Monday 24 July 2023

Post Matchplay thoughts

So Aspinall's probably gone a long way to retaining a Premier League spot for next season, with an absurd 13-1 run from what was a fairly close game at the second break. How much of it was Nathan though? The third session wasn't bad, the first four legs saw a break and hold in four visits, and the same in five, but after that? If Clayton had have thrown a fifteen darter in ANY of the legs that Aspinall had the throw in, he breaks - every single one took six visits. Perhaps an example of how something that looks good wasn't quite as good in the aftermath? Jonny would have still had work to do, but Fifteen Dart Bot takes it from that 9-5 point and leads 14-10, rather than being out of the game. Jesus.

New FRH rankings:

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

Schindler drops out for quarter finalist Dobey, while it's remarkable that someone who has been throwing the best stuff of anyone for the last twelve months, as well as this season as a whole, isn't even in the top six. Simple fact is he doesn't have any massive scores that are counting for much in this ranking - his worlds has long since dropped off, and in terms of major finals he has less than six months left of the third Slam win and the Grand Prix final counting. Sure, last year's Matchplay will still count for a while, but in terms of how this list is calculated, it's already only counting 60% of what it did at the outset.

We've now got the summer break, at least at the highest level. There's a couple of Players Championships in the bank holiday weekend, but before that, all there is is World Series stuff, the next Challenge Tour weekend and the final Development Tour weekend. That's it. There's a few WDF events over August, but there's no guarantee we'll get data from them (or, for that matter, whether they'll run, given how many WDF events continue to fall off the calendar).

But for now, here's something I said I'd do a couple of posts back, namely the next players to win something. Let's go:

Next five players to win a PDC major title

1) Luke Humphries

Don't think we're going to be too far off this to be honest. The numbers in 2023 are at a top three level. The titles at Euro Tour level continue to flow, and he's continuing to push on to the business end of majors more often than not. He's also further boosted by the fact he's been bumped slightly in the rankings, so he now aligns against Wright instead of Price provisionally at the Grand Prix, which is an enormous boost.

2) Dave Chisnall

Very easy to suggest he becomes another Terry Jenkins and never wins one, but playing at a top ten level statistically, picking up Euro Tours which are every bit a big stage event as a lot of majors are, it probably only needs a good draw or someone doing him favours for him to push deep, and then who knows. A solid back end to the Euro Tour season would see him seeded extremely high for the European Championship, that could be the opportunity he needs.

3) Chris Dobey

No, the Masters does not count as a major, but it's an important stepping stone. Seems as if Dobey is getting more and more comfortable on the TV, with a record in ranking majors over the last twelve months of three quarter finals and one semi. Plus he didn't exactly do badly in the Premier League, at least in terms of averages if not results.

4) Dirk van Duijvenbode

Feels like he's getting extremely close to getting over the line in a big one - the Euro Tour would be a logical next step, given he hasn't actually won one of them yet, but I think his level of play is enough that it's not out of the question that he does a Ross Smith and jumps straight up to major title level. That he's outside the top 8 won't help seedings in the Grand Prix, but his numbers are only fractionally outside a top 10 level this year (Dobey is tenth, Dirk is 0.01 a visit behind), and he's getting the winning feeling with three Pro Tours, nobody's won more legs this season in my database than van Duijvenbode has.

5) Joe Cullen

Seems like there's plenty of ways I could have gone with this last one - Heta was close, and a couple of players I'll list in the Euro Tour list were also close, but Cullen's done pretty much everything he can without winning a ranking major - one dart off the Premier League, he has a non-ranking TV title, the numbers are extremely steady and he seems to make the most of what he's got in terms of generating results.

Next five players to win a Euro Tour title

1) Josh Rock

Could very easily have pushed Rock up to the next tier, but I'll keep him here as the most obvious player (outside of Dirk?) to push through at this level. Scoring remains at an elite standard lying just outside of the top five, he has got through to a final already this season and was only just outplayed by Clayton there, it seems only when, rather than if, Rock gets his hand on a bigger title than just a Players Championship, and the amount he's accumulated is going to keep him seeded nicely for a fair bit.

2) Ryan Searle

Seems unreal that Ryan not only hasn't won one of these, he's not even made a final yet - indeed, it was only this year where he actually made his first semi final. But we all saw what Ryan can do with his demolition of Barney at Blackpool, the numbers are all right there in terms of good enough to be able to win one, he has Pro Tour titles and a major final in his locker, this is the next natural step.

3) Gian van Veen

Might appear a bit forward given he's still looking for a first title full stop, but he is playing that well. He might be a touch limited in opportunities given he's still working his Pro Tour rankings up and will need to qualify for the foreseeable future, but nobody can question his potential, nor his scoring - only Price, Anderson, Humphries and Clayton are outscoring Gian this year. That's title winning sort of potential - quite possibly sooner rather than later. He's already got to two final sessions, he already has a tour final in the bank, and is looking very good to get a bunch of TV experience if he can hold off Littler and claim the Development Tour title this season.

4) Martin Schindler

Another player who's not actually won a title, it seems easy enough to upgrade Martin to this level. He's not been far off pushing through to the sort of spots where he can win at both the Pro Tour and Euro Tour level, has been a regular in TV majors for a decent chunk now, is seeded for these, and has the obvious advantage that he will have a favourable crowd for, barring a radical redesign of the Euro Tour, the foreseeable future.

5) Stephen Bunting

Seems like Stephen has been around forever, given it's nearly a decade since he switched to the PDC. But oddly he's not been able to accumulate more than a couple of Pro Tour titles. He's just keeping himself to himself, and continuing to play a very high standard of darts much below the radar - he's scoring an identical amount per turn as Dimitri this season for example. Probably the only thing that's holding him back from doing more is a relative lack of explosive scoring power (everyone above him in the scoring charts is winning over 10% of their legs in twelve or better, with Bunting actually below 8%), but if he can get some consistent finishing into his game he has the capability to force opponents to beat him, rather than giving much away.

