Thursday 30 November 2023

Anderson, Whitlock, Nebrida

What a return to form this has been from Gary Anderson. After many questions were raised as to his future at the top level of the game following a moderately early exit to the worlds which saw Ando, defending final money, drop out of the top 16 and leaving him unable to rely on the order of merit to accumulate money, Gary's answered them comprehensively, scoring higher than anyone in the world in 2023 and looking as dangerous as ever. The key win was in March in Hildesheim, where Anderson won 8-5 against Ratajski, having made a final the weekend prior coming up just short against Ross Smith - this Pro Tour money would see him look safe for all the majors that rely on it, and likely gave Gary a bit of freedom to play his best darts without the pressure of needing to get results in events that he might not even have played in the past. Indeed, Anderson even started to try to qualify for European Tour events, something we'd not seen in over half a decade, although he only made two, suffering a shock loss to Roman Benecky in one, but making the quarters in Belgium with a tough run against Ratajski, Searle and Cross before running into eventual champion Michael van Gerwen. Back to the floor, Anderson would augment his win with another couple in back to back events over Ryan Joyce and Josh Rock, so he's looking absolutely safe for the big TV events in 2024 as well. What of 2023? The UK Open was maybe a bit disappointing, he got a bit of a tough opening tie against Wade but came through, then annihilated Kim Huybrechts before coming up just short at the last sixteen stage against Dimitri van den Bergh. Anderson would get a good win over Dave Chisnall before suffering a heavy defeat to an inspired Daryl Gurney despite a 102 average. Anderson would edge out de Sousa in the Grand Prix before disappointingly losing a final set against Andrew Gilding, get a tough knockout draw in the Grand Slam, having Gerwyn Price which he won before going toe to toe with Luke Humphries over the best part of 30 legs, just not quite having enough juice to get over the line with the throw at 14-14. Most recently, it would be Dimitri who would do for him again, this time in the second round of the Players Championship Finals, losing out in a deciding leg. There is no doubt that Anderson has the quality of play to win this event. The questions are whether he can put away the games he should put away - some of those TV events he would like back for sure, and he's not been without surprising losses on the floor either, although you'll always get some of those. The other question is whether he still has the stamina and longevity to be able to handle a long format match - there aren't many opportunities to play in games where the length is like that of the business end of the worlds, and while Gary was able to handle that one well enough (the Slam quarter), doing several in relatively quick succession is another question entirely that needs answering.

Simon Whitlock continues to hang around in the top 64, and will return here for a fifteenth straight appearance at the age of 54, and I don't think it's unfair to say that we've probably seen the best of his play already and we're at the spot where the only way is down from here, but there is certainly still a competent enough player even if the overall numbers have declined from just over 90 last season to 89 and a half this season. Whitlock returns through the Pro Tour rankings - getting a good chunk right in the first weekend of the season with a final run only stopped by Danny Noppert - there he beat Chisnall, Barney and Humphries amongst others, which was possibly needed as results dropped a bit from there. Simon would get another couple of board wins early in the season, but the last twelve events were poor with just a 5-12 record and only the one board final, with some losses against the likes of Adam Gawlas, James Wilson and Dom Taylor which, while not necessarily surprising, are certainly games he has the capability of winning. As such, despite reaching a final Whitlock was only seeded in the mid 40's for the Players Championship Finals where he lost comfortably to Luke Woodhouse, and needed some European Tour money to secure his place here. He'd have a decent record of qualifying, reaching six of the thirteen events, but would only pass the first round once in Austria, although he needed to earn those wins against Kim Huybrechts and Martin Schindler. Otherwise it was all losses, but generally he had competent or better opponents, so not a great deal was left on the table. His accumulation wasn't enough to get into any of the majors, which in fairness he hasn't been involved in for a couple of years now, leaving just the UK Open, where he beat Ross Montgomery as you would expect, then lost to Martin Schindler, as you'd probably expect. That's about where he is now - still a top 64 player, but a bit off a top 32 player, albeit still with the upside and peak level to cause players problems if he's on.

Paolo Nebrida returns for a second stint here, last year he got here through making the final of the Asian Championship, this year it is through a third place finish on the Asian Tour. Last time out, he drew what looked like a winnable game against Danny Jansen, and in a scrappy game he was able to overturn a two set deficit to force a deciding set, but there Jansen would win three straight legs and advance. The Asian Championship this year was a disappointment, failing to get out of the group stages, so Paolo would need to rely on the Asian Tour as stated. Here, he had a remarkable run towards the end of the season, reaching six finals over the last three weekends (each with three events), but he would lose all of them. Earlier in the season he would pick up a victory over new find Reynaldo Rivera, but it it just the one title for the season. Still, the consistency of being able to make so many finals at the right end of the season should give some level of confidence. That might be needed, as the raw numbers suggest that Simon has a decent edge over him - the Asian Tour on Dart Connect doesn't have an overall tour leaderboard for some reason, but I can filter my database down to just that tour and, while he has more legs played in the sample I use other than Lourence Ilagan, he barely rated in the top ten of scoring on that tour, albeit with higher numbers than there were on a much larger sample size to 2022. He will likely play well enough that Simon doesn't have it all his own way, but I'm not sure there's enough of a peak game to truly trouble Whitlock over a five set match.

