Tuesday 30 April 2019


I wasn't planning on posting until after PC14 took place, but as a bunch of interesting stuff happened (and as I feel I need to do some darts work tonight but don't have the time to put all the data into the master computer right now), I thought I'd spurt out a bunch of things I found interesting that happened today.

- Willie O'Connor won the title. Can't say I saw that one coming. It seems as if for years he's been in and around the circuit, frequently doing nothing but occasionally popping up into a quarter final or deeper, knocking out MvG, reaching a Euro Tour final, etc etc - just not being able to put everything together consistently. Well now he's going to have all the confidence in the world to do so, read through the list of players he beat today and you'll appreciate what he's done. Apparently he didn't win a leg in more than 18 darts all day - yet to fact check that, and it's going to be helped by playing decent players throughout who won't let him win one in 19 or more, but fair play, he's got what's potentially a career changing win. Interestingly, he is on the first page for season to date points per turn before today, with the only losing record (in terms of legs) on that page outside of Arron Monk, who has any decent sample size. Let's see what he does from here.

- Gary Anderson returned and lost 6-1 to Geert Nentjes. And it wasn't a case of Geert nicking in or Gary missing doubles - on most of the losing legs, Gary wasn't on a double if he returned, or only just got on one. 83 average doesn't seem to be lying here.

- Nathan Aspinall got to another final, which is nice to see. After blowing a chance to take out MvG and maybe take a first Euro Tour title at the weekend, it'd have been all too easy to be a bit disheartened, but he certainly didn't show that.

- Christian Kist made the quarters. Wait, what?

- de Zwaan averaged 100, 111, 100 and 106 before running into O'Connor in the quarters, will someone please think of the children.

- Quite a few players who we've talked about as being in form putting in a decent run, if under the radar to some observers. Pipe made a quarter. McGeeney won his board. Ross Smith, Rafferty, Koltsov (who apparently laid down the pwnhammer in the EADC over the weekend), Woodhouse and Monk all made board finals. Barney needed Wright to hit a twelve with him waiting on D16 for the match to knock him out at the last 16 stage. Fun times for many.

- Another early exit for Whitlock, he beat Scott Taylor in the opening round but then lost to George Killington. I really do think that Euro Tour final is just variance.

- Cadby got Barney in round one, what a draw. Dimitri got Adie as well, couple of exciting ones there.

Predictions for ET5 may well be very close to kickoff, with me being delayed in putting today's stats into the master computer, and another 127 games tomorrow going to spawn, it's going to create a messy backlog. Keep an eye out ladies and gentlemen.

Sunday 28 April 2019

ET4 aftermath

Well, van Gerwen got away with that one, didn't he? Both Chisnall and Aspinall should have won their games, Barney forced a decider as well, but oh well, he's got home and it's another 25k in the bank. Ian White was the other finalist, don't know if it's the first time we've had the #1 and #2 seeds make a final on tour this year, but we certainly had that.

Updated FRH rankings:

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

Not a single bit of movement, which is to be expected when van Gerwen takes all the cake, but White's more than halved the deficit to Whitlock, Chizzy's put a gap in between the same, and lower down the order, Barney's back into the top 40, and Hughes is up to 82.

Betting wise, we dropped 1.2 units, I think we're clear that van Gerwen is overvalued at this stage and can be laid at will when he's facing anyone competent, Hughes is still value, but that's quickly evaporating and when he does break one that value will likely disappear for good.

We've got two Pro Tour events in midweek before we return to Austria at the weekend, and then we get another Euro Tour the weekend after, so it's real busy season - in those Pro Tour events, due to withdrawals (there's four of the Premier League not there, but supposedly Ando is back for them) Glen Durrant's in the seeds by the looks of things. It's getting messy for various races, looking at Burton's Twitter feed, as things stand for the Matchplay you've got 10 players for 6 spots all within 3k of each other - Anderson, Searle, Smith, de Zwaan, Bunting and King just being inside with West, Brown, Clemens and Dobey just on the other side, so these next few weeks could be pivotal for so many players.

This blog might be busy this week - I'll probably put up a things we've learned post after PC13-14, and then we'll have the Austria preview postings, keep an eye out on Wednesday/Thursday for updates.

ET4 quarter final bets

Can't complain about the Barney result, all you hope for when taking that sort of bet is that your guy keeps it close, which he did, just a pity that he couldn't hold in the decider really.

We're down to Price/Cross, Lewis/White, Chisnall/Suljovic and Aspniall/van Gerwen, a high standard of players left, but who's going to come through?

Price/Cross - Price was solid against Hughes, who sadly missed a bunch of doubles, while Cross had little problem with Joe Cullen, Cross having enough time to spare to miss a bunch of doubles before coming through. Price is listed as a 40/60 dog, more or less, I've not got him as quite so big a dog, but I don't think it's quite enough to take the punt.

Lewis/White - Adie was able to get a quick lead against John Henderson with a sloppy start to the match, then held out from there. White raced to a 5-0 lead, Webster not really being able to get into a position to mount any sort of comeback. The bookies have this close to even, but I think White's just about that much better to go 0.25u White 11/10, Lewis didn't claim a single leg in 15 darts against Henderson, he'll need to improve, and while he can, it's a big ask.

Chisnall/Suljovic - Dave raced into a 5-0 lead against Wright, and was close to a sweep, but finished it off 6-1. Mensur shared the first six legs with Daryl Gurney, but slotted in three 15 dart or better legs to finish it off from there. Suljovic is a tiny favourite, similar to Lewis, and I've got it the other way, also like Lewis, but not to quite the same extent so I'm not betting this one.

van Gerwen/Aspinall - Nathan got an early lead against Wade, and eventually won 6-2, closing out the match with a ten darter, while van Gerwen's game we've mentioned above. This is another game where the underdog is not as large as the market suggests, 7/2 when I'm seeing Nathan as more than 35% to take it is worth it, 0.1u Aspinall 7/2, MvG has looked a bit vulnerable after all.

ET4 last 16 betting

Hmm, seems to be one of those weekends where you can't miss on Jamie Hughes but can't hit on the rest of the field, hitting on him over Whitlock, but Hopp, Lennon, Richardson and van den Bergh all missing. Three of those were fairly large underdogs on the market so you're only needing one hit to break even, Hopp was a bit disappointing but Hendo wasn't giving much at all so fair play to John. Eight matches this afternoon, let's rattle through them:

Price/Hughes - Real test for Jamie here, but these are the sorts of players he needs to beat if he wants to try to punch into the Matchplay, he certainly can, and I'm seeing the game as real close to evens, such is the level of Jamie's play - shame the market's already adapted.

Cross/Cullen - Cross is a big favourite here after advancing through a decent quality encounter with Chris Dobey, while Cullen wasn't tested by Jerry Hendriks in the slightest. Line looks alright, Cross being at 4/11, I think that he could even be a little shorter but as we always say, Cullen brings his best on the Euro Tour so I'm not going to be lumping on Rob at all.

Lewis/Henderson - Two players I laid yesterday, both advancing 6-3 to reach this stage. Lewis is favoured at 4/7, which seems a little bit too short, I'm getting Hendo in the low 40% range to claim this one, is the 8/5 offered quite enough? It's close, but I'll move on.

White/Webster - Ian got past Jeffrey de Zwaan, slotting in two four visit legs to ice the game, while Webster was professional enough in dealing with the challenge of Vincent van der Meer but the common 6-3 scoreline. This is a bit similar to the previous game, but the other way around in terms of the potential bet - White's 8/15 and I have him at 70%. There's not quite enough there, Ian's far too likely to underperform so I'll pass, despite Darren apparently struggling with some sort of injury issue.

Wright/Chisnall - Peter cruised to victory against Steve Lennon, getting the break in the first and then another later to claim a 6-2 win, Chizzy was in a quick 2-0 hole against Evetts but turned it around for a 6-3 win. This is too close to call, I've got Chizzy by a very slight margin, the market has it the other way, but I don't think there's any edge here even before you factor in both player's respective performances yesterday, where Wright was much better.

Suljovic/Gurney - Daryl got through a fun game against Dave Pallett 6-2 (if you haven't seen it, go and check out the replay of Pallett revving the crowd up as he's lining up the bull for a 170 out, only to lay up), while Suljovic needed every leg to get through Mickey Mansell, who frankly was playing better. This is really close to a Suljovic bet, he's just odds on and I've got Mensur at a 57/43 advantage, if you want to go for it, do so, but something doesn't feel quite right so I won't push what isn't a huge edge.

Wade/Aspinall - James came from 5-2 down to beat Luke Humphries, who missed match darts and it sounds like Luke's going to take a bit of a break from darts on Twitter, he should do whatever's best for him really. Aspinall beat Jonny Clayton easily enough 6-3. It's yet another game where the line looks just fine - I'm thinking about 60/40, Nathan's 8/5... maybe Stockport's promotion yesterday will push Nathan to higher levels?

van Gerwen/van Barneveld - Frankly this is the one that everyone's going to be interested in. van Gerwen got through van den Bergh 6-1, neither playing great, while Raymond took out Wattimena in a deciding leg after being pegged back from a 4-1 lead, needing to break Jermaine in the decider, where if Wattimena had got more than one big treble in his first fifteen darts, he probably wins. 0.1u van Barneveld 11/2, Raymond's got 120 won legs in my 2019 sample so not exactly short, and they're showing him as a 75/25 dog, so let's take a stab, van Gerwen wasn't exactly good yesterday and Barney has previous with upsetting the world number one.

Not much here really, might be back later for the quarters, will be back after the event's done to recap today's events.

Saturday 27 April 2019

ET4 day 2

Quick round up, bets weren't great, Hughes got home, although Dolan had some great legs to keep it close, but everything else was a washout - Richardson was generally playing better than Jones to be fair, Wayne kept it to 5-5, had the throw but could only get down to a high outshot after 15 and that was that, West ran into Mickey Mansell playing probably the best he's done all year, while de Zwaan was unplayable for three legs and pretty good for the rest, not much Anderson could have done differently except maybe in the final leg.

