Monday 30 January 2023

Second/Third Division Darts players

PDC have finally decided who's going to be in the next Premier League. Think it's fair to say that reaction has been overwhelmingly negative, the omission of so many players that we thought would have a great chance - two major winners, a four-time European Tour winner and world number 5, then the likes of Cullen, Cross, van Duijvenbode, Rock amongst others. Dobey I'm fine with if the PDC just came out and made the Masters a Premier League play-in event, and not inviting the players who qualified automatically or they've already given wildcards to. But they haven't. Pleased that Chris has got the TV win, but I get the feeling he's going to be making up the numbers more often than not, despite the clear peak game we all know he has.

Still, with the decision made, we can announce who we're including in the new year of the Second and Third Division Darts we do - won't repeat the whole concept, but here's the player list:

Division Two

On last season's rankings - Luke Humphries, Dirk van Duijvenbode
On last season's third division rankings - Martin Schindler
On year end FRH rankings - Rob Cross, Danny Noppert, Joe Cullen, Ross Smith
Wildcard one - Josh Rock (clearly elite level talent with top five scoring in 2022, Pro Tour winner, world youth champion)
Wildcard two - Damon Heta (next player down on FRH rankings, second highest player in 2022 scoring)
Wildcard three - Dave Chisnall (top twelve player in scoring, one of the last players not included already, form clearly picking up towards end of season)

Division Three

On last season's third division rankings - Ryan Meikle, Keane Barry
World Youth Champion - In division two
On year end FRH rankings - Callan Rydz, Rowby John Rodriguez, Mike de Decker, Adam Gawlas
Wildcard one - Nathan Rafferty (Development Tour winner)
Wildcard two - Geert Nentjes (solid two senior seasons with tour card nearly retaining it automatically, reclaimed through Development Tour)
Wildcard three - Kevin Doets (winner on the Development Tour, scoring fractionally under 90 for the season, showing competent results at senior level)
Wildcard four - Ricardo Pietreczko (scoring and results rapidly improved across the back end of 2022)

There's a few alternative possibilities I could have gone with - Gary Anderson would have been an obvious choice based just on scoring, but on ranking he's not quite there and it's unknown just how much he'll actually play, while Ryan Searle and Krzysztof Ratajski have a good combination of both scoring as well as rankings. In the third, shoving Cadby back in would be an obvious call but I base wildcards on having had some senior results in the previous season, even if that's not the deciding factor, and Corey has none. Lewy Williams and Danny Jansen were close on results/rankings, but not in the same ballpark on performances, and Niels Zonneveld can consider himself unlucky not to get in through a combination of both. New card holders like Gian van Veen and Dylan Slevin who plenty think will progress quickly are in kind of the same boat as Cadby, there's a few others who we can stick in a similar group as well.

Expect the year end rewards at some point this week, before we start looking towards the first Players Championship weekend of the season, but before I sign off, a huge congratulations to Berry van Peer for taking down the Dutch Open.

Monday 16 January 2023

Well that's Q-School done

What an absolute train wreck that was. Picks went horribly, only getting two from the UK pool (Payne outright and Hall on points), EU pool was a bit better as I got six from the points list but nobody outright. Can't really complain with the players that got in, there's quite a few new interesting faces, seemingly a minimum number of retreads that are basically just wasting a spot, there's two or three from the UK list that I'm not really interested in seeing, but generally the list of players is good. Might have got more from the UK list, but I picked three players where it turned out they, at least on the face of it), had zero interest in winning a card and were just playing a day to get Challenge Tour eligibility.

Still can't quite believe that Plaisier didn't make it out of stage one, that was a shocker, and it's a pity that Tricole didn't make it, thankfully Sherrock didn't make it which would probably have turned a huge bit of the PDC into a clown show. Weird someone said I sounded a bit dull when expressing this opinion, and they follow me on Twitter at the same time. Odd behaviour.

In terms of who I'm most excited in seeing, Cadby's got to be at the top of the list. Hopefully he can play most of the schedule. Similar with Perez, I have no clue how much he's going to play. For new players, Veenstra's going to be a good one to watch, we've seen that he can put up a good consistent level in a lot of tournaments and will not be an easy out. Slevin looks like he could be a good young one to watch. There's several other good young names through the points lists. At some point this week I'm probably going to go through the stage 2 data and see how everyone's winning legs look to try to gauge how they will play if they keep that up.

