Saturday, 14 December 2019

Worlds day 3 bets

Kim Huybrechts! System works sometimes! Sure, it'd work better if Luke Humphries hadn't played the game of his fucking life, and if despite that Jermaine Wattimena had have put him away in leg ten, but still! Profit!

Some quick thoughts on today - was a bit surprised at how easy it was for Labanauskas, but he was lights out for the first two sets, the best I've seen him play in a long time. Meikle/Yamada was a decent quality game for the first couple of sets, then it got super scrappy and Yuki edged through, will see what happens in the next round. Paul Lim wasn't bad, Luke Woodhouse was just better, mentioned the Jermaine game, now we have the evening session. McGeeney/Campbell went roughly how I thought it would, Matt was probably a bit better than I thought but Mark still came through, that Lerchbacher game was a big shock. Zoran played great stuff, probably the best for eighteen months, then Barney. My god. That interview afterwards on livedarts, he seems like a broken man.

So, tomorrow:

Anderson v Zong - Don't think I'll be touching this one, Kyle's 1/8 which I don't think is even remotely good value given Kyle's inability to turn performances into results, Zong probably has just enough in his game where he might be able to click immediately, nick a set and put some nerves into play, so I'll pass on it.

Smith v Teehan - Don't think I do anything here. Ciaran's been around the scene a bit, so I have a rough idea of where his game's at despite not a huge amount of data, the market pricing Smith at 1/3 seems fair enough in my opinion.

Dolan v Kumar - 1u Dolan 1/10, I think we may as well print the tenth of a unit. One thing I didn't realise when I wrote up Nitin's preview is that he played some of the Asian Tour, and a sub-70 rating on that tour against someone of Brendan's experience and current form I don't think cuts it even 5% of the time.

White v Labanauskas - Into a second round game, and I don't think I can bet on this one. As impressive as Darius was in the first two sets today, I don't think it's going to translate to beat someone of White's calibre as often as required. He's 7/2, and season long I have Darius at about 25% to claim the match, once we cut down to more recent samples it drops. If you think he can come back tomorrow and repeat that performance then don't let me stop you, but it's very hard for me to recommend betting against Ian here.

Monk v Perales - Looking at the roughly 60/40 line in favour of Monk, I'd have thought it'd be a slam dunk bet in favour of Arron, and over the course of the year, it looks that way - season long it's around 75/25. The worrying thing is that Arron did much of his better work early in the year, if I trim down to, say, June onwards, then it's much closer to where the line stands. I think I will go 0.25u Monk 4/6 if only because it pops back up nicely enough into Arron's favour if we trim down further to post-Matchplay form, Arron has at least played on this stage before which should count for something.

Boulton v Baggish - Can we get a USA double? I think there's a shot, and I really wish I had a lot more reliable data on Danny to think about laying Andy in this one. I do think there's a good shot at an upset, but Danny's already priced up at 11/8, which doesn't offer a hugely enticing punt. It could look silly if Danny blows him out, which I think is a possibility, but Andy's a very experienced competitor and I think I'd need a bit longer price to really consider going for the American here.

Richardson v Suzuki - This one's going to be super intriguing, I kind of want to look at this objectively and think that James should be that much better and we should just print on Richardson, but Mikuru's got enough about her, and there's enough possible flaws in James' game, that a 1/5 price is probably one to pass on.

Smith v Woodhouse - Luke's beaten Paul Lim, now we get someone at the opposite end of the career trajectory, but I think there's enough of a chance that he can go a round further - 0.1u Woodhouse 9/2. I'm seeing a lot of samples where Woodhouse is easily in the one in four, maybe even one in three range - Smith's last year's finalist, sure, but Woodhouse has shown enough over the course of the year that he's competitive enough, if he can beat Gurney and whitewash Lim on your first two appearances on different TV stages, then what's to say he can't nick this enough that 9/2 is value?

Friday, 13 December 2019

Worlds day 2 bets

Not nice to start off on a loss, Luke hit some nice shots at key moments for sure, but Devon had his chances to close the game out and will surely be a bit disappointed with how the game turned out. In the other games, it's all about Jelle Klaasen - suffering a minor scare early against Burness but then progressing, and giving MvG something to think about for a good set and a half, van Gerwen hitting a 170 to bink the second set, and then a 130 out, also ending on the bull, to clinch the match for all intents and purposes. That leaves Huybrechts and Nentjes, the first game to go to a deciding set, Nentjes definitely had his chances as well but Kim was able to do just enough (including a 164 kill for no real reason, other than that he could) to get through. Eight games tomorrow, both Huybrechts and Humphries are back in action along with another six first round games, what do we have?

Labanauskas v Edgar 2 - Electric Boogaloo - Market favours the Lithuanian, slightly more than 60/40, which I think is the sort of price we can avoid. It's a weird one - season long, the projections I have rate Darius at around 70/30, which we can bet, but closer polls, if we say from after the Matchplay onwards, put Edgar at around 55/45. Do you favour form or class? Fortunately, we can just pick neither.

Meikle v Yamada - Ryan's strongly odds on, which feels about right, the rest of the Asian lads that are here are all going to be competitive, but Yamada feels like he's been tacked on through the back door and is a bit behind the pace. At shorter than 1/3 I can't really recommend a punt on Ryan, he's got enough game that he should win this comfortably, but you never know how someone's going to adapt to a big stage, and the rewards just aren't worth the potential risks.

Woodhouse v Lim - Another similar game, and this one is priced incredibly close to call. We know much more about Lim than we do Yamada, but we know enough about Woodhouse to think that 0.25u Woodhouse 5/6 seems sensible enough. Luke probably won't have it all his own way, but has shown enough over the course of the year to make me think he should be a bit more of a favourite than that. I kind of hope I'm wrong as I'd love another Paul Lim story to develop, but I've got to follow what I think looks like value.

Wattimena v Humphries - This should be a good contest, but one where I think there's a bet - 0.25u Wattimena 19/20, I can kind of see why they price this up fairly evenly, but come on now, Jermaine's in the top 20 in the world for a reason. Season long, I'm seeing Jermaine about 55/45, which in and of itself wouldn't be enough to bet, but it cuts to 60/40 and even stronger the more and more we look at form, so we'll go with it.

McGeeney v Campbell - They're loving McGeeney in this one, pricing at around the 75/25 mark. This seems about right to me, Matt I don't think has really done enough or been convincing enough to suggest he can grab this more than the one in four he'd need to in order to back him at the price we have. Then again, you don't qualify for the PDC worlds if you're a complete mug, and Mark's not set the scene on fire quite enough that I'm going to fire at 3/10 against anyone really.

Hughes v Lerchbacher - Same price in this one. Looks about right to me. Year long this is 80/20 Hughes, there's bits of samples where Zoran climbs to around 70/30, or maybe even a little bit better, but there's not enough convincing information to make me think there's value. Jamie should be comfortable, but there's enough level of potential weirdness that I'll leave this alone.

van Barneveld v Young - This one's even shorter. It's so tempting to go with Darin at a shade under 5/1, he's not lacking for experience and isn't going to just give the game away, but if there's one tournament where Barney isn't going to leave anything on the table it's going to be his last one. Simple enough avoid for me.

Cross v Huybrechts - Rob's almost as short against Kim as Raymond is against Darin. I don't really think that's fair. Year long, it probably is, but if I cut out, say, the first three months of the year, then Kim's chances look a heck of a lot better than what the market suggests. Hell, if I just look at the last three months, their winning and losing averages are *identical*, right down to the hundredth of a point (obv Cross has more sample and a better win percentage), and it looks awfully flippy. 0.1u Huybrechts 7/2, seems it's worth the stab to me.

Fantasy game closed

Scoring link HERE

Not many entries, but at least it means those that did enter have a decent chance of winning, apart from the people who went over budget. So what I'll do with those entries is leave them in the scoreboard so they can watch along, but leave them ineligible for prizes as their entry was invalid.

I guess what I could do is to do the following - as they're all only one player over budget is, in the event of one of those entries finishing top, and given they'd need to remove a player to make their entry valid, is to take away their highest scoring player - then if they'd still have won after that, allow it? Thoughts?

Worlds day 1 bets

It's finally here! After weeks of anticipation, media hype and build up, the moment we've all been waiting for is upon us. But enough about the end of Corbyn's career, let's look at the darts, and today's one of those odd first round sessions where we know all of the players as (at least for the next few days) everyone's a tour card holder. Let's go from the top:

Klaasen v Burness - Jelle should win this. Then again, Nicholson should have won it last year, so what do we know. Klaasen's rated around 70/30 in the market, I think that's close to right. There may even be a small hint of value in Klaasen, I'm seeing some samples where he's up towards 80% to win this opening game, but at 4/11 given the fragility that we've seen in Jelle's game now and again, I really can't recommend it.

