Sunday, 11 August 2019

Challenge Tour 13-16 - this is so tight

So, let's have a look at the standings:

That's everyone with a bag in the bank, but there's quite a few stupidly strong players just outside - Colin Osborne, Darren Johnson, Mark Frost, Wes Newton, Barry Lynn, Mark Barilli, Andy Hamilton, Stuart Kellett, John Bowles and Scott Waites should all be known to various degrees of darting cognoscenti and they're all above £750 and could at least force themselves into a UK Open spot for 2020, assuming the PDC doesn't move the goalposts as they have a habit of doing.

So what of this weekend? We had winners in Cameron Menzies, Patrick Lynskey, Jesus Noguera and Callan Rydz. I don't think any of them can be surprises - maybe Patrick, but he did have a final earlier in the year, I say maybe on account of that outside of his two final runs, he's really not done a great deal, heck, look at Shaun Carroll for comparison who beat Lynskey in that final - he's added £300 in the following 15 tournaments (not sure how many he actually played).

There's just the one weekend left - who would I like to see push through and grab the tour card and the worlds spot? Let's look down to anyone who's within 2.5k of Noguera in second and is therefore within a win and a decent second performance striking distance:

Menzies - would be absolutely fine with that, only just missed out on getting a card by the narrowest of margins this year, so getting an automatic card would be great.
Noguera - you don't win two in a year if you're a mug, so he'd be a welcome addition to the tour, and boost the argument to have a Euro Tour somewhere on the peninsula, but would he actually use the card? He's shown no inclination to try to get into the Pro Tour events, which he could have walked in to, and has done no Euro Tour qualifiers either.
Burton - again, fine. Was really good in 2018, but just a bit too late to retain the card.
Koltsov - another one I'd be fine with, he seems to be developing incredibly rapidly through repeated Challenge Tour and Pro Tour outings, and I think he'd be in a position to give it a proper go if he were to get in.
Jenkins - I'm really not sure what Andy would add to the tour. At 48 he's clearly not completely done, but I think he'd be just another Wayne Jones or Mark Dudbridge in that he's declining, not good enough for the Pro Tour, but still good enough to work around the Pro Tour/Challenge Tour boundary.
Rydz - if there's anyone I want to get over the line it'd have to be Callan, he's got so much potential and talent and he's been so close to getting in the last couple of years, I think he's now gained enough experience on the secondary tours that he could jump into the Pro Tour and make a success of it.
Edhouse - he's a bit like Stephen Burton, although maybe not quite as good, I wouldn't hate the idea of him getting the card but there's certainly plenty of players that I'd prefer ahead of him.
Lynskey - I think I'd want him to show a bit more consistency to be honest, if he can punch his way in then fair enough, he just seems a bit streaky compared to others around him.
Harris - get him in, he's good enough and he definitely needs the security of a tour card to keep giving this a real go, if he doesn't make it I could quite easily see a return to NZ for a year and trying to work it out on the DPA circuit.
van Peer - if he's over the problems he had, then it'd be a great redemption story - I just fear that if he did have a couple of good runs and got on, that the week in week out might be detrimental to him at this stage.

The final weekend isn't until the last weekend in September, which coincides with the final Euro Tour event. How idiotic is that? If someone's in the running to get into the worlds spot or the tour card spot, are they really going to risk missing the Challenge Tour events to go for the European Tour qualifiers?

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Denis Ovens wins World Series title - wait, what?

Damon Heta - oh wow, that's incredible. Great job. Taking out Wade, GAndo, Whitlock and Cross is a stupidly tough run and he's managed to do it. With him looking in pole position to get a worlds spot through the DPA tour, and surely getting to wherever the World Series finals are, his game is surely going to be on the up and up, he's only 32 and there's plenty of time for him to take the shot at Q-School and the tour if he wants to.

But here's another "if I ran the PDC" occasional post on that point, and it's a bit of an adaptation of point 1:

4) Tour Card 128 is a "card share" card

I'm sure plenty of us have worked in places where there's a flexible policy in relation to working practices, and in recognition of that people have skills that you'd like to use, but don't necessarily have the ability to commit to something full time, can work around this and split their role across two people. Why can't this work for darts? Let's face facts - the entirety of the PDC ranking schedule takes place in Europe, with a large proportion of that taking place in the United Kingdom. That's a fucking long way away from a lot of darting cultures, and it takes an enormous commitment to come half way around the world to ply your trade in Barnsley and Wigan for two years.

So why not build something in to the tour card system whereby you can give players like Heta (and, previously, the likes of Kyle Anderson, Cody Harris etc) the opportunity to get into Players Championship events, and anything else that may be available to them, for a shorter time period? You've got 30 Players Championship events - offer 5 players the opportunity to reside in the UK for a 6 event run and also allow them carte blanche to play the Challenge Tour, Euro Tour qualifiers, and any other non-PDC events that might be available to them. This'd be targeted at the elite of the rest of the world that might be thinking about giving the tour a go, but were unsure - you'd be situated where you'd be for a month, six weeks, two months dependent on the exact schedule. That ought to give you a solid enough idea as to whether you can acclimatise to a different country, culture, perhaps language. If you do alright on and off the board, you'd be a lot more confident about making the commitment to try to get on the tour - failing that, you'd certainly gain a lot of experience which will surely translate to your home circuit and, as a result, improve the game across the world in general.

It's a Challenge Tour weekend - we've had wins for Cameron Menzies and Patrick Lynskey - we know both of them, more about Menzies for sure, but Patrick did make a final earlier in the year and that pushes him decently up the rankings - not sure exactly how far, but if he can do some damage tomorrow then who knows?

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Dolan wins - wait what? PC21/22 round up

Before that, the latest in a series of posts of "if I ran the PDC" posts:

3) New tour card winners have the option of a two year card starting at zero, or a one year card with the previous season's ranking money counting

This isn't something I'd expect to be used too often, but I find the "everyone starting from zero" concept a bit silly, I think that if someone has a decent amount of ranking money, be it someone like Labanauskas who had £25k in the bank from the worlds and a few more grand from the European Tour, someone like Ratajski where, if he'd won his card at the start of 2018, might have thought there to be value in having all the European Tour money counting towards the Pro Tour order of merit, or if someone like Luke Woodhouse was to make the worlds but not quite retain his card at the end of this year, but claim it straight back - the worlds money plus the amount he'd have earned from the Pro Tour might make it worth the punt. Something to think about.

So on to PC21/22 - huge number of people not playing, Ratajski took full advantage to claim PC21, defeating Dimitri van den Bergh in the final, who's getting a bit more consistent on the senior tour now and was third overall in this weekend's points per turn (behind Chizzy in second and, maybe a bit surprisingly, Madars Razma leading overall), while today Brendan Dolan claimed his first victory in god knows how long, taking down Jermaine Wattimena who comes up one win too short once again. Decent weekends for Ian White and Mensur Suljovic, each claiming a semi and a quarter, the other semi finalists were Danny Noppert yesterday and Cody Harris today, a bit out of left field that one but we know he has the upside and good to see him take advantage of his opportunities.

Elsewhere, Chizzy won his board both times, VVDV made a couple of board finals as he continues to pay decent stuff under the radar, Willie O'Connor did the same, Harry Ward put another £2.5k in the bank, similar with Conan Whitehead, while Justin Smith cashed both days despite being a name I don't know a great deal about. Looking at the stats it was a bad weekend for the Welsh - obviously Price withdrew but Jamie Lewis and Robert Owen are bottom and second bottom of this weekend's points per turn, Lewis in particular having another stinker today, with the number of associates about it is a surprise.

New FRH rankings:

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

No movement, but Aspinall's within 1000 points of reclaiming eights from Wright, while 18th through to 21st (Wattimena) are all within 750 points of each other. Dolan's win sees him climb to #33, he's in a bit of an area where there's gaps so not a huge amount more he could have done, particularly with Dimitri's final seeing him hold the final spot in the top 32.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Bit of a roundup

So there's been a few things going on in the world of darts since the Matchplay finished - we had the Euro Tour qualifiers yesterday, and there was a few interesting names making it through. Brett Claydon doing the double came out of nowhere I guess, just looking at ET11 first we saw Simon Stevenson break Steve Beaton's streak, Scott Taylor made it through as an associate, will be good to see how Ryan Meikle's developing, similar with Bradley Brooks I guess, while in the Euro side Maik Kuivenhoven is a little bit of a surprise qualifier. Tom Lonsdale was only a leg away from making it, which would have been a bit of a coup. In ET12, the Euro half was mostly the usual, but Davy van Baelen made it, as did Benito van de Pas, how odd. The UK qualifier saw a lot of names who've been playing a bit better than results suggest qualifying - Luke Woodhouse, Arron Monk, Kyle Anderson, Adam Hunt, Willie O'Connor, Steve West - would have added Jamie Hughes prior to ET8 obviously. Richard North also qualified, which is a useful bit of form after a pretty awful 2019 to date.

BDO news, and they've announced venues for the World Masters and Lakeside - I say Lakeside, as it's not Lakeside, it's at the smaller venue in the O2, which I think it somewhat of a positive move. Bringing it right into London can only attract more attention, it's a decent venue, sure there's some doom-merchants saying "it's not Lakeside BDO is dead" but I think it was time for a change. As for the Masters, they're going to the Circus Tavern. That's an interesting one, obviously it's no stranger to darts (although, oddly, the BDO press release just refers to it as "hosting tournaments, exhibitions") and it's also good that they've tied it down for three years. It's hugely important for the BDO to have a bit of stability and I think this accomplishes it.

