Monday 30 November 2020

Now on to the worlds

Fair play to King yesterday, great job to get past Wright somehow and reach the final, and give MvG a real run for his money, only losing out in a decider. Let's look what that's done to the FRH rankings:

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

Noppert drops out of the top 20, one space outside. Heta is now well inside the top 40, Woodhouse gets back in the top 50 and Rydz is just two spots outside of it. Sedlacek is inside the top 64 once you incorporate first round worlds money.

Speaking of which, we've now had the qualifiers, and we've got a fairly standard list of names into the worlds. Zonneveld and Sedlacek got through the ROW qualifier at the expense of Schindler and Dekker in the final, who are (assuming Ward does hand in his card) 65th and 66th in the tour card race as things stand, so will drop off the tour card list for 2021, also losing out in the quali that'll lose their cards as a result are van de Pas (semis to Sedlacek) and Rodriguez (round one to Sedlacek - seems he's single handedly forced three players to Q-School).

In the UK qualifier we got a few interesting players in - Matt Edgar won through, which will delight Twitter, which looks to have saved his tour card, Jamie Lewis surprisingly got through over Robert Thornton and cost the Thorn his tour card, Lewis needing another miracle run to save his. Edgar beat Payne, who's got enough in the bank to be back for 2021 almost certainly. Ciaran Teehan surprised a few by beating Joe Murnan in a deciding leg, Teehan's done little all year but this may help set him up into year two of his tour card while Murnan will be back to square one, finally we got Nick Kenny getting in, another one who's had a fairly quiet 2020 but this will set him up nicely. Kenny beat out James Wilson, who's in a bit of a precarious spot - currently 61st in the tour card race assuming Ward does resign his card, it'd only take first round wins from Kleermaker and Kuivenhoven to move him down two spots, then not much else is needed to force him out - would need two of Hunt, Zonneveld, Rydz, Lowe or Sedlacek to beat their seeds. That's some strong names who, with an alright draw, can easily do it.

In this one we've seen Simon Stevenson lose his card after he went out to Payne, Scott Baker didn't even attempt the qualifier so he's done, Gavin Carlin's also gone (what price he'd give for there to have been a Tom Kirby this year?), then we're looking at names who'd be way too far off and would need a miracle worlds run - suppose the biggest name is Richard North who was knocking on the top 32 door within recent memory.

I suppose the players who I feel the most for are those who won their cards in 2019, who've not been given a real shot at saving them in 2020 thanks to ridiculous government overreactions to the whole situation. Sure, everyone around them also didn't win anything from the cancelled events, but it was certainly possible for someone to bink something out of nowhere and then maybe use that to sneak into a major, put an additional five grand on to their accounts, and help themselves. You just want the opportunity really, and everyone thinking there's a major public health crisis after it finished for all intents and purposes in May has cost them exactly that. McGeeney's the one I feel for the most - he's now one spot behind Wilson, so will need just one less thing to go wrong for him to end up back at Wigan or wherever in a month or so.

I've put the worlds money onto my FRH rankings now - all the top 32 seeds are in the top 33, only van Duijvenbode is in the top 32 that isn't a seed. Webster and Pipe are the players highest up the rankings to miss out, followed by Klaasen, Payne, Ward and Wilson. I'm going to start compiling all the data for the worlds preview, I've got a full week off work, but with the draw not taking place until Thursday morning (why?), it's going to be a bit before I can start presenting anything.

Sunday 29 November 2020


Pity that Cullen couldn't nick that game, it might have made for slightly more interesting analysis, but we've at least got the top three in the world plus King to look at. Again, like in the quarters, King is kind of tempting - we can get as large as 7/2, and I think he's playing well enough that he may have near a one in three shot at it. I can pass this one though as betting against Wright in a semi final doesn't seem like the greatest idea, and the edge isn't as much as it was against Heta, and we didn't bet there either.

In the other one, we get a redo of last year's final - Michael looked damned good against van Duijvenbode, but I'm not quite sure why he is the favourite against Price here. Sure, van Gerwen's looked a fair bit better over the last couple of tournaments, but Price is just better over longer form. 0.25u Price 11/8, this will probably be the last bet of the season, Price looks, on post-restart form, a 60/40 favourite. We should take an alright odds against line here.

In the final, if we assume Wright wins, Wright should be about 8/13 against van Gerwen and evens against Price. The latter is absolutely even, over the course of a world final right now, the longest game we can have in darts, Wright only projects at 50.11% - that's how close it is.

Quick QF post

Very tempted by King there. We can get 6/4, which is probably a decent play, Heta's a favourite but it's a much smaller one than that. I just don't have the confidence that Mervyn will be able to convert given just how solid a match player Damon is.

Wright/Smith is a similar line, but the difference here is Peter is a bit more of a favourite than Damon is. It's only around 55/45, as such there's not much to think about.

Cullen I thought might have been worth the punt when I saw that he was around 9/4, but he really isn't - the model is saying 70/30, so no bet again.

Then we have another 70/30 to finish between MvG and DvD. We can get a bit better odds on Dirk, just the right side of 3/1 on Paddy Power, but I just feel that he's going to relatively underperform.

As such, no bets. Yesterday was a bit of a disappointment - van Gerwen covered some of the defeats but I have no idea where a scoreline in the Woodhouse match came from. Dirk winning was something I thought to be perfectly reasonable, but 10-1? Jesus. Humphries was hanging around but just got done by a good Price spurt after the final break, while Rydz did himself proud to force a final leg, it's just a shame he had two really poor visits (the 38 in turn 3, then the trainwreck on 164), Peter gave him the chance and he didn't get a dart at a double.

We now know a fair bit more about the worlds now, and the news really isn't great. Let's go through one by one (I think I've mentioned the Chinese winner already):

- Ilagan won the Philippines qualifier. This is fine.
- Paul Lim won the Hong Kong qualifier. This is also fine.
- Kantele has replaced Viljanen from the Nordic/Baltic tour list as the latter has withdrawn for health reasons, this is fine and we hope Kim is well.
- Toru Suzuki has won the Japanese qualifier. I don't know who he is. He seemed to average around 83 on the Asian Tour last year, so may not be a complete bunny, but averaged mid-70's in the semi and under 70 in the final. Oops.
- Portela has got a South American invite, this is fine as he at least plays PDC events and has some level of competence.
- Some Indian player that isn't Nitin Kumar got an invite. I don't know the internal politics of Indian darts but from what I've read on Twitter from Kumar and others it's a bit of a joke. He's seemingly played the World Cup years ago and also was young enough to play the Dev Tour in 2018 (apparently he's 25), so at least he's youngish?
- Then we've got the PDPA qualifier. Less than 24 hours after Uncle Barry said there'll just be two spots, there are, er, six, and it's split between four UK and two rest of world. Now if you really can't plug some of the gaps (would it be too hard to invite a bunch of Irish players to play online, or Dutch for that matter?), then fine, but either do an open draw, or to maintain the international quota, have everyone eligible for four spots then for all the international players that don't make it, have two more.

That's about it. Will be back before the semis.

Saturday 28 November 2020

Round 3

OK, got a bit of time and have been able to put the stats into the master computer from this afternoon, both the bigger punts won, both the longshots lost, so we've been able to make a small profit in round 2, what about round 3?

White/Cullen - Accurate assessment by the market in this one. Seems too close to call, White perhaps counterintuitively has the small advantage, which is reflected in the market oddly enough. Would have thought Cullen having the momentum would have given him the edge. Guess not.

Smith/de Sousa - They've shifted the lines a bit from when they met last time, although it's only a real tiny odds on edge for de Sousa. I'd probably put Jose a bit further ahead, maybe 8/11, but it's not enough to keep printing by betting on the Portuguese major winner. As mentioned previously, the horse has already bolted.

Price/Humphries - 0.1u Humphries 12/5, it's a bit of a small edge this one, so will just go with a tenth of a unit. This line indicates a winning chance of about 30%, I think it's around 40%. Just think there's enough psychological things going on here to not go a quarter unit.

Smith/Heta - Another game that looks like it's an accurate read. Damon is the better player, but Ross is no mug - I think he's got somewhere between a one in three and a 40% chance. He's 6/4, so we'd probably be looking towards Damon if we had to bet, but we don't.

Sedlacek/King - Nice run continues from Karel, while Mervyn got a very good win against Danny Noppert. Market is implying 70/30 in favour of King - which is exactly what the data model throws out. So no bet again.