Who else impressed? Beaton hit the nine which is great to see (straight after a 150 out as well so 12+ perfect darts), Barney actually played good stuff to not give Clemens much of a chance at all, Wenig was alright in defeat and on another day, maybe he nicks it from Dobey, and Henderson edged a game we thought would be tight, finding a four visit kill to seal the game.

Today the seeds are in, the only associate looks to be Hendriks so we should have good data on everyone:

Webster/van der Meer - Vincent's game with Koch wasn't the worst of the day, but it was close, Darren's got a good shot here, but is a prohibitive favourite, 1/3 isn't value and there's not enough of an edge to consider Vincent in this one.

Whitlock/Hughes - Hopefully this is the game where Hughes bursts through and goes deep, he couldn't get a better seed to play against out of anyone, the odds are far too close, 0.5u Hughes 4/6, Ladbrokes have this closer than most for reasons best known to themselves but this is good all the way through to at least 2/5. Jamie's that good and Simon isn't. (edit @ 11:25 - the Ladbrokes 4/5 listed on oddschecker had gone by the time I posted, so reverting to the next best price, which is definitely still there)

Cullen/Hendriks - Jerry got by James Wilson but the game was a bit of a mess really, Cullen's too short but ought to have no trouble, there's not enough data to properly assess Jerry's chances but against Cullen in Europe they look slim.

Gurney/Pallett - Dave got through a swingy encounter against Mike de Decker that went all 11 legs, there's nearly value to go with him today, I'm thinking it's around 70/30 in favour of Gurney and 10/3 is available, but Dave didn't do quite enough yesterday for me to take a stab at it.

Lewis/Richardson - Talked about James earlier, Adie's next up, this is oddly a bet on Richardson, he's 11/4 and I'm projecting this to be Adie's game only about two times out of three. He was just about impressive enough that I'll go with it, 0.25u Richardson 11/4, he won't fear big names at all.

Price/Beaton - Nice second round game this, Beaton was extremely solid outside of that nine darter, so should give Price at the minimum a good workout, the line of just over 2/1 for Steve looks solid enough, maybe it's favouring Gerwyn slightly too much but it's not enough to bet.

White/de Zwaan - Tough game for Ian, Jeffrey looks to have fully regained his 2018 form on the senior stage as well as the youth stage, the bookies have this pretty close to even with Ian as the slight favourite, I don't see this any differently so this'll just be one to enjoy by the looks of things.

Wade/Humphries - Luke whitewashed Jirkal, who scored alright but just couldn't score quite heavily enough with the game Luke was playing to get more than a few shots at double (which he obviously missed). Wade'll be a much tougher test, if the vig goes out of the market this might be worth a small underdog punt on Humphries, I'm seeing 35% for him so 9/4 isn't quite there for me, if more money goes in on James then think about it.

Chisnall/Evetts - Ted got by Kamphuis with little fuss, Chizzy's going to be a much harder game, the odds look about right for this one, Dave's 4/9 and I think he's around 70/30, maybe slightly higher.

Clayton/Aspinall - Ought to be a very good game, Nathan got past a bit of a below his best Nilsson in round one, it's another one that the market looks to have right, they're seeing Nathan as a slight favourite and so am I, wouldn't be surprised to see this go all the way and be decided by who wins the bull.

Cross/Dobey - Chris got past Lukas Wenig 6-4 yesterday, he didn't play that well but got home, he'll need to up his game against Cross, I can't see any value in this market, this looks bang on 75/25 in favour of the former world champion and he's 1/3 at the bookies.

Wright/Lennon - Steve eliminated Kevin Munch easily enough, he's been a bit under the radar so this'll give us a better idea of where he's at, the projections, despite Lennon being quiet, think this is a fairly even match up, Wright being favourite but only 55/45, although there's a lot more inconsistency in Steve's game. I think we go with it, 0.25u Lennon 12/5, Peter isn't exactly overflowing with confidence at the moment.

Hopp/Henderson - This should be fun. This looks fairly similar to the match Hopp had with Brown last week, where the market can't separate them, but the model is saying that Hopp should claim it about 60% of the time, 0.25u Hopp 10/11 seems worth a shot.

Suljovic/Mansell - Mensur is understandably a big favourite here, Mickey played better than he has done recently in knocking out Steve West, but it's not enough to make me think that installing him as a 7/2 dog in this game isn't a fair line.

van Gerwen/van den Bergh - Dimitri was involved in a bloody awful game against newcomer Kohnlein, he won 6-2 but only one leg in the match was in under 15 darts (and it wasn't by Dimitri, obviously). I think we have to go with a mandatory 0.1u van den Bergh 5/1, as the model still likes his game, while the consistency issue is large I'm thinking he can claim this well more than 20% of the time. He's going to have to play better than yesterday obviously.

Wattimena/van Barneveld - These have met twice in Barnsley this year and Jermaine's won both, dropping just five legs in the process, yesterday was a good sign for Barney, I want him to get through so we can see MvG against Barney for possibly one last time, he's a dog, but not by much, and not by enough that I want to bet Wattimena at evens.

That's it, if you do just one bet make it Hughes.

Thursday 25 April 2019

ET4 preview/bets

Qualifiers are in the book, draw is out, let's look at how things might go quarter by quarter:

Gerwyn Price (3) v Kirk Shepherd/Steve Beaton
Simon Whitlock (14) v Jamie Hughes/Brendan Dolan
Rob Cross (6) v Lukas Wenig/Chris Dobey
Joe Cullen (11) v Jerry Hendriks/James Wilson

Interesting section, as far as the seeds go it's not the strongest I don't think, sure you have Price and Cross, but Whitlock's done as a seed after this event, and Cullen's shown little outside of Europe since the Matchplay. Can any of the qualifiers take advantage? It's a great draw for Hughes, Dolan will be a tough out but from there anything goes, Dobey's got a solid draw against young domestic qualifier Wenig, whose numbers only crept past 85 once tonight but will gain a bunch of experience, Wilson's been pretty quiet although apparently has had some sighting issue or something like that, Jerry Hendriks got through the associate qualifier averaging 82 at best so ought not to be a threat, then we've got Steve Beaton against Kirk Shepherd - Kirk's not been horrible but Beaton looks too strong.

Adrian Lewis (7) v James Richardson/Wayne Jones
Max Hopp (10) v Stephen Bunting/John Henderson
Ian White (2) v Kyle Anderson/Jeffrey De Zwaan
Darren Webster (15) v Karsten Koch/Vincent Van der Meer

Hopp's trying to defend here, and hasn't got the greatest of draws, Lewis as the opposing seed isn't the best you could hope for, White's still top 10 in terms of numbers and Webster can be dangerous. All of the first round games are of interest - Richardson against Jones is a potentially tight one between two players looking to retain their tour cards, Bunting/Hendo appears close on paper, Anderson/de Zwaan could be explosive, while Koch against van der Meer will likely be awful quality but one of those games that's fascinating to watch as a result. Koch did beat a guy in the final who averaged 108 in the previous round, so there is that.

Peter Wright (4) v Kevin Munch/Steve Lennon
Dave Chisnall (13) v Ted Evetts/Vincent Kamphuis
Mensur Suljovic (5) v Mickey Mansell/Steve West
Daryl Gurney (12) v Mike de Decker/David Pallett

Tough set of seeds here, and the highest one is probably the guy that's playing the worst right now, although it's hard to call games between any of these, they're all extremely closely matched. In the first round, we've got Lennon who's probably one of the forgotten contenders, having a real quiet 2019 so far, up against Munch, who looked weak last week and didn't look much better in the qualifier. Evetts will be looking to back up his form from last weekend against Kamphuis, the huge Dutchman who's been around the tour for a while now without making any real notable progress. Mansell against West is the sort of game that West should win but may have trouble doing so, while de Decker was a bit unlucky in his previous Euro Tour event this year, and Dave Pallett's making his first appearance of the season, having made a slow start to the year since regaining his card a few months ago.

James Wade (8) v Pavel Jirkal/Luke Humphries
Jonny Clayton (9) v Nathan Aspinall/Dennis Nilsson
Michael van Gerwen (1) v Dimitri Van den Bergh/Thomas Kohnlein
Jermaine Wattimena (16) v Gabriel Clemens/Raymond van Barneveld

Some big potential clashes here. Let's look at the qualifiers first - van den Bergh and Aspinall should have it all their own way, Humphries ought to be too good for Jirkal, while the remaining game between Clemens and Barney is too close to call with the bookies. Of the seeds, van Gerwen won't really want to be playing van den Bergh, Wattimena won't love that draw, Wade should be fine while Clayton can't be wanting Aspinall. If everything goes to seedings, we could get a repeat of tonight's epic Wade/van Gerwen matchup, there's a possibility of a MvG/Barney last sixteen, day one of this section might not be great but the rest of the games have a lot of potential storylines to pay attention to.


0.25u Jones 6/5, he's a little more inconsistent but his losing average is basically the same as Richardson's while his winning scores give him a nice 60%+ edge.

0.5u West 8/15, Mickey's in such mediocre form that this looks like an 80/20 sort of game.

0.5u Hughes 1/2, I can only assume this is so close because Jamie's not put up the results that his play has warranted. If anything this is more one sided than the previous punt.

0.25u Anderson 5/4, sure my data doesn't include de Zwaan's ridiculous stuff that he was doing on the Development Tour that's been discussed to death, but Kyle's simply playing the better darts and should take this well more than half the time.

That is your lot, I'd be tempted to go for Sportingbet apparently offering a huge price on Koch but I guess that gets palped, there's a lot of games where there's limited or no data and the favourite's too short for it to be worth betting, I was expecting it to spit out a Clemens bet but a pick'em line looks good, oddly enough, so it's just the four for round one.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Brief ET3 roundup

So van Gerwen took it down, the final was a pretty decent performance but the other rounds can't really be counted as anywhere near his A-game, still it's another 25 large in the bank. Simon Whitlock was the surprise finalist, taking advantage of Max Hopp missing match darts in the semi final. Rob Cross was the other semi finalist, playing some exceptional darts until he ran into van Gerwen, which seems to be happening a fair bit, what with his 8-2 Premier League turnover days earlier. Props to Ted Evetts and Karel Sedlacek for making the quarters, while Joe Cullen continues to do work on this tour (how he'd like that poor game against Whitlock back) and Suljovic was solid as ever.