Chisnall, Menzies, Rodriguez

Is this the best season that Dave Chisnall's had since moving to the PDC? In some ways it is, in some ways it isn't. His floor form has been spectacular, maybe even the best of anyone - claiming three Euro Tour titles, defeating Luke Humphries on all three occasions, and adding another final as well coming up just short against Peter Wright, while on the Pro Tour he made another five finals, winning two of them, coming up just a leg short against Callan Rydz and Luke Humphries, only really being comprehensively outplayed the one time against Gerwyn Price (which he rectified with the second of the two wins a day later). His scoring is close enough as damnit to a top ten level - the only thing he's not been able to do is get much traction on TV. Part of this was bad draws, which you can't do too much about - straight out of the gates in the UK Open he got van Gerwen - Chisnall pushed the Dutchman close but finished off one break short. In the Matchplay he got arguably the worst draw possible in Gary Anderson, and a five leg burst from Ando in the second session put Chisnall too far behind, only being able to split the remaining legs for a 10-6 reverse. In Leicester Dave didn't play badly, just ran into Luke Woodhouse who was playing better, only eight players broke the 90 average in the first round and we saw two of them in this game. He'd probably want the Grand Slam back though, a group of Bunting, Wright and Buntz is one that, while not trivial, is one he'd expect to get through, but last leg deciding losses to the two PDC mainstays put him out. Then we have the seeded events, where he ranked very highly - he was the number one seed overall in the European Championship, but the way things turned out he ended up against Chris Dobey, not the nicest opening round but Chizzy was only able to get the two legs, then at Minehead he entered as the number 4 seed, doing a solid job against Lee Evans and looking magnificent in avenging that loss to Dobey, but it would be Woodhouse again that would trip him up in round three. Dave probably just needs to keep playing his darts - the TV record without context looks bad on paper, but looking into it, it's generally understandable.

Cameron's in his second year as a tour card holder, and looks absolutely safe to hold it after a second straight season where he has made the world championship, losing out in a one sided match to Vincent van der Voort twelve months ago after a disturbingly scrappy first round win over Diogo Portela. This season's been another where he's played some fantastic darts which just haven't turned into results - that scoring rank [note - the scoring rank is just between those players in the tournament, the FRH rank is global amongst everyone] doesn't lie, he's throwing great stuff and, after eliminating players who have only played a handful of events, he lies in the top 20 in the Players Championship averages. That ought to have been enough to likely have got through to a final at some stage, but on the floor it's been steady accumulation, with events 19/20 being the peak, winning his board both times and pushing on to one quarter final, but that was the peak, and he didn't augment his money with a great deal from the Euro Tour, appearing in just the three events and ending with a 3-3 record, peaking with a best run to the last 16 in Jena, losing out to Danny Noppert. He's similarly underwhelmed in majors - while he only made the two Minehead events, he got an expected win over a Riley's qualifier before losing heavily to Peter Wright, and as one of the lower seeds in the Players Championship Finals, he got Rob Cross - not ideal, he kept it close for a while but would end up with a 6-3 defeat. He has had some good wins on the floor against the likes of Joe Cullen, Rob Cross, Gian van Veen and Damon Heta, but it's time to pick up more consistent results - while the players who have beaten him on the floor reads somewhat like a who's who of darts, in order for Cameron to climb the rankings he's going to have to turn more of those defeats into victories, and he has the game to do it.

Rusty Jake Rodriguez is an exciting young Austrian player who, it's fair to say, has taken longer than expected to graduate to the full tour after having run riot on the Development Tour in 2021, and will be looking back to Q-School unless he gets an unlikely run to the quarter finals here. That DT run gave him his only previous trip here, where he pulled away from Ben Robb after a tight first couple of sets, and was on the verge of causing an upset against Chris Dobey, taking both the first sets in deciding legs before Chris upped his game and completed the comeback. Since then, it's been tough going for Rusty. On the floor he started with opening round losses in 10 out of 13 events, before hitting a good spell, getting three board wins in five events with notable victories over Gary Anderson, Jose de Sousa, Michael Smith and Ricardo Pietreczko, but then reverted back to early season results with just one board final in the last eleven events, including seven first round defeats - although oddly, his last win on the tour was against Menzies. There's not really much else we can comment on at the senior level - he didn't qualify for a single European Tour event, which left his only major appearance as the UK Open, where he got a bye to the second round but would end up with the worst draw possible in Luke Littler, going down 6-2 in that one. Rusty isn't 23 until midway through the tournament, and it looks unlikely he will remain on the main tour given the tough draw he has, but if he doesn't regain his card, it might not be the worst thing in the world - he is still performing well at Development Tour level, where he finished seventh in the rankings, and it feels like the sort of case where a season regaining a bit of confidence on the Development Tour as well as in some of the opportunities available to non-tour card holders, will push him up to the level needed to remain at the senior level. There's a good player in here already and a heck of a lot of potential, it's just a case of how best to unlock it.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Smith, Doets, Buntz