PC21's going on, I find it incredible that after Gerwyn Price's late withdrawal (I at least knew about it yesterday from Twitter, when he actually alerted the PDC is another question at least) that they couldn't find a replacement. Hildesheim's not exactly in the arse end of nowhere, Hannover, Braunschweig, Wolfsburg, Kassel, Bielefeld (if it even exists) are all fairly close and you've got to think that there's surely one German player with associate PDPA membership that could have hopped in his car and not given Ian White a bye. Or, for that matter, any of the other associates that made up the field for the Euro Tour qualifiers. They didn't all just do a runner, surely?

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Cross GOAT

So Rob got home, damnit, should have been more bullish on him, but who could have envisaged Smith playing quite how he did to get into an insurmountable deficit, which he nearly surmounted? God knows. Was a great final as long as you didn't turn off midway through the second session, hopefully this doesn't take things out of Michael too much.

New FRH rankings:

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

Wattimena gets bumped out of the top 20 in favour of King. Durrant is up to #26 and will almost certainly hit the top 25 extremely quickly just on countback alone. Jamie Hughes just making the event has put him into the top 50, surely he will be able to keep climbing, but he's now at the stage where he needs to put in either huge floor performances or TV runs to make huge jumps.

And then there were two

So it comes down to Rob Cross against Michael Smith for all the cheddar, Cross looking for, oddly, his first title of the year and second major overall, and his first ranking title in over a year, while Smith is also looking for his first title of the year, his first major title, and he's not won a ranking event for two months longer than Cross has, so there's a lot on the line here. The bookies can hardly separate them (Cross is 5/6 with Smith the opposite), but can we? First things first, the year long stats:

That's not overly pretty reading for Smith - Cross hasn't played quite as many events as Smith has (only having played half the Pro Tour events), but his win/loss percentage is basically the same as Smith's, and in both the legs he's won and the legs he's lost, he's performed considerably better - which translates to the model thinking Cross wins the final 73% of the time. That's not exactly 5/6. How have their averages fluctuated over the course of the year?

Not overly pretty for Smith either, it looks like Cross has a bit of a slump before rising again once the Matchplay's been under way, but there's a very real sample size issue possibly at play, at that point in the year he wasn't playing much darts, at least ranking darts, and went out fairly early in some Euro Tours when he was playing. How about how they've done in this event?

Here it's a bit closer - Smith's actually doing better in the legs he's won, with a great showing of power legs, primarily against King and Hughes, while we all saw the level of play he put in to effectively end the game early against Durrant yesterday. Those winning legs give Smith the match 63% of the time if we just consider Matchplay stats, although when Smith's had some bad legs, they've been bad enough that Cross still leads in the overall statistics, although that clownshow leg against King where Smith had 27 darts and still lost the leg may have something to do with that.

Head to head, Cross has a pretty dominating record - 12-3, although a lot of this is in unranked tournaments, which included two of Smith's three wins in the World Series last year. They last met for ranked money in the UK Open semi final where Cross obviously won, while Cross also won their other major meetings late in 2017 - in the European Championships, which was easy, and in the worlds, which was anything but, and I think we can all remember how that one went down. I suppose the only real thing is that the only time these two have met in a final, although unranked, Smith had his only real comfortable win he's had against Cross, 8-2 in Shanghai, the other two wins for him being deciding leg shootouts.

It's really hard to look past Cross here, but there's something in the way Smith's played in this event that dissuades me from going past the Cross bet. I get the sense that he's finally at the stage in his career where he's ready to nick a title, he finally managed to get to the major final in the worlds and it didn't work out, and I think that experience might be enough to get him over the line. On the other hand, after Gurney chucked away that huge lead in the semi final, is Cross's name already on the trophy? I'm not going to bet this, and just enjoy the final, which for the tournament leaves us down three quarters of a unit, not great but could have been a lot worse given the state we were in where we were going multiple underdogs and very few favourites, and all the chalk was coming home - except in the few matches we did go for the favourite (thanks Gerwyn and Peter).

Some other notes - we had the fifth weekend of the Asian Tour, and Paul Lim had a great weekend, claiming event 9 and finishing runner up in event 10, beating the young Chinese kid that looked a decent prospect in the 2018 worlds, but then losing to Yuki Yamada, who I don't really know a lot about but was a finalist earlier in the year, and has put himself in the equation for an Ally Pally spot (I'm going to the Friday evening straight before Christmas by the way) - Ilagan and Lim have clinched and Malicdem looks fairly safe, but then Asada, Lam, Yamada and Muramatsu are all separated by less than $1,500, so it wouldn't take much for any of them to power their way in. Especially if Asada is able to win the Japanese qualifier again, it's more or less wide open for the last spot.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Quick thoughts on the semi finals

No bets on the Durrant/Smith match. I find it very hard to separate the two on season long stats, but one thing you might want to consider is that Smith has the most twelve dart legs of anyone in the tournament to date with nine - Durrant only has two. Sure, Durrant has the most 13-15 dart legs in the event that's left (Bunting actually has a couple more), but will the ability Smith has to put in a power scoring leg more often make the difference? The model just based on the Matchplay rates Smith as a substantial favourite, but I'm not going to start betting based on such a small sample size.

That small sample size for Cross and Gurney strongly favours Cross. We're talking 85/15 here, over the course of the tournament Cross has finished 29 of his 37 legs won in fifteen darts or better, inclusive of seven twelve dart or better legs, this is compared to Gurney's 23 from 37, where only five were in twelve or less. Gurney is maintaining his stupidly high consistency level, his losing average in the tournament is only a quarter of a point lower than his winning average, and his losing average is comparable to Cross's, give or take half a point. Cross does however have a four point lead on winning average, and over the course of the season Cross scores over five points higher per winning leg turn than Gurney does (and a point higher on losing leg turns), which indicates both players are doing comparably well to how they've done season long. Season long stats rate Cross to win 90% of the time, so I've got no real problem in 0.5u Cross 8/15, I think with this sort of edge I really ought to go the full unit, but we've been stung by Gurney three times in this tournament. Heck, that price isn't much better than what we got on Wright yesterday, and we saw how that ended up (well, those watching live did, anyway).

Friday, 26 July 2019

Oh, it's always fun when dartsdata crashes

Such joy. I have no idea why the PDC persists with a company that seems incapable of watching a TV and entering what the opposing player has thrown with such alarming regularity, one can only assume Uncle Barry was locked down to a twenty year contract at some point and is stuck with the useless fuckers. Still, at least the PDC has refs, which is more than other organisations have...

In any case, huge thanks to Martin, Carl and whoever runs @theredbit180 on Twitter for helping me piece together the stats for the Wright/Gurney match. It's always great when a community doing things for the love of the game can piece things together better than a multi million pound organisation.

So we're down to Cross/Gurney and Durrant/Smith, the key thing here being the possibility of Glen saying "butnahhhhh" to Jamie Hughes stealing his Grand Slam spot by swiping it straight back with a victory, it should be interesting to note at this stage that the prize for winning the semi final is worth less than the prize for winning the quarter final, the same stupidity that exist in the Euro Tour going from the quarters to the semis, except on a much larger scale. That means by beating Smith, Durrant would only get up to #22 in the FRH rankings, rather than the top 20 which he would have done with any sensible prize structure.

I'll look at the odds for tomorrow's matches in the morning. I could look at the Duzza match now but frankly these past few days have taken things completely out of me. It won't take long to shove things into the master computer, but it may take a bit of time for the bookies to price up Cross/Gurney, so I'll wait.

Next weekend is PC21 and PC22, where there seems to be basically nobody of note playing either of them. It's the one that's over in Hildesheim, and just looking at the first one there's no van Gerwen, Cross, Gurney, GAndo, Wade, Wright or ALewis from the FRH top 20. No Cadby either. That makes things super wide open, so maybe there's some decent each way value to be had on these.

While I'm not analysing the final, here's a first couple of parts in an occasional series - "If I ran the PDC":

1) Winners on the Asian Tour win an entry into a Players Championship event of their choice

This makes some sense to me. I would imagine that if you put this into play, most players who would be in a position to utilise this would either wait until they've banked a couple and play a weekend, or (and?) look to time a week to ten days where there is also Challenge Tour events or decent sized BDO opens which they can also take advantage of. The Asian Tour seems so separate in a way that other regional tours aren't, especially since the DPA tour at least has some influence in getting into the World Series. You could look to do similar for other something like the DPA tour, but I think throwing up the opportunity for an Ilagan, Malicdem, Asada etc to be able to target a time period where there's the Pro Tour midweek, play a couple of events and bookend them with the Challenge Tour or other major opens, it'd allow them to get enough darts in whereby the sunk cost of flights may be easily negated, ignoring the fact that by winning on the Asian Tour they've got a few quid in the bank anyway. Just one Pro Tour win would come close to paying for the flights in themselves.

2) PDC qualifiers for the Grand Slam are initially seeded by Grand Slam qualification countback

Again, this makes perfect sense to me. If Durrant wins tomorrow, surely it would be logical to start seeding by the last players not to make it in? So Hughes would be the #1 seed, then Clayton, Lewis, Ratajski etc? There's an effective Order of Merit for qualifying for the Slam - if you're not high enough to get in directly on it, seed the qualifier by it.