For now it's all eyes to the Challenge Tour, and who's going to show up to it and get an early shot at getting into Pro Tour events. If rumours regarding at least one new card holder are accurate, there should be some spots up for grabs for sure. After that, it's the Dutch Open the following week, so 

Last thing to say is that they really, really need to look at how Q-School is organised. That Whitehead didn't win a card by playing on day 4 where if he had stayed in his hotel room he would have done is an absurd situation. They really, really need to switch to a Swiss system for stage two - failing that, they need to top up from the stage one points list so that every day has 128 entrants. That there were byes on day 1 was kind of absurd. Another thing they need to do is to say that the last sixteen of each day of round one are straight through - the fields are deep enough that you have enough points from it, just take them out of the field and make the tournament that little bit quicker.

Sunday 8 January 2023

And when I say possibly Thursday, I mean Sunday

Whoops. Oh well. Here's the end of season FRH top 100:

Have gone with top 32, 33-64 then the remainder. No real good way to format it otherwise. Extending to the top 128 would make things a bit too wide, extending it down more rows would make it too deep. Players are colour coded according to tour card status for 2023 as of right now - obviously we get Q-School starting tomorrow, but that's where things are at as of today. Final column of each section is change from the previous year, should be fairly self explanatory. We've got sixteen new players, that means we've had sixteen drop out, most from the bottom quarter of the previous year, but Glen Durrant (from #33, ouch), Steve West, Chas Barstow, Max Hopp, Nick Kenny, Ryan Murray, Boris Koltsov, Matt Edgar, Gordon Mathers, Wayne Jones, Andy Hamilton, Jelle Klaasen, James Wilson, Diogo Portela, Paul Lim and John Michael have gone.

One thing that would have been interesting to note is how much each of the money requirements for, say, the top 32, top 64 etc have changed over the last year as a result of having a full Euro Tour schedule and some increased prize money in other events. But I forgot to make note of the actual point values as of end of 2021. Oops.

All eyes turning to Q-School now. I've posted up my picks already, go for Twitter if you want to see them. Not gone for anything hugely controversial I don't think, but it'll be good to see which out of leftfield names we will see coming through the field. I'll not be taking bets on the Wednesday PDC write-up, which will be "Sherrock advances/eliminated (delete as appropriate) blah blah blah" 100% of the time.

Tuesday 3 January 2023

What a final

That's not, as the commentators were desperately, desperately trying to push, the best final ever, it wasn't even close. It may have had the best leg ever, but in terms of drama it didn't have sustained tension. Had a couple of spots where you thought Smith might choke it away, but that was pretty quickly extinguised, was only really in the last set where you though "ok, he's fucked this", but then MvG couldn't get better than a dart at the bull in leg four and that was that. In terms of quality? It was fine, but there were plenty that looked better on paper looking back at things. But hey, it was a fucking good game, and in the absence of any obvious counter-programming, that's got to be up there. And congrats to Smith. That was an immense performance, there were enough spots where he could easily have buckled, but didn't.

Year end FRH top 20 - year on year stats will follow in a post tomorrow, possibly Thursday:

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

Obviously Smith is the huge mover, along with the semi finalists, but other than that there is surprisingly not a huge amount of movement within the top 20 given the amount of money on offer, with just Wade dropping several spots following his first round exit and Searle sliding slightly. Ratajski drops from the top 20, there's a good 20k gap from Dobey to Ratajski, the same again from Ratajski to Bunting, and then another 15k down to Anderson below that. Huybrechts, Rock and Soutar are 29/30/31 respectively, Jim Williams is up near to the top 40, but with the chalky nature of the first couple of rounds there is not a huge amount of movement in the lower regions. Ian White as the main man who missed out is dumped down outside of the top 50, Lennon is similarly down to 70th, and Glen Durrant is out of the top 100 and will likely, sadly, never return there.

The PDC have wussed out of naming a Premier League lineup, so will have to wait to see who we line up in the Second and Third Division Darts for next season, but we've finished up the table for this season - Humphries won div 2 and Schindler ran away with div 3, so Martin'll be in div 2 next season, and we'd expect Luke to get the promotion - I'm not going to even speculate as to who I'll pick, obviously those based on the previous season's results and FRH rankings are going to be secure, but if they put off until the Masters again, then we can wait until post Q-School and maybe get a bit more of an idea. We'll see. For now, congrats again to the Bully Boy, it's been a long time coming, but it's there now.

Monday 2 January 2023

No bet on the final

Projection has shifted by maybe a percentage point towards MvG, so with Smith typically being priced at 5/2 or shorter by most conventional bookmakers, that's not long enough for what is now about a 35% chance from year long data for Smith to bink. Which, frankly with MvG in the form he's in, is probably an underestimate. Happy to sit this one out and just spectate, betting against van Gerwen the way he's playing right now seems suicidal regardless of price so I'm not going to do it.

lol price

Christ, he really doesn't help himself, does he?

