Thursday 31 December 2020

Second/Third Division Darts update

With a bit of a lull in the action today, I've gone through the Second and Third Division Darts update page and caught up to date. Barring an unlikely Ratajski/Chisnall final, the season is done, so the results are:

- Wade's managed to win the second division by about three quarters of a point from Ian White, who's marginally ahead of Krzysztof Ratajski in third place. At the bottom of the field was Adrian Lewis who's had a shocker of a year and will surely not be selected for next season's event.

- Third division winner is Luke Humphries, who's just managed to get over the line ahead of Danny Noppert to win promotion to the second division for next season. Josh Payne and Jeffrey de Zwaan (yes, really) tied for third, while Callan Rydz is a bit unfortunate to finish below Ricky Evans at the bottom by less than a hundredth of a point.

For the uninitiated, the Second and Third Division Darts project is something I've been doing for a few years now, where I take players who are just outside the Premier League, and then compare how they have done against each other across the season. It's mainly just for fun, but also to give an idea as to what might have happened. The selection process is as follows (after, of course, we take out those players from the Premier League, which for the sake of clarity is just the main list, not the Challengers):

- The top two players from the previous season in division two return as of right
- The top four players in the FRH rankings not already used are selected
- The winner of division three (or highest ranked player otherwise - last year Aspinall skipped straight to the Premier League) is selected
- I then choose three wildcards to complete division two

- The top two players from the previous season in division three return as of right
- If not already picked, the world youth champion is selected
- The top four players in the FRH rankings not already used are selected
- The remaining spots are filled by wildcards

Should also point out at this stage that there is an age limit on the third division of 30 at the start of the year, to give it more of a development/challengers sort of feel. Will also point out that selection is contingent on a player being likely to play most of the tour - if someone's not got a tour card in the bank, they're not getting in.

So who does that put where? Well, it's hugely, hugely dependent on who they pick for the Premier League, but if we use a list of van Gerwen, Price, Wright and Cross by right (who barring strange results will still be top 4 in the world), van den Bergh and de Sousa as major winners and Durrant as the defending champion, that only leaves 2-3 spots between the likes of Wade, Smith, Aspinall, Anderson and others. Hard to say who they pick, and the quarters onwards may have a lot to do with it, but I think they may just give the Contenders a rest and go with three of those four - which means at this stage the second division would be:

White, Ratajski (2020 div 2 results)
Wade, Smith, Aspinall, Chisnall, Anderson, Cullen, Gurney (current FRH rankings, select top four who aren't picked for the PL)
Humphries (2020 div 3 winner)
3 wildcards

Payne, de Zwaan (2020 div 3 results)
Brooks (world youth champion)
van Duijvenbode, Brown, Hopp, Hunt (current FRH rankings)
3 wildcards

Obviously there's a fair chance that I might pick Dirk as a wildcard, and the order of the FRH rankings can change substantially in the next few days, but that should give you enough of an idea for now. Will post up tips for the quarters in the morning.

Tuesday 29 December 2020

CULLEN! NO! WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

God damnit. At least that makes the match of the year pick a fair bit easier. Noppie completely running out of steam after winning the first two sets puts us from breakeven to down a third of a unit for the tournament, a bit unfortunate really, but we've got six games to look at tomorrow. I'm going to be quick as I don't have the time for real in depth stuff now.

van der Voort/Gurney - Line is fine, Gurney's better, he's about 2-1 favourite better, looked good today, avoid.

Bunting/Searle - Pretty much same analysis as the above, Searle seems about a 2-1 favourite, we can get 8/13 as opposed to 8/15 so it's closer to tempting, but we can still pass on it.

Petersen/Anderson - 0.25u Petersen 11/10, Anderson seems to be put on monkey tilt by anything nowadays, doesn't seem in the right place, Devon played pretty damned well today, and projects as a favourite in the high fifties percentage wise. Of course I'm taking odds against.

Durrant/van Duijvenbode - Hmm, market actually favours van Duijvenbode, yet the data since the restart is liking Durrant a bit more than 60% of the time. If I pull it down to more recent stats that take away the earlier information then it trends towards the line then I'll pass, although I think this might be one that I want to take back, Glen's been in this spot so many more times than Dirk and really didn't do much wrong at all against Baggish.

Price/King - Line looks pretty much spot on. They've got it two to one in favour of Price, if anything I've got it slightly closer, call it 65/35. Nothing here of value.

Chisnall/van den Bergh - 0.25u Chisnall 9/5, honestly the two of these are matched so incredibly closely I can't separate them. And the market doesn't reflect this in the slightest. Getting near 2/1 is simply a must bet.

That's it, will be a bit more detailed before the quarters with more time to work on it.

This evening's round 4 matches

Writing as we've got a fair bit of lolwade potential incoming, if it wasn't the shoes it's been a complete inability to do anything and let Bunting come from 2-0 down to level, should be 3-1 Stephen if he'd hit in the first set, but we can't have everything. Round 3 bets are 3-1 (Hunt didn't do much wrong at all) with Noppert pending, but will quickly look at tonight's round 4 games:

Ratajski/Clemens - This should be special. Krzysztof rolled over Whitlock (perhaps getting a little bit fortunate in the size of victory as Simon had some key misses), while Clemens provided probably the only real shock of round 3 (so far, Bunting finishing this off would def count) by taking out the defending champion. The line is round about 60/40 in favour of Ratajski, which feels round about right, I'm seeing it as 65/35. There's oddly a fair bit of vig in the market, so we can't even get any sort of tiny value on the Pole thinking he's got more chances in the market.

Interlude - Wade's somehow hit a nine. What the heck?

van Gerwen/Cullen - Joe got through probably the game of the tournament with Clayton with a pretty sweet double-double 100 out in a deciding leg, while van Gerwen got another straight sets win against Ricky Evans, who in fairness put up a good fight. 0.1u Cullen 6/1, it's scary to think of betting against van Gerwen given he's gone 108 and 106 in averages in his first two rounds, but the projections give Cullen a 30% chance. Cullen is under no pressure here, and Cullen fucking BEAT MICHAEL VAN GERWEN in the final when he took his Euro Tour title just two months ago. It's a pretty big number in a two horse race, so I'll take this shot.

Will be back with tomorrow's matches this evening.

Saturday 26 December 2020

Round 3 bets

May as well knock them all off in one shot, given I've got the time, will go through in chronological order:

Ratajski/Whitlock - This should, if both players turn up, be the tie of the round, Ratajski's very much a top ten level player and played great against a potentially very dangerous opponent in Joyce in round two, averaging 100, while Whitlock averaged slightly more in an exciting five set slugfest against Darius Labanauskas, and has carved somewhat of a niche in getting big upsets in majors this year, while 18 v 15 wouldn't be that huge, 18 v 2 in the following round maybe? Bookies have this close, but it shouldn't be, 0.25u Ratajski 4/5, year long stats hint that this ought to be a 2:1 game in favour of Krzysztof, so 4/5? We'll take that.

Huybrechts/Searle - Another potentially tight one to start off, with two players coming through round one, Huybrechts getting a free win then coming through a high quality game with Ian White, while Searle got into a struggle with Lauby in the first game before easily dismissing de Zwaan. Searle's priced as the tiny favourite in this one, but he should be a lot shorter, so 0.25u Searle 5/6, he's a clear two and a half points better than Huybrechts on scoring since the restart and is projecting to win even more often than Krzysztof is in the match before. Kim's got a fair bit more experience in these sorts of longer higher profile games, which'll probably count for something, but nowhere near enough to not make this a good play. Maybe even worth a half point play.

van den Bergh/Wattimena - Dimitri was very impressive against Paul Lim, not giving the veteran even the slightest chance, averaging 105, while Jermaine was dragged down into a bit of a battle against Nick Kenny, eventually coming through 3-1. The market thinks this is a bit of a mismatch, with it giving Jermaine less than a one in four chance of coming through this one. That seems a bit harsh on Wattimena, who's gained a lot of experience, and I think they may be slightly overreacting to Dimitri's first game performance and a major win. That said, I don't think Jermaine's got much better than a 30% chance, so I'm happy to avoid it. Don't go sticking van den Bergh in any accas.

Cullen/Clayton - Should be another tight one, Cullen had zero problems with Jones, while Clayton did lose a set against Hendo but never really looked in trouble to come through. Market has Cullen shading this one, I've got Clayton shading it. It's not enough to bet it, I'd have said 10/11 Clayton is a fair line as opposed to 11/10, if you can see that Jonny's won the bull and the line hasn't shifted, that might be enough - it's not something I would do, but I wouldn't hate it if you did it. Maybe just see who wins the bull and take them 3-2 in sets?

