players who had qualified as of right through the Pro Tour had been scrubbed off. On that tour, Teehan put things together late with two finals in the last five events, and the fifty quid he got in the final event of the season was just enough to finish fifth overall by that exact margin, Evetts, Humphries and Meikle not needing the spots to allow him to play at Ally Pally for a first time. Teehan's part of the flood of Irish players, like Barry, Shane McGuirk who he just pipped for this spot and others, but he's not just a youth player by any stretch of the imagination. Teehan won a Challenge Tour event back in September, beating the likes of Andy Jenkins, McGuirk and Berry van Peer, not having any real randoms in anything apart from the opening round, and not being a tour card holder, he's also played plenty of BDO events - he came through to the televised stages of the World Masters, his progress only being halted in the final eight by the impressive Mike Warburton, and in the last couple of months he's made deep runs in Irish-based opens. Smith should have too much for him, but Ciaran won't be a pushover.