Back in the morning.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Matchplay QF bets

Seems everyone got eliminated yesterday, let's take a peek at who's left:

Smith/King - Market is 2/5 Smith. This seems about right. King, based on year long stats, is just under 35%, which isn't amazing value in any case, but let's factor in the conditions. I live up in the north west and it's fucking unbearable right now. King's done incredibly well these last two games, but I have to think that the extended format once you get to the quarters will surely be a bridge too far. If he can overcome it, good luck to the lad, I'm not going to recommend tiny edges on the off chance he doesn't fall apart in the mid-late stages.

Durrant/Wade - Oh boy, this one should be fun. I'm sure I've mentioned previously that if there's one player that I think Glen is comparable to in the PDC in terms of style, it's probably Wade, I'm really looking forward to this match. I'm going to have to go with a small nibble on James here, 0.25u Wade 6/5, over the course of a Matchplay quarter final length game I'm getting Wade at 55%, that's got to be worth the shot at odds against, Wade's been taken to overtime both games and is surely playing at a high enough level that he'll at least be able to drag it out into his backyard - while Glen's played long games in the past, there's not been too many of them, and it'll have been exclusively at Lakeside, this is the unknown.

Cross/Bunting - 1u Cross 1/4, Stephen's fun ends here. Cross is simply playing far too well and is nearly at 90% on my projections.

Wright/Gurney - 0.5u Wright 1/2, Peter's just absolutely killing it over the last two weeks. Daryl rates as an enormous underdog on the projections, as always I'll reference the consistency, and he's actually again averaging nearly three points higher on losing legs in this event than in winning legs. That's because Evans and Brown let him off. Wright won't do that.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Matchplay round 2 bets

Not a great deal in terms of shocks on day 2/3, so no post since day 1 - I suppose the only thing that was a bit odd is Chisnall losing to Hopp, and Cullen not winning a leg, everything else was more or less just seeds or favourites advancing, which isn't too pretty given we've been on underdogs. What for round 2?

Smith/Hopp - no bet, Hopp didn't play badly, Smith was maybe a touch fortunate to get by Hughes. We can get north of 2/1 on Hopp, nearly value but Smith's up near 65% so not quite enough edge.

Wade/Suljovic - 0.25u Wade 4/5, the market has this fairly even and I don't know why, Mensur hasn't done a great deal this year whereas James has, this looks more like a 2/1 game to me.

Anderson/King - 0.25u King 11/4, we're going to stay on King after his first impressive display, Anderson frankly wasn't great against Noppert, and just got let off by Danny missing many doubles. Think Mervyn's about 40% here, only concern is that third on it may be a bit hotter than when he opened on Saturday, but it's only a race to 11 so it shouldn't be that bad.

van Gerwen/Durrant - no bet, the market's correctly assessing that MvG isn't playing great and that Durrant is quality, and put him at 9/4 - I'd probably edge it slightly closer, but not enough that we can start thinking about betting on Glen. It certainly isn't a "ZOMG van Gerwen is shorter than 1/3 pile on" situation.

Gurney/Brown - 0.25u Brown 21/10, Keegan's pretty damn close to Gurney in overall quality, he's within a point per turn over the course of the year. As he's got a fair bit of inconsistency, his winning average is actually higher than Daryl's and he projects as a favourite as a result, but let's not go too crazy.

Bunting/White - no bet, Bunting's doing just about enough that he probably steals this one time out of three, which is exactly where the market's at. This is despite winning by the narrowest of margins in the last round, and that he plays someone who won by completely the opposite.

Cross/Ratajski - no bet, I'd have thought that Krzysztof being near 3/1 would be a bet against anyone in the world given how good he is, but then again, Cross is just that good. Line looks extremely accurate.

Wright/Whitlock - 1u Wright 2/7, Whitlock wasn't awful yesterday and Wright did look a bit sluggish, but recent form is more than one game and Peter has incredible recent form, he also ought to win this well over 85% of the time on season long data. This looks safe.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Matchplay day 1 - this is all going nicely OH GOD NO

Let's just chuck out some winners and losers, shall we?

Winner - Mervyn King. Hugely. Four legs won in four visits is pretty impressive, two of them at key points - one after it went 5-5 to kick off the final session, then one to ice the match, getting a big lead and then killing the game when it looked like it might have been in doubt.

Winner - Rob Cross. First three legs were a bit ropey, but after that zero complaints can be had - finished every leg after that in 15 darts or less, averaged 97 in the three legs he didn't win, it didn't appear flashy but it was extremely competent and a big warning sign to the field.

Winner - Nathan Aspinall. Odd choice, but there really wasn't much he could have done - every leg he won was in fifteen or less, and on the legs King won, he was one point below averaging 100 (no, not that he was averaging 99, he scored 4599 in 46 visits). Sometimes you just run into someone who's unplayable.

Loser - Gerwyn Price. For the love of god, what was that? Even when it was looking fairly comfortable at 6-3, he hadn't won a single leg in fifteen darts, then he proceeds to do a leg that I'd be disappointed with by not even halving his score in fifteen darts, somehow hauls it to 8-8, misses a match dart on the 140 to avoid overtime, and the rest is history.

Everyone else I'd have to say was break even. Bunting was simply the more competent player early on but there was a reason why Price was able to have a decent lead in the early stages. Anderson was poor, at least for his standards, Noppert at least showed a bit of a pulse after gifting Anderson a 4-0 lead primarily through missed doubles, extremely annoying as he'd have won the match if he took his chances, Dobey was at least putting himself into positions to win legs but I think got a bit disheartened after losing the first couple of legs, which he could easily have won.

It's Super Sunday tomorrow, we're going to lose a quarter of the field from what it started as, we only have the Wattimena play to concern ourselves with on the betting front but there's so many hugely interesting games, let's enjoy the action without worrying about pluses and minuses.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Matchplay round 1 bets

Let's work through them in chronological order:

Aspinall/King - 0.25u King 9/4, honestly this doesn't seem anywhere near as one sided as the market makes out. King's winning scoring is within half a point of Nathan's, while his losing scoring is a couple of points back meaning he might give away a couple of legs, Mervyn's projecting at 45%, and I really don't think you can adjust it that far down based on a slight bit of inconsistency.

Price/Bunting - 1u Price 4/9, this looks the other way around. Bunting is a clear five points behind Price on winning points per turn and is more inconsistent to boot. Projections show Price at over 80% to claim the first round win, so 4/9 looks like a nice enough edge to work with.

Anderson/Noppert - 0.25u Noppert 11/4, I should have just recommended the bet when seeing the 7/2 earlier - I've taken that, but I think I still need to recommend Danny at this price, Anderson no longer projects as the underdog after a couple of solid days of performance, but he's not put in anywhere near the level of performance that makes this line even remotely justifiable. It's 55/45 Anderson on year long stats.

Cross/Dobey - no bet. Should probably go with Cross, he's looked sublime in a couple of games this weekend and looks to have enough game that 4/11 is a tempter, it's probably acca safe but I can't really recommend a straight single play. Dobey's shown enough about him this year that the 80% I'm seeing for Cross might be a slight overestimate.

Webster/Ratajski - no bet, Darren continues to struggle, but the market's correctly adjusted to that I think - it's 1/2 on the Pole and I'm reckoning about 70/30 in his favour, so no real edge on the Eagle here.

Chisnall/Hopp - no bet again. It's another 1/2 line, and I'm seeing Dave within a percentage point of that implied probability. Hopp's not made a huge number of headlines this year in comparison to Chisnall but is playing well enough that we're not interested in lumping on Dave.

White/Cullen - no bet once more, and for the exact same reasons as the last two. Again, White is around the 1/2 mark, and I'm seeing him at 66%, so no thanks - that's shifted in a solid 5% in Cullen's favour as a result of the past couple of days.

Smith/Hughes - no bet. This is a reluctant one, I should be firing on Hughes as we're getting close to 6/4 and both players are rated closely enough that it ought to be a flip, there's just something very worrying about how Hughes has played these past two days, I wouldn't want to say it's a case of he's taken the foot off the pedal having got into here at the last second, but those stats don't look great.

Wade/de Zwaan - no bet. Very close to firing on Jeffrey, if the money comes in on Wade (and there's every reason to think that it might do), then a small play might be in order. Jeffrey is projecting at about 43%, albeit with a bit more inconsistency, the 13/8 currently available isn't quite enough. If it shifts nearer to 2/1 then fire at will.

Suljovic/Wattimena - 0.25u Wattimena 23/10, the projection here is about the same as what it is between Wade and de Zwaan, but we're getting a much better price so perfectly happy with recommending a bet on this one. That head to head record is a bit of a concern but surely Jermaine will put that aside at some point.

van Gerwen/Beaton - no bet. Odd one, you would expect over a longer format that the market would favour MvG more than it does do in the Euro Tours, but we're only getting 6/1 on Steve, and he's not even up at 20% to win the game, so no shock punts at this stage.

Lewis/Durrant - no bet, very close to firing on Glen, 8/13 is probably slight value, but given I'd put the line at about 2-1 in Glen's favour, with Adie punching through to a semi final today and with Glen not looking brilliant, I think there's enough uncertainty to avoid it. And let's not forget, for all Glen's experience, it's his first proper PDC major, and we've all seen him talk about what it means to play here - maybe it means too much?

Clayton/Brown - no bet, this one looks extremely close to being on the money, Clayton's rated at 4/5 and I'm seeing him in the mid 50's, could be one to look at the over/under number of legs.

Whitlock/Henderson - 0.25u Henderson 6/5, this is another one where I'm seeing someone in the mid 50's to win the game. Fortunately for us, it isn't Simon Whitlock, who continued to look pedestrian these past couple of days.