Next ten players to win a Pro Tour title

1) Gabriel Clemens

Feels like he's been at the top of, or near the top of, this list since forever. Feels as if the game is coming together for Clemens, he's playing well enough to put himself into positions where he has a chance to win them, and is accumulating enough to comfortably made all the majors for some time, with which comes Pro Tour seedings and the chance to avoid big guns early, there's only Schindler that's ranked higher than Gabriel in the Pro Tour rankings right now.

2) Richard Veenstra

Flyers has been around darts for an age now, but only recently made the full PDC switch, and is already making an impression at the next level up - scoring is at a very respectable 91 this season, he's solidly within the top half of the worlds Pro Tour qualifying spots, and he has that pedigree from the BDO/WDF system of being able to navigate big fields - something that caused me to pick Jim Williams in this list last time I did it right after he won the Challenge Tour, and he converted to a title.

3) Mike de Decker

Mike's been steadily improving for several years, previously being somewhat up and down but now closing up his game to the point where he's pushed on to a Pro Tour final already this year, and is consistent enough that he made the Matchplay and is looking good for the Grand Prix. Numbers are sound, he's not too dissimilar to what de Sousa is doing right now, and he's not too far removed from having won a major.

4) Cameron Menzies

This is more a "look just at numbers" pick rather than a look at anything he's actually done in terms of results. His numbers this year are in and around the level of Dimitri, Gurney, Clemens etc, and a real good consistency score points to him perhaps having been unlucky in terms of draws. I seem to recall similar in 2022, while he could do with a decent second half to secure a card going forward (he's currently outside the worlds spots, and is only just provisionally retaining his card), he would surely be a big favourite to regain if it came to it.

5) Luke Littler

He's not going to win one this year for obvious reasons, but next year he's looking almost a certainty to get a tour card through the Dev Tour (assuming he wants it, and there's no indication he doesn't), where he's been looking extremely strong - winning four already, outscoring Barney this season over a solid 200+ leg sample, and showing the stamina to be able to win three games in the UK Open in one day then come back in the evening and average over a ton over 18 legs. He's only 100/1 to win the worlds this year for crying out loud.

6) Steve Lennon

This is a tricky one, given Lennon missed the worlds last year and is in no way guaranteed to make the worlds this year, although he's provisionally in as of right now, so it could be the case that, like Menzies, he needs to regain tour card status. But while he's lacked results, his scoring level has been consistently good for a very long time now, heck it's more than five years now since he reached a European Tour final. Think he's a player where he just needs a bit of a run to gain confidence, the game is there, just needs some winning in the system. There's certainly been worse players to reach finals and even win in recent memory.

7) Keane Barry

We stick in Ireland for this next one, and it's a player who's been under the radar over the last two to three years as other players have made more of a splash coming through the youth and development systems and surpassing Keane, which might lessen a bit of the expectation there was when he initially broke through into the PDC, and was added back again with the UK Open semi final last season. Nothing wrong with how he's been playing, not too dissimilar to Lennon in his profile, still got to have the sense that he can improve his level of play somewhat easily and hit a hot run to go deep in an event.

8) Ricardo Pietreczko

Someone who's really impressed and developed extremely rapidly over the last twelve months, Ricardo's gone from someone who we saw occasionally on the Euro Tour, to someone who many thought might just be another Steffen Siepmann and just be one and done before back to Q-School, he's now a player who's hit the final session of a Euro Tour and going consistently deep enough on the floor that he was one spot off making the Matchplay, and is currently in a Grand Prix spot, albeit only on countback and he's going to need a decent month or two to close out the big TV debut. Statistically he's basically the same player as Jermaine Wattimena right now, someone who's been very close to winning events himself, and is clearly improving to the point where a breakthrough at this level doesn't seem unreasonable.

9) Luke Woodhouse

Luke's been in and around the PDC system consistently for half a decade now, never putting up bad numbers, always being someone who's capable of shoving in a big average but just not quite having enough to get over the line. This might be changing soon though, as Woodhouse of course recently made the breakthrough to the final level, looking like he had run out of steam against his stable mate Heta, but that might have cleared somewhat of a mental block potentially, maybe he will actually push through soon. He'd certainly have the double benefit of that clearly putting him over the line for a Grand Prix debut, him being one of a number of players fighting for the last spot (currently a bit of a gap from 15th to 16th), that could be all the incentive he needs to get the job done.

10) Mario Vandenbogaerde

Little bit of a left field one here, but there's a bit of a lack of obvious names to fill out the field, so I'll go with the Belgian, who checks a number of boxes that makes me think it would not be the strangest thing. Mario had a very solid BDO base, so can win through a big field like Veenstra further up. Scoring is above 90 for the year, not overly dissimilar to his compatriot Kim Huybrechts, who of course has won one this year. Is in the mix to make the Grand Prix, so given a moderate lack of Euro Tour success is clearly making some progress on the Pro Tour. Lots of things to like about his floor game, it would be a bit of a surprise if he was to win one, but it wouldn't be absurdly crazy.

Expect a bit of downtime for the next few weeks given the advertised lack of darts in the near future.

Saturday 22 July 2023

Matchplay semis

Real quick post, I see nothing on the semi final. Perhaps Cullen is fractionally underrated longer term and Aspinall fractionally underrated in the short term, and perhaps Humphries is even more fractionally underrated full stop, although a touch more in longer term stats - while Clayton does pull it closer Humphries is outperforming market value regardless. Still, in none of these are we getting remotely close to anything we would call value, gun to the head and I'd call it a Humphries/Aspinall final but, as we expected, with no value in the quarters and the markets generally agreeing with where everyone's levels are at, it's no surprise to see the same here. It is interesting to see that the three matches where were marginal differences in projections due to sample sizes all saw the player with the better results in the shorter term all win, but it's no big deal. Nothing here, and naturally I doubt we see anything in the final either.

Thursday 20 July 2023

Matchplay quarters

What a set of results, this is now more wide open than a really wide open thing, with all of the top five seeds gone, and two unseeded players still standing - this is an enormous chance for everyone left standing to pick up a first Matchplay title, and a first major full stop for over half the field. That does remind me that I need to update my lists of "next players to win x, y and z" at some point, after this event seems like a logical time to do so, but for now let's look at the quarters and see if we can pick out any more value after Michael Smith's exit put us in a decent spot for the event.

