Sunday 12 April 2020

Strength in depth

Looking through the sims I've done for half a season, it's remarkable the strength in depth there is in the PDC - nineteen different finalists, and we've not even seen the likes of Wade, Suljovic or Aspinall make a final yet, nobody would bat an eyelid if any of those won a tournament on any given day. But even beyond those, there's tons of players that are within hitting only half decent form or getting a bit of luck with a draw or help elsewhere for them to win one. Cullen (although all the recent stats make him look pretty average) has won a Euro Tour recently. Dolan's made three finals in the last nine months and won two of them. de Zwaan would surprise nobody. de Sousa's won two events in a similar timeframe to Dolan. Someone like a Noppert, van den Bergh or Wattimena winning one wouldn't really surprise - Noppert's won a Pro Tour and hit a TV final, while it seems like just a matter of time for the other two. Even lower down, would anyone be shocked if Luke Humphries won a Pro Tour event?

Even further down than that, there's plenty of players that maybe don't quite have the game to run over several Premier League players, but could certainly pick off one or two and then clean up a slightly lower tier who's done a bit of the work for them. Devon Petersen. Ted Evetts. Dirk van Duijvenbode. Ross Smith. Ron Meulenkamp. Luke Woodhouse. Steve Lennon. Ryan Joyce. I don't necessarily think any of these would run the table over the hardest path possible, but throw together the perfect storm of one or two top, top players missing an event, having something very weird like Christian Bunse > Michael van Gerwen, a combination of some lesser things such as Chisnall > Wright, Clayton > Price and boom, it all opens up.

We can even open things up even more - what about players that were in very good form a bit ago, but have been off the boil, but at least have shown the quality that they could win one? Cristo Reyes for one. Steve West. Kyle Anderson. Push things a bit more, maybe someone like James Wilson or Martin Schindler. Chuck in the new players on the circuit, would anyone be shocked if Jeff Smith or Damon Heta won a Pro Tour? No, they wouldn't. Throw Jason Lowe into there. Maybe stretch it further and look at any of the new Dutch lads. Maybe even a non-card holder like Scott Mitchell wouldn't be too unrealistic.

Let's just look at that event that Harry Ward won as an example. van Gerwen got shocked by Thornton (who helped even more by taking out Ratajski). Wright got turned over by van der Voort. Price was absent, as was Cross. White lost in round one to Nathan Rafferty. What did Ward have to do? He avoided a seed first round, and both the seeds on his board lost - Hughes and Cullen. That gave him a path of Kamphuis > Razma > Richardson to win his board. Not the toughest. He then puts in the couple of games against top opponents in Michael Smith and Nathan Aspinall he needed to. He gets de Sousa in the semi final, although this is just at the time where Jose is starting to make an impression, not when he's a top flight danger and one we can print money with by going each way on him every single tournament. Then in the final, he gets Max Hopp, which realistically is probably in the two-sigma range for toughness of final opponent you can hope to see, Hopp not having played a single top sixteen opponent in his run to the final. It doesn't take a huge shocking thing - it just needs a lot of smaller surprising things to snowball and all fall into place at the same time. I think there's enough depth that on any given day you could make a realistic argument for half the field to win an event.

Will start another sim or two sometime this afternoon.

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