Wright/Rydz - 0.1u Rydz 9/2, while I did think that the market might have finally picked up on how good Callan is, this line gets thrown up. It's a bit of unchartered territory, but he is really, really good and ought to claim this about one time in three. As such, 9/2 is a must bet.

van Duijvenbode/Woodhouse - Very big opportunity for either of these, especially for Luke (Dirk has at least got a major final on his CV already). Market is saying it's a bit more than a 60/40 edge for Dirk, which is a bit ridiculous, Luke is at least on Dirk's level, or fairly close to it. 0.25u Woodhouse 13/8, Luke actually projects as a favourite around the other way so this looks like a great play even after taking into account Luke having a big inconsistency factor (although Dirk's isn't too clever either).

van Gerwen/de Zwaan - 0.5u van Gerwen 1/3, Jeffrey's looked alright in this event, but I think we can take Michael to come through this often enough that 1/3 is a justifiable punt. This is near 85% for van Gerwen, so we'll go with it.

Weird that we've actually gone FOR van Gerwen. That rarely happens.

Players Championship round 2

What a beautiful day yesterday was. Probably close to the perfect day with the way the bets were ordered - the first five romped home with Woodhouse, Boulton, Humphries, Searle and Rydz all doing a job, setting up a profit for the day and making the rest a freeroll. Could have been so much better, as only Hughes added to the winners, but we were very close on some others and seemingly on the right side of the two big long shots - Waites missed five for the match, Meikle threw a great leg to force a decider against Wright and then, as so often happens, completely lost his scoring after doing the hard work, then Adie got himself into a great position to break the Whitlock throw at 4-4, missed three darts to do so, was gifted another three, then missed those as well. Webster wasn't close against de Zwaan, but hey, nobody's perfect.

Sixteen games this afternoon - will say in advance that I don't know what I'm doing today so getting some last sixteen lines and analysis may not happen. Meanwhile, the Philippines worlds qualifier is ongoing, so if I do come back later today, hopefully we'll know who's binked it by that time, seems like all the big names are there. Will go again in draw order:

Wright/Whitlock - Covered these guys matches already. Both possibly a bit fortunate to reach this stage. Line looks spot on, I'm thinking Simon has slightly less than a one in three shot at this, Peter's 4/9, so next please.

Searle/Rydz - Took both these players to the bank yesterday with them getting comfortable wins over van den Bergh and Gurney which may surprise the casuals, this one is too close to call, more or less a 50/50, so let's see if the market is unbalanced... 0.25u Rydz 6/4 it is then.

Smith/Anderson - Michael got through a decider against Krcmar, needed to fade a low three figure out in that one but Boris didn't get a dart. Gary looked in pain yesterday but produced a great post break run to come from a big hole against Keegan Brown. Appears 60/40 on the numbers, which is about where the line is, so no bets, although if Ando does prevail then given his potential next opponent, it could be an auto-lay in round three.

de Sousa/van der Voort - Jose was able to ease away from de Decker after Mike kept things close for the first half of the game, while Vincent had zero troubles with Derk Telnekes, not a pretty game and he'll need to improve today to stand a chance. Boat has definitely sailed on de Sousa value, the 4/11 we can get looks absolutely perfect.

Aspinall/Smith - Mentioned Nathan should have gone out already, Ross meanwhile was in no real danget against Kim Huybrechts, mainly because Kim was only ever getting one dart at a double and kept missing them. Market thinks Nathan wins this a bit over 60% but not quite two in three - I think that's a bit unkind on Smith, who for me easily has over 40%, getting close to 45%, so while it's close to a bet, doesn't this just seem like the sort of game where Nathan knows he's dodged a bullet and starts a name on the trophy run?

Heta/Murray - Damon easily swept aside Maik Kuivenhoven who really looked like a shell of early 2020 Maik, while Murray got through Stephen Bunting pretty competently, was a 140 machine but could definitely do with tightening up his doubles. Game looks roughly 70/30 on the stats. Market is close enough to that to not bet here.

Sedlacek/Razma - Karel is the lowest seed left in after stunning Ratajski in what can only be described as an opportunistic performance, Krzysztof missing an uncharacteristic number of doubles. Madars got by Chris Dobey in a game that was a bit closer than the scoreline suggests, Dobey missing doubles as well which could easily have changed a 6-3 loss into a 5-4 lead. Too tough to call this one, I think Madars has a really tiny edge, so with the market saying 4/5 on Razma we can keep moving on.

Noppert/King - Danny took no time to beat Steve Beaton, only dropping the one leg as Steve just had far too many no treble or one treble visits. Mervyn got a good win over Dave Chisnall, getting a solid lead early in the game and just not relinquishing it - Dave didn't play bad, Mervyn was just better. Appears close on paper with Danny having a tiny edge, bookies agree, let's go to the bottom half.

Price/Hughes - Hendo played a little bit better than I thought he would do but was nowhere near threatening Gerwyn. Jamie was similarly a class above Ricky Evans, solid high 90's average, 50/50 on doubles, decent power scoring, what you want to see really. It's nearly enough to take the shot on Jamie, I'm thinking this is about 70/30 give or take a fraction of a percent, and we can get 7/2, which looks a big number. Is yesterday just a flash in the pan though? Fuck it, 0.1u Hughes 7/2, we'll just go small to minimise the risk, it's long enough there's a decent reward.

Wattimena/Humphries - Luke put out Devon Petersen to finally get a decent result that's matched his good play over the year, and now faces Jermaine who came up against a similar player with good play/bad results in Steve Lennon, naturally Steve averaged 102 and only won one leg. This looks like a very good spot to take Luke - 0.25u Humphries 5/6, I thought my data model might favour him a bit, but it says Wattimena only wins one in three! If we can get virtually a flip price we have to take it.

White/Clemens - Two players who came through fairly close games here, White taking out Borland in ten and Clemens eliminating Kleermaker in a decider, didn't need to fade any match darts though. It's a match I'd like to see but I guess it'll be dumped on stage two, another one that looks like it's priced correctly, I have Ian as a tiny favourite, not even 55% so with the market being around evens we can move on again.

Cullen/Cross - Joe wasn't really threatened by Hunt, Adam never really getting close on Joe's won legs, I think he had one dart at double in all of them and that was at bull. Rob was a surprisingly easy winner over Jason Lowe, was 5-1 up and Lowe only really had chances in one of those five. Think it's a sign of their respective form that this is a pick'em in the analysis, market is also on the Cullen hype train and not liking Cross and giving us much the same odds. Yawn.

van Gerwen/Clayton - Michael was an easy winner over Labanauskas, Jonny similar over Mansell, nothing really to see here, both players averaged a ton, very good spot to go Clayton here, 0.25u Clayton 3/1, seems on the stats to be about 55/45. That's an extremely strong edge.

Jones/de Zwaan - Wayne got through Glen Durrant, who looked much improved from the Slam but just really couldn't handle an extremely solid game from Wayne, not doing a lot wrong, possibly his best game all year. Jeffrey beat Webster easily enough as we mentioned earlier, nothing to see here other than it was good from him - ton average, solid all round game. I'm half tempted to take Wayne here. We can get 9/5, and the stats say this is only about 55/45 in Jeffrey's favour, I just can't see Jones as the sort of player that can play that kind of game in back to back matches, so I'll pass on it.

Zonneveld/van Duijvenbode - Niels got one of the bigger shocks yesterday by putting James Wade out, while Dirk got through a good tussle with Willie O'Connor early on, both players averaging 100 and neither doing much of anything wrong at all. This is an extremely similar game to the previous one - the winning chances and odds are identical, and it's similar in that I'm just not sure that Niels will be able to replicate the game from yesterday. Ought to be a good one to watch though.

Woodhouse/Boulton - Final game, one where we were on both of these yesterday so I expect to see no value, in both games the loser picked up four legs so the matches were competitive, so good to see them get over the line. No bet here once again. If either player has an edge it's Woodhouse, but it's the tightest game of the day on the analysis and the bookies can't separate them either.

So just the four plays. Humphries and Clayton seem the best, Rydz looks good enough to go with, Hughes is a bit of a flier but we know he's been able to do it in the past and given Gerwyn's had the odd vulnerable game, who knows?

Thursday 26 November 2020

Players Championship betting analysis

Not yet updated the betting tracker - one, I forgot, and two, the running total only changed by a hundredth of a unit, so apart from ROI ticking down ever so slightly, nothing has changed. 32 games tomorrow, we'll run through them in draw order and see what we think will happen:

Wright/Meikle - Nice opportunity for Ryan to get a bit of exposure here, but while Wright is clearly the better player, I don't think Ryan's anywhere near as outclassed as the market indicates. Meikle's been scoring at a solid 91 clip since the restart, which is very respectable, so 0.1u Meikle 5/1, it's a long shot but the projections reckon he's got much better chances than that - maybe around one in three. Knock it down a bit for stage experience etc, but still a decent spot.

