Saturday 31 December 2022

And then there were eight

Good job if you managed to pick out all of the quarter finalists, I certainly didn't. We're up ever so slightly, I don't think there's any tips we missed on which I'd want back, other than to have waited to bet on DvD yesterday, although that obviously wouldn't have affected the bottom line. One thing I will say though, this popped up on my Twitter feed yesterday:

Honestly? WHY DIDN'T ANYONE MENTION THIS BEFORE? I had literally no clue that Clemens was running through some sort of injury. Kevin's mentioned in replies that it was talked about in German media briefly, but that's it. We've got god knows how many darts "journalists" out there, you would have thought someone would have picked up on this, heck, if you can churn out god knows how many exaggerated pieces on Aspinall's issues which turned out to be a complete nothing burger, you can at least mention that a top 32 player and number one of a major darting nation is playing hurt. Google Translate shit if you need to. Seriously now, if I had known this even so much as 48 hours ago, I increase my bet size against Soutar to a standard play and make more profit. Do some work people.

So, quarters, let's go:

van den Bergh/Clayton - Is clearly the closest game in the market, and feels the closest on paper. Dimitri's had a pretty easy ride of things so far, whereas Clayton was given a real test by Rock, and by Dolan to a much lesser extent. It feels like a sharp step up in class for Dimitri, not so much for Jonny, it's unchartered waters for Clayton, whereas Dimitri's been here a couple of times before and lost a couple of times before. I'm seeing Clayton at 56%, which feels about right, the market typically has Clayton at 8/13 and 4/7, with one marginal place a bit shorter, that's clearly not enough, but there's no real value in Dimitri either, best we can get from conventionals is 13/10 which looks a perfect line, couple of randoms are pushing 7/5 but we'd need a fair bit more than that, 7/4 I might start looking at it.

Price/Clemens - One of two games that is priced (lol) up very one sided, Gerwyn's not really been stretched with de Sousa doing OK but never really getting close, whereas Clemens had a tight game against Williams before being a bit too good for Soutar in the last sixteen. Clemens is pretty much freerolling here, and looking the best he's done for quite some time (see above), Price meanwhile is obviously defending a ton and would be expected to win this. Looks to me as if this is just shy of 84% for Price - that translates to 1/5, which is where he's at pretty much across the board. Clemens appears to be 7/2 in most places, if we assume that he's been playing below par for a fair bit of the year and give him an extra 5% winning chance, that is still not enough. Easy enough one to avoid.

Smith/Bunting - The second closest one in the market, but still one where we've got a 75% favourite, or there abouts post-vig removal. Smith is like Clemens in that he had the one test in the round of 32, but was easily too good in the last sixteen against Cullen, doing to Joe what we expect more people to do to him. Stephen's been a real surprise, but playing to a level we know he can do, looking excellent against an opponent in Chisnall who was firing on all cylinders, then being ruthless against a woefully below par Luke Humphries. Conventional bookies are typically putting Smith at around 3/10 with Bunting just the other side of that 75/25 marker. I think there's a bit of value in this one, as I only project Smith in the low 60% range, albeit with Bunting having slightly more inconsistency. If I bump Michael's chances up slightly to 65%, then I think there's enough in it with the way Bunting's playing to take a small stab here - 0.1u Bunting 5/2

van Gerwen/Dobey - Michael continues to look good with a third straight ton-plus average, taking apart van Duijvenbode who looked a bit disappointing on paper, while Dobey has improved each round, from mid-80's in the first game (which was all that was needed) to 95 against Ando then 102 in a really polished display against Cross in the last sixteen. van Gerwen is, as you would expect, a huge favourite, pretty much 1/6 in most places with Dobey 4/1 almost everywhere, although the exchanges have things tightened up and offer a bit better value. I'm seeing it 80/20 - Dobey's an underdog, but he is in no way drawing dead, he does after all have a TV win over van Gerwen this season, albeit over a much shorter format. I'm going to have a cheeky small bet on Dobey on the exchange where we can get 5/1, but I can't recommend a play in this one.

Will likely be back after the quarters in the evening on NYD, not sure if I'm going to try to get to a match on the 2nd so the morning might not work for analysis.

Friday 30 December 2022

Q2 R4


That second set was the killer. Don't miss all those doubles in legs 2/3, and it's 2-0 at the second break and it leaves Clayton with way, way too much to do. I did put some insurance on Clayton after set one, but it's not the sort of ending we wanted. Oh well, we still have a Humphries futures ticket alive, and it's that section of the draw we're going to look at now.

Smith/Cullen first, Michael can consider himself really lucky to have come through his match with Schindler after not being tested by Rafferty in the slightest, while Joe was pushed slightly by Evans but never really felt like he was in trouble, then Heta just continued his awful head to head matchup with Cullen coming through incredibly comfortably. The line looks fine to me. I'm getting Michael as a two to one favourite, he is typically 1/2, 4/9 in most places which seems correct. Would take a ton of money on Cullen to make me consider anything in this one.

Humphries/Bunting is the last round of sixteen game, Luke was cruising against van der Voort but then let the veteran Dutchman right back in to the game - fair play to Vincent for doing so, but Humphries pulled himself together in the deciding set and took that one in three straight legs, this being his second deciding set win after Hempel made things tricky in the opener. Bunting took out Chizzy in maybe the highest quality game of the round, checking things out like a pro as Dave was averaging near 102 in the legs he lost, this comes after Stephen came through a potential tricky matchup with Leonard Gates. Market appears the same in this one, with Luke being favoured by a 2-1 margin, maybe in this one I have it a little tighter, I've got Bunting as having just under a 40% shot to pull out the upset. 7/4 seems pretty easily available, but it's only the tiniest of tiny value, so I'm not going to recommend the play.

In terms of line moves from what I've already posted, money piles in on MvG, so while I took Dirk at 3/1, you can now get 7/2 fairly easily and even better than 4's on the exchanges, so if you waited, don't wait any longer, while Clemens is now close enough with Soutar that I'm going to take a small stab based on what I posted a couple of days ago, 0.1u Clemens 10/11, we've had enough movement to take the small shot.

Thursday 29 December 2022

Q4 R4

Bullet dodged earlier today, but we're back to being up as a result of Smith messing things up, we'll take it.

Dirk's now going to face MvG, who played fantastically against an inspired Suljovic and has reiterated his position as the man to beat. Dirk's come through two back and forth games which has possibly taken a fair chunk out of him. That said, he's incredibly live in this one - he's pushed his scoring up to a level where the projections I have think he will take this 40% of the time. That seems like a bold figure, but that's how well he's been playing this season, year long scoring as of right now only has him behind MvG, Heta and Price, and that's it - those last two being only by less than a tenth of a point - although van Gerwen's well over a point ahead of all of them. If we say that it seems optimistic, and it's really 35%, then this still looks like it is worth a small play given the price available on 365 - 0.1u van Duijvenbode 3/1.

Cross on the other hand had few troubles against King, Mervyn having the one good set but otherwise not really being close to Rob. He'll play Dobey, who took advantage of Ando not taking the shot he had to go 2-0 up in sets and cleaned things up to solidify a top 20 FRH position. Cross continues to be underrated in this one in places - we can get 4/6 in a couple of places, which seems very close to a play. I'm seeing him at just a shade under a two in three chance. If we get movement that makes Cross longer than 4/6, then I'd go with it, it's that close. 8/11 I'd go with. I'm probably just going to throw out an ask of something like 1.7 on the exchange and see if it gets matched.

Will be back tomorrow with Smith/Cullen and Bunting/whoever thoughts.

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Q1 R4

An awful lot of LOL in today's session, Noppert's surely played himself out of the Premier League, Ando will thankfully have done the same, Searle's collapse was remarkable. So for the first quarter, what do we have:

Price against de Sousa appears fairly straightforward to call. Price took what looked like a potentially tricky third round tie against Barney and made it look incredibly easy, while de Sousa needed to come back from the brink again and was let back into the match for the second time in a row. Jose isn't completely dead, I'd give him maybe a 30% shot, which appears exactly where the line is at with him being priced at 5/2 or slightly shorter from the small amount of bookies which have priced it up already. I severely doubt we're going to get any sort of line where we can look to punt.

Soutar against Clemens is one that looks like it should be fairly close, but I'm projecting the German as being slightly better, winning this one with something like a 60/40 clip. Clemens has looked the best he's done all season in this tournament, so I think that easily counters out the concept that Soutar is playing his best stuff in the last few months, which appears to be true. There's not many lines up yet, but it seems like the market is also settling on Gabriel being the favourite, although not quite so large as we have, the best price I'm seeing is 4/5. This looks like a facsimile of the Rock situation - we'd need closer to evens to go with it, 10/11 I'd probably go with a play. Might just go with a small double just to keep some interest in those two games, but won't recommend anything official at this point in time.

I may have a look at the one game in the second quarter that'll be finalised later this evening, but I will probably wait until the morning to do so once lines have properly come through.

Q3 R4

I've got to assume the scheduling is as such in order to get these two games known for tomorrow night - that they haven't actually put a schedule up when the games are tomorrow is unreal, but the scheduling's been fucked up massively. That Dolan plays last day of round two then first session of round three is particularly bonkers, but lolpdc I guess.

Wright going out is a huge, huge shocker and blows open the third quarter massively. Which, for those of us with Josh Rock futures, is a very welcome development. Let's look at that all-Belgian clash first with Dimi against Kim. van den Bergh has still yet to be properly tested given Ratajski looked pretty poor yesterday outside of a five-ten minute spell when he got his set, while Kim's clearly been tested against Peter, although the averages aren't overly huge and I don't recall reading any legs where masses of doubles were missed. I think there's a fair differential in quality here - Dimitri is the better player by enough of a margin that I'd expect him to claim the win just over three times in four. The market has things ever so slightly closer, but we can't get better than 4/11 at this stage, which is nowhere near enough of an edge to consider a punt. Maybe if some money comes in on Kim thinking that if he's beaten Wright, then DvdB won't be an issue, we can start to look at it, but I'd probably be needing 4/9 to start to think about firing, and I can't realistically see the line moving that much.