Huybrechts v Nentjes - We're seeing more or less a similar line here, and again I think we're close to a bet, but not quite there - however this time, it's the underdog that we're looking at. Geert's got a few samples where I'm thinking he should take this one time out of three, so to be offered 13/5 looks awfully tempting, especially if you're looking at the more recent form guide. I don't think it's quite enough, while Geert's played here before, I think that Kim's level if experience should count for a little in this situation and we can pass it up.

Humphries v Petersen - This one's priced a little closer at 60/40 in favour of the World Youth champion, and I think we have our first bet here - 0.25u Petersen 6/4. It's only Spreadex that are offering up this price, but I think even the 11/8 that's more widely available is probably still worth the shot. Season long, I'm seeing Devon as having about a 45% shot to claim this, but if I trim down to smaller more form based sample sizes, it becomes 50/50, and even towards Devon having the edge. We also have the unknown factor - this'll be the first time that Humphries will be announced as a world champion, with that comes a bit of added pressure. Plus, if Devon outperforms his season long form like he did last year (to our huge cost), it looks better and better for taking this side of the action.

van Gerwen v Match 1 winner - I can't really recommend anything here. There's a few conditional markets - Betfair has van Gerwen at 1/20 against Klaasen (and obv even shorter against Burness), 365 has the van Gerwen stage of elimination at 10/1 to be round two, so that's the sort of thing we're looking at. It's a little bit short, but it's not horrifically short, and I can't really see myself wanting to bet on Klaasen against MvG. Easy enough game to avoid.

Last couple of hours to get in on the fantasy comp, I've posted about it enough so just read down for the details if you want to beat the 5pm deadline.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Worlds eve

Bets for day 1 will come tomorrow afternoon, but for now, some quick points:

- Don't forget to enter the fantasy comp - full details are HERE and a reminder you can win stuff, there's not many people entered as of yet so take a shot at it

- While everyone's been focussing on the PDC, it seems the BDO are lurching from one disaster to another, seemingly selling next to no tickets for the worlds, and also seeing the Dutch Open (which is probably their fourth biggest event now?) saying they'll no longer offer BDO rankings points due to some daft new rules that the BDO wanted to introduce. When you can't even run your own comps right (see the World Masters), or seemingly promote your own comps either, it's probably not a good idea to piss off one of the few big comps you have left that does run things right.

Worlds predictions - these might look stupid very quickly, and it's just gut feeling and nothing to do with actual statistical analysis, so don't bet based off this people:

R1/2 (24-8 split between Pro Tour and international qualifiers, as some people have been looking at that):

van Gerwen > Klaasen
McGeeney > Evans
Clayton > Joyce
Bunting > Monk
Wade > Koltsov
Anderson > Beaton
White > Labanauskas
Clemens > Hopp

Dolan > Anderson
West > King
Aspinall > Baggish
Ratajski > Hughes
Smith > Woodhouse
van den Bergh > Payne
Lewis > Ilagan
Meikle > Webster

Cross > Huybrechts
Noppert > Rydz
Cullen > Kurz
Wattimena > Humphries
Wright > Malicdem
Asada > Brown
Chisnall > van der Voort
de Zwaan > van Barneveld

Gurney > Pipe
Durrant > de Sousa
Evetts > Suljovic
Dobey > Meulenkamp
Price > O'Connor
Richardson > Henderson
Razma > Whitlock
King > Smith


van Gerwen > McGeeney
Bunting > Clayton
Wade > Anderson
White > Clemens
Dolan > West
Ratajski > Aspinall
Smith > van den Bergh
Lewis > Meikle

Cross > Noppert
Wattimena > Cullen
Wright > Asada
Chisnall > de Zwaan
Durrant > Gurney
Dobey > Evetts
Price > Richardson
King > Razma


van Gerwen > Bunting
White > Wade
Ratajski > Dolan
Smith > Lewis
Cross > Wattimena
Wright > Chisnall
Durrant > Dobey
Price > King


White > van Gerwen
Ratajski > Smith
Cross > Wright
Price > Durrant


White > Ratajski
Price > Cross

Final: Price 7-4 White

That'd hit a nice 100/1 each way punt... as an aside, Ratajski's 10/1 to win his quarter, that's got to be worth a shot.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Worlds 16/16 - Whitlock, Ward, Razma, King, Smith, Teehan

A reminder before I conclude the previews that you have less than 48 hours to enter our fantasy competition - link is here if you can't scroll down a few posts, it takes five minutes and you could win stuff, what better way to have an interest in an opening round game that you otherwise wouldn't care about?

Feels like it's the beginning of the end for Simon, and that his best days are long, long behind him - you simply can't be a serious top sixteen player if you're not able to make a single Pro Tour quarter final all year, and his scoring over the course of the year, at below 90, is extremely pedestrian, rating lower than players such as Martin Schindler and Dirk van Duijvenbode - neither of which are here. He's not defending a huge amount in this tournament so I guess he's about for at least another season, but are there any signs that are pointing in the right direction? I guess there's some, Simon still managed to make a European Tour final this year, beating Reyes, Ross Smith, Cullen and Hopp, and was able to make the final session on another couple of occasions, although these were a few months ago now and seemed to be in events that some players gave a wide berth to. He's only actually gone out in the first round on TV once, which was when he drew Michael Smith in Dublin - he made it through Dekker and Clemens at the UK Open, he beat John Henderson at Blackpool, beat Adrian Lewis in Göttingen and then de Zwaan in a weird game last month, but none of those are truly the elite of the elite. He seemed almost subconsciously to be picking his game up ever so slightly later in the season, to the point where I actually backed him to win a game for the first time in months, but it's not a huge deal - maybe he needs to trim his schedule down a bit, stop messing around with Allen key points and bizarre checkout routes and simplify things a little to extend his career, first thing would be to play to his seeding here, which is possible if he plays to the best of what he's able to do right now.

Someone at the opposite end of his career is Harry Ward, the youngster who claimed his tour card outright on day 1 of Q-School after several years being on people's radar on the secondary circuits (which he still plays, at least the Dev Tour). What could he do on the main tour this season? I think people were a bit surprised to see him race straight to a quarter final in his first event of the season, although the highest ranked player he beat was, oddly, Simon Whitlock, but hey, lots of people make quarter final runs on the Pro Tour. What did surprise a lot of people is when he managed to win one. I don't think anybody saw that coming, but in Barnsley back in May that's exactly what he was able to do, getting a second round win against his opening opponent here, then winning three of his last four matches in deciding legs - Michael Smith, Aspinall, de Sousa (the only game that didn't go the distance) and then Max Hopp in the final. It's a great achievement, which he was able to sandwich with another couple of quarter finals before the summer break to guarantee his place here. As a new tour card holder, it was not enough to get close to the majors, that's always tricky unless you do something more incredible than just one win, maybe if he'd got to more European Tour events (only the two, losing heavily to Noppert in the first and then beating Reece Robinson before Suljovic won every leg in the second) he might have had half a chance, but still, it's all points on the board and with a worlds berth he gives himself a very good chance of retaining his card after 2020. Just the two majors, mincashes in both, Jan Dekker and Darius Labanauskas doing for him, but if you offered him this year twelve months ago, he'd take it.

It's a PDC worlds debut for the Latvian Madars Razma, who has previously played Lakeside on multiple occasions and gained a reputation along with nearby neighbour Labanauskas of being a very dangerous opponent, and that's more or less what he's done - he has a ridiculously high percentage of legs won in four visits compared to his scoring level, if he strings good darts together then anyone's in trouble, he just doesn't do it often enough. Razma picked up form too late in the day to retain his card in 2018, but won it straight back comfortably enough and is still trying to get used to the Pro Tour, making it here through the SDC rankings, winning four events and making another three on that circuit to comfortably qualify. On the main tour it's been a struggle for consistency - the UK Open was the undoubted highlight, Razma beating fellow SDC competitor Dennis Nilsson, Mark McGeeney, George Killington and Jelle Klaasen to reach the last 32, where eventual winner Nathan Aspinall would easily defeat him. Otherwise it's been a grind - only four board finals, and he only won one of them, grabbing the scalp of Joe Cullen in that one. He made four European Tour events, which isn't too bad I guess, but went 0-4, losing to Matthew "you could have denied the whole Glen Durrant story" Dennant, Keegan Brown, Chris Dobey and Justin Pipe. He wasn't able to put enough together on the Pro Tour to make the Players Championship Finals, and it already looks as if it may be a struggle to retain his card again, so if he can get through the opening game and get to one of the weaker seeds, he can help himself out enormously.

