Wednesday 19 August 2020

Brief Modus follow up

Someone mentioned me on Twitter, saying that the rumoured money for the Modus events was 500 for a win, 200 for runner up and 150 for showing up. That's not a massive amount if it's accurate, but a bit better than I thought. The problem is with the league structure - it's very easy to get plenty of dead rubbers, either because both are out of contention after early losses, or one is done and the other has close to swept the group. We've even seen this sort of thing in the Grand Slam, we only need to look at weird stuff like Darren Webster sweeping Taylor after Phil's already won the group and Webster's been eliminated - I must see if that match is on Youtube, I swear Taylor must have put his first dart above the top wire more often in five legs than he'd normally do in a whole tournament.

Two things you can do here. There's a budget of £1600 available, so what you can do is:

a) Just give £100 for each match win. There's 15 games in a six player group, so that's comparable. No money just for turning up, every game's a cash game. Have a £100 rolling over bonus if you sweep the group to keep the money the same.

b) Bin off the league format, invite 8 players per day, and do two four player double elimination pools. This makes every game count - how it works basically:

Game 1 - A v B
Game 2 - C v D
Game 3 - Loser 1 v Loser 2 (loser eliminated)
Game 4 - Winner 1 v Winner 2
Game 5 - Winner 3 v Loser 4 (loser eliminated)
Game 6 - Winner 4 v Winner 5 (winner advances to the final)

It's not true double elim, as in that whoever won game 5 would usually have to beat the undefeated player (in double elimination jargon, whoever won the winners bracket) twice, but that would probably be a bit confusing for the public. It may not offer a huge amount of lead time for bookies to get markets up, but they're able to do that for the UK Open easily enough, you only need to price up four games you wouldn't have done at the outset anyway.

You then do the same with the second pool, the winners then play off for the win on the day. Because this also gives you a natural second, third and fourth placed finisher in each pool, it's possible to structure the money so that it works out more equitably - something like 600-300-200-200-100-100-50-50 works fine and doesn't involve any tie break/leg difference shenanigans.

A quick one on them sorting the Grand Slam criteria. The PDC has been somewhat hamstrung by coronacold continuing to disproportionately ruin everything, so they're fairly limited as to what they can do, but I think they could have done a little bit more. Not inviting John O'Shea seems like a big miss, only inviting two from the BDO (Warren/Suzuki) is a bit sad really, when they're seriously doubling down on just the Pro Tour (having a spot for each of the Summer/Autumn/Winter series is odd) and still having eight players from a qualifier.

I do in fact wonder if they'll actually fill the 22 spots at all. There's 10 players in via the main spots (Wright, Price, DvdB, Humphries, van Gerwen, Aspinall, Wade, Anderson, Gawlas and Smith). There's then Searle, Ratajski, White and Joyce from the Pro Tour. Who is out there that is going to be good enough to win a spot? There's 8 left - maybe Cross can join with Smith and final the World Cup, perhaps whoever grabs the second Dutch spot does the same, but I think we're really lacking in players outside of maybe Durrant who can win through to a major result. So let's say that Scotland fuck the World Cup up and the final is MvG/Noppert against Smith/Cross (might not even be possible if Scotland are the #1 seed and Netherlands/England are #2/#3 in some order, but humour me for a minute). Name six different players that will bink a Pro Tour or Euro Tour. Chisnall maybe. Gurney maybe. de Sousa maybe. Durrant for sure. We're then starting to look towards players who are past their peak and out of form, or who are possibilities but an actual bink would still be a surprise.

Tuesday 18 August 2020

Maybe Nijman will punt the Dev Tour and risk quarantine OH GOD NO

I made a quick throwaway post yesterday just to pass the time, let people know I've not succumbed to coronacold, just chuck some comments in about what's happening with the darts, and then boom! Wessel Nijman and Kyle McKinstry have been found to have been match fixing, and are subject to bans from the DRA.

This is a bit of a disturbing one, and one that as a blog, whose main purposes include giving betting tips (maybe its primary purpose), I feel the need to address.

The first one is that I've always felt that the whole Modus series of events was a bit weird. There were multiple online events taking place during the main coronacold season - we (eventually) had the PDC Home Tour, we had the Remote Darts League (which I guess given the length of time after the second one made no money for anyone, hence we've not had a season three), but after that, we had Modus's events and not much else.

The odd thing was that they were seemingly just darts for the sake of darts. There was no real tournament structure - they just chucked several of their own non tour card holders against each other (and others, I don't think Jose Justicia, Martin Adams, Boris Koltsov or Paul Nicholson are associated with them, certainly none of them are listed on their list of players, but they all played them at some stage), day in day out, in a streamed environment. That leaves the question as to why?