Lewis/Whitlock - This is a first round game where five years ago it'd have been a Premier League match. How times change. Simon's resurrected his career a bit in the last six months or so, while Adrian's a bit off doing that and could really do with a result to try to push back towards the top sixteen. 0.25u Lewis 5/4, odds against may look right on results, but Lewis has been doing enough where it should probably be priced 8/11 the other way. He's outscoring Whitlock.

Searle/van den Bergh - We'll see what Dimitri can do and whether he can get another major run going. Searle's probably been a bit unlucky in a few spots this year, and landing in this stacked eighth of the "draw" is a bit more of the same. Got to trust the numbers here, 0.25u Searle 11/5, this is, on the numbers, a coinflip.

Gurney/Rydz - Good opportunity for Callan here after sneaking into the event in the Winter Series, Daryl's got a decent enough seeding that I think's reflective of where his game is at, but while the odds are a bit closer than I thought they'd be, I think they're still sleeping on Rydz here - 0.25u Rydz 13/8 - he should take this nearly 60% of the time. He's playing that well.

Smith/Krcmar - Unfortunate that Boris has got this draw, he's a very dangerous opponent but is running into Michael at just the wrong time. 9/2 is maybe a little bit dismissive of his chances, but it's not that much of a misprice that I want to go with it, I'd probably have gone around 100/30.

Anderson/Brown - Hard to call really. Gary's barely played this year apart from one tournament, and Keegan's someone I can say I've barely noticed at all the entire season. I'd like to go for a policy ignore the game as a result, but fortunately I don't need to, stats say Keegan winning slightly more than one in four, and he's priced at 5/2, so I can just move on.

de Sousa/de Decker - Newest major champion against an up and comer who's quietly doing work a bit under the radar, unfortunately running into close to the nut low draw. Mike being 4/1 or there abouts isn't unfair, it's accurate.

van der Voort/Telnekes - Seems like it's increasingly rare that we get all Dutch ties, but we've got one here between the PDC veteran who's not had a bad year at all, and the newcomer who's made a solid start to his career on this side of the divide. Looks a bit more than a 60/40 in Vincent's favour, we can get slightly longer than 2/1 on Derk, which I wouldn't blame people for taking, just feel that there's been enough games where Telnekes has really done nothing, which might give van der Voort that little bit of extra edge.

Aspinall/Waites - Ought to be a good one this. Nathan's not done a great deal wrong this season, while Scott's picked his game up throughout the year and generally adapted well to the PDC. Very well, in fact - 0.25u Waites 3/1, Scott's winning percentages are perhaps a bit exaggerated by him having a bit of a large number of "taken off" legs, but on the raw won legs he's up at nearly 45%. Even if we knock 10% off for consistency, that's still better than one in three, and one in four is the break even point. We'll take that.

Smith/Huybrechts - Ross has often been in the conversation for best player not to win a PDC event, while he's yet to manage that, his season's been good enough to get into the top 32 of this ranking. Kim's also done alright, certainly trending back into the right direction and could get close to back in the top 32 of the general order of merit. Ross seems like he should take this most of the time, although Kim's not that far behind as an underdog - 4/5 might be worth the nibble on Smith, I'd probably be all over evens.

Heta/Kuivenhoven - Damon had another good week at the Slam, and comes into this one as a solid favourite over Kuivenhoven, Maik having tailed off in form a fair bit after a very solid first few months. Seems like a pretty standard 75/25 in Damon's favour, market has it slightly more biased towards him, but not enough where we can consider going against Heta.

Bunting/Murray - Stephen's doing enough here and there to maintain a ranking in the top 32, but is starting to miss majors, which is going to severely hurt him and put a lot of pressure on him in 2021. On the other side is Murray, who's quietly had a competent season after getting his card way back in January. 6/4 seems an accurate reflection of where the players are at - Stephen's just doing enough to be the favourite, but Ryan is a solid operator who isn't that much worse at this stage.

Ratajski/Sedlacek - All Eastern European tie here after Karel got into the event with a decent last day run which wasn't quite enough to get him into the worlds, Krzysztof we know all about, we're just waiting for the one good TV run which is the only thing that's really lacking. This projects at 70/30, so the 4/1 we can get is awfully tempting, but I get the feeling that Sedlacek's rating is slightly false on account of him seeming to be slightly streaky, so I can't really go against the rock solid Pole in this one.

Razma/Dobey - More Euro action with Madars here, got to a final earlier in the year and is another one who's got an incredibly hot A-game but can disappear for a while. Dobey's disappeared for much of the year, but still is good enough to project as about a 60/40 favourite in this one. He's a little bit shorter than that at 8/15, so if we were looking to bet we'd go towards the Latvian, but the edge isn't quite there.

Noppert/Beaton - Danny's had another great year and is finally starting to get the plaudits that his play deserves, and he's got a nice enough draw here in Steve, who's now dropped from the worlds top 32 and is reliant on the Pro Tour to make the worlds this year, which could be the beginning of the end. Beaton's still perfectly competent, but Danny's so good, and should claim this around two out of every three. Steve's priced at 7/4 which seems fine to me.

Chisnall/King - Another tasty first round tie, Mervyn's continuing to hang around the top 32 and keeps having solid runs often enough to maintain that ranking. Dave's had a couple of decent chances to bink a big event this year but is still coming up short, just not quite putting together enough when it matters most. This'll be closer than the market thinks, King is 7/4 which is extremely close to go mode, I'm getting him at near 45%, just got an underlying feeling that Dave will up his game enough here to claim it.

Price/Henderson - Not much to say about this one. Gerwyn's been really good this year. John hasn't. That we can't get 1/6 on Price isn't disrespectful, if anything it's an inaccurate assessment of their relative abilities in that Price ought to be shorter. Not enough edge to lump on, but can shove the Welshman in your accas all you like.

Evans/Hughes - Not sure how this one is priced close. Ricky's not done a great deal and hasn't shown his peak game that much this year. Jamie's not had a great season but has shown overall scoring that's a good couple of points better than Evans. As such, 0.25u Hughes evs, might even be worth a half unit play give he projects to win nearly two in every three, well over 60% in any case.

Wattimena/Lennon - Tricky one this. Jermaine's been playing alright and getting some results that seem a fair bit better than what his quality would suggest, whereas Lennon's been playing about the same but not converting into scores. Have got Lennon at a little bit over 40% in this one, although the market's enough of a non believer in Jermaine that we can only get 6/4 here. No bet.

Petersen/Humphries - Could be the tie of the round this. Devon's reclaimed some decent for after a little bit of a blip in the Winter Series, whereas Luke has been very good throughout the last year, just not getting that first senior title. Or really looking like threatening to do it. Seems like a flip of a game so 0.25u Humphries 13/8.

White/Borland - Ian could do with a bit of a TV run, seems like he's not been getting great results for a while now, although his level of performance hasn't tailed off as much as some people might think. Willie's not played bad at all this year, but this looks like a bit of a mismatch, and an appropriately priced mismatch at that - projections say he's only fractionally better than 25% and he's 3/1. Next.

Cullen/Hunt - Joe'll be looking to make a big run in a TV event after picking up his quality of play over the last couple of months and starting to look dangerous again. Adam we've mentioned a few times recently as someone who's been under the radar, cat may be out of the bag after he got through to the Slam knockout stages. Not quite the value to go with him here though, we can get 5/2, but I think he should only be about 7/4 or there abouts. A little bit longer and we'd go with it.

Cross/Lowe - Another game that'll be a good one. Rob's been alright, but nowhere near his best stuff, and Jason's someone who, but for Heta, would be in the equation for best new tour card holder. He's been playing very well after dominating Q-School. Market's already adjusted though, he's a shade over 40% and we can only get 13/8. Oh well.

van Gerwen/Labanauskas - Seems like we've seen this one a few times this year. It's usually not ended well for Darius. Can't see that changing, van Gerwen isn't value and is overrated in the market again, but not enough to go with the Lithuanian.

Clayton/Mansell - We can't go with Jonny either. Great season, continues to be underrated, very strong consistent player, but Mickey's done just about enough all year to have about a 30% shot at this one, and the market's not sleeping on Clayton and only offering 2/5. Either that, or they think Mansell sucks. Either way, we don't bet on it.