The final seed we'll look at is Mervyn King, and it's been a very nice year for the veteran who's closing in on twenty-five world championship appearances, playing at more than a good enough level to retain a top 32 spot and still showing a peak game that can challenge the best. He's even throwing at double top now and again when it makes sense to do so, that's how confident he is at the moment. His floor form wasn't the best, just the three board wins on the Pro Tour, all early in the year - although he did take one to the semi final stage when he got a bit of the luck of the draw. He only managed to make it through to the final day on the European Tour three times, this is despite still being among the seeds for the most part, so why has it been a good year? The majors. Three quarter finals is a haul that a lot of players in the top 16 would be happy with, but let's have a look at who he played. UK Open? Last 32 is deceiving as he got the bastard draw to end all bastard draws - van Gerwen and then Cross. Obviously that means he beat the former. Matchplay? He beat Aspinall and Gary Anderson. Grand Prix? He beat Dimitri and Wade. Players Championship Finals? He beat Pipe, Chisnall and Cross. The only real blot was a first round loss to Cullen in Göttingen, but I think Mervyn would take what he's been given on TV in all honesty. It's a good draw, he should make it through to the last sixteen, and if there's one player that can ignore all the Gerwyn Price theatrics, it's King.

It's a bit of a tricky draw though, as Ross Smith is a potential opponent for King in the last 64. Smith's in through the Pro Tour for a return, and it's just been consistent performances throughout the year, rather than huge standout moments on the floor. He was, of course, helped by a good record in Europe, making more than half the events to qualify for the major at the end of the series, where he did get his huge standout moment of his career, a 114 out in the deciding leg against Michael van Gerwen to get to the last 16 of the European Championship. That European Tour record saw him beat a couple of seeds in Whitlock and Wright, but on the Pro Tour, it was just the one quarter final late in the season, where he did beat Ratajski and Cross. As I say, consistency, nine board finals or better. In the other majors he played, Smith had a great run to the UK Open quarter final, beating Norris, West and Wade in the extended games from the last 64 before hitting Aspinall in the quarters, and he also got more stage experience after winning through the Grand Slam qualifier - he got a tough draw against van Gerwen, Lewis and Jim Williams, and was probably a bit disappointing in only winning the five legs and finishing bottom of the group. Smith isn't too far off doing enough things right to really start climbing up to the top 32 in the world, but a win here in the first round is a minimum ask really.

The last player we'll look at is Ciaran Teehan, who makes his world championship debut after finishing high enough up the Development Tour rankings to claim the second spot, after all the players who had qualified as of right through the Pro Tour had been scrubbed off. On that tour, Teehan put things together late with two finals in the last five events, and the fifty quid he got in the final event of the season was just enough to finish fifth overall by that exact margin, Evetts, Humphries and Meikle not needing the spots to allow him to play at Ally Pally for a first time. Teehan's part of the flood of Irish players, like Barry, Shane McGuirk who he just pipped for this spot and others, but he's not just a youth player by any stretch of the imagination. Teehan won a Challenge Tour event back in September, beating the likes of Andy Jenkins, McGuirk and Berry van Peer, not having any real randoms in anything apart from the opening round, and not being a tour card holder, he's also played plenty of BDO events - he came through to the televised stages of the World Masters, his progress only being halted in the final eight by the impressive Mike Warburton, and in the last couple of months he's made deep runs in Irish-based opens. Smith should have too much for him, but Ciaran won't be a pushover.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Worlds 15/16 - Price, O'Connor, Kantele, Henderson, Richardson, Suzuki

Who's the second best player in the world right now? If you want to make the argument it's Michael van Gerwen, then have fun, but for me there's three to four players who are right up there just behind them, and possession's nine tenths of the law, so while Smith, Cross, Wright and maybe some others have had spells where they've looked it, Gerwyn Price is looking like that right here, right now, and is justifiably the second favourite to win this event. What's he done recently? He defended the Grand Slam is the big one. The absolutely huge one. To win one major might be a fluke, to retain it is another matter entirely. There, he won his group, albeit it maybe a little bit sluggishly, he dropped just one leg to Darren Webster, then the big ones. He repeated his win against Gary Anderson, in much less controversial fashion, and certainly in easier fashion. He finally got the win over Michael van Gerwen at the 94th time of asking. Then he took Peter Wright apart in the final, winning by ten clear legs. That's incredible stuff. A week later, he nearly added another - beating Mickey Mansell, whitewashing Keegan Brown, demolishing Suljovic and a red hot Bunting dropping just seven legs across the two games, then seeing off Chris Dobey before losing to van Gerwen by the odd break. He was in that event as the number one seed having won three of four Pro Tour finals he made and grabbing a further five last eight appearances. He nearly added another major in Göttingen, only losing out to Rob Cross, having being seeded highly following his retention of the Riesa European Tour event where he denied Cross his first European Tour title. A semi final at the UK Open was nearly turned into a win, but Aspinall only just denied him. I suppose the only blips were first round defeats to Chizzy at the Euros, and Bunting in a deciding leg at Blackpool, but that aside, Price has established himself as the man to beat in this half of the draw.

One player who might be able to do so if he can bring his best game is Willie O'Connor, the Irishman making a second straight worlds following a Pro Tour record that was punctuated by grabbing a first title way back in April. In that event, he beat Rowby, both Lukes, Beaton, de Zwaan, Gurney and Aspinall, a great run and something he's been threatening for a while now. That shows what O'Connor is capable of, and we continued to see it in bits and pieces throughout the year - the World Cup final being the big one that got him into the Grand Slam, an event where Willie was able to beat Rob Cross and Jermaine Wattimena in singles competition, and most recently he would hit some form at the right time of the season at Minehead - beating West, Ratajski and Clemens to reach a first major quarter final, and he was extremely close to nicking it against Ian White and going one step further. Other than those hits, it's been a little bit barren on the Pro Tour with just the two board wins, he dropped out of the UK Open early to Keegan Brown, couldn't get through what looked like a winnable group in the Grand Slam, but one thing O'Connor was able to do was qualify early and often for the European Tour, making more than half the events, and getting through to the final day once with a good pair of wins over Max Hopp and Peter Wright in deciding legs. He's always been up and down, and he'll need to be up to have a chance against Price, but if you're only as good as your last tournament, O'Connor's not bad.

Standing in O'Connor's path is Finnish ace Marko Kantele, who did enough on the SDC circuit to be one of the two players to qualify via that route. Marko finished, oddly enough the winner is also in his eighth of the draw, but we'll come to Razma later, let's talk about Marko. On the SDC circuit, Marko got one win over Dennis Nilsson and one final where he lost to Labanauskas, which was just about enough to qualify for the worlds, but having finished third in the averages, albeit a good two to three points behind the two Baltic lads, it's fair enough he got here. Kantele was actually able to win a tour card back in January, so the experience he's gained should have improved his game a lot since his last appearance two years ago, but it's been a tough school - his only major was the UK Open, getting through a pub qualifier before losing to Robert Owen and not cashing, and he wasn't able to gain any experience through the European Tour either, not even getting close in qualifying, just getting to the final round once. The Pro Tour hasn't been completely horrible to him, Marko did win his board on three occasions, although with his most notable wins being over Simon Whitlock, Kyle Anderson and Darren Webster, he's had some help with the draws, and par for the course is an early defeat with opening losses more than two thirds of the time. I'm thinking Marko's going to need to show something we've not seen before if he's going to get through the opening round.

What's Hendo done in 2019? I suppose the ultimate highlight was playing as one of the contenders in the Premier League against MvG in Aberdeen, and getting a draw, but other than that, it's been a bit quiet and mostly steady. John still did enough to make both the Matchplay and the Grand Prix, a great start to the year with four Pro Tour quarter finals in the first six events putting more than enough in the bank, and he'd add a best performance of a semi final in April (albeit with a fairly easy run) just before his sole last sixteen performance in the European Tour, where he beat Bunting and Hopp, but that was more or less it for Henderson - he got through to another four European Tour events, but they'd all be the same - beat the qualifier, lose to the seed, since that semi final, winning his board has been fairly infrequent, and his record in majors has been mostly just making up the numbers. UK Open? Drew Michael Smith and lost. Matchplay? Drew Simon Whitlock and lost (one I think he should have been winning really). Grand Prix? Drew James Wade and lost. Hendo did at least get past Joyce (just) and avenge the Whitlock loss at Minehead, but that'd be the limit of what he could do. He's holding on to the top 32, just about, but getting through to Price would be a massive help in doing so.