Dobey/Aspinall - Huge win for Chris, coming from an early 3-0 deficit to win more than two thirds of the remaining legs and get home 11-7, very strong performance to back up what as already an impressive first round display. Nathan edged out Noppert in a fairly tight one, maybe not quite to the level of Dobey being the beneficiary of a couple of sloppy legs which might have made the difference, but certainly not bad, and again the first round display was impressive. It looks like the market has this one as the tightest of all the quarters, although it's not by much and the most prohibitive favourite is only 4/7 in the first place, Nathan is marginally favoured, and that looks just about right. On longer term form, Dobey is actually projecting as the tiny (not even 55%) favourite, but on 2023 data Nathan is favoured by about the same amount, and he pulls ahead another couple of percentage points again if we trim things to just after the UK Open. As such I'm quite happy to leave it alone, everything points to this being tight.

Cullen/Gurney - Joe provided maybe the second biggest shock of the round with taking out the clear favourite for the tournament in overtime, looking solid enough but maybe not putting on quite as much pressure in some spots as he'd have liked in the legs he let Price win, if anything his first round performance was better. I say second, as Daryl provided the first, taking out Gary Anderson with possibly the best Daryl has played in years, limiting the twice world champion to just four legs (and he was averaging near 115 in those) and only taking more than fifteen darts to get the legs he needed to make the quarters on three occasions. Gurney is definitely improving rapidly but Joe is playing overall the better stuff - looking just over 60% on full twelve month and 2023 data, since the UK Open Daryl closes the gap a touch but Cullen still rates to win nearer 60% than 55% in that data set. As such, the 4/6 for Joe looks to be pretty much spot on, although it wouldn't surprise me if this is a touch closer than the market suggests.

Searle/Clayton - Ryan backed up an incredible opening round display with a case of simply not fucking it up against Peter Wright, getting a decent lead and then just doing enough to keep holding and running out an 11-8 winner, meanwhile Clayton recovered after a not great opener to put away Dimitri very comfortably, only having the two legs go beyond fifteen darts (including the last one) and pressuring well enough to average 99 in the six legs DvdB won. Clayton's put possibly the best numbers up of anyone left in the tournament in the last twelve months after Humphries, and is improving, chances going from high 50's to low 60's to more or less 65% as we get more and more form based at our looks. Prices on Clayton are touching 4/6 in places, that's really not of interest.

Humphries/Heta - Luke needed to claw back from being on the brink of elimination against DvD to get home in overtime following an extremely easy first round win over Jose de Sousa, while Heta had perhaps an even easier time of it in round two, restricting Dolan to just a single leg without ever really needing to get that close to his top game in the process, this after a competent display against the ever dangerous Josh Rock in round one. This one looks like another game where if we trend based on shorter, more form based samples, it swings the balance one way - here in favour of Luke, with just over a 70% chance in the last four months or so, but only just over 60% in the last twelve months. Odds of 4/7 pretty much split the difference, so it's a no bet for me in this one, and for the round as a whole.

Probably back Saturday morning for the semi final run down, although given how the projections look for this round, I doubt we find anything that is approximating value. Check back then, we could be proven wrong (although I doubt it).

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Matchplay round 2

Well, that bottom half of the draw is wide open now, making Heta, van Duijvenbode and Humphries huge beneficiaries and possibly ones to go on a super deep run, with the third quarter certainly not looking the strongest. Four seeds down, at least one unseeded player making the quarters, let's go through game by game in draw order:

Smith/Dobey - Smith had very little trouble with Beaton, dropping just the two legs but also having another couple of clown show legs which will have dragged the average down a touch. Not great, but wasn't pressed either. Dobey meanwhile looked a touch better against Wade, who wasn't playing too badly either, Chris was in contention in the majority of the legs Wade won so has got to be happy despite a relatively tight scoreline. Chris looks extremely live here, showing at bang on 40% year long, and playing just as good as Smith is in more recent samples, so with the relative first round performances this seems like an easy play, 0.25u Dobey 2/1

Noppert/Aspinall - Danny didn't do much wrong, really just a couple of sloppy legs, one early for Schindler to break in lots and another later to give Martin a half chance. Aspinall was a bit up and down with the occasional slow leg but generally didn't do too much wrong against Ratajski, and was probably slightly the better performer in the opening round. This seems extremely tight year long, as you would expect an 8v9 seed match to be, but Nathan pulls away to being around a 2-1 favourite if we look at any sort of form based sample, so 4/6 isn't really tempting for one reason or another. Maybe we lean Noppert based on that it's closer in the larger sample and the first round matches, but it's safest just to avoid the game altogether.

Price/Cullen - Gerwyn showed occasional flashes in what was a 10-1 run of legs after Bunting got the first couple, but it feels like he never really needed to get out of second gear with Stephen only barely averaging 90 in the legs he lost which frequently gave Price the time to win legs moderately pedestrianly. Cullen was a fair bit better in the opener, Mike de Decker took seven legs with solid play of his own but Joe was right there in all of them ready to step in if allowed being left on an easy two darter or better in all but one lost leg. I'm not quite sure why the match is priced quite this close, 1/3 looks like a fair price for Price year long, and his projections improve slightly in more form-based samples, so this looks like one you can reasonably safely put into an acca, although the edge never gets large enough to outright recommend a play.

Gurney/Anderson - Daryl looked really good against Cross, although he needed overtime to get there, there were a few legs where he wasn't really scoring at all which could do with being tightened up and not given away, but outside of those three or four he didn't do a great deal wrong in dumping out the number 5 seed, while Ando was extremely steady, winning the vast majority of legs versus Chisnall in fifteen or better, and typically being there or there abouts in the six legs Dave was able to generate. Gary's better, no doubt about it, if anything this looks more one-sided than the previous game, with Ando projecting at 77% year long and increasing a touch in form samples, so I think we're really close to recommending a play on Gary, the 4/9 on Boyles (taking the Irish money?) is nearly there, 1/2 would probably do it and that ought to be available on the exchanges.