Other game is going to be Rock against Clayton. Josh coming through Nathan was the one I was worried about, especially after he went 2-1 down and missed the chance to close things out earlier than a deciding set, but he's through and is up against Clayton, after he came through Dolan in a match which was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests. Jonny's a step up in quality for Josh, but it's still not to a quality where we can really call it a flip - I've got this as basically 60/40. The typical line I'm seeing is 8/11 - so not favouring Josh quite as much as we are, but it's near enough to easily say no bet. Betway's got 4/5, which is closer, but I would probably be wanting 10/11 before I could start to recommend a play here. Clayton's no mug, if he plays like he did against van Trijp, this is going to be a seriously good match.

A couple of other things I want to comment on. Firstly, how good was that Clemens and Williams match? Absolute blinder. Shame as I had Jim futures (needed a quarter, would have partially laid vs Noppert and let it ride vs Soutar), but a great game. Secondly, what on earth is that WDF announcement about their worlds? They're holding it in December? 2023? So you've had a qualification period that's run through an entire year, then you're not holding the actual tournament for another twelve months? Really? How many players there are going to have their form collapse in the interim period? At that stage how many players will have qualified for the PDC worlds and not play them both back to back? For this upcoming season, how many players are going to have a super tough time selling themselves to sponsors with "when will I be on TV? End of 2024. Maybe?" sort of issues? I do not understand this in the slightest. If they want to move to a two year ranking system, that is fine, but you really can't have this long a gap between qualification ending and the actual tournament. It sounded partially like Ashdown was blaming lack of TV scheduling windows (citing, I believe, a clash with the seniors of all things), but let's be blunt here - what sort of TV deal is the WDF actually going to get, and what sort of timing is not going to clash with some other event these days? I have no idea why they are even trying to get a TV deal - how many people actually watch something like Quest anyway compared to streaming? I read somewhere that Sky didn't even have six figures for the opening night of the worlds. A quarter of a million people watched chessboxing on Youtube. CHESSBOXING. Tell TV to fuck off and stream the event yourselves. You likely get more viewers with more control over the product and less cost. That said, the PDC couldn't get their streaming to work for most of Aspinall/Rock, so it's not without risk.

Should be back after Soutar/Noppert to look at the top quarter.

Sunday 25 December 2022

Round 3

Alright, let's go through the sixteen third round games in draw order.

Price/van Barneveld - Obviously the entirety of the narrative is going to be about Barney's recent TV wins over Gerwyn, and as such I was expecting a fairly favourable line for which we could bet on the number one seed. That hasn't quite transpired, the best we can get is around 4/11, which is really surprising. I've got Price at 78%, so while it's not a bad bet, it's not really something I'm interested in given possible recent psychological things (i.e. losing a lot to him on TV) and very probable crowd things, although Price is pretty unlikely to care about that. No bet.

Searle/de Sousa - This ought to be decent, a 16/17 seed battle between two players who haven't had the greatest of seasons, and who have won their first game in wildly different fashions. Will Jose having had a much tougher test than Ryan make the difference? I'm looking at this one as being a little bit more than a 55% game for Searle, he's priced at 8/11, which appears more or less spot on, so will ignore this game from a gambling perspective as well.

Williams/Clemens - This one also ought to be great. Jim's bailed us out of a moderately bad start (thanks Jamie) with his second round win, while Gabriel appeared a seed in danger but easily dispatched O'Connor, which most pundits thought would be a lot closer. This one looks tight to call again, but I've got Jim as about a 55% favourite, which intuitively feels correct, the bookies can't separate them, so I can't really suggest taking evens as there's not quite the edge there.

Noppert/Soutar - Alan was someone that I thought had good chances to beat Gurney, he did, but the ease in which he did was surprising, similar to how I was surprised at how Danny let Cameron back into his opener a bit too easily. This looks like it should be fairly easy for Noppert, I'm projecting right in the middle of the 75-80% range. We'll tone that down slightly given Soots is peaking in form, and if we were to call it 75% then there's not enough edge to go with a best price that I can see of 2/5. Will ignore this one again.

Smith/Schindler - Michael had zero problems in the first round, Schindler had a few minor issues with Lukeman but handled them well enough. The German's played well enough this year that I'm projecting him as having a one in three shot, which sounds a bit surprising on the face of it, and the market thinks I'm being a bit contrarian as well, giving 7/2 in multiple places. This seems really close to a play, but I think a combination of Smith potentially playing a bit more freely having binked his major, coupled with Schindler not having done the greatest stuff on TV, I can talk myself out of it.

Cullen/Heta - Christ, this is going to be a tough one to call, we've got someone who statistically doesn't appear great but outperforms all the time, against someone who statistically looks fantastic but has continually botched games on TV. Fuck's sake. Market has it evens, I've got it as Heta at near 70%. Even taking into account that Cullen continually outperforms projections, and Damon never fails to disappoint, especially against Cullen this year, I have to go with it. 0.25u Heta evs

Humphries/van der Voort - This one seems pretty easy to project, Luke's among the elite now and should be in the Premier League, Vincent's one of the weakest players still in the field and got an enormous gift from Menzies to get through to this stage. Looks to be Luke at nearly 90%. Price seems generous. 0.5u Humphries 2/7, temptation to go a full unit is huge.

Chisnall/Bunting - Fun local derby here between two players who came through against potential banana skins 3-1, Chizzy's maybe more so but Bunting couldn't take anything for granted either. Dave is the better player, but it's not by a huge amount - I'm projecting around 60/40. As such, the market's giving a bit of a tempter on Stephen, but I'll pass for a few reasons - 2/1 is only right on the boundary of where we'd play, Dave's hitting form at the right time, and the projection is marginally on the right side of 60/40 for Dave. I don't hate the play on Bunting, but I won't recommend it officially.

Wright/Huybrechts - Neither player was tested in the slightest in their openers, and both have had a huge break, so it's a little bit tricky to say where their super recent form is at, so we just need to look at year long stuff, which as you would expect heavily favours Snakebite. It's even better than the 1/4 we can get, I'm seeing 86%. I'm going to talk myself out of a bet once more, if only because 1/4 isn't available in most places, and given that Peter might be ever so slightly rusty having missed the Players Championship. Seems acca safe, and I'm not going to disagree with you if you opt to fire on this one.

van den Bergh/Ratajski - More games which are close in seedings with 15 against 18, maybe seems a little low for both but I can see why it's happened, neither player got in any real trouble in their first game. I expect this to be spicy and fairly close, but with the Belgian having a moderate edge, projecting at basically spot on 60%. The market is leaning a little bit more towards Dimitri, but not by much, with only my main bookie of 365 offering a fishing price of 7/4, which isn't terrible but I'm not going to get hooked by it. A little bit longer than 2/1 however, and I'd start getting interested, but I would guess that particular line is going the other way rather than towards where we want to go.

Clayton/Dolan - This one looks moderately safe to call. Brendan should have had a real test with Jamie Hughes, but ended up making more of a meal of Jimmy Hendriks than was really needed, while Clayton looked excellent in quickly eliminating another Dutchman in Danny van Trijp. Projections say 70/30 in favour of Clayton, traditional markets are around that price point, but there's better than 4/1 available on the exchange if you believe that Brendan can perform as he has done all year and think he can get the upset. I've had a small personal nibble, but won't be recommending an official play with 10/3 being the best you can get through an orthodox bookie.

Aspinall/Rock - Clear tie of the round for me, Nathan has been playing fantastically, but Rock's just better. I see this as being between the 70% and 75% marks for Josh in this one. Try to take it down a few ticks to eliminate the early weeks when Nathan had injury issues and it shouldn't really change - those were the months when Josh was getting used to the tour. Rock's not been at his peak on TV since the Slam, but what we can get on Coralbrokes still seems easily worth the bet. 0.25u Rock 4/6

van Gerwen/Suljovic - Mensur was lucky to run into the bad version of Mike de Decker, Michael did not need any luck and would have beaten the good version of Lewy Williams if that arrived, which it didn't. This appears a trivial ask for MvG, I'd set a vig free line at 1/7. He is 1/12. That's maybe being a touch disrespectful to the Austrian veteran, but we're not going to go with any sort of yolo shot on him.

van Duijvenbode/Smith - This is another game which is going to be really, really fun to watch which should see 180's for fun, Dirk in particular never fails to provide entertaining matches. I'm not having a great deal of trouble in separating the players on what looks like a moderately close game based on seedings and TV results this year - Dirk is better and this is a 65/35 game. Easy enough bet as a result, 0.25u van Duijvenbode 8/11, wouldn't be taking much shorter though.

Cross/King - Rob got a real good workout by Scott Williams, as we expected, while King also got a good workout from Baggish, which we maybe didn't expect quite so much, but with Mervyn's form, anything can happen. This looks like too big an ask for Merv, I've got Cross at over 80%, line for me would be 1/5. 1/4 is readily available, which isn't really the edge we need, but for an acca, what the hell.

Anderson/Dobey - Tricky one to call this. Gary had some momentary troubles with Razma but came through, while Dobey's averaging against Kleermaker was not impressive but he still got the sweep in sets. Would think that Chris will up his game a lot in this one, Gary on the other hand should have pretty good chances if he brings his best game. Actually seeing this one as about 2-1 in favour of Ando, so this seems a trivial play. 0.25u Anderson 4/5

That's it for round three, what I'll do from Tuesday is start to analyse matchups as and when they're known. Be back then.

Saturday 24 December 2022

Round 1/2 summary

Kind of feels like we're in the eye of the storm right now, with a nice three day break after powering through 64 matches, before the main event kicks off on Tuesday. Thoughts so far?

