Thursday 29 August 2019

Austria preview

We're back on the European Tour road, and it's to Vienna we go with the first of four weekends in the next five that'll decide who gets to Göttingen and who doesn't, the qualifiers are all done and the draw is out, so let's start right away with previews:

Price v O'Connor/Dolan - Fun all Celtic section this, with two Irish tour winners from this season battling to face major winner Price in the second round. Dolan's the form guy from recently but the two of them can barely be separated, scoring within two tenths of a point per turn over the season. O'Connor might have the slight edge in explosiveness, but it's only slight, and Dolan playing better over the last couple of months might be the key factor. Price ought to be a solid favourite over either in the second round, but either player would be a very live dog in that one.

Whitlock v Pipe/van der Voort - Oh wow, this is the ultimate clash of styles. Both have had a quietly understated year, van der Voort about three quarters of a point better than Pipe, which doesn't translate to any significant edge at all over the course of the year. Maybe Pipe's playing a bit better recently, but it's still on a knife edge. Whoever gets through has a great chance to make the final day, Whitlock continues to have a weak season and rates lower than either first round player.

Lewis v Wattimena/Bunse - All continental tie, Jermaine has now pushed back into the FRH top 20 and barring a stellar run by Beaton will stay there at the end of this tournament, and could edge Bunse's compatriot Hopp if he takes this one. Christian's not had an awful season with an 87 points per turn rating, but maybe the full tour's a bit too soon for him. Still, it's great experience, but I can't see someone of Wattimena's calibre fluffing his lines here and the 4/9 line looks accurate enough to me. Adrian Lewis is a good test to see where Jermaine is, if he wants to progress to the next level these are the sorts of games he needs to win, and season long it looks like a flip as to whether he will or not.

Smith v Menzies/Münch - Kevin made waves in the worlds a couple of years back, but has been pretty darned quiet since then, with a string of first round defeats in some Euro Tours, but not much else, not even the continental BDO/WDF circuit to give us a read. Menzies on the other hand has been in the equation for one of the better players to not have a tour card for a while now, he tops the Challenge Tour as things stand so maybe he gets one after narrowly missing out in Q-School. Can't look past Menzies in this one, no lines yet as Münch came through the qualifier. Michael Smith ought to be way too strong for either though, there's nothing in what we've seen from Menzies in either tour to make us think that this won't be one sided.

Suljovic v Gawlas/Smith - Two players here who we know wildly different amounts about - Ross Smith has been doing well enough to put himself into major qualification equations and is just shy of 90 per turn this season, whereas Adam Gawlas is I believe a 18 year old Czech who has come from nowhere to win one of the Eastern Europe qualifiers. Will be great experience but an 82 (conventional) average on the Development Tour may not cut it, but hey, if he can force his way into another couple next year, maybe he gets into the Czech World Cup team with Sedlacek, that'd be fun. Mensur's on home soil, still playing at easily a top 16 level if he isn't quite at the peak he was at a year or so ago, Smith will have chances but Mensur will start the favourite.

Beaton v Wilson/Carlin - James Wilson is having frankly an awful year, and is barely in the worlds as things stand so getting points on the board here is going to be critical. Gavin Carlin started out the season hot but has cooled a bit since then, scoring about a point less than Wilson is per turn, and being the level of underdog he is seems about right. Beaton lost his European qualification streak, but is a seed here and this looks a fine spot for the evergreen Adonis to push into the last sixteen, although in recent months he's perhaps cooled a bit.

White v Evetts/Rodriguez - It's Rusty Jake here, who we've not seen on the senior circuit for a bit, continuing the Development and Challenge Tours, where he's not run into Ted Evetts for a while - although he is 3-0 up in three matches from 2017. Ted's doing really solidly this year, over 90 per turn on the senior circuit and has claimed four of the last eight Development Tour titles, which is some going. Ian White will need to be on his game to get through this one, White's undisputably a top ten player, but if it is Evetts he faces then he can't take any liberties, Ted's made two Sundays already this season and a run here could easily solidify a place for him in the European Championship.