The back end of 2022 was quite the time for Michael Smith, getting his first major after being touted to win one for probably half a decade, if not longer, then going one further by winning the worlds and moving up to number one in the world. Since then, what? Don't think it's unfair to say that he's underachieved in 2023, many people thinking he'd push on to great things, but the numbers are way down, not even scoring in the top 10 of players here, and the amount of titles he's actually won has been minimal - just getting the one Pro Tour where he edged out Gary Anderson in a deciding leg, and then one Euro Tour in Munich - both of these in the first half of the year. Sure, he's not played everything so maybe some floor titles were left unpicked, but in the majors it's not been great either. The UK Open saw him get a trivial win over Ian White, before running into Luke Humphries (a loss that looked worse at the time than it does now), would see similar in the Matchplay, steamrollering Steve Beaton before losing to Chris Dobey, semi final of the Grand Prix seems fine especially the manner he got there, not losing a set, albeit against a cushy opposition set at that level, before we get to the business end and it was last 16 loss to Peter Wright in Dortmund, losing out at the group stages in Wolverhampton on leg difference, and then having a first round reverse (which we called) to Richard Veenstra at Minehead. He was at least competent enough in the Premier League to reach the playoffs where he lost in the semis to Michael van Gerwen, but it's not as if unranked majors made up for a shortfall. It does appear that his statistics appear better in televised events, so maybe he can pick things up, but defending this title on the face of it is going to look like a big ask.

Kevin Doets will make a first appearance here, after being very close on more than one occasion previously, I'm wanting to say he got into the last man out spot on at least one occasion, possibly from before he won his tour card, which he obtained in 2022 but could do with getting the first round win to be secure in holding it beyond this tournament, being just above the cutoff line as we stand. Doets, still only 25 so with a lot of scope to improve, is here primarily through the Pro Tour - he had a horrific European Tour season, qualifying for just the one event where he got an expected win over Callum Goffin before losing to Ryan Searle. It was the floor which did it, and Doets had a breakthrough run to a final in September, losing out in the final to Luke Humphries, but not before he had beaten three seeds in Ross Smith, Gabriel Clemens and Mike de Decker to get there. A further six board wins indicates a good level of consistency, and statistically he appears to be doing enough to justify retaining his card with upside in the future. The TV events were limited, but he did have a nice UK Open run, being seeded into round two and then beating Jules van Dongen, Radek Szaganski and Martin Lukeman before coming up a couple of legs short against Adam Gawlas. He wasn't close enough to get into the "difficult" majors, naturally was nowhere near Dortmund with that European Tour run, and missed out to Kim Huybrechts in the Grand Slam qualifier, but the steady floor performances saw him get a middling seeding at Minehead recently, where he edged out Jose de Sousa before pushing Damon Heta fairly close in round two. He's got a solid game, and it would be good to see him do enough to not need to return to Q-School in January.

Stowe Buntz is also making a debut, and is someone that people knew very little about prior to this year, first showing up occasionally in CDC events late in 2022 but was just a name in the draw at that stage. 2023 has seen a big breakthrough though, with a hat-trick of CDC wins in August in the one weekend, taking two finals over highly touted prospect Alex Spellman and the third over previous Ally Pally competitor Jim Long. That brought Stowe to the attention of the in depth darting community, and it's the tour rankings in general that has got him to this event, but it was the Grand Slam which really made him a known name. Qualifying for it after winning the CDC Continental Cup in October, running out with wins over Jake Macmillan, Larry Butler, Jacob Taylor and then Jason Brandon, he was placed in a tricky looking group with Peter Wright, Stephen Bunting and Dave Chisnall, but was able to come out the winner of it somehow, the highlight being a 5-1 crushing of Peter Wright with over a 100 average, and then nicking the second game against Stephen Bunting to qualify. He'd lose to Chisnall but did enough to win the group and face Andrew Gilding, where he was able to get out into a 5-0 lead and hold on for a 10-5 win and face Bunting in a rematch in the quarter finals. Stephen would be too strong there, running out a very comfortable 16-8 winner, but the prize money will certainly set Buntz up for a possible Q-School run. Question is how good is he? Outside of that game against Wright, Buntz didn't average over 90 in any of the Grand Slam matches, had a similar experience in the Continental Cup with a great first game showing a 104 average but then not even managing 85 in the remaining rounds, and the overall average on the CDC tour was only a shade under 87, which while deflated somewhat compared to the Pro Tour given levels of opposition, was only good enough for sixth on that tour, way behind Spellman and van Dongen, as well as a clear point behind Lauby, Cameron and Gates. He's shown the ability to easily outperform his general level when needed, as well as to grind out a longer game, however against someone with the consistency of Doets, he might need to do both. 