It's been incredibly chalky. 29 seeds getting through is a record as far as I can tell, with two whole quarters having all eight seeds make it. As such, we're going to get some incredibly spicy games, but could we call this many getting through beforehand? Let's look at what seeds we had, and how their games could be categorised:

Never realistically going to be threatened: MSmith, Wright, Huybrechts, Dolan, van Gerwen
Might have been threatened if the other guy has game of their lives: Price, Searle, Noppert, Bunting, van den Bergh, Ratajski, Clayton, Dobey
Reasonable threat from opponent, who didn't get close: van Barneveld, Clemens, Schindler, Cullen, van der Voort, Aspinall, Suljovic, RSmith, Anderson
Opponent outperformed to make it close where it shouldn't have been, but didn't quite get home: Humphries, van Duijvenbode, King
Opponent had very realistic chance, but lost: de Sousa, Heta, Chisnall, Cross
Opponent had very realistic chance, and won: Wade, Gurney

Maybe we could have seen that coming. I don't know.

In terms of the Pro Tour vs international qualifiers, a lot of them seemed way out of their depth, especially those from countries/areas where there's been no real tour (Ukraine, South Africa although Sampson did fluke the win, China) or where the tour has been fragmented or postponed (Australasia, Asia although the Phillipines guys dare the exception). Pretty much the only winners or players that really gave their Pro Tour opponents a threat are those from established tours (all the PDPA qualifiers, all the Challenge/Dev Tour qualifiers, Greaves, both North Americans, Labanauskas, probably can chuck Portela and Jiwa in here as well as opposed to group one given the amount of Challenge Tour they've played). I think next season we're very likely to see more of an even split, but it all depends on how they allocate the places.

Trip report? Don't really have a huge amount to say, it wasn't largely different to when I went there before. Got down to London about half four on coach (thanks to a certain group of greedy twats who know who they are), transfer across to Tottenham and check into hotel just under a couple of hours before kickoff. Just enough time to change, make notes from the afternoon session, put on an acca for the session (which didn't win as Greaves didn't win a set), then make my way to Wood Green then the bus up the hill.

Security was a breeze in comparison to 2019, picking up payment card was a bit slow, further delayed by needing to top it up further which would have been easily avoided if they had announced the beer prices in advance, which would make it clear that twenty quid will only get you two pints. Seat seemed to be pretty much identical to when I went the last time - indeed, checking back, it was just one row further back. Didn't get the same large amount of Germans like last time - two seats next to me were completely unused, guy in front of me was a Jackpot fan from Dublin, row behind me were from Wales but lived locally. Decent enough group, seemed knowledgeable. First game was pretty fun, Rowby getting the crowd into it but not really taking advantage of 180 third dart shenanigans and better walk on music. Pints were going flat fairly quickly, lining up pitchers is fine, but pouring singles out of pitchers, less so. Definitely not helped by the complete absence of people going round with kegs on their backs pouring in the actual event hall itself, you know that'd be poured fresh and you miss no action. Second game saw a pretty one-sided crowd, to be expected, but could do without the barracking of Willie. Third game was as tight as we thought it would be, decent enough tussle if the standard wasn't great, then the last game (Smith/Rafferty) was a huge anti-climax.

Crowd on bus back towards Finsbury Park (still yet to work out where on earth you'd go to get a bus back down the hill to the Piccadilly line) was rowdy, but nothing ridiculous, got back to hotel around midnight. Scramble around to try to find some sort of game to watch on the Saturday - with the intended plan of Wimbledon already gone the night before, I was basically hoping for a morning pitch inspection to go well in non-league and it didn't. So head to my usual drinking spot when waiting for a train to think of how to kill several hours before my coach back up north, and I see there's actually trains running in the direction of Manchester, and that they did have some advances available. That seemed like a fucking miracle, so I buy one of those and abandon the coach option - I'd have needed to spend over 20 quid on a taxi back from where the coach would drop me off anyway, so another 15 on top of that to gain about eight hours of time looked like the play.

Would I go again? I'm thinking probably not at this stage. Everything inside is extortionate, I know it's London and I know it's an event, but when you've paid 40 quid minimum to actually get inside in the first place, I don't know whether it's really necessary to gouge every last penny out of what is a captive audience. The PDC's push towards mobile ticketing and needing to jump through hoops to get a paper ticket is not consumer friendly either, and that they cannot work out how to operate to take normal bank cards (or, for that matter, cash) is absurd at this stage. Would still like to be able to get to a session at the Winter Gardens one time, and will probably look to get to a European Tour event at some point (I think that a voucher I've got from when the World Cup was cancelled is still valid at this point in time), but an event in the UK is looking fairly unlikely beyond that.

Should be back tomorrow with a look at the third round.

Thursday 22 December 2022

Remaining round two thoughts

Ratajski/Jansen - Danny wasn't great in round one, but unfortunately for those of us tipping against him, he didn't need to be, and he now faces a much sterner task against Ratajski and comes in, correctly, as a large underdog. I'd say he's got maybe a 19% chance in this one, which feels maybe slightly high just in the head, but not about to say it's clearly out of tilt. 9/2 isn't unreasonable, and we'll ignore it from a betting perspective.

Searle/Gawlas - Adam wasn't great in round one, but Burnett didn't quite have enough to get over the line and Adam's moved in, but is now facing a much stronger opponent and will need to severely up his game in order to stand a chance against someone of Searle's quality. He has maybe a bit more of a chance than Danny does in the first game, but only by two or three points, and the line is ever so slightly shorter accordingly.

Suljovic/de Decker - Mike was a bit hit and miss in round one, but that's what we know he is, so now let's see how he does against Suljovic, who's a little bit of the same, but should be a stiffer test than Smith was in the opener. He is actually installed as a marginal, correct side of a coinflip favourite, which does surprise me - I'm seeing him at near 70% to take it, which will reduce down a bit once we factor in his wild inconsistency, but I think it's worth a play - 0.25u de Decker 17/20 on Coralbrokes.

van Duijvenbode/Sedlacek - Karel played really, really well in round one against a tough opponent, and it gets no easier from here against one of, in my eyes, the top ten players in the world right now in Dirk. It looks like a straight 75/25 to me, such is the level of play that DvD is producing, whereas the market thinks it's even further in his favour. 4/1 isn't quite the length of price that we'd consider on Sedlacek, I'd probably need 5s to go with it, but don't just think this is an easy punt on Dirk.

Anderson/Razma - What Gary are we going to get? What Madars are we going to get? I think if we get the same Madars we got in round one, the first question isn't going to matter as he was not good there and Gary would easily win it. I'm looking at Gary as the biggest favourite of any game we've looked at so far in this post, and we've had some short ones. 86% is a lot of percent, so I think we can easily take 0.5u Anderson 2/7 and feel pretty good about that.

Wade/Williams - Jim is, for all intents and purposes, the same player as Wade right now, and this looks like a nailed on flip. The market disagrees, which we're fine with - 0.25u Williams 15/8

Humphries/Hempel - Florian did what was needed in the opening round, getting past a real evenly matched opponent, but this is an enormous step up in quality and it's hard to see him getting much joy out of this one. 5/1 doesn't look unreasonable, if anything it might be overestimating his chances by 2-3 percent. Not interested in this one.

van der Voort/Menzies - Market is having real trouble separating the two, which is understandable - Cameron's shown real flashes of quality, and Vincent has shown consistent mediocrity, and as such I'm thinking Vincent only has about a 40% chance. With Cameron being slightly odds against on Coralbrokes, we'll take the price, 0.25u Menzies 11/10, evens looks fine as well, if you can only get odds on then I think you would need to cut your betting sizing slightly. 5/6 wouldn't be a play.

Dolan/Hendriks - Jimmy wasn't great in round one, but unfortunately for those of us tipping against him, he didn't need to be, and now does he face a tougher opponent? I'm not sure. He certainly seems like a big dog again, and this looks like the same sort of situation as the Gary bet. 0.25u Dolan 1/4, going slightly lower for three reasons, one is that maybe I'm underestimating Hendriks slightly given we've already fired against him once and missed, two the line is shorter (although Betway appears to have 2/7), three I'm not sure Dolan is as close to his top form as I think Anderson is.

Dobey/Kleermaker - Martijn wasn't really tested in round one, this will be a lot different. Chris looks a real solid favourite, 2/9 would be where I'd set the line, Kleermaker's going to need to replicate what he did against Aspinall, except for a longer period, to come close in this one. Dobey's actually really close to a play, 1/3 I would probably go with it, but we can only get 3/10, which is not quite long enough to fire.

Smith/Labanauskas - Not sure how Darius won that one after going two sets down in bizarre circumstances, but there you go. He'll need to improve today, and substantially - Smith is 2/9 in some places, and with me seeing him up at 87%, that's getting close to the ballpark where I'd actually punt. One more tick and I'd probably go with it.

Cross/Williams - Great game from Scott to go through, Cross is a bit of a step up in class, but he's not outclassed, with the market generally thinking he has around a one in three chance against Rob here. That might be a little optimistic, Rob's been underrated forever and it continues to be the case here. It's not by enough to place a bet, we can't actually get 1/2, only slightly longer, and I'd have the fair line at 4/11. Going to be a tricky ask for Williams.

Schindler/Lukeman - The Martin derby is here, with Lukeman not really being troubled in his opener. He'll be tested here, he is live, maybe about a 60/40 dog. Schindler is 4/6 so nothing more to see here really.

Noppert/Cameron - Should be easy enough for Danny this, Dave did well to pull off the comeback against Ritchie, but Noppert isn't Edhouse. Noppie at 1/6 feels just about a perfect line.

Clayton/van Trijp - Danny dumped out Steve Beaton with a steady enough performance, but not really with the scoring that you think will trouble Clayton, he just did enough to beat Steve on the day. Clayton's right in between 1/6 and 1/7, and I think you could quite easily go 1/10 and it not be ridiculous. If you've got Coralbrokes who are offering the best price, I don't hate taking it, but it's getting a little bit too much on the short side to just pump in a lot of money for minimal return.

Cullen/Evans - Ricky did his job against Sherrock, but a sub-90 average isn't going to do it against Cullen, who's quoted at having right in the middle of the 75% and 80% win chance range. I've actually got it a bit closer, but still with Joe having over a 70% chance, but a combination of us underrating Cullen for some reason and with Ricky being unconvincing for months means we're not touching this one.

