Sunday 28 February 2021

PC 1-4

Just going to throw out a few thoughts, with the UK Open coming just round the corner, it seems to make a lot more sense to build in a lot of thoughts in the preview for that, but for now, here's what I think:

- Clayton showing why it was correct to pick him as the last player in the Premier League. We all know he's been great for a good 2-3 years now, but it's converting into results, two finals and a bink is an absurd haul.

- That said, he's not in the top five of the points per turn over the course of the weekend. There's a few sample size issues here, but Joe Murnan led the way (see how it was worthwhile to pick apart Q-School? Didn't translate into wins, but good scoring), Kim Huybrechts did surprisingly well, then you had Noppert, DvdB, MvG and DvD before you got to Clayton.

- Soutar seems legit. Could this be this year's Jason Lowe? Got through to a quarter, and sneaks into the top 10 (ninth, Ratajski was just above, Heta just below).

- So pleased that Rydz managed to bink. He was delayed getting onto the circuit for way too long, the scoring was there all last season, we started to see glimpses of results as well in the back end, and now he's looking in a real good spot to get into the Matchplay.

- So, oddly is Barney. He binked one, which will have taken all the headlines away from Rydz, but with the relative lack of events last season that will count towards the Matchplay, it doesn't take long at all to catch up. He's less than 3k behind 16th place on the Pro Tour listings as of right now.

- Aaron fucking Beeney beat Gerwyn Price. You love to see it.

- There's a few surprising names at the bottom of the scoring. David Evans is down there, he had some right draws so maybe couldn't do too much if he'd played better, but it's not a great start. West had a bad set of games, McGeeney started poorly and it's not looking great for him to retain a card if he keeps playing like this. Kleermaker got jobbed out of the worlds and hasn't got back up to speed yet. Henderson's improved a little but not a great deal, Price was not himself, Durrant was down at 88 a turn, we'll see what happens in the UK Open and in the next series, which isn't too far away. Annoyingly that's all during a week, and in a week where I can take no time off.

- Quite a few of the call-ups did alright. Rusty's scoring was great, Rowby was also up pushing 91, Martin Thomas got a few good wins, Chas Barstow, Lorenzo Pronk and Luc Peters were competent enough, suppose it was only really Rasztovits that didn't take the chances, although he did at least get a grand in the bank.

New FRH rankings:

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

Dirk's consistent good play throughout the weekend has seen him get above King, who's just one place outside now. Cullen could have got into the top 10 if he'd won his last 16 game today, but remains less than 1000 points above Aspinall. Clayton's results have seen him fly up, the one notable slider is Cross, who didn't have a complete loss (although it could be better), but the time since the last rankings has really seen his back-loaded results decay a lot more than those players around him.

Lower down, Rydz is now safely in the top 50 (although he was only just outside), Barney is up to 70th, Heta is closing in on the top 32 and is within 15k of Ricky Evans who holds the last spot, while Soutar's good results already sees him up to #160.

Back with UK Open stuff when the draw is done.

Sunday 21 February 2021

So, what to make of our new card holders?

Few ways we can look at how things will shake up, so let's go through some of them. In retrospect, I probably should also have picked up on the players who just missed out, given they're already up to the fourth (!) player on the alternates list, but it is what it is. First off, percentage of legs won:

Now some of this may be a bit misleading, as players that didn't enter at the first stage didn't get to stat pad against any of the fun players, so let's look at things another way:

Here we're doing a similar thing, but we're breaking it down by the speed in which legs were won, and sorting by the number of all legs that were won within fifteen darts. As such, you don't have a great deal to worry about with Barney, he's looking pretty good, but the few below also seem pretty competent, especially when you consider that most of them came through straight from the final stage, so you don't get the sorts of cheap wins that you might otherwise get. The worrying thing is that for Worsley, whose overall winning percentage was the lowest, he can't really say he's got too many of them overly quickly. Suppose the other thing to note is that Schindler's got an awful lot of legs won in twelve darts or better.

As our prediction tools only work off won legs, and then tweak based on losing average in comparison to that, let's see if the order changes wildly if we remove lost legs, and still sort by fifteen dart win percentage:

There's a few changes here. All of a sudden Murnan looks like the man to beat, with Barney, Mitchell and Schindler weighing in at over 50%, and quite a few floating around at roughly that mark.