Wright/Clemens - Peter came through an ordinary game against Steve West what seemed like weeks ago now, not really looking great but not really being pushed either, while Gabriel was competent enough with a mid-90 average in a four set win over his compatriot Nico Kurz. Line's extremely similar to the Dimitri game, they're not giving Clemens much of a chance here. This seems fair enough - I've got a projection that's extremely close to 75/25, I can't see Peter being quite so bad, and Gabriel's still yet to have that really impressive TV performance.

van Gerwen/Evans - Michael was extremely good against Ryan Murray who asked a lot of questions (which were emphatically answered), while Evans got passed Mickey Mansell in a fairly forgettable game. Obviously here van Gerwen is stupid to one on, it's too short for sure, but it's not long enough on Evans that I want to consider even a tiny punt. Ricky just hasn't done much of anything all year and doesn't seem like the sort of player that'll be able to hold it together against Michael over a seven set match unless van Gerwen seriously regresses from his first game.

de Sousa/King - Day two now, Jose was in a fairly close game with Ross Smith but came through in four sets, King also got through in four sets against Hopp in a match that probably wasn't as close as the scoreline suggests, Mervyn averaging just shy of a ton which was a fair bit better than Jose. Market is indicating that King has ever so slightly more than a one in three shot, call it 65/35. That seems close to perfect - it's a long enough game that Jose's higher level of skill pushes him up to a near 70% chance, but that isn't enough to really recommend a punt, particularly given Mervyn's been playing his best darts of the year at the right time.

van Duijvenbode/Hunt - Dirk got through a last leg decider against Rob Cross after needing to come through a deciding set against Bradley Brooks, while Hunt came through a deciding set against Lisa Ashton before getting through a decidedly out of sorts Jamie Hughes. Market thinks that Dirk wins this one pretty comfortably, putting him over 70% to win. That's a little bit too short for my liking, so I'm going to take a small stab at the upset - 0.1u Hunt 11/4, as I've got him at close to 40% to claim this. I'd normally just take a quarter of a unit, but there's enough of an intangible factor in that Adam's never really done anything on TV compared to Dirk which might make it a little closer. That, and Dirk just won't lose right now.

Aspinall/van der Voort - Nathan should have lost to Waites (again), but got away with it, while Vincent surprisingly got embroiled in a five set tussle with Ron Meulenkamp before coming through, averaging a pretty competent 95. Vincent's the clear dog here, the market reckoning this is a 70/30 matchup, which I think is underestimating the Dutchman slightly here. I think he's got in the high 30's, so I'm going to take a similar small stab - 0.1u van der Voort 11/5, there's not quite enough to go for a quarter unit, Nathan's already dodged one bullet and seems to play disproportionately well here.

Anderson/Suljovic - Ando got through Razma, perhaps a little bit fortunately given Madars was playing well, but he did hit the key legs with decent timing, while Mensur had no real problems dealing with Matt Edgar, both players eventually coming through in four sets. Market favours Ando, but not by that much, while my projections actually give Mensur the tiniest of edges, in and around 53/47. I can pass on that - for one, Mensur's got a fair bit more inconsistency in his game, while Suljovic scores half a point more than Gary on winning legs, hence the projection, he's nearly a full point behind on all legs. Should be close, if you want to go with Mensur based on Gary maybe not being 100% then don't let me stop you.

Price/Dolan - Gerwyn didn't look too good but was able to get through Jamie Lewis, just about, while Dolan didn't have the greatest of games either but was able to get past surprise package Foulkes for the loss of just the one set. Should be an interesting matchup stylistically, Gerwyn comes in as a huge favourite, second biggest of the round, and despite Brendan being generally competent, I don't think it's that unfair a line. Projections I have show Gerwyn taking this 80/20, which is more or less bang on what you can get at the bookies, so will move on.

Durrant/Baggish - Glen didn't need to do much to get past Diogo Portela, who was maybe a bit emotionally spent after his win over Beaton, still would have been nice to see Durrant do a bit more (at least a 90 average maybe?), while Baggish has come through both Heta and Lewis and looks dangerous enough. The market has Danny at a little bit longer than 2/1, we've got some data on Danny from before just the worlds (albeit not much), and the data is saying that Danny isn't a great bet. We've got enough to think that Glen may well underperform what he's been doing since we got back under way, and we've got enough to think that Baggish is a fair bit better than the projections (he actually has a negative consistency score, i.e. he's scoring more in his losing legs than in the ones he won), but I don't think there's quite enough price there. 9/4 is even shorter than he was against Adie.

Wade/Bunting - James got through Callan Rydz easily enough, Callan really not showing anywhere near his best darts, while Bunting was given a huge test by Andy Boulton and was probably a little bit fortunate to have got through the game at all. Seems like a pretty much standard two to one line in favour of Wade on the projections, he's actually a little bit shorter than that in the market, not enough to consider an underdog punt on Bunting though.

Gurney/Dobey - Two of the seeds that seemed a bit in danger get through to face each other, Daryl being given a test by O'Connor and Chris needing to come from behind against Jeff Smith, both of them needing all five sets to get over the line. Market can barely separate them, with a gun to the head lean in favour of Superchin, and I can't even do that. Honestly, they're inseparable. Put them in a worlds final and Daryl isn't even a 50.5% favourite. Better not fuck up the bull in this one.

Petersen/Lowe - Devon got past Steve Lennon in a match where neither could hit doubles, resulting in it becoming incredibly scrappy, while Jason pulled off the shock of the round (at least in terms of biggest seed eliminated) by taking out Michael Smith. If there's marginal value in this one, it's on Devon, I'm getting him winning just about three times in four, and he's 5/11, but that's nowhere near enough to bet, for a few reasons really. First, the edge is tiny. Second, the pressure is on Petersen, and Lowe's basically freerolling. Third, if Jason's able to maintain the level he had against Smith, which was more like his early season form, then the edge would evaporate entirely. Should be a decent game.

Chisnall/Noppert - Final match, Dave lost a set to Brown, Keegan nicking the first set before not really pressuring Chisnall at all, while Noppert was god awful in the first set and a bit against Carolissen, could very easily have been two sets down before he just about pulled himself together and got through by any means necessary, even if it involves barely an 80 average. If Cameron hit those set darts in the second... Same line as the last game with Dave as the favourite, 0.25u Noppert 12/5, Danny's scoring closely enough to Dave that the projection shows it as only 55/45 in favour of Chisnall. So we'll take that. Danny can't be that bad two games in a row, and Dave's always got that implosion on the doubles in there somewhere.

So just the three main plays with a couple of smaller stabs in there. Plenty of others that are close, you can make your own mind up on those.

Friday 25 December 2020

Overall thoughts on rounds one and two

Merry Christmas to everyone first and foremost.

I suppose the most surprising thing that we've seen in this year's worlds so far is just how one sided the splits between seeds and non seeds in round two, and before that the Pro Tour and international list, have been in favour of the "stronger" list. If we look at round one first:

Top quarter had 5/8 tour card holders advance, losers being Kleermaker (done over by testing), Telnekes (towards the weaker end, lost to a card holder anyway) and Humphries (missed match darts against Lim, then ended up with 15 darts to finish 89 to go 2-1 up in the decider and fucked it up). Second quarter was similarly 5/8, losers being Kuivenhoven (again towards the weaker end and lost to a card holder), Beaton (way off form) and Heta (this one was a surprise but Baggish is pretty damned strong). Third quarter was 7/8, loser being Hamilton, combination of being towards the bottom end of the qualifier list and Kurz being towards the upper end of the international list. Bottom quarter was 6/8 - Woodhouse blowing a won position against a tour card holder, then de Decker simultaneously shit the bed and ran into an opponent probably on a two-sigma outlier in terms of performance.

Second round is not much better. Every seed made it through the top quarter. Second quarter was a 50/50 split - Hughes was injured, Cross had one of the strongest non-seeds and took it to a decider, Smith got too far behind to an inspired Jason Lowe who was doing the sort of stuff he did in the earlier part of the year, then Lewis ran into Baggish. Third quarter only had Ian White and de Zwaan lose - de Zwaan was easily in the bottom quarter of seeds and Searle in the top quarter of non-seeds, and White didn't do a hell of a lot wrong against an inspired Kim Huybrechts. Then like the top quarter, every seed won.

What do we make of this? We're told that the depth of the field is stronger than ever, yet it seems like it was a case of the tour card holders smacking up the non tour card holders, and then the seeds smacking up whoever. I think this is mainly due to what 2020's been - at least in terms of the international field, we've been so limited in terms of actual chances to play, and definitely in terms of longer format matches. Then again, did any games longer than best of 11 take place anywhere outside the PDC in 2019?

I'll look at the betting tomorrow. In terms of what we did on the last day, we lost both bets to leave us down half a unit in the tournament so far. I don't think either bet was bad - Razma looked dangerous enough, had darts to win both the legs on his throw in the first set, won the second set (nice to have back to back nine dart attempts), can't do too much about Ando hitting a twelve to break in set three, then it was just a case of failing to take the chances to break Ando in the decider in set four. He had enough darts - eighteen of them, it was just another case of Madars being frustratingly inconsistent. Then we had Scott Waites blowing chances again - even before he missed four match darts in the final set (having been 2-0 up), he missed three darts to take set four to a decider and throw for the match. Can't complain - right process, wrong results. At least now, we've only got Baggish who we don't have a great deal of data about, but we've got enough, and given his opponent and the price I think it's easy enough to work out what to do there.

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Day 9 bets

That was all going well right up until the point where Dirk through a twelve darter to break in the deciding leg. Love Dirk's work, so can't even feel bad about it. Really have to question when, having started 134-134 to leave 233, why he doesn't immediately start on 19's, but hey, whatever works I guess, it's not quite as insane as the Jamie Lewis shot where he goes 18-18-18 on 86, not going for the bull - I mean if you're not going to go for the bull if you miss the treble, then why are you trying to set up double 7?