Wright/Searle - Peter only dropped the four legs last night against Gilding, but still looked fairly pedestrian, he had a couple of good legs, and a nice three leg run to close the first session, but otherwise there were just too many legs going beyond fifteen darts for my liking. Ryan on the other hand looked the best he has done for some time against van Barneveld, all legs but one won in fifteen or better, registering the highest average of the tournament to date by some distance. This is just like the Wright/Gilding game - Ryan projects to win just one in three year long, but it's 50/50 in 2023 and Searle pushes up to a 56% favourite since the last major. If both play like last night then Searle wins at a canter and the generally available 11/10 looks very silly, if their respective games look more like what they have done overall from the past year, then the 4/5 available on Wright looks equally daft. Won't say anyone betting on Searle is making a bad move at all, but we've seen enough instances where Peter will show the general level of play he has in the last twelve months that I don't want to make the official suggestion.

Clayton/van den Bergh - Jonny won a weird game against Clemens with a significantly weaker average (primarily a factor of Clemens being really close in the legs he lost, Jonny being a bit off in the reverse, and Clayton dragging his average down by winning more than half his legs with last dart in hand), while Dimitri took advantage of a little bit of inconsistent scoring from Ross Smith, particularly late in the game, to dive over the line with back to back four visit kills from 8-8. This looks like a Clayton game for me, with projections ranging from 60% year long to more like two in three this year, but the respective performances along with Jonny mentioning something not being quite right post match, makes me think that a typically available 8/11 isn't enough, the 4/5 you can get in a couple of spots is getting closer and I'll probably have a small personal play at that value, but there's enough there to hold me off the recommendation.

Dolan/Heta - Brendan provided the obvious stand out result of the round, looking really good in defeating a van Gerwen who was not playing badly himself - he was averaging 98 in the legs he lost so Dolan needed to be somewhat opportunistic, while Damon got over a bit of a TV slump with an up and down display against Josh Rock, getting away with a couple of slow legs and some occasional less than A-tier scoring from Rock but getting the 10-5 win. This looks a bit like the previous game for Brendan - only at 30% year long, but pushing up to 35% and then 40% with each of the smaller samples I'm using. The prices we're seeing quoted for Heta clearly aren't of interest, and I think I need slightly more than what we're getting to take Dolan. Better than 2/1 everywhere is going to give you some bang for your buck, but I want a bit more, and think that Damon will have a bit of weight off his shoulders with a TV win in the bank.

Humphries/van Duijvenbode - Clear match of the round for me. Luke just destroyed de Sousa, maybe taking his foot off the pedal a little bit in the second half of the game which might have let Jose close the gap a little but the damage was already done. Meanwhile Dirk was embroiled in what would have been the upset of the round (for all of about six hours at least), needing to dodge match darts against Kim Huybrechts and eventually getting the job done in overtime. Wasn't playing badly, although it did seem a step off his peak game, was just a case of Kim outperforming somewhat and staying in it. Seems a pretty easy one to avoid from a betting perspective. Dirk's not scoring significantly different than Luke year long, maybe fractionally worse in the legs he's lost, but it's essentially a flip, but Luke does better in 2023 data, floating between 55% and 60%, which is enough to not make me want to take Dirk at slightly odds against. I'm not sure how much it'll affect things, but Luke having a much less taxing first round game probably helps him slightly as well.

Back for the quarters when we know them.

Thursday 13 July 2023

Matchplay round 1 bets

OK, we've had a couple of PC events finished up and in the banks, Humphries and Heta winning over Chizzy and Joyce (yeah, really) respectively, some quick notes - Chizzy, Dirk and Clayton looked to have put up the best scoring of those that played a significant number of legs, Ross Smith was higher than anyone but had two first round exits. Barney was similar to Smith but a touch behind the other three, while Wade, Cross, Dobey and Heta did alright over smaller samples. Looking from the bottom, Ratajski had a rough couple of days, de Decker wasn't too much better, while Dimitri and Rock were also below 90 scoring for the event. Naturally a few people didn't show, so we can't get perfect current form on everyone, but these might be useful pointers anyway. Let's go through the games:

Chisnall/Anderson - Market can't separate them, over year long form I can't either. Post-worlds, Ando looks marginally better around 60/40, and it's about the same after the UK Open. 10/11 on Gary seems close to a play, but it's hard to count against Dave's play this year, picking up two Euro Tours shows he's on it.

Price/Bunting - Over the last year Price is scoring higher than anyone, but Bunting is good enough that he's still projecting at one in four over a full year's of data, making an available 3/1 look about neutral and Gerwyn not acca safe. Price is performing a bit better than that over more recent form, but not significantly better where 1/4 looks like a good play.

Cullen/de Decker - This actually projects really, really close on full year form, however after the worlds and UK Open, Joe reverts to projecting at about a 60/40 favourite. This still means that the 13/8 you can get in some places on Mike looks like the better play than anything on Joe, but with the aforementioned couple of dodgy tournaments this past week, coupled with this being a big debut event, I'm really not seeing the point in pushing what would be a year long value play with shorter term uncertaincy.

Cross/Gurney - Rob's a decent favourite here - about two in three over full data, since the worlds Gurney pulls it down closer to 60%, but since the UK Open it's nearer to 65%, so with Cross being shorter than 1/2 everywhere I don't see any value there, and the 7/4 or there abouts you can get on Gurney doesn't look like anything useful either.

Noppert/Schindler - Very close game, but one where Martin's getting better of late - full data gives Danny a 55/45 advantage, while samples just in 2023 give Schindler a smaller edge than that, so the Schindler 6/5 side looks like the superior play, it's still not a good one.

van Duijvenbode/Huybrechts - Tough ask for Kim here. Projecting less than 20% year long, it gets a bit better on 2023 form, with 30% in full calendar year data but falling back towards 25% since the UK Open. 14/5 is not a tempter in the slightest, while Dirk is actually longer than 1/3 in a couple of places, which if you trust twelve month's worth of data, isn't a bad play, but nothing I'm going to recommend.

