Monday 28 September 2020


Oh my god, he actually went and did it - Petersen's the latest PDC title holder, and did it in some style with an 8-3 drubbing of Jonny Clayton in the final, after taking out Ratajski and Noppert in the previous rounds. Long overdue, he's just been playing far too good to not win one soon. He's got himself into the Grand Slam as a result, as well as locking up a very high seed for the European Championship. Well, the Slam probably isn't 100% certain, but with the amount of standard PDC spots, it'd require quite the permutation of results for him not to get in.

New FRH rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Peter Wright
3 Gerwyn Price
4 Rob Cross
5 Dimitri van den Bergh
6 Michael Smith
7 Nathan Aspinall
8 Glen Durrant
9 Daryl Gurney
10 Dave Chisnall
11 James Wade (UP 1)
12 Gary Anderson (DOWN 1)
13 Ian White
14 Krzysztof Ratajski
15 Mensur Suljovic
16 Adrian Lewis
17 Jonny Clayton (UP 2)
18 Chris Dobey
19 Simon Whitlock (DOWN 2)
20 Joe Cullen

Wade's run to the quarters was enough to see him pass Anderson, while Clayton's final was enough to see him inch up a couple of spots, Dobey staying still by passing Whitlock. There's not much between Smith and Aspinall right now with only a couple of thousand points between them, Durrant's within a Pro Tour win of passing both. Lower down, Noppert is now just one spot outside the top 20 after a semi final run, King gets back into the top 25 after the same, while Petersen is close to the top 32, he's got a bit of a gap but it should close fairly quickly in current form.

They've done the Grand Prix draw, and holy living fuck - that's stacked as anything. There's no way that van Gerwen should be the favourite. No fucking way. He is though, albeit a price of 10/3 is as long as he's been in a tournament this small since I can remember. I posted up a little chart on Twitter earlier today in response to a Petersen question, which listed the top 10 in 2020 by points per turn - van Gerwen is third, and if he gets past Ratajski (seventh) in round one, then he'll get either Petersen (fourth) or de Sousa (fifth) in the second round. Taking each of Wright and Price each way at 11/2 looks like it should be a good play - do this and, assuming one of them reaches the final (and their half of the draw doesn't look overly threatening), you book a tiny loss (if you go a tenner each way, i.e. £40 placed, that gives you a loss of £2.50) and then have a huge freeroll in the final where they'd be a favourite against anyone not called MvG (freerolling to hit £55). Seems value to me.

Some other good ties - Lewis/Dobey could be close, Smith/Dimitri ought to be good, I'm interested to see what DvD can do against Suljovic, Cross/Ando is a huge match, while Chizzy/Durrant is also likely to be highly entertaining.

We've got a bit of downtime now, there's no darts next weekend, so don't expect anything rushed for the GP yet.

Sunday 27 September 2020

ET 2 quarters

MvG gone! Wright gone! This is now completely wide open and it's pretty tough to pick a winner - got to think the favourite will be whoever comes through the Petersen/Ratajski game, heck it's even arguable that the third best player is in that half of the draw as well. Anything to punt on?

King/Wade is tracking at around 65/35 in favour of Wade, you certainly can't get better than 4/7 on the Machine right now. King's playing very well, but Wade looked composed in rattling off a 6-1 win over Suljovic, and the season long stats aren't showing King as being much value - not even 40%. Happy to pass over that one.

Clayton/Chisnall is a bit tighter, Chizzy being the favourite but only about 55/45 or there abouts. Clayton, in the master computer's eye, is showing as the favourite, and by a decent clip - over 60%, and critically here the up and down nature of Jonny's game is matched by an equally up and down set of statistics from Chisnall. So let's go 0.25u Clayton 6/5, he's beaten the world champ and has course and distance on the European Tour, so this looks alright to me.

Noppert/Gurney's a big chance for Danny, he's going to have a tough game in the semi if he gets through this one, but make no mistake - Gurney played some extremely good stuff against Durrant, especially early on to get the three leg lead which gave him enough of a cushion to serve out after Glen got one back. Danny was also fine against Hopp but needed to come from behind - we're actually getting odds against on this one, so as I see Noppert at over 55% I'll take 0.25u Noppert 6/5.

Ratajski/Petersen is must see TV. This is going to be epic. Devon was on fire late in the game against Cross and is one of the hottest players on the planet right now, and this is his best chance to win a first title since last week, but Ratajski is Ratajski and the relentless Pole is a top ten player. Bookies have this really close - it's not on oddschecker but both books I've quickly look at have it evens Petersen and 4/5 Ratajski, I'll keep riding the Devon train - 0.25u Petersen evs, on 2020 stats he's at 57% to claim this which is good enough for me, his confidence must be higher than ever.

Keane Barry's binked another Dev Tour - I'm not sure whether it's a worlds spot or a tour card he's clinched already (it's one or the other given who else is up at the top of the rankings), but he's looking really good to make the full step to the senior circuit next year. Won't be back for the semis.

ET2 day 3 afternoon session

Decent enough day yesterday. Obviously it needed Devon Petersen to get out of a big hole and finally get the win over Price, but they all count, so we move further up, also thanks to Clayton getting the win over Dobey. White, not so much, fairly significant underperformance in that one, but we'll move on to today. Eight games first up (I will try to rush out quarter final reads), let's go:

van Gerwen/King - King's played really well in two games so far, striking a 103 average against Wattimena, while van Gerwen was alright against Lennon, kind of fell over the line after a good run in the middle of the match. Think this is another MvG game where, like yesterday, a perceived lack of form has unintentionally corrected for the actual lack in difference in quality, we can get 7/2 on Mervyn, which with me seeing a 26% shot of him taking it isn't appealing. Up to you though, if you think King can keep his level of play from Friday/Saturday going then I don't hate it.