New FRH rankings:

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

Hopp's semi lifts him into the top 20 as Mervyn King falls out. No other movers in the top 20, although Whitlock's closed the gap to Chisnall down to less than 200 points. Further down, Ted Evetts enters the top 64, while Karel Sedlacek is closing in on the top 100. We go again on Friday in Saarbr├╝cken, will be interesting to see if Barney actually shows up, whether de Zwaan or van den Bergh can make an impact, and how a bunch of the other contenders do with Humphries, Aspinall, Lennon, Dobey and Henderson all making it through. Maybe by then this Development Tour bickering will have died down a bit...

Monday 22 April 2019

ET3 last 16 bets

As the previous post may have indicated yesterday wasn't the greatest day for the plus and minus, I don't think there was any flaws in the reasoning, just ended up having a couple of players blow leads which they shouldn't have, and Noppert just not hitting doubles. We're down about a unit and a half so far, which still leaves us up five units for less than fifty invested for the season, but let's see if we can claw some of it back today:

van Gerwen/Bunting - Stephen's a shorter price today than Ratajski was yesterday? Seriously? It's fractional, sure, but if anyone's actually thinking that Bunting's better than Ratajski nowadays then that's a bit of a strange take, it's not as if the Euro Tour is going to attract a huge amount of casuals that they can sting on name value, anyone watching (and betting) on these is probably going to have a bit of a clue what's going on. It's probably still slight value, but 6/1 on a 25% chance... I don't see Stephen doing it.

Evans/Evetts - Big chance for either of these to make a quarter final, bookies can't separate them by much but make Ricky a small favourite, which after his win over Smith yesterday is understandable, the line looks pretty good to me, I've got Ricky a shade over 55%, so 8/11 is far too close to look to either side.

Cross/Gurney - We've had this one in the previous tournament at the same stage, there we bet Cross at 4/7, Gurney won, and went on to bink the title. This time Cross is actually shorter at 8/15, go figure. The projections have shifted slightly towards Gurney, it's not by much but combine the slightly less favourable price as well and Gurney having exact course and distance, I'm happy to pass on it.

Suljovic/Chisnall - Dave had the performance of the round yesterday as far as I'm concerned, Mensur meanwhile didn't put a single foot wrong against Josh Payne in a 6-2 romp, the comedy sixth leg aside. This should be a fun game - the bookies can't separate them for all intents and purposes, they've got Mensur as a tiny odds on favourite, I'm thinking it should be the other way, but it's close enough to even money that I can't see there's value there.

Sedlacek/Webster - Good shot for either of these, Darren was very solid against Nathan Derry, dropping just the one leg, while Sedlacek got over the line against White but neither looked brilliant in that one. Darren's 1/3 which I think is about right, we don't have anywhere near enough data on Karel to make any sort of accurate judgment.

Huybrechts/Hopp - Max was very competent against Keegan Brown, the first couple of legs aside, while Kim Huybrechts stunned James Wade. Bookies have it even, I just don't get that line at all - Hopp is playing far, far better so far this year - 0.25u Hopp 10/11, I'm almost tempted to make it half a unit given the event is in Hopp's backyard, it's really only Kim being able to edge out a decent operator yesterday, given his first round performance, maybe he's got a bit of playing to the level of his opponent about him?

Edhouse/Cullen - Ritchie shocked Adie yesterday in a game where all 11 legs went with throw, Edhouse just doing enough to creep home in six visits as Lewis missed chances to get the critical break. Cullen beat Durrant in a last leg decider with a cracking 180-130 out combo to break in 12 in that leg, Glen should have finished him earlier but that's done now, Cullen's listed at 2/5, I'm thinking 1/2 is probably a fair line but with the vig in play we can't get enough edge on Edhouse.

Smith/Whitlock - Ross took down Peter Wright last game yesterday, settled by just one break of throw, while Simon came from 3-1 down to beat Reyes 6-4. Bookies have this real close at 10/11 the pair, regular readers will be unsurprised to see that the projections favour Smith quite strongly, so 0.25u Smith 10/11, it's not quite the same level of edge as the Hopp game, but it's pretty close.

Just the two bets, but they both look strong, so load up.

Sunday 21 April 2019

Stuff that's surprised me today

Post might be a bit venty, so if you don't like people venting, then maybe it's best to ignore this one:

- Ricky Evans whitewashing Michael Smith. I wasn't really expecting him to win, but thought it was a possibility, but 6-0? Really? What's weirder is that it was 6-0 while Evans was averaging 87. That's pretty much unheard of against a Premier League player. It's not as if Smith was missing a bunch of doubles that's dragging things down - he only had two shots in the first place. Oddly, both were at that double of choice of many players, double 19.

- Karel Sedlacek moved on, despite averaging under 80. Now this one was a missed double bonanza, with them missing 56 darts at double between them, so when neither can pin the outer ring, weird things happen, even so it's still a really surprising result.

- Elmar Paulke asking the fans not to boo/jeer/whistle the guy you don't want to win in the aftermath of the Hopp/Brown game. While this is to be encouraged, it's still pretty surprising that he's actually done it given that the last time someone asked for the best of order in a televised PDC event is probably when Wayne Mardle was still active.

- Players not closing out leads. Now Cullen hit some great shots, and that last leg has to be applauded, but I'd have thought that Durrant should really close out a game from 4-2 up with the darts. Of course, it's another missed dart special, missing six in leg seven (why oh why did he go 20 then bull from 102, using it's fine but go bull with the first dart) which turned the tide. Reyes was the same - 3-1 up against Whitlock with the throw and then wins one out of the next six legs, Wade being 4-2 up with the throw against Huybrechts is probably the worst of them.

- Did not expect Noppert to be quite that uncompetitive against Bunting. Some weird shot selection on his last visit, I assume that the 7 requiring 82 was from a missed dart at bull (can't think he'd be trying 48 to leave 34 and pulled it really), so having missed the bull segment entirely, you then try for 25-bull with your last two darts? That have better been a fucking great marker on the 25 to try that.

- Chizzy putting in a right quality performance against Monk (who did the same dumb thing on 102 as Durrant did by the way), that might be the best he's played all year. And he needed to do so. Monk's got to draw encouragement from that, he put in a near 107 average in the legs he lost!

- Speaking more of dumb routes people take, why the hell is Jonny Clayton (there's plenty of people that do this so I'm not picking him out specifically, it's just the first example I saw today) shooting at bull first on 66? Hitting 25 offers no advantage as it's still a single for double, exactly the same as if you go T18 for D6, T14 for D12, T10 for D18... answers on a postcard?

- Callan Rydz won a Development Tour event today. Still some people crying about the whole tour card holder thing on Twitter, I guess it's mostly because Mason can't talk about Khan being KOed via nutshot all day, but as this is apparently technically impossible to do, it's clearly a surprise. In all seriousness, he's been incredibly unlucky the last couple of years in not getting onto the tour, so to be able to pick up a win has got to be a big confidence booster. Heck, with all those tour card holders getting all the cake (Ryan Meikle got the other one today so congrats to him as well), the cards for finishing high in the Dev Tour could easily drop down quite a bit - Rydz made a quarter in events 5 and 7 as well, to go with a semi and quarter on the first weekend, so who knows?

ET3 day 2 - A bad Saturday after a good Friday

Pretty weird evening session, where after picking up two straightforward wins in the afternoon, we lost all three bets, none of them being particularly close. Looks like missed doubles primarily - Beaton had three clear in leg one, one in leg two, then three clear again in leg four - he'd only later get one shot at the bull, but if he's able to take the two where he's walking up with three darts, that's a 3-1 lead he has with the throw, and psychologically it's a whole different game. Same with Dobey, the first leg's a clown show where he requires 40, doesn't kill it, returns on 20 and still doesn't kill it - he's not really at the races after that, especially on the Rasztovits throw, but did that affect his game? We'll never know. Durrant beating Hughes is fine, Glen played well, but you'd expect Hughes to clean up 32 to break in the opener. Pin the one dart he got in the next to hold and it's 2-0, then 3-1, and he's got a bit of a cushion to withstand Durrant giving nothing away on throw after that.

So now the seeds some in - I think my body clock's right in thinking that it's Sunday, after yesterday being awfully confused in that it was the day after the football, but also the first day of a Euro Tour, so not knowing whether it's Friday or Sunday when in fact it's neither, let's look at today's schedule:

White/Sedlacek - Interesting for Ian to come in first up. Karel was playing really well but got a bit nervy in the later stages of his game against Portela, eventually falling over the line 6-4. Ian should be too strong, but I can't see a bet on this, he's shorter than 1/3 so it's kind of tempting to lay him, but we don't know how Karel will react against a world class operator.

Clayton/Evetts - The Ferret's up next against Ted Evetts, who got past Mark Wilson comfortably enough, good checkout rate and conventional average, although the advance stats I use think that the 96 is a bit inflated (Evetts winning 5/6 legs first or second dart of the final visit helping, that and being left on 116 after nine when Wilson pins 161). Market has this around 2-1 in favour of Clayton, I can't disagree with that in the slightest, I'm showing this as the same within a tenth of a percent.

Webster/Derry - We touched on Nathan's game above and now he's up against Darren Webster, who you can't really think is better than Steve on recent form, so maybe he can punch through to the final day? The line's about the same as the previous game, and the projections I have point to a Webster bet. It's 80/20 or there abouts. 0.25u Webster 1/2, I don't think Derry can get quite so lucky with his opponent missing doubles twice in a row, although I'm going smaller than yesterday as there's a big consistency difference (Derry's winning and losing scoring is within a point of each other whereas Darren's is over five) and maybe the confidence from yesterday's win boosts his game a chunk.