WDF round 1 tips

tl;dr - there are no tips

There's a couple of pretty big issues with trying to give out any sort of betting tips for this round - first is the lack of data that I have on pretty much the entirety of the field, secondly is the extremely short format of just a first to two sets. It's going to make it very hard to produce an appreciable edge, given the huge amount of variance that there is with both things. So what I'm going to do is to give some quick comments on all the rounds and just say whether I think the lines are intuitively right or not.

Marsh/Bialecki - 4/11 Bialecki seems fine.
Turner/Nauman - This might be off. Turner's 6/5 and doesn't feel like an underdog, but I'm not sure I can ever conclusively say he's enough of a favourite.
Brooks/Nilsson - This might be more off with Brooks at 7/4. I'd only really need this to be a coinflip, maybe Dennis a tiny favourite, to go with it. Feels like this should be a play on Jordan if you know anything about him positive.
Prins/Colley - Line as a flip looks OK I guess.
Richardson/Goedl - Maybe 8/11 on James is a little bit of value? Sure feels like he should be a bit of a bigger favourite than that.
Kovacs/Widmayer - Patrik being 4/9 looks to be the right sort of ballpark.
Tata/McDonald - Jonny if I had more sample size to be confident probably ought to be a bit shorter than 4/6, but hard to really quantify.
Porter/Konterman - Feels a bit closer than the market suggests. Can't see a reasonable way that Arjan is 4/11, although I do think he's favoured.
Maendl-Lawrance/Gillet - An effective flip in the market with Liam a slight favourite feels about right.
Kadar/Torbjornsson - Appears very close from what I can see and the market is agreeing.
Blom/Takacs - Moreno's in form but is he really in such form that Gabor should be 4/1? That's a big price in a first to two sets. Surely worth a flier.
Lewis/Bottenberg - Jamie as a small favourite doesn't appear too bad. Maybe should be favoured a touch more but no more than that.
Junghans/Pallett - Dave's a very strong favourite at 4/11. That feels too strong, Thomas isn't a complete walkover.
Pratnemer/Kirwan - Benjamin floating around a two in three favourite looks to be about right.
Gates/Corbett - Leonard is a prohibitive favourite as you would expect.
Allen/Olde Kalter - Is Antony that bad or Dennie that good that Antony is available at 3/1? I find that a tad hard to believe.

So if I was going on anyone, I'd probably be looking at Jordan Brooks, Danny Porter, Gabor Takacs, Thomas Junghans and Antony Allen. All fairly solidly odds against for two horse races over short distances, and I'm not sure in any of them there is ever the difference in quality to justify the prices. No doubt some of them will lose in straight sets only picking up one or two legs, but you'd only really need a couple of these to hit to end up in profit if you took small stabs and only invest the minimum.

Tuesday 28 November 2023


It's been another tumultuous season for the WDF, with the worlds effectively being eleven months too late, numerous cancellations and still a fair bit of lack of data, but it looks like it's on from Saturday. I'm just going to try to predict the bracket - I doubt that there will be too many tips, given the huge number of withdrawals for all number of reasons, there's simply not enough data on many, but I would think that we might get some as we get through to the stages where the seeds start facing each other. As I'll be in full PDC write up mode at that stage, I'll just post a one liner tip at the start of an unrelated post as I see things. Let's go:

Round 1

Marsh/Bialecki - Sebastian we know about, was close to getting to Ally Pally through multiple routes, surely he gets his card this year. Marsh we've got a couple of dozen legs on, probably from the Challenge Tour but might have been from some WDF events, doesn't seem to be quite at Bialecki's level. Sebastian to advance.

Turner/Nauman - Only got a couple of dozen legs again on Aaron, not really putting up impressive numbers, but it's a couple of dozen more than I've got on Ricky, where I have literally nothing. Played one weekend of the SDC and averaged 75. Not convinced. Aaron to advance.