Suljovic/Wade - OK, this was a pretty odd one, Suljovic was pretty good I think after a slightly slow start to overcome Jeff Smith (and a nine darter attempt, think North also missed the ninth dart yesterday?), whereas Wade missed his flight, somehow didn't get timed out, and instead played last on against Kurz and looked at best OK, nothing real spectacular after leg 1 as Kurz was a little bit disappointing. Too close to call really, Wade I think is a tiny favourite, and as he's 5/6 against Mensur's 11/10, we can pass on it. Maybe take whoever wins the bull to win 6-5?

Wright/Clayton - Peter continued to look very strong with a dominating display against Michael Smith, while Clayton did what he needed to do this weekend in nicking a decent tight match against Chris Dobey, hitting quite a lot of two treble visits throughout the match. This may be down to psychology - Clayton is now in the Grand Prix, is the pressure off and will it allow him to go and play his natural best game? He certainly wasn't playing bad yesterday. 5/2 is kind of tempting, but I think I'll ignore it with just how well Peter played yesterday.

Chisnall/Aspinall - Chizzy won easily as we thought he might do but didn't pull the trigger on, while Nathan didn't have a great deal of trouble against Horvat, going up 4-0 before Dragutin got a couple of decent holds to make the scoreline a bit more respectable. Market has this about 60/40 in favour of Nathan, that feels pretty much on the money. As an aside, in Nathan and Glen Durrant, is this the first time where a major nation's World Cup team (probably Smith/Cross) will be missing both the best two players as of right now?

Hopp/Noppert - Max took out Ian White as mentioned earlier, not the greatest of games but the job got done, Danny easily got past Adrian Lewis 6-2 with a ton plus average. First bet of the day here, 0.25u Noppert 8/13, Max simply isn't in the same league right now and I see Danny winning this one more than three times out of four. The German crowd might be a bit of a factor, but that's such a huge difference between projection and odds that it can't be ignored.

Gurney/Durrant - Daryl got past Gabriel Clemens in a game where the scoreline flattered him, he took just the one leg in five visits which says more about Gabriel's quality of play, if he showed up this'd have been level through six, while Glen was solid throughout against a currently dangerous opponent in Scott Waites, first leg aside. I was thinking that, with Gurney listed at 6/4, this would be a good spot to go on Glen, but no - the projections are spitting out 60/40 in favour of Duzza, so the line looks pretty much spot on.

Petersen/Cross - Devon's game we've mentioned - Rob was better than competent against O'Connor, apart from the first leg he didn't really give Willie much of a chance at anything. The bookies have this even - Devon actually being a tiny 10/11 favourite. How times change. I think this is close to a bet, I've got Devon up at just around 58%, it's really, really close. Probably would take evens, keep an eye on it.

Ratajski/Cullen - Krzysztof was very comfortable in only allowing two legs against Richard North, the highlight of which was North hitting eight perfect, then hitting double twelve at the seventh attempt. Still, at least he won the leg, unlike Smith. Cullen got through a close one against Hunt, not playing badly at all, the averages dragged down by a bad leg 9 which probably cost Hunt the match. This is rated at around 65% in favour of the Polish number one - I'm fine with that, I see it at 64%, so that leaves just the one bet for today in Noppert.

As stated, I wouldn't hate going Petersen or Clayton if you want a bit more action, but Noppert is the only thing that really looks good.

As hinted at yesterday, Keane Barry was able to claim the second of yesterday's Dev Tour events, some good wins over Brooks, Evetts, Zonneveld, van Peer and Meikle in the final, running over multiple tour card holders is always impressive. Evetts did claim the first one, with van Peer going deep in this one as well, Damian Mol also being there or there abouts. It'll be a close race for worlds and tour card spots but I really want Barry to claim both. He's just too good and has too much potential not to get himself on to the main tour, which is the next logical progression.

May see you soon after the Ratajski match for some more picks.

Saturday 26 September 2020

ET2 day 2

Not a bad day one really - Jeff Smith gave us a bit of a fright (the other guy, in fairness, played pretty darned well), Horvat got through with an up and down performance which nearly saw him hit a nine, Petersen got the job done, only disappointment was Robinson who never really got going against Hopp. That, and dartsdata once again had a failure in the first session. They have a relationship with Dart Connect, which works, why they still don't bin sportradar off will forever remain a mystery. Into day two, there's a lot on the line for a lot of players, what are we thinking?

Chisnall/Wenig - Good win for Lukas, although all the quality was filtered down into the first leg and a bit, Chisnall's a clear step higher than Harris and, unless he does the same as what he did in Austria and completely fails to show up. 1/5 is fairly tempting, if it wasn't for Chisnall being so bad last week - losing to the same player Wenig beat yesterday. This probably ends up 6-1 Dave or something like that and we regret taking the easy money.

Wattimena/King - Hmm, this has gone on long enough that Jermaine's still a seed, Mervyn looked good against Siepmann yesterday, so maybe there's value in King. Computer says something like 55/45 Wattimena, I'm not sure that's accurate, but it's effectively evens so there's not much here. By the looks of things King should be fine for the Grand Prix barring someone doing a miracle semi final run, but a win here would make things absolutely safe by going ahead of Huybrechts, so a bit of added motivation.