Will run down overall thoughts, actually catch up with a trip report, and do round three line checks at the weekend.

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Wednesday evening thoughts

King/Baggish is an interesting one to call given Mervyn's complete lack of form this season, Danny definitely seems live at around a 40% shot season long, which gradually increases as you get smaller and smaller samples. Is 13/10 worth pulling the trigger? I'd probably need a bit more than a 50% chance to go with that line, maybe closer to 55%. We don't really have that on longer samples, even factoring in that Danny is probably a better stage than floor player. Might be one to go five sets.

Clemens/O'Connor seems too close to call. Looks like Willie has been doing his best work at the start and end of the season, Clemens doing better in the middle, but it's not deviating a great amount from 50/50. Gabriel's only slightly odds against which is the way I would go if forced, but we can only see 11/10 at best, would need nearer to 11/8 to even start to think about it.

van Gerwen/Williams isn't really that interesting a game, Lewy looked alright in round one, but he's not going to be able to threaten MvG, with him having less than an 8% chance from the projections I've got. Would need a lot more than 14/1 to think about it, 1/16 on van Gerwen is hardly worth it either.

Bunting/Gates is slanted severely in favour of Bunting in the market, and my first thought is that it looked unreasonable, until I ran the numbers - Bunting's up at around 85%. There is a big difference in consistency, but even if we pushed Gates up 10% in account of that, we can only see 4/1, a little bit longer in some places, which isn't enough. We're definitely not interested in Bunting at 1/5 either.

Back later this evening for Thursday/Friday when we get into the remaining second round games.

Tuesday 20 December 2022

jfc jamie what was that

OK, back to square one on the betting. Wednesday afternoon:

- Kind of think I should be betting O'Shea given the data, but Darius just seems like someone who will pull his shit together and overcome the projections. I'm going against all principles here and not just trusting the numbers, but it's just a belief, or lack of, in the ability of John to get the job done. Prove me wrong.
- Not touching that Kleermaker game with a barge pole.
- Rock line vs Rydz doesn't seem too far off to be honest. Josh is clearly elite, but Callan's no mug and may squeeze this one out slightly more than one time in four, as such I don't want to be jumping on a 2/5 line.
- Chizzy against Gilding is the same line. This is all about how much you trust form against larger data. Rodney's been playing his best stuff of late. Andrew hasn't. Season long gives Gilding a 40% shot, if you believe that, then 5/2 looks like a great play. If I filter it down to post-August, then it gives Gilding a 17% shot, in which case you're setting money on fire. That is over a significant enough sample size. I'm fine with not touching the game, it all comes down as to how you, the reader, want to weigh up the data.

Will post Wednesday evening up either at lunchtime, or just before the session.

Sunday 18 December 2022

Monday/Tuesday betting thoughts

We've only got the one session on Tuesday, so let's go through Monday and Tuesday at the same time:

Gilding/Owen - Robert's got some game and isn't completely dead, but this seems like a bit of a one-sided matchup, don't think he's got as much as 25% chances, might be nearer 20% actually, so with Gilding at 1/3 and Owen shorter than 3/1, we'd be looking at the favourite if anyone, but the line's accurate enough.

Jansen/Nebrida - This one's going to come down to how well Nebrida adapts to the big stage. We've seen already that Ilagan's got a win, and Perez should have got a win, and is Nebrida much worse than these two? Probably not, and Jansen seems significantly worse than either Rodriguez or Whitlock. Coralbrokes are offering the best price here, 0.1u Nebrida 27/10, if we had a bit more data I might be a bit more confident, but this seems out of line and he should likely be at worst 2/1. It's Jansen's first time on the stage as well.

Zonneveld/Williams - Niels is the better player here, the question is whether the pressure on him to win to retain his card will be too much. Looks 70/30 to me, so the 4/7 we can get in a couple of places is close to a bet, but it's not quite enough given that Williams is likely going to be playing more freely.

de Sousa/Whitlock - Simon's going to need to up his game from round one here by a fair few ticks against de Sousa, who's definitely been playing a bit better than he was in the early stages of the year. Seems right between Whitlock having a one in three and a 40% chance, so with Jose generally being priced at 4/6, we're not really interested, if we needed to bet it wouldn't be on Whitlock.

Nentjes/Gates - Bookies have this moderately close, with Geert around a 60/40 favourite. That doesn't seem unreasonable, Nentjes has been performing at a slightly better over a much larger sample than Gates has, but Leonard's someone I think would replicate what he's done this year over that larger sample, so I'm happy enough to leave this one alone.

Edhouse/Cameron - Same scenario again here, the Pro Tour qualifier comes in as a 60/40 favourite against the North American qualifier. Difference here is that Cameron's a little bit below what we're seeing from Ritchie, so the line might favour taking the favourite. I'm not sure I have quite enough confidence to recommend taking Ritchie at 8/13 given that Cameron's certainly not bad and has some good televised results, but I don't hate the play.

Beaton/van Trijp - Steve's come in as a better than 2/1 favourite against the young Dutchman, which I think is just about right. Danny's had some successes, but I think there's enough difference in quality that he only wins about 30% of the time. Another one where the line appears accurate and we can ignore the match from a betting standpoint.

Price/Woodhouse - Gerwyn's really short, which is what we'd expect, but he might be slightly too short here. Luke's a good player who'd got results against some big names, but can he do it over a first to three set race? Maybe about one time in five looking at projections, so 6/1 isn't quite long enough to go for a bet, but definitely do not put the Welshman in any accumulators.

Williams/Bialecki - Looking forward to this one, Sebastian should ask questions but Jim's a fair bit better. Maybe 1/2 is tiny value, I'd have set the line at 2/5, he should just be too consistent and get the legs required, although it wouldn't surprise me if Bialecki has a spell and can nick a set or maybe force us the distance - where Jim's experience would probably tell.

Hughes/Hendriks - Jamie is the far superior player in this one, scoring a clear three points better per season and projecting at around 85%. And we can get better than 1/3? We'll have some of that please, 0.5u Hughes 4/11 on Coralbrokes and VC, 1/3 also looks good.

Evans/Sherrock - I can't envisage taking Fallon to win this one (as an aside, listening to some of the Weekly Dartscast previews on the way down to Ally Pally, it says it all when she said she was prioritising exhibitions over the World Masters), Ricky ought to be really safe, but with recent results I don't want to say to take 3/10. There's enough ways this one can go wrong.

van Barneveld/Meikle - Ryan's very live in this one. Barney's had some good results in the last couple of months, and is the better player, but it's not by that much, but do I want to take 19/10 on Ryan? It's real close, I'm seeing him at 40% basically. If the money comes in on Barney and Meikle drifts beyond 2/1 I'd start thinking about it. Would take 5/2 without too much thought.

First three and a bit day's thoughts

Rapid thoughts of what's gone down so far, but I will first throw a bet this evening of 0.1u Krcmar 16/5, as mentioned in the previous post, we'd probably start looking seriously at taking the underdog at around 2/1, maybe 9/4 or 5/2 we'd get stronger. Better than 3/1 on Hills seems seriously worth a shot. But thoughts:

Mansell/Robb wasn't a great watch, neither was Mansell's second round game.

What on earth was Barry doing. Sampson was what we thought he was, and that showed in his second round matchup, but Keane losing that was unbelievable. Fair play to Grant, he took his chances.

Rafferty handled his game well, but was clearly out of his depth against Smith, as you might have expected. Thought he'd at least win a leg though.

Cuming and Suzuki were not good. We didn't think they would be, and it's kind of a bad look for so many of the international qualifiers to be so bad. Hopefully with the Asian Tour back in 2023 and the DPA circuit going nationwide as well, everyone playing a higher standard of opponent throughout will see things get back towards normal.

Larsson wasn't bad, but Adie was better as we thought, this should be a great match incoming.

Ilagan holding out to win against Rowby was a big surprise. We all thought (at the match, this being the session I was at) the momentum was all with Rodriguez at this stage, but it wasn't to be.

Pity for Greaves. I had a decent chance at a combination bet which would have needed her to win a set, and I think she was value for it, but at the same time I don't think Willie can look at the scoreline and think it will be unfair. Hopefully Beau can now see the level she'll need to improve to, and will get into the Development Tour next year and really start to play against higher level opponents.

Brown/Hempel game was a really fun back and forth matchup. Would watch that one again, that had five sets written all over it, and we got all but one possible leg.

Yamamoto was like Suzuki in that we expected him to be poor, and outside of a brief cameo, he was, Perez on the other hand was performing a fair bit better than anticipated and will be wondering how he didn't win that game. Whitlock was very, very lucky.

Pity for Burnett there, really thought that he would have taken that one from two sets to one up, but fair play to Adam, he stuck around and the card looks safe as a result.

I took a non-recommended play on Gurney after seeing that he was 4/5. Whoops.

Meikle held his nerve well there. To go from cruising at 2-0, then be pegged back to 2-2 with the crowd backing your opponent, then sweep the final set, that takes some doing.

Menzies didn't make it easy against Portela, Diogo does seem to be getting better but still a bit away from the sort of level where you'd think he belong on the tour.

Rock will be better for having come through a grind of a first two sets which were shared. Gets the first round jitters out of the way, had a bit of a test, then looked really strong in the last two sets.

I thought Ilagan played that last match closer than it seems he did, although I was quite drunk at the time so easy not to remember it correctly.

Today, Jiwa will be kicking himself for missing set darts in both sets one and three, that'd have been a sweep, as we thought might have been the case, Madars isn't really that much better and he left the door open - Prakash just couldn't walk through it. Doesn't look like Raymond Smith did much wrong, Sedlacek was just great and probably the player of the round to date. Omelchenko wasn't as bad as advertised but still not in Woodhouse's league, and right now, Heta's safely got a set on the board which should be a good settler.

Will trip report later, as well as look at Monday/Tuesday plays.