Heta/Rock - Bit of a contrast in form this past week for these two, but then again Damon has maybe the worst TV form of the top sixteen for some time now, so call that a flip I guess, Rock is up at 60% year long for what'd be a debut win, the two calendar year samples I'm using draws it a bit closer for Heta but he doesn't break 45% himself in either spot. Rock being generally available at 8/13 is clearly not of interest, and Heta is also not long enough to remotely consider.

Wade/Dobey - Two players chucking good stuff of late so this should be a good session ender, and it looks like Wade's trending up more than Chris is - Dobey is in between 60% and 65% year long, but drops below 60% since the worlds and Wade gets up as high as 45% if we're looking just after the UK Open. Wade is actually the market favourite, so this trend might be being exaggerated a tad, but he does like this format so I'm not going to jump in on Chris, but don't hate a play that way.

Aspinall/Ratajski - A tight one to call. Year long Aspinall is only at 52% - it does go up by a couple of points for each shorter sample we use, so either he's improving a touch, or is at least not losing as much value as Ratajski is if the Pole is getting worse. Aspinall's only a smidgeon longer than 1/2 so no play there, but I'm really not feeling 13/8 as being a great play on Krzysztof either given the way the projections are going.

Humphries/de Sousa - Fairly easy one to call, Luke is winning titles again and Jose seems like a fading force, with his best work concentrated last year, with the year long stats giving him a bit more than 35%, which would bring 9/4 into the realms of possibilities, but in either 2023 data set he's down at around a one in three chance, which would instantly throw that price out of the window. We can't get better than 2/5 on Luke so while I'm bullish about his chances, it's nowhere near enough to actually put money down on him.

van Gerwen/Dolan - Hopefully Michael's at 100%, he's certainly looked decent when we have seen him at least, but it is a small question mark. Maybe his form is tailing off though - he projects to win one in four year long, but it drops to as low as 62% since the UK Open, and the post worlds mid point in sample size also gives Brendan more than a one in three shot. With that being said, it doesn't feel like Brendan is actually improving, so while there are big numbers available, I'm really, really not wanting to say take 6/1 on Dolan. MvG did look magnificent in Poland and seems very hard to bet against.

Smith/Beaton - Michael was another player who missed this past week's games, but understandable to take a break here and there. This is going to be extremely tough for Steve, but he looks to be playing a fair bit better this year than the markets suggest - over year long data he's down only just over 20%, which puts 6/1 in the "very risky" category, but in any 2023 sample he's actually a touch over a one in three shot! I do wonder if Michael just ups his game back to what it can be as it's a big match as opposed to a leisure centre in Barnsley, and that's something I could definitely see happen, he is definitely not acca safe, but I'm thinking about taking the underdog here more than I was in the match above.

van den Bergh/Smith - This appears really close on paper, and is really close in the market with Dimitri only a paper-thin favourite. I'm going to make a play here - 0.25u Smith 11/10, he rates at 60% in both the longest and shortest sample, while in 2023 as a whole Dimitri does pull it back to Ross only having 55% chances - but that's still long enough to take a price that implies he only has 48% chances.

Searle/van Barneveld - This appears pretty tight when projecting, although it does trend one way as we look at more and more recent form. Ryan's only just a point or two over 50% in the last twelve months, but tips up to 55% and then 60% as we get more and more form based. Barney is the market dog, which is right, but only just at 6/5 which is clearly not of interest, and Searle is not that far superior that we're looking at taking him either.

Wright/Gilding - How form works - Wright is rated at 72% to win in the last twelve months. 61% in the post worlds data. Then 53% in the post-UK Open data. Given it seemed pertinent, I did just quickly add the UK Open in, but that didn't help Gilding's numbers in the slightest. Hills have Andrew at 7/4, which looks like a horrible play if you're looking over twelve months, but looks like a very good play if you're looking over four months. Pick your poison.

Clayton/Clemens - Jonny seems undervalued here. He's up at just over 70% year long, which with prices just being the wrong side of 1/2, makes the market seem accurate, but if you take after the worlds, he jumps to over 80%. Clemens gains a couple of points back if you cut everything before the UK Open out, but either of them feel counter-intuitive given Gabriel was supposedly playing injured in 2022. Clayton is on fire this year and this looks like enough for a play - 0.25u Clayton 10/21

Check back in on Monday before round two kicks off for more thoughts.

Thursday 6 July 2023

Early Matchplay thoughts

Although there are lines out already, I'm not going to recommend any tips as of right now, as it would be incredibly poor judgment of me to do so when we have two Players Championship events (and, to a lesser extent, the interesting looking Polish World Series stop) before we get to this time next week, so I'm just going to look at the lineup (numbers listed are season to date overall scoring) and give some thoughts on how things may well go. The PC events are on Monday/Tuesday, so expect a bets post at some point midweek.

Smith (92.22) v Beaton (89.09) - Looks like a severe mismatch on paper, with Beaton being the only player in the field to be scoring under 90 for the year (and barely over 89), with most of what he's done to get here being in 2022 as opposed to this calendar year, but Smith hasn't exactly been ripping it up since he's binked the worlds either. That 92 is not a typo, on the PC circuit he's been pretty average, go look at Dart Connect's stats. Maybe Steve has more of a chance than we think.
Wade (91.78) v Dobey (93.09) - Could be a seed in trouble here, Wade is the last seed in the tournament, maybe he's picking things up as he did look decent in Trier, but Chris has been solidly outplaying Wade over the course of the year and ought to go into this as the favourite. The Premier League certainly won't have harmed his stage game.
Noppert (91.37) v Schindler (91.25) - This one looks about the tightest of the round just looking at the raw numbers with them not even being separated by a quarter of a point per turn, Noppert may have a major win behind him and Schindler may have no senior titles whatsoever, but it's testament to what Martin's done in the last couple of years that this is as tight as it is. Schindler may well be the better player right now.
Aspinall (93.74) v Ratajski (92.74) - Two players that it seems we haven't talked about a lot this year, Aspinall more notable than Ratajski but that's more to us not giving a shit about the Premier League, they're both a bit underrated I feel. Nathan's a touch better, but it does kind of feel like his form is a fraction down on what it was in the second half of 22, while Krzysztof is still doing what he's always been doing, and if he's slid in the rankings a bit it's more other people overtaking him than Ratajski getting worse. Feels like another one that should be close.

