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.

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