Durrant/Jones - Glen's got his big title but really done nothing since then. Can blame Covid at least. Wayne however still projects as a huge underdog. Durrant would ordinarily be a value bet, but after the Slam I think he has to be off the board until we've seen at least one good performance.

Webster/de Zwaan - Darren lucky to be here, and he's not got a bad draw in Jeffrey, who's had a 2020 that through injury and everything else I think he'd be happy to write off. Still, it is what it is and we can bet it, 0.25u Webster 11/8, while Darren's had a bad season, he's still seemingly had a better one that de Zwaan and this projects the exact opposite way, so we'll bet it.

Dolan/Woodhouse - Brendan continues to perform extremely solidly in this second coming of his career that's seen him up into the top 32, while Luke, after being talk of everyone this time last year, has had a lukewarm (boom boom) 2020, that nine darter in the Home Tour aside. We'll definitely take 0.25u Woodhouse 13/8 though, he has done enough that it projects as a flip, even though we've barely noticed him.

Joyce/Boulton - Final game and one between someone who's got himself involved in some good TV battles, and someone who's been one of the better players on tour in the year, especially in the last week of the PC series where he got into the important events. Appears to be a straight toss up on paper, so we'll go with 0.25u Boulton 6/4 as there's enough there for me.

So we have ten bets, seems like a nice number taking about a third of the games, working tomorrow so expect nothing in running but will be back either tomorrow late or Saturday morning with round 2 picks.

Edit - Skipped straight past the Wade/Zonneveld and O'Connor/van Duijvenbode matches, such was the excitement I had for the Dolan game - both lines look fine so no bets, maybe Niels is a bit underrated but also a bit rusty, so nothing more to add.

Edit 2 - This is what happens when you post in a hurry, I missed the Clemens/Kleermaker game and there's no value there either

Tuesday 24 November 2020


Probably shouldn't ZOMG as we thought it was going to happen, but he did, Jose de Sousa denied Wade his (insert number here) major title, with a beautiful 158 checkout to seal the championship. Unbelievable performance, moves him up to third in the post restart scoring table, and more importantly, it does this to the FRH rankings:

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

No new players - Petersen is within a first round win at the Players Championships of getting into the top 20, Damon Heta is up to #43 after his good run, while Adam Hunt reaches the top 64.

Now onto the Players Championships - sadly missing Jeff Smith and Mensur Suljovic for various reasons, thoughts especially are out to Mensur at this time, looks like apart from Mensur the biggest names in the FRH rankings that are missing out are Hopp, West, Pipe, Klaasen and Meulenkamp, while Krcmar is the only player now not in the top 100 (adjusted to include first round money). I'll go through the first round over the next couple of days assuming we don't get any more withdrawals, at least now it'll be a straight swap.

Meanwhile, we've had some player come through from China who looks to be a free win in the worlds for whoever plays him, and we do now know it'll be held at the worlds. But people on Twitter - do you really, honestly think there'll ever be a crowd? Have you seen how much of a lockdown nutjob Khan is? He'd give his right arm to bypass science and put London in the highest level of restrictions.

Quick final bet

0.5u de Sousa 11/10

How the hell is Wade the favourite here?

Looking at my data since the restart, de Sousa is scoring a clear two points higher than Wade over a 700+ leg sample, which equates to him winning more than two times out of three. And he's odds against? Lump on.

Monday 23 November 2020

Quick SF bet

0.5u de Sousa 4/6 - Whitlock, after that phenomenal performance to knock out MvG, I think may well be spent. That, and de Sousa rates as an 80/20 favourite for the game, so 4/6? Yes please.

Dimitri and James I can't split them. Line looks right down the middle. They give Wade the slight underdog tag at 6/5, but given how van den Bergh has been playing in this tournament I guess that sort of movement is warranted.

That's it, know it's short but I've not been free until now...

Sunday 22 November 2020

Grand Slam quarters

Price has gone, that's fairly surprising, other than that we didn't see too much of a shock, other than perhaps the size of van Gerwen's victory.

Half tempted by de Sousa. He is available at 6/5, but the issue is this is a rematch, and he didn't really lay a glove on Smith in that matchup. I should probably still go with it, but it's the first time he's been in a really, really long match so it's a bit uncharted waters as to how he responds if Smith turns up, which over the last month has looked increasingly like it will be the case.

Heta/Wade next, one of three rematches - I really don't like the way they get rematched so quickly, it creates too many rehashed games. Either put them in separate halves as any other tournament would, or organise the bracket so the redemption game is the semi final. The market looks close to right in this one, Wade's 4/7 and I do see him as a favourite, albeit maybe not quite so strong - 8/11 might be a bit of a fairer line. It's not quite enough for me, similar to the previous game there's a bit of an unanswered question as to how Damon will react to a longer form game than he's played before, I think he'll react better than de Sousa (proportionately at least), but the additional issue is that this format is perfectly suited for Wade.

Evening game one is Dimitri against Aspinall, line looks pretty much perfect here. I'm looking at a 55/45 game, Aspinall is available at 11/10, maybe if you think Dimitri's form will continue, which is a perfectly reasonable assessment, then you take the 5/6 that is available, knowing that it is a neutral bet on long form, and hope that van den Bergh's excellent play will allow him to outperform. Nothing wrong with that if you do it, but I won't explicitly recommend it.

Finally it's van Gerwen against Whitlock, the only game that isn't priced up fairly closely. Now I have a problem here - I've usually bet against van Gerwen at will, and over the whole year van Gerwen hasn't been playing great, and Simon's been a bit better than in 2019, or for a few years in fact. So much so that the figures say he should win this nearly one time in three, easily more than one in four. We can get longer than 4/1. But does anyone really think that Whitlock still has it in him to take sixteen legs off of the world number one when said world number one has actually looked like showing up this week? I don't think so.

So no bets here, but as an aside, let me redo a piece I've done previously now that we're at a best of 31 stage. There'll be plenty of people making out the point that this is going to be a great advantage for the better players, and yes, it will be, but I think people overestimate the importance.

For clarity, let me remind you how my prediction model works - it takes the distribution of how quickly players win legs, uses that to give a percentage change of each player winning on throw, then runs it against each other until we get a match percentage. Like most statistical things of this nature, it assumes legs are independent variables, if you want to go into things like stamina, "streaks" etc you need to use manual judgment afterwards. So how much difference does it make? Let's pick a few games from this tournament, and compare a group stage match to a quarter final match:

Cross against Chisnall from the group stage is first up. Here we thought Dave was a very small favourite in the groups. In a quarters, he's still a very small favourite - the edge he's got isn't big enough to become really significant unless you start going to a much, much longer game than we ever play. It only adds 3%. Now let's go to the other extreme:

Not intending to specifically pick on Ashton here, but if Ashton is not even projected to win 14% of the games in a best of 9, then it can't actually drop that much further in a best of 31. Imagine if we'd got someone even weaker (relatively) than Ashton, and Jose was over 90% to bink a best of 9. It can't go up 10% from there. Here, it does go up quite a bit, but what you're looking for is something roughly in the middle:

Here, Ricky Evans drops from having nearly a one in three chance of winning the match, to having less than a one in five chance. That's a pretty big swing.

It's a natural conclusion to make - for the length of a match to make a difference, the players need to have some notable difference in skill so that they're not so close to begin with, but also not so differently matched up that even a short game ought to be a one-sided bloodbath.

Saturday 21 November 2020

Saturday Slam stuff

Didn't see too much unexpected in the first half of the last sixteen. Clayton maybe could have kept things a bit closer but seemed to have way too many legs where he simply wasn't scoring, which with Dimitri playing as he was made things way too difficult. The two players that got through with one win went down, neither player really getting close - suppose they both did early on for a bit. Chisnall losing as he did against Jose was odd, went down heavily early in the game before coming back a little bit. That choice not to go for bull was an odd one from de Sousa, but it is what it is.