Noppert/Bunting - Should be good this, Stephen took down Norris with the loss of just one leg (did like Alan's 25-tops-tops out though), probably the performance of the day from the Bullet. Noppie squeezed into the seeds as Price withdrew so this could end up being an effective final. I'm seeing a small edge for Noppert, up in the high 50% range to take it, so 0.25u Noppert evs, Danny going deep in the last Pro Tour event making this a bit easier to shoot for.

Gurney/Anderson - This looks like a really good afternoon session. Kyle got past Kevin Munch without really getting out of first gear, he'll need to up his game against the most recent Euro Tour winner in Gurney, but I think he can - 0.25u Anderson 7/4, he's outscoring Gurney this year by a clear point, and projections using winning legs think the price is the wrong way around, so taking this price is obvious.

Chisnall/Monk - Arron was in a little bit of bother against Puls early, going down 3-1 mainly due to a comedy opening leg, but rolled off five straight five visit legs from there. Chizzy's in form, but so's Arron - I don't think we're getting quite enough to bet on Arron here, I've got Dave at just short of 70%, so 11/4 is nearly there, but not quite. Keep an eye on it though, if there's movement because "omg Chisnall he's won titles this year pile on" then who knows. 10/3 or better and I'd go with it.

Wade/Huybrechts - Kim edged Dragutin Horvat in a deciding leg, messy game all round but Kim put together three decent legs from a 5-3 deficit to get home. Wade on current form is exactly the sort of player you don't want to be messing about against, sadly the market's caught on to Kim not playing well and 1/3 Wade is pretty much where the line should be.

Lewis/Edhouse - Ritchie put in a small surprise against Brendan Dolan, getting home 6-4, but Adie's a huge step up in quality. 4/1's actually half tempting, as I've got Edhouse at slightly over 25% to take it, but I just don't see it actually happening.

Hopp/Brown - Into the evening session, interesting scheduling putting Hopp on first. Keegan got through a scrappy affair with Magnus Caris, going down 5-4 but then Magnus's game fell apart in the last two legs, maybe a bit reminiscent of that game with Beaton at the worlds a long time ago. The bookies can't split these, but I can - 0.25u Hopp evs, after laying the hell out of Max at every opportunity in 2018, he's actually playing good stuff in 2019, albeit quietly, enough that I'm projecting he takes this 60% of the time, so even money looks great there.

van Gerwen/Ratajski - Krzysztof took out Schindler 6-2, let's cut to the chase, Krzysztof is clearly playing well enough that he can win this. 0.1u Ratajski 13/2, he's a dog, but nowhere near a big a dog as that. The projections I have put him at nearly 40%!

Cross/Rasztovits - This is the same line as above, but while Cross is a little bit worse than van Gerwen, Rasztovits is a lot worse than Ratajski, so how about no.

Smith/Evans - Could be over real quick this one, even if it goes eleven legs. Line looks alright to me, I'm seeing Smith at just north of 70% and the Evans line is floating between 2/1 and 5/2, so let's move on. This is the sort of game Ricky needs to be winning to really push forward and up the rankings.

Suljovic/Payne - Josh handled Jyhan Artut very comfortably, Mensur's a whole different ballgame. The market has Payne a little bit longer than 2/1, it's not really enough to consider the bet, I'd have put the line at 15/8 maybe? Josh has got chances for sure, but will probably need to play a bit better than he did yesterday.

Cullen/Durrant - Joe's in trouble here. Glen didn't really give Hughes a sniff after the first 2-3 legs, and Cullen's done little this season to suggest he's playing at Durrant's level. I don't think the market's adjusted enough yet - 0.25u Durrant 4/6, this looks more 70/30 than 60/40 to me, I'm only tempering the bet size on account of Joe being in the arena where he performs the best, or at least has over the last year and a half.

Whitlock/Reyes - Huge game for Whitlock. He's out of the seeds from ET5 onwards, and hasn't made the next two, so Cristo, who didn't look too great against Michael Hurtz, could be in with a fair shout here. He'll probably need to improve a bit here, but I'm really not seeing why Whitlock is a favourite here. I've got Reyes over 60% to claim this so 0.25u Reyes 5/4 is a clear bet, it's just an irritant that Reyes is so god damn inconsistent. Again, similar to Noppert, it's a good sign that Cristo did alright in the last Pro Tour weekend, I'd bet him even if he'd missed on both of them probably, but it adds confidence.

Wright/Smith - Final game, Ross cleaned up against Mark Barilli, he probably wasn't at his best but didn't need to be, Peter's scoring fine and is perhaps running a touch bad, but it wouldn't take much to knock him off his game, see him switch darts more than once, 9/4's not really tempting as I've only got Ross a fraction of a percent better than a 1 in 3 chance, but you never know.

Saturday 20 April 2019

Development Tour eligibility

There's been a bit of a discussion on Twitter earlier re: the situation where Jeffrey de Zwaan, major semi finalist and Pro Tour winner, should really be allowed to play on the Development Tour. This is seemingly based on a series of games where de Zwaan has had four good legs and been able to put up a 100 average. Oddly, nobody's making the same argument about Corey Cadby playing, possibly because he had a bad match.

Now leaving aside that looking at averages to make a point like this is hilarious, it's something worth discussing. Right now, anyone who's under 24 at the start of the year who isn't in the top 32 of the PDC is eligible to play. This is a pretty easy thing to understand, but the underlying question is what is the Development Tour supposed to be doing?

For me, the clue is in the name - to help develop players. There's two approaches you can take here - either you're always developing, or at some point you're considered developed as a darts player. I'm leaning towards the former, and that there shouldn't be any restrictions. If you're young enough, you're still developing your game, if you're that high up in the main Order of Merit then if you want to play, you can do so, but you're probably going to be picking and choosing events to some extent (i.e. you're going to be making the European Tour with some regularity and wouldn't actually be able to play this weekend in the first place, or going to be having exhibition value etc) and probably won't be bothering, at least not every week.

Right now the restriction is kind of pointless. I don't think there's anyone that's ineligible based on their world ranking (I don't think Hopp quite got into the top 32?). Last year, there certainly wasn't. The previous year, it was just Benito (who was certainly too good then, but right now, maybe not so much), and the year before that, it was just Benito as well (at least according to Wikipedia). So why bother? Looking at the current tentative seedings for Ally Pally, it'd only be Hopp and de Zwaan in the picture to be ineligible next year (JdZ just being young enough by 3 months - whether allowing anyone all the way up to 23 to play is another question, and whether limiting to over 16's is another, but I guess with that side it could be safeguarding issues).

So if you're not going to say that anyone can play, then I think you need to expand who's ineligible to play. I've seen someone suggesting any tour card holders shouldn't be able to play, which seems ridiculous. There have got to be plenty of players who have only entered Q-School to be eligible to play in the Challenge Tour, or in the case of European players, to be eligible to play the (now associate) qualifiers for the European Tour. This is certainly something that, say, George Killington was doing prior to winning his tour card out of nowhere - now he's quite clearly still developing, looking at his Pro Tour record. Effectively banning him for two years from the Development Tour would certainly be a huge hit on his development - if they allocated cards in such a way where it was actually the best players making it (i.e. turn it into a Swiss event as I've suggested previously), then maybe, but you can win one by having a combination of a good draw, your opponents underperforming, and hitting your very best form for an extremely short period of time. Looking at those who have won cards in 2019, you can argue that everyone that won their cards outright on the European side (Labanauskas excepted obv) is in something of a similar situation. I can't imagine that any of Zonneveld, Bunse or van Duivenbode would have expected to win their card, and given how they have all started, they're clearly not looking like they're ready for the senior level. Maybe chuck Harry Ward into that equation as well.

I think that if you're not going to remove all restrictions, then you should extend things to those who were in the top 64 at the end of the previous season. This has the effect of removing players that have not only won their tour cards, but have done enough over a two (or, in the case of de Zwaan, one) year period to retain it. If you've done that, then you're doing enough on a consistent basis to show that you can cut it at the highest level of darts. Right now, this'd eliminate Hopp, de Zwaan, Schindler, Humphries and Cadby. I don't think that anyone can say these players aren't ready for the senior level - maybe Schindler's not quite there, but the rest of them have all won senior titles or gone extremely deep in major events. Or both.

The only other thing to consider is what the players would think. I think that for most players that are playing in the Development Tour, they're either doing it for fun, or doing it as part of progression as a darts player. In either case, would you really want to deny them the opportunity to play a Hopp, Cadby or de Zwaan? In the former case, being able to go "I played that Max Hopp once" is a story to tell, in the latter case, do you not want to be able to see where you are in relation to the best at your age level? To develop, you need to see how players better than you play, and play against them - removing the cream of the crop seems counter-intuitive. It's an interesting debate and something the PDC should look at one way or another.

ET3 betting

One thing I didn't mention yesterday is that on Thursday I was F5ing my phone frequently to try to see when the draw would be out, forgetting completely that the Easter event runs Saturday to Monday. You'd think I should know that given the Monday session in Munich is one of the two events I've been to in Germany, but oh well. As mentioned yesterday, I'm thinking that Dolan and Evetts being slight favourites in the first two games look to be solid lines, so let's go straight to game 3:

Monk/Puls - Someone was saying that a lot of German kids are in Wigan for the Development Tour (although I'm not seeing this on the entry list in huge numbers), so this, along with having five host nation qualifiers, has allowed the likes of Puls, who we've not seen since 2016, to qualify. Monk should have no trouble the way he's playing, but I'm avoiding this - seeing a best price of 3/10 isn't enticing, and Puls put up some OK numbers in the qualifier, 83 in the last round wasn't great but he got no help, but 90+ in the two previous rounds causes just enough doubt.

Brown/Caris - Ah, Magnus, long time no see. Not even in the qualifier, given that took place in October. Seriously. We know what we're going to get from Caris, it's about the same line as what we had in the previous game, I'm not going to rush to put anything on Keegan at that price.

Smith/Barilli - Ought to be comfortable for Smith really, we've not seen a huge deal from Barilli since he dropped off the tour after 2017, but he's got to here and also Austria next month, as well as making the UK Open through the pub qualifiers, where he lost first round to Huckvale but wasn't bad, on the Challenge Tour he's averaging 84, so I'm guessing that another line that's around 75/25 Smith looks alright.