We'll have the last second round games tomorrow, and with that the last 32 will be known, in terms of today I suppose the big one was Baggish coming through over Lewis, something we thought might happen but just couldn't pull the trigger on. Carolissen would have been an interesting one to watch if he had pinned a dart for a two set lead when Noppert was still asleep. Other than those it was mostly standard, Whitlock/Labanauskas was a bit spicy, but that's about it, let's just go into the final day before the Christmas break.

Evans/Mansell - Is it wrong to say I don't care about this match? Whoever wins is getting smacked up by van Gerwen, neither player really excites me, it seems incredibly unlikely that we're going to get a classic. Market's close enough for me, seems a little bit closer than the 11/8 that Mansell's at, but not by much.

Anderson/Razma - 0.1u Razma 7/2, this seems like a general principle Ando might still be a bit gimpy bet coupled with Madars being the sort of player that can slam down enough in the space of one set that it doesn't matter what Gary does. Projections are saying Razma might take about 30% of the games anyway so it's a fair enough punt in any case.

Bunting/Boulton - Ooh, this one is close to a pick'em with Bunting at 5/6. Does the market think Bunting sucks, or is the secret out on Boulton? It's very, very close to going on Andy, I'm seeing around 55% chances and we can get 11/10, I've just got this niggling feeling that Stephen will just about do enough.

Suljovic/Edgar - Looks to be around 70/30 Mensur in the market. I'm tempted by a little nibble on Mensur here, we can get 4/11, Edgar looked great on finishing but the scoring was mediocre so may not get enough chances, projection says around 80% for Suljovic. Again, this is very close. If you want to go with an acca, then I wouldn't hate you picking Mensur here.

Chisnall/Brown - Keegan did us over in the first round, Chizzy's a bit of a step up in quality here but if Keegan can finish like he did in round one, then who knows. This is similar to the previous game, Chizzy's a little bit of a better price at 2/5, but it a slightly smaller favourite in the projections, and the opponent had the better round one performance. I'll leave this alone, but the same caveat applies, if you want to go for an acca, sticking Dave in is fine.

Wattimena/Kenny - Hmm, projections here kind of like Nick a little bit, looking at the raw data it's mostly due to him mainly losing his inconsistent legs, as such it spitting out Nick claiming this nearly 40% of the time seems a bit unrealistic, so I don't think I'll be betting this one. Nick didn't really do anything in the first round to make me think he's going to grab this, but it's a spot where Jermaine isn't going to be acca safe I don't think.

Aspinall/Waites - 0.25u Waites 13/5 - Scott's been playing really well, came through a tough, tough opening round game, nearly beat Nathan in the last major event, and in the projections it's actually really close to a coinflip. This is due partly to Scott having quite a few godawful legs, but we've seen what he can do against this very opponent and we have no real reason to think he's not at least a one in three shot.

Smith/Lowe - No bet here. This projects in around the 75-80% region for Michael. It'd have been closer earlier in the season but Jason's form has tailed off a bit, and frankly it's a little bit worrying that he recognises it, there's something not quite right psychologically from his interviews, it's as if he's accepting the loss already. As Smith is shorter than 1/5, we're not touching this in an acca, but while I want Jason to regain what he had earlier in the season and pull the upset, I'm not thinking it will be.

Not sure when I'll be back. Will post up a general thoughts post at some stage.

Monday 21 December 2020

Day 8 bets

Does it feel like half the field is gone already? Not really, but that's where we are, and another 8 of the remaining 48 will drop tomorrow. We had no bets today, nothing really surprising other than that Lewis was able to actually take two sets, Ratajski looked really good, White was similar but just couldn't finish against Huybrechts. On to tomorrow:

Dolan/Foulkes - This is a tricky one. Foulkes looked OK in the first one, but Brendan's so consistent, and Edward actually took six of his nine leg wins in six visits, so I wonder how much was just de Decker not showing up. As such, 4/9 is kind of tempting, given that you have to think a lot of the time that was Foulkes with a one or two sigma sort of game above average and regression to the mean will ensue. Will pass on it, it is Dolan rather than a truly elite seed so I doubt this is incredible value.

Cullen/Jones - Probably a game too far for Wayne this. Wasn't too convincing in the opening round and is against a player in form, there's no real value on Joe though, 3/10 is pretty short in what's still a moderately short race, it should probably be nearer 2/9, don't hate it for an acca but can leave it alone.

Whitlock/Labanauskas - This line looks pretty much spot on. Darius is doing enough against a resurgent Whitlock that he should take this more or less exactly one time out of three, and the bookies have it 4/9 Simon. Can't really read too much into Darius' first game given he had next to no challenge, will just move on to game four.

Lewis/Baggish - Interesting line this. We were on Danny at 4/1 against Heta, and he's not quite 3/1 against Adie, which I think doesn't really reflect any change in how Baggish is rated, as you'd think that Damon is a little bit better than Adie at this point in time. We've got a bit of data on Danny, and it's thinking the line is close enough to accurate to ignore, so I'm fine with agreeing with it.

Noppert/Carolissen - Annoying that we couldn't get any sort of read on how Cameron plays. 11/1 I think should be worth a stab just out of general principle, and if it wasn't Noppert I'd probably just go a tenth of a unit for what the hell principles, but Danny's been so good and so consistent, that I think Cameron can't really have the value that might be there actually materialise. Don't think Cameron's a mug, but this is just a bad stylistic matchup. Give me the same price against Wattimena, Hughes, Bunting or any similar sort of seed and I'd take it.

Petersen/Lennon - I thought this might have been worth the stab on Steve - he's been somewhat underrated for some time, looked pretty good in the opening game, and we can get around the 5/2 mark, which isn't bad in a two horse race. But Devon's done enough that the projections think he wins three times out of four. OK then. I guess we don't bet this either - it's an interesting dynamic though in that it might be the first time in maybe forever where Devon's actually under pressure to win the match as a favourite in the worlds.

Cross/van Duijvenbode - This is a pick'em? I mean I know Dirk's improved a lot of late and looked really, really good after getting into a huge hole in the first round, and I know Cross isn't exactly in the greatest of form, but this underrating of Cross is getting a little bit silly now, so 0.25u Cross evs, this is 60/40 so yeah, let's take even money with the title sponsors.

van den Bergh/Lim - Right, with this one we know a shitload more about Lim than we know about Carolissen, and we've seen Lim beat a very good player already this tournament, someone who for all intents and purposes is just a slightly more consistent version of Humphries who has a better track record of getting the job done in big comps. Was hoping that the oddschecker line was going to show lots of options at around the 15/2 mark, but it's just the one random book and everything else is around 6/1 at best, if not shorter. Name value probably working against us here. Think I'll just enjoy the game.

Generally there's a lot of stuff that's close and a few spots where we could go with the international qualifiers, but will be erring on the side of caution. Evening session looks pretty fun, so will just enjoy this and punt on Rob, be back with the final day of round two at some point on Tuesday, may try and whack it out on my lunch.

Sunday 20 December 2020

Day 7 bets

Day 6 could have gone a little bit better - basically breakeven as we went 1-1, real shame that Meikle, who didn't play badly at all, just missed a couple of key doubles and had Brown go out from way out on a couple of occasions, fair play to Keegan. Nothing else really shocking, Edgar looked alright on the outshots but may need to up his scoring in the second round, Telnekes/Kenny was predictably close, Lowe slowed down a little bit against Gorbunov and nearly let the Russian back in, Clayton was comfortable against Hendo, while van der Voort and Meulenkamp was surprisingly decent and tight.

Only the evening session tomorrow, so just the four games:

Ratajski/Joyce - Should be a good one this, big one for Krzysztof, a big run in this event and he could push himself into the Premier League equation, and he's favoured around 70/30 in the market. It feels a little bit closer than that, Ryan's had one decent game and Ratajski's not had the greatest record here, projects to be just short of 65/35. The value's on Joyce, but I don't think it's enough of an edge to recommend a bet.

White/Huybrechts - Important game for both players, Ian needs something to keep up around the top 16, while Kim could do with a bit of a run to try to push back to the top 32. Seems to be around 60/40 in favour of White, I think that's slightly too close but I've got this underlying feeling that Ian is going to underperform the projection, and the same the other way for Huybrechts (and we've seen some evidence in the first round that this is the case). Auto backing Ian's worked fine for me in the past, but doing so in the worlds has caught me out a few times, so will pass it.

Price/Lewis - There's not actually value on Gerwyn. He's 1/6, I thought that'd be printing money, but Gerwyn's only at 90%. Should win this, acca safe, no real value for a single bet.

Clemens/Kurz - Line looks bang on here. Gabriel is just shorter than 1/2 and I'm getting a win percentage of just short of 70%. Much like Ratajski, Gabriel's in a spot where he could do with a win to really get things moving, Nico's obviously beaten him in the Super League but this is a different kettle of fish, even if it's not a substantially longer match. Feels like an accurate enough line.

Back tomorrow evening, as we've got all games set it may be earlier than usual.