Gurney/Evans - 0.25u Evans 2/1, the only thing that's in Gurney's favour here is the consistency rating, because as far as winning legs go they currently score within 1/100th of a point per turn of each other. It's only the distribution of that which separates them - Ricky being a tiny favourite. I mention consistency, Gurney's losing average is about 1 point lower than his winning average, but Evans is solidly below the PDC average on that as well. This isn't a concern and looks a good bet.

Wright/van der Voort - no bet, while Wright looks unstoppable, he needs to be a bit more of unstoppable in order to punt at 1/3 - he's a little bit better than that, but south of 80%. It's not worth the gamble.

That's your lot - six bets, one big favourite in Price, one minor dog in Henderson and then four in the 2/1 to 3/1 range where if we can pick off two of them, we end up nicely ahead.

Pre-Matchplay final checkup

Peter Wright's claimed his second title in as many days, so with Michael van Gerwen and James Wade having given this Pro Tour double header a miss, let's have a quick look at the stats of the remaining 30 players from these two events:

Clearly Peter is leading the way, but some interesting things to note:

- Michael Smith's got to count himself pretty unlucky - sure, you wouldn't expect two first round losses to Toni Alcinas and Pete Hudson, but it's not like he was playing badly in the legs he lost.
- The other players up there are those that you'd have thought would be, but Joe Cullen's put a bit of form together right at the right time, capped with a final run today (although he was obliterated therein) following a last 16 yesterday. Maybe it's not so straightforward for Ian White as we first thought.
- While Smith lost twice in the first round, so did his opponent Jamie Hughes (to Josh Payne and Kirk Shepherd), and didn't look good in either of them, not the greatest of looks coming into a big major. Similarly, fellow newbie on the circuit Glen Durrant seemed a fair bit off the pace, sure it took Wright to beat him yesterday, but he did chuck away a 5-2 lead in that then lose to Steve West in the opening round today.
- Speaking of Wright, the players in his quarter really haven't performed - five of the seven others are all in the bottom ten of this pair of events, Gurney's also in the bottom half - only Jonny Clayton continues to put up any kind of resistance in his quarter and and 7/4 for Peter Wright to claim it looks really quite good.

New FRH rankings:

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

Cross's prize money degrading faster than Smith's has helped Michael claim the #2 spot in the rankings despite a pretty poor couple of days results wise. Otherwise there's no movement - Wright's double bink has kept him above White where some real failures would have seen him slip to #10, he's opened up a near 20k point gap over him and is back within 10k of Aspinall. Cullen's final has stabilised him in the top 16 for now, lower down Ron Meulenkamp's semi final yesterday sees him hit the top 50, Justin Pipe is now solidly back in the top 64 following his final, a couple of board wins for Christian Kist has bumped him back into the top 90, surprise semi finalist today Adrian Gray is up to near the top 128.

I'm going to shove all the first round matchups into the master computer with all of the data from the last two days and recommend bets accordingly, watch this space.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

PC19 - There is now steam in the Flying Scotsman

Nowhere near fully digested what's happened today, that's for tomorrow during a well earned day off work, but the critical information right now is that Gary Anderson not only entered an event, but didn't withdraw from it, and actually managed to reach the semi finals - which gives us a heck of a lot more data than what we had previously to this year, which was more or less fuck all.

In the 33 legs he won, he managed five in 12 darts or better, a further sixteen in 15 or better, and all but one of the remainder were in 18 or better. Which goes at a nice clip of 95 and a half for winning average. That's not bad, that's more or less in the same region as James Wade, Peter Wright (who dicked him again), and a touch better than Durrant and Hughes. Then again, it's not that much better than the low 93 he was doing prior to today, in around the same sample size - so if we split the difference he's at about the same level as Noppert, O'Connor, Kyle Anderson... let's not just look at "ZOMG SEMI FINAL" and assume he's back. Heck, he nearly fucked up a 5-0 lead against Marko fucking Kantele of all people. Still, more data is better data, let's build on this and try to draw some more useful conclusions tomorrow evening.

But hey! Great news! The BDO has confirmed the World Trophy for the back end of August, in Blackburn of all places!

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Quarter 4 - The Wright stuff

We kick off with the latest TV title winner in Peter Wright (congrats to Gabriel Clemens for making the final by the way, that title is surely just a matter of time, although we've been saying that about Chris Dobey for three years now), who's bizarrely seen as not being in the greatest of form despite having the fourth highest points per turn of anyone in the world - I suppose some people do just look at titles. Maybe now that he's won one he starts getting a bit more credit? His first opponent is Vincent van der Voort, often billed as the fastest player in the world despite not even being the fastest player in this quarter, the Dutchman seemingly having a bit of time without any back problems, which has allowed him to put together solid statistics throughout the year although in terms of results it's mostly been a few quarter finals and steady accumulation, rather than anything spectacular, as such he was only just able to get into the field. Should be an easy enough win for Peter, although he only has a 6-5 head to head record and lost their only meeting this season, and also lost their only meeting in a major back in 2014.

And his second round opponent might not be that much tougher - Simon Whitlock is seemingly in a stage of decline in his career, his rankings being kept alive by sporadic good runs such as the final he made on the European Tour, and the European Championship run last autumn. He looks like he's putting things together a bit more in the last couple of months but is still playing a lot worse than his ranking suggests. John Henderson will be his opponent, Hendo having a nice run of quarter finals earlier in the year and a semi final in April, but in the last couple of months it's been a bit quieter. He's still putting together better statistics in more or less every single category than the Australian, and ought to be a moderate favourite in this one. Hendo edges the head to head 4-3, but they've only met once since 2014.

Daryl Gurney's the top seed in this section, but I'm not sure he's the best player in this section, putting together scoring that's a fair bit worse than Wright, and is not that much better than the other players in his mini-section, although his numbers are pretty odd in that his winning legs are really quite average, below his first round opponent Ricky Evans, but his losing legs are not far behind his winning legs per turn at all, so is he running bad or being gifted legs? Or both? He has at least won a Euro Tour, so can't be doing too bad, and in that Euro Tour event he beat, er, Ricky Evans in the final. Ricky's been getting a bit gimmicky with his walk-ons and that banter is disguising that his quality of play has come on leaps and bounds in the last twelve months, reaching three finals, two of them being on the European Tour, so getting lumps of cash to push him up the rankings. This'll be deceptively close - that Gurney final win pulled back the head to head to 4-3 in favour of Evans, Ricky having won the three previous matches.

The final game is Jonny Clayton against Keegan Brown - Clayton is perceived as being a bit out of form, and I'm not really sure why given he's picked up another floor title this season and is scoring perfectly fine - I suppose he's just had a few accidents early in the Euro Tour events that doesn't help perception. It ought to be a good opening match against Keegan, who's becoming a bit of a specialist against Michael van Gerwen, having beaten him twice in the Euro Tour on his way to semi finals in both events, which is a nice habit to get into. This is another game that threatens to be very close - they only appear to have the one meeting, where Clayton won a board final in a deciding leg on the floor earlier this year.

Later on, I think Wright looks to be as close to a lock to make the quarters as anyone in the field, whereas the other quarter finalist could realistically be any of them - but whoever it is ought to be an underdog to Wright in the quarter.

Everyone wants more graphs, so let's have another one:

Most players are just below their dot, although some have shifted a bit funny - VVDV is the orange dot, Brown is the salmony one, Beaton's the light green dot and Ratajski's the darker green one.

Berry van Peer's recently binked Challenge Tour 11 which has shoved into a three way clusterfuck for fourth right now with him, Edhouse and Harris within fifty quid of each other, Edhouse having had another first round accident and Harris only mincashing. Cameron Menzies was the beaten finalist, forcing his way up to second in the rankings, while Arjan Konterman and Rusty Jake Rodriguez made nice runs through to the semi finals.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Quarter 3 - Cross or Price? Or White? Or Ratajski?

In reference to the comment at the end of the previous post, of course they couldn't have switched the events up, we can't have players missing the Pro Tour because of that most prestigious events that is the German Darts Masters, can we? Completely forgot that was on this weekend, oh well, I'm sure MvG will clean up again... oh. Still, I hope someone made some Nico Kurz making short work of Gary Anderson pun, just to see who would get it.

Rob Cross is the top seeded player in this section of the draw, and has an OK opener against Chris Dobey, who's making his debut here after being extremely close to qualifying in the past few years, I think being the last man out on at least one occasion. Cross hasn't exactly racked up the titles this year, but has made the final of both the UK Open and the Premier League, and statistically is right up there with the best in the game, although in competitive events we've not seen him on the Pro Tour in quite a while and he's dropped out of the last three Euro Tours he's played pretty early. Dobey's still looking for his first title, getting close in Denmark to clinch his place here but completely running out of steam in the final. Cross has won three out of their four meetings, including the only one this year on the Euro Tour. Rob should have enough you'd think.

Darren Webster's looking to get things back together after a horrible twelve months since he made the quarters last year (beating Cross, oddly enough) - eleven first round defeats on the floor isn't a good look and he's one of the two weakest seeds in the event. It's not a good sign that he's drawn one of the very best qualifiers in Krzysztof Ratajski, the Pole having claimed another floor title recently and has put enough together to qualify for this. Their only previous meeting was on TV in the snow-affected UK Open, and I can't look past a repeat of that result where Ratajski won 10-7, although I think that'd be a minimum sort of scoreline, it could well be more one sided than that.

