Saturday 8 June 2019


A mildly interesting question was posed on Twitter prior to the Netherlands beating 2-0, which said little more than "MvG plays Ratajski, is that a mistake from Poland?"

Let's ignore any sort of psychology issues that there might be in terms of if Ratajski were to play MvG first and win, which puts huge pressure on Wattimena and we don't know how he'd react, my gut feeling is that if it was the other way around, van Gerwen would be such a prohibitive favourite against Kanik, that it's putting all your eggs in the Ratajski to beat Wattimena basket, and you still have to win the doubles - surely it's better to align your players so that they both have a chance to win? Ratajski was 4/1 at the one bookie I looked at (stupidly long in a best of 7 format, oh well as it happens, fortunately the same book had O'Connor at 7/2, so this is fine), and while I can't remember the Kanik line (because I didn't bet it), I want to say it was about 13/8?

Annoyingly, I don't have a best of seven match set up as an option on the master computer, as there's no ranking events that use this format, so I'll use best of nine instead - it's not going to be a huge difference in the percentages (looking at van Gerwen/Ratajski first, there's a 1.15% difference in the win chances between in a BO9/BO11 game):

As played: van Gerwen 61.69/38.31 Ratajski, Wattimena 71.64/28.34 Kanik
Alternative: van Gerwen 85.93/14.07 Kanik, Wattimena 40.63/59.37 Ratajski

So, as played, the Netherlands win 44.2% of the time, Poland win 10.9% of the time, and the rest go to doubles.

If we switch it round, the Netherlands win 34.9% of the time, Poland win 8.4% of the time, and the rest go to doubles.

As it is, Poland win outright more often, which was my initial thought, but so do the Netherlands - in the alternative, we get 11.8% more games going to a decider. Poland would need to win 2.5 out of those 11.8 in order for the switch to be beneficial - they'd need to win 21% of doubles matches overall. Is this the right ballpark? It's hard to project doubles and I'm not even going to try to do so, but if you look at in both of the formats, the Netherlands win 4 times more often than Poland do, more or less, look at the van Gerwen/Ratajski singles line, then it's got to be fairly close. Naturally I think that line is crap and Ratajski is much closer, and in doubles the power of van Gerwen is roughly halved, then again at the same time the value of Ratajski isn't as much, and the second player is clearly better for the Netherlands.

Overall it probably doesn't matter much at all what order they do things in - but if we ignore the numbers, I think the best shot for the Poles was as played for reasons as alluded to straight off the bat - you are going to have to beat van Gerwen at some point, and you have a player with the ability to do so, take the punt knowing that if Ratajski doesn't win, the other guy is still live (although, in the projections, nowhere near as live as I thought he would be), and if Ratajski does win, then Wattimena has all the pressure in the world on him.

Hard to look past a Netherlands/Scotland final now, which'd put Wattimena into the Grand Slam, but for fun, type "world cup of" into the Wikipedia search box, go to the first link, and tell me how the hell Frazzles and Monster Munch have managed to win major titles? You'll be telling me Kevin McDine's back winning tournaments next...

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