Day 6 bets

Little bit delayed, but up in time - we'll have half the field already gone by this time tomorrow, I suppose the big news yesterday was that Danny Baggish was able to put us back into the black following his nervy win over Damon Heta, coupled along with Mervyn King looking pretty comfortable against Max Hopp. Didn't think I'd be saying that quite so quickly after the accident we had with Mike de Decker and the unfortunate reverse suffered by Luke Woodhouse, but we're there.

Outside of that yesterday, no real big shocks in terms of results but some shocks in terms of performances - Waites/Campbell was a great game where neither deserved to lose, Lennon was predictably comfortable against Larsson who had his moments, Huybrechts had probably the performance of the round against Zhuang who didn't win a leg, Kurz looked like he was struggling a bit, but so was Hamilton, gives us an interesting Superleague rematch in the second round, Hedman did well to win a set but Boulton was never in real trouble, and Ryan Murray looked extremely good - just unfortunate to run up against van Gerwen who also looked really good.

Another eight matches today which will close off round one, what do we like?

Telnekes/Kenny - Should probably root for Derk here given I've drawn him in the Weekly Dartscast sweepstakes, but can't possibly go with that. Bookies have it pretty much evens - I think that's not right, and I'm extremely close to going with a punt on Nick here. They're extremely close on points per turn, but Nick's claiming his winning legs a fair bit better, and based off those projections, Nick should take this 60% of the time, maybe slightly more, so I should grab the 10/11 that's out there. Just get the sense that Nick, with a worse won/lost leg percentage and greater inconsistency, might be overrated here and it's closer to evens as a result. Then again, Nick won through the PDPA qualifier so maybe has form? Who knows.

Lowe/Gorbunov - Not a great deal to talk about here. Dmitriy isn't the lowest tier qualifier, but I don't think he can really handle a professional of Jason's standard. 1/8 might be a little bit too short, but I'm not going to touch this one. Wouldn't be surprised if he takes some legs, maybe even nicks a set if Jason's a bit jittery, but winning the actual match seems too much of an ask.

Kuivenhoven/Edgar - The one that the Edgar Nation has been waiting for, and Matt actually comes in as a tiny favourite, albeit one of the 10/11 against evens type. This really is too close to call on current form, looking at the numbers after we restarted, Edgar is projecting as a 52/48 favourite - so more or less bang on what the bookies are saying. As such we're avoiding it, if we knew there were signs that Maik might be reclaiming a bit of his early 2020 form then maybe we could draw some inferences from that, but there are none, so we'll pass again.

van der Voort/Meulenkamp - Think this is another game where the bookies have this pretty much nailed on. Vincent seems to have had a fairly good 2020, but isn't really showing it as much as you'd think in the numbers, whereas Ron's a bit the other way around, and will surely draw confidence from a first round win against one of the toughest international opponents you could get in Krcmar. Projections show Vincent winning in the 60-65% bracket, which feels about right just thinking about it on an eyetest sort of level, so with Vinny at 8/13, we can ignore the whole afternoon session.

Kleermaker/Carolissen - The big question here is what Cameron will do when it comes to playing on a big stage. There's certainly enough signs that Cameron has something about him based on the limited research I was able to do, and with Kleermaker's points per turn since the restart only being 88, it doesn't need what we know Cameron is capable of to show up that often to make grabbing the 11/2 we can see a decent play. On the other hand, Martijn made his name by simply not fucking up on the BDO circuit week in week out, and has also shown some good stage games when in the PDC, so while statistically it's not the worst matchup, I think in terms of gameflow it might be. It wouldn't surprise me if Cameron makes this close, but I can't quite bet on it.

EDIT - Seems Martijn has fallen foul of pisspoor testing procedures and Cameron gets a bye as Payne also can't play, so ignore this post.

Brown/Meikle - Final first round match, and the bookies can't separate them. Two still fairly young players, with a combined age less than about half a dozen players in the field, it's a big game for both as Keegan looks to try to get back towards the top 32, while Ryan wants a first win and to put some serious money into his account to push towards keeping a tour card. 0.25u Meikle evs, his overall level of scoring, particularly in winning legs, is very good since we've got back under way, scoring 94 in winning legs and 91 overall, whereas Keegan is under 90 no matter which way you look at it. Seems like Keegan is priced this closely purely on name value, also got the added bonus that he messed up that game with Ando that might have damaged confidence. That the projections say 80% might be overstating things a tad, but this looks pretty good and I'm almost tempted to go half a unit.

de Zwaan/Searle - Bookies have this one close to even, that's the fourth game today they can't really separate the players in. Ryan's the tiny 55/45 favourite, but this is almost a similar level of mismatch in terms of the projections. 0.25u Searle 5/6, Ryan has been playing unbelievably strongly since we got back under way, discounting players with just a handful of legs he's actually in the top ten of points per turn. He's that good, and looked great in his first round game where he got a great test. Jeffrey's simply lacked results, match practice and quality, and is scoring nearly a full five points per turn lower than Ryan is. Again, it's only a question of whether we go half a unit.

Clayton/Henderson - Big John looked, well, not quite so big, didn't he? Looked well, and was able to get past a potential banana skin in Kantele, having some decent moments but looking a bit sluggish. Can't see anything other than a Clayton win here. Jonny's just too consistent and scores too well, it's going to need everything to go right for Henderson here for him to keep it close. 2/5 is a tempter, I've seen Clayton -1.5 tipped, that might not be a bad play if you just want decent odds, as while I think Henderson can nick a set, I can't see how he gets up to two. Should probably take this anyway, but there's something that sometimes prevents Jonny from really getting the results his scoring deserves.

So just the two plays. Both Ryans. If you want to go larger than you normally would, go right ahead.

Friday 18 December 2020

Day 5 bets

LIM GOAT

With that in the books, let's quickly review everything else - only bet was on Rydz who was quite disappointing, just couldn't get scoring going at all, maybe if he'd have pinned one of those darts for the second set he could have kept grinding, but it wasn't to be. Elsewhere, Mansell had no trouble with Puha who just never got any scoring going and didn't even win a leg, Labanauskas was equally easily through but at least Liu had some moments by nicking a couple of legs, one with a nice checkout, Jones got through an incredibly scrappy one with Teehan which was lacking in a bit of quality, but Wayne'll take it, Hunt got past Hughes who was incredibly disappointing but, as he revealed on Twitter, was basically playing through injury, then in the evening van Duijvenbode got a great come from behind win against an impressive Bradley Brooks, and Hendo got over the line in a real duel against Kantele who just wouldn't go away.

Another eight games tomorrow, here's what we think:

Lennon/Larsson - Real hard one to read. Larsson is actually projecting as a favourite, but that's off a small won leg sample and he's lost nearly twice as many legs as he's won in what I'm looking at. It's around 2/1 in favour of Steve which feels about right to me.

Waites/Campbell - Line's a little bit less than 60/40 in favour of Waites. Not sure what to make of that - Scott's been a lot better in the second half of the season, but Campbell's looked really quite competent in the small samples that we've seen. Would probably lean towards Waites at this sort of line, but as we don't need to bet on it, we can pass.

Huybrechts/Zhuang - I'm not going to start betting on Kim at 1/16, although I probably should do. We've already had one example of real weirdness with an international qualifier we don't know much about so let's not tempt fate.

King/Hopp - 0.25u King 4/6, why is this game so close? Max has done little all year, Mervyn's just off the back of nearly winning a major. If Hopp looked stellar in the first game then maybe, but he looked merely competent, not needing to do much more. We need 60% and I'm thinking Merv's chances are over 70%. More than enough to go with.

Hamilton/Kurz - Nico's the small favourite in this one. We've seen what Nico can do, but it's only ever been somewhat limited, Andy's going to be pretty steady and we know what we're getting. I'm wanting to take Kurz at around 8/11, this could be one where he shows up and romps home 3-0, he's got that in his game, but then again it could be one where the Hammer sticks around, grabs his first set on throw, and it gets a bit tricky, so will pass it and probably regret it.

Boulton/Hedman - You can actually get longer on Deta than you can get on Zhuang. That seems a bit unfair, but Andy's incredibly competent. I just hope that as a minimum she puts up a decent showing.

Heta/Baggish - 0.1u Baggish 4/1, Damon's incredibly good, and should win this, but Danny has shown more than enough over the last 12 months that he's capable of competing with someone of Heta's quality, and can easily take this more often than the 20% we need for this to be a profitable shot.

van Gerwen/Murray - Half tempting to take Murray, but we're not quite getting enough. It's another one where we've got a hugely one sided line, van Gerwen is 1/10, Murray's probably a little bit better than that but not by much (seeing around 15%), MvG seems to be keying in on this one and is picking up at the right time.

Back maybe tomorrow afternoon given we're just waiting on one line for Sunday's schedule to appear.

Thursday 17 December 2020

Day 4 bets

Urgh, that didn't really go to plan - can't really account for de Decker not showing up and Foulkes being much, much better than advertised (and immediately giving a GOAT-level post match interview), but got to be disappointed at Woodhouse looking so incredibly comfortable then seemingly losing all confidence from having a 2-0 sets lead and blowing it. Not as if Lewis was playing that well, last two legs excepted, but it's a blow. Still, we're only down 0.2 units for the event - Gurney got through as expected, although made it a lot tougher than it could have been, Razma was a bit streaky and maybe fortunate but we got the small gain in the bank, Murray did just enough to add us some more into the bank, and in the games we didn't punt on, I don't know what happened to Krcmar after the first set but fair play to Meulenkamp for coming back, Searle was given a decent test by Lauby despite a pretty big average differential, while de Sousa was in a closer game than the 3-1 set score suggested.