How does that compare to the tour as a whole though? Looking back at the last twelve months, it's not overly favourable - the first player in terms of overall scoring that is below 60% in terms of proportion of legs won being in fifteen darts or less is Gurney, and he's fifteenth. To find a player that is below 55%, you need to go down to Steve Lennon or Andy Boulton, and you need to go down as far as Ryan Murray before you get someone who is below 50%.

That a large number of players are below 40% is a bit of a concern, especially with those who have got a very high percentage of legs that are won in seven visits or more. There is a huge caveat though, there's going to have been plenty of games in the first stage where someone's been playing a jobber, hasn't needed to rush a leg, and a 21 dart kill is going to be more than enough. Fortunately, I built the stage into the data model, so let's take out the entirety of the first stage and also eliminate the round of 128 entirely, so we're just looking at players who've at least managed to win one game to filter some of this out:

Now de Vos is looking a heck of a lot better, although the players at the top are mostly the same. I'd normally look in terms of who has come through on points as who might have the better shots, but it's a huge mixed bag - the likes of Murnan, Schindler, Lukeman and Williams, sure, they're looking decent, but Worsley, Lerchbacher, Zonneveld and even Soutar have got to be a bit questionable.

One thing to note about Baggish - he's a bit low here, but he's not been gifted many legs at all. He's got quite a high proportion of kills in six visits, but after that, he's either taken things out, or got it done beforehand. Koltsov, by comparison, may have looked pretty good on paper, but has been given a heck of a lot of free legs.

Might be worth taking a cheeky punt on Murnan in this series. Nothing crazy, but there's certainly bookmakers out there who'll give you quarter the odds to make a semi. He has won one of these before, and clearly looks to be playing at a decent enough standard.

Wednesday 17 February 2021

We have our 128

I think that went just about as well as could be expected in terms of players I wanted to see get cards. Let's start in Europe first - Koltsov binked the day outright, we knew Schindler, Barney and Lerchbacher were all extremely close already and all converted, Zonneveld got back on with a good run today, Michael held on despite an early defeat, while Unterbuchner, Gawlas and Marijanovic did enough to get home, with the two Rodriguez brothers sandwiching Luc Peters in just missing out, both RJR's being live right until the end but just losing the games that'd get them over the line. Very pleased with those names, especially Gawlas, very excited to see how he'll do with a full two years on the senior tour to develop, not necessarily expecting anything straight away, but it could be a case where he comes back much, much stronger on a second run. It was a pity that Doets, Veenstra and Vandenbogaerde all had fairly early exits, would have been happy with any of them getting in over, say, Michael or Marijanovic, but we can't have everything.

As for the UK, Baggish got to the final and did just enough to nick the last card by a leg or two, as Mitchell won outright, and Gilding, Lovely, Soutar (despite a first round 6-0 defeat), Murnan, Mathers, Hudson, Worsley, Claydon and John Brown closed out the points list. Feel for Chas Barstow who lost a 5-3 lead to Adrian Gray when a win would have got him a card, as well as Jim Williams who finally got on a bit of a run but fell to Carl Wilkinson and couldn't get enough points. At least the players that missed out will be getting a UK Open spot, that tournament being just a couple of weeks away, but first we've got the first set of Players Championship events in just eight days from now.

The good thing about the format this year is that pretty much all the new card holders will have thrown a TON of darts in Q-School, so we can try to gauge where their game is at pretty quickly, and not have a huge time lag between those players having thrown those darts and kicking off competitive matches. I'll put together something by the weekend showing how they've all thrown - apart from someone like Shepherd who binked pretty quickly without playing stage 1, there's lots of data there, and it should all be useful. 

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Final day incoming

Another two people lock up cards automatically, Florian Hempel got the card in Europe and Jake Jones was able to get there from the UK. Lost Horvat from my list as he dropped out after day two, but from countback Lewis Williams is in after a nice run to the semis, as are Jack Main and Martin Lukeman, while Alan Soutar probably just needs a point. In Europe, Schindler, Lerchbacher and Koltsov are in, which gives me another two in, Barney and John Michael are very close as well.