Gerwyn Price has continued to raise his game after getting his first major title last autumn and can now class himself amongst the world's elite, and has to fancy his chances of doing some damage in this section of the draw. He's continuing to rack up titles having picked up a pair of Pro Tours, reached the UK Open semi and seems to be deep in events more often than not. His first round opponent will be Stephen Bunting, who's managed to get here just about, although that was in doubt a couple of months ago, but a final on the floor at the start of May made things safe enough, and the final in the Czech Republic late last month was overkill. Stephen's a big name and still has his moments, but is somewhat down the pecking order of qualifiers nowadays and surely won't be able to put up enough resistance to trouble the Iceman over a game of this distance - their meeting in Denmark recently wasn't close and Price has won their last three matchups.

Finally we've got Ian White, who is putting together the sort of season he did last year, if not more impressive - winning two Euro Tour titles, making the final of two others, it's just the same lingering question of if he can do it in a televised major. You would think that having the run that he's had in the Euro Tour, it's going to happen sooner rather than later, and he's got a decent chance to get things going against Joe Cullen, who has had quite frankly a horrible last twelve months after nearly beating Gary Anderson here last time around in the quarter final. He made the semis of the European Championship but that's about it - he's slipped from the top 16, hasn't threatened to do much of anything on the Pro Tour, and even in the Euro Tour which, at least in 2018, was the safest of spaces for him, he's started losing early and doing so often. He needs to put his game back together quickly, and running into one of the in form players in the world right now isn't going to be the place where it happens. They've met eleven times, all on the floor, but oddly not since 2016, where White won both meetings very deep in each event.

Later on, Cross ought to be favoured - prohibitively if it was Webster, while it would be closer against Krzysztof, but he still should be comfortable. Price against White would be an incredibly tasty second round match up - Price is playing somewhat better darts, and while I'd project Gerwyn to win it quite a high proportion of the time, in reality it would probably be closer. As for who wins the quarter, I think Cross against either of these should be tight, similarly if Ratajski sneaked through, it'd be tight, except there Price/White probably has the small edge, rather than the other way around.

Quick notes on the Challenge Tour - it's been a huge weekend for Cody Harris, who won event 9 and reached the semis of event 10, where he lost to eventual winner Nick Fullwell, a name who's been around for quite some time (heck, he was in the PDC worlds ten years ago), but has been quiet on the Challenge Tour this year, only having picked up £200 prior to this weekend, so he only sneaks into the top 10 of the current rankings. Harris moves into a tie for third with Ritchie Edhouse who had a rare couple of blanks, while Koltsov in second could only gain £200 on Stephen Burton, who still has a substantial lead. Nathan Rafferty had a good Saturday, picking up £1200 (including making the final where he lost to Fullwell) to get up to sixth, Andy Jenkins hit a nine on a run to the semis, while Martin Atkins (Wigan) was the other beaten finalist. Lower down the order it was a good day for Mareno Michels and Gary Blades, who apart from Harris and Rafferty were the only players to make the last 16 both times. Only £500 separates Noguera in 5th to Beveridge in 11th, so a lot of jockeying for position as Pro Tour alternates might go on and it wouldn't take a huge amount of cash to queue jump several players.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Quarter 2 - it's wide open

There's a heck of a lot of talent in this quarter so let's start from the top. Michael Smith's not done a huge amount in terms of results since making the final of the worlds, he had a nice run in the UK Open and hit a couple of finals at a time where he had dropped out of the Euro Tour seeds, but you'd expect someone of Smith's calibre and quality of play to have won something this season. Jamie Hughes has, and it's a very tight matchup between Smith and the latest European Tour winner. Hard to call, Jamie's probably peaking at the right time but Smith did have a nice run in Vegas to boost confidence. They've only met once, a 6-0 Smith win last season the day after, according to dartsdatabase, Smith was winning an event in Texas while simultaneously losing in the first round to Benito van de Pas in Ireland. You have to laugh.

Dave Chisnall's also been in the winners circle this year, grabbing a Euro Tour title as well as two Pro Tour events, and was probably the player to beat in the early part of the season before maybe cooling off slightly before taking the Denmark title. Max Hopp is his opponent, the German is scoring alright, but has been very run of the mill in terms of results outside of one Pro Tour final where he lost a decider to Harry Ward, as well as making one Euro Tour semi where he really should have been able to beat Simon Whitlock. Chizzy's rightly a nice favourite and ought to have enough to see this one home. They've met several times - Hopp's won a couple of close ones but Chizzy's won the rest, and mostly fairly comfortably, a straight sets win in the last Grand Prix and a 6-1 rout in the World Series finals being the most recent games.

Hard to say what we think about Gary Anderson. He's played next to no competitive darts at all, be that through the injury issues that saw him miss out on the Premier League, continued ignorance of the existence of the European Tour, or through late withdrawals to events he has been in. When he has played, he's not been good, losing to Steve Beaton in the UK Open, then not winning his board in four Pro Tour events with early losses to van der Voort, Whitehead, Nentjes and 6-0 to Wright. Less than 80 legs is no sample, but Noppert's outplayed what Gary's done there over 500+ legs. Danny has quietly been putting together excellent performances, highlighted by a pair of semi finals in the Pro Tour in one weekend, and is playing at an extremely similar level to the likes of Willie O'Connor and Nathan Aspinall, albeit more explosive. That's good enough to equate to a 3/1 shot of beating MvG in a Matchplay final. He's 7/2 right now, which is just silly - heck, their previous TV meeting (when Noppert was still in the BDO) went 10-9 to Anderson, and Noppert won their only meeting since.

Speaking of Nathan Aspinall, the newest major champion and World Series event winner completes the seeds in this section. He's comprehensively shown that the worlds semi was not a fluke. He's nearly added another couple of ranking titles to that UK Open win, and has forced himself up into the top 16 in any reasonable metric you want to use - although it is a debut for him here. One player it's not a debut for is Mervyn King, who was able to deal with van Gerwen and open up the draw for Aspinall, but has been pretty variable in how he's done. He's got a big consistency differential, which has seen him win with some decent legs that project King to be close enough to Aspinall that he has a realistic chance, but his off legs are quite a bit worse. If they have met before, it's only been once and it's not been recently.

Second round is incredibly tight. You can make a reasonable case for anyone who isn't Hopp to make their way to the quarter final out of the top section, such is the parity in their levels of play. In the bottom half, I doubt that King would be able to win two in a row if he did beat Aspinall, but if not, Nathan against either opponent ought to be very tight. I think the top four players are somewhat stronger than the bottom four, but realistically anyone in this quarter has the A-game to make their way out of it if they show up - maybe King lacks the stamina nowadays to come through a quarter final length match, and maybe Hopp lacks the experience of playing that length, but anyone else is completely believable.

Probably get the bottom half sorted over the weekend, along with keeping an eye on the Challenge Tour. Is there any reason whatsoever why they could have the Challenge Tour the week after while the Matchplay is on, and have the Pro Tour this weekend rather than midweek?

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Quarter 1 - MvG for certain, right?

So, you'd think that van Gerwen would be an automatic stroll in the park here. I'm not so sure to be honest. Steve Beaton isn't completely drawing dead - he's playing his best darts in years, and has certainly pushed van Gerwen close a couple of times on TV in the past, only losing by fairly small margins here in 2012 and 2014, although they haven't met in any format since 2017.

Adrian Lewis against Glen Durrant is an interesting one to call - Lewis's form seems to have dipped a bit in the past couple of months if you look at the rolling averages, whereas Glen has been playing extremely consistently ever since his move to the PDC, the only thing that he's really lacking is a TV or European Tour run, which he might be able to do here. If Durrant does go through, which we're thinking right now he'll do about two thirds of the time, note that his chance of making the quarters is not much less than half of his chances of making the last sixteen - he's that close to van Gerwen, who he comfortably beat in their only match up to date, although that was on the floor. Lewis has met Durrant three times in board finals on the Pro Tour this year, none of them have been blowouts but Durrant has been getting progressively better and took the third one after Adie took the first two.

van Gerwen wouldn't want to meet either of the next two in the quarters - James Wade is having his best twelve month spell in probably a decade, and has picked up four Pro Tour titles this season - in one of those he beat his opponent in the first round, Jeffrey de Zwaan, an 8-5 scoreline giving Wade a 4-0 head to head record having beaten de Zwaan three times last season, although two were in deciding legs. de Zwaan did claim a title himself after that defeat and would like to repeat the semi final he made here last year, but he's in a heck of a tough part of the draw to do that. He could certainly do with a bit of a TV run having fallen early in both the worlds and the UK Open, not having a huge amount of success in Europe is holding him back a touch.

Finally we've got Mensur Suljovic against Jermaine Wattimena. Mensur's been sliding backwards a touch, since making last year's final shortly after winning another Euro Tour event, he's not made a final of any description since. He's been playing a bit better than his performances suggest and is well capable of winning titles soon, so let's not start writing him off just yet. Jermaine is now well established in the top 32 in the world, and will want to get through this one to try to avenge his first round loss in overtime against Wade on debut last year. He has made a final this year where he lost to van Gerwen, and is showing up in the business end of floor events with some regularity, but if he's not going to break through and win something (he's yet to win any event in the PDC), he could do with at least getting out of the first round here. I'm not overly convinced about his numbers and he seems to be outperforming them somewhat, but this isn't the worst draw he could get and he could pick this one up - if his 0-5 record against Mensur doesn't continue, only one of those results really being close, but they've only met once in the past two years since Jermaine started to really progress.