Lewis/Noppert - Hmm, this has gone on long enough that Adrian's still a seed. Noppert looked very good in dispatching Payne 6-2, possibly the best performance of the day, Nico runs him close though. Danny is correctly installed as the favourite, while I think 4/5 is slightly overrating Lewis's chances, I don't think there's enough value in it to really consider a Noppert bet. Danny's only projecting 60/40.

Wade/Kurz - Nico looked really, really good against a quality operator yesterday, and needed to show some quality to come back from a 4-1 deficit. Do we really think that Wade is that much better than Lowe right now, to the point where it justifies him being shorter than 1/2? I'm not sure it does, but while I was tempted to have a play on Kurz, I remembered we do have a fair bit of data on him from the Superleague, and I think his play there is just enough to put me off going for the punt. Really wouldn't surprise me if Nico wins this, and I'll probably regret not going with the first instinct of 2/1 being good value.

Gurney/Clemens - Gabriel is actually an underdog here, which I find a bit surprising. Having said that, Daryl's game seems to have picked up a bit of late, and Clemens didn't exactly have the best Autumn Series. I'm fine leaving this one alone, while I do think that Gurney's overrated and it's the other way around for Gabriel, Daryl isn't exactly bad and a line of fairly close to a coinflip isn't unreasonable.

Aspinall/Horvat - Dragutin had some nice flashes yesterday, but Nathan's a lot higher quality than Huybrechts, while anyone will struggle if the other guy fires in twelves, Horvat isn't going to do that every leg and isn't good enough to nick enough of the remainder. 1/5 may be slightly short, but not enough to consider betting against the Asp in this one.

Durrant/Waites - Scott played really well against Penhall yesterday (who didn't do too badly himself), four legs out of the first six won in twelve darts or better is incredible play. We've got a world championship rematch and Duzza is around 70/30 in the market - this seems close to fine, Scott's probably slightly better than that assessment, but not enough to consider a bet on him.

Cross/O'Connor - Willie got a quick 6-1 win yesterday with a fine performance, taking five of the six legs in fifteen or better. Rob is a fair bit better than Larsson, but if Willie plays like that again today he can absolutely pull this one out. The line I think is probably overrating Willie slightly, but only just - I'm seeing it as close as two to one in Rob's favour, so 8/15 best price on him looks about right, I'm certainly not looking at only 13/8 on O'Connor.

Clayton/Dobey - Huge, huge game for Jonny here, who must win to reach the Grand Prix, and he's got a pretty tricky draw in Chris Dobey, who probably wasn't at his best against Ryan Murray by any stretch but was solid enough and apart from the sixth leg really didn't do much wrong. Bookies have it close to even, Dobey being a slight favourite in fact, which does surprise me a bit. 0.25u Clayton 11/10, while there's a small consistency issue I'm seeing it as 60/40 Clayton, and with Jonny having a huge incentive to get over the line in this one, I think he should do it enough that this is a good bet to go for.

White/Hopp - Ought to be good this, Ian remains a top tier player who likes this sort of event, while Max is on home soil and should have the (limited) fans behind him. Hopp played just OK yesterday, it's rated around White winning two in three, that I think is a bit too good to pass up, 0.25u White 1/2, the projections put Hopp at winning less than one in four, even if we put a bit of emphasis on Max playing in Germany, I still don't think this is bad, although I'm only going for a quarter of a unit rather than a half just as a bit of caution.

Suljovic/Smith - Mensur's off a recent final, and comes in at a similar level of favouritism as White in the above game against the Canadian number one who was forced all the way by a relatively unknown German qualifier yesterday. Jeff's play was fine, and there's almost small value in this one - I'm seeing about 60/40 Suljovic over the course of the year and we can get 2/1 on Jeff, it's more the failure to put yesterday's game away and a pretty bad time in the Autumn Series that makes me think that he's not going to play to that level and make us realise our value.

van Gerwen/Lennon - We're clearly never betting on MvG here, the question is whether Lennon is any value. He's actually only 4/1 - whether that's the odds setters being worried about van Gerwen's perceived lack of form rather than finally catching up to that his lead over the field is not at the level they've been thinking it is, I'm not sure. I'm not touching it though - I've got Lennon at 28% which might be worth a tenth of a unit, but a lacklustre performance in round one against Koltsov is enough to turn me off the game.

Wright/Smith - Ooh, this is a great round two match. Smith was OK against Tabern and never really in trouble, Alan completely failing to put up any resistance in his first two holds of throw being the key thing - heck, he went 18 darts without a treble in leg three and was still 65 points off a finish after them. There's no real value in this - Wright's in the conversation for being the best player in the world right now, Smith's not that far behind in quality and I'm seeing around 60/40, Wright's correctly favourite but isn't too short to display any value, I want a bit more than 17/10 before I'll think about Michael in this one.

Ratajski/North - Richard had probably his best game all year in terms of importance against Meulenkamp, although the win wasn't spectacular - three six visit holds, then a six visit break back before two five visit legs to go from 5-3 down to a 6-5 win. Important for confidence more than anything, if that comes then the better darts will follow - although this is a bastard draw for Northy. He's 4/1 which is a huge price, if anything it should actually be a bit shorter - but not by much, and with the vig in the market Ratajski isn't worth a play.