Four games today - it's a pretty damned fine schedule with Smith/Cross, Petersen/Heta, MvG/Ando and Price/Aspinall. Can't ask for too much better than that. In terms of betting, Smith's maybe a little bit too short, I'd have gone for something like 4/7 against 6/4 rather than 1/2 plays 15/8, but no real edge and I think with the relative recent form, favouring Smith a little bit more is just fine. The Petersen line is pretty much bang on. I'm seeing him as just shy of 60%, so with him being 4/6 it's very well set. Ordinarily, Anderson would be worth the shot at longer than 5/2, but this whole playing through injury spooks me, he doesn't seem in the right place, so I'll pass on it. Such is van Gerwen's relatively mediocre level of play I don't see him as even having 60% chances since the restart, but I will avoid the game. Finally we've got Price against Aspinall - if we're going any place here it would be on Price, sure he was lucky in round one, but Nathan wasn't really in top gear either, so I think that levels out and the longer straight elimination game will focus Gerwyn's mind a bit. That, and he's back to back champ in this event. He's generally around 4/9, the projections put him closer to 4/11, there's not enough there, so no bets on this day either.

Can't recall if any of the hastily arranged Asian qualifiers are taking place this weekend. If so, will be interesting to see who can make it through, I'll hunt through Twitter and see what's going on.

Friday 20 November 2020

Slam ro16

Let's throw down some thoughts, as the final day of the group stages was eventful:

- God damnit Joyce. That was a possible career-defining match, just needed to finish off Price from 4-2 to move through, couldn't quite do it. Was winner takes all at that point after Clayton took care of Suzuki heavily. Price certainly hasn't played well at all this week, but you know what they say about winning ugly. Glad Clayton was able to move through though, although a last sixteen match against Dimitri will be tough.
- LOL Wright. Remarkable set of circumstances, he needed more or less exactly a huge White win and then to lose heavily to Petersen to go out, and that's exactly what happened. White's got to be relieved to squeeze through with just the one win, and now has a very winnable game against Wade in round two, Petersen sweeping the group though, you love to see it.
- LOL Clemens, just needed one more leg against Hunt from 2-0 up and lost all the next five, then Cullen needed just one more leg against MvG and couldn't do it. van Gerwen was very much relaxing it seems (92 average compared to 105 then 103), but it was enough, and Adam Hunt qualifies out of nowhere after losing the first two, the first loss being a whitewash.
- Got to feel for Ratajski. One of these days he'll get a good draw. Can't argue with Smith though, lowest average of 102 in the group, de Sousa pretty much on point throughout, Ratajski's play was fine but it needed to be at peak levels to get through that group, and it wasn't quite there.

Some re-iteration on the other groups as well:

- Anderson's got to be feeling a bit lucky. Searle easily could have nicked that last game. Gawlas had his chances. Still, he's got through, although against van Gerwen tomorrow, it may not be for long. Adam's got to be fairly happy, although he got no points, claiming 11 legs can't be too discouraging. Whitlock didn't look spectacular, but having drawn Hunt he's got every chance to make another major quarter final.
- God damnit Humphries. One of these days he'll go really deep in a major other than the worlds. The decider against Chizzy was the big one, and he wasn't exactly playing bad against Cross either. Pipe was really below par, we feared this might happen, oh well, at least it's another 4k into the bank.
- Jermaine got to be kicking himself, but Damon took his chances. Durrant probably needs to just forget this ever happened pretty quickly, but I think you've got to agree the best two players moved through. Heta against Petersen tomorrow should be real entertaining, and Wade/White, if perhaps one for the purists, will be a very good game in all likelihood.
- Dimitri's on fire and if he can get through Clayton, which isn't guaranteed, a potential quarter final with Price will be great. Aspinall got through, that's fine, it's just a real, real shame that we couldn't see Warren anywhere near his peak.

As an aside, they really need to rework the draw so you don't get rematches in the quarter finals. It's not difficult to put people in the other half of the draw. I get that some of it is done for logistical/spacing reasons, but you can easily have a quarter being AvB, CvD (where A-D all played on the same day in the groups), then have the same on the other side of the draw, with the schedule as is some players are needing to play the quarters on one day's rest rather than two in any case, this maintains the evenness for both players.

As for tonight's games, I want to grab Clayton (I read it as a flip and he's 6/4), but Dimitri seems to be so far ahead of his longer timeframe performances this week that I won't touch it. Wade/White line looks right, this does appear fairly close with James having the slight edge, maybe it could be even closer than the line indicates, but there's no real betting advantage here. Hunt is also tempting, I've got him as having slightly over a one in three shot and he's about 5/2, but I don't think he's got any real notable longer format experience, which could play hugely into Simon's hands. I can only find three UK Open last 64 games and one worlds appearance and he's lost the lot, not really getting close apart from pushing Kevin McDine all the way (remember him?) in 2013. Finally, it's very near to a bet on de Sousa, if I was pricing it I'd go 8/13 rather than 8/11, the edge isn't quite there, there's again a little bit of an issue with experience in longer format matches, Chisnall has a huge edge there which may narrow down any skill advantage Jose currently has.

Will go for the other four last sixteen games tomorrow. 

Thursday 19 November 2020

Well that caught me out

Matches starting at 3pm? So that Sky, with infinite sports channels, doesn't have it clashing with a meaningless football friendly? Whatever next.

The good news for anything following for tips is that on a brief scan nothing jumped out as incredible value, and those that seemed maybe marginal enough to consider betting finished up on the losing side, so we've either dodged a bullet or not left anything behind anyway. Plenty of the games were dead rubbers which, after the Webster/Taylor fiasco a few years back we don't touch anyway. I think it was only maybe Cross/Humphries which was of interest.

Remaining eight games tonight, let's go group by group:

van Gerwen/Cullen - Real tough ask for Joe, needs to get a better score here than Clemens does against Hunt. Mainly tough because van Gerwen's been looking good, real good. Very good spot to punt on Joe though, 0.25u Cullen 14/5, Joe's been playing well and winning titles, van Gerwen is already through (only actually needs one leg to win the group), so a fair chance MvG may not have his foot to the floor.

Clemens/Hunt - Adam's through with a 5-2 win. Gabriel's in with a better result than that, and the same result or better than Cullen gets. Half tempted to go with Hunt here, he's better than 9/4 and I've got him winning a fair bit more than that, but he's looked somewhat off the pace in his first two games and I can't see Gabriel taking it easy.

Smith/Ratajski - No bets here. It's priced as a flip, Ratajski's 11/10 and I'm seeing 50/50. Depends on how you see the dynamics working, Smith needs two legs whereas Ratajski must win, wouldn't surprise me to see a narrow Krzysztof win.

de Sousa/Ashton - Line seems fine. Ashton is a huge dog here, 1/10 on de Sousa isn't that ridiculous, I might pull it back a couple of points but that's it. Jose needs to win big and can't rely on Smith doing him any favours.

Wright/Petersen - Devon's all but in, just needs to get three legs, Wright is in with 5-2 or better, but any sort of win is probably enough with the leg difference in hand. Line is probably favouring Wright a little bit too much at around 7/4 post-vig removal, not enough to consider punting Petersen.

van Duijvenbode/White -  Ian needs a combination of a big win and then a big win for Devon. Dirk is in with a win and either a Petersen win, or must win huge and hope - if Wright wins 5-2 or 5-3 he can at best force a shootout. Market says flip, may be worth a White punt here - odds aren't quite enough for me though.

Clayton/Suzuki - Mikuru's not played bad at all. Don't really want to touch 11/2 against a Clayton that must win though, lose and he's out if Joyce gets just one leg.

Price/Joyce - This is worth a nibble, 0.1u Joyce 7/2, Ryan isn't bad at all and ought to nick this one time in three. Price nearly lost to Mikuru after all. Both are win and in, if we assume Jonny wins heavily then it's also lose and out for either player.

Will summarise group stage thoughts later when I look at the first last 16 games.

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Quick day 2 bets

0.25u de Sousa 11/10
0.25u Clemens 12/5

That's the lot. Lines seem fairly accurate throughout - Hunt is close but may underperform after a demoralising 5-0 yesterday, Gawlas at around 5/2 is kind of tempting against Searle, Durrant I ought to go with but he was so incredibly ordinary yesterday that combined with social media comments I think that Heta outperforms him way more often than the projection suggests to make it a no bet, Devon is very close to a bet but I'm not going to jump against a possible downward trend based on one game. Clayton's also close. Probably should consider Evans at 1/3 against Warren as well, but will give it a pass.

Monday 16 November 2020

Some quick thoughts from today

- God damnit Mikuru, why couldn't you have pinned that double?

- Warren looked bad. Always going to be a tough ask against Aspinall, but he was so far off the pace it was unbelievable. Months with no match practice is a problem.

- Looks like Devon's returned to a bit of form, that bad mutual first leg dragged things down a bit but he looked pretty damn solid after that.

- No real complaints with any of the bets. Searle just needed a bit more composure on the doubles in leg 3. Pipe really didn't turn up, it happens and we thought it might do. MvG was unplayable against Hunt. Wattimena covered all the losses so that's all good.