Price (96.67) v Bunting (91.64) - Price is the best player in the world by a notable chunk, with nobody with any sample size within a point per turn of him, and only four players (one of which isn't even here) within two and a half points, and it seems a touch bonkers that he's only a marginal favourite for the tournament outright. Bunting isn't the greatest opponent he could have drawn, someone we've been calling underrated for some time now, but this is an awful draw for him, and that he is one of the longest shots to win his opening match is not a slight on Stephen, it's just how much better Gerwyn is right now.
Cullen (92.33) v de Decker (91.63) - Cullen seems to be slipping under the radar a touch, lacking any finals this year, but the overall level of play doesn't seem to have dropped off at all, perhaps just being unlucky with some draws and/or having the odd duff match here and there. Going to be really interesting to see what Mike can do on debut - I don't know if anyone has ever done any sort of serious analysis on whether first time players in any major typically underperform at all, but this feels like it will be a big event for him. He's certainly not without chances, and the up and down nature of play he used to had has more or less been ironed out, we don't see anything like the number of truly awful games he used to put up. 
Cross (92.90) v Gurney (91.11) - Rob's doing well this year, having a great May where he picked up a Pro Tour title and finally a European Tour title, and while the numbers aren't as good as they were at his peak, they're certainly trending back in the right direction, if he's outside the top ten it's not by much and it's a case of other people stepping their game up, rather than Cross doing a great deal wrong. Seems like Daryl is doing similar, he's picking things back up, but it does feel like he has further to go to get back to where his peak game was, and this looks like a tough opening ask, although not one where he's completely out of it.
Chisnall (93.34) v Anderson (95.52) - Chizzy's having a very good year, with two Euro Tour titles in the bank putting him in a very good spot to claim a Grand Slam spot, and his statistics say he's likely in the top ten in the world at the moment in terms of quality of play. Problem is he's drawn the one player that nobody wanted to get (well, maybe one of two), Ando's back here after getting a Pro Tour win and in 2023 there is only Price that is outscoring him, and this is over a decent 500+ leg sample size, he's playing much more of the circuit and that number would be higher if it weren't for not getting to as many Euro Tours as he'd have liked. Dave would be a favourite against almost any of the Pro Tour qualifiers, but make no mistake, while the bookies have it even he is definitely the underdog in this one.
Wright (90.23) v Gilding (91.47) - Hard to say what's going on with Peter's game. The numbers are way down, and it seems maybe more luck than judgment that he was able to pick up a Euro Tour title. His consistency in particular is all over the place, at a huge 8 point difference in points per turn between winning and losing legs, only three card holders are more up and down than Wright is. It wasn't luck that Gilding was able to get his own televised title, getting another real spurt of form on the way to the UK Open, while the consistency difference actually projects Wright as a favourite, that can't account for the chance that Wright goes missing for a mini-session, which might be all Andrew needs to move on.
Searle (92.35) v van Barneveld (90.76) - Two players who've been moderately quiet, Searle got the first Pro Tour of the year and got to another couple of finals since then, but we've not seen any real signs that Searle is going to kick on to the next level, and his position in the seeds seems a bit false with his major final money going off by the end of this year. Then again, I'm not sure what Barney's done exactly to get here either, with his Grand Slam run obviously not counting towards the Pro Tour rankings and the PC he did win being more than two years ago now, not just one as I first thought. It's going to be a very close one to call with neither putting up a great argument.
Clayton (94.86) v Clemens (91.57) - Jonny is playing maybe the best darts this year he's ever done, with the numbers he's putting up matching a lot of what he's done in the past in non-ranking events, and there's a very strong argument he's the favourite to win this quarter. Gabriel's now firmly entrenched in the world's top 32, if not higher having got worlds semi final money in his account for at least another year and a half, but while he's playing as good as he has done for some time, this is a really nasty draw and it's hard to see how Clemens can realistically get through this one.
van den Bergh (91.55) v Smith (92.83) - This one's an interesting one, with one of the lower seeds in the event by any metric you care to mention (although he is defending final money), coming up against another major champion in Ross Smith, who wasn't too far off the seeds himself and looks to be one of the strongest Pro Tour qualifiers (only Dobey, Anderson and Rock are scoring higher in 2023), and unlike Dimitri has been in the winners circle in 2023. Seems very tight to call, maybe Ross is actually the marginal favourite, although van den Bergh's results at the venue can't be discounted too much.

van Gerwen (93.58) v Dolan (90.10) - van Gerwen's the defending champion here, and continues to look extremely strong, although the development of some other players around him, coupled with Price's sensational form, means he is perhaps a touch overlooked, but certainly won't be in any markets. He's got one of the better draws possible here, Brendan was one of the last players in and was more or less hanging on to the place here, just about doing enough but it's hard to pinpoint exactly what he's done to get here (his win last year just fell off the rankings before the cutoff) and the numbers are not great with just Steve Beaton scoring less this year. Ought to be extremely comfortable for MvG.
Heta (92.17) v Rock (94.17) - This one's extremely spicy, Damon is maybe not quite at the level he was in 2021 and 2022, but is still playing extremely solid stuff and did get the most recent Pro Tour title, so while there was a bit of an issue at some points turning performances into titles, it's not the case, at least extremely recently. Maybe that is a thing for Josh, with the hype train being a bit quieter, and him not adding to his title from last year, although he does have three finals to his credit and did not play badly in any of them, just running into someone playing better every time (van Gerwen on the Pro Tour, and Clayton on each of the Pro Tour and European Tour). Josh is playing the better darts and is still comfortably within the top ten just on numbers alone, although Heta is close enough that this is going to be a bit tense, it is a debut for Rock after all.
Humphries (95.19) v de Sousa (90.86) - This one looks like it's going to be a bit of a formality, Luke being just one of three players (Price, Anderson) to be scoring over 95 this year, with a great record of putting another five Euro Tour finals into the bank, although he's only actually converted one of them into a victory. Hard to say what Jose's done to get here, he has one final in April where he was comfortably routed by van Duijvenbode, but in general it's hard to see how he can rebuild back into the top sixteen at this stage, and it's even harder to see a path to victory in this game.
van Duijvenbode (93.20) v Huybrechts (90.29) - Our final game sees a multiple time winner this season in Dirk van Duijvenbode, getting three tour titles and coming inches away from adding a first Euro Tour to his roll of honour very recently, a second final defeat, but it does feel more when rather than if he gets a win at that level - or higher. Kim held on as the last player in the field, an early return to a title this year with a huge win over Gabriel Clemens giving him enough in the bank to get here, but he'd be an underdog against virtually any seed and Dirk's playing well enough that he's probably just in the half of seeds you don't want to draw. Real tough to see the Belgian getting this one more than about one in every four trials.