One possible opponent is James Richardson, who after no qualifying last time out, returns to defend last sixteen money from his run where he beat Kim Huybrechts and Alan Norris. It's not a bad draw he's got, but still one he's got to take advantage of. What's he done this year? Not a great amount, really, as James finished in the last quarter of Pro Tour qualifiers. His floor form saw just the two board wins, one quarter final run where he was able to beat Michael Smith, amongst others, and one plain old last sixteen, but at least both were in the second half of the season, where he did add enough board finals to make qualification safe. Richardson made three European Tour events and didn't do anything stupid like losing in the first round, and did take one of those three to the last sixteen with a win over Mervyn King, but was nowhere near enough to threaten Göttingen, irritating as he was defending prize money from two years ago. So in terms of majors, James just had the Minehead regulars, and was only able to take home minimum money - he'd get the bagel against Steve Lennon in the UK Open, and do three legs better but still lose in a tough draw against Jose de Sousa in the Players Championship Finals. Defending so much cash, he's actually not certain to retain his card, so there's quite a bit of pressure on this game.

One player who doesn't have pressure is current BDO women's champion Mikuru Suzuki, who follows on from Dobromyslova as the international women's qualifier. That didn't have the greatest of standards - nobody averaged 80 and Suzuki was just under 75, but a win is a win, and apart from when she faced compatriot and World Masters semi finalist Kasumi Sato she wasn't really getting much help from the opposition. Suzuki's worlds win last year made some people a fair few quid backing her at silly prices following the Lakeside qualifier, but the secret's out now, and the question is how she'll do at the very highest level. We've got some reads - she's played some of the Asian Tour, which is a useful guide, and reached two quarter finals, averaging around the same amount as Nitin Kumar, Keita Ono and Royden Lam did, which isn't too bad, additionally, we saw her in the Grand Slam - averaging more or less mid 80's throughout in a group against Gerwyn Price, Robert Thornton and Dimitri van den Bergh. It's a tough one to call - if Richardson plays as he can, Richardson should win, but if Richardson does what he often can do and misfire on scoring, Mikuru can step in and take advantage.

Worlds 14/16 - Suljovic, Evetts, Sherrock, Dobey, Meulenkamp, Robb

Has Mensur regressed a bit in 2019? It's an interesting question, and I think it's a bit of yes and no. Yes if you look at the TV results, but no if you look at his overall scoring and general level of form. TV first, as we're looking at a TV event - there's not a lot to shout about, at least in the ranking events - Suljovic was much improved (at least in results) in the Premier League, and was a game away from a final in the World Series finals (which he needed to get into the Grand Slam, as he skipped the qualifier), but if Mensur is to retain his Premier League spot, you would have thought he would require much better than he's managed - not a single televised ranking quarter final - Dimitri knocked him out of the UK Open (albeit after beating Peter Wright), Wade outduelled him at Blackpool (albeit after Suljovic handed out a lesson to Jermaine Wattimena), then two first round exits to Rob Cross and Vincent van der Voort would follow, and while he would nick wins against Huybrechts and van der Voort, a 10-4 loss in the last sixteen to Gerwyn Price maybe hints at the distance between Suljovic now and the world elite. But the game's still there to some extent - he did add another Euro Tour event on home soil by beating MvG in the final, he was able to win a Pro Tour event as well, eliminating Durrant, Clayton and White, and has a string of semi final and quarter final appearances on both tours, which looks a bit better than normal given Mensur doesn't play the entirety of the circuit. He should be good enough to get through the first round still, but against the probable last 32 opponent, maybe he will be tested heavily.

It's been a huge year for Ted Evetts, both in the youth events and the senior circuit. Let's look at the former first - a remarkable eight Development Tour wins obviously saw him win that circuit by an absolute mile, given that he missed one of the weekends, he was winning half the events he entered! That's stunning at that level, the only real surprise is that given the level of dominance he couldn't do more in the World Youth Championship, where Evetts lost to Wille Borland in the last sixteen in a deciding leg. How's Ted been translating his youth form to the senior circuit? Very well - his scoring is extremely respectable and well above where his ranking actually is, most notably he did enough in Europe to end up in the elite top 32 who made the European Championship, only running out a 6-4 loser to Gerwyn Price once there. Five out of thirteen European Tour events, where he only had one first round loss and made the Sunday twice is solid - beating Ricky Evans in one before losing to, er, Mensur, then beating Evans again before victory against Jonny Clayton, prior to a deciding leg loss against Michael van Gerwen is good going. On the Pro Tour, he's only managed to win his board once, but went two thirds of the season where he rarely lost in the first round, those £500 and £1k prizes adding up to a Minehead ticket, where he got another tough draw in James Wade, but again lost 6-4. He'd suffer a surprise defeat in the UK Open to fellow youth George Killington, but aside from that, you've got a good idea of where Evetts' game is going, and it seems like it'll be sooner rather than later where Evetts makes a real impression on the senior circuit.

Evetts' first opponent will be one of the two ladies' qualifiers in Fallon Sherrock, who won the UK qualifier with a completely dominant performance - averaging over 85 for the tournament where nobody apart from Lisa Ashton, who Sherrock defeated in the semi final, was able to average even 74. Sherrock's performances on that day had some real peaks - a 91 average against Ashton, 99 in the previous round whitewashing Lisa Brosnan, and another two 80+ averages in earlier rounds. That's very good throwing, albeit somewhat surprising. Sherrock's average on the Challenge Tour, where she played half the events, was down in the high seventies, and a high seventies average was also what Fallon achieved in losing the Lakeside quarter final - but was just a shade under ninety in the first round. Sherrock's playing well enough on the ladies' circuit to be the number four seed at the O2 this year, through winning multiple ladies' events - last month in Ireland and a brace in May in Denmark. While Sherrock's probably one of the strongest who could have come through this qualifier, and is certainly doing the right thing in finding new challenges like the Challenge Tour, the question is whether Sherrock can play at the level she did in the qualifier for long enough against Evetts to move on, and I think she'll have to do that.

It's finally been the year where Dobey has broken through in the senior circuit, a year which started with that epic worlds match against Gary Anderson and a contenders' invite against possible last 32 opponent Mensur Suljovic (a 6-6 draw in Dobey's back yard), and finished with a major semi final, his second of the season. What's Dobey been able to do to get through to the next level? The main thing was to do enough on the floor to actually make the majors, after a couple of years where he was just on the wrong side of the cutoffs on the Pro Tour rankings - he made the Matchplay through two big results - an early Pro Tour semi final where he beat Lewis and Wright, and then a European Tour final, just running out of steam against Dave Chisnall in the final in Denmark, but having to beat Jose de Sousa and Gerwyn Price earlier in the session may do that to you. Dobey had already lost his opener in the UK Open to Luke Woodhouse (that looked a bit of a surprise at the time), and after finally making the Matchplay, he drew the eventual winner in round one and Cross was giving up very little. From there though, it's all good - a semi final in Dublin, beating Ricky Evans, avenging that worlds defeat against Gary Anderson, winning a last set duel against Ian White before losing to van Gerwen. He put aside Krzysztof Ratajski in Göttingen, then in a return to Minehead, Chris beat the often dangerous Cristo Reyes, whitewashed James Wilson, easily dispatched John Henderson before crushing Raymond van Barneveld in the quarter finals by a score of 10-2. He would lose 11-8 to Gerwyn Price in the semi final, but I think the only thing that's really been missing from Chris' resume in 2019 is to finally pick up that first title. It's surely coming soon.

It's also been a decent year for Ron Meulenkamp, who's also one that's been looking to claim his first title, and was also one who has been looking to sneak into majors. He did that last year at Dublin and got a win, but couldn't do that this year, but his floor form has been incredible, finishing eighth on the Pro Tour order of merit (excluding the seeds) despite not a real amount of help from the European Tour, where he had a bit of a bad time with qualification (but did alright once he got there). There's not been many players at all who've got through to four semi finals this season, but Ron's been one of them, and had another four board wins on top of that. Maybe he had a couple of shots to make a final - losing to Ian White and Nathan Aspinall is understandable, but against Justin Pipe and Darius Labanauskas, maybe he could have done better, but let's look at some of the names he's beaten in those semi final runs. Chisnall. Gurney. Hughes. Dobey (twice). White. While some of the runs weren't the hardest they could possibly be, he wasn't gifted them by any stretch of the imagination, and ran into plenty of solid opponents around his level that he couldn't take for granted. I suppose the worry is when it counts - if you're not doing enough to get into majors through the Pro Tour regularly, you need to try to take what chances you get when you do - Adam Hunt the first time around really should have been beaten, and while Rob Cross was always going to be a difficult out the second time at Minehead, Ron really didn't do himself justice in that game. He should be able to give Chris a good game if he gets there.