Slide back a little bit more thanks to the Bunting loss. Looked the better player, but just couldn't hit doubles. If we look at the legs where he missed more than one dart at double, he'd have taken set 3 to 2-2 (albeit the decider would be on the Smith throw), taken set 4 to 2-2 on his throw, be throwing to take set 5 to 2-2, and he'd have won set 8. Sure, it's asking a lot to say he should have taken all of these, but getting to a deciding set wouldn't have been an absurd ask. In the other ones, Price wasn't great but Clemens just had his best game since forever, Dobey I don't think played great but MvG was giving absolutely nothing away (oddly, only the one four visit kill, but eleven of the other fourteen were in five visits), while Clayton against DvdB was as expected the closest of the games.

Two semis to come, Clemens/Smith first. Let's not beat about the bush - if they both play like they did yesterday, Clemens is into the final. Michael was that far off the pace and Gabriel was that good. Will they? I can certainly see Clemens approaching that level, he's been good throughout the tournament, but I can't see Smith playing quite that badly twice in a row, and even when he was playing his worst game in some time, he was still nicking the scrappy legs. Season long I have this at 81% to Smith. Maybe for reasons that we alluded to in the quarter final post, that's a bit too high, but if we knocked it down to 75/25 on the assumption that Clemens has performed below 100% for chunks of the year, it becomes a pretty clear no bet. Smith's 4/11.

van Gerwen against van den Bergh is actually priced more one sidedly, with a huge 6/1 available on Dimitri. That's actually half tempting, as I've got the Belgian up at 23% on year long numbers, on raw data that looks to be close to at least a small play. What I like to do in this sort of spot is to look at whether Dimitri's playing at the peak level (which we know can trouble MvG) within the current tournament enough that we're likely to realise that equity. The raw averages aren't inspiring, with a line of 95, 93, 96 and 95 - although as only Clayton tested him for extended periods, these aren't overly useful statistics. What I can do is filter my dataset to just this tournament and get a better idea. Dimitri's won 51 legs, but only 25 of them were within fifteen darts or better. This is in comparison to van Gerwen winning 37/52 in that number. Maybe it's a bit of an underestimate, given Dimitri is actually scoring nearly two and a half points more (93 compared to 90 and a bit) in the legs he's lost, but check this out - van Gerwen's scoring near 97 in the legs he's won, but over 105 in the 24 legs he's lost. Sheesh. Not going to lie, I'd actually feel more confident if it was Clemens going against van Gerwen than it being Dimitri. I just don't see how he ups his level to what is needed in the biggest game of his life (sorry, but playing to get into a world final is bigger than to win the Matchplay) often enough to justify the bet.

So nothing today - if, as we expect, it's an all-Michael final, I'd be looking at Smith having a 36% shot right now, which seems out of kilter with how van Gerwen is already as short as 1/2 to bink without having played the semi final, but looking at respective form in this event, you can see why it's like that and I'm not sure Smith realises that equity for the same reasons we've talked about with Dimitri.

Let me have a quick talk about the Premier League. What on earth are they going to do with that? Literally every player outside of the big four that was in contention has played their way out of it. Let's assume Humphries has done enough to get in. The top eight level of scoring is there, the titles are there, he's not quite blasted through in the majors as you might have liked, but I think he's been close enough for long enough that he gets the spot. So who else? If I look down scoring numbers first, with the top five outside of MvG, Price, Smith, Wright and Humphries:

Heta - On TV against the best players in the world for four months? Potential recipe for disaster
Rock - Way too soon, let him develop further naturally, come back in twelve months
van Duijvenbode - I'd love to see it, he would be a great addition, he was only stopped by MvG in the worlds, but as he said, if I was in contention would I be playing in the afternoon session (not sure which of the games against Sedlacek or Smith he said this in reference to, but it could be either)? If he'd pushed van Gerwen real close, then maybe, but he didn't
Anderson - I sure as hell hope we don't get what'll be a farewell tour, he needs to shove everything into the Pro Tour to retain his major spots
Clayton - I wouldn't hate it, but after a meh year it just seems like a by default "fill up the numbers" spot

If we look at the post-worlds order of merit:

Cross - If they're not putting him in when he won a major, they sure as hell aren't putting him in when he didn't
Clayton - See above
Noppert - Think he's played himself out of it. He was on my provisional list and just needed a decent worlds run, but didn't get that
Aspinall - Similar, except he doesn't have the major win that Noppert has
Wade - LOL

Think if either of Clemens or van den Bergh get through, they get a spot. In reality, I think they do boring stuff like say "Clayton topped the table and Cullen reached the final so they get back in" then use the Masters Premier League Qualification Tournament to fill the last spot. They could of course change the format again, but I don't see them giving up on what was a moderately well received format (not from here) after one year, expanding it back up again when there's a lack of players making a case to make an eight man field seems counter-intuitive. I don't know. Maybe they'll surprise me, but I doubt they do.