Thursday 15 December 2022

Early round two matches

As mentioned, I'm going to be away for the first few days, so here's thoughts on where the lines ought to be at:

Wright v Mansell/Robb - Obviously Peter should be a fairly big favourite here. Maybe not prohibitive, vig free line against Mansell is probably around the 2/9 mark. If it was Robb, then maybe it should be a little bit shorter, but if Robb does some through then it's entirely possible that we have him underrated unless Mansell completely collapses. Doubt we see any value in this one.

Huybrechts v Barry/Sampson - These two (assuming Keane wins) seem incredibly well matched up. If anyone deviates too much from even money, take them.

Smith v Wattimena/Rafferty - We've got enough data that we can look at both of them. Smith should probably be about 1/5 against Wattimena, maybe slightly longer taking into account form, and probably about the same against Nathan. Maybe there might be an underdog play here, but it kind of seems unlikely.

Gurney v Soutar/Cuming - Think Gurney should be a modest favourite in this one. Call it about 4/6, taking into account that Soutar's improved a bit over the last couple of months. Maybe with Daryl not doing a huge amount this season and with Soots doing alright, he might be undervalued, but to get the right sort of price he'd need to be really close to even money, so I'm thinking that's unlikely. It probably would lean towards being a Gurney bet if it does go one way or another.

van den Bergh v Rodriguez/Ilagan - Dimitri seems a lot better than Rowby does, I would hazard a guess at 1/3 being the correct line. Maybe if Rowby plays impressively, the line ends up being a bit closer and we can look at a play on DvdB.

Heta v Lewis/Larsson - Got to think this'll be Adie, and if it is, Heta should be favoured pretty strongly. I'd put the line at a bit shorter than 1/2, but with Heta facing Lewis and having TV troubles, I guess that the line will be nearer than that, but not so much so that we'll be looking to play it.

Aspinall v Krcmar/Suzuki - Nathan actually only projects as a small favourite if he were to face Boris, perhaps 8/11. That seems like it's probably a little long given Nathan playing better in the latter stages of the year, but this might well be the sort of game where Krcmar is undervalued. If he looks comfortable enough on the TV in round one, then getting north of 2/1 might be the sort of range where we can take a flyer.

Thursday - Sunday bet thoughts

Will be putting out the first four days worth of first round bets and thoughts, as I'm at the Friday evening session and will be away from the master computer for most of it, not back until really late Saturday so may need to do a fair bit of catchup on the Sunday morning. Will also put up conditional thoughts about the second round games in a separate post. So let's go:

Mansell/Robb - Looks like the line is slanted 60/40 in favour of Mickey here. This feels like it's in the right ballpark - if Robb had have played the World Masters, we might have had a better idea of where he's at, but I doubt that any data would have swung things too much one way or the other. Certainly nothing from appearances in the Super Series that makes me want to swing in the favour of Robb, if anything it'd probably make me want to swing towards Mansell. No bet here.

Barry/Sampson - There's no way we can contemplate a bet on Sampson here. We just don't know enough about him, and what we do know is not brilliant. Barry should be completely comfortable, I'm not sure if I want to chase tiny margins at 1/10. That's probably the right play given Barry's pretty good, but I won't take the shot.

Wattimena/Rafferty - An actual game with data! The market is favouring Jermaine around the same amount it's favouring Mansell. Now year long, this doesn't look right, I'm actually favouring Nathan in this one, but Jermaine's come on very strong over recent times. That said, if I filter down to, say, the start of October onwards, which should swing things around, it actually pushes Nathan's win chances up even more! That's over a 200 leg sample for both, the scoring overall is basically identical, although Jermaine is hyper consistent and Nathan isn't. Still makes me think flip. As such, 0.25u Rafferty 6/4

Soutar/Cuming - Discussed in the build up that Mal doesn't look too great, the difference between here and Sampson is that we have some data, and he's beaten a better calibre of player to get here. As such, he's probably not drawing completely dead, but we're not going to think about touching him. Soutar's 1/6 though, he's getting better, but I find it hard to believe that that is value to be honest.

Krcmar/Suzuki - Another fairly big odds on matchup here. Krcmar obviously favoured. I find it hard to believe that taking Toru at just the right side of 4/1 can be correct given the averages he was putting up at the Asian Championship as well as elsewhere historically, but can we punt on Boris? Is there enough of a combination of weirdly underperforming on TV, him simply having a bad day or Suzuki having the game of his life to get up to something around any of them happening maybe 10-12% of the time to make 2/9 not look safe? I want to say maybe? Doesn't seem like the right game to chase big odds on prices.

Lewis/Larsson - I think we can start to bet this one though, because we've got enough data on Larsson to know that this one should be safe. He's improved, but the scoring just isn't there to really be able to handle Lewis over a three set matchup. I'm thinking he takes this 85% of the time, we can get better pricing than that and this feels like enough of a reliable edge to push, so 0.5u Lewis 1/4

Rodriguez/Ilagan - Market's saying about 75/25 in favour of Rowby here. This kind of feels right - we don't have a massive amount of data on Lourence (oh to have the Asian Tour back, thankfully that'll be soon), but this just feels like a game where Rowby will be too solid and should be reasonably safe. Lourence isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I think this is going to need some combination of him playing close to his best and Rowby having somewhat of an off day. I'm not sure it happens enough of the time to consider taking the underdog, but it probably does enough that we can't lump on Rodriguez either.

O'Connor/Greaves - This is by far the toughest one to call, for reasons indicated in the write-up. We just don't know how well Beau's game will translate to playing against better opposition than her. I've just had a quick look at the World Masters - just looking at her games from the last sixteen onwards, she won about half her legs in seven or more visits. That just isn't going to cut it against someone with the quality of Willie, he'll clean those up in eighteen or better far, far too often, probably push her average up several points from what she's been doing in the women's game, and confuse the heck out of the casual fan and/or the Sky comms box. I'm torn between thinking whether O'Connor at just the wrong side of 1/2 is great value and that the Greaves hype is being overvalued, or if I'm overestimating the adjustments that need to be made and the line is fair. I'll err on the side of caution and not throw out a bet, but gun to head I'd be taking O'Connor.

Brown/Hempel - This one seems easier to analyse as we've got data on them both in an all card holder encounter. Brown's had the results, but Hempel's been playing the slightly better darts, particularly more recently. But it's not by much at all, and the line leaning 55/45 in favour of the German seems perfectly reasonable and we've got no reason to try to create any sort of narrative that says the match will be anything other than tight, as that's what it will be.

Lukeman/Yamamoto - Seems reasonably simple to look at this one, the Japanese guy just isn't going to score enough, but Martin's not at the elite level in terms of scoring that we can look at odds of worse than 1/8 and think that's going to be completely safe. Nothing doing here.

Whitlock/Perez - Looks the same as the above, and the lines are the same. This time though, Whitlock's slightly better than Lukeman, and Perez should be significantly better than Yamamoto is. I've got really, really limited data on Perez, but it's pointing out that he might have around a 15% shot, and as detailed in the preview, that might be a slight underestimate. That said, how much might it be underestimating? The annoying thing is he's playing Whitlock, who's still good, chuck in a lot of the other Pro Tour qualifiers and I'd probably take a chance on Perez here. Maybe I'll just pick him +2.5 or something for entertainment value.

Gawlas/Burnett - This one looks like it will be really tight - year long, Gawlas is slightly favoured, but take smaller and smaller samples and it edges Burnett's win chances up as he rounded into form, from September onwards it's more like 2-1 in favour of Richie, although that's only looking at about 50 or so legs a piece. Burnett's 4/5, I think this one comes down to if you want to go for larger samples or current form. If the former, you'd look to the Czech, if the latter, the Welshman. I feel the latter ought to be the correct play if we have to pick a side, especially when you factor in big stage experience and probably a favourable crowd, but there isn't quite enough on either end to recommend a play.

Meikle/Ashton - I think this one's pretty safe to look at betting. Lisa, when we've seen her, just isn't scoring heavily enough to really trouble someone of Meikle's calibre over a first to three sets match. Sure, she might have a little bit of a spell and win a set, but Ryan should be way, way too strong over the course of the whole match. Coralbrokes offer a line which I think is a good play, 0.5u Meikle 2/7, but wouldn't hate 1/4 in other places either.

Menzies/Portela - Similar sort of line here. Differences are that Diogo looks to be the better player than Ashton by several points, while Menzies looks to be playing ever so slightly better than Meikle is. That reduction in relative standards of play is enough for me to think no bet, Portela's got chances but not really enough to be jumping all over a bit better than 3/1, and I'm not sure Menzies is consistent enough to be thinking 2/7 is a great play either.

Rock/Justicia - Rock's good, but he's not 1/10 is a great bet good. That line is fair, Jose isn't a complete no-hoper, albeit clearly outclassed in this one.

Razma/Jiwa - Yet another short priced favourite in this one. I'm not sure to think here - Prakash is certainly extremely experienced and is no mug, and for all the improvements Madars has made in the last year or two, the scoring is not massive, so I'm thinking that if there is value in this one, it might be in looking at Jiwa at the 4/1 that's available. Razma should win, but maybe it's more only 70-75% of the time realistically? I'm just scanning the Super Series results, and yeah, what the hell, I think there's enough there for a flyer. 0.1u Jiwa 4/1

Sedlacek/Smith - This is one of the highlights of the round, and it's a real shame that one of these needs to go out as I'd love to see either of them against a seed. Market can't really separate the two, Sedlacek is the player that we have a lot more data on and that points to him having played the better stuff, but the data on Raymond seems to be underselling him a fair bit, and classing this one as too close to call seems entirely appropriate.

Woodhouse/Omelchenko - 1/16 LOL, that might even be value

de Decker/Smith - This is all about which de Decker shows up. If his best game shows up, this is trivial, the year long projections say 80/20, but as we have pointed out in the previews, Mike is hugely volatile and that will overestimate him. That said, also as pointed out, Mike is scoring significantly heavier than Jeff is, even when losing. 0.25u de Decker 8/11 on BetVictor looks like a great play, 4/6 and probably 8/13 are also solid if you don't have that bookie.