Price/Petersen - Match of the night this, ignore the Wright game. Devon wasn't anywhere near at his best against de Zwaan, who's basically praying for Chris Dobey to win to stay in the Grand Prix now, but it was enough. These have met in two high quality Pro Tour matches, the first (the semi final) being a match of the year contender already, and there's no reason to think this won't be more of the same. 0.25 Petersen 9/5, we've seen just how good Devon is this year and we've seen him take Price to deciders twice already in longer format games than this - the second one he really should have won, there's no way he should be this long. I'm seeing him over 45%, he's that good. (note - edited down to 9/5 after the 2/1 disappeared between writing and posting)

Cullen/Hunt - Then after that evening line up, we get pretty much a damp squib to end, Hunt didn't do much to inspire confidence yesterday after an Autumn Series with some signs of life, and Cullen's not that high up on the list of seeds you'll pay money to see. The go home match sees Joe at shorter than 1/2, there might be small value on Hunt, but Joe has played well this month (in ranked events, we'll pretend that capitulation against van der Voort didn't happen) so I can easily avoid this.

So just the three bets. Congrats to Kevin Doets and Damian Mol for claiming their first Dev Tour titles, Doets in particular needing to take out Keane Barry who was close to unplayable at times and has got to be a short price to nick a title today. Pretty strong field in these, it takes some real good play to claim a title, credit where it's due.

Friday 25 September 2020

ET2 bets

 Only seeing the one book that's got odds for the qualifier matches, oddschecker is failing us:

1u J Smith 2/9 vs Roetzsch, can't see how Franz keeps this remotely close

0.25u Horvat 8/11 vs Huybrechts, seems the better player by a fair distance and we're getting a decent price

0.25u Robinson 9/5 vs Hopp, surely Max improves but this seems worth the flyer

0.25u Petersen 8/13 vs de Zwaan, even if Jeffrey's over his injury issues he's still not close to Devon in current form

Nothing else really appeals I'm afraid.

Thursday 24 September 2020

ET2 pre event thoughts

Finally, the Euro Tour HAS COME BACK to our screens. It's been long overdue. I've not yet seen odds for the matches involving the qualifiers, which excitingly include Nico Kurz and Cody Harris, as well as another appearance for old favourites Ronny Huybrechts and Dragutin Horvat, then finally Lukas Wenig makes a second appearance and we have a new name in Franz Roetzsch, so what do I think in the early stages? I'll go with bets in the morning, but for now, the matches:

Waites/Penhall - Got a feeling this'll be quite dull. Waites looked pretty good in the Autumn Series (it's a good interview with him on the Weekly Dartscast out today by the way, check it out), whereas Penhall didn't play it, so we've got no real clue where he's at, which makes it a hard one to read. He wasn't awful prior to the break, doing well enough that he should get some legs, but it's hard to go with someone who's going to be missing a huge amount of match practice.

Larsson/O'Connor - This ought to be Willie's. He's not done a great deal I've noticed in 2020, but seems a good couple of points per turn better than Larsson. That said, Daniel can be dangerous on occasions, looked nice in sweeping a decent Home Tour group, and does have the mental benefit of being the only player on the tour to live in a free country right now, which might be useful.

Meulenkamp/North - Similar to the above. Neither have been in great form in 2020 but Ron showed some flashes earlier in the month which were notable, is scoring that little bit better than Richard, who's really in a bit of trouble when it comes to retaining a tour card, a long shot away from two years ago where he was pushing for the top 32. North has had very occasional bursts, which against a player like Ron might be enough if they're well timed, but the Bomb is the favourite here.

Koltsov/Lennon - Steve's another player that's kind of stopped making progress, and the ever dangerous Russian isn't the ideal draw. Boris, despite not being a card holder, was involved in a lot of the Modus events so will be sharp enough you'd feel, Lennon's numbers this year really aren't that bad, they've just not been translating into results. Should be the best match so far.

Roetzsch/Smith - Jeff's to lose. Franz is unknown to me, fortunately the scoring was on Dart Connect, he doesn't seem like a complete mug but got a fairly favourable run avoiding most of the big guns, Kohnlein in the final being the strongest player he faced, and got a complete gift in the semi against a 60 average player. Smith didn't have a marvellous time in the Autumn Series, but will be way too strong here.

Wenig/Harris - We saw Lukas once before, he didn't do much then, in this quali he got his hardest match first up against Eidams, but got a couple of low 90's averages and then got past Pietreczko in the final, so it's a much better resume than Roetzsch had. Harris we know a lot more about, he wasn't bad in Austria last weekend and looked very strong in the quali - not a high average in the first match against an opponent that wasn't helping, but then 94 against Symeonidis and 97 against Plaisier is a good finish. Looking like 0 for 2 for the Germans here.

Huybrechts/Horvat - We've seen a good chunk of Horvat as he bottled worlds qualification, but the standard today for him was good, particularly late where it mattered with averages of 96 and 93 to close out a qualification spot. Ronny will be an interesting one - he only broke 90 once in qualification when he smacked up Arjan Konterman, but it's about getting the results. Both have a lot of experience, and assuming Ronny's game hasn't completely deteriorated since falling off the tour, this could be quite tight, but Dragutin must surely be considered the better player at this point in time.

Siepmann/King - More German interest, Steffen must have got through the tour card qualifier months ago, and gets a bad draw against Mervyn, who if I remember rightly has work to do to get into the Grand Prix, or at least solidify a spot, and a motivated Mervyn really isn't who you're wanting to face. King's scoring this season is bang on 90, which is a good six points higher than Steffen's, this should be a mismatch.

Noppert/Payne - Into the evening session. Payne's been around for a while, but despite having won a couple of Pro Tours, has never really been able to put enough of a consistent run together to push towards the top 32, while at the same time never really being in any danger of being outside the top 64. Noppert at this stage is one of the most underrated players on the circuit and there's a strong argument he's the second best Dutch player right now, it's certainly what the ratings show and Josh shouldn't be able to compete here unless he pulls out his A-game.