Onto day 4, another 8 games to look at:

Mansell/Puha - Tempting to go with Haupai, just out of general laying Mansell principle. But it's really hard to gauge just how much (if any) and what quality match practice he's really had, and we can only get barely better than 6/4, so I think I can pass this one.

Labanauskas/Liu - Game doesn't really hold any interest. Chengan's priced up at 10/1, don't think it's even worth a micro play. Should be 3-0 for Darius extremely comfortably.

Jones/Teehan - Ah, a game with actual data. Would have expected Wayne to be a small favourite in the model before plugging the data in, and he is, it's around the low 60% range. Market has it slightly closer than that, but I think there's enough inconsistency in Wayne's game that we can avoid this one.

Hughes/Hunt - One of two second round games today, and I think it's another one where they're maybe slightly underrating the favourite. It's exactly the same sort of win chances and odds as the previous game, while I don't think that Jamie is as wildly inconsistent as Wayne, he's certainly up and down to some degree, and Adam's maybe outperforming his stats a little bit, so happy to pass it.

van Duijvenbode/Brooks - Evening session here we go, and we've got what looks like a fairly uncompetitive game in the market, with Dirk at 1/4. Bradley's a bit better than that, but not much better, it looks about 75/25 to me, so there's no real value.

Henderson/Kantele - This could be a tough game to watch, Hendo's rated ever so slightly better than 60/40 in the market, which I wasn't thinking would be about right, but it seems like it is. Marko's just not produced enough to even get to a flip.

Humphries/Lim - It's a shame that Luke's really, really good. I definitely want to take a shot on Lim just out of general principle, but we can't even get 4/1. I just can't do it.

Wade/Rydz - OK, finally we've got a bet - 0.25u Rydz 12/5. Think most people could have seen this one coming, we've been talking up Callan for some time now and he's been producing the goods. He's good enough that he only projects as a tiny, tiny underdog. Wade isn't even at 55% in this one. Callan's extremely live and getting well better than 2/1 is definitely worth the shot. Just a case of slightly tidying up his finishing really.

Back tomorrow evening.

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Day 3 bets

1-1 today, Dobey bailed us out a bit when it was looking a bit ropey early, after Niels looked distinctly ordinary against O'Connor who seemed to be missing a huge amount of doubles. Nothing else really of note, Joyce/Sedlacek looked like a pretty good game which Karel would like to have back, Smith's win over Evans wasn't quite as routine as the scoreline made out, David just missing a few key doubles, as far as the Aussies went Mathers was a bit worse than expected, Bailey a fair bit better, but neither truly threatened their opponents, Hunt and Ashton played out a fun enough game with Ashton not really missing any of the chances she got, then Diogo couldn't really replicate from yesterday despite Glen not looking brilliant.

On to day three, we've got another 8 games, let's see what we've got:

Razma/Suzuki, de Decker/Foulkes - Going to take both of these as the same, as the two players from the Pro Tour are fairly similar, as are the two qualifiers, as are the odds. I really, really can't see either of the Japanese lads threatening in the slightest, so 0.5u Razma 4/11 and 0.5u de Decker 2/7, what we've seen a little bit so far is that some of the international players are underperforming, perhaps from a lack of match practice, especially when considered in comparison to the players from the Pro Tour who are playing day in and day out.

Murray/Ilagan - We can't question Lourence's credentials, but I'm thinking Ryan is pretty darned underrated and, similar to the previous game, maybe Ilagan will have some issues bringing his best game. With the odds being as they are as well, I think we can justify 0.25u Murray 4/5, I'll take the player that's been doing alright for weeks at close to a flip.

Gurney/O'Connor - 0.5u Gurney 4/5, Daryl projects as a much, much larger favourite than the market suggests, seemingly nearly 75%, so while there's just the one book on oddschecker that has this price, it's still clearly good at 4/6. That Willie was unconvincing today is even more evidence that this looks to be a great bet.

Woodhouse/Lewis - 0.5u Woodhouse 8/11, this is just as good a spot as the Gurney game, if not better. Luke's projecting better than 80% to win this one, Jamie's been that out of sorts.

Meulenkamp/Krcmar - Bookies have this as a flip, I'd have thought that given relative forms, that Krcmar would project as a fairly big favourite, at least enough to take evens, but he's only around 55/45 on the projections, so I think I can avoid it.

Searle/Lauby - Ryan's listed as a big favourite here, and it's fairly tempting to take him, but Ryan is not only the shortest price of the day, Danny's probably a fair bit better than the other two big dogs, and I'm not sure that Ryan is that much superior to go with it. Would think this is fairly comfortable, but there's enough level of unknown to pass on it.

de Sousa/Smith - Nearly worth a play on Jose here. 2/5 is very close, I don't see Ross as having much more than 20%, but it's not quite enough. I think factoring in that Smith has got through a pretty competent opponent today and played well in doing so, along with Jose still looking for a first win here, allows things to close that little bit through external factors not to bet.

Back tomorrow evening.

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Day 2 bets

Not a great deal to say about day 1, other than big congrats to Diogo, and congrats to Jeff as well, Keane looked a little bit off, thought he'd have kept that a tad closer, but oh well, it's no big deal in the long game. The state of Peter Wright though, jesus.

Joyce/Sedlacek - Almost small value in Ryan here. Karel's played some pretty good stuff of late, but I think Ryan will just be that little bit too strong and claim this around two times out of three, maybe slightly more. There's a couple of spots offering a little bit better than 1/2 on Joyce, I don't hate grabbing that but I don't see real significant value, so nothing recommended here.

Smith/Evans - Thought this might have been priced a bit too closely with oddschecker pointing out a line of 4/6 on Ross, but no, the master computer puts him in the low 60's in terms of probable win percentages. As such, no real value at all, David's definitely competent enough and Ross hasn't had the greatest outcome on this stage previously.

O'Connor/Zonneveld - Similarly priced game in this one, but I think we have a chance to have a stab at this one - 0.25u Zonneveld 11/8, looking at the post-restart stats, Zonneveld's scoring just the right side of 90, whereas Willie's just the wrong side of 89, and that's translating to around a 55/45 edge for Niels here. Somewhat big that Niels is coming off a stage win as well, which will help, think this is definitely worth the shot.

Dobey/Smith - Wow, this is actually priced up pretty closely, we can actually get better than 4/6 on Dobey, and I think we have to take 0.25u Dobey 8/11 that's available on Betfair, I don't think Jeff played that fantastically tonight and the first two sets in particular were more a case of Keane giving him chances to win really, really slowly, looking at the stats Chris projects between 70 and 75%, so 8/11? Yes please.

Hopp/Mathers - Real hard to gauge Gordon's level of play in this one, the question really is how much do we believe in Max. 3/1 on Mathers would be the tempter, but I think Max has been doing just about enough that this seems like a fair line to go with.

Rydz/Bailey - Similar assessment here, although Callan's clearly a much better player than Max is, James qualified below Gordon and seems a little bit weaker, but at the same time the odds are 1/4. I think we can get away with passing this one, it's not going to be hugely profitable to go with Callan here although I think he could have been priced a little bit shorter.

Hunt/Ashton - I thought this might have been worth a play with Lisa being as short as 11/5, given Adam's improvement in form over the past few months, but oddly it isn't, Adam projects at kind of the same winning chances as Dobey does, so while the line does seem to underestimate Adam's chances, it's not by much, so can pass that one as well.

Durrant/Portela - Not touching Glen, question is whether we can punt on Diogo at slightly better than 4/1. I'm inclined to say no - Diogo would have to produce the sort of darts that he did in the first set from the get go, if he gets off to a scrappy start as the first two sets were, Glen, even if a bit out of form, will punish the Brazilian. It could happen, but I don't think it happens anywhere near enough for 4/1 to be any sort of real true value.

That's the lot, back tomorrow evening.

Fantasy scoring link


edit - sharing settings now amended so it should be viewable now

Monday 14 December 2020

Day 1 bets and other news round up

1u West 1/11 vs Gilitwala, it's still available at that in some places (it was 1/9 yesterday), so get on while you can, while we know little about Amit, I'm going purely off of the FDI ratings, which are indicating that Steve's something like 99% to win. This seems so incredibly safe, even at that price.

Diogo's a tempting punt, getting around 3/1, if only because Steve might not be the player he was, Portela's at least competent, and it's not a long race, but I just can't bring myself to pull the trigger given the relative 2020 form of Diogo. May well regret it. Smith/Barry's accurately priced, seems like a flip. The one to try to gauge, naturally, is Wright against West. Looking at the data I have, this probably ought to be priced around 1/4 Wright. Maybe slightly less on recent form. They've not got up any Wright vs whoever lines, but we can gauge the "Wright stage of exit" market as a proxy, and second round is generally floating around 5/1 to 11/2, with a couple of 7/2 outliers. They have to be factoring in West to win the first round nearly all the time here, so I think that's accurate enough to use as a match line. As such, I doubt there's going to be any real value whatsoever in the second round game.