Meulenkamp's opponent will be Ben Robb, the debutant who won the New Zealand qualifier who appears relatively new to the scene, but is here now after beating Mark Cleaver in the final to book his spot at Ally Pally. With no Cody Harris in the qualifier, as he seemingly doesn't play DPNZ events, the qualifier was wide open, and Ben was undefeated in both group stages, beat former qualifier Warren Parry in the semi final before taking down Cleaver in the final. It didn't seem like the highest quality, but you can only beat what's in front of you and the format gave everyone a chance and didn't allow too many upsets. Aside from the qualifier, Robb was able to play some of the World Series - at home, he averaged in the mid 90's twice, knocking out Whitlock before losing to Rob Cross, but the less said about Brisbane the better. He's played the DPA circuit and grabbed a couple of wins, over former worlds qualifiers Koha Kokiri and James Bailey, and made a couple of other finals as well. I'm guessing Meulenkamp should be too solid for Ben to advance, but if Ben can get off to a quick start with some of the darts he's shown in his better result, then maybe it unsettles the Dutchman enough for him to go from there.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Worlds 13/16 - Gurney, Pipe, Pratnemer, Durrant, de Sousa, Heta

I continue to be confused as to how Daryl Gurney keeps getting the sorts of performances he does. I think it's pure and simply one thing - consistency. He doesn't have the raw power of many of the elite, but he gives nothing away either, and with huge chunks of the field being the sorts of players that can easily score with him for the most part, but will have bad legs when Gurney doesn't, that's where he'll step in and take every chance he's given. What's he done in 2019? Another couple of major semi finals look real good, the Matchplay saw him eliminate Peter Wright and then push Cross to the limit in the semi final. Not bad. The European Championship had Gurney again only lose to Cross at that stage by a single break. He'd not do that well elsewhere - you'd have expected him to get through his group at the Grand Slam, but an early defeat at the Grand Prix to Noppert has to be a disappointment, and his Minehead efforts left a lot to be desired, the UK Open saw a tough early draw against Michael Smith but he should be eliminating Luke Woodhouse just last month. On lower tours, he claimed a European Tour title, taking advantage of an early MvG defeat and knocking out Cross himself to win the title over Ricky Evans, and he'd also claim a Pro Tour title, a run of Darren Webster, Steve Lennon, Mervyn King, Jelle Klaasen, Peter Wright, Ian White and finally Nathan Aspinall is one of the harder draws you could reasonably put together back in late September. He was able to do well enough in the Premier League to reach the semi finals, but has he done enough to get a return? There's a lot of people snapping around, so you think a run here might be needed, and if he gets a run here, it'll be earned - it's a brutal draw for Daryl.

Justin Pipe returns to the Ally Pally stage following a relatively poor 2018 where he failed to qualify, and will desperately be looking to put the whole coughing thing from two years ago behind him - can't say that his style of play will suddenly turn the crowd onto his side, but he's at least back and will be looking to post at least one win after a season where he might have had trouble retaining his tour card. As ever with Pipe, it's been his floor form which has got him where he is - he peaked with a final run just prior to the Matchplay, getting a bad first round draw against Price but obviously coming through, getting through Suljovic and others before ending up on the wrong end in the last game against Peter Wright, but consistent accumulation is also what did it - thirteen board finals or better shows a solidity that we've not seen since back earlier in the decade when he was in and around the top ten in the world. Despite an early European Tour quarter final where he beat Ian White and Darren Webster, Pipe just bubbled getting to Göttingen, one win in the last event would probably have seen him make it but he lost to Kim Huybrechts, but getting through enough qualifiers to be in that spot is a good sign. He'll want to forget the TV events I think - in the UK Open he was whitewashed by Geert Nentjes, while in the Players Championship finals, Mervyn King would be able to come from 4-3 down to claim a first round win in a deciding leg, Pipe being in a position where he just needed two holds to advance. Compare his overall numbers to Gurney - they're not far off. He's playing well. If he doesn't give Gurney anything easy, he can win that game.

God knows what Benjamin Pratnemer makes of this section of the draw, if there was ever a "welcome to the PDC" party, it's this. The Slovenian makes his debut after winning the Eastern European qualifier, which comes as a bit of a surprise given the quality of the field, there's plenty of players in Poland and the Czech Republic who you might have fancied to claim the spot, but Pratnemer got there, beating previous European Tour player Janos Vesgo in the final. What do we know about Ben? It's a little bit limited - he's tried this qualifier for at least the previous two years, last year losing to eventual winner and European Tour quarter finalist Karel Sedlacek, while the year before he lost to the eventual winner Alan Ljubic, both times in the semi final stages. He hasn't played much of anything in the PDC beyond that previously - no Challenge Tour or Q-School, no sign of European Tour qualifiers, it's mostly been BDO events, late in 2018 he was able to win two events in a weekend in Hungary, which enabled him to play the World Masters where he was able to reach the televised stages, he lost to Carl Hamilton in the last 32 once there, but what he did before them is questionable, as it was in the "weirdness" section of the draw that anyone who was paying attention to the event at the time will know about. Looking at his BDO ranking scores, Ben's been putting in the legwork in November to get plenty of match practice, which is sensible enough, I doubt it's enough to beat Pipe but he's doing the right things in the build up.

He's not going to make it in the PDC, is he? Oh, the kids that just look at averages and don't understand them, whereas the rest of us that can interpret them knew Glen was, at a minimum, a top 16 player regardless of code, and that's where he's going to shoot up to very, very soon, already hitting the top 32 and having a whole season with nothing to defend in 2020. We all knew he was a three time back to back BDO world champion, how long would it take him to adapt to the PDC? Not long. First weekend - finalist, beating Wright, beating Cullen, only losing a decider to Chisnall. Next weekend - winner, beating Suljovic, beating Price, stopping Dimitri winning his first title. We'll ignore the UK Open, that's a blip and Gavin Carlin was playing well at the time. Two months later - second title, doesn't lose a leg until round three. Beats both PDC world finalists in back to back round before curbstomping Darius Labanauskas in the final. Two months later? Major semi finalist at Blackpool. Beats two multiple time world champions, including van Gerwen again. Beats James Wade. Smith would be a bit much in the semi final, but we go again in Dublin. Beats Ratajski. Beats Cross. Beats Wattimena, but Chizzy was on fire in the semi. Gets an interesting Grand Slam invite from the BDO, and makes the semi final of that as well. Gets out of the group of death. Edges out Clemens. Avenges the Michael Smith defeat from Blackpool, and would only be stopped by Peter Wright. Make no mistake, this is no different from Bunting several years ago, or Cross two years ago - he's hugely underseeded and Gurney has every right to be worried, as Durrant's stats all year shout out Premier League calibre player. Of course, that's assuming Durrant wins his first round match, which is no gimmie...

Hey guys, remember twelve months ago when we were saying that de Sousa was an interesting opponent for Michael Barnard? How times change - Barnard, after that win, won as many matches in 2019 as de Sousa won titles. Where the hell did this come from? Frankly, I'm not sure, but it's legitimate, and looks all the more impressive if you scratch off the first two or three months when the Portuguese number one was understandably getting used to the Pro Tour after winning his tour card (which, almost reminiscent of Ratajski not winning it that one year, he nearly didn't do). The UK Open was maybe a little bit too soon, and you wouldn't expect him to lose to Reece Robinson now, but next month he makes a floor quarter final, beating Rob Cross. A month later, he goes a stage further, not beating anyone of huge note but just beating whoever was in front of him up until the semi finals, where Harry Ward was having the day of his life. The next week, he shows up on the European Tour for the first time this year (ever?) and reached a quarter final, beating Darren Webster and Daryl Gurney, and coming within a leg of beating Chris Dobey. The week after, he'd make a floor final, beating Aspinall, de Zwaan, Dimitri before James Wade denied him a first win. Soon after the summer break, however, he'd get it - he beats Peter Wright in the semi and then only allows Gerwyn Price one leg in the final. He repeats next month - beating Suljovic in the semi and Durrant in the final. If he started this run even slightly earlier he'd be in Dublin, but he'd just need to settle for the Players Championship finals - Stephen Bunting found god mode and that was that, but while he rivals only Phil Taylor for comedy counting and will try three tops needing 120 to finish, de Sousa is very much no joke, is playing a clear top 20 level game, and will give Durrant the sternest first round test he could possibly get - if he wins.