There's an awful, awful lot of players that need to bink to get in now - the cutoff for Europe's already at 5 and you can only score 5 without binking, and it seems pretty unlikely there won't be some people just outside that nick a couple, so Marko Kantele, Ronny Huybrechts, Thibault Tricole, Nico Kurz, Jeffrey de Graaf and Chris Landman will need to win it all. Likely that Franz Roetzsch and Christian Kist will need at least a final, while Marijanovic, Decker, Rowby, Campbell and Alcinas will all be looking to the last four realistically.

The UK cutoff is also already at five, so Alan Norris, Scott Baker, Haupai Puha, Arron Monk and Adrian Gray all need a win, Scott Mitchell, Adam Smith-Neale, Jarred Cole, Simon Stevenson, Kevin Painter, Jim Williams and John O'Shea may need to do the same, and at the very least will probably need a final.

Either way, both races are going to be incredibly tight and it'll be fun viewing tomorrow.

Monday 15 February 2021

How are we doing after day 2?

Not brilliant, but could be worse - we've not got any of the single day winners, as Kirk Shepherd continues his West Brom of the darts world pattern of winning back his card again, Geert de Vos returned to form and got a card, Jason Heaver put in a great set of performances to claim the card today, while Geert Nentjes claimed the card in Europe today, and I'm not really sure how I missed him off my list.

As for everyone else from my picks, Rafferty unfortunately withdrew, and the rest of the UK list is looking like a bit of a dumpster fire - Soutar is almost certainly in, Lewy Williams is in a good spot after a semi final run today, but they're the only players in the provisional spots - Askew and Jenks have two, Stevenson and Cole have a point a piece but everyone else has a big fat zero. That is not a good return. Martin Lukeman and Jack Main are looking extremely good regardless, while Eddie Lovely and Gavin Carlin don't need much more right now.

In Europe, my picks are looking a lot better - I don't have Lerchbacher, who's close to a lock with 7 points already, but Barney, Schindler (who's finishing off ten darters on the bull for fun) and Koltsov (who missed three for a card today) look very good on points so far, but everyone else is a bit off. I've got Plaisier and Veenstra on three, Campbell on two, while Horvat and Roetzsch have just the single point.

That really is quite a lot of players not yet on the board. The number of high quality players without a point is remarkable, but when you only score once in the top 32, it's perhaps a bit understandable. There's a couple of things in relation to Q-School's new format that need fixing for next year, if they keep it this way - the first is sorting the leg difference so that it only counts once in rounds where you can score points proper. The idea that you can play a prelim, smack someone up 6-0, and have a +6 advantage over someone who's got a bye is a bit silly. The other thing they should have done is kept around five players who just missed out on the final stage around in the bubble for the event that people withdraw. This happened on day one in the UK, but when you know that you're giving the winners of each day an auto berth, why would you not have extra people filling in the last few spots based on countback?

Will check in tomorrow with the scenarios, might do something in running on Wednesday given I'm off work.

Saturday 13 February 2021

OK, let's pick our winners

Bit of indecision as to whether the split in cards is 17/12 or 16/13 for UK/EU, so I'm just going to pick 17/13 in no particular order (i.e. alphabetical):

Jason Askew
Danny Baggish
Darren Beveridge
Jarred Cole
Nick Fullwell
Andy Jenkins
Darren Johnson
Scott Mitchell
John O'Shea
Dave Pallett
Nathan Rafferty
Fallon Sherrock
Alan Soutar
Simon Stevenson
Scott Taylor
Jim Williams
Lewis Williams

Stefan Bellmont
Matt Campbell
Kevin Doets
Dragutin Horvat
Boris Koltsov
Nico Kurz
Wesley Plaisier
Franz Roetzsch
Martin Schindler
Thibault Tricole
Raymond van Barneveld
Richard Veenstra
Niels Zonneveld

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Round one done

Well, first bit of it is at least. Having a quick scan, there's quite a few big names that have missed out - Wes Newton, James Richardson, Dean Winstanley, Darryl Fitton, and probably most shockingly Wayne Warren (on the stupid stupid tiebreaker that is three dart average), while on the EU side, I don't think there was any major casualties. Some names I had heard of, but only the likes of Toon Greebe, Thomas Kohnlein, nobody major.