Elsewhere, we've seen that Q-School has gone to a two level system - ostensibly for coronaparanoia reasons, but I think it's a pretty sensible thing to do, to trim the field down and eliminate the "fun" players and make it a bit more focussed at the business end of things, having smaller fields to allow for longer matches. It's fairly similar to the Swiss method I've advocated previously, so I'm fine with it, the only thing I'd say is they're letting a few too many straight into the latter round if they keep it the same for future years, the entire top 16 of the Challenge and Dev Tours (I know a couple will have got cards automatically anyway) plus every single player who loses their card is a bit too much for me. Maybe the top 10 would have been fine - I think the top 8 got a free entry anyway so that's close enough to a relevant cutoff for me.

Then we've got MAD's big reveal. While a lot of it is a bit LOL, you can't say they've got some sort of a structure in place, there's concepts that appear fresh and entertaining, if done right the Royal Rumble Golden Gauntlet could be hilarious, there seems to be enough of an incentive for higher level players to go for it. The big question is whether club players and the general paying public buy into it, it all seems a bit pyramid schemey and if the bottom end of these things don't work the whole thing collapses. I hope it works to be honest.

Sunday 13 December 2020

2021 worlds fantasy game

 


This is your list of players and their points costs. Scoring/rules are fairly similar to last year, however this year it's just for fun.

The rules:

- You have a budget of 501 points
- From this budget you must select a minimum of 7 players and a maximum of 15 players

The scoring:

- Win a set - 5 points
- Win a leg in a set you lose - 1 point
- 180 - 2 points
- (new for 2021) 171-177 - 1 point
- Checking out 121-160 - 2 points
- Checking out 161-170 - 3 points
- Nine dart finish - 9 points
- Beat a seed as an unseeded player - 5 points

To enter, send me a DM with your picks to @jtuk on Twitter before 1700 UK time on Tuesday, good luck.

Section 16 - Gurney, O'Connor, Zonneveld, Dobey, Smith, Barry

 


Our final top 16 seed is Daryl Gurney, who heads up a very Irish section of the draw with three players from the island featuring. Interesting year for Daryl - while he didn't win anything, the closest he got to winning something being a good UK Open run, beating Keegan Brown, potential opponent Willie O'Connor, Peter Wright and Jelle Klaasen before running into van Gerwen doing 110 average things, the general level of play from Gurney appears to have risen overall, and while he's probably not going to get back into the Premier League, he at least seems to be trending back in the right direction. Gurney had a few good runs on the Pro Tour, with a semi final as part of a very good Summer Series, which was backed up the day after by a quarter final, one of two in the year, but an inability to claim a title would force him into the Grand Slam qualifier where he'd fall to Ricky Evans.

While his floor form is fine, and while he was also able to get one decent run in Europe with a quarter final in Hildesheim beating Clemens and Durrant, elsewhere it's mostly been early exits in the majors. Joe Cullen knocked him out of the first round of the Grand Prix, Mensur Suljovic did the same at the European Championship, and Callan Rydz got through a scrappy opening tie at the Players Championship Finals. That leaves Gurney's only major victory this year after the UK Open as a routine win at the Matchplay over Ricky Evans, only to be on the wrong side of an equally routine game against Vincent van der Voort. I don't think any of these players are at a top ten level, they're all either just about top 16, or not even that, and are the sorts of games Gurney needs to be winning if he wants to remain in that area of the rankings himself. It's not an awful section of the draw to be in at least.


One potential opponent for Daryl is Willie O'Connor, who is here for a fourth time after nearly knocking out Gerwyn Price last year, only losing in additional legs in the final set. Willie's around the fringes of the top 32 and a bit of a run here would certainly help his case. Willie's highlight was clearly the European Championship - an event he shouldn't have been at, he only got the call up due to Glen Durrant being unable to play, but Willie took his chances and knocked out Joe Cullen, the number one seed, in a scrappy affair, before routing Jamie Hughes to reach the quarters, James Wade being a bit too strong at that point. Willie had enough from two "beat qualifier, lose to seed" runs in Europe to be number 33 in the rankings, losing out to Rob Cross and Nathan Aspinall, and adding that on to a solid enough Pro Tour season sees O'Connor in as the tenth player in the Pro Tour rankings.

O'Connor also did alright at the UK Open, beating Jan Dekker and Dave Chisnall before that aforementioned game with Gurney, and his floor game was enough to get him into the Players Championship Finals, getting a middling seed and losing out in a fun close game to Dirk van Duijvenbode where both players averaged 100. Floor highlights included a semi final in the Winter Series, taking out Wade, Clayton and Searle before ending up on the wrong side against Gerwyn Price (although the averages were somewhat similar), and it'd be Price again who'd end his run in his next best appearance, a quarter final earlier in the year. Willie didn't have too many early exits, and those that did show up were generally as a result of running into a decent player, so I don't think there's too many worries about his level of play.


Willie's opponent will be Niels Zonneveld, who had a fairly similar average throughout the year on the Pro Tour, and the young Dutchman has half a chance of retaining his tour card after coming through the PDPA qualifier to claim one of the two spots for the rest of the world - beating the in form Krzysztof Kciuk, former Lakeside champion Jelle Klaasen and then Martin Schindler to book his Ally Pally debut. Niels certainly seems to be hitting form at the right time - having stunned James Wade in the Players Championship to book a big TV win, albeit he then lost heavily to van Duijvenbode in the following match. Niels also did well to get to the last 64 of the UK Open, beating Andy Hamilton and Mickey Mansell before Rob Cross was a bit too good.

Niels didn't qualify for any of the European events, so despite his floor form being enough to get him into the PC finals, he needed the backdoor of the PDPA qualifier. That's not necessarily his fault - he's generally been doing enough to get up to a player that's better than him, and coming up a bit short. He's lost to Cullen, Heta, Wright, Chisnall, Lowe, Gurney, van Gerwen, White, Whitlock, Michael Smith, Durrant, Dolan, Hughes, Petersen, Wright again... there's been the occasional slip up against a comparable opponent, but he's more or less been beating who he should beat. He's doing enough that the first round game is certainly one he has a chance in, and who knows after that?


Seems like it's been a pretty rough year for Chris to tell the truth. After last season's run to the last sixteen, it's mostly been struggles to get results, even if statistically he looks fine. Dobey's been flirting on or around the cutoff for majors for what seems like forever now, as indicated by him missing the Matchplay but making the Grand Prix, unable to finally breakthrough and get a first win on the tour. Dobey's highlight was the UK Open, where he won a match of the year candidate against Krzysztof Ratajski in his first game, easily dispatched Simon Whitlock, but at the last sixteen phase came up a little short against Jonny Clayton. Those would be the only TV wins for Chris - while he made the Grand Prix, he was severely out of sorts against Whitlock in the opener, and while he didn't play badly against Madars Razma in the Players Championship Finals, he would come up short when it came down to claiming actual legs.

Dobey didn't make any of the other events - missing out on Oberhausen with just three grand in the bank from Europe, beating Ryan Murray before losing to Clayton in one, and losing to O'Connor in the other, and the Grand Slam wildcard qualifier saw Chris lose early to Joe Murnan. On the floor, Chris was able to make a couple of quarter finals, the first looking good earlier in the season, beating Kuivenhoven (who was a lot better at the time), Suljovic and Bunting before van Gerwen was too good, the second was in the Summer Series, again Michael would knock him out, but not before a good win over Dimitri was in the bank. Perhaps the worrying thing is the Winter Series - just two wins in it (over Reece Robinson and Ryan Meikle), losing every other game and generally not to seeded players apart from the last one to Cullen, with averages well below what we know Dobey is capable of. He often raises his game in this event, and he may well need to here given his draw.


One potential opponent is Jeff Smith, the Canadian former Lakeside finalist who won his tour card outright on day 3 of the UK version of Q-School, notably beating Alan Norris early then a last couple of wins over William Borland and Seigo Asada. Jeff would come absolutely flying out of the blocks, making it all the way to the final of his very first event back as a card holder, defeating Dave Chisnall in the first round, then later beating van Duijvenbode, Aspinall, Wright and Dolan, just falling short in the final to Gary Anderson. Not a bad way to start the year, Smith would win his board the day after, one of four times he did that - the next being in the Summer Series, where only MvG in the semis prevented Jeff making a second final, Jeff beating Wright and Aspinall again in the earlier stages, while the latter was beating routine opponents in the Winter Series. Ending up where he has done on the Pro Tour is no fluke as we know what Jeff can do, and he can be reasonably happy with his results this year.

I suppose the disappointment is that there wasn't more - Jeff only made the one Euro Tour event, just beating Franz Roetzsch before losing a good game against Mensur Suljovic, and while he was within striking distance of the two difficult majors to qualify for after his start, he couldn't quite get another run going to really stand a chance. He ran into Ian White early in the Grand Slam qualifier, and while he had the cash in the bank to make the Players Championship Finals, he opted to go home for a bit and avoid any sort of potential travel bullshit, preparing himself for the bigger event round the corner. Given who he's drawn, that may well be a clever bit of strategising.