Tata/McDonald - Tata's not been too bad when we've been able to see him, but McDonald might be a tricky opponent, feels like he's been around for a while but I don't have the data on where he is right now. Jonny to advance.

Kovacs/Widmayer - Patrik's been in a few Euro Tours and hasn't played horribly, although maybe not at the level where he might realistically win games there yet. It should be enough to handle Widmayer, who I feel is effectively making up the numbers. Patrik to advance.

Brooks/Nilsson - Jordan I've got a little bit of data on and the data I'm seeing isn't too bad, I've got more info on Dennis but his numbers are a touch lower. Experience might be a factor but I'm taking the Englishman here. Jordan to advance.

Porter/Konterman - Danny's got over 40 legs in my data and is scoring down at 82, which is about the same as I've got Arjan doing, albeit over twice the sample size. Konterman's been around the Challenge Tour for some time now and I think will just nick this. Arjan to advance.

Prins/Colley - Tough one to call, Prins has been around for ages but I'm not sure what he's really done this year, looks as if, like Colley, he's here through a 2022 tournament win rather than anything in 2023. Reece to advance.

Richardson/Goedl - Christian is a name we've seen on the Euro Tour now and then without really making much of an impression, and I'd suggest he should be seriously outclassed by someone of Richardson's calibre, despite his 2023 being a little bit quiet. James to advance.

Blom/Takacs - Hard to call this one. Moreno might have the form with a decent run but it feels like I've seen more of Gabor, although the data I've got on both is very limited. Probably just going with form and that Blom is at least playing the Challenge Tour and the numbers there aren't awful, albeit pretty much exclusively in early rounds. Moreno to advance.

Maendl-Lawrance/Gillet - Liam's showed up in quite a few of the Euro Tour events and has become a touch infamous due to the speed of his play more than anything. Mike is a name I've seen a bit for a while, and I think he's probably a better player, but what's he done in terms of results recently? Could be close. Liam to advance.

Pratnemer/Kirwan - Benjamin has previously qualified for the PDC worlds and we know he's a competent enough player. Davie I actually have more data on from somewhere, probably Scottish WDF events, and the numbers suggest that Pratnemer should be comfortable here. Benjamin to advance.

Junghans/Pallett - This ought to be a fun one, the info I've got on Thomas isn't great, but it's more info than I have on Dave, I'm not really sure what he's been doing in 2023. Think that Junghans is a tier below probably. Dave to advance.

Kadar/Torbjornsson - Laszlo is at least in my database creeping into the low 80's, while Edwin has similar levels of data both in sample size and quality. Edwin playing the SDC would have been nice. Hard to call. Laszlo to advance.

Allen/Olde Kalter - Antony crops up in my database at 23 legs of data with a respectable enough average for this round, actually better than Dennie, whose numbers in a similarly limited sample are not impressive, and the CT stats are worse than I thought they'd be. I'll still take the Dutchman as I think he's been playing at a better level against better opponents for some time now. Dennie to advance.

Lewis/Bottenberg - Good to see Jamie in this event, although whatever he's done to qualify for here isn't showing up in my data. Jarno has about a dozen legs however, and they're not too bad at all. I'm just going to take the game that I know is in Lewis somewhere. Jamie to advance.

Gates/Corbett - I've got nothing on Corbett, while we know Leonard is a legitimate contender at this level so not thinking much about this one. Leonard to advance.

Round 2

Baetens/Bialecki - This is a disgustingly good round two matchup, and it's unfortunate for Sebastian that he's run into someone who will surely be a strong favourite to not only get his tour card in January, but hold it two years later. Andy to advance.

Stone/Turner - Gary's got some information in my data, but it's not inspiring and it looks like it's fairly fortunate that he's seeded. Should still be enough to handle Turner though. Gary to advance.

Copeland/Tata - Barry shows up in about 40 legs this year, and is showing competent mid 80's numbers. Is that going to be enough against someone who's beaten Peter Wright and pushed Rob Cross to a decider on TV this year. Maybe not. Jonny to advance.

Barilli/Kovacs - Mark's been around for quite some time now in both the PDC and WDF circuits, and that experience might be needed, as the actual data I have on him is not convincing. Wouldn't surprise me if the Hungarian has enough to get through this one. Patrik to advance.

Hurrell/Brooks - James has a reputation as one of the most competent players outside the PDC, was a top ten finisher on the Challenge Tour with a win at that level, and has accumulated nearly 200 legs of data that indicates this shouldn't be close. James to advance.

Merkx/Konterman - Alex has looked pretty solid this year, with a competent Challenge Tour average including a final at that level, as well as some good WDF runs, indicating he's a bit ahead of where Konterman is at the moment. Alex to advance.

Plaisier/Colley - Wesley's one of the strongest players outside the PDC and it was a big shock that he didn't get a tour card last year, Reece isn't bad but there's nothing to suggest that he's close to Plaisier's level of play at the moment. Wesley to advance.