Brown/Hunt - Old versus young, Steve had some nice results earlier in the year but that was a long time ago now, Hunt's been around for a while but never really produced the results, at least not on the senior level, he had a few nice spots in the Autumn Series where he looked like a threat, but statistically the two are extremely close. Probably trending the right way for Adam but an over on the number of legs may be the best play of all.

West/Clemens - This should be good - if Steve turns up. Clemens is the clear best German player now, Steve was a solid top 32 player and a danger to win events not too long ago, although he's gone off the boil in the last twelve months. West's scoring is a point below Gabriel's - which includes a very mediocre Superleague, so I can't see the home favourite messing this one up.

Lowe/Kurz - This'll be the second best game of the night. Nico already has an Ally Pally (ideally not if you read my last post, but you know what I mean) spot booked, and looked extremely good in qualification with 90 averages throughout (apart from round 1) in the quali. This is a real good test - Jason Lowe has been consistent as anything all year and is likely number 1 on the list of solid floor players that you don't know about - of course, if he had cleaned up that checkout against MvG at the UK Open, everyone would know about him. Can't miss darts this.

Robinson/Hopp - A bit hard to feel excited about this one. Reece seems to have been around for a long time, but been missing in action forever, it's hard to feel excited about him but his numbers have been steady enough at around 88 and a half. Hopp gets in through the new Max Hopp qualification rule, his scoring this year is actually lower than Reece's, but external factors will surely play a factor in this one, this is exactly where Max needs to up his game (and critical that he does so, his rankings are not looking good right now).

de Zwaan/Petersen - Oh boy, this is spicy as anything. Devon's playing at a top sixteen standard right now, if not higher than that, that's how well his 2020 game has been doing, so a game against Jeffrey should be entertaining, but will it be? Jeffrey needs to do something in order to be safe of getting to Coventry - I can't find an accurate race table for the life of me, but he's definitely not secure, and it's hard to see how he will be able to hang with Devon given their relative form, Jeffrey's had an awful 2020 to date.

Dobey/Murray - Not a bad draw for Chris, who's slipped a bit in the Pro Tour rankings so picking up some money here would be useful. The scoring is definitely still there, he's just been lacking results. Murray's an interesting opponent who's extremely steady and definitely underrated, which we used to our advantage in getting him at a good price to win his Home Tour group. Chris has the quality and should be fine here, but he can't take any liberties in this one.

Smith/Tabern - Our final match sees Michael Smith at an uncharacteristically early stage of the event, but that's the nature of the Pro Tour rankings. Alan Tabern's the opponent, Smith is obviously the clearly superior player, but while Alan is lacking the scoring to hit the key power legs, you can't buy his experience and he'll be there or there abouts if Michael starts messing around in legs. Could be interesting dynamics with both players being from St Helens - surely they must have practiced together at some point?

Expect bets in the morning before 9am.

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Darts needs to unite to save the sport

There's quite a list of organisations on the list of signatories to that letter, over 100. These include individuals from massive sporting bodies such as England Lacrosse, Pentathlon GB (I assume the multi sport body, not the flight manufacturer), UK Ultimate, Rounders England, "Parkour" and Goalball UK.

Not one signatory from the world of darts. Now I know that obviously the grass roots game is in somewhat of a state of flux right now with the BDO going busto and there being several competing forces, but would it really have been that hard for Colin Savage of the UKDA, Steve Brown or anyone from MAD, any of the individual home nations, ANYONE, to put their name to the letter? Would necessarily have expected Hearn or Porter, as the letter is more seeming to be worried about the nature of grass roots play than anything else, but if we have no grass roots, how does the PDC expect anyone from the UK to make their way into the professional game? I doubt anyone is going to suddenly just rock up to the Development Tour as the first thing they ever do outside of playing in their basement.

Boris Johnson's dictatorship continues to lurch from disaster to disaster, fuelled by a complete lack of numeracy, intelligence, or simple ability to say sorry and admit their massive failures. The latest set of measures (which, clear to anyone with the slightest bit of ability to read the data, will do nothing whatsoever to limit the "pandemic") will particularly hit darts - I would not be in the slightest bit surprised if plenty of pubs, which weren't exactly the safest area of business in terms of stability even before Covid, will go bust by the end of the year. We'll lose places to play, and we'll likely lose leagues simply because they will be unable to operate in the current climate.

What is worse is the possibility of the return of spectators, or lack of it. Johnson's completely unnecessary paranoia and inability to stop digging the enormous hole he is in has made the likelihood of the worlds appearing without fans seem almost a certainty. This is worrying given that Matt Porter, per dartsnews less than a week ago, stated that the worlds would be held at Ally Pally as standard regardless of what fans they could hold, and the concept of being able to hold it there without running at a massive loss seemed at best hubris and worst ridiculous before Boris continued his descent into a Father Jack-level of madness. Sure, Matchroom state that they're in a good spot financially, but there is only so long that they can continue to keep playing behind closed doors without going broke. There's little indication that, barring either our MP's growing a spine and either not renewing the Coronavirus Act next week, Starmer growing a spine and calling for a vote of no confidence in the Government (which wouldn't even be a good idea from our point of view, despite being a human rights lawyer back in the day, Starmer is completely fine with the continual removal of civil liberties here and would probably go further than the Tories have), or mass civil disobedience, anything will change until after the UK Open.