Barney was safely through before today but got through outright, also we got Roetzsch through automatically, Veenstra, Koltsov, Gawlas, Rasztovits and Kurz also got through outright, while the points table has quite a few randoms along with some steady players who can make a run on their day, the likes of Unterbuchner, de Vos, Plaisier, Landman, Vandenboegaerde, Eidams etc.

In the UK, probably the biggest names through automatically were Painter and Warburton, quite a few known names alongside but those were probably the biggest two. Plenty of big guns through on countback, the PDC lead with Sherrock but the likes of Hudson, Smith-Neale, Ladley, McDine, Usher, Quantock and most of the Aussie contingent got there.

We'll see what happens with stage two in the next few days.

Monday 8 February 2021

Q-School is under way

Thank god for that as well, something to analyse. A bunch of people have put up their picks, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but I'm going to wait until we've got lineups for Stage 2 before picking out who's going to get a card.

Simple thing is that we've not got much of anything to go on. It doesn't take any skill to say that Raymond van Barneveld will win a card, or that Danny Baggish will win a card, or that Matt Campbell win a card, or that Jim Williams will win a card. Or that the guy who lose 6-0 to someone averaging 45 won't win one. Where there is interest is in some more of the fringe names and making some sort of hero pick that comes good. But how will we do it?

Answer is we don't know. The only non tour card level darts we've had in the last 12 months is limited Challenge Tour and Development Tour games, the Dutch Open, and maybe the odd game in the UK Open. That's really about it. At least if we look at how players have done in the first stage, we can have some kind of an educated guess.

That said, if there's something of note that I want to say over the first stage, I'm definitely going to mention it. While three events and then done is a pretty brutal format, it's not going to take a huge amount of points to make stage two. But you really don't want a bad start. In the Euro event, you're going to need to make the last 32 to get anything, so it's a bit concerning to see some players who I'd have thought would do well drop early. Franz Roetzsch didn't play well at all and is out already (sure he'd have played Barney in the following round). Wesley Plaisier is done. Boris Koltsov needed to come from 5-0 down and did after playing like complete arse before then, while he's got one point (which may be it as he's getting tanked by Vandenboegarde right now) he's lucky to get that. Quite a lot of the decent German names have already slipped up early.

Couple of interesting draws in the UK field - Hedman against James Bailey. Gordon Mathers against Daniel Day. Mike Norton (he who had a nice UK Open run a few years ago and played Barney IIRC) against Sherrock. Haupai Puha and Mick Todd. Mike Warburton and Darryl Fitton. These are all first round games. No idea on the board assignments as a whole, but if you're getting this in round one, the later rounds should be a lot of fun.

Monday 1 February 2021

We have February

Alright, there's a few things that have gone on, so worth making a new post.

Clayton's managed to get the final Premier League spot by taking the Masters by beating King in the final. Full marks to anyone that managed to get that straight forecast, this is the sort of great result that I'm happy for Jonny for, but at the same time it takes away yet another player from the "bet at will because people don't think he's as good as he is" list. What that's done is finalised the Second and Third Division Darts rosters - based on what I listed here, we have these players:

Second Division - Wade, White, Humphries, Chisnall, M Smith, Ratajski, Cullen, Petersen, Heta, Searle
Third Division - Payne, de Zwaan, Brooks, van Duijvenbode, Brown, Hopp, Hunt, Barry, Rydz, Lennon

When will be seeing them first? At the end of this month, as the PDC today have announced that they'll have three blocks of four Pro Tour events, the first in Bolton, then one in Milton Keynes and one in Niedernhausen. Should get 12 events in the bank pretty quickly, I suppose the big question is how they backfill these events if players (say, Kyle Anderson for one) aren't able to play. There's no Challenge Tour list, so what will they do? Look at the Q-School rankings?

Which is also what they're going to do with the UK Open to fill up the spots that won't be there for Rileys' qualifiers. This kind of sucks to be honest - now obviously because of government "murder everyone" policy, they can't actually be held, but couldn't the PDC have used what they've learned from the Home Tour and collaborate with others that have held online events, and give, say, eight spots to an amateur online qualifier? I'm pretty sure that would be feasible and they've got the time to work things out in such a way to minimise the chances of cheating, and keep somewhat of the amateur ethos that makes the tournament special. It's still going to be my favourite event of the season, make no doubt about it, but without the fun of working out who the hell a bunch of random players are, it's not quite the same.