Williams/Joyce - Another all card holder clash which the market is having trouble picking a winner in, they're leaning Joyce, and that seems just about correct to me. He's scoring a little bit better, is slightly more inconsistent so maybe draw back the 59% I'm seeing by a percent or so, 5/6 appears well within the realms of where I would expect the line to be.

Campbell/Baggish - Should be a fun one to close out the Sunday evening, at least for round one. Campbell's the better player, there's no real argument to say that Danny should be favoured here. I'd call this about 70/30 in favour of Matt, and the line is 8/15, so there's tiny value, but it's not enough to recommend a play. It's in the correct ballpark.

Back a little later with round two thoughts for the early matchups.

Wednesday 14 December 2022

(22) Dobey, (30) Kleermaker, (ChPL) Han

Chris Dobey - FRH #20, 559-459 (54.91%), 92.31 scoring (#18), 3.04 consistency
Martijn Kleermaker - FRH #44, 357-359 (49.86%), 87.38 scoring (#74), 3.42 consistency
Xicheng Han - FRH #151, no data

Martijn? What's happened? It was barely over a year ago when you were qualifying for the Grand Prix, and now you're only one of the last three players into the field for the worlds? What gives? Hard to say. Numbers aren't good, down nearer 87 than 88, less than ideal. Could just be having a real bad year. Results certainly indicate that - Martijn lost his opening game in the UK Open to Jason Heaver, but in his other major appearance he was able to upset Nathan Aspinall and get through to round two before losing to Matt Campbell, so maybe that first game is going to give him a bit of confidence back? We've got to hope in relation to that. He only played Aspinall through being the #62 seed, pretty much through failing to get any real traction on the floor, odd given his name was made in the BDO from cleaning up on the floor all over the place before his switch to the PDC. It's been in fits and starts - losing five to open the season, then three board finals, little bit of a lull then a season best of a quarter and a board win to finish two events later, then we get to half way and he goes on a 10-15 record for the remainder of the season. In context, if he's struggling, Kleermaker didn't have an awful Euro Tour season, making five events, beating Mario Vandenbogaerde before losing to Cross, beating Bialecki before losing to de Sousa, then losing to Jansen, Rydz and David Evans in the final three. He's struggling, but fortunately this looks like a perfect first round matchup.

I know next to nothing about Han. Data is really, really limited, and he's got here through finishing as the runner up in the China Premier League, whatever that is, after the winner opted not to play with some sort of restriction bullshit. He finished with an average of 75 in the final, losing 11-6, which might have been a bit of an unfortunate game - the guy he played looks good, averaging 89 through their whole season, which is very solid given next to no help, but Han managed to average 81, again in a lower quality round of opposition, but this isn't looking ideal. If this was Zong, I might be interested, but it isn't, so I'm not, can't see Kleermaker messing this one up.

Chris Dobey's the final player we're going to talk about, and he's had a decent season, landing in the top twenty in scoring and getting through a third major semi final in Dortmund, getting a landmark opening round win over MvG, then pushing on to defeat de Sousa and Chisnall before coming up one break short against Ross Smith in the semi final. That wouldn't be his only good TV showing, as he had a nice outing in Leicester with a win over Luke Humphries and then holding his nerve in a deciding leg against Adrian Lewis, before being on the receiving end of a clinic against van Gerwen in the quarters. Other TV tournaments were misfortune (drawing Smith in the UK Open), choking (losing a huge lead to Cross in the Matchplay), and then standard things (beating Nentjes then losing to Schindler at Minehead). Europe was fairly mediocre, only getting into the third round once and qualifying less than half the time, hence why he ended up with van Gerwen in the first round anyway. Floor was better, while not making any finals, it was a case of real steady accumulation, hitting two semis, two quarters and a further five board wins. This looks like a super favourable draw, projecting to beat Kleermaker more than 80% of the time, should be a comfortable welcome to the tournament type of game, then the tournament proper can begin with a potential round three game against Gary Anderson.

Bets tomorrow lunchtime.

(19) Smith, (31) O'Shea, (PDCNB) Labanauskas

Ross Smith - FRH #14, 456-429 (51.53%), 91.52 scoring (#24), 5.13 consistency
John O'Shea - FRH #77, 296-294 (50.17%), 88.10 scoring (#68), 4.03 consistency
Darius Labanauskas - FRH #60, 362-363 (49.93%), 86.32 scoring (#81), 5.20 consistency

John O'Shea, the former World Master, gained his place on the Pro Tour circuit through countback at Q-School in January, and has had a moderately quiet season with the occasional high point. The main one being his final run back in May - he lost to Michael Smith in the final, but was able to defeat the likes of Dave Chisnall and Nathan Aspinall in earlier rounds and pocket a very useful eight grand, without which he wouldn't have qualified for this event. Prior to that, he'd had a mostly mediocre Pro Tour start, just a couple of board finals and nothing spectacular in terms of averages, beating Josh Rock a couple of times very early on while the youngster was still adapting to the pro circuit, and similar followed after the final, with John getting one board win mainly thanks to a fairly simple draw, but mostly going out in the early stages, if not the first round overly often. It was enough to get him into the Players Championship Finals, where he'd play pretty well but not win a leg against Jonny Clayton, and it would be just enough to get him here as well, as he'd had a pretty rough time in attempting to qualify for the European Tour, only making it into the one event all season in Munich, where he lost to Chris Dobey in the opening round. O'Shea was able to beat Nathan Rafferty and Pete Hudson at the UK Open to make the money before losing to Maik Kuivenhoven, but aside from that we've not seen anything, and if it weren't for that one run, I think most people would look at run of the mill scoring and disappointing results and think that he's just making up the numbers and will probably lose his card once the two years are up. This may well still happen, especially if next season is repeated without another very deep floor run or much improved European qualification, but he's at least got here and has a chance to add another 7500 quid which will help out enormously.

Labanauskas will come back for a fifth attempt, with the former quarter finalist looking to do better that his time last year, where he came unstuck in the first round against Mike de Decker, despite hitting a nine dart leg in the process. It's been a poor year all round for Darius, who barely more than a year ago was high enough on the Pro Tour rankings to have qualified for the Grand Prix, whereas this year he's not even high enough to qualify for the worlds - instead, needing to utilise the Nordic/Baltic order of merit, a circuit he dominated with four wins and a further two finals to end up atop the table with 50% more points than the next best challenger and nearly twice the points of the third place finisher. Darius has struggled heavily on the Pro Tour, only reaching four board finals (oddly beating Gary Anderson twice along the way), winning just the one for a sole last sixteen run all year. This left him a clear three grand short of making the Players Championship Finals, leaving him with a sole major appearance in the UK Open, beating Hendo but losing to Ricky Evans in the last 64. He was able to augment his winnings with three European Tour appearances, losing to Josh Rock and Rowby John Rodriguez in two of them but beating Niko Springer and putting up an acceptable display against van Duijvenbode in the third. This looks like a case of the numbers not lying - scoring nearer to 86 than 87 is simply not going to cut it at the PDC level, although he at least has a moderately favourable draw here, coming in as an underdog but only a 60/40 underdog, so if he can draw on his stage experience, he might be able to pull this one off. If not, he is likely to plummet down the rankings and be in serious danger of losing his card, so this game could be critical for both - not now, but in twelve month's time.

Ross Smith on the other hand is not plummeting down the rankings, instead he's going the other way, mainly because he's one of three players to have gotten a major bink this season, having clinched the European Championship despite only being the number 27 seed for that event. He defeated Joe Cullen, Dimitri van den Bergh, Peter Wright, Chris Dobey and Michael Smith to claim his maiden biggie, with three ton plus averages along the way and the other two being a respectable 95. We've seen gradual improvement from Ross, with him getting a first floor title last year and making a couple of European quarter finals this year, but this appeared somewhat out of the blue, even more so that Danny Noppert's win, as the next logical step seemed to be another floor title or maybe a deep European Tour run, given he only had one overall win full stop and, prior to this year, just the one European quarter final run. Still, a huge achievement, and while his scoring is outside of the top 20, he's showing a moderately high consistency scoring, indicating that he's got differing levels to his game and if the right one turns up, good things can happen. Prior to that win, it was a fairly run of the mill season - just outside the top 32 so entered the UK Open in round three and lost to Krzysztof Kcuik, just missing the Matchplay, fortunate to creep into the Grand Prix where he did take advantage and beat Gilding, maybe wishing he could have done better against Lukeman in round two, where he lost by the narrowest of margins, the Euro Tour only saw him make five events, but he made round two every time and did get those aforementioned quarter finals, getting the scalps of Cullen, Chisnall, Noppert and Heta, and his floor form wasn't brilliant, only getting into the Players Championship finals as one of the last dozen or so players with a season that only featured one quarter final and quite a few early exits, especially in the first half where he was out first round two thirds of the time. Then the rest is history, he got into the Slam and beat van Gerwen to qualify from the group, albeit losing to Luke Humphries, and he could have gone fairly deep at Minehead if he'd nicked a decider against Clayton, after a rematch with Wright was chalked off, giving him an alternate in round one. The quality he's got should see him safely through to a probable third round rematch with DvD, being favoured as he is against O'Shea by more than three to one, and a redo of their match from last year would be welcome. Maybe not for Ross if he loses a three set lead again though!