It's pretty obvious. Professional darts doesn't exist without betting companies. Every single primary sponsor of the PDC is involved in gambling. If Modus was interested in keeping their players in form and that's it, they could have arranged such a thing just on Dart Connect. But no, there's money to be made here. The entirety of the sporting world ground to a halt (for nothing). Bookies were desperate for us to punt on something. Modus *have* to have been getting some sort of royalties for allowing their events to be streamed through bookies everywhere. It's win-win for everyone, right?

Well, no. How much of whatever Modus would have been making would have filtered its way down to the players in the event? I'm guessing next to fuck all. We just go back to the RDL - they had a decent prizepool for a couple of seasons, then nothing since June. How much could Modus have possibly offered the players to keep showing up day in and day out? I've got to guess it'd be barely minimum wage, but unless any player comes out with what they've been paid to play in the events, we'll never know.

As such, while it's obviously wrong, it's understandable why some players would be tempted to take some additional cash. Looking at the two matches I've seen listed, they were both seemingly 5-0 wins. If we assume that the players in question are fairly closely matched (and there's no reason to think that they aren't), then a correct score of a 5-0 sweep would probably be priced in the region of 12/1, if not more. A 7-0 win in the closest matched Premier League game that's next up is 100/1 in comparison. For a player that doesn't have a tour card, in a pandemic situation, with no indication of any actual tournaments where they can generate income, then it's not unreasonable to think that, if you're being offered little in terms of actual show up and/or prize money, then a fair sized sum would be pretty tempting, and fairly undetectable.

Let's do the maths. I want to make £5k from telling Joe Bloggs to lose a match of darts. I chuck him £2k to say lose every leg. That's the same money you'd get from winning a Challenge or Development Tour. There is no reason to think that there is any way that such events, or any events, will happen in the near future. How much would I have to put on to make £7k? If we say it's, I don't know, 14/1 to get whitewashed, that's only 500 quid that I'd need to put on. It's really not that hard to find enough people to put on a fiver here, a tenner there, across enough bookmakers that it wouldn't generate any suspicion. Heck, if there's liquidity on the exchanges then you don't even need to worry about the bookies losing out, as long as they get their commission they don't care.

Modus needs to come out right now and detail what they were paying the players to pay in their events, both in terms of showing up money and prize money. That will give us a huge clue as to what is going on. But for now, the biggest thing that readers can take out of this, which I've stressed continually by not covering them, is DON'T BET ON FRIENDLIES. With nothing ranked at stake, and no indication as to what the players are getting, you've got to think that there's a decent non-zero chance that the games are bent. Just say no kids.

I suppose the most disappointing thing is the players that are involved. Nijman is an up and coming player with a potentially great career ahead of him. McKinstry was able to win more in the UK Open than I make in four months work and certainly isn't towards the end of his career.

I'll be back later with some thoughts about the Grand Slam, but for now, I'll just leave this here.

Monday 17 August 2020

Challenge Tour and Development Tour

Am I the only one that's seeing a huge potential issue with the remaining Challenge Tour, Development Tour and the early rounds of the world youth being held in Barnsley? It's quite simply this - our marvellous government that is rivalling the BDO for general incompetence has put the Netherlands on the unclean list. Now for the proposed Winter Series, also intended for the UK, it's not quite so much of an issue for the PDC, as they'll surely just bubble off Milton Keynes, and it's a smaller scale so not as much of a problem. But for the Challenge Tour and Development Tour? Nobody in their right mind is going to come over for these from the Netherlands (or whatever other countries might have variance in the irrelevant stat that is coronacold cases in the coming weeks), unless they get a guarantee they can run straight down to Harwich and get the night boat home and not have to flick their plums for two weeks. I've certainly binned off the Amsterdam portion of my upcoming holiday as a result. Maybe someone like van de Wal or Konterman might punt it on the Challenge Tour, or Nijman, van Peer or Zonneveld might have a go from the Development Tour - but that's only because they're in a position to qualify for the worlds.

The PDC have to address this issue fairly sharpish. Right now, you'd have to say that with the Dev Tour weekend clashing with a Euro Tour, anyone that's on that that isn't a tour card holder from the Netherlands is surely going to drive across to Hildesheim. The Challenge Tour probably doesn't have the same problem, as their weekend clashes with the Grand Prix, so they're not going to schedule one of the two dates they're intending to squeeze in at that time, but with local events starting to open up here, surely someone in the Netherlands is going to look to play a local comp?