In the later stages of this section, van Gerwen would surely be favourite against either Lewis or Durrant, but Glen is more than capable of taking him down over what'd still be a moderately short distance, and Adie certainly has the peak to do it, even if he hasn't really shown it recently. I'm thinking the winner of the Wade match would have an edge over the winner of the Suljovic match, James is playing a fair bit better than both players he could meet, and de Zwaan's certainly not playing at a bad level either. The quarter's another one where, while van Gerwen would still be favoured, and while we are getting to a longer distance, if it was Wade that he played (if he gets there at all), Wade would certainly be in with a strong chance of pushing him all the way.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019


Real quick quarter by quarter glance before getting into more in depth analysis later:

- The van Gerwen quarter is not particularly pretty for van Gerwen - Beaton isn't the worst first round draw he could have got, but getting both Durrant and de Zwaan in the mix is really not nice. Suljovic can't really complain about Wattimena, he's occasionally dangerous but Mensur's dodged one of the bigger bullets.

- The Anderson quarter could be a lot worse. Noppert's not an easy out for the defending champion by any means, just on the numbers this year he's one of the five or six trickiest ties he could have drawn, but Mervyn ought not to threaten Aspinall that much, and I think Hopp would be similar with Chisnall. Jamie Hughes on the other hand is very much a danger and can easily take Smith down in current form - if not the whole quarter.

- A few interesting ties in the Cross quarter. Dobey is in the upper half of qualifiers in terms of quality if you ask me and will certainly test the former world champ, Ratajski is an absolutely brutal draw for Webster, Darren would probably go off as underdog against most opponents but getting the Pole would be in the top three to avoid. Then you've got a couple of players who are in the lower tiers in terms of averaging - Cullen and Bunting are the two lowest scoring qualifiers this season, and while Bunting hit a bit of form recently and Cullen last hit a bit of form here twelve months ago, the combination of Price and White would be delighted with who they've got as they line up a highlight second round tie.

- Finally we have the Gurney quarter - still seems weird that he's the #3 seed. He's got Ricky Evans and should be fine, Clayton against Brown ought to be fairly close, John Henderson's got possibly the best draw outside of Webster any qualifier could have got in Simon Whitlock, while Wright against van der Voort should be a decent competitive game.

I'm going to chuck up a series of posts, probably quarter by quarter - chances of each player to get through each round, some rolling averages and other stats, that type of thing. I might get the first one out tonight.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Length of matches

As we're approaching the Matchplay, which is one of the few events per year where we actually have very long matches, it's only fair to question - how much of an edge does a longer match give a better player?

Fortunately we can shove this into the master computer and find out. First, let's take two quite evenly matched players:

There's not much of a difference between games of any given length. Hughes is only just more than 1% above a flip in a best of nine, but you could make it best of 31 (which, unless anything's changed and I haven't noticed, is the longest "standard" leg play we have, I calculate under Matchplay rules differently given the tiebreaker) and he doesn't even gain another percentage above 50%.

Now, let's take two not very evenly matched players:

Here, I've taken the player with the lowest winning points per turn and stuck him up against the player with the highest winning points per turn (I bet the name in question surprised you, no?). Again, the length of match isn't going to make much difference - simply because the better player is already winning a huge proportion of games over a short format, there isn't much room at all to improve.

So I think the difference in skill where a longer match really matters is somewhere in the middle. Let's find a pair of opponents where the better guy starts at around 60% in a standard Pro Tour match:

Here, it swings 6.4% in favour of Suljovic going from best of 11 to best of 31. It could only possibly have swung 3.7% in the Cross example. How about a pair of players where it's a bit more one sided, say, 65% on the Pro Tour?

Here, there's a bit more of a swing, it's over 9%. Are we getting near the sweet spot where the length of game matters most? Let's push the Pro Tour win percentage up a bit more:

That's even more again - it's more than a 10% bump. What if it starts out even more one sided?

That's as close to 75% to win on the Pro Tour as I'm going to find, and that goes up nearly 12%. Can we push it up any more?

Took far too long to find anything close to 80%, so this'll have to do - it's still about a 12% swing.

I think this gives us a decent idea - an excessively long match like you see in the quarters of the Matchplay and Grand Slam onwards definitely improves the chances of the better player, but it has the most effect where the better player would already be around a 3-1 or 4-1 favourite in the short match, which needs quite a big skill difference to begin with. A larger favourite simply doesn't have enough room to boost his or her winning chance before they get too close to 100%, whereas smaller favourites simply aren't big enough favourites to be able to properly take advantage of the difference in quality. Something to bear in mind if you're doing your own analysis of Blackpool in the next couple of weeks - if you think someone would be 60/40 on the Pro Tour, but would be lock of the week to win in a Matchplay quarter final, you're doing it wrong.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

What happens in Vegas gets reported here

While it's all well and good seeing van Gerwen suffer another surprising early defeat, Michael Smith picking up some form and Nathan Aspinall having another great final performance to collect another televised title (although it's about as minor a televised title as you can get), what we really want to know is how the continent of America's doing in general, so let's have a look at Dan Baggish, who was able to take the North American championship and, as a result, become the first player (except for those in the main and Pro Tour orders of merit who've already got spots locked up) to qualify for the worlds.

It's a bit of a surprising one, it's certainly not a name I've heard of, and while my attention to the North American scene certainly isn't the greatest, I had at least heard of the rest of the eight players who made it, with the sole exception of Elliott Milk. How did he do? It's a bit hard to say where his game is at, because by the looks of things he's not played on the CDC circuit, which seems a bit of an oddity at first glance, but the USA's a big country (heck, I'm taking a four hour internal flight later this year leaving from nowhere near any border) and maybe it didn't make much sense to play them.

So we've just got the events he's played this week. I'm not going to trawl back through every single round of the qualifiers, for one playing against weaker players does throw the stats off, so I'm just considering the two main events and then the last 16 of the qualifiers. Baggish won 42 legs there - two in twelve or better, twenty in 13-15 darts, 18 in 16-18 darts and the remaining two in more than that. That's fairly symmetrical, there's no sign of power but similarly no sign that he got drawn into long drawn out affairs fairly often, and produces a pretty respectable winning average of 91. In his losing legs, he was quite a bit lower down at 81, which is wildly inconsistent - nobody who's won more than ten legs in senior PDC darts this year has a score that's over 9, the highest being Dimitri van den Bergh at 8.6. So his overall points per turn is going to be in the 86 region - comparable players might be someone like Maik Kuivenhoven (91 winning average/83 losing), heck, Dawson Murschell isn't too dissimilar of a comparison, and the way he's been playing, Richard North is not too far away.

It's really hard to say whether this is Baggish hitting the peak of his game or not, or whether this is standard of what we come to expect. Hopefully with the knowledge he's going to get a minimum $10k pay day at the end of the year, he'll try some more of the domestic events with a bit of coverage about them.

Two weeks now until the Matchplay, but it's busy before then - we should have the draw sometime this week, but before then we've got qualifiers for the Australian/NZ World Series events, a Challenge Tour weekend, a couple of Pro Tour events midweek as well. Meanwhile the BDO continues to suffer more setbacks with the cancellation of whatever they were calling the Zuiderduin nowadays, and still no real knowledge about when or where the World Trophy's going to be held. Not a great state of affairs at all really.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Some Matchplay statistics

The draw's not until next week, so I don't intend on doing any huge reams of analysis until that's done as a minimum (and certainly won't be recommending any bets until after PC19/20 the midweek before the event kicks off), but for now, some things that might be of interest - firstly the FRH rankings of all players who are in the Matchplay with minimum money applied:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Rob Cross
3 Michael Smith
4 Gary Anderson
5 Gerwyn Price
6 Daryl Gurney
7 James Wade
8 Nathan Aspinall
9 Peter Wright
10 Ian White
11 Dave Chisnall
12 Mensur Suljovic
13 Simon Whitlock
14 Jonny Clayton
15 Adrian Lewis
16 Joe Cullen
17 Darren Webster
18 Stephen Bunting
19 Max Hopp
20 Jermaine Wattimena
21 Steve Beaton
22 Mervyn King
23 Jeffrey de Zwaan
24 Chris Dobey
25 Krzysztof Ratajski
26 John Henderson
27 Keegan Brown
28 Ricky Evans
30 Danny Noppert
34 Vincent van der Voort
45 Glen Durrant
48 Jamie Hughes

West, Wilson, van den Bergh, Anderson, Dolan, Huybrechts, Lennon, Lewis, Joyce, Reyes, van Barneveld, O'Connor, Payne, Humphries, Searle and Klaasen fill out the intervening right, making Steve the highest ranked player in the FRH rankings not to be there.