Our final player to cover is the young player of the year from last season's TA awards, Keane Barry. The highly rated Irish youngster has qualified as a result of his performances on the Development Tour - Keane topped the averages in that series by a clear point, winning two titles back to back (on different days though), beating Ryan Meikle twice, made another final where he lost to Kevin Doets, and this was more than enough to get Keane here, and also give him his tour card for the next two years after coming up one game short, losing to Scott Waites in the final round on the final day. Keane showed enough in the averages on that day to say that he's one of the best players without a tour card (he was in the top ten in the averages, and five of the players there won one, only Scott Mitchell, Jim Williams, Leonard Gates and Ryan Furness missed out with Barry). That's been rectified, and Keane will want to get a first win in the senior worlds after losing to Vincent van der Voort this time last season.

Keane's also played a fair bit of senior darts this year, finishing in the top ten of the Challenge Tour rankings, winning event five, making another semi final and quarter final to boot. That gave Keane a high enough Challenge Tour ranking (he finished third) to get into the Winter Series and get a first taste of the Pro Tour. Keane averaged 94 during that week, and won a board and grabbed eight match wins overall, no real notable scalps, but he pushed some very good players who he lost to hard and the experience will do him a world of good. The only real disappointment for Keane is that he couldn't go any further in the World Youth Championship, where he lost to Martin Schindler in a deciding leg at the last sixteen stage. Nevertheless, Barry is already an extremely dangerous opponent, and this will be one of the ties of the first round.

Section 15 - Aspinall, Waites, Campbell, van der Voort, Meulenkamp, Krcmar


The highest seed we've yet to cover is the back to back semi finalist, who will be defending quite a bit of cash and ranking position as a result, but Nathan Aspinall continues to produce at a high level, and was nearly able to add another major title to his CV with the Premier League, but would ultimately come up one game short in the final against Glen Durrant. It's been a moderately quiet season on TV outside of that tournament for Nathan, but he's been alright on the floor, taking two Pro Tour titles, albeit in terms of coming good at the right time it might be a slight concern that both of them were before the interruption in play, taking PC2 with a last three wins over Wright, Clemens and Price, then taking PC7 with wins over van Gerwen, Noppert and Dolan. Having beaten all of the big three in those runs is clear evidence of what Aspinall can do, and the consistency in results is also there, with an impressive record of just 5/23 Players Championship events where he failed to reach the board final, turning 13 of those 18 into board wins.

On TV and stage he could maybe have done a little more however. He got a bastard draw in the UK Open, getting the world number one, pushing him close but coming up a little bit short. The Matchplay and Grand Prix were both first round exits as well, the first to the eventual winner, the latter to Gabriel Clemens. He'd beat Maik Kuivenhoven at Oberhausen before losing a tight game to eventual finalist James Wade, while the Grand Slam was his best run, just losing out to Dimitri again in the group stage, getting probably his best win of the season over Gerwyn Price, before just failing to avenge the defeat to Dimitri in the quarters, simply not scoring with the darts in the deciding leg allowing three clear at a double to the Belgian major winner (of course he hit a 180 as a moot final visit). An early loss in the PC Finals to Ross Smith could have been even earlier if Scott Waites hadn't missed five match darts to beat him a round before. The Euro Tour was more or less par for the course as well. So all in all, decent enough but maybe coming up a bit short when it really counts.


It's come maybe a decade or more too late, but after maybe the most BDO worlds appearances of anyone before a PDC debut, Scott Waites will make his first appearance after a steady first season, not really making any massive runs anywhere but continually chipping away with 500 quid here, a grand there, getting through his first game twice as often as not (outside of a disastrous Summer Series), and also being able to get into a couple of Euro Tours to add a useful four grand and nearly creep into the European Championship as a result. As mentioned above, he could have got a big win over Aspinall in the Players Championship Finals but blew his chances, and had a good UK Open run to the last 64, beating Damon Heta, upcoming youngster Geert Nentjes, then Madars Razma before going down to Jonny Clayton. It's a solid platform that'll give Scott good chances of retaining his card this time next year.

Scott's Euro Tours were both one and done, beating Darren Penhall before losing to Glen Durrant, the beating Jason Lowe before losing to Ian White. He's had some good wins on the Pro Tour, but also some bad losses, most notably that Summer Series run where he had five straight defeats to van de Pas, Stevenson, Beeney, Wilkinson and Dennant (none of which are here), he's also had losses to Gary Blades, Jesus Noguera, Ryan Murray and Josh Payne. But on the other hand, he's beaten the likes of Simon Whitlock, Devon Petersen, Brendan Dolan, Daryl Gurney, Joe Cullen, Jose de Sousa, Ian White and Vincent van der Voort, all of whom are seeded here, so definitely up as well as down. What Waites will we get?


Matt Campbell returns for a second crack at the worlds, the Canadian taking a set off of Mark McGeeney last season, and returning as a result of topping the CDC table, formulated off a series of four events in September where he won one and reached the final of two more. Campbell wasn't the highest averaging of this series, ending a couple of points below Dave Cameron, but got enough results when it counted to book his return. Campbell averaged 88 in that worlds match, and was in a deciding leg in set four, so could maybe have caused an upset if he'd scored a bit more, checking back at records McGeeney only held in seven visits in that leg and Campbell wasn't even on a double after six.

Campbell might be improving somewhat though, he looked pretty tidy in the World Cup, where as the partner of Jeff Smith (also in this eighth of the draw), they took out the fancied Northern Ireland team in pairs, then got through New Zealand with Campbell averaging 96 to claim the match against Cody Harris. Belgium would be a step too far, but Canada forced a deciding pairs match and it was Campbell, not the more experienced tour card holder Smith, who got the point over Dimitri van den Bergh, averaging 97 - so if Matt can replicate that sort of stage form here, Scott will certainly have his hands full.


Vincent's hanging around in the top 32, still turning up with good runs here and there, which was most notable at the Matchplay, where he matched his best performance in that event with a quarter final run. van der Voort played the best we've seen him in quite some time, at least on stage, averaging in the high 90's with two comfortable wins over Dave Chisnall and Daryl Gurney, before losing a 10-5 lead to Glen Durrant in a controversial quarter final, eventually going down in overtime. Vincent's also picked up a couple of decent Pro Tour runs, fortunately in terms of form both were in the Winter Series - starting it well with a quarter final in the first event (albeit he faced two Challenge Tour callups and two players who've not qualified for the worlds), then followed it up with a semi final, notably beating James Wade and whitewashing Darius Labanauskas in the final eight.

Outside of those it's been a mixed bag - he's got through to the last sixteen and board finals on the Pro Tour often enough, but it wasn't quite enough to keep him high enough in the rankings to qualify for the Grand Prix, only one Euro Tour appearance (where he was somehow seeded) wasn't enough to make the finals, but taking van Gerwen to a deciding leg isn't too bad, he lost out to Robert Thornton in the Grand Slam qualifier well short of the final, and in the majors he did make, he couldn't quite beat Bunting in a decider in the UK Open (after beating John Michael), while at the Players Championship Finals, Vincent similarly lost a decider, after beating Derk Telnekes he went out to Jose de Sousa. Probably fair to say that with a little bit of additional luck he might have got a lot more in the bank, but sometimes you've got to make your own luck.


Ron's not had the best of seasons really, but just about managed to scrape into the worlds as a result of having a good record in qualifying for the European Tour. Ron got through the qualifiers three times, but while he only got the one win, it put him in a position where he could still qualify for Oberhausen. Previously losing deciders to Mike de Decker and Richard North, Ron got through Michael Rosenauer but, with just the one win required, couldn't handle an inspired Dave Chisnall. That said, the four grand from those appearances was just enough to augment his Pro Tour winnings to make it here, and absolutely required as he finished low enough down the rankings not to make the Players Championship Finals. It'll only be Ron's second major appearance after the UK Open, where he lost his first game to Richard North.

It's the Pro Tour that's been a problem - Ron had a horrific start to the year with just the two wins before the suspension of play, then only adding another two wins in the Summer Series, the best player he beat of those four being Jelle Klaasen. Ron did have an outside chance of making the Matchplay at this point with a good end to 2019 still counting, but just couldn't get the results needed. The Autumn Series was a little better as Meulenkamp did at least make a board final once, and the Winter Series was further improvement, where he made two board finals and won one, getting wins over Jonny Clayton and Ross Smith. As such, while it's a trend upwards, it's only a slight one and it seems a world away from 2019 where it seemed as if Ron was in a tour quarter final or better every other week. Will be a tough first round task to match his last 64 appearance from twelve months ago.


The reason it'll be tough is that he's drawn Boris Krcmar, the multiple time soft tip world champion who was able to claim a tour card on countback back in January, and has had a solid enough first season, pretty much entirely on the Pro Tour, as he didn't make any European Tour appearances and withdrew from the UK Open. After naturally taking a bit of time to get to grips with the week in week out steel tip play, only picking up five wins in the six events he played prior to the shutdown and the Summer Series, Boris gradually improved his play, claiming back to back board wins to start the week with wins over Clemens, Chisnall, Lowe and Ratajski, he additionally wouldn't lose in the first round in any of the events, and added another board win in the Winter Series to close the season, defeating the Dutch pair of Noppert and Wattimena in that event. This was enough to get him into the Players Championship Finals, which is the best indication of what he can do - he averaged 107 in losing 6-5 to Michael Smith, not being able to kill 116 for the match.