Payne/Artut - Jyhan's making a bit of a habit of coming through the new look qualifiers, and it's another game where he's a fairly large dog. He lost 6-0 to Koltsov and 6-4 to Plaisier earlier, Josh is a fair bit better than those in my opinion, and Artut failed to break 81 in any of his qualifying matches yesterday, so I think there's enough edge for 0.5u Payne 2/5, Josh ought to have no trouble coming through.

Sedlacek/Portela - The first game we're looking at today where there's no real favourite, the market shading it for Sedlacek by real fine margins. Sedlacek won the qualifier for this back in January, shortly after an alright Q-School showing, where him and Portela averaged within a tenth of a point of each other. It does seem too close to call, I want to lean Portela given he's been playing a higher standard of player more frequently in the last couple of months, but I can't recommend a bet.

Anderson/Munch - Seems a while since Munch knocked off Adrian Lewis in the worlds, it's his first appearance of the season and there wasn't anything in the qualifier yesterday that makes me think he can threaten someone of Kyle's calibre, 0.5u Anderson 2/5.

Beaton/Derry - To the evening session we go and it's the ever-present Steve Beaton against new tour card holder Nathan Derry, who to be fair has had a fairly slow start to his professional career. Derry's well down in the points per turn stakes at 85, a clear seven behind Steve who's rating much stronger than the market suggests - 0.5u Beaton 2/5.

Norris/Bunting - This'd have been a great game in the BDO in 2014 or there abouts, now it's a matchup between someone running hot and cold, and someone just running cold. Hard to bet on, the model's liking Bunting 70/30 but we're only seeing 8/15, maybe keep an eye out if there's any money on Norris that might nudge the line, but I doubt that happens.

Ratajski/Schindler - This ought to be a better game to see who gets to play van Gerwen tomorrow, Ratajski's installed as the favourite by about the same margin as Bunting is in the previous game. I'm also seeing this game as about the same as that one - 70% for Ratajski. Maybe if you're in Germany and you've got a book I'm not seeing that's pricing Schindler shorter than he should be on domestic donk betting, then you can think about going Krzysztof?

Dobey/Rasztovits - Michael got through a fairly small field associate qualifier, we'll scrub the first game as his opponent was averaging less than I do, but 86, 93 and 82 in the decider isn't a horrible standard. Then again, in that final where he only won 6-5, he threw absolute filth to gift van de Wal four of his legs. 0.5u Dobey 4/9, Chris is playing too well and he should be able to push through into the second round.

Huybrechts/Horvat - Dragutin's here again, and after a questionable opening game, averaged in the high 80's to beat Eidams and Tautfest, which is round about where we expect him to be. Kim's a big favourite, I think on current form he's probably too big of a favourite, but I'd really liked to have seen more of Dragutin's form to think about laying the Belgian. A quick look at the German Superleague standings isn't filling me with enough confidence.

Clemens/Evans - Two players with data, thank god, although the data's telling me they can't be split. So as the line's close to evens I'll move onto the next game. Should be a cracker that goes the distance.

Hughes/Durrant - Holy shit guys! We've got two players in the top ten of points per turn and they're meeting in round one! I think I have to go 0.25u Hughes 6/5 on this one, he's playing the better darts, he's just not been getting the results that Durrant has. It's not by much, but the projection I have says Hughes 60/40 which is enough to go at odds against.

Hurtz/Reyes - Final game of the night, Hurtz having a similar qualifying profile to a few others, where he's had a dodgy opening game against an opponent of questionable standards, then put in mid 80's averages to get through. Reyes is 4/11 and I think he's just about doing enough to justify that line, winning a board last weekend should give him a bit of confidence and may point to him trending in the right direction.

That's your lot, four fairly solid odds on picks and then trusting the numbers over the results in Hughes/Durrant. Be back this evening or tomorrow morning with round two.

Friday 19 April 2019

ET3 early thoughts

Will post up bets tomorrow, but some off the cuff things I'm thinking of in a drunken state that might be important (as I'm sure I've mentioned before, I'm a Sheffield United season ticket holder, so if you pay any attention to football you'll understand why I'm in no fit state for proper analysis right now):

- Durrant v Hughes, jesus fucking christ. This could easily be a match of the year contender and it's in the first bloody round. Needless to say that Cullen's going to have to be on point regardless of who he plays.

- Pretty sweet draw for Ross Smith, Barilli shouldn't be a significant threat, and Wright's form is ropey as anything at present. Then you get whoever comes through the Whitlock section, which is probably Reyes, this could be the opportunity he needs to punch a Matchplay ticket.

- That draw for van Gerwen is interesting. Schindler or Ratajski in Germany? We all know that Ratajski is playing at a level that he's a genuine threat, but if it's Schindler, then it's going to be because Schindler's hit form, and when Schindler does that he's certainly a threat.

- I could watch Gabriel Clemens against Ricky Evans all day, that looks tasty.

- Nice draw for Arron Monk. We've touched on him a few times in the last few weeks, Marko Puls is surely not going to be a threat and then he goes up against Dave Chisnall, which should be a nice marker to see where Arron's at on a big stage.

- Karel Sedlacek against Diogo Portela is one I'm going to keep an eye on, Sedlacek's been in the radar for a while but we've not seen a huge amount of him in actual games that I track, but I'm feeling he's the sort of player that's got a game that could trouble Diogo. We'll see.

It could be the case that I only get bets up very soon before kickoff, maybe slightly after - as someone was asking a question about the Wilson/Evetts game, which is second on, I've had a quick look at that already, and have just looked at the Dolan game that's up first as well, and I don't either for betting - so if I've not posted anything by noon, keep checking, I might just be taking my time to look at everything else in a bit more detail knowing I don't need to rush picks out.

Sunday 14 April 2019

10 talking points from this weekend's darts

I try not to pigeonhole what I do with this blog anywhere specifically (outside of having a consistent record of trackable winning tips), but as the previous week's ten talking points went down well, let's try the same thing again, more or less:

1) Wade v Smith 2 - Electric Boogaloo

It's always a bit odd when you get the same final twice in quick succession, but that's what happened on Saturday, with Wade and Smith reprising their Players Championship 9 final, with much the same result, Wade claiming it again, although it was a bit closer this time around with Smith being able to push it all the way to 6-6, then letting Wade break in 18 darts with him not even being on a double. He did have three clear at tops to get it back to 7-7, but fucked it up, what can you do. Strange event, given that out of everyone that made a board final (to exclude outliers like Jamie Hughes crushing), Wade only had the seventh highest points per turn, and Smith was fifteenth. Oh well, better to run good I guess.

2) So who's the best player in the world right now?

I was tempted to say who's the best player behind van Gerwen, and I think it's still a fairly valid take given that in the points per turn stats I have, he's still got a clear gap to everyone else, but here's the top twelve, which is capturing anyone over 93:

It's really quite tight between all of these, but if you factor in the ratio of legs won to legs lost, I think you can easily argue Wade's top three right now. I bring this up given Wade's cleaning up everything right now and people will naturally be questioning how good he is playing. Personally, it's still MvG until proven otherwise, but Wade plays him in the Premier League in a week and a half, so let's see what happens.

3) Leighton Bennett needs to be at Ally Pally

Now I'm very much on the hype train, but this weekend in Germany, he's reached the semi final of the German Open, which had I believe 800+ runners, only losing out to the eventual champion Mario Vandenbogarde, which is easy for you to say. This isn't some rinky dinky event, this has a fair few ranking points behind it and has a lot of serious names entering. Would it be that difficult to say that they're going to give the winner of the JDC tour (which Bennett is well ahead in, having won 4/6 events already) a place as a bodge to get Leighton into the event? It sucks to think that unless he manages to bink the PDC world youth we're not going to see him on the biggest stage for a few years. Ride the train.

4) Return of the Euros

At least on Saturday, it seemed like a few old friends were rolling back the years from the continent and winning their boards - Ronny Huybrechts? Cristo Reyes? Kim Huybrechts? Jelle Klaasen (who then punched through to the quarters before running into a resurgent Steve West, and might have won his board today but for a Michael Smith averaging 109)? It's nice to see players that might have slipped under our radar a bit making runs and reminding us that they're still here.

5) de Zwaan still has it

He's been a bit quiet all year, but, 6-1 loss to George Killington on Saturday aside, Jeffrey's reminded us all what he can do with a double qualification in the Euro Tour on Friday, then a run all the way to the Pro Tour final today, beating an improving Tytus Kanik, Jan Dekker (who was clearly in the mood having taken out Jamie Hughes in round one), Joe Murnan, Steve Beaton (a round after Beaton played possibly his best game in a long time against Willie O'Connor), Glen Durrant and John Henderson, before peaking too soon and losing a 4-0 lead to Wade in the final. He was seventh this weekend in points per turn looking at people that have won 20 or more legs, it was quite the good display.

6) Simon Whitlock is in deep, deep trouble

Let's not look at him winning his board today and thinking this is a return to form. It isn't. Not in the slightest. He whiffed on both European Tour qualifiers, was easily taken out by Mario Robbe on Saturday, then today, he did alright against Jose Perales, but then averaged over 60 by inches against Nentjes, who somehow blew a 5-1 lead, then was somehow worse against John Michael, averaging 77, before finally being put away by Ian White. His scoring this season is down with the likes of Alan Tabern, Christian Kist, Ryan Meikle, James Richardson, and a good point below players like Wayne Jones, Zoran Lerchbacher and Davy van Baelen. These are players that are either in a knife fight to retain their tour cards, or have lost it for all intents and purposes already. Once that 45 grand or whatever it was he got for making the Grand Prix final goes away, he's going to be sliding down the rankings at an alarming pace.

7) What is up with Jamie Lewis?