Which is no gimmie, as de Sousa has drawn Brisbane Masters winner Damon Heta in the clear best match of the first round. Heta, who I believe has already said he's going to Q-School and going to make the move, has been around on the radar for a few years now (last year in one of the World Series events he beat Kyle Anderson and gave Gary a run for his money), but it's only in 2019 where he's really come to the forefront of the Australasian game. That 3x win on the DPA circuit should read 8 - stupid dartsdatabase not being as up to the minute as Wikipedia is and stupid me for not fact checking, simple matter is that he won the DPA circuit with events to spare and qualifies through that route. But it's not the DPA that made people notice Heta - no. He managed to win a World Series event. That's more or less unheard of - we had the weird one where Kyle Anderson beat Corey Cadby, but that's about it, it's always been the big name invites. In that event, Heta beat James Wade in a deciding leg (and would beat Wade the week after as well), he'd beat Gary Anderson and Simon Whitlock 8-6, before beating Rob Cross in a deciding leg in the final. Was it a bit opportunistic? Possibly, Heta didn't average more than 95 in any game prior to the final, but you've still got to take your chances and Damon certainly was doing so on that weekend. That would get Damon to the World Series finals, as a seed (!) he'd lose out to Mensur Suljovic in a game where maybe if he hits his doubles, he could have clinched it, but no big dramas. I think he'll need to step his game up to get past round one, simply because Jose is so good - there's too many finals on the DPA tour where he's averaging in the high 80's to low 90's which won't cut it against an operator of de Sousa's quality, but regardless of what happens, this entire section will be can't miss action.

Worlds 12/16 - Chisnall, van der Voort, Barry, de Zwaan, van Barneveld, Young

Pretty good year for Dave, we often talked about Chizzy as one of the better players who'd yet to win a major - he's now back in that conversation after a moderately quiet couple of years. He was one game away from doing so - doing so at the Grand Prix, where after beating Gerwyn Price, Stephen Bunting, Nathan Aspinall and Glen Durrant, he'd run into Michael van Gerwen as he's often done in the past. He'd nick a couple of sets, but that big title still eludes him - however, getting to the final of the Grand Prix is a nice sign that he's patching the doubling problems that had plagued him in previous years. You don't get to the final of a double start event without being able to hit them. Aside from that event, it's been great all round - another couple of major quarter finals, Daryl Gurney and Peter Wright being a bit too strong, and he'd also add a European Tour title for the first time in years in Denmark - Ratajski and Suljovic would be very tough games to start, Wattimena, Clayton and Dobey from the quarter finals onwards in the final session would be the players he beat to grab the trophy. Two Pro Tour titles would also be added early in the season, being a who's who of players to beat, Aspinall, Cross (both times), Wade, Clayton, Durrant, Gurney being highlights. Could Dave have got closer to the win in other majors? Maybe, Simon Stevenson upset him in the UK Open, he'd ought to beat Max Hopp at Blackpool more often than not, but didn't, similarly against Mervyn King in the Players Championship finals. Still, 2019 has overall been one of Dave's better seasons.

Vincent's been a bit under the radar in 2019, but has been playing solid darts, generally being free of the back issues that have limited him in previous years being a huge help as van der Voort will look to repeat his win over Chisnall in this event two years ago. Vincent's back up close to the top 32 in the world through doing enough in the Pro Tour to make all the majors, and was able to push through to the quarter finals of the European Championship - Suljovic would be his first round opponent and only took a leg, and Chris Dobey in round two would lose by a wide margin. Gerwyn Price put him out, but only just, 10-8. His floor form to get into these positions was naturally good, two final sessions on the European Tour being the highlights - taking out Pipe, Whitlock, Price and Menzies to reach a semi final in Austria, and Boulton, Suljovic and Hopp to reach the quarters on home soil. On the Pro Tour, he'd win his board six times, pushing into the quarters half the time when he did, including a pair in one weekend - that gave van der Voort enough ranking money to get a top 32 seed for Minehead, he'd beat Arron Monk and have a match dart to knock out Ian White. While he was making the majors, he didn't get much traction in the ones not already mentioned, Luke Humphries would easily dispatch him in the UK Open, while Peter Wright and Nathan Aspinall weren't easy draws in Blackpool and Dublin respectively. From outside the top 32, just making the TV events isn't a bad result, hopefully Vincent can keep this form up and claim his position back in the top 32 again.

Irish darts is experiencing somewhat of a resurgence with the likes of Gurney becoming elite and the World Cup team making the final, and Keane Barry's one of the next wave of players coming through, the youngster having won the Tom Kirby memorial, previously won by the likes of Gurney, Willie O'Connor, Mick McGowan and most recently Kevin Burness. Barry won this event in a deciding leg, coming from a 5-2 deficit and surviving double figures worth of match darts from Liam Gallagher. Barry's been prolific on the youth circuit, he will face Leighton Bennett for the BDO's youth title, was one game away from reaching the PDC version, only losing to eventual winner Luke Humphries, will appear for an additional time on the Ally Pally stage in the JDC's final against Adam Gawlas, and won the World Youth Masters after ending up on the losing side of the final the previous two years. Keane's played some senior darts, being able to win a BDO event in Northern Ireland over Paul Hogan in the final in what looked to be a relatively strong field, while on the Development Tour, Barry was able to reach the last eight on seven occasions and finish in the top five averages over the course of the season at a shade under ninety (the only non-tour card holders as of right now in the top ten being Barry and compatriot Ciaran Teehan). Whether Barry will be able to handle the big stage against a veteran of nearly 20 world championships is the big question, he has enough of a game that he should be able to challenge, but this is a much different environment.

The youngsters (and Dutchmen) keep coming in this part of the draw with Jeffrey de Zwaan, who's up into the top 32 seeds as opposed to last year and, while he'll still possibly face a world champion in the last 64, he's at least the seed this time. This year hasn't been quite as spectacular as 2018, but Jeffrey's been doing all the right things as he continues to mature as a darts player. de Zwaan made two Pro Tour finals in the early season, the first being a runners up spot, mostly through a decent draw except from Glen Durrant in the quarters, James Wade being his final opponent, but a few weeks later he picked up the title over Stephen Bunting, picking up wins over Chisnall and Michael Smith along the way. These results, along with enough of a good record in the European Tour qualifiers saw Jeffrey make all but the Grand Slam in terms of majors. It'd be the European Championship that was Jeffrey's best run, beating Peter Wright and Jermaine Wattimena to get up to Michael Smith, who defeated him in the quarters, while de Zwaan was also able to pick up a win at Dublin, Steve Beaton falling in straight sets, but de Zwaan wasn't able to repeat his trick of eliminating van Gerwen in majors this time around. In the other majors, Jeffrey lost heavily to Wattimena in the UK Open, was able to force James Wade to a deciding leg at Blackpool but get edged out from there, while he'd suffer a surprise defeat to Simon Whitlock at Minehead in one of the weirder games I've seen this season. de Zwaan's still young enough to play Development Tour events, getting one win over Geert Nentjes, and like Barry just above, was only eliminated by Luke Humphries in the world youth championship. As for that potential world champion he might face...

It's the end of the road for one of the greatest players of all time - of course, it could have happened even earlier if his rage quit after the Premier League had have lasted more than a few hours, but it didn't, and he's here. Knowing he had basically no chance to retain his worlds spot through his main order of merit ranking, he needed to do something he's not done for a few years - do enough on the Pro Tour to qualify. Barney did so, helped primarily by one big run in March when he reached the final, he'd lose to Adrian Lewis there and have a generally easy path where the hardest opponent he'd face would be Keegan Brown, but that six grand was enough, coupled with four European Tour appearances and a couple of board victories elsewhere on the Pro Tour. Raymond was able to show some occasional glimpses to think that he may be able to do better than last year where he suffered an early reverse to Darius Labanauskas - not so much at the UK Open, where Simon Stevenson would cause what's still a stunning upset, but at the Players Championship Finals, Raymond would reach the quarters, beating Nathan Aspinall and Joe Cullen comfortably before crushing Glen Durrant 10-3, but would run out of steam and be easily and heavily defeated by Chris Dobey. A final in New Zealand was a decent run, and he did win his first game in the World Series finals then push Dave Chisnall close. Will this be a case of Barney passing the torch to de Zwaan? Maybe, but he's got a first round game to win first.

van Barneveld faces Darin Young in his opening game, the veteran American making his tenth appearance in this event following a good season on the CDC circuit, winning three events, most impressively a whitewash final victory over Jeff Smith with a 92 average, enough to be the highest ranked player on the whole circuit, qualifying as the highest ranked American. Young makes his first appearance in four seasons, last time out losing 3-1 to Terry Jenkins, and this year he was mostly seen in mid season, winning the opening pairs with Chuck Puleo in the World Cup, prior to losing to Zoran Lerchbacher in the last sixteen singles, then in the Vegas tournaments, Young would be defeated by Jeff Smith in the main worlds qualifier at the semi final stage, and be able to put up a low 90's average in the World Series against Michael van Gerwen, nicking four legs in the process. Young's typically been competent if not spectacular every time we've seen him, his standard being mid to high eighties - that shouldn't be enough to trouble van Barneveld over a long match, but if Raymond doesn't quite click, he could be able to get a steady string of six visit legs and possibly cause it to be Raymond's last ever game.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Worlds 11/16 - Wright, Rodriguez, Malicdem, Brown, Mansell, Asada