Machin/Richardson - Peter is probably mostly known for that one appearance in the Grand Slam several years ago after winning the most irrelevant BDO major at the time, and while it's hard to get a gauge on where his level is today, we do have enough on him to make me think he's not as good as Richardson is right now. James to advance.

Duff/Blom - Neil's defending here, and it's going to be a tough ask, as the stats I have on him are nothing special. It should be more than enough to get through this round though. Neil to advance.

Turner/Maendl-Lawrance - Martyn is a name we've seen in PDC events at least a decade ago, but seems to have been away from that side for a while, and the data in the WDF does not look particularly great and could well be another seed in danger. Liam to advance.

Landman/Pratnemer - Chris is a previous PDC worlds participant and won the first Challenge Tour of the season, allowing him to do enough on the main tour to reach Minehead, so it's fairly trivial to think he's going to be playing better than Pratnemer is at the moment. Chris to advance.

Leung/Pallett - Kai is a former card holder that has been able to play enough events to get a decent line on his game, I think he was a touch better than Pallett when they both dropped off the tour and I've not seen anything to suggest things have changed. Kai to advance.

Klaasen/Kadar - Jelle shows up in lots of events, both PDC and WDF, and while he's nowhere near his best level, he's still got a solid enough floor game with occasional highlights and ought to have zero trouble advancing from this one. Jelle to advance.

Johnson/Olde Kalter - Darren's a long time player with occasional good showing on the PDC circuit, but looking at his numbers it seems as if the best of his game might be well behind him, and could be in trouble in this one. Dennie to advance.

Lauby/Lewis - Danny's one of the stronger players in this event, and one of a group of strong American players who you would not be surprised to see claim a tour card. Jamie's top game is better, but I doubt we see it. Danny to advance

Scott/Gates - I don't have anything on John, who's in as an alternate after Tricole punched his Ally Pally ticket, so against someone like Gates I'm not thinking about this one a great deal. Leonard to advance.

Round 3

Baetens/Stone - No need to think too long about this one, Stone's OK but Baetens is a big favourite for the whole tournament for a good reason. Andy to advance.

Tata/Kovacs - Probably the end of the road for Patrick here, he's not bad but Jonny's shown a higher level of play. Jonny to advance.

Hurrell/Merkx - Another one that might be a bit more competitive than the casual observer thinks, but Hurrell's just that bit better and should get through after a bit of a test. James to advance.

Plaisier/Richardson - Could easily believe this game being at a much later stage, but last sixteen it is, I'm not sure that Plaisier is streets ahead of Richardson but he is the better player. Wesley to advance.

Duff/Maendl-Lawrence - I'm not convinced that Duff is that much better than LML, but he probably has enough having course and distance here to scrape over the line. Neil to advance.

Landman/Leung - Ought to be competitive, would ordinarily find it hard to separate the two players, but I'm just going to give the edge to the player who's been playing more higher level darts this season. Chris to advance.

Klaasen/Olde Kalter - Think Klaasen's body of experience and general levels of play will see him safely over the line in this one. Jelle to advance.

Lauby/Gates - Very tough one to call between the two compatriots, but I'll give it to Gates based on a greater level of big stage experience if nothing else. Leonard to advance.

Quarter finals

Baetens/Tata - Jonny's run almost certainly comes to an end here, would not be surprised if he could grab a set or two but Baetens is just too strong. Andy to advance.

Hurrell/Plaisier - This one rates to be very tight. Probably goes all the way, looks to me like James might be a touch more inconsistent, which might give Plaisier the small edge. Wesley to advance.

Duff/Landman - Think the title defence ends here, Neil's numbers are just not at Landman's levels, and Chris has been playing a lot better level of opponent and it's going to show here. Chris to advance.

Klaasen/Gates - This one seems another one that's incredibly close and if it was ended before a final set, I would be surprised. I'm going to give the edge to the player that's younger and has won one of these before as the matches get longer and more important. Jelle to advance.

Semi finals

Baetens/Plaisier - Wesley's got the peak game to give Andy a real test, but I can't look past the number one seed, just been too consistent all year and that should be enough. Andy to advance.

Landman/Klaasen - Going to look at the respective results on the Challenge Tour, Landman's better in terms of averages (just) and results (not just). Chris to advance.


Baetens/Landman - It's boring, but I'm going with the tournament favourite. It would be fitting for the best player outside the PDC to claim this, and I don't see how Landman will be able to stop him. Andy to claim the title.