It seems to be a recurring theme - he plays like junk on the floor for an entire year, and then does work at the worlds and holds on. Now it seems more or less impossible for him not to make the worlds this year given that he has 120 large from his two worlds appearances, but what's he had outside of that by the time the worlds cutoff comes around? He's had a last 32 in the UK Open for £4k, a first round loss in the Players Championship for £2.5k, a Euro Tour quarter for £4k, a Pro Tour semi for £3k and a UK Open qualifier quarter for £2k. In terms of ranking cashes for £2k or more, that's it. Over a whole season and a half, more or less (we're now 40% of the way through the Players Championship, and we've had 6/13 of the Euro Tour qualifiers and he's not even got to the final of one of them).

8) This run of Euro Tour events couldn't come quick enough for Michael Barnard

I'm pretty sure that, after dominating the Challenge Tour last year, having some decent results in the Pro Tour events that he got into, and then winning his first round match at the worlds, starting 0-12 wasn't what he was thinking would happen in a return to pro darts. I don't know if he has a day job (I want to say maybe?), but four of these next five weekends all have European Tour events, which he's not qualified for. In between the two pairings, there's a couple of Pro Tours, but maybe he should think about taking them off? Something's clearly not right and not working. Maybe take some time off darts to recharge, try to find what was working in 2018, maybe hit up some local opens just to get the winning habit back. Heck, on current form, if he does miss out PC13/14, it's not exactly going to be costing him money, it may well be saving it in real terms - play the longer game, build things back up to the May 17-18 weekend of two Euro Tour qualifiers and two Players Championships, then you've got a bit more time after that. Seeing him average sub-70 against Labanauskas doesn't make me thing that this is a "the best way out of a shooting slump is to keep shooting" situation.

9) Maybe we have a new German star in the making

It's a bit early, sure, but Christian Bunse made both board finals this weekend, knocking off Dave Chisnall and Adrian Lewis in the process, and he might have gone further potentially but it looks like he may have, from a 4-3 lead earlier today, missed a bunch of darts at double against Nathan Rafferty to potentially go further. His numbers over the course of 2019 aren't spectacular, but they're within a point of the likes of Gavin Carlin, Scott Baker, Darren Webster and James Wilson, so who knows? I don't know if he's still young enough to play the Development Tour now, but he was last year, so he's still got a bunch of time on his side, and it looks like this may be the case where playing week in week out against higher quality players might pay off. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not soon, but perhaps something to keep an eye out on.

10) We've had some stinkers today

I don't have the inclination or the capability to go back and check how often this happens, but today we had two games - Simon Whitlock against Geert Nentjes, and Mark Dudbridge against Conan Whitehead, where neither player was able to finish a leg in fifteen darts. The Whitlock/Nentjes one was even worse, in that it went all eleven legs and it wasn't even a first round match! I've scanned back through the last three Pro Tour events prior to today, and can only see it happened in Jamie Lewis (see above) against James Wilson, and that was a quick 6-1 win to Wilson, Nathan Derry against Eddie Dootson by the same scoreline, Gary Eastwood losing to Gabriel Clemens 6-2 then Mark Dudbridge (again) and Eddie Dootson (again) getting involved in a 6-3 slugfest. Looking at that, maybe it happens more often than you think. But going all eleven in the second round? Come on now.

New FRH rankings:

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

Mervyn's double bagel this weekend pushes him down to 20th, if Steve West had have nicked one more win yesterday he'd have been out of the top 20 altogether. Wade's now opened up a huge lead over Wright and is closing down Gerwyn Price, while Michael Smith could easily get past Gary Anderson by the time we see Gary throw a competitive dart again.

Lower down, Jeffrey de Zwaan is now about 100,000 points and up to 29th following his final appearance today, Glen Durrant is within 2,000 points of the top 60, while a steady couple of weekends has seen Joe Murnan sneak back into the top 100.

Saturday 13 April 2019

A few things on the European Tour qualifiers

I don't normally make a post just about qualifiers, but there's a few things I wanted to briefly touch on:

- Jamie Hughes managed the double again, which has now got him into the next four European Tour events. Now I've talked a fair bit about Hughes' quality of play over the last couple of weeks. He's got four grand minimum from these, and I can't think of anybody that he'd play in the first round that I'd put him as an underdog to, and most players I'd put him as a substantial favourite. So let's say that he's going to get a minimum of 8k from these - the chances of him losing an opening round game are probably less than the chances of him beating a seed, so this doesn't seem unreasonable. If he breaks one of these, or, for that matter, something on the Pro Tour, all of a sudden he's in Matchplay contention. He's certainly looking great to make the European Championships, so you've got to say that Hughes is going to be top 64 by the end of the year as a minimum - removing a tour card from those in the race to save them.

- Oh dear Simon Whitlock, now having to fight through the qualifiers for these and not getting close to either. Sure he got Hughes in one, but Scott Taylor beating him has got to be harsh. I can honestly see him dropping off a cliff from here, he's got enough money in the bank to be seeded for the Matchplay and Grand Prix, but the second that Grand Prix final money drops off, he's going to be in real trouble in terms of qualifying for either of those next year.

- Not a great day for Cadby either, Dave Pallett and Brendan Dolan aren't bad but you'd have expected him to beat one of them and then take a shot in the final round. We've got Pro Tours coming up this weekend, but maybe it'll take a bit longer to get up to speed than first anticipated. He's drawn Mervyn King today, so a King versus King matchup should be money. Winner could play Durrant, jesus.

- It's a good weekend already for Chris Dobey, Keegan Brown and Ross Smith, making both European events, with them being close to the bubble for the Matchplay, putting two grand in the bank with the opportunity to make more is very useful. Bunting's looking on the outside still, even after his decent Euro run, but a double here's going to help matters nicely. Nathan Aspinall's going to be fine to be a seed, but he's still fairly low down on the Pro Tour rankings, so him making two should help get him up further - he's only just sneaked into the seedings through mass withdrawals today.

- How exactly was Gerwyn Price 33/1 to win the Players Championships this weekend? This was when van Gerwen was still in it, but as the #3 seed, he was guaranteed to be in the other half regardless of any drop out permutations, so being offered 1/2 top two each way terms is amazing. Now, of course, van Gerwen has withdrawn from both, so let's see what happens. Could have done without Arron Monk in round one though...

- PC11 draw is just out, board 10 with King/Cadby, Durrant/Murschell, Beaton/Thornton and Labanauskas/Evetts is disgustingly good. Barney's got just about as good of a draw as he could want, Hughes is running into Gurney assuming he beats Kuivenhoven.

Wednesday 10 April 2019

World Series

I don't care much for these events, but the selected players did raise an eyebrow:

Per the PDC's Twitter account. This seems very strange. I can get why you want to have the big names in, but do you really need to have all five of van Gerwen, Cross, Gurney, Anderson and Wright in there? I'd have thought Anderson might have taken a couple of them off, Wright as well isn't exactly a spring chicken either. Only the one event for Price, Smith and Wade? Then we have Barney getting an invite for, well, I don't know why, Suljovic is fine, but with them taking their Aussie triumverate, that only leaves one more spot, and while Aspinall is absolutely a fine selection, there's plenty that should have been considered. I'm shocked Joe Cullen didn't get picked even once, given his omission from the Contenders in the Premier League. Maybe they would finally have given Ian White or Jonny Clayton a bit of credit - while they don't have the same potential future as Cullen does, they've put in the results and should have been in the discussion. After what they did last year by giving Dimitri and Jamie Lewis (remember him?) a chance, you might have thought they'd have given a few players who weren't in the Contenders (and maybe redo some players who were) a bit of a spotlight.

Would anyone have really hated things if they left Wright out of the Aussie tour, Anderson out of the two other events, shifted the Price spot to all of Australia instead of Wright (I think you do need to have the same core group for that section just for logistical reasons, and I think Price would make a heck of a lot more sense against the Australian lineups), and then you've got two extra spots in each of the USA and Germany, which you can then give to Cullen, Clayton, White and +1 whoever else you think is worth a spot.

Heck, maybe if you have a bit more divergence between the two halves of the tour, you don't get the situation where, unless one of the +3 in the USA/Germany binks or otherwise goes very deep, the eight that are going down under don't automatically become the eight seeds in the finals - which, while still unranked, can act as a qualifier for a ranked event. If Hopp didn't miss with three clear darts at tops in the European Championship semis, Wade would only have made the Grand Slam through this method.

Monday 8 April 2019

New PDC ranking winners - who might they be?

First, a recap from this post:


This is from 11 months ago, where I tipped the following to be the next players to win the following:

PDC ranking major: Michael Smith, Mensur Suljovic, Corey Cadby, Dave Chisnall, Ian White
European Tour: Gerwyn Price, Joe Cullen, Dimitri van den Bergh, Kyle Anderson, Jeffrey de Zwaan
Pro Tour: Jamie Lewis, Steve West, Chris Dobey, Nathan Aspinall, James Wilson, Danny Noppert, John Henderson, Cristo Reyes, Martin Schindler, Ryan Joyce

Oh dear. I can be excused Cadby I guess, as at that stage we didn't know anything about the visa etc, but there's a heck of a lot of misses. Smith and Suljovic at least made finals at that level, Price counts, as does Aspinall and Noppert, but there's a few too many misses compared to the hits. Or is there, I guess that people who have already won events are going to hoover most things up, which doesn't leave much to play for, so if we look at the new winners that there were after that post, we had Ian White at European Tour level, Price at that level (and then subsequently major level), Aspinall at Pro Tour level (and then subsequently major level), Noppert at Pro Tour level, then this year we've had Durrant at Pro Tour level. So, Glen aside, everyone that did win something at a newer level was on the list, albeit it was just White at the wrong tier. If you're throwing out 20 names you're going to get good coverage. So let's try this again - again, as with last year, if someone's missing something from a lower tier, but has won something in a higher tier, I'm not including them, so no Cross, Aspinall etc on the Euro Tour list:

PDC ranking majors:

1) Michael Smith - Nothing's really changed here. He's reached the world final, is the highest ranked player not to win a major, has the highest scoring of anyone not to win a major.

2) Mensur Suljovic - Again, not much changed here. He's still playing excellent darts, has made more than one major final, is probably still running badly in terms of luck, it wouldn't surprise anyone if he was to bink one.