How about who's got the highest points per turn of players in there? We can do that as well, we'll apply a minimum 75 legs played filter to get any detritus out while still including part time players that happen to be in the field:

1 Michael van Gerwen 96.06
2 Gerwyn Price 95.63
3 Rob Cross 95.48
4 Peter Wright 94.04
5 Glen Durrant 93.98
6 Ian White 93.83
7 James Wade 93.79
8 Jamie Hughes 93.66
9 Krzysztof Ratajski 93.57
10 Michael Smith 93.09
11 Mensur Suljovic 92.99
12 Dave Chisnall 92.96
13 Nathan Aspinall 92.11
14 Danny Noppert 92.11
16 Jeffrey de Zwaan 91.99
18 Daryl Gurney 91.87
21 Chris Dobey 91.67
22 Jonny Clayton 91.52
23 Gary Anderson 91.50
24 Max Hopp 91.47
25 Steve Beaton 91.17
26 Adrian Lewis 91.13
31 Keegan Brown 90.98
33 Ricky Evans 90.84
34 Vincent van der Voort 90.82
36 Jermaine Wattimena 90.80
37 John Henderson 90.79
42 Mervyn King 90.34
46 Joe Cullen 90.00
57 Stephen Bunting 89.66
64 Simon Whitlock 89.03
68 Darren Webster 88.52

O'Connor, Anderson, Cadby, de Sousa, Clemens, Monk, Humphries, West, van den Bergh, Lennon, Evetts, Woodhouse, van Barneveld, Dolan, van Duijvenbode, Payne, Klaasen, Searle, Ross Smith, McGeeney and Rodriguez are those in the top 50 that aren't listed here. Can't really go all the way down to nearly 70 in the rankings, can we. What about who's won the most ranking legs? Going to be somewhat affected by how much people actually play, but here we go:

1 Ian White 513
2 Nathan Aspinall 469
3 Gerwyn Price 463
4 Dave Chisnall 445
5 Glen Durrant 423
6 Michael Smith 417
7 Krzysztof Ratajski 408
8 James Wade 403
9 Jonny Clayton 402
10 Peter Wright 385
11 Michael van Gerwen 378
12 Jermaine Wattimena 373
13 Chris Dobey 358
14 Daryl Gurney 348
15 Steve Beaton 341
16 Adrian Lewis 340
17 Jeffrey de Zwaan 339
18 John Henderson 337
19 Ricky Evans 326
20 Keegan Brown 312
21 Rob Cross 301
23 Danny Noppert 300
24 Max Hopp 292
25 Joe Cullen 290
26 Jamie Hughes 288
27 Stephen Bunting 286
28 Vincent van der Voort 285
29 Mervyn King 280
33 Simon Whitlock 261
39 Mensur Suljovic 234
62 Darren Webster 172
136 Gary Anderson 37

Ross Smith leads the way in legs won who isn't there, followed by de Sousa, van den Bergh, Clemens, Meulenkamp, Searle, Evetts, Monk and Anderson fill the gaps down as far as Suljovic.

Everyone's shooting off to 'murica now, I'm more interested in who comes through the qualifier to get into the worlds (assuming it's the same format as last year) than anything in the World Series to be honest, but hey, maybe someone will pull off a shock!

Sunday, 30 June 2019


From a post back in April:

I'm occasionally right about things guys

So Jamie Hughes binked his maiden (main tour) PDC title, got into every major as a result, left James Wilson to choke on his biscuits, and dumped Glen Durrant out of the Grand Slam as things stand. Not a bad day's work really. Most of the semi finalists were surprises - Simon Whitlock got there after all as far as we're concerned, but as far as the market was concerned Stephen Bunting, the defeated finalist, and Keegan Brown were both surprises, not to us who just banked the money and locked up a small profit for the tournament.

New FRH rankings:

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

Bunting didn't need to make the final to pass Hopp, but it certainly helped opening up a bit of a cushion. Smith continues to close in on Cross but continued early failures keep him from getting up to number 2. Keegan Brown punches into the top 30 with his semi final run, Jamie Hughes is just four places outside of the top 50 following his maiden senior PDC title. For the home nation fans, Karel Sedlacek is only five spots outside of the top 100, but is going to be hugely reliant on qualifying for the remaining European events if he wants to make any progress. But hey, he's not far off the European Championship qualification spots, if he can punch a ticket in the remaining qualifiers and get out of the first round, who knows?

ET9 quarter finals - got to be some sort of Mastercard pun in there

As it's apparently priceless, boom boom. Not really what we wanted after Wattimena was a bit below par and Gilding completely failed to turn up, but it's made it somewhat open with us having Brown/Suljovic, Bunting/Gurney, White/Hughes (again) and King/Whitlock, so no, even if Price hadn't have cocked it up we wouldn't have had the dream match up with Cadby. That's dropped back what we had made in the round of 32 and leaves us down a fifth of a unit for the tournament.

It's now wide open, and unless Gurney or White get a second or third Euro Tour title of the year respectively, the winner's going to dump Durrant out of the Grand Slam and claim the provisional sixteenth spot as things stand, so a lot to play for. In terms of the Matchplay it's now very simple - Brown and van der Voort have clinched, and it's Wilson as the last one in unless Hughes binks it all, which given the field we have left and the way he's playing isn't a ridiculous concept at all. Who's going to get through to the semi finals?

Brown/Suljovic - Keegan got rid of Noppert pretty comfortably, Danny clawed his way back in a bit but was too far behind at that stage. Suljovic was in a bit of a hole against Evetts, but Ted then lost five straight and Mensur advanced. 0.25u Brown 8/5, I think this a fair bit closer and, while Suljovic is still the favourite in projections, he's only just over 50% - Brown's comfortably over the 40% we need here.

Bunting/Gurney - Stephen opened up a huge lead, but Dobey clawed it back from 4-0 to 4-4, then on throw neither could hold out so Bunting moves on. Gurney only lost one leg against Wattimena, who either couldn't score, or couldn't hit doubles when he did score. Not great. Bookies favour Gurney, I can't see a great deal between them at all, it's only Gurney's consistency that gives him a higher overall average, on winning legs they're extremely close to the point they project basically 50/50. As such, 0.25u Bunting 7/4.

White/Hughes - Ian didn't need to do much against Andrew Gilding who simply lost all ability to score and only hit one 140 in the whole match. Hughes was in a bit of a tussle with Ron Meulenkamp, Ron having some good timing to keep it close at 3-3 before Hughes pulled away. The market has this rightly close and I think whoever gets this one wins the event (assuming Hughes has improved his pacing since the last run he made on the Euro Tour), they've got White as a small favourite, I've got Hughes as a small favourite, but they're both so small there's nothing in it. Wouldn't blame anyone betting on Hughes if they wanted to though.

King/Whitlock - Mervyn edged out Cadby 6-4 in the King-off, Corey not really being on his game and only having a couple of holds that looked convincing legs throughout. Whitlock beat Price 6-3, disappointing performance from Gerwyn who basically started too slowly and then, after breaking to get it back on throw, threw the game straight back to Simon who took it from there. This one's only coming through with lines just now, but 365 are giving 0.25u King 11/10, which on a 60/40 looks pretty sweet.

ET9 last 16 bets

As you may have noticed, I posted up the projections in the previous post, so let's quickly blast through the games:

Brown/Noppert - no bet, Noppie's 5/6, looks an extremely accurate line
Suljovic/Evetts - no bet, it's quite close to a bet on Evetts but we've not even got 7/4, we need better than that
Bunting/Dobey - no bet, Dobey's the slight favourite, I think he's the slight favourite, nothing here
Gurney/Wattimena - 0.25u Wattimena 8/5, think this is worth a poke, Jermaine looked pretty good on Friday, yesterday was a bit more of a grind but he probably played a little bit better than Gurney did, projections don't take into account consistency but did give Jermaine the tiniest of edges, 8/5 doesn't look too bad
White/Gilding - 0.1u Gilding 3/1, it's worked once and I'm thinking it could work again, a bit of luck like he got yesterday would always be useful, but we were seeing slightly more than 1 in 3 wins for Andrew just based on pure numbers - even if we say that it's a bit optimistic based on lack of main tour data on Gilding then I'm not sure we can justify moving it enough to make this a bad bet
Hughes/Meulenkamp - no bet, the market's not quite caught up to Hughes' quality yet at 4/7, but as I think it should only be slightly shorter than 1/2 there's not a great deal of edge
King/Cadby - half tempted by 7/5 on King, I think it should be slightly shorter than that, especially if you factor in King having hit some nice heights this weekend, but I do wonder whether the conditions will play a factor here
Price/Whitlock - 0.5u Price 4/9, Whitlock shouldn't have been here but at least played alright, which is the only reason why I'm tempering the bet to just half a unit - season long Price is over 80% and had the best six leg run of anyone this weekend yesterday and is surely justifying his price as tournament favourite right now (although a portion of that is surely having Whitlock as a last sixteen opponent)

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Prague day 2 aftermath - Seedmageddon

I think Burton mentioned on Twitter that we'd equalled the record number of seeds that have gone out of a Euro Tour event at the first hurdle, I can't remember whether that was before or after the Adrian Lewis match, but it was certainly before the Michael Smith match - in any case, we've lost twelve of them! Only Ian White, Simon Whitlock (who got a huge bit of luck against Justin Pipe, with a dart in the treble falling out as part of a 130 out attempt in the decider), Gerwyn Price (who hit a nine darter that I didn't see, thanks bet365 for switching to that rounders fest at West Ham's ground after dart seven) and Mensur Suljovic survived, so yes, that means we did hit on both of our long shot punts, correctly pinning Gilding over Aspinall and also pinning Keegan Brown over Michael van Gerwen for the second time this season. Sadly Ian White winning in a deciding leg recently meant casuals didn't completely lose their shit, but we'll still take it.

On the other bets, obviously the Pipe one we were a bit unlucky with, Price got home, although it was looking decidedly ropey at 3-0 to Duzza, the ultimate game of two halves, Yozza whitewashed Lewis and Hendo got whitewashed, don't know if it was the heat or something mental against Suljovic, but he certainly wasn't himself. Finally we got decent value out of Willie O'Connor, but at 4-4 on throw, after grinding back into the game from a 4-1 hole, he wired the bull to go 5-4 up and that was that, damnit.