Hence, Porter needs to retract that statement, and indicate what he thinks about the UK's ability to host sporting events by moving the worlds. They simply have to move it out of the country and send a statement that we need fans to return. There are plenty of places that could host it. We've seen a successful event with fans in Austria last weekend. We're seeing the European Tour return this weekend in Germany. The Netherlands should be able to work. Sweden, while not a darts hotbed, is increasing its limits on spectators for events and they could certainly host an event of this kind and it would send a very political statement about what needs to be done. There's probably other places where this could work - Hungary's open for 20,000 fans to attend the UEFA Super Cup final in a couple of days.

I think we all want the event to be played at Ally Pally, but there's probably more chance of me winning the event than there is of me going to watch the event there this year. Sport is nothing without fans, we've all accepted that some of the lesser events could operate behind closed doors, we've just lost the PC Finals as well, but this is the world championship. THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. There has to be an audience.

Aside from that note, I'm very excited about the next few days - we've got the return of the Euro Tour (also good to see that there are now two more events actually timetabled for late October, tempted to see what the ticketing situation is given I've got a coupon following the World Cup cancellation), we've got the return of the Development Tour with six (six!) events, and we've also got action from the CDC as North America returns to live action, Canada this weekend and the USA the next. Everywhere's starting to get back to normal, except here. Expect prediction/betting posts for the Euro Tour tomorrow evening, I'm not doing anything.

Oh, and Barney's unretired again, probably only to retire straight after Q-School. One can only hope he's not gone completely broke from lack of exhibitions.

Saturday 19 September 2020

What did we learn from day 1 of the World Series

As you all know, I don't put a great deal of emphasis on non-ranked events, not including them in my data sets and rarely covering them at all. However, with the limited amount of actual darts we have on, and with it being the return of darts with a crowd, I think it's worth having a quick scan through what we have seen.

Ward/Labanauskas - Not a lot to say here. Ward was pretty good in the two legs he won, but not outside of them. Labanauskas was probably a little bit better than the stats suggest, but not a huge amount, he was OK but that's about it. Hard to see how he comes close to Aspinall today.

White/Heta - Doesn't look great on the averages, but they missed a lot of doubles, Heta in particular, which dragged down the averages a fair bit. That Damon's able to take out someone of the quality of White isn't a shock, but it's useful in that it's more evidence of what he can do against the big names. Wright may be a different story.

Harris/Chisnall - Dave just couldn't score. Simple as that. Harris did what he needed to do, showed some flashes with a nice 11 darter to open the 2-0 lead, and in Gurney he's easily got the best draw, but he's going to need to keep up that 6/10 checkout rate you feel.

van der Voort/Cullen - Wow, Cullen regressed a lot in the space of a few days. He was looking really good in the Autumn Series, but he either couldn't score, or when he could score, he couldn't hit doubles. Vincent was fine, there was the one comedy leg where it went to 21 darts, but that's it. Could give Price a bit of a run for his money, Gerwyn should be strong enough, we don't bet on unranked events, but there's no real handicap angle we can take here.

Smith/Sherrock - Odd one. Jeff came from a huge deficit here, once he found his scoring which looked quite lacking early, as for Fallon, that performance was streaky as anything. Mix of couldn't hit anything and then finding herself on 60 and 81 after nine and cleaning up at others. Lack of big combination finishes, looking back to nine months ago, maybe the 120 in leg 7, the 108 the leg after, the 121 the leg after that, who knows. In two of those, she even came back to the oche and couldn't clean up. While Fallon's propensity to hit three dart outs at the worlds seemed unsustainable, she still should be cleaning up at least one of those. Can't see Wade having any trouble with Smith.

Ratajski/Suljovic - Good standard. Real good standard, not that we expected anything else. Maybe Mensur should have taken this one, going 3/12 on doubles wasn't great, and he was missing in bunches in the last two legs. Grab those and it's 5-4 and he'll have the darts for the match. Ratajski should be a favourite against Smith.

Durrant/van den Bergh - This looked like the old Dimitri where he has games where he can't do much of anything, or at least is wildly inconsistent. Leg by leg - still needing 100+ after 15. 11 darter. Misses eight darts at double. Still needing 56 after 15. Fairly standard six visit hold. Can't do much against a Durrant 13 darter, but a rare counting error if dartsdata is right? He's not usually that sloppy to leave 165. In the remainder, he just couldn't score heavily enough. Glen was good. Every leg but one was in five visits, can't complain with that.

Whitlock/Beaton - Strange to see both averaging below 90, Whitlock significantly so (would have guessed the other way around on form), when they're a combined 55% on doubles. Pretty obvious - they couldn't hit trebles, far too many 60, 59-type visits, Whitlock in particular having far too many visits with a stray dart. Cross isn't the worst draw for Steve but he'll have to pick his scoring up a bit.

Thursday 17 September 2020

Autumn Series - Done

Finally caught up with the stats. Price managed the double bink, especially annoying given I had both Petersen and Ratajski down to win (as I had them each way I at least wasn't down) - still not quite sure how Petersen didn't get the bink, but with the way he's playing it's surely just a matter of time. Over the course of the five events he ended up with the third highest (Price, Wright) points per turn of anyone, we were seeing him look really good prior to the break, and he's continuing it, so he's got to be top of the list of the next players to get a debut bink.

Also up there was Joe Cullen, he always seems to have spells where he looks pretty unplayable, so maybe he can do some damage in Salzburg coming up this weekend. We then had de Sousa and van Gerwen (the former finally beating the latter), Wade being his usual consistent self, Smith scored well despite some bad draws, then Andy Boulton remained in the top ten, just ahead of Glen Durrant.