3) Dave Chisnall - Compared to last year, he's got the winning mentality on his side having taken down two Pro Tour events this year, he doesn't quite have the all-rounded game that the two above have, but when his game is on he's very difficult to live with, and it really could just take a draw opening up a little bit. Who knows what might have happened if he hadn't chucked away the 8-4 lead he had in the UK Open.

4) Glen Durrant - Honestly, he is that good. He's already right up to speed with the PDC game having won a title very quickly, big stages are clearly not going to be a fear, and the numbers he's putting up are at a top ten level. The only minor doubt is a lack of explosiveness that can give a 12 dart leg out of nowhere, his game is more getting home in 15 with elite consistency which makes him a great front runner, but it's not a terminal issue - his 12 dart percentage is at the same level as Suljovic after all.

5) Corey Cadby - As mentioned in the previous post, it may take a few events for Cadby to really get back up to speed with the amount of time he's effectively had off pro darts, but his ceiling is probably higher than anyone in this list.

European Tour events:

1) Jamie Hughes - I'm jumping Hughes straight up to this level, that's just how well he's playing. As mentioned in the previous post, statistically he has a top five game right now, and really seems to be making up for the lost time that 2018 was. He's got two shots this month to do real damage, and will have many more chances in the years to come.

2) Krzysztof Ratajski - Would the Pole winning a European event surprise anyone? I really don't think it would. He's shown the ability to hang around with and beat the top players in the world, he's won two Pro Tour events in a weekend, and statistically he's only just outside the top 10 in points per turn.

3) Joe Cullen - I'd like him a lot more if he wasn't so incredibly inconsistent on the floor, but he's shown great form in Europe over the last year or two, and always seems to be there or there abouts. He had that great Matchplay game with Anderson which is pointing to him having the ability to close out the number of legs he'd need to do in an evening session against the level of player that he'd be facing, it'd just be a bit more comforting if he wasn't messing it up before the board final stage in the likes of Barnsley quite as often as he is.

4) Kyle Anderson - It's another redo from the previous year, and you might be wondering why, given that his results haven't had the sorts of peaks that point to winning one of these things. It's simply the underlying stats for him - he's in the top 10 this season for points per turn. That's quite hard to do. He's won on TV before so can clearly bring it on the big occasion, why not in Europe?

5) Jeffrey de Zwaan - One more repeat from last year. His 2019's been a bit slow to get going, the solidity just doesn't seem there as often as it needs to be, the A-game is still very clearly present, he just needs to up the level of his B and C games, he's killing legs in twelve darts about as often as anyone, it's just everything else. We've seen at the Matchplay (and elsewhere) what the kid can do when his game is on point, it's surely a matter of when, not if, we get a weekend where everything comes together.

Players Championship events:

1) Dimitri van den Bergh - Yes kids, he's won infinite secondary tier events, he's won two world youth titles, but he's not actually won a senior event yet. He's managed to make a final this year, and is finally showing a little bit more consistency, albeit he still stalls early in too many events - it's only the floor game that's really holding him back, but I don't think it'll be for that much longer.

2) Chris Dobey - The north-east thrower had a good enough worlds to get invited into the contenders, and he's made multiple finals already - I think it's primarily a case of Chris getting one or two decent runs to get him above the Matchplay qualification line, which he's dropped below again, if he has a little bit less pressure to get into the TV majors, I think he'll break one and take it to the house.

3) John Henderson - Hendo's always appearing to be there or there abouts, it's rare that you don't see him progress to a board final and he's got to the last eight on four occasions this year so far. The numbers he's putting up are just fine, he's shown the confidence to be able to hold MvG on a massive stage, it'd just take his rhythm to be spot on and maybe have the draw open up a bit - if he was in the other half on Sunday, who'd have bet against him reaching the final?

4) Steve West - Steve's maybe dropped slightly under the radar in the last six months or so, after breaking out that great TV performance to beat van Gerwen in the European Championship, but statistically his game isn't dropping, he's over 91 per turn this season which is comparable to the likes of Jonny Clayton, who's won multiple titles. He's only just outside the FRH top 20, and there's only one player above him that hasn't won an event, so theoretically he's next in line after...

5) Jermaine Wattimena - While he should be one half of the Netherlands World Cup team, Jermaine may not end up being so if Twitter rumours about yet more Barney love ins are to be believed, but this isn't the time and place for that - Wattimena is continually putting up very competent numbers, and is pushing deep into floor events with increasing regularity, finally reaching a final in the opener this year. Now he just needs to do that in one of the events where MvG doesn't turn up.

6) Gabriel Clemens - The big German made another final this weekend, his second of the year and his third overall. While he's not been that close in either final, he has to be doing something very right to keep reaching those stages, is actually scoring more per turn than Wattimena, and does seem to play his best stuff on the sort of stage that we're looking at - although that's more to do with his limited European Tour appearances last season, we could well be seeing him in multiple majors this year and start to really shoot up the rankings.

7) Ricky Evans - By the looks of things, he hasn't won a senior title yet. That surely has to change soon. He's had a fantastic last eight months or there abouts - two European Tour finals and a Pro Tour final to go with it, his stats aren't quite as high as the others I've mentioned earlier, hence why I've got him down here when results might point to a higher position, and he's also lacking a little bit of consistency, if he can convert a few more losing legs into wins in the ratio he's winning his legs, he's basically John Henderson, only faster.

8) Ross Smith - It's hard to think that Smith is only 30, given how long he's been about, but it's only really been the last twelve months or so where the game is really starting to click. He's made a major TV quarter final, is showing up in board finals and further with a fair bit of regularity, he could just do with a bit more scoring power. Statistically right now he's not too dissimilar to fellow UK Open quarter finalist Josh Payne, he's binked an event, why can't Smudger?

9) Mark McGeeney - Seems wrong not to include the BDO number 1 from last year's worlds. He's not scoring quite as heavily as some of the others on this list (he says days after he hit a nine darter), but while I was a bit sceptical about his game based on what we'd seen in BDO televised events, he's showing enough on the floor here that I can see how he managed that he did whilst in the BDO. Making the semi final last month should boost the confidence a bit, he's probably been a touch unlucky in places but his game since the UK Open appears improved.

10) Steve Lennon - I think Steve just needs to get a decent draw - he is in and around board finals very often, but does tend to stop at that point. He's in and around this group of players as far as his game goes statistically, indeed his rate of going out in fifteen darts is very solid, he's just a bit too inconsistent and has a few too many bad legs. Sooner rather than later would be nice as well, as his Euro Tour final will disappear in a couple of months, knocking him out of Pro Tour seeds in the process in all likelihood.

Next weekend we've got another couple of Pro Tours, as well as a couple of Euro Tour qualifiers, there's also a fairly big open on the BDO side in Germany, so it'll be interesting to see what level of participation we get from Challenge Tour/Euro Tour associate level players - looking through the entry list we've got Artut, Bennett, Blum, Caven, Fulwell, Hamilton, Harms, Harris, Landman, Mandigers, Montgomery, Newton, Parletti, Robson, Smith-Neale, Sparidaans, Telnekes, van Tergouw, Veenstra, Warren and Williams amongst others in an 800+ runner field. Should be a good one, seems a bit in the middle of nowhere though.

Sunday 7 April 2019

10 talking points from PC9/10

Thought I'd review the weekend in a bit of a different way:

1) Barney probably should have stayed retired

You honestly have to question what the point is of him staying around is if he's going to mail it in, which is entirely probable - losing to Gary Eastwood of all people on the Saturday, then today squeezing out a win against Bunting purely on account of Bunting throwing absolute filth in the first four legs and Barney's filth being slightly cleaner, before going out to Luke Woodhouse. If you're not enjoying it, pack it in, it's that simple.

2) Corey Cadby's resurgence might take a bit of time

This seems fair enough, he's back in and it'll take a few tournaments to get back up to PDC speed, while he did get a win on the Saturday, he didn't appear that convincing (it's hard to get a huge read while watching Dart Connect on your phone in a pub in Wigan), but his overall scoring in the legs he did play stuck him up on the first page of my sort by points per turn database, so the game to some extent is clearly still there and it's just a case of derusting.

3) Should we fear the Welsh?

Chris Mason posted on Twitter that 12/1 on team Wales for the World Cup looks great value - I'm not so sure, but while we've talked in depth about how Gerwyn Price is playing, Jonny Clayton's been quietly doing work under the radar and managed to claim another title today, he's still very much within the top 20 on the stats I have, so while I think a Cross/Smith team looks to be the best if they're both firing, it's not that outlandish a shout.

4) Players down the order making a run

There's been a bunch of players this weekend that have stuck in great performances. If we look back at the tour card race post I made midweek, then we can see that Edgar made two board finals, Pipe did the same and won one of them, Luke Woodhouse won a board (and might have done better, but for me to bok him and say he'd make the final today right after he'd won his board, blowing a 5-2 lead against Jose Perales), Kanik made the semis today, and Monk won both his boards, turning one into a quarter final. It's a case of doing things consistently really, put enough points on the board to get yourself into the worlds where if you can win your first match, the scores really increase.

5) Rise of the Machines

It was nice for Wade to win a floor title, sure he picked up a couple of decent TV scores last year, but getting paid in the bread and butter events is still important, and he was able to get home on the Saturday, with an overall tournament performance surpassing anyone who'd won a a match other than Jamie Hughes, who only managed the one win. Speaking of which...

6) When will Jamie Hughes go deep?

Can he catch a break already? In the stats I have, for the 2019 season the top five players in terms of points per turn go van Gerwen, Price, Cross, Smith and then Jamie Hughes. This is just in main PDC events, it doesn't count how he absolutely destroyed Q-School. But let's look back at who he's had in the Players Championship so far - he missed the first two, but after that he's won two games then hit van Gerwen, beat Gurney then lost to Meeuwisse, beat Lerchbacher and Adie then lost to Searle, lost to Clemens, beat White and Huybrechts then lost to Ross Smith, lost to Bradley Brooks, beat Wright then lost to Aspinall, and today he lost to Dekker. While as a non seed, you're going to get a seed in the first two rounds every game, it does seem that he's run into a lot of the cream of the crop very early - often beating them but then going out soon after. He's surely due one.