It's been a pretty decent year for Peter Wright all things considered following his surprising defeat twelve months ago to Antonio Alcinas, as the ever popular player has managed to regain his peak form towards the end of the season, pick up floor titles, and end up as a serious contender to claim major titles once again. Wright would get a pretty tough opening draw in the UK Open and go down to Mensur Suljovic, but would immediately kick back with two deep runs in European Tour events, a circuit on which he'd make the final session on a remarkable eight occasions, as we built up to the Matchplay. Right before Blackpool, Wright laid down a statement of intent, claiming both Players Championship events as well as taking down the World Series event in Germany, and it came as somewhat of a surprise when Daryl Gurney stopepd him at the semi final stage. Later in the year, Wright would suffer an odd reverse in Dublin to Jermaine Wattimena, but immediately return with a semi final and win in the last two Players Championship events, reach the final of the Champions League, and following a hiccup in Göttingen when he lost to de Zwaan, work his way all the way to the Grand Slam final, only to run into peak Gerwyn Price, who was basically unplayable. An opening round loss to James Wilson in Minehead was a potential worry, but that's one event - over the course of the whole season, Wright's put up top five scoring levels, and is rightly in the equation for who's going to get out of the bottom half. Like Price and Cross, he's hitting his form in the second half of the year, so assuming they all get through to the quarter finals, it's going to be a brutal series of games to see who can get through to the final.

It's been a slightly better season this year for Rowby John than it was last time out - twelve months ago he needed to get through a regional qualifier to make it here, this time he's just managed to creep in as one of the final few Pro Tour qualifiers. Consistency continues to be an enormous problem for the young Austrian, who showed his best game at times on the European Tour, running through Payne, Gurney and de Decker on home soil to reach a quarter final in September before losing a deciding leg against his potential second round opponent, and similar results occurred before the summer break, taking out de Decker again, abusing Darren Webster prior to a last leg loss against Mervyn King. On the other hand, those were two of just three events he qualified for in Europe, the remaining event seeing him lose in the Czech Republic to Andrew Gilding, and on the Pro Tour he only made his board final four times and failed to push through to the quarter finals a single time. That Rowby was able to find a good game when the money really mattered just about got him here, but he needs to find a much, much better base level game, his floor record saw him lose in the opening round more often than not. He's well past the Development Tour age now and this is his fifth appearance, he should have enough experience to be able to iron things out somewhat and grind through games that he could win put possibly gave away. In his only major of the year, the UK Open, he lost in the first round to a pub qualifier. He's better than that, he just needs to show it more often than he actually does.

As such, it's probably not a good sign for Rowby that he's been drawn against one of the more dangerous international qualifiers in Noel Malicdem, who returns for a second shot after a debut year where he eliminated Jeffrey de Graaf and removed the Dutchman's tour card, then gave Kyle Anderson some problems before bowing out 3-1 in sets. Malicdem topped the averages on the Asian Tour by some distance, a clear three points ahead of Paul Lim - ending up a fraction of a point below 93 when he's going to be playing multiple games against opponents who aren't going to help that statistic at all is extremely dangerous, and will require Rowby to be on his game immediately. On the Asian Tour, Noel won one event on home soil against some guy from Taiwan, but added a further three finals, losing one to Seigo Asada and the other two to compatriot Lourence Ilagan. Those finals should give a good idea of where he's at under pressure - averaging 92 three times, and only dropping in Asian Tour 8 when both himself and Ilagan seemed to lose a bit of composure and games dragged into seven visits. This seems like a decent enough draw for Noel, and while Wright should be too powerful, it's not been unknown for Peter to have surprising early defeats in the worlds, and Noel has the game to cause that sort of upset.

Keegan's finally up and established into the top 32, after having two to three years where he went from being that guy that put the pressure on in the Grand Slam that time, to making up the numbers, he's now properly recovered and is a regular face on TV screens, qualifying for all major events except the Grand Slam. The highlight of this season for Keegan has probably been the European Tour - he's reached two semi finals, and notably in both he was able to defeat Michael van Gerwen in the last 32, before deciding that's not the limits of what he can do and really pushing deep once he's created the chances for himself. That's the sort of thing he can do when he's on his game, there's still too many legs where he'll just not be able to find a treble, but it should demonstrate his potential. In those semi final runs, he was also able to beat Gerwyn Price in one event and Mensur Suljovic in another, while on the floor, Keegan had one semi final where he defeated Dave Chisnall in the first round and was a leg away against Barney from making the final. A steady trickle of last sixteen performances on all stages saw Brown reach most majors - while for the most part he couldn't make the impact he'd need to in order to push his ranking further, he turned over Jonny Clayton at Blackpool and was close to eliminating Daryl Gurney, beat the player he should in the Players Championship finals before hitting Gerwyn Price, was perhaps unlucky to draw Gary Anderson at the Grand Prix, but Stephen Bunting in the European Championship is one he might want to have back. The consistency looks to be getting there, the peak is clearly there, it's a case of putting together some incremental improvements and consolidating before really pushing on to the next level.

Mickey Mansell. Oh dear. The less said about his match last year, the better, I did a packet in that one and I think we've all seen the aftermath of what happened, so let's talk about this year. Mickey's frankly lucky to get here, he just crept over the line as the last man to qualify, and really hasn't had a good season at all. His UK Open run was fine, he beat Danny Noppert in a bit of an upset before ending the run of Scott Taylor, but Steve Lennon would be too much in the last 32, but that was more or less it. Mansell made four European Tour events, losing to Steffen Siepmann (I swear that must be the third time I've mentioned him already, which is three more times than I thought I would), beating Steve West then losing to Suljovic, beating Kyle Anderson before losing to Ian White, then losing to Danny Noppert. The infuriating thing is that, apart from Siepmann, the losses were all 6-5, and the guys he beat were decent - his game frequently makes no sense. He won a Pro Tour event in 2018, but only won his board once all year in 2019 - ironically beating Keegan Brown to do so, then in his quarter final he only lost in a decider to Krzysztof Ratajski, the eventual winner. In the Players Championship Finals, he averaged up towards the high nineties when losing 6-3 to Gerwyn Price. I'd say it's just inconsistency, but his consistency rating (take away the average when he's losing from the average when he's winning) is more or less in the middle of the bell curve. I can't figure this guy out. Hopefully he draws a good player so I can just lay him.

And look at that, here's Seigo Asada. When someone from Asia indicates well in advance that they're going to try Q-School, that's an enormous sign of confidence, and Asada has every right to be confident, twelve months on from him knocking out Krzysztof Ratajski and nearly doing the same to James Wade. This year, Asada won the Japanese qualifier, something he didn't need to do but did so anyway to effectively say he's the best in his country - he didn't need to do it given that he won three Asian Tour titles, one early in the year over Royden Lam, then a double to end the season where he triumphed over the Philippines pair of Ilagan and potential last 32 opponent Malicdem. Of course, Asada's qualities were reiterated in the World Cup as one half of the Japanese team which reached the semi final - mainly just doing what he needed to do against Paul Lim and Cody Harris, he couldn't quite get over the line against Gary Anderson in the semi final despite a three figure average. This is a great draw for Seigo, and it wouldn't surprise me if he was able to push all the way through to face Peter Wright.'s World Championship fantasy game - WIN DARTS STUFF

Going to go with almost exactly the same rules as last year - from the following players, you have 180 points with which to pick a minimum of five players and a maximum of twelve players (down from 15 last year) - you score points by doing the following:

Winning a set - 5 points
Winning a leg in a set you lose - 1 point
180 - 2 points
Checking out 121-160 - 2 points
Checking out 161-170 - 3 points
Nine dart finish - 9 points
(new for 2019-20) Beating a seed as an unseeded player - 5 points
(new for 2019-20) Beating a top 8 seed as either an unseeded player, or as a seed from 17 to 32 inclusive - 5 points

The players points values are as follows:

Entry details - you have until 5pm UK time (12pm EST, 6pm CET) on Friday the 13th to enter - this is two hours before the tournament kicks off. To enter, send an email with the following details to

- Your name (and/or username to be displayed in the leaderboard, if different)
- Your player selections
- A contact email address (if different to the one you're sending from)
- Tiebreaker: how many 180's will be thrown in this year's championship?

The overall winner will win £15 worth of Darts Corner vouchers - get yourself a cheap set of starter darts, stock up on flights/stems, put it towards a pricier set you were going to buy anyway, buy a dozen Mark Dudbridge posters if they still have them in stock, it's really up to you. I'm not in anyway affiliated with DC, this is coming out of my own pocket, but they've always been extremely reliable in my experience, and ship cheaply all over the world, so if you've never given them a try before I can certainly recommend them.