One thing that was noticeable was that quite a lot of players from Eastern Europe were doing well - Suljovic has been there for a while now and Ratajski has joined him, but we had Razma make a final. We've had Krcmar cash every event, get two board wins and pick up some big scalps. Sedlacek also won his board twice. Labanauskas didn't have a great time, but we'll see what he does tomorrow in Austria. Rowby managed to put out Peter Wright yesterday. Good times for that part of the world.

At the other end, John Henderson was really having a bad time. He picked up a grand, but ended up below everybody apart from Hogarth and Derry in points per turn. That's worrying. Maybe it's just a bad week, who knows. Also down there were de Zwaan, Webster, Woodhouse, but mostly the players you'd expect to show up at that end of the stats. In terms of results, Adrian Lewis was really poor, as was Michael Smith.

New FRH Rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Peter Wright
3 Gerwyn Price
4 Rob Cross
5 Dimitri van den Bergh (UP 2)
6 Michael Smith (DOWN 1)
7 Nathan Aspinall (DOWN 1)
8 Glen Durrant
9 Daryl Gurney
10 Dave Chisnall
11 Gary Anderson
12 James Wade
13 Ian White
14 Krzysztof Ratajski
15 Mensur Suljovic
16 Adrian Lewis
17 Simon Whitlock (UP 2)
18 Chris Dobey
19 Jonny Clayton (DOWN 2)
20 Joe Cullen (NEW)

Bunting drops out from the post-Matchplay rankings, Cullen hitting a final and a semi being enough to get him back into the top 20. Otherwise there's not a whole lot going on - Whitlock having a decent enough series and Dobey just edging ahead of Clayton by about 100 points sees them swap places. Lower down, Heta's into the top 64 following his bink, Petersen hits the top 50, Razma's in the top 60, while lower down the pecking order Sedlacek and Kleermaker have hit the top 100, Telnekes is a board win away from the same, and Krcmar has hit the top 128.
Now we move on to Austria for the "World Series Finals" - not a huge amount I'm interested in seeing other than how Harris and Sherrock are doing, whether Ward, following the news that he is hanging up his tour card at the end of the year, is really playing with nothing to lose, and seeing how the dynamic of fans in the arena works again. There's a few decent first round ties I guess, so why not.
Then it's the return of the Euro Tour - now the last event before the Grand Prix. Heta and Whitlock are the last two players out, looking at who's qualified for it, King and Clayton are best placed to push the last qualified player (currently Razma) out, while further back you have Jeff Smith and Jason Lowe within reasonable striking distance, although both would need to go on a big run. Whitlock not making it (it's basically Dimitri nicking his top 16 spot that's caused him to miss out) is a sign of things to come I feel, he's repaired the Pro Tour ranking somewhat, but could still do with getting more. Dobey and de Zwaan are the last two players in, they're in the Euro Tour and a win each should be enough and could put Kim Huybrechts in trouble. We'll see what happens.

Monday 14 September 2020

Event three done

Was a bit busier than I thought, so wasn't able to report on Damon Heta managing to bink a first ranking title and shove himself into Grand Prix contention (and back it up with a quarter final today), then we saw van Gerwen return things to normal somewhat. Who else is playing alright? If we look at results, there's been some other people doing well from a bit under the radar - Ross Smith's got two board wins, Cullen's made a final for the first time in a while, Willie Borland's picked up six wins, Lisa Ashton's made a bit of a breakthrough, while Boris Krcmar has two board wins and another board final. But what about the data?

If I shove the data into the master computer, Andy Boulton's hitting surprisingly good stats - the big three are in the top four for overall scoring, but Boulton rounds it out (he's actually above MvG) - ton average in a win over Meikle (who's not doing bad himself) then running into Aspinall, yesterday ton average over Alcinas, around 105 against both of Durrant and Searle before getting steamrollered by Bunting, then today he played two players with a good 2020 so far, another ton average against Jason Lowe then losing to DvD. Very consistent stuff, wouldn't surprise me if, given an alright draw, he can push deep into an event, he had three quarters last year, and the way he's playing, what's to say he can't do the same in the next two days?

There's several other players with somewhat smaller samples (Gilding, de Decker, Lennon, Meikle, Hopp, Zonneveld) who've done alright so far, with a bit more sample, Luke Humphries continues to appear solid, other than these and some of the players we've seen make very deep runs, it's mostly the usual suspects, so if we're looking for good value, Boulton at 300/1 has got to be the shot each way.

How about at the other end - McGeeney hasn't had a fantastic 2020, but is right down near the bottom. John Henderson has really struggled. Jeff Smith, often tipped to do well this week, hasn't got going at all. The biggest name to not do anything really is Jeffrey de Zwaan - he's made two board finals, sure, but he's not played well at all in getting those wins (only six legs in fifteen darts or better). Clemens has been somewhat unimpressive as well.

Elsewhere, it looks like the Nordic/Baltic tour has cried off Latvia, so seemingly Viljanen and Larsson will be back at Ally Pally - or, as I hinted at on the Weekly Dartscast last week, somewhere else. I find it hard to believe that, at T-minus three months to when they'd normally start it, that they wouldn't already be in the latter stages of planning things logistically. In this current climate, it is impossible to have any confidence whatsoever that they will be able to hold the event in London and not lose an absolute fortune. The latest round of idiocy re: six people is surely the nail in the coffin. Hearn and Porter just have to move it to an accommodating country, be that the Netherlands (maybe issues with Hills as sponsors there), Germany, Austria, Sweden - pretty much anywhere is a more viable location than London right now.