Boris didn't actually qualify through the Pro Tour, although he may well have done - he got there through winning the Eastern European qualifier, a similar event to the one he won a decade ago to qualify for his previous appearance where he lost a prelim to Per Laursen. Krcmar beat Patrick Kovacs in the final with an average in the mid-90s. Krcmar was an overwhelming favourite to win this event, which lacked many real powerful names with the most well known player probably being Adam Gawlas, the young Czech up and comer who lost to Kovacs in the other semi final. Still, you can only beat what you come up against, and Boris certainly did that - and has the quality to do that another couple of times at least in the main event.

Saturday 12 December 2020

Section 14 - de Sousa, Smith, Evans, King, Hopp, Mathers


Meet your newest major winner. Jose de Sousa has gone from a dangerous opponent, who got kind of done over by the draw last season, to the latest Grand Slam champion who's playing at a level where he's a threat to win any tournament he enters. With some of the best outshots and counting in the game, de Sousa claimed his first major title by getting through an awkward group involving both Michael Smith and Krzysztof Ratajski, then eliminated Dave Chisnall, avenged a group defeat to Smith, before getting back to back 16-12 wins over Whitlock and Wade to claim the title. That's quite a long way from losing to Michael Barnard two years ago, and while he's still looking for his first win here after last season's defeat to Damon Heta (and a prelim loss some years ago to Devon Petersen), it's surely just a matter of time now. de Sousa made the Slam by winning Euro Tour 3, where he beat all the top three seeds (van Gerwen, Price, White) as well as Labanauskas and a domestic qualifier. Great performances, and more will surely be added.

Outside of his big wins, he made three tour finals, finishing with the highest average outside the big three on the Pro Tour, only being stopped in those by van Gerwen, Wright and Smith, which gave him a high seed for the PC Finals - there he lost out to Michael Smith in the last sixteen. In the European Championship he was logically seeded even higher, hit a nine in beating de Zwaan but would suffer a slightly surprising reverse to Jonny Clayton. de Sousa drew Wright in the first round of the Matchplay and Petersen at the same stage of the Grand Prix, tough draws (would have got van Gerwen if he beat Petersen as well), while perhaps the most surprising loss was at the UK Open, going out at the first hurdle to qualifier Lewy Williams. That's a long time ago now, and Price should be rightly concerned about a possible last sixteen match up - if they both get that far.


One possible last sixteen opponent is Ross Smith, who's had a pretty decent year in terms of results without ever really threatening to claim a first title, you don't finish fourth on the list of Pro Tour qualifiers by accident. The big result was clearly the last Euro Tour of the season - not qualifying for any of the previous events, Ross was able to go through Mario Vandenbogaerde with a remarkable 110+ average, win a decider against Gerwyn Price, then get past Max Hopp (who had oddly beaten de Sousa in the previous round for those who like that sort of thing) to reach the quarters, giving Joe Cullen a good game. That run got him to Oberhausen, where he got to a decider against Michael Smith, but just couldn't score in the last leg and went out in the first round. That was Ross's only major appearance outside of the easy two - suffering an odd loss to Jamie Lewis at the UK Open, but he got a major win over Nathan Aspinall at the Players Championship Finals, that being in the second round after routing Kim Huybrechts, he couldn't get past Damon Heta in round three but most people can't these days.

Elsewhere on the floor, Ross has been consistent - he had a bad run just prior to shutdown, but otherwise was very good at getting past the first opponent and further. Three quarter finals, a further three board wins and a further three board finals is all steady accumulation of ranking money. He has floor wins this season over Petersen, Hughes, Ratajski, de Sousa, Cullen, Cross, Price, Chisnall, Michael Smith - some of these more than once. We've seen that on his day he can beat anyone, he does have a TV victory over van Gerwen after all. Just a case of doing it here and not having the same sort of incredibly disappointing first round result like we saw this time last year.


Smith's opponent will be David Evans, who will make his PDC worlds debut after reaching the quarter final of the BDO event last year, and showing some form in the PDC beforehand with Challenge Tour results and getting into the later Pro Tour events, where he did grab the scalp of Gary Anderson. This year, after a surprisingly disappointing Q-School where he only really got going on day one, and nowhere near enough to get a card, just reaching the last 32, he is into the PDC worlds after winning the Challenge Tour. This will give David a tour card for the next two years, and it'll be interesting to see where he ends up on the Rob Cross to Michael Barnard scale of what he'll do with it. Evans won the tour primarily with two wins on the six event second group of events - getting wins in the finals over Chas Barstow and Richie Burnett, and had enough in the bank that he could afford to lose in the first round in the last two events and still make the worlds.

This gave David a ticket into the Winter Series - he didn't do a massive amount, but it's all experience and he was able to turn over Jonny Clayton in his best run to a board final, sticking around the low 90's level for all of the last three events, indeed, if Chisnall didn't average 121 against him, maybe he could have gone further than the last 32. Evans also got into the third Euro Tour event, by winning through the always tough associate members' qualifier, there he would get a win over the improving Kai Gotthardt, before running into Suljovic averaging a casual 105. This'll certainly be a tough game for both players.


Up and down year for Mervyn. Almost the year where he finally got a major title, by going on an amazing run in the Players Championship Finals. King went within one leg of the title having gone through an absurdly tough run of Dave Chisnall, Danny Noppert, Karel Sedlacek, Damon Heta and then Peter Wright, before coming up just short against Michael van Gerwen. It's maybe the best chance he'll have, and now just a few months away from 55, you wonder if it'll be his last chance. Regardless, outside of that he's had a few high spots - doing well in the first two European Tour events, going through Pipe, Durrant and Kleermaker in Belgium before the break, and Siepmann, Wattimena, van Gerwen and Wade afterwards, Wade additionally being the player he beat in the Grand Prix before coming up just short against Simon Whitlock.

Outside of that it's been somewhat slim pickings - only the two board wins on the Pro Tour saw him enter that final weekend with a seeding down in the 40's. While King didn't lose in the first round too often, there were just too many one and done or two and done events, and even in those two last sixteen runs, he didn't face the toughest opposition. King missed out on the Matchplay, was pretty poor in the UK Open against Joe Cullen, and averaged similarly poorly in the European Championship against Ian White as he had another exit at the first hurdle. The fifty grand he picked up most recently will keep his ranking going nicely for a while, but King will need to improve his floor efforts if he wants to stay seeded on the Pro Tour, otherwise it'll only get tougher and tougher.


Max has become somewhat of a forgotten man, it seems quite a while ago that he was winning on the Euro Tour, and it's only really that he's been able to get a free pass onto the Euro Tour (at least in Germany) that he's actually here, as without that eight grand he would have ended up well short in a year where he only reached the board final on the Pro Tour twice, not winning either of them. Let's talk about the good first - after being the beneficiary of a free pass to the Euro Tour while in Germany (along with Gabriel Clemens), he did make good use of it, first up beating Reece Robinson and Ian White before losing to Noppert, beating Pero Ljubic then losing to van der Voort, then arguably his best event was last when he beat Klaasen and de Sousa before falling to Ross Smith. This was more than enough money to get him into the European Championship - but he lost a decider against Jonny Clayton, going 5-3 up with a 170 out, he missed a dart at bull and a dart at tops to claim victory. That'd be the only time he's been in a major - he was in the last 64 of the UK Open by right, but withdrew.

It's the Pro Tour that's been the issue, and that's always been the issue. He only played 20 events, but went out in the first round eleven times, and only reached round three twice. That's an overall losing record, and some of his opponents weren't the greatest. He's had first round losses to Reece Robinson, Peter Jacques, Adam Hunt, Harald Leitinger, Robert Thornton - that's not the strongest list. Hopp ranks outside the top 64 on Pro Tour averages, and an overall points per turn in everything below 89 just isn't going to cut it. It's back to seeing flashes and just not seeing Max grind it out where it matters, he's simply not going to get into majors if he doesn't knuckle down and start producing.


Max has got a potential banana skin in the opening round in Gordon Mathers - the Australian returns for a second attempt, three years after falling to Seigo Asada in a deciding set in a preliminary round. The first international qualifier to make it after the DPA called off their season, Gordon was top of their rankings at the time and claims his spot as a result. In the events that have been held this year, Mathers was able to win one over Kyle Anderson, and reach the final of another, and is in a group of players just below the top two or three with a similar level of average. The Australian qualifiers have generally been solid, but if it's not someone like an Anderson or a Heta who we know is going to go on to try the Pro Tour and make it, then they've generally lacked the real power game to be able to keep the opponent under real pressure.

Mathers, however, did show intent by giving Q-School a go. He showed a good standard, generally in the mid-80's with a handful of games dropping a little bit lower and occasionally ending up a bit higher, managing to top 100 in his first game of the final day where he was able to push through to the last 64. He did end up quite high up in the averages of both Q-Schools combined, and stuck around for the first weekend of the Challenge Tour. Averaging just shy of 87 for those four events, he had a good run to the last sixteen in the first event, and an even better run to the semi finals of the third event, beating amongst others Robert Collins and James Richardson before falling to Matthew Dennant. This'd have been able to get him into a couple of the Pro Tours before the lockdown, and maybe the Summer Series as well - just a shame that Milton Keynes isn't right round the corner from Brisbane really. Should be a good game.