Wednesday 13 July 2022

Here comes the Matchplay

Great few days of Pro Tours just now and the Matchplay lineup is confirmed. Got to say that I do like the changes from last year, seems like a lot of the dead wood on their way out have been replaced by newer, up and coming players, and the draw looks pretty exciting too. Will go through the games in a bit, but first, the new FRH rankings (incorporates mincashing the Matchplay but all the top 20's in so it doesn't change anything):

1 Peter Wright
2 Gerwyn Price
3 Michael Smith
4 Michael van Gerwen
5 James Wade
6 Rob Cross
7 Luke Humphries
8 Jonny Clayton
9 Danny Noppert
10 Jose de Sousa
11 Ryan Searle
12 Gary Anderson
13 Joe Cullen
14 Dirk van Duijvenbode (UP 2)
15 Damon Heta (DOWN 1)
16 Nathan Aspinall (UP 1)
17 Dimitri van den Bergh (DOWN 2)
18 Krzysztof Ratajski
19 Dave Chisnall
20 Callan Rydz

Dirk winning the opener, even with nothing else beyond that, was enough to get him just ahead of Heta and Aspinall, but less than 2,000 points separate those three. Dimitri isn't too far behind those but had a comparatively poor weekend compared to those. Lower down, Dolan's win puts him up to 21, Adie's win sees him one place outside the top 32, Gilding is into the top 45 while Koltsov's final from nowhere gets him back into the top 90.

So, Matchplay. Mincashes put Gilding and Lukeman into the top 50, highest ranked players to miss out are King, van der Voort, Suljovic, White, Ross Smith and Whitlock. Lots of good new players coming in for the first time like Schindler, Razma and Rodriguez, I believe someone said it's the youngest average age ever. Let's look at each game and pick out some bets. Will go in draw order, overall scoring listed in brackets:

[1] Wright (94.40) v Razma (88.75) - Not really much of interest here. Wright is still elite and Razma's got the lowest scoring of anyone in the field, only making it in as the penultimate Pro Tour player. I can't see anything but a rout, Wright should win this 85% of the time so I think we can go 0.5u Wright 2/7, Madars might nick some legs but lacks the consistent scoring power to trouble Peter over a race to 10.

[16] Ratajski (93.44) v Bunting (91.66) - Ratajski held on to his seeding place (although has clearly been doing enough on the Pro Tour that he was safe anyway), and is playing better than many commentators think, and ought to have a small edge over Bunting, who's merely been OK, nothing more nothing less. Does seem like it will be a close game, I have Ratajski at about 55% and he is 4/5, so the odds makers are in agreement with me.

[8] Clayton (94.26) v Rodriguez (90.14) - Rowby held on to the last place on the final day, was down to whether Mensur could go incredibly deep, but he couldn't. Clayton's an incredibly tough draw though, and with four points in the scoring this is translating to an exact 80/20 edge for the major winner. Rowby's picking up a bit of form but with a best price of 10/3, we really can't bet this one.

[9] van den Bergh (93.05) v Rydz (91.25) - Dimitri might be under a bit of pressure here as he is defending title money, and an early exit could see him slip possibly outside the top 16. He's only seeded 18th in the worlds race. Rydz will be a dangerous opponent but one that Dimitri should have an edge over, I'm looking at 65/35. The market favours him ever so slightly more than that, but we can't consider taking the contrarian Callan punt.

[4] van Gerwen (95.58) v Lewis (91.51) - This could easily have been a major final at some point if their peaks had coincided, as is it's a first round matchup and Lewis will mostly be happy to be here, having been in no way a certainty before the last Pro Tour series. van Gerwen is back after surgery, so there's a bit of a question mark as to how well he's playing, but projects at between 75% and 80% in my models, so 2/5 on Spreadex might be worth a small stab, but they're the only bookie who's giving close to any sort of value.

[13] Cullen (92.23) v Heta (94.98) - Not a bad draw for Heta, at least in the first round as that's a brutal quarter with both MvG and Humphries there (had to laugh at one commenter saying that Cullen's been a top four player this year lol), while Cullen would have preferred a much better opponent. Cullen appears to be the only seed priced as an underdog, and nowhere near the level of underdog he should be as I can only see him taking this one 30% of the time, Damon is just that much better. 0.25u Heta 4/5 is fantastic value.

[5] Wade (91.40) v Lukeman (89.69) - Wade's actually got the lowest scoring of anyone in the seeds, even worse than de Sousa, and he's drawn one of only two players in the event scoring under 90 per turn in the in form Martin Lukeman, so this might not be the highest quality, but both players seem to make the most of the skill they have, so it could be nip and tuck. Wade should have a moderate edge, projecting at 55% but with a little bit of a consistency edge, Lukeman at 2/1 is kind of a tempter but with this being his first big major event, and playing someone who does what he does, only better, who also has course and distance and likes this sort of format, I can't go with it.