- Dimitri played quite well.

- Ando seemed a bit mardy. If you want to hide in your house afraid of a big scary virus for the rest of your life, nobody's stopping you, just retire. Would only affect half a dozen events a year nowadays. Nice job by Gawlas to keep it somewhat close, just missed too many doubles early.

- Solid effort from Wade. Heta didn't really do too much wrong. James was just better on the day.

- Humphries got to be annoyed with missed doubles. Plenty of clean shots at tops across two legs. Just pin any of them.

- Clayton/Joyce sounded like it was a good game, pretty competitive throughout.

- Nice showing from Clemens. Cullen had a couple of legs where he didn't really score, but was otherwise on the money throughout.

- Would really have liked to watch Ratajski against de Sousa (no Sky here). Back and forth battle, result seems fair enough, Jose just had that little bit extra throughout the match.

- Big result for Dirk. In what could be a real tough group, nicking the two points against the clear favourite is going to be huge.

Looks like they're doing the usual winner vs winner, loser vs loser setup tomorrow, I'll post up percentages here since the restart where I've got data (so will basically ignore the Gawlas, Warren and Suzuki games):

van Gerwen 57/43 Clemens
Cullen 63/37 Hunt
Anderson 52/48 Whitlock
de Sousa 56/44 Smith
Ratajski 84/16 Ashton
Chisnall 55/45 Cross
Humphries 59/41 Pipe
Wright 64/36 White
Petersen 67/33 van Duijvenbode
Wade 60/40 Wattimena
Durrant 53/47 Heta
Price 63/37 Clayton
van den Bergh 50/50 Aspinall

Check for bets in the morning. Looks like some lines are up for the morning, but will just blast them all out in a quick post when possible.

Sunday 15 November 2020

Grand Slam day 1

What I think I'll do for this is look through each of the groups, then at the bottom throw out any bets that I like for the first day:

A (van Gerwen, Cullen, Clemens, Hunt)

This one will be surprisingly close I think. van Gerwen is going to be the favourite, naturally, but Cullen's close to the top of his game and straight off the back of a win, Hunt's done more in the last couple of months than in the entirety of his career, and Clemens is an incredibly dangerous opponent. I wouldn't be surprised if any of the players in this group can topple MvG, but I suppose the thing in Michael's favour is that any of these can beat each other, could easily be the spot where Joe/Adam/Gabriel go 1-1 against each other and van Gerwen can afford to drop a game.

Should say that, since the restart, van Gerwen's scoring is only just in the top five - you'd guess Price and Wright, but de Sousa and Ratajski are both scoring better than he is. Cullen's in the top sixteen, Clemens is at a steady 91 (excluding the German Superleague), Hunt's a bit further off but definitely trending in the right direction, he's definitely produced his best stuff since October onwards.

B (Anderson, Whitlock, Searle, Gawlas)

Tough one to call. Gary's barely played (less than 250 legs) since the restart, over half of which was in one tournament. In contrast, Whitlock has 380 and Searle has over 300, and it's not been that spectacular either - Searle is actually scoring ever so slightly higher than Anderson over that period. Gawlas is the wildcard here, but with Simon having a bit of a resurgence in the last few months (he's up over 91 per turn since we restarted, compared to Gary and Ryan being mid to high 92), it's hard to see him getting much out of this apart from tournament and stage experience. Could be the case that he plays spoiler and grabs a few legs off someone that makes a difference in an everyone wins two games situation?

Really tough to say who gets through this. Anderson is the biggest name on paper, and does have a long stage win over Whitlock at the Matchplay this year, but these short races to five (surely they have time for six, they do on the Euro Tour after all) neutralise a lot of things and should play a bit more into the hands of Ryan. Maybe we get another shootout?

C (Smith, Ratajski, de Sousa, Ashton)

Jesus christ, this one is going to be tough to call. As mentioned earlier, since we've got back under way, de Sousa and Ratajski are numbers 3 and 4 respectively in terms of scoring, higher than the world number one. Smith's just binked two Pro Tours and is in the top 8 for scoring. Swap Ashton with Heta (who is scoring ever so slightly higher than Smith) and we have the group of death to end all groups of death. It's an incredibly unfortunate spot for Lisa, while there's very, very few weak spots at all in the top 3 pools given how the qualifier went on (and given the near complete absence of non-PDC players), she's pretty much drawing dead to pick up any points. She can certainly rattle off a couple of legs with a twelve and a fifteen in rapid fashion though, and in a short race, who knows?

Realistically though, this is going to come down completely to the three men in this group, and if I was a betting man (which I am), I'd probably say the top seed is the least likely to get through. Krzysztof and Jose are just so, so strong, the only slight downer is that neither has really performed to their absolute peak on the TV stage. On the other side, it's only best of 9, which is more like where they've got their big results. Extremely hard to call.

D (Cross, Chisnall, Humphries, Pipe)

Very wide open here. Cross is probably the weakest of all the top pool players - certainly in terms of scoring since we've got going again, being the only one below 92 per turn (although he's only a tenth of a point behind Aspinall). Chizzy's higher than Cross is on that metric. Pipe is only a quarter of a point behind, although whether there's any sort of mindset issue after losing a 5-0 lead to Cullen yesterday which has forced him into the worlds PDPA qualifier, who knows. That leaves Humphries, who's been at the top of, or near the top of, plenty of my next player to win an event lists for a while now, who is scoring right between Cross and Pipe. You can throw a half a point sheet over my database and it'd cover all of them. Absolutely brutal to try to call anything here, I think the only thing we can do is look at the markets and grab any substantial underdog.

E (Wright, White, Petersen, van Duijvenbode)

Now ordinarily I'd be extremely excited about this one, but over the last few weeks, I've become a little bit more unsure. Since we've got underway, Peter's top of the scoring charts, Devon's just outside the top five, White's in the top 25 and Dirk has made a major final. But let's cut down to since October. Wright is still number one, and by a huge margin (he is over 98 per turn, nobody else is over 96). White's still plodding along at a high 91 mark, similar to full since the restart stats - which is nowhere near where he was twelve months ago. Devon's fallen somewhat off a cliff and is down under 90, and Dirk's down at 88.

You look at it on paper and you say you've got the world champ, two players with breakout years, and one of the most solid floor players we've ever seen, but if you look at it on form, I can't look past Peter claiming all three wins, and then you've got one player who's slightly past the red hot form he's had earlier in the year, one player who might already be past the best he's ever going to play for good, and one player who's now switched from underrated to overrated on the back of one tournament. Devon probably goes "right, stage" and claims the second spot, but it's a real mess.

F (Wade, Durrant, Wattimena, Heta)

Really interested to see Wade against Durrant. James is the player who I think's been the best comparison to Glen in terms of sheer consistency and similar playstyle, so to see them go head to head will be an intruguing watch. Heta's kind of a similar player, although is arguably playing at a higher level than either of them right now. Then we've got Jermaine, who's got here through making that final earlier in the week, and is the complete opposite to all of these.

Wattimena is probably the outsider here, with a low 91 scoring average compared to low 93, high 92 and mid 92 for Heta, Durrant and Wade respectively. But we know what Jermaine can do on any given day, it's just five legs, we only need to look back to that semi final against Dolan this week where he started 12, 12, left on 110 after 12, 12, missed bull for 12, 12 and 11. That beats anyone. Glen's questioning his own form on Twitter. I think this all comes down to Jermaine's form, as he can grab a qualifying spot if he wants it easily enough, and whether Glen can pull himself together, otherwise if Jermaine doesn't show up it's hard to look past James and Damon.

G (Price, Clayton, Joyce, Suzuki)

No idea what Mikuru is going to show up. We've had basically zero ladies darts and zero Asian darts since she binked the world title to get here. Against a group this tough, I don't think it's realistic to call any wins here. We've got the two World Cup winners here in an ironic bit of fate, Clayton we've been calling underrated and been betting on since the dawn of time, and won't be worried about playing Gerwyn (we just need to think back four years to when he put him out of the worlds, although that was a very different Gerwyn then). That leaves Joyce, whose mid 91 scoring since the restart is competent, although he's another one that seems to blow a bit hot and cold, having games at the Grand Prix where he can't miss a double and he can dump out the world champion, then looking pretty average the next day.

Surely has to be the Welsh pairing to come through. I like Joyce's game, and he's certainly got enough about him on stage to not be worried about it, but Jonny seems a step above in class (and Gerwyn certainly is).