Expect formal tips next midweek.

Sunday 2 July 2023

Oh, Dirk

Damn, was really expecting that to be the event which Dirk made the breakthrough to the ET winner category. Not to be, and still somewhat glad to see Luke Humphries bink for the first time after god knows how many final mishaps this season. Also good to see Wade looking like he's continuing to return to form, with a really impressive semi final display in particular, and let's look at the newest FRH rankings:

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

Dirk's final gets him solidly ahead of Clayton for now, and he's actually closer to Aspinall, Heta moves ahead of Cullen despite Joe's semi, more down to his really solid PC runs since I last updated the rankings, while we get two new exciting players up into the top 20 for what I assume is the first time, dumping out de Sousa and Dobey.

One thing I have been thinking about over the last couple of days is this - what would happen if, rather than just having 16 Pro Tour spots for the Matchplay (obv with van Veen losing to Wade there were no shock changes to the field), what if some number of spots were shifted from the year long rolling Pro Tour rankings, and moved to calendar year Pro Tour rankings?

The rationale I have for this is to give new tour card holders in red hot form the ability to accelerate their development in the main order of merit, and give them a real fighting chance of being able to make it. It doesn't seem sensible to give this sort of concession for anything else - most other things don't use something where new card holders are so disadvantaged, and the only other event where there is a comparable qualifier is the Grand Prix, for which the vast, vast majority of the Pro Tour season is already in the books before the cutoff, so it doesn't seem an overly important issue for that event, despite the general fact of the fields between the Matchplay and Grand Prix usually only differing between each other by one or two players, if any at all.

So let's look at what difference this would make. Qualified for the Matchplay are:

OOM: M Smith, Wright, van Gerwen, Price, Cross, Humphries, Clayton, Noppert, Aspinall, van den Bergh, van Duijvenbode, Chisnall, Cullen, Heta, Searle, Wade
Pro Tour (1-8): Rock, Schindler, R Smith, Ratajski, de Sousa, Gilding, Anderson, Bunting
Pro Tour (9-16): Clemens, Dobey, van Barneveld, Gurney, de Decker, Beaton, Dolan, Huybrechts
Pro Tour (YTD exc lists 1/2): van Barneveld, Gurney, Clemens, Dolan, de Decker, Huybrechts, Dobey, Woodhouse

So the differences we would get based on what shifts we would make are pretty simple - if only one or two players are shifted out, it doesn't make a difference, but if we went from anywhere from three to eight players removed, Beaton drops out in favour of Luke Woodhouse.

I was looking at this thinking primarily with regards to Gian van Veen, but he is behind both Pietreczko and Whitlock even after Woodhouse, but if he had beaten Wade, he'd have been up ahead of Dobey in the list and got there. Maybe I go back and look at what would have happened last year as well, although I'm not sure how useful that would be just given the nature of the timings of events and that the obvious player to include (Rock) didn't have the greatest of starts.

Saturday 1 July 2023

And on the seventh day, God watched Liam Maendl-Lawrence v Marko Kantele and realised he'd made a terrible error

Jesus christ what was that, and let's remember the game finished 6-2! If LML had have hit a couple of doubles at some point they could still be playing now. I for one cannot wait for the "how many nines can be hit during leg 2 of that match" Youtube mashup, but for now, let's look at day 2, in terms of the Matchplay it seems pretty cut and dried, Barney is in, Beaton and Dolan are 99.9% in barring a Barry final or a complete random bink, and it's down to whether Pietreczko can win two more games, otherwise Huybrechts completes the field. Probably staying steady as we thought.


0.1u Mansell 16/5 vs Cross - Mickey looked very good, the secret is clearly not out given almost unprecedented movement from the 11/5 I took on Thursday evening to 6/5 just before the off and evens when it transpired he won the throw, not doing much of anything wrong in round one (guess the second leg was sloppy), that's enough to make me take the flier against Rob, Hills are offering better than 3/1 implying less than a 25% chance, I project on year long stats just closer to 40% than 35%, which is enough to take a punt at anything up to around 11/4, 5/2 might be marginal.

0.1u Sedlak 10/3 vs Cullen - We've still got limited data on the rising Czech star, but I think we've got enough to take a small flier at better than 3/1 odds (on 365). 50 legs in the database now with scoring safely above 87 is not fantastic, but it's within close enough order to what Joe's been doing in the past twelve months that it wouldn't shock me to see him win this three times in ten or something like that, which makes a bet with implied chances below 25% seem worth the shot - particularly after a clinical display with only one missed dart at double and a three figure average.

0.1u Pietreczko 11/4 vs van den Bergh - 365 at least have that price, and that's more than enough to take. Ricardo is not in the Matchplay hunt for no reason, he has developed and improved rapidly over the last 12-18 months and Dimitri certainly isn't an unbeatable prospect, Ricardo wasn't really tested by Herz and he'll need to get out of the first gear that he was in during that game, but I'm seeing overall nearer to a 40% chance than a 35% chance. With the market saying he's barely got more than a 25% chance, that's an easy play.