[12] Humphries (94.34) v Aspinall (92.59) - What a match up. Aspinall's playing well, Humphries is up there in the argument as being the best player in the world right now, four Euro Tours doesn't lie. Market is thinking 60/40 - that looks close enough to me, maybe Luke should be a tick or two shorter, but this is probably his first major with real expectation on him whereas Nathan's won one before, so perhaps it actually plays out a little tighter in real life.

[2] Price (93.54) v Schindler (92.27) - Price is maybe not quite at peak form, but is still clearly a very dangerous player, as is Schindler, who's getting close to getting that first tour win but still waiting to get over the line in one of them. Seems like they've played a few times of late but I could just be imagining it, this is the sort of game that Martin typically doesn't win, and only projects at 30%, and he's priced a bit longer than 2/1 which is right on the money.

[15] Chisnall (92.61) v Huybrechts (90.05) - Interesting one this, Chizzy's holding a top 16 spot primarily based on a worlds semi from two years ago, while Kim is getting into these which is what he needs to do to get back into the world's top 32. This is a tough ask for the Belgian who I'm thinking will take this one down slightly less than one time in three, Chizzy seems to be a best price of 1/2 so there's not enough differential there.

[7] de Sousa (91.54) v Clemens (90.27) - Jose's arguably the most out of form player in the whole tournament, not really doing much of anything in 2022 but keeping the scoring going enough to still get wins here and there, but like a few players here will drop solidly down the rankings once his Grand Slam win drops off later this season. Gabriel got another final recently but got destroyed by Dirk, not playing at his best still in my opinion, but still OK and maybe has a bit more than a 40% chance here. The market however has already adjusted enough to de Sousa's lack of form and we can't get better than 5/4 on Gabriel, which is close enough to correct that we can ignore the game.

[10] Cross (94.06) v Dobey (91.92) - This ought to be good. I've picked Cross to win the event as he's still playing at a very high level, just not getting results and this quarter isn't the most testing - only Price would be a big threat and you can see that Rob is outscoring him. Dobey might be the biggest challenge, Chris can play better than he is doing right now and an in-form Dobey is tricky to beat, but this looks like close to a bang on two to one favour line for Cross. If you've got money on the obscure books offering 8/13 I'd go with a small flier, but most of the big boys are offering at best 4/7 which isn't really of interest to me.

[3] Smith (93.73) v Gilding (93.37) - Is this going to be the tournament where Smith finally wins a big one? It's not a bad quarter he's got but this is a brutal draw with Gilding making another final this weekend (he really should have won it, but me having each way at 66/1 probably bokked him), and this does have a genuine sense of being too close to call. Peak Gilding is what we've got right now and peak Gilding is capable of making major semi finals, Smith's not playing badly either but this price is way off, 0.25u Gilding 5/2 is there at Coralbrokes, but with me seeing over 45% for Goldfinger, any price you can see at 2/1 or better is clearly worth a play.

[14] van Duijvenbode (94.14) v Searle (93.08) - A contender for tie of the round, Dirk added another tour title recently, while Searle was just one place outside the top 16 and is a major finalist within the last twelve months. Think the styles of play should complement each other and this should be an excellent match, I think Dirk has an edge but only a very small one, Searle at 6/5 is an accurate price.

[6] Anderson (94.65) v Gurney (90.28) - Gary's barely played this year and Edgar points out in a recent video that he is defending final money and lots more across the rest of the year. His level of play is still very good, it's just over not too much sample size, Gurney's played nearly 700 ranked legs this season while Gary's under 300. I do think that this is a good spot to bet Ando, 0.25u Anderson 4/6, better is available on Spreadex, my projections give it at over 80% for Ando, let's say that's a sample size aberration and it's not that much - even 70% would be a simple play at that price. Daryl's only just scoring over 90, and I've got to feel that Gary is rested enough and will be keyed in knowing this is an important tournament.

[11] Noppert (92.21) v Dolan (90.95) - Final game and we've got the most recent major champion against the most recent Pro Tour champion, Dolan won the last Pro Tour while Noppert won one two days earlier so both will be confident in their games. Like his compatriot in the previous game, maybe he's not playing as well as he was, say, nine months ago, but still looks to have more than 40% chances, so I can take a small shot, 0.1u Dolan 2/1, just taking it small as the edge isn't as big as others and I think my model is starting to underrate Noppert a little bit.

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