Monday 27 November 2023

Immediate worlds draw reaction

- de Decker might not have had the best of first round draws, but that second round draw is perfect and we could see him knocking on the door of the top 32 real soon
- Vandenbogaerde against Tricole is fairly spicy, especially seeing how Mario could really do with the win to protect his tour card, which is looking real shaky despite an alright Minehead
- de Sousa could lose to either first round opponent. Edhouse and de Graaf is no joke
- Lennon over Clayton upset special anyone?
- Peter Wright would not want to have drawn Jim Williams
- Szaganski against Kantele could be one of those drawn out, scrappy first rounders that goes 25 legs and takes longer than a one sided quarter final
- Campbell against Ilagan's going to be a tough one to call
- Assuming Littler gets through Kist, which we assume after this weekend he will do, is that a pure coinflip against Gilding?
- Dolan/Mansell is an intriguing second round tie if Mickey doesn't fluff lines against Zong
- What percentage of Dirk's game is required to beat Keegan Brown or, more likely, Boris Krcmar?
- That Huybrechts, Veenstra, Robb mini section I think you can make arguments for any one of them to go through
- Slevin/Hempel might not be too bad for someone who didn't make Minehead prior to withdrawals against someone who needed the PDPA quali
- Bunting, Joyce, Spellman is a great section. None of them will have wanted those two opponents and that's probably the pick of round one for me
- Wattimena should have enough against Sherrock, but Jermaine's one that it seems has off days a fair bit, so who knows?
- Lukeman against Puha could be a sneaky under the radar selection for a good first round tie
- Woodhouse against van Peer might not be too bad either. Would like to see Luke get through and play Rock, that ought to be a competitive round two tie at least
- Rydz would surely be a dog to Pietreczko?
- Beaton/Nijman looks like a tight one. I'm sure Steve's fluffed similar sorts of round one matches before?
- Chisnall would not have it all his own way against Menzies if Cameron turns up (and gets through Rusty first which isn't a guarantee). That said Chizzy's good enough he could win that 3-0 and there'd be nothing Menzies could do about it
- Clemens got the bastard draw - van Veen in round two and then Chisnall? Oof
- Ross Smith against Chris Dobey in the last 32, assuming they don't get upset (both have games they should win but against opponents they'll need to take seriously), is a real match of the season contender
- If the seeds get through the bottom of section 2, while I don't think it's certain they will, is there a more lopsided potential game than Anderson against Dirk?
- A possible Heta/Rock last 32 game is fire
- Does anyone have an easier path to the quarter final than Rob Cross? Mario or Tricole then someone from that JdS cluster before Clayton or Ratajski doesn't seem that hard a task

Sunday 26 November 2023

I'm number one so why try harder

Joyce got the win in the quarters to claw us a bit out of a hole in this tournament, still down so not ideal, but it is at least a bit of a recovery. Humphries is now seemingly winning everything in sight, with a great come from behind win to defeat MvG in the final, and pricing him as the favourite to bink the worlds is completely justified. New FRH rankings:

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

Huge congrats also to Luke Littler for binking the world youth, fantastic display and I'm sure nobody can wait to see what impact he will make on the pro tour in 2024 and beyond, probably for as long as he's interested in doing so.

PDPA quali tomorrow, I'm going to go live on Twitch soon after the draw on sixfour64 to get close to instant reaction, then I'll start posting up previews. Won't neglect the WDF side of things, but that will probably be just a fairly short post listing tips similar to what you might see for a Euro Tour event, just based on the time I'm likely to have to do it. We're in the fun stage of the season people!

Saturday 25 November 2023

Quarters bets

0.25u Joyce 13/8, don't get this one. Seems off. Since the UK Open it's a flip. Since the Matchplay Joyce has been outscoring Heta and rates to win 55% of the time. Vamos.

Nothing on Wade/Humphries. Luke's 1/3 but he is honestly that much better.

Also not touching Clemens against Woodhouse. Gabriel's slightly better, so with the market reflecting that, I'm not touching it - if anything the play is on Woodhouse if the average Joe clowns look at Clemens winning 10-1 and move the line massively, but I doubt that happens.

Do I fire on Bunting? It's very tempting, this looks to me no worse than 40/60. That said, Bunting was mediocre in the last 16 game albeit untouchable in the last 32 game - counterpoint would be that van Gerwen was godmoding against Ross Smith. Everything says to me bet Bunting, but at the same time, something at the back of my head says to me that MvG will turn it on given he's not won a major title this year and he'll see this as an enormous opportunity to do so. I'll probably have a minor stab privately, but not recommend a play. Feels like van Gerwen has top gear available if he needs it, he will need it, and he will get into it.