H (Aspinall, van den Bergh, Evans, Warren)

Final group looks fairly straight forward. Aspinall's not the worst top seed you could hope to see, but it's pretty rare to see him have a bad game. Dimitri has cut out a lot of his worse games and become a lot more consistent since becoming a major champion, and his scoring isn't too far behind Nathan's at all. Ricky isn't having a brilliant 2020, scoring is down at 88, if it clicks it clicks, but we've not seen a huge amount to make us think that it will be doing any time soon, and he's pretty darned close to seeing himself slip out of the top 32 in the world for a reason. That leaves Wayne Warren - probably the most unfortunate man in darts with how 2020 has treated him, and I think the lack of match practice is going to show, and show heavily.

Maybe Wayne can give Ricky a decent game, but I think this group is probably the safest to call the top two from at the outset - it's really just a case of which order we opt to put them in. Seems like a bit of a flippy game, so we'll look at that when we get to it.

In terms of bets for day 1, what do we like?

Very close to going on Luke Humphries. Stats since the restart show this to be a flip, so 7/5 could be worth it. He's got a bit more inconsistency about him though, Dave's not exactly consistent either, but it's enough to dissuade me.

Evans line at about a 2/1 dog seems fine. Hard to be that much more of a favourite in a best of nine.

Not touching Gawlas since we have so little data.

Similar with Suzuki. 10/1 is a big number though, but it's Gerwyn Price.

0.25u Wattimena 9/4, I think this is worth it. Since the restart Jermaine is at around 40%. With Duzza not having a great week and seemingly lacking a bit of confidence, that's worth the punt, particularly with Jermaine having had a good run this week.

Not touching the Devon Petersen game either. 4/5 might have been worth it if Devon hadn't slid quite a bit over the last month, but he has, and White, although clearly not at his peak, is doing enough that it ought to be competitive.

Wade/Heta is a coinflip in the market as well as in my model, so no thanks Take the bull winner 5-4 if you want.

Cullen/Clemens is priced equally closely, I really can't separate the two in the stats, so you could look to go 5-4 the bull winner again.

Almost worth a bit of a nibble on Joyce. Market has him at 7/5, I've got him at over 46%, it's just really hard to go against Clayton given everything we know and it's not an edge to get excited about.

Ratajski against de Sousa is 10/11 the pair. That seems logically correct, the actual stats make me think it should be weighted something like 4/5 Jose and evens Krzysztof, but again, not worth bothering with.

Rare to see spots where a tour card holder is 5/1 in a race to nine and it's not worth the punt, but Ashton against Smith is one of those spots. Only seeing Lisa as having a 15% chance, with Michael having got a couple of titles for the first time since forever, it's removed one of the barriers that's always been the issue with Smith.

0.1u Hunt 4/1 vs van Gerwen, Adam's playing well of late and van Gerwen's seemingly not 100% both on and off the oche. Since the restart, Adam rates to win this one in three, and he's certainly trending upwards. 4/1? Yes please.

Taking the 1/3 on Aspinall against Warren that is available at Betfred is mighty tempting, and I might go through it on general principle most of the time, but with Wayne being such an unknown quantity at this stage I think it's prudent to wait to see at least one match before doing anything with it.

No value in van Duijvenbode against Wright. Thought Dirk might be playing well enough that 11/4 is worth a small shot, but he's really not, at least in comparison to Peter.

0.25u Pipe 13/8, this looks, statistically, to be very close to a coinflip - I'm certainly seeing Justin with having 10% more chance than the market indicates. We have to take it, and just hope that Pipe's put the disappointment of yesterday behind him.

0.25u Searle 13/10, Whitlock has been playing some pretty good stuff relatively speaking over the last six months, but Searle is just better. It's nearly 60/40 for Searle in my projections, so getting odds against is the best spot of the round.

That's your lot - interesting to note on Twitter that there may be some sort of tournament being set up in Japan in a week or two pending PDC approval - one can only hope it's a solution to the Asian Tour qualification clusterfuck. Will be great if it is, and if there's decent coverage of it.

Saturday 14 November 2020

Hendo made it! Hendo made it!

We're done with the Players Championship series. Cullen won the event over Ratajski, but we had a couple of surprising semi finalists in Huybrechts and Boulton - we were saying that Andy could put together a run, and he has done and can look forward to the worlds as a result.

The key thing was who got into things - Hendo beat Baker on countback for the last spot, while Wayne Jones was the only player to really get in who was on the outside (with a very nice ten darter to break Rowby to seal the deal in round one), while Kai Fan Leung couldn't get it done against Peter Jacques, Borland ran into Bunting, Noguera needed one more game against Sedlacek but couldn't do it, then Sedlacek had a change against Gurney but also failed (although Karel has the consolation of having forced himself into the Players Championship Finals at least). We weren't looking at Krcmar for the worlds, but he also crept into the PC finals as well.

Some tasty PC Finals matchups - White/Krcmar, Wattimena/van den Bergh, Searle/Rydz, Gurney/Humphries, King/Bunting, Lowe/Joyce, van Duijvenbode/Dobey, Clayton/Hughes and Lewis/Smith all look extremely interesting. We should hopefully get a few of these on the main stream, although there'll be usual wasted spots with games like Wright/Henderson, van Gerwen/Waites and stuff like that.

New FRH rankings (which incorporates Grand Slam mincashes, which only affects de Sousa over Lewis for 20):

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

Smith's double win has moved him up to the to p5 again and within 10k of Cross for England's number 1. Ratajski and Cullen did enough to get past either an absent or ineffective Ando, Clayton took advantage of Suljovic's absence to get into the top 16, and de Sousa's Grand Slam appearance bumps him into the top 20. Should note that Damon Heta is now into the top 50, Adam Hunt is in the top 75, and the surprise package of Kciuk is up into the top 128.

Bit of talk on Twitter as to what they should do with the as yet undetermined worlds spots. For the odd event (Tom Kirby, South American qualifier) I've no issue with them giving the spots to Portela and whoever the best Irish player not qualified is (Mansell?), it's not like they've not done similar before, see back three years where they basically gave Petersen, Ratajski and Jeff Smith wildcards. But for the Asian Tour they're in a bit of a pickle. Giving out the same four spots, adjusting for Asada now not using the Japanese spots, seems a bit shitty, so I think they need to try to do something on the fly. What I'd do is take the top 7 from last season (Ilagan, Asada, Paul Lim, Malicdem, Yamada, Lam, Muramatsu) where there's a natural cutoff in prize money won, invite Kai Fan Leung as a tour card holder, then hold an open qualifier for two further spots into a round robin event, all played online. They've got the experience of doing things like this, and it seems the fairest thing to do. Gives everyone a shot to get in, and respects who's been the best in recent history. We'll wait and see - the last thing I think anyone wants to see is them to chuck an additional god knows how many spots to the PDPA qualifier.

I'll get some stuff on the Grand Slam up tomorrow once we know the draw (should be happening any time round now). Won't comment on the MvG/Worsley thing beyond that van Gerwen should shut up and mark, and Worsley shouldn't react.

Friday 13 November 2020

PC 21/22 done

Alright alright alright, we're now down to just one (one!) event before the cutoff to end all cutoffs, after tomorrow that's it, there is no more, we'll know a huge chunk of the worlds field. Price and Wright binked, but we're not overly interested in the top end (although de Sousa, by virtue of beating Lewis in today's semi, has knocked Adie out of the FRH top 20 and got in there himself) - let's go through player by player (almost) everyone on that big list posted yesterday, and see where things stand for each of them. Erik Middelkoop has indicated that the cutoff has now crept up to a round 10k for the worlds, so beat that in mind.