(13) Cullen, (16) Evans, ($$$) Sherrock

Joe Cullen - FRH #11, 635-509 (55.51%), 91.98 scoring (#21), 4.34 consistency
Ricky Evans - FRH #49, 361-359 (50.14%), 88.82 scoring (#60), 4.87 consistency
Fallon Sherrock - FRH #80, 13-26 (33.33%), 84.99 scoring (#84), 4.74 consistency

Has it been a good season for Ricky Evans, or has it generally been more of the same, namely doing enough to stop around in the top 64, but not doing enough to get back towards the top 32, which he was just creeping into two or three years ago? Probably a little bit of both. The scoring is not quite there, but it's certainly not bad, and there have been some decent results, mostly early in the season where he had a new best run in the UK Open, reaching the last sixteen with wins over Danny Jansen, Darius Labanauskas and Scott Waites before putting in a disappointing performance against Keane Barry, and March also saw his best floor run in quite some time, going all the way to a final with wins against Chris Dobey, Mensur Suljovic and Danny Noppert along the way, but he may look at it as a chance lost against Jim Williams in the final. The early part of the season wasn't too bad, actually making seven more board finals up to June, but the form guide doesn't look great after that, as in the thirteen Pro Tour events from July onwards, Ricky has nine first round defeats, with his only wins coming against Meulenkamp, Raman, de Vos, Jansen and Kist, hardly an A-list of scalps, and as far as I can see, only one of his defeats came against a top 32 player, so a worrying run of form, which continued in Europe with no qualification for any of the last seven events, and while he did get to Minehead thanks to those early season results, he lost in the opening game to Andrew Gilding. I touched on Europe, he did get into three events early on and had a bit of success, reaching the seed every time and only lost to Joe Cullen - in Austria he beat Heta then went further with a whitewash of Jansen before getting pipped at the post by Aspinall, and in Prague he was also able to whitewash Ratajski but then slump to a defeat to Cross. So we've seen the highlights, but not for around six months or so. Which is a worry.

Let's cut to the chase here - Sherrock is here purely for commercial reasons and ratings, if the PDC want to give a worlds spot to the women's Matchplay, that's fine, but doing it retroactively is pretty ridiculous and may well have fucked over plenty of tour card holders who would otherwise reasonably be expecting the spare slot to go to the PDPA qualifier. If you think they would have done the same if de Graaf, Hedman, Suzuki etc had won the Matchplay, you're deluded. But let's talk about what she's done in terms of darts, and it's really not a lot. She did win that Matchplay, albeit with low 80 averages throughout and having dodged playing Ashton who lost to de Graaf in the semi final. She was only third on the women's series, winning just the three events compared to the eight from Greaves and seven from Ashton, sure she missed out on some due to playing the World Series, but that's a choice she made. She finished with zero points in the second stage of UK Q-School, so wasn't close to getting a card in the slightest, she's not bothered to play the Challenge Tour at all this year and paid more money in entry fees than she won in prizes the previous year, she's barely played any women's events outside the PDC system other than one weekend in Wales, as such she's ranked outside the top 40 in the WDF system, capped by a ridiculous WDF worlds hokey-cokey situation. It's just been the World Series. 71 average, lose to Leonard Gates. 73 average, lose to Kuivenhoven. 73 average, lose to Mathers. 82 average, lose to Kayden Milne. Sure, she did beat a woefully under par Labanauskas and also Mal Cuming, but who cares really. In some ways I kind of feel sorry for how this world tour has been delayed and how Sky are continuing to milk things way beyond a sell by date, but at the same time, she can always say no to things and could at least try to rebuild her game on the floor. I'm already way beyond lost interest, she should lose this one easily, but with Ricky's form at rock bottom, don't be surprised if she does win and we get another round of ridiculous hyperbole.

Cullen's been a frustrating one from a handicapping point of view this season. His scoring is definitely not spectacular in the slightest - it's outside the top twenty of players who have reached the world championship, there's nothing in the consistency that is giving us a clue, yet at the same time he's outperforming in terms of results frequently, as such we've not bet on him once this year, we've bet against him more than anyone else, and we've lost two thirds of those bets, although with sizing/odds considerations, we're only slightly down on him. This year, he won a first TV title with the Masters, which also got him into the Premier League for no real reason, and there he continued to produce really confusing results - the lowest average of anyone there by a clear two points, but he still made the playoffs, then beat Clayton in the semi and had a championship dart against MvG, not taken. Crazy stuff. In ranked games, Cullen's best performance came in Hungary, where he added a third Euro Tour title to his resume, beating Lukeman, Jim Williams, Rusty, Chisnall and O'Connor - perhaps a fortunate run opponents, but you can only beat what's in front of you after all. Cullen was also able to add himself to the list of players who've won two Pro Tours in a weekend, when he did so at Players Championships 3-4 back in February, defeating Damon Heta and Dimitri van den Bergh in the finals. I suppose the next step is a ranked TV run, and while he added a couple of quarter finals, through getting through a moderately easy Grand Slam group and then running into van Duijvenbode who was having a bad day, then more recently at Minehead getting through Rowby, Huybrechts and Scott Williams, maybe a little bit more could be done. He drew Peter Wright in the UK Open, which is fair enough, took advantage of an underperforming on TV Damon Heta twice at Blackpool and Leicester then hitting van Gerwen and Price, which I suppose is also fair enough, and then in Dortmund he played the eventual champion in round one who was averaging near 102 at the time. Which we can excuse. So maybe he couldn't do much more. Still, this isn't the worst section, with Heta being the opposing seed whose number he's had, and none of the big three in his quarter, maybe this is the year where he improves on a moderately poor historical world championship record.

Tuesday 13 December 2022

(26) Dolan, (19) Hughes, (WEurQ) Hendriks

Brendan Dolan - FRH #27, 398-389 (50.57%), 90.87 scoring (#33), 4.20 consistency
Jamie Hughes - FRH #56, 367-354 (50.90%), 90.91 scoring (#31), 5.23 consistency
Jimmy Hendriks - FRH #110, 177-249 (41.55%), 87.54 scoring (#72), 4.76 consistency

It's been a fairly quiet year for Jamie Hughes, not really coming to anyone's attention in terms of results, but statistically holding his own in and around the top 32 level, maybe giving hints that he's heading back in the right direction towards the level where he was when he first switched to the PDC and quickly won a European Tour title, although he is still some way off that. Hughes suffered a first round defeat this time last year to surprise package Raymond Smith, and since then has only appeared in the two Minehead majors - doing alright in the UK Open to get wins over Madars Razma and Adam Gawlas, before being drawn against Gerwyn Price and managing to get all the way to a deciding leg. The Players Championship Finals also saw Jamie reach the last 32, taking out Stephen Bunting in the opening game, but running into an in form Ryan Searle immediately after. Jamie qualified for that with a series of steady if unspectacular floor performances, getting through to the second round more often than not and pushing onto the board final ten times, although he would achieve only the one quarter final on the season, this being in the block right before the Matchplay where he was probably throwing his best stuff, making board finals the day before and after that quarter. Hughes augmented these results with a few European appearances, qualifying five times but not getting past the second round at all, losing to Whitlock, Plaisier and Larsson in the opening games in three of them, only managing the one win over van der Voort given his other second round appearances was as the result of getting one of many byes which were flying around this season. Hughes is safe with a tour card this season despite the second year where he was making majors falling off the rankings over the course of the last twelve months, so this represents a decent chance to start with a fairly clean slate and build back towards the top 32.

Standing in his way is Jimmy Hendriks, the 28 year old Dutchman making his PDC debut through winning what is an always tough western Europe qualifier, defeating former BDO star Richard Veenstra and card holders Maik Kuivenhoven and Max Hopp along the way. This will give him a first appearance but he has appeared on the other side twice, with a best run to the second round at Lakeside nearly a decade ago. Hendriks has been on and off the tour for a while now, and reclaimed a tour card back through the points system in January, but has had a very rough time on the floor circuit, averaging outside the top 150 players (obviously some of those with small sample sizes), and has failed to win his board at all this season, only even being able to even attempt to win it twice, and losing in the opening round more often than he's won in it. The scoring levels indicate that he's a bit off the level needed in order to retain a card after next year barring major improvement, and winning this game seems like way too much of an ask, looking like he only has a 15% chance to win it. He didn't cash the UK Open having lost in the second round to Kenny Neyens after beating Darren Beveridge, clearly was not close to making anything else, and he only qualified for one European Tour event all season, losing in the first round early on in the year to Martin Lukeman. It's great for him that he's qualified, but doing more than that seems like an unrealistic expectation.

Brendan Dolan awaits in round two, and the veteran from Northern Ireland will make his fifteenth straight appearance on this stage, still holding on in the top 32 for now, but how much longer that will be the case for remains to be seen, given his Pro Tour ranking is only just in the top 32, and that his season highlight from 2022, a fantastic run on the floor which went all the way in July with wins over Noppert, Heta and Clayton amongst others, is scheduled to drop off the Pro Tour rankings right before the Matchplay cutoff in 2023. After that win, Dolan's form has dropped somewhat, not winning his board in nine attempts, which also somewhat coincides with a fall in rankings meaning he ceased to be seeded on the Euro Tour, and Brendan didn't qualify for any of the last five events. Earlier on was OK, on the floor Dolan did make a semi and a quarter, and was a Euro Tour regular as a seed, but lost the opening game five times, hence not getting ranking money, only making progress in Leverkusen and Stuttgart with wins over Andrew Gilding twice and Danny Jansen. TV events have been similarly disappointing, as outside of the World Cup he's failed to get a win, losing heavily to Chisnall in the UK Open, being in a good spot against Noppert but losing six legs in a row in the Matchplay, going out of the Grand Prix in straight sets to Stephen Bunting, and Jermaine Wattimena would knock him out of Minehead last time out. The form is a concern, and he's definitely a seed in trouble - year long projections put this one fairly close, but with him playing his best early on, Hughes is probably favoured a bit more than the right side of a flip to knock him out.