Other games we saw - Wattimena got past Jonny Clayton, the Ferret seemingly having real problems hitting the outer ring, Noppert was a bit lucky to get past Webster but got over the line as, like O'Connor, Webster missed darts at double at four a piece, Ron Meulenkamp was able to outduel Steve Beaton, getting a break in leg one and never letting it go, Mervyn King was too good for James Wade, just outscoring the Machine with neither missing much at double, Ted Evetts was at his explosive best to outclass Ricky Evans, Chris Dobey was able to power away from Joe Cullen in the mid stages of the game to advance, Stephen Bunting prevailed in a swingy match against Peter Wright with a lot of breaks, and to end the evening session, Michael Smith nearly pulled off a huge comeback against Corey Cadby, coming from 5-1 down to force a decider before Corey produced a very solid fourteen dart leg to hold and advance to Sunday.

The upshot of the Adie/Webster results is we know much of the seedings for the Matchplay, it'll be:

Wade/Suljovic (in some order)
Price/White or Whitlock
Wright/White or Whitlock

Whitlock will get Wright unless he binks the title, which is more or less equivalent to waying that he'll play Wright. Whether Wade or Suljovic is 8 or 9 is still undecided but completely irrelevant.

Tomorrow we've got Brown/Noppert, Suljovic/Evetts, Bunting/Dobey then Gurney/Wattimena in the top half, and White/Gilding, Hughes/Meulenkamp, King/Cadby and Price/Whitlock in the bottom half. That top half looks extremely open, while the bottom half is arguably stronger with all of White, Hughes and Price scoring higher per turn than anyone in the top half. Projections give it as Noppert 55%, Suljovic 61%, Dobey 52%, Wattimena 52%, White 64%, Hughes 68%, Cadby 54% and Price 81% to make the quarters, so, Gerwyn Price aside, nobody is really a prohibitive favourite in any of the games and we'll wait and see if the markets disagree with what we're thinking enough to start punting more cash. Check back tomorrow morning, I would expect an update before the quarter finals as well given it's not football season and I don't have much planned tomorrow.

Prague day 2

Quick round up of day 1, obviously Durrant will grab the headlines with that superb performance that just got above the average level where casual pundits go nuts, outside of that there's not a huge amount to write home about - a lot of the qualifiers either didn't do themselves justice or simply aren't at the level needed on the Euro Tour yet, a bit disappointing for the home fans I guess, but at least Karel Sedlacek got home in a nip and tuck game against Brendan Dolan, and we get the long awaited rematch against Ian White this afternoon.

Obviously, Keegan Brown now got into the Matchplay as it stands, still a couple of players that could usurp him - Steve West isn't one of them after losing a humdinger in the deciding leg against Mervyn King. He missed multiple match darts, so that put us break even on the day with Hughes getting home over Petersen as expected. Might be worth revisiting that King/West game if it finds its way onto Youtube, it doesn't have enormous averages with both in the low 90's, but it had a bit of everything - West storming into a 3-0 lead with a real powerful two legs then getting the best of a missed doubles fest, then King levels with a 135 out on the bull, a 10 darter (with a bounceout), then a 170 - West says I want some of that checkout action and breaks straight back with a 121 bull finish after King missed the same, West makes it 5-3 after King nearly gets a 122 out straight back at him, then King levels with West missing three match darts in leg 9, another in leg 10, then leg 11 is the sort of super nervous leg where neither can score, neither can hit a double, before King finally wins it in 21 darts. Entertainment value for sure.

Today we have:

Clayton/Wattimena - Jermaine had zero trouble with Kevin Garcia in a 6-0 breeze, Clayton is deemed to be a fairly even opponent in the market, he's the tiniest of favourites at 10/11. This seems fine, with me seeing it at 56% for Clayton I might have shaded it a bit more in the Ferret's direction, but it's close enough to correct to ignore the game. Ought to be tight, maybe the old see who wins the bull and bet 6-5 trick?

Webster/Noppert - Danny won the opening game against Stefan Bellmont comfortably enough, 6-2 being the result, and now faces Darren Webster - it's an important game for Darren, it's a big if, but if Adrian Lewis wins later he could steal the #15 seed for the Matchplay, and you really don't want to be the #16 seed. Market has Noppert at 4/6, this looks fine, I've maybe got Danny a percentage point or two higher, but no edge here.

Whitlock/Pipe - Justin got past Madars Razma 6-4, not an outstanding game but solid enough from both players, Pipe picking his game up from 3-3 to claim it. Whitlock's the next opponent, and as eluded to in the preview, Whitlock ought to be the underdog. He isn't, so while I've only got Pipe at 54%, it's enough given the price - 0.25u Pipe 11/8.

Aspinall/Gilding - Andrew put in a three leg run to close out his game against Rodriguez 6-3 after all legs prior were on throw, it was only a six visit break that he got, but it was enough. Nathan Aspinall's a much classier operator and comes in as I want to say a prohibitive favourite. It's a bit annoying that Gilding isn't playing much Pro Tour - I've got 119 legs on him, and while it's not a huge sample size it is saying to take the underdog punt. Statistically he's about the same level as Jan Dekker, and I doubt Jan would be near 3/1. Given he is leading the (conventional) Challenge Tour averages, I'll take a small stab - 0.1u Gilding 11/4.

Gurney/O'Connor - Willie won 6-0 against the fantastically named Vaclav Schieferdecker, and now faces Daryl Gurney in another must win game to hold on to slim Matchplay hopes. It got a lot harder with Keegan Brown winning, he now needs to make the semis, but at least he's not in an awful quarter and Gurney is the top seed in that quarter. The market's catching on to Willie's quality, but it's not catching up quickly enough - 0.25u O'Connor 7/4, on the numbers he's at least Gurney's equal. Chuck in the added motivation and it seems an even better bet.

White/Sedlacek - Karel got past Dolan as mentioned and now gets into a rematch with Ian White. It's 7/2, it's happened before, it could happen again I guess but I'm really not sure it happens more than the 25% of the time we'd need to go with it. Ought to be a fun game for the crowd at least, shame they couldn't get this one on late in the evening session, pesky draws.

Beaton/Meulenkamp - Ron has a quick turnaround after being third to last on yesterday, getting by Hlavacek 6-2, and now plays Steve Beaton, back in the seeds as he continues an ever present run. Steve's the favourite in the market, but not by much - at first glance I thought this was an overreaction to Ron's decent last fortnight or so, but no, the line looks alright and the numbers concur with Steve being a small favourite.

Wade/King - Mentioned the King game in detail earlier so won't repeat myself. James Wade is next, Wade's rightly favoured, it's close to being a bit too much of a favourite I think - King's 9/4, I'm seeing it around 65/35, nearly enough but with Wade looking really good last weekend and King, stunning three leg run aside, didn't look that convincing yesterday and kind of fell over the line, so I'm alright with leaving this alone.

Evans/Evetts - Ted pulled off a bit of an upset by taking care of Ratajski in some style, really good performance, but not as much of an upset as some people might make out, Ted's being slept on a bit and against Ricky Evans the market's having trouble picking them apart. Looks like the Clayton game - Evans is the tiniest of favourites, and I'm seeing the same. Next.

Cullen/Dobey - Chris didn't really need to get out of second gear to defeat Steyer, 6-2 being the result, and he now faces an indifferent Joe Cullen in round two. It's just like the last game - both myself and the market are seeing Dobey as the slight favourite, so no real value at all.

Wright/Bunting - Stephen beat Robert Thornton to reach this stage, it was 5-0 but Rob briefly threatened a comeback before Bunting closed it off 6-3 with a twelve darter, his best leg of the match. It's another Scottish opponent next in Peter Wright, the market sees it as a one in three shot for the Bullet, which looks good to me. I might have pushed Bunting to 11/5 rather than 2/1, but that's not a huge difference.

van Gerwen/Brown - Keegan got the huge win he needed for Matchplay purposes - can he get another win over van Gerwen to give himself the chance of getting past James Wilson and being absolutely sure? We're getting 6/1, that's way more than enough - 0.1u Brown 6/1, van Gerwen's obviously a favourite but I'm only getting him just over 70% to claim it. If the pressure's now somewhat off Brown and he can play naturally to his best, who's to say he can't do it again?

Suljovic/Henderson - Big John got past Borland 6-3, all round good performance, Mensur's the next opponent and the market's seeing it as similar to the Wright game, Suljovic favoured to claim this about two times out of three. That's a bit disrespectful to John - 0.25u Henderson 15/8, I've got this as very close to 40% for Hendo so at that price I think it's worth a stab.

Price/Durrant - Mentioned Glen's game earlier, stand out performance of round one, but against Price he'll quite possibly need to do the same again, or close to it. Market has this really close, Price is 4/5, I think there's a bit of value in there, 0.25u Price 4/5, I'm seeing 61% so I reckon we can go with it.

Lewis/Hughes - Jamie got past Devon Petersen, one of those annoying games where Devon plays horribly (18 scoring visits of 60 or below in 10 legs, but he's in form, honest) but wins four legs somehow. It wasn't six though, so we've got another game against Adie, as mentioned in the Webster section it's an important game for Adie to try to get past Webster and out of an early van Gerwen draw in Blackpool. Yet another tight game, but I disagree with the market, 0.25u Hughes 6/5, Jamie's simply that much better, the projections I have seeing this at nearly 65%.

Smith/Cadby - Explosive game to finish after Corey easily dealt with Nijman in the opening round. Market has Smith at 4/6, that looks spot on to within a twentieth of one percent. No further bets.

So five decent plays, the Hughes and O'Connor bets looking especially good value, and a couple of small stabs on significant dogs in the market. Let's see what happens.