Sunday 13 September 2020

Midway through event two

Hmm, them running the tourney on German time meant that it started a fair bit earlier than I anticipated, so wasn't able to get much out yesterday. Bit of a surprising result with Madars Razma reaching the final to shove himself into Grand Prix contention, in an event where Erik Middelkoop commenting that we had eleven different nationalities winning boards. Would it be that hard a stretch to see sixteen different nationalities? Let's have a think, obviously it'd require quite a specific draw, but let's go with:

Netherlands - MvG
Scotland - Wright
Wales - Price
England - now who is the best English player right now? Let's just put Durrant
Poland - Ratajski
Northern Ireland - Gurney
Germany - Clemens
Australia - Whitlock
Belgium - van den Bergh
Austria - Suljovic
Portugal - de Sousa
South Africa - Petersen

That's twelve, and nobody would blink in the slightest if any of those won a board at all, even if in Whitlock's case it's based on experience and track record rather than current form (shove in Heta if you like). Then you need four more. Krcmar won his board yesterday (and is at it again having turned over Ratajski and Lowe already today). Sedlacek did. Razma obviously did. Labanauskas is a world quarter finalist. Lennon and O'Connor have reached tour finals. Any of the Spanish lads can do so on their day (Noguera did yesterday, while Reyes and Alcinas at least have that peak level). Jeff Smith absolutely can. Kai Fan Leung is dangerous enough on his day. That's plenty of options to go with.

I'll post a FRH rankings update at the end of the day, one thing to note is that Dimitri, on account of his Matchplay win not aging, is up into the top five already, and that Wright is now within 50k of MvG for the top spot - it'd require him running hotter than the sun to close that down before the Grand Prix, but it's entirely possible that he could claim the number 1 spot at the Grand Prix - if he binks it, I don't think there's anything Michael can do to stay at number one.

Friday 11 September 2020

Some quick World Series thoughts

These things often throw up an unexpected qualifier, but I don't think there was anyone hugely expected, apart from possibly Harry Ward, but you can't really call someone who's won a Pro Tour event in the last couple of years truly unexpected. Maybe beating Chris Dobey in the final round was, but there you go. Beaton, Cullen and van der Voort also made it through, with Clemens, Noguera and Razma the other finalists, fairly strong field.

I'll have a quick look at the runs of those that made it through to see what was going on - Beaton first won one against van Duijvenbode because Dirk forgot how to score, was slightly better against Hamilton, was unimpressive against Lennon then had probably his best game against Clemens in the final, although Clemens missed three clear for a break in the seventh, Beaton could easily have broken back if things stayed the same, but who knows.

Cullen looked really good against Ryan Meikle, not so much against Barrie Bates which could easily have been gameflow with both the first two legs going over six visits, reverted to solid against Callan Rydz (who also looked generally good), one comedy leg aside, then was more or less par for the course against Noguera, who really should have gone 4-3 up but missed doubles.

Ward was the real surprise. He didn't play very well in any of his games - his game against Dekker in the opening round was probably his best - winning five straight from two down with three in a row in five visits, but he only managed this once against O'Connor (two of his winning legs being last dart in hand in the seventh visit), twice against Bunse coming from a 3-0 hole which wasn't too bad, only managed one fifteen darter against Murnan but was at least pressuring well, then neither him or Dobey managed a leg in five visits in a pretty poor game. Here's where averages can be misleading - Dobey's 76 looks piss poor, but if Ward had have cleared up the comedy leg by finishing 24, Dobey's average goes up 7 points.

This leaves van der Voort - very good against Payne, Josh also playing well, neither doing much wrong with a combined average of effectively a ton, similarly high standard against Kantele, although maybe he was a bit lucky as Marko looks to have had at least one dart for the match, possibly two. Final two games against Waites and Razma weren't great, but it wasn't exactly a horrible standard.

Anything else of note? Maybe Ron Meulenkamp's one to watch - hitting 101 against Webster (who averaged 72?), 97 in claiming a decider against de Sousa and then 104 in defeat to Dobey isn't bad, he does have course and distance in these for a semi and he's 225/1 who offer four places each way, so that might be worth a punt dependent on where he lands in the draw. Jason Lowe doesn't seem to have missed a beat, only losing a decider to Clayton, Clemens continues to look strong, and Razma seemed a bit more consistent with his best game, which is nice to see.

May chuck up some each way punts tomorrow morning. We'll see.

Thursday 10 September 2020

Brief pre-Autumn series update

Not really been a huge amount to say of late with there being no darts - BDO finally gone bump it seems, we've got a decent tour card holder turnout for the Autumn series, no Anderson is somewhat understandable given his prior reluctance to play any sort of minor event on the continent, the plus side is that he's also out of the World Series finals which has bumped Ratajski in, whose omission in the first place was a joke.

Looking at who else is out, it seems to be mostly lower ranked UK players who I guess bizarrely thought it wasn't worth the money/hassle/effort (Atkins, Barnard, Penhall, Worsley, maybe chuck Stevenson in there), van Duivenbode we knew about, Teehan is injured, Kyle I assume is still locked up in Oz, that just leaves Reyes, don't really know the situation in Spain/Germany re: travel but if Alcinas and Noguera have made it, who knows, then also Harms, who also missed the Summer Series so who knows what is up with him. Odd that he was a bit outspoken about what happens to new card holders in the wake of coronacold cancelling everything, but then ignores 750k's worth of events. Half of which he doesn't even need to catch a flight for. Truly odd.

Keep an eye on Twitter, I'll post up some thoughts on the bracket on Saturday, I don't think I'll post anything on the World Series qualifier tomorrow, although it may be a useful data point in terms of how some of the players who aren't already in are performing.