7) Who's the best German?

Gabriel Clemens made another final today, his second of the year, which is pushing him well into contention to make the Matchplay - ahead of Max Hopp, who while he's tentatively in right now, will have his Euro Tour win disappear by the time the cutoff hits. Hopp's arguably been playing the better darts, especially in the UK Open and his performance against Durrant on Saturday was exceptional, but Clemens is quietly getting the job done. Schindler has fallen off a touch, but is still above the critical 90 points per turn and is probably running a bit bad, while on the BDO side, Unterbuchner is still very much in the equation.

8) Can I have some of what Ritchie Edhouse was smoking?

I can only assume he had some sort of weird injury that made him throw like I do, but at the same time, it wasn't serious enough that it made him want to withdraw just in case Ryan Joyce was even worse, but honestly. Go look at the Dart Connect for that game, but check this leg in particular:


9) Should we start to get worried about Peter Wright?

No is the simple answer. Sure, losing to Ronny Huybrechts in this day and age is a bit of a weird one, and taking home nothing from the weekend is very surprising, but he got Jamie Hughes yesterday and we all know what I think about Yozza's game, and his overall points per turn is still sixth - he just has a close to zero consistency rating, i.e. the points he's scoring per turn in the legs he's losing is extremely close to what he's done when he's been winning - the database wide sample over 14,000+ legs this season is at 4.72, Wright's at 0.38, the only other players in the top 20 of points per turn that are under two are van Gerwen (at 1.93), Suljovic (at 1.86, and he was negative for a huge portion of last year so this is nothing new for Mensur), and Gurney (0.94). Finally...

10) At what point do we start to take Arron Monk seriously?

I touched on Arron in point 4, and also looked at him a bit in the tour card race post earlier in the week. To casuals, he's still probably best known as either Colin's lad, or the guy that gave Phil Taylor a bit of a fright in the UK Open in 2016. But let's look at what he has done in the last six months or so - he was one game away from making the Grand Slam in the qualifier, he only lost in the PDPA qualifier to someone who eventually made it, then this year in floor events he's only been stopped by Jonny Clayton, Ian White, Alan Tabern in a decider, Robert Thornton in a decider, Ian White again, Rob Cross, Josh Payne in a decider, Mervyn King, James Wade yesterday and then Ian White today in the quarters for a third time this season, in a decider having led 5-4 and needing White to finish 115 for a twelve with Monk waiting on a three figure out. He is well within the top 32 for points per turn this year, and he is scoring more when he is losing legs than he is when he's winning them. He's in the next Euro Tour event, and won't be someone that people want to face, that's for sure.

New FRH rankings:

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

Key mover is Wade claiming a 5,000+ point lead over Wright, while Smith closes to within 25,000 points of Anderson, Clayton's win puts him in a bit of an island in 14th, King edges ahead of Bunting, while lower down, Clemens crashes into the top 50 ahead, just of Alan Norris, Arron Monk is into the top 100 after a very successful weekend, Jose de Sousa is just three places outside the top 100 (current number 100, for those who are interested, is Kevin Painter), Mark McGeeney's also into the top 110, while Tytus Kanik and Scott Baker are fairly close to each other following their respective semi finals in the top 128, an area that Jose Perales has also climbed up in to. Also, Mike van Duivenbode is finally onto the board - it took him ten events and being given a draw against Terry Temple, but he got a win eventually, albeit 6-5, but them beat Ratajski to make the board final before losing in a decider there to Marko Kantele. Got to keep plugging away!

This week I think I'm going to reprise my "best players not to win some level of tournament" post that I made last year, keep an eye out, maybe tomorrow with the Champions League distracting me from darts, before we get onto another PC weekend and some Euro Tour qualifiers this time next week.

Thursday 4 April 2019

Added time multiball

I've just got home from work to see that Mensur Suljovic has defeated James Wade 8-6 in the first game of the Premier League's post-Barney cash in stage.

Wait, what? Whatever happened to the best of 12 legs that was the situation in the first stage of the event, as it was played the last season, and when was this decision made? Literally the first time I knew of this change for certain was five minutes ago, listening to the Weekly Dartscast (which has got a couple of great interviews with Keegan Brown and a prominent PDC manager, check it out) they mentioned that it might be extended, but weren't sure and did their predictions based on it being best of 12 legs.

This isn't on as far as I'm concerned. It's a league, and you can't really have different formats of match counting for the same number of points - in a knockout tournament it's fine, the slates are wiped clean after each round for all intents and purposes. But you can't really do this in a league structure, particularly seemingly on next to no notice whatsoever and changing rules midway through a season. What'd have happened if Mensur had have celebrated when he pinned D8 for his ten darter to lead 7-4? That's not unrealistic, who can forget Joe Murnan not knowing when sudden death started against Andy Hamilton in the worlds, or, for that matter, whoever the ref was in Reyes/Newton 1 not knowing how the rules worked. And he's the referee!

I'm all for giving the fans more darts, but you've got to have a bit of integrity in your events. Have what I've seen suggested, probably by Burton, in having an extra "contenders" game before the real games start in phase two. I'll stop now, as I shouldn't get too irritated by exhibitions.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Race for the prize

I posted a week or two ago that I wanted to look into the tour card race a bit, fortunately dartsdatabase has this set out fairly accurately, so I've augmented their table with a bit of extra information:

This excludes the top 50 on the tour card race list, and also excludes Barney, whose expected retirement number 2 (Electric Boogaloo) will free up an extra spot. The figures look like they include ET3/ET4 mincashes, but shouldn't affect the overall analysis. So while you'd think you're looking at the top 14 of these will retain their cards, if any new tour card holders from 2019, who are keeping their cards regardless, break into the top 64 at the end of the season, that'll be one less player from this list that can get in the top 64, so realistically you're looking at anywhere between 10 and 13 spots - Durrant seems like a lock to hit the top 64, Hughes I'd say is better than 50/50 if he keeps playing the way he is, then there's plenty of players that are playing well enough that they should at least make the worlds and push for other majors - if they make a bit of a run at some point, who knows. Boulton, Labanauskas, Razma, McGeeney and Baker have all shown something about them so far that indicates they could do something.

So for those who are here, they more or less break down into three categories - the first is those that are in the second year of a new tour card, the second are those that have been around for a while but have drakked around the edge of the top 64 without ever really threatening the top 32, then those who were in the top 32 and a lot of the majors as a result whose form dropped in 2018 and are defending a huge amount. Now those second two overlap a bit, but looking at that third group, I'd chuck van de Pas, Norris, Thornton, Webster and Pipe in there, all seeds for the worlds in 2018. van de Pas probably has enough in the bank already to be safe. Thornton's not dropped quite as much as others and is playing pretty decently so should be fine given he's currently above the cutoff. Pipe's below, but has been playing very nicely, so with him not being too far below, I'd think he's going to be fine. That leaves Norris and Webster. Mark looks in real trouble, especially if he can't cut out his horrendous streak of failing to qualify for European Tour events. We all know what Norris has been through, but he at least has the benefit of a bit of money cushion in the bank if he's not able to turn things around quickly, and he has a higher peak than almost anyone on this list.

The second group is probably going to be a case of if you've got the cash in the bank, you'll be alright, otherwise, you're in trouble. I can't see Ronny getting out of it, Lerchbacher has a lot of work to do, possibly too much, but is at least trending in the right direction, Alcinas and Dekker will surely be fine, that leaves Mansell - he's got a good buffer to work with, but he seems so, so far off his mid 2018 form that it really wouldn't surprise you if it all disappeared quickly.

Then we have our 2018 newbies. Cadby's obviously going to be fine, Stevenson and Tabern have a good enough combination of cash in the bank and decent play to be the same. Anyone from Hudson downwards is probably done, with the possible exception of Brooks, who's doing significantly better than the pack and could easily do some sort of Development Tour run and get in the worlds through that route. That then leaves two groups - the Edgar/Owen/Jones/Hunt/Marijanovic cluster, then Woodhouse/Burness/Meikle/Monk and van Duijvenbode a bit further down. Just looking at how they're scoring, Hunt and Marijanovic seem favourites to pull away, Jones has had an awful start on legs won/lost and is playing so, so inconsistently, that leaves Edgar, who's maybe running bad per the previous post and has a bit of a cash head start, and Owen, who's got about as bad a leg record as Jones albeit with a bit more consistency.

Of the others, Woodhouse has a shot, he's looked really good in places and could easily be in contention to make Minehead with enough of a seeding to have a winnable game, and then maybe the worlds. Burness is surely going to have to rely on retaining the Tom Kirby and getting another favourable worlds outcome. Meikle is probably not playing quite well enough to claw back the deficit, but Monk and van Duijvenbode are both certainly playing at a good enough level where they may be able to hit some form and get the scores they need.

So who's going to retain a card? If I had to pick 12, I'd go van de Pas, Thornton, Pipe, Cadby, Stevenson, Tabern, Alcinas, Dekker, Edgar, Hunt, Woodhouse and Norris. I've given thoughts on basically everyone, and who's certainly got the potential to make a run at saving their card, but one thing you've got to watch out for is opportunities to get major cash outside of the Pro Tour. Anyone could qualify for the Grand Slam as a wildcard. Can Mansell play the Tom Kirby and get in the worlds that way? There's always the PDPA worlds qualifier if you're not able to string enough Pro Tour money together and make it in that way. Some of the Euro guys, if they get in to Euro Tour events, could certainly have the game to make a run if they get a decent draw, you could certainly see someone like a Lerchbacher making a last 8 run if he hits form. I mentioned it with Brooks, but it'd be similar with someone like Meikle - hit some form on the Development Tour and you can sneak into the worlds through that route. Devon Petersen must surely be close to 100% to get some sort of invite or be a big favourite in a qualifier. It'll be an interesting couple of months as people start to build positions for major qualification later in the year.