Reminder - email your selections in to

Probably should list some GDPR spiel - I'm using your contact email purely and solely to be able to email you the winnings if you win. That's it. Then I'll delete everything before Scott Mitchell's out of the BDO worlds.

Should follow with the remainder of the third quarter tonight, hopefully get the fourth quarter out on Monday/Tuesday, then bets as we go through the event.

As an aside, I know Ally Pally has a lot of German visitors, but do they really need to make them feel at home by using that proprietary card payment system they have at a lot of their football grounds, which is incompatible with the perfectly good contactless payment system that we have over here already? Cashless/tokenless is a good idea, sure, but this seems a bit silly really.

Worlds 10/16 - Cullen, Wilson, Kurz, Wattimena, Humphries, Petersen

2019 was a big year for Joe Cullen, where the perennial European Tour contender, who had come so close to getting a win on that circuit on so many occasions, finally managed to get the European Tour title that had eluded him for so long. In that event, Cullen beat Jamie Hughes, Willie O'Connor, Glen Durrant, James Wade and then the end boss that is Michael van Gerwen, doing things the hard way and showing what he'd threatened to do for so long. That got him nicely up into the European Tour standings, where in the finals he beat Mervyn King, but the lost to Rob Cross. That would be close to all he'd do in TV events, which is really what he's needing to do to maintain a top 16 position and even look to push up further - in the UK Open, Cullen would draw Gerwyn Price, awkward, but it happens. In the Matchplay and Grand Prix, he'd get Ian White on both occasions - the Grand Prix was somewhat close as it went all three sets, but the Matchplay was one to forget, as Cullen lost ten straight legs to be on the wrong end of a rare Blackpool whitewash. It was a rare year where winning on the European Tour wasn't enough to make the Grand Slam, so it just left Minehead at the end of the year for majors - Cullen got past Kyle Anderson, but Raymond van Barneveld would be too good. The floor wasn't bad for Cullen - one final, beating Price, Cross and Lewis before being comprehensively beaten by Peter Wright, and a further three runs to the quarters or better, while he'd also make two further quarter finals in Europe to add to his ranking money. His overall scoring isn't quite as good as his results, but when he's on form, he's got the game to push deep into any tournament.

It's not been a great year for James Wilson. Defending last 32 money from two years ago (where he lost to Michael van Gerwen without winning a leg), Wilson's had various ailments that have really prevented him making a serious attempt to hold his top 32 position, and was only just able to crawl over the line in the Pro Tour rankings as his scoring for the year dropped below 89, far below where it really needs to be for a top 32 player. What did Wilson manage to do this year? He wasn't close to the majors, only qualifying for the UK Open automatically, where he was destroyed against James Wade, and qualifying for Minehead a second time, where he had a wildly different two games - pulling off a stunning deciding leg upset against Peter Wright, then not winning another leg in the whole tournament as he lost to Chris Dobey in the second round. That second round appearance was from doing just about enough on the Pro Tour - while he had twelve first round exits, and missed the last four events, he was at least able to turn two of his three board wins into more than just the minimum, reaching one semi final in June, where he notably beat Gurney and de Sousa before Ratajski took him apart in the semi, and a quarter final three months later, beating Hopp, Ratajski and Durrant prior to being taken out by Jamie Hughes. His European qualification record was very patchy, but he at least made the final day on two of the three occasions he qualified - first as a promoted seed from nowhere, beating Mario Robbe before losing to Keegan Brown (who'd just opened up the draw by beating MvG), then much later in the season he beat Gavin Carlin and Steve Beaton prior to losing to Mensur Suljovic in his backyard. Hopefully he's over the worst of his problems and he can get back to some of the form he was showing a year or two ago.

Nico Kurz is a bit of a surprise debutant - when the German Superleague finals field was announced, I think most people expected Martin Schindler, as probably the strongest non-Cadby player that wasn't in the field already, to qualify comfortably. However, Kurz, still in his early 20's from the outskirts of Frankfurt, was able to gradually improve through the day, averaging 88 in the quarters against Manfred Bilderl which went all the way, just over 90 against Maik Langendorf, then nearly 95 in eliminating Schindler in the final to book his spot at Ally Pally. Not bad going, those games were all of a decent length (the quarters started at best of 15 and it increased from there) so it's no fluke. Kurz is probably best (only?) known to most viewers from his German Darts Masters run back in July - there, he caused a huge surprise by knocking out Gary Anderson 6-4 in the opening round, and then coming close to eventual winner Peter Wright in the quarter finals, Wright only able to get the sole break he needed over the course of the game. He clearly isn't going to be worried by a big stage if he can do that. It's a bit of a surprise that we didn't see him on the Development Tour at all, but we did see him get into one of the earlier European Tour events, where he took Kim Huybrechts all the way to a deciding leg before losing 6-5, a game which saw Nico miss several match darts. I'd say this would be just a case of gaining more big match experience, but this is winnable - if he can take this one, maybe he can then look to try more of the Development Tour in 2020 and gain a lot more floor experience.

Jermaine's continued to grow in stature and confidence in 2019, to the point where he's the Netherlands number two (at least in the official rankings, I'm sure de Zwaan, Noppert and possibly others might ask politely as to who's actually better) and got into their World Cup team. In a big surprise, Jermaine wasn't able to help MvG to the finals (and the free Grand Slam berth many thought was there for him) as they lost the deciding pairs to Ireland in the semi final, but apart from that big chance, 2019's been good to Jermaine. He's not quite been able to claim a title yet - two runners up spots, one right at the start of the year where he could get wins over Ian White and Peter Wright but go down to MvG, then another later in August, where he beat Clemens, Beaton and Suljovic, but Brendan Dolan would surprisingly prevent him getting the win. A huge string of quarter finals was below that level, and similarly in Europe, he's not been able to go really deep but is getting to the final day with some regularity. In the majors, he made somewhat of a breakthrough in the Grand Prix where he reached the quarters, beating Lewis and Wright but then losing a deciding set to Glen Durrant, he was able to reach the last sixteen at the UK Open, crushing de Zwaan and then edging out Woodhouse before Michael Smith was too strong, while he also won his opener in Göttingen against Jamie Hughes before de Zwaan would take revenge for that UK Open loss. Jamie Hughes and Mensur Suljovic aren't easy draws in the remaining two, maybe he'd have liked to perform better against Mensur at Blackpool, but everything carries on trending in the right direction for Jermaine.

It's been an interesting year for Luke following his quarter final run twelve months ago - going from his well documented anxiety issues at the start of the year that let him to think about giving the game up, to claiming the world youth title over a clearly hugely nervous Adam Gawlas on the Minehead stage. That would have given him a spot here, but he'd made it through the Pro Tour rankings, let's have a look at what he's done. Europe's been decent when he's got there - only three times, but he's won his first game on all three occasions, but couldn't quite get over the line to get to the real big money rounds, losing out in deciding legs twice, once to James Wade and once to Darren Webster. Luke was in the top 64 in the Players Championship rankings easily enough (although, through oddities of seedings, he got van Gerwen in the opening round in the finals with the expected results), Humphries winning his board four times in the second half of the season, with a peak of the quarters in June, beating Wade in the first round but eventually going out to James Wilson when the tournament was wide open to anyone. Humphries only other TV tournament before the world youth was the UK Open - getting a good win over Vincent van der Voort, before losing a very tight game to Dave Chisnall. In his last year as a youth (although what "youth" means has been the subject of much debate), Humphries of course won the big title, but took down three tour events, first over Greg Ritchie in June, then two on the final weekend over Ted Evetts and Geert Nentjes. Luke obviously likes this stage, and is doing the right things at the right time in preparation for this.

After what was a very bad 2018 for Devon Petersen, where his only real good performance was at the worlds, doing just about enough to save his card, Devon's performances are a lot better than they were twelve months ago, but his results are only marginally improved. The easy winner of the African qualifier, Petersen only made two TV singles appearances - in the UK Open he was unfortunate to draw Jamie Hughes first up, and at the Players Championship Finals, Devon put up a good effort against Ian White but wasn't able to reproduce the miracle performance he had at last year's worlds against him. As he got there, Devon had done just about enough (59th in out of 94) on the floor, he had one quarter final where he beat title winners in Harry Ward, Daryl Gurney and Jelle Klaasen before being overwhelmed by a rampant Peter Wright, and a couple more board wins along with a better record than not of winning his opening game, would be just enough. It's a good job there was the African qualifier though, with just two European Tour appearances, both ending in defeat to Mervyn King and Jamie Hughes, he would have been a fair distance off worlds qualification from the Pro Tour. Devon seems to bring his best game on this stage, and against the first round opponent he has, it's possible he may need to.