(8) Wade, (8) Williams, (EEurQ) Bialecki

James Wade - FRH #12, 514-423 (54.86%), 90.87 scoring (#32), 3.11 consistency
Jim Williams - FRH #51, 369-366 (50.20%), 91.35 scoring (#26), 2.03 consistency
Sebastian Bialecki - FRH #99, 148-119 (55.43%), 88.20 scoring (#66), 3.28 consistency

What a great first season within the PDC main system it's been for Jim Williams, having claimed his tour card through winning the previous season's (UK) Challenge Tour. After giving Joe Cullen quite a scare this time last year, the former Lakeside finalist started out modestly with a couple of board finals on the floor and a solid run to the last 64 of the UK Open, before making his statement - winning a Pro Tour at the sixth time of asking. Despite a modest average in the final against Ricky Evans, indeed it was the only one all season where the winner averaged under 80, he was consistently in the 93-98 range every single round, as he beat Pete Hudson, Kevin Burness, Andrew Gilding, Scott Williams, Michael Smith and Martin Schindler on the way to the aforementioned final with Evans. He's not yet managed to replicate anything quite so deep since then, indeed some last sixteen runs have been the peak of what he's been able to produce, but a lot of that is just running into better players, just looking at some players who have eliminated him after that point, it's been Clayton x2, Price, Wright, Heta, Humphries x2, Aspinall x2, van Duijvenbode x2, Rock... generally it's needed top talent to defeat him, such is the level of consistency in his game. Indeed, at one point this season, he was actually scoring higher in the legs he was losing than in those he was winning, which seems ridiculous, and the consistency score is still extremely low. Maybe he lacks the truly elite power scoring to push on towards, say, a top 16 level, but being in the top 30 in scoring is no joke, and his game reminds me a lot of his potential second round opponent in that he makes the most of what he has and gives very little away. His only other TV appearance was in the Players Championship Finals where he got the polar opposite in terms of consistency in round one in Mike de Decker, who turned up, although he was in with a decent chance of making Dortmund, making six Euro Tour events, only finishing a few grand short so maybe regretting a choice to, if I remember rightly, skip a couple of the qualifiers. He'd lose to Plaisier in the first, beat van Peer before losing to Cullen, lose to Rowby, beat Claydon and Peter Wright before losing to Cullen again, beat Sedlacek then lose to Clayton, and finally suffer a reverse to Willie O'Connor, so maybe this is an area he can build on in 2023. Make no mistake, Jim's a very competent player who can punish bad legs with extreme regularity.

His opponent in what should be a highlight match of the first round will be Sebastian Bialecki, the exciting young Polish star making a debut after winning the eastern European qualifier in November, defeating Rusty Jake Rodriguez in the semi final and then Christian Goedl in the final, who showed his ability to come through deep qualifiers by making the WDF worlds yesterday. Bialecki is primarily known to a UK audience through his UK Open exploits, reaching the last 64 on debut and hitting a nine in the process, then this year going even further with a miracle run to the quarter finals, beating all of Matt Campbell, Joe Murnan, Keegan Brown, Ritchie Edhouse, Ian White and Ryan Searle before coming up one leg short against Willie O'Connor. It was a remarkable achievement for someone without a card who isn't even 20 until next year, and it gave him enough ranking money to get into the Poland World Cup team with Ratajski despite there being other players with a card from his country, and they'd beat the USA in round one before losing both singles games to Belgium, Sebastian going down 4-2 against Kim Huybrechts. His main work has naturally come on the Development Tour, finishing a solid ninth in the money list and eighth in the averages, where six of the seven players above him have tour cards (and the seventh has made a Pro Tour final). He got the one win in June over Keane Barry, and it's a case of consistency - only missing the one event, he has four semis and a further nine runs on top of that to at least the last sixteen. He also won the Denmark Open in the WDF field, which would have got him into their event (and, seemingly has given they don't seem to be including those in the PDC field right now for bizarre reasons which has potentially fucked several players over), and did sneak into three Euro Tour events when Sedlacek wasn't winning all the qualifiers, losing in the first round to Kleermaker and Klaasen, but getting a win over Mervyn King in Trier and pushing Stephen Bunting all the way to a last leg shootout. This is going to be a tough ask, I'm only seeing him at about 30%, but that's more about just how solid Williams is rather than any slight on the quality of Bialecki's game, which already looks at a level where he wouldn't be out of place on the main tour.

If it seems like Wade's been around forever, it's basically because he has, and the player who arguably is the best ever never to have reached a final will have a nineteenth crack at doing so, twelve months after nearly getting there, coming up one game short against Michael Smith after, and I don't think it's unfair to say this, the draw opened up beautifully for him. Coming in as the number 8 seed, he's defending a fair chunk from his UK Open win in 2021 this season, and he's probably going to have to do so to avoid a big slip in the rankings, as his level of play hasn't been that of a top 16 standard in 2022. That said, he's always had a habit of getting better results than his scoring has suggested, which he's done to some extent in 2022, getting a decent run to the UK Open quarters but not playing a top 32 player at any point, but from there it's been limited - you'd have expected him to beat Lukeman at Blackpool and he did, but Aspinall in round two is arguably better right now, he edged out Cross at Dortmund in a bad game, but van Duijvenbode in round two is arguably better right now. Same story with Suljovic then Noppert at Minehead, while in Leicester he couldn't get past Lukeman again and went out in round one. That's one round better than he did in the Slam, where it looks like Hendo missed a match dart before Zonneveld won, meaning James didn't qualify for the first time ever. Europe wasn't good, he only just qualified for the finals having played just the three events - out of the seedings, I don't know whether he didn't attempt qualifiers or just didn't bother with qualifiers after event five, at least in the three he played he won all his opening games, and was unfortunate in Leverkusen to need to withdraw at the semi final stage. Wade did add a title on the floor right at the end of the season, defeating Steve Beaton in the final Pro Tour event of the season, but before that he only had two runs as far as the quarter finals, which for someone with James' famed consistency, isn't really what you'd have expected. Maybe the game's just got a bit too good for him, and this opening game against Williams, if Jim does beat Bialecki, will see two players with fairly similar styles, except Jim's doing it a bit better right now and I would project him to have a very slight edge by a couple of percentage points. Will be a tight one for sure.

(7) Clayton, (11) Beaton, (ChaT) van Trijp

Jonny Clayton - FRH #9, 636-503 (55.84%), 94.19 scoring (#9), 3.68 consistency
Steve Beaton - FRH #53, 337-343 (49.56%), 88.32 scoring (#64), 4.50 consistency
Danny van Trijp - FRH #108, 166-178 (48.26%), 86.81 scoring (#78), 1.92 consistency

Steve Beaton returns to a world championship for the 208768th time, as the former world champion hit form at the right time, shooting up the Pro Tour rankings with a great run to the final in the last Pro Tour event of the year, a run which saw him defeat John Brown, Nathan Rafferty, James Wilson, Mike de Decker, Stephen Bunting and Dave Chisnall before going down 8-6 to James Wade in the final. I wouldn't say he was rolling back the years, as apart from the game against Bunting he didn't average over 95 once, but it was great to see him putting the results together in what's otherwise been another fairly quiet year, although one which did see him looking moderately safe before the 8k was added on the last day. Steve did get a further five board wins prior to that final run, pushing one of them through to a quarter final, but on the other hand he was losing his first game slightly more than half the time, and we saw kind of a similar story in Europe, with a pretty bad record in qualification for most of the year, although picking things up late to get into the last three events, but while he made the second day twice, that was down to getting byes in both Jena and Gibraltar, so the only actual win was over Nathan Aspinall. As such, he's too far off making the majors these days, limited to just Minehead, where he lost his opening game on both occasions, first to a Riley's qualifier in the UK Open (Graham Hall isn't bad though), then to Matt Campbell in the Players Championship Finals. The scoring continues to slide slightly, 88 is competent but it's getting to the level where it's not really quite good enough to sustain a top 64 spot for much longer, but at least we know he can outperform on occasion and nick the critical games when needed.

van Trijp is a relatively young (only just Development Tour ineligible) Dutch player making his debut after finishing third in the Challenge Tour rankings, ending up slightly behind Robert Owen, but with Scott Williams already getting his card and worlds spot through the Pro Tour, Danny is in here and will be on the tour next year. On that Challenge Tour, it looks very much like he hit a purple patch on one day early in April, where he would get the first of his wins, beating Lukas Wenig in the second event of the day after having come up one game short in the first event losing out to Stephen Burton. Danny would add his second title the next weekend against Jelle Klaasen, but outside of that it maybe wasn't plain sailing, with a fair few finishes outside the money or only making a minimum cash, and he only managed to finish around 40th in the averages for the season. Still, getting it right when it matters is key, and he gave himself enough to work with early on to get here. Those results got him into quite a few of the Pro Tours in the second half of the season, everything from Players Championship 14 onwards outside of the final weekend, and he's struggled a bit at that level, losing in the first round more than half the time, but did win a board once late on with close wins over fellow Challenge Tour player Scott Williams, Vincent van der Voort and Shaun Wilkinson. The stats indicate that maybe he's been a little bit unlucky in places, but might just not quite have the power scoring game at this level right now, and that while Beaton is definitely declining, he may still have just enough to get through this one, actually being favoured 70/30 by my projections. Danny did get some stage experience through being an associate qualifier on the Euro Tour twice, losing to Jeff Smith in Riesa but whitewashing John Henderson in Jena before losing to Martin Schindler, so it's not as if he is going to be completely new to a big crowd that should favour the other guy.

Is it fair to say that Clayton's had a bit of a down year? I think it is. After a 2021 where he won his first major and also got the Premier League win, he's struggled to go really deep in TV events in 2022, with the exception of the most recent one at Minehead where he got to a semi final, albeit the level of opponents he faced there maybe weren't the greatest. Overall scoring is still top ten, but his results haven't been - only just beating Martin Lukeman then getting close to a free win over de Sousa at the UK Open before going out to Damon Heta, an opening round reverse at Blackpool to Rowby, one and done at Leicester/Dortmund losing to Dimitri and Chizzy, then bowing out at the last sixteen in the Slam to Alan Soutar after winning his group, albeit on leg difference where three players had two wins each. It's not been great at lower levels either, with two semi finals and two quarter finals being the limit of what he could do in Europe, some of those key losses to knock him out in those events being to players you'd think he would have a strong chance of winning. Similar on the Pro Tour - he does have one final, where he lost to Brendan Dolan, but from another eight board wins he couldn't add even so much as a semi final, just adding three further quarter finals. Jonny did at least perform well in the unranked TV events, which is where he's made his name to be fair, with another Premier League playoff appearance and a World Cup final, but those add nothing to your ranking money obviously. The game is still there at a very high level, you just leave yourself thinking whether maybe there could have been a bit more in terms of results and if he's losing too many games he shouldn't be losing. This doesn't look like one of them regardless of who he plays, but a solid veteran still with some upside doesn't feel like the sort of opponent he'd prefer to face.