Aspinall v Brown/Schnier - Keegan Brown is safely into the European Championship already and gets a home nation qualifier in Hannes Schnier, who hasn't looked impressive in the two times we've seen him last season (won against a domestic qualifier in Gib before getting whitewashed by Clayton, also easily outclassed by Wade in another event), he did beat Rasztovits in qualification but averaged in the 60s in the last game, so no dramas for Brown you would think. Aspinall's up in the seeds and has a clear point per turn better scoring than Brown, that's not a great amount and is mainly due to Brown chucking away legs, his level of explosiveness is on a par, he just doesn't do it often enough.

Gurney v Rodriguez/Payne - It's Rowby John here, still wildly inconsistent but is not having a bad season, a 93 average when winning is up there in the top 20 of the whole PDC, but he's also in the top five of inconsistency. The gist is he's about a quarter of a point per turn behind Payne, whose consistency is much, much tighter, so if we get average RJR it'll be a 6-5 knife fight, but we never get average RJR. Bookies have it even and I wouldn't like to call it. Gurney has similar tight consistency to Payne, but is a couple of points higher on all levels and I can't see Josh generating the scoring he'll need to trouble Daryl. Rowby could though.

Clayton v de Decker/Dobey - This bit ought to be fairly interesting. de Decker's made a fifth event through the associate qualifier, but has yet to make any sort of inroads in the main draw, he scores well enough though and has just been a bit unlucky. Drawing Dobey counts as unlucky, Hollywood's stats are fairly close to de Decker's, but over a much larger sample and you'd think the experience differential would be the difference, Mike had a good final round win earlier but that was about it. Clayton is slipping down the seeds a bit and could do with a run, statistically he's about at Dobey's level, if a bit swingier, so we'll see what happens.

Wright v Webster/van den Bergh - Time for Dimitri to start doing more on the senior tour, he's shown it a couple of times and is over 91 per turn this year, but with even more inconsistency than Rowby. If he's on, watch out, but if not, maybe Mark has a shot, Webster is pretty much mid-high 80's in points per turn regardless of winning or losing, so if we see Dimitri at his low points, maybe he has a shot. Against Wright, Webster would have no chance realistically, if it's DvdB though, then Dimitri has the level to trouble Peter if Wright isn't at his best.

Cullen v Humphries/Hughes - Both qualifiers will have to be fancying taking on Cullen, who's poor form for a while now was displayed for all to see in Blackpool. Hughes we know all about, Luke looks to have put his well publicised issues behind him with some good Development Tour form and some board finals and wins on the senior stage, scoring near 91 a turn for the year (Hughes is over 93 though and well worthy of around an 8/13 price). Cullen would be a similar dog to Hughes you'd think, and if Luke advanced it could be tight.

Chisnall v Burger/Dekker - No, not Jan, Cor, who won the Scandi qualifier. I'm sure he's played here before, but I guess not. Dietmar Burger I guess we know what we get, couple of mid-high 70 averages in qualifying, did get 90 against Kallinger in the board semi, don't really know enough about Cor to make a judgment but his Nordic/Baltic results lean towards me favouring him. Chisnall has no issues with either, obviously.

Evans v Steinbauer/Shepherd - Another host nation qualifier and it's Alex Steinbauer, mid 70's all throughout qualifying and the same when we saw him last year getting whitewashed. Kirk certainly isn't doing great since getting his tour card, but should have enough. Ricky Evans is a solid step up in class again, averaging four more per turn than Kirk is, neither of the two can really complain about the draw.

van Gerwen v Anderson/Bunting - Now everyone here can complain about the draw. Anderson is scoring pretty damn well but not getting the results, Bunting is scoring a bit worse but getting the big scores at the right time, and van Gerwen is van Gerwen, who Kyle should have beaten in New Zealand, but didn't. Bookies can't split the two, but I think there's a bit of an edge for Kyle, not quite 60/40 but fairly close to it. Against MvG, who knows? Probably an auto-lay of Michael.

Webster v de Zwaan/Goedl - Jeffrey should have no trouble with the Austrian, Christian nearly made it through Q-School, but didn't, and since he's been playing the Challenge Tour with little impact whatsoever. Darren Webster's a great draw for Jeffrey, de Zwaan's about three points higher and should have little trouble reaching the last sixteen if he hits even his B-game at this stage.

Bets will follow, although I only really like Anderson at this stage, I may have a look at the World Trophy as well but these'd be mostly micro stabs in the dark.

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