Tuesday 17 September 2019

There's a race on

Believe it or not, we're now just one set of events from the cutoff of two major tournaments - the Grand Prix gets decided after this weekend's Players Championship events, while the European Tour only has Gibraltar left a week later. Burton's done the cutoff tables, let's have a look at the Grand Prix first:

We'll ignore the seeds as both Lewis and Cullen are safe even if Bunting was able to final twice or bink one, so let's look at who might be in or out of the field from the Pro Tour. I'm going to say that Vincent van der Voort, while not mathematically safe, is for all intents and purposes safe, as I doubt you ever get all of Dimitri getting over 3k, King getting over 4k and Clemens getting over 6k in two Pro Tour events - I mean I guess outside of those O'Connor and de Sousa are capable of binking, but let's try to limit the work to something sensible. We'll also only go down as far as Ross Smith, anyone below that needs to bink at least once which seems a bit too ridiculous of a task to contemplate. So who might do something?

There's ten players fighting for two spots. I think it's going to be very, very hard to dislodge Dimitri from a spot unless he has one of his bad weekends where he bricks both events - he's got a 3k lead on whoever might knock him out, and is scoring the most out of anyone recently. I just can't see him not picking up a grand - he is at least now seeded for the Players Championships, so would be extremely unlucky to run into someone on both days that'd deny him some cash.

Then we've got Mervyn defending the last spot. It seems pretty obvious that he's playing worse than both the players immediately behind him on every reasonable metric. He's also not been putting himself into the sorts of positions on the Pro Tour where he can pick up lumps and secure his spot - so I think what he needs to try and do is not lose either day, and make at least one board final. That'd give him a £3.5k lead over Clemens - which forces the German to make a quarter final in order to stand any chance. It's not a huge ask, and it'd put the pressure on.

Who can force themselves in? Clemens certainly has the game, and has the smallest amount to do. Two Pro Tour finals this year is testament to what he can do, he's certainly capable of taking things into his own hands. de Sousa is the same, that scoring is red hot, and he's steadily improved - the question is whether he's left himself a bit too much to do, and just getting into the seedings might land him with a really horrible round 3 draw both days in a situation where a pair of quarter finals might not be enough. O'Connor's the only one within real striking distance, but his scoring hasn't been the greatest in the last few months, and he only has three board wins - while he can and has binked out of nowhere, it seems likely that he'll need to do the same, as I don't think he can really claw it back through two consistent scores.

I don't think anyone else beyond that is realistic - Webster is in nothing like the form that'd see him grab over six grand in a weekend, Pipe might have a better shot but that also seems unlikely. Dolan has been playing alright but is the same as O'Connor in that he's had one big result and not enough else, although, like Ward as well I guess, having seen the upside this season, it is at least in his locker. Smith not having made a quarter final (on the floor, the UK Open doesn't count for this) pretty much puts himself out of the equation, which just leaves Ron Meulenkamp. That he's still below Benito on the official rankings is pretty lol, but he has made three semi finals and two quarter finals this season - four of those in the last ten Pro Tour events. That's a consistent enough record of knocking on the door, but he needs to break it down right here and right now - two more semi finals isn't going to do it, even a final and a semi isn't enough. He needs to bink, but at least he is putting himself into positions where he might be able to do so.

I'll look at the European Championship in a later post, there's a bit more time for that one and it seems a bit more straight forward to analyse.

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