de Decker - Abode the Woodhouse line from Thursday morning, safe.
Hamilton - Not great. Bricked both events so is now just 500 quid above the line. Playing alright this week, so there's plenty of draws that should give him one win that ought to be enough, if not mathematically safe.
West - Picked up a grand today so will be fine.
Henderson - In trouble. Missed on both events, so is now just 250 quid above the line. Is in the bottom dozen of performance from this week. Really, really needs a favourable draw - and it needs to be extremely favourable, if he's not beating either Larsson or Dekker.
Baker - Similar position. Same money, another two bricks. He is at least playing middle of the road quality, and in van der Voort and Meulenkamp didn't get great draws. One win might be enough.
Meulenkamp - Speaking of Ron, he picked up that 500 quid from Baker today but that was it. He's doing well enough that he's got enough opponents that he could pick up a win more often than not, he also has a money advantage over the two just mentioned now.
Leung - More or less can read the same as Ron, except as having 500 quid less to start with, he is now right on the cutoff. Could do without a draw against Duzza as he had yesterday. Would think he can get the win to get home.
Borland - Just the one win again to stay on the bubble. He's playing slightly better than Ron and Kai though, which is a bonus, although he needs to be beating the likes of Kenny really.
Rodriguez - Two bricks. In trouble. Needs a board final as a minimum, probably a board win assuming that at least one of the four tied for the last spot gets a win tomorrow. Is performing right with those mentioned just above, not much to separate them at all.
Murray - In. Quarter final today was more than enough having got to a board final yesterday. I thought he'd have a chance of doing something, and he's done just that.
Boulton - Right on the 10k border. Got to a board final yesterday but ran into de Sousa in round one today (forced a decider though). As long as he doesn't get a complete bastard draw, he should be OK, he's actually in the top sixteen of scoring this week.
Jones - Picked up two one and done performances to stay on the money bubble at 10k. Is right in that Meulenkamp range in terms of how he's played this week, there really is nothing to separate them, it's so close.
Noguera - Couple of decider losses to Pipe and Wilson leave him needing a board final minimum tomorrow. It'll be tough, he's a bit below everyone mentioned in that Jones/Meulenkamp group, but not impossible, it would at least put him just above 10k though.
Webster - Got 500 quid yesterday (beat Hunt, lost to Evetts), then lost to Waites today. Scoring is not good this week, it's a good point below those he's trying to chase down. We know what he can do, but needing, realistically, a board win, I don't think it's that likely.
van de Pas - Has given himself a chance with a board final today to leave himself 500 quid below the bubble. The concern is his scoring is even worse than Webster's. If he can avoid a seed and then have the other guy knock the seed out, then who knows, but I don't fancy his chances.
Whitehead - Another two misses leaves him needing a quarter final. He did get one of those on Tuesday to be fair, but with overall sub-85 scoring, he's probably out of the running.
Schindler - At least got one win yesterday to leave him needing a board win minimum. The good thing is that the game is at least there - he's scoring over 90, and his win was over Petersen, and he had another good win in the first event over Price. At least here, I think it's possible, but will need a lot of work and probably a decent draw.
Mitchell - Scotty's probably done. A board win will only put him in a tie for the last spot as it stands, so a quarter is probably the minimum ask. It's likely a bit too much to do, his scoring is fine at just a shade under 91 (it's better than Schindler's actually), it's more that he'll need to do something that, as a non-card holder, he's not really done before and it's a new kind of pressure, especially knowing he doesn't have the PDPA qualifier as a backup.
Zonneveld - Scoring looks good, real good, it's around the same level as Martin and Scott above. Problem is that he ran it into Damon Heta and then got a surprise whitewashing from Joe Murnan to put him in exactly the same spot as Scott. Chances seem slim to none, he's shown some game but needing a quarter is a bit too much.
Payne - Another player on 8k before, another guy with just the one win added to it. Payne's scoring is bang on average for the field, we do at least know he's got the game that'll show up to win one of these, so there is at least that much.
Sedlacek - Similar spot to Payne. Almost certainly left too much to do now. It does feel like he's got the A-game to be able to push deep in one of these, but it's probably going to require a semi final without a bit of help from other results, which seems a little bit of a stretch.
Klaasen - Dire straits for Jelle with just the one win in the past two days. Requires a quarter minimum, might need to be a semi final, isn't really showing enough to make us think that he'd be able to hit his peak game statistically.
Rydz - SEE! Look at the charts in the previous post, he was up at the top of them, then bang, semi final. Probably needs one more win to be completely safe, but assuming the countback rules haven't drastically changed, it'll take a lot of results going against him to force him out.
Bunse - Not going to happen. Needs a huge result and isn't playing anywhere near the level that is required.

I'll cut off at those who were on 7k or below - Pipe and Carlin have got up to 8.5k, but I'll ignore Carlin as he's scoring way too low to make a quarter final seem like a realistic prospect. Pipe however is in the top 20 of scoring - so given a good draw and a bit of luck, it's not unrealistic to think that he could get a run going and squeeze into the field. The only other player I will chuck in as a wildcard is Krzysztof Kciuk - he's not scoring blisteringly hotly, but is getting results - last three being board win, quarter final, board win. He needs a semi final as a minimum, and it'd take some strange results for a final to not be the most likely minimum result, but hey, when you're picking up results and, ideally, confidence, who knows what can happen?

So looking at the top 32 I posted in the last post, if we assumed everyone from Woodhouse up was in then, and add on de Decker, Murray and West, that leaves six spots. I'm thinking we're looking at Rydz, Boulton, Meulenkamp, Hamilton, Borland to just do enough, then one wildcard run to sneak in from way back. It's all going to be draw dependent though - all well and good thinking Borland will get in, but draw MvG round one and it's a problem.

Thursday 12 November 2020

WC race

Alright, Smith got back to back wins, de Sousa made a final and lost a decider (binking that final would have pushed Jose into the top 20 of the FRH rankings and knocked out Adrian Lewis, but there you go), Gabriel Clemens played like a monster until running into a Smith-shaped wall (me having him each way probably had something to do with it, White messed up the first round but both my other tips lost to the eventual finalists, damnit), VVDV had a pretty nice run with a deceptively hard path, Cullen backed up his recent good run with a semi, while lower down, Meikle won his board and should have made the quarters (blew a 5-0 lead!), Barry also won his board and lost a decider in the last 16 as well, not a bad run for Kciuk either. Some shocking early exits, Wright lost in round one to KFL while averaging 107 (in a deciding leg, Kai managed 106 himself), Price got dumped out by Joyce putting in a 106 (who then lost to a 112 from Clemens in the next round), plenty of other huge losing averages - Heta did 105 losing to Smith, Gurney did 104 losing to Dolan, Rydz did 103 losing to Noppert (those last two over 11 legs), even the likes of Noguera and Tabern lost averaging over a ton.

So, worlds race. Let's borrow the Weekly Dartscast Twitter image:

Now this flat out excludes the top 32, but even if de Sousa gets in there (which looks pretty darned likely), Ricky Evans would easily be safe on the Pro Tour. So who's going to force their way in? There's just the three events left, so let's first look to a cut off point from which we think people will be safe. I think that given how much everyone would need to do below him, we should only consider looking from Mike de Decker downwards - Luke Woodhouse, with over a two grand lead with three events to go, would be pretty unlucky to miss out even if he bricked all three events. So let's filter down to all these players here, but we'll exclude Krcmar, Meikle and Ashton as they're already in (from a regional qualifier, the Dev Tour and the women's qualifier respectively), and see what they've done year to date:

This is year to date. What this is showing is that the guys at the top of the list are, oddly, those that are just outside right now, but could easily put something together in order to make a run and maybe sneak in. On the other hand, there's players currently in (Hamilton, Baker, Rodriguez) that haven't really performed that great, and might be in a bit of danger. How about if we drill things down to just after the restart?

This looks really, really bad for Hendo - he only has a 1250 quid buffer to work with, and that could evaporate pretty quickly. He did get a win on Tuesday by getting for all intents and purposes a bye against Barrie Bates (average - 64), but only took two legs off Ratajski and Kciuk since then. Still doesn't look convincing for Baker and Rodriguez, but they are the sorts of players that can put in a good hour or so and look unbeatable, and Rowby at least has shown some signs fairly recently, so there is at least that in his favour. Similarly at the top, Boulton ought to be able to force his way in, Rydz could get there with one good run and a couple of other cashes, Pipe, Klaasen and Mitchell are in similar spots, while West looks like he's doing enough to hold on, with a grand and a half lead it shouldn't take much to make himself safe. Leung's on the bubble, but if he can do what he did yesterday often enough, there's plenty of hope (and, with the Asian qualification situation still up in the air, maybe there's some sort of backdoor if he misses out?), while two players in the upper-middle of the pack who are right on the borderline are the Scottish pair of Murray and Borland - I'd fancy them to do enough to get over the line. Murray, in particular, is in the top 8 of performances of these just from the last two days, so could nick something more often than not.

I won't post up the full last two days, as it'd become problematic in terms of sample size, but there's a few players that might have difficulties. Hendo again is the main one, but Whitehead and Klaasen haven't really shown enough, and Webster's only in the middle of the pack, not exactly inspiring confidence.

We've got the draw coming up in about half an hour, that should hopefully give a bit more insight, and hopefully this'll give info as to what to watch for.