0.1u van Barneveld 16/5 vs van Gerwen - Exactly the same scenario as the match written above, except better - Barney has, as far as I can see, closer to 40% than 35%, Hills are saying under 25%, we go with this, it's not like RvB doesn't have a habit of pulling out a win over MvG. The game against Killington was underwhelming, and if George had been a bit more clinical in leg four it might have become more interesting, but Barney now knows he is in the Matchplay and can play without any added pressure, which I think can only help in this sort of game.

Nearly bets:

Bunting > Smith - Moderately quick turn around for Stephen here, going into the end of the afternoon session after being last on yesterday, standard in ending Woodhouse's Matchplay hopes was fine, he continues to be underrated and is only fractionally under 50/50 to take this one. 13/10 isn't quite in the realms of wanting to punt on the Bullet, but if we get some steam on the European Champion and it gets up to 11/8, maybe 6/4, that's getting close to the right value to take the stab. I'm probably just going to set 2.5 in the exchange and if it gets matched then great, if not, no big deal.

Clayton > Wade - James ended O'Connor's Matchplay hopes with a really solid display, running out with four straight five visit kills to end it, but there's a little bit of a combination of Wade possibly being overvalued on the basis of yesterday and Jonny being underrated - I'm seeing him up at winning more than two times in three. A price of 4/7 is no presently of interest, but even a small shift to 8/13 would probably make me go for it with a small flier, and 4/6 I'm probably talking regular bet sizing. Another leave the offer out in the exchange and see what develops I think.

Barry > Smith - We've got a lot of underdog shots already and I am nearly tempted to add another, with Keane being extremely steady in a strong 6-2 win over Huybrechts, who really, really needed to win that one. Do think his quality continues to be overlooked for understandable reasons, and a best price of 3/1 isn't a massively fair reflection, I've got him slightly over 30%. Maybe we should add this as an official play as the upside is there and there is a bit of an edge I can perceive, but I think I'll just leave it as one for the reader's judgment and just say not to put Michael in any accumulators as this is at minimum a banana skin type of match.

Schindler > Rydz - Callan got back into the winning habit against Burton, but didn't put up anything massively impressive, he had one good leg but was certainly assisted by Stephen allowing him two really cheap breaks of throw in the early stages. This could easily be in the no bets section, as I'm only seeing Schindler at 60/40 in projections and we can only get 8/11, but if we're thinking that Callan is still in overall poor form and Martin will perform in front of a partisan atmosphere, then perhaps we can move a projection enough where the odds we can get actually equate to value.

Not bets:

Chisnall/Joyce - Ryan out early again, after a pretty comfortable win over Evetts which looked one sided but he didn't need to do a great deal to look at after Ted missed a few doubles. Dave is playing well enough that he should be fairly comfortable here, maybe he's a couple of percentage points better than what the 4/9 price suggests, but that's no big shakes and I'd need longer than 1/2 before I'd even start thinking about it.

Rock/Dolan - Brendan got a surprisingly easy win over Scutt, helped in part by Connor missing 9/11 shots at double (albeit that was clumped in two legs he lost with some being in a leg he won), but looked steady enough in all areas without ever really doing anything which makes us think he can seriously trouble a player of Josh's calibre. Rock projects at just under 75% to win the game which is more or less bang on the price of 4/11 I can see.

Heta/van Veen - Gian continues to look fantastic with a demolition job over Kist averaging near 104. He's not quite at Damon's level yet, but still has more than a 45% chance to win this one, which is sadly reflected in a best price of 13/10 which really isn't of interest, market seems to be catching up quickly as the price we took yesterday evaporated quickly, although the market lines were nowhere near as dramatic as in the Mansell/Campbell game.

Aspinall/Lukeman - Martin kept thin Matchplay hopes alive (more importantly it's pushed him up into the provisional worlds spots which he surprisingly wasn't in) with a solid enough start and end to a match against Hall, with a 3-4 leg blip in the middle severely damaging the average which can't be repeated against someone as good as Nathan. He's got chances, but they're only about one in three according to my projections - Nathan's 1/2 so no interest here.

van Duijvenbode/Gilding - Weird game for Andrew yesterday, looked in no real danger against Pilgrim at 5-2, then Darryl hit back to back four visit kills to ask the question before Gilding scraped home 6-4 with a six visit break featuring finishing and set up play Pilgrim would want back. Nothing really doing in the betting here, Andrew is obviously live but Dirk is obviously better, I've got Gilding at just better than one in three at around 35%, he's 7/4, line looks good enough.

Searle/Clemens - Gabriel had a pretty darned tricky opening game against de Sousa but didn't look in trouble, not allowing Jose more than five visits to the board in opening up a 4-1 lead, de Sousa did rally a bit but Clemens got the job done in the end. The market is maybe underrating Ryan ever so slightly in a vacuum, with me seeing him between 55% and 60% to win the game and the price of 4/5 putting him at the bottom of that range, but Clemens is improving and the game is in Germany, so dropping a projection by just a point or two is more than enough of an adjustment to make this a clear no bet.

Humphries/Kantele - Marko's game will go down in history for all the wrong reasons, and this looks way too tough an ask for the veteran Finn, the market is putting him longer than 8/1 to clinch this one, which doesn't seem unfair, I've got over 100 winning legs at a decent level on Kantele and it barely gives him a 10% chance. Luke should have very little trouble here, maybe we can think about a 6-0 scoreline but Marko did at least have a couple of five visit kills to finally finish that marathon off, so not unreasonable that he can get a hold or two.

Noppert/Wilson - James surprised quite a few yesterday with a real nice display against Whitlock to end the Aussie's Matchplay chances, 6-2 is no mean feat and Wilson did get three four visit kills in the process. If he can repeat that, and tighten up some of the iffier legs he had, then maybe he'll outperform what is projecting as a 23% chance significantly, we know his peak game is a lot better than what he has been showing more often than not for some time now. If not, then the 3/1 price will look perfectly justified.