One thing they could look to do is to have the two things be a multi venue event. Hire a venue in the Netherlands - that place where they were going to hold a couple of Pro Tours would do. Draw things as normal, if you have a situation where you have players in different venues facing each other, you just use DartConnect to solve the scoring issue. They should be able to set up both venues to have more or less the same playing conditions.

Of course, this may all be concern over nothing, we could see half the cabinet resign due to every single decision they've made being a colossal fuck up since, ooh, mid to late March, and we get a new bunch in that recognise coronacold was never as big a crisis as feared, the initial objective of "protect the NHS" was accomplished in April, and let people do normal stuff again. But I won't hold my breath.

Saturday 8 August 2020

Couple of quick comments

I've got round to updating the second and third division darts pages following the Summer Series and Matchplay. The third division is unchanged, the only games was Humphries and Noppert repeating the same score they had earlier this year, while in the second, there was at least a few games, Dobey managing to climb up into second with wins over Dimitri, Adie and Jose fitting in between a couple of losses, White still leads by a clear point and Ratajski rounds out the top three. Our newest major champ is fourth, although his win over Lewis was one of only two games that affected the standings, the other being Mensur's first round win over Jamie Hughes. Suljovic is off the bottom now, although only a tiny amount above Adie, who only added those two losses listed.

Other news of note is that Mike van Duivenbode is taking a break from the game, seemingly he has some sort of injury that he can't shake. Seems like a sensible enough move - he's almost certainly losing his tour card at the end of the season, so playing through an injury in what remains of the year for little probable gain appears extremely sensible. Pity when this sort of thing happens to someone fairly young, hopefully the break will allow him to get where he needs to be, and maybe we see him either at Q-School or in next year's Dev Tour.

One thing I would recommend listening to is the special Weekly Dartscase Alex put together on the county scene (or, right now, lack of it) - it makes for fairly troubling listening in that you've got three competing interests that appear on it (not counting the whole MAD thing), fragmentation of the grass roots game really isn't what's needed right now, I think what we'll see is the entirety of it consolidating into one thing within a year or so, but what direction that is remains to be seen. At least even the BICC guy was aware enough to distance between the higher level arm of the BDO (the one that's going broke), but we all knew the counties ran themselves away from them in any case.

Tuesday 4 August 2020

News! Thoughts!

After what seemed like a potential quiet spell, there's been a shitload of news over the last couple of days, so let's go through some of it:

- There's an Autumn Series of Players Championship events in Germany next month, with the thought of a Winter Series back in the UK some point before the end of the year. This seems to overwrite the Jena Euro Tour event, which I'm guessing might have been as a result of the Germans not letting enough crowds in, we'll see whether they cancel or reschedule. Still, at least they now have a bit more certainty for the Pro Tour. Germany's an odd choice in that the UK government seem to be flicking between coronaplague policy seemingly at random, but we'll see what happens.

- They've announced the end of the Challenge/Development Tours in three day, six event marathons in late September (Dev Tour, with the early stages of the world youth the day after) and early October (Challenge Tour), which is good news. Important that non card holders get a bit of knowledge as to what's going on, although given that they were thinking whether two in a day is viable, trying six in three could be a bit of madness. You'd think they may not have quite the same numbers as the first weekend, so a priority of getting as many in as possible isn't quite as nuts as it first seems.

- They've also announced a four event women's weekend, that'll also serve as qualification for the worlds. Seems fine by me, but who actually goes for it will be the big question.

- Finally, they've announced the World Series players - they have MvG, Wright, Price, Smith, Cross, Aspinall, Gurney and Anderson as seeds, then Wade, Chisnall, White, DvdB, Suljovic, Sherrock, Whitlock, Heta, KAnderson, Harris, JSmith and Labanauskas as invites. Some odd choices for invites - I don't think they need quite so many Aussies, given it's a World Series event then surely there's got to be a huge case for Ratajski and de Sousa to get the nod, oh well. At least those two (and Durrant, for that matter) should be extremely high on the seeding list for the last four wildcard spots.

Still a bit of a quiet time in general though. Will be back with some things soon, but one thing I want to point out that Dimitri did in the final. Look at his second visit in these two legs late in the match:

These are in back to back legs with Dimitri being three away from the title at the start of it. Having left himself a poor score in the first visit, he has the knowledge to know that a straight ton doesn't leave him the ability to go out in six darts - 345 and 342 respectively are bad shouts, whereas a 95 leaves 350 and 347 - both of which allow you a chance at a miracle 180-huge out. It's a tiny thing that probably makes a difference once in 10,000 legs, but what it does show is the clarity of thinking the kid has under the biggest pressure of his career.