Round 2 bets

This'll be fast and furious:

Heta/Doets - 5/2 is tempting on Kevin but I'd need a touch more I think.
Anderson/van den Bergh - Close. There's a couple of rando books that have 1/2 on Ando which I'd probably take, but the best a reputable book is doing is 4/9 which isn't quite there.
Rock/Clemens - Line looks just about right.
Kuivenhoven/Dolan - Market has Dolan as having about a 55/45 edge, it's in the right ballpark.
Campbell/Vandenbogaerde - Betfred can't separate the two, I think Mario's a bit better than that, so will take the small shot, 0.1u Vandenbogaerde 10/11.
Cross/Woodhouse - Market's giving Luke just less than a one in three chance, that looks perfect to me.
Searle/Pietreczko - Searle might be slightly better than what the market is indicating, but not by much.
Bunting/van Veen - I think Gian's got a little bit of an edge here, as such I'd probably flip the line so that Bunting was evens and not Gian, and have the Dutchman odds on, but that's about as far as it's off. Don't mind a micro play on Gian at evens to be honest but betting against Stephen without a solid edge seems a bad idea right now.
Price/Huybrechts - Do I really want to take a flier at 5/1? I'm inclined to just say no, at 6/1 I'd probably say what the hell, I may watch the exchange and see if money comes in on Price late and get on then, especially if Kim nicks the bull and there isn't enough of a reaction to it.
Smith/van Gerwen - 0.1u Smith 9/5, think we're back at a stage where laying MvG is simply correct most of the time, Ross is playing exceptionally well and this is a lot closer to a flip than the market suggests.
Chisnall/Dobey - Can't separate the two. The market can't really either, they've got Dobey 11/10 but I'd probably need 11/8 one way or another before I'd recommend a play.
Humphries/Szaganski - Unlike the Huybrechts game, 5/1 here isn't unfair, I'd put it maybe 4/1, but Radek weren't great yesterday so there's nothing to see here.
Clayton/Zonneveld - Niels probably has slightly better chances than the market is indicating, but I still would only put a fair line at 2/1, so 12/5 is neither here nor there.
Joyce/Cullen - I've got this as close to evens. Ryan's not been playing bad, Joe's had a bit of an anonymous 2023. If Joyce was a bit closer to the inverse of the 4/6 that Cullen is at a best price, I'd probably go with it, but nobody's offering sufficient deviation to do so.
Wattimena/Veenstra - Probably not the game people thought we'd see here when the draw was out, Richard's a little bit better and can't disagree with the odds set.
Wade/Lennon - I think I take a flyer on Steve here, 0.1u Lennon 9/4 on BetVictor is the best I can see, but there's plenty with 11/5, and knowing Steve is underrated and well into the 40% chances, I'd probably take up to 2/1, maybe 15/8. but no shorter.

So three bets, some other close ones. I might get on before round three, but don't count on it.

Friday 24 November 2023

PC Finals round 2/3 thoughts

That was pretty much a dumpster fire on a day of truly awful darts, Veenstra being the only redeeming feature which prevented us from more or less running into a total loss. But in all seriousness - we see this tweet from Loxley in the immediate aftermath of the Pietreczko/Kist match:

Now I am not casting any accusations whatsoever, but surely this is problematic. We've seen this sort of thing in relation to Clemens last season, and in relation to van Duijvenbode recently, and probably relating to more players who I'm not immediately remembering. Kist was quite clearly priced against Pietreczko as if he was 100% - nobody in their right mind is going to say that a non-card holder against the most recent Euro Tour winner being priced at 6/4 in one place, and shorter everywhere else, is priced as if he was injured. And then we see minutes after Kist chucks a 68 average whoever is running Loxley's social media account detailing knowledge that Kist is in no way capable of playing and was basically drawing dead? This is surely open up to huge abuse. How easy would it be for someone in the Loxley camp to say to someone in the pub "put the farm on Pietreczko, Kist is fucked"? I'd say this if I'd bet on Pietreczko as well, but surely there needs to be some sort of mechanism whereby if a player is injured (or otherwise not able to play at 100%) it needs to be reported somewhere publicly for everyone to see, and not just leaked during or after the game. We have basically zero reputable or notable darts journalism in the same way that major sports have (for example, Wim, who I've got a lot of time for, describes himself in his Twitter profile as "Dutch darts fan/journalist... writing for Darts World" and he knew nothing about this despite it's a fucking Dutch player in question so in his backyard), so I think this needs to be mandated, just to protect both the public and the bookies. They can detect possible questionable things in games in the Super Series seemingly every week, but this gets through in a ranked major? Fuck me.

Right, I'm going to blast through bets in the morning, but will put up projections for the games here:

Price 76/24 Huybrechts
Bunting 45/55 van Veen
Smith 51/49 van Gerwen
Campbell 40/60 Vandenbogaerde

Chisnall 50/50 Dobey
Cross 68/32 Woodhouse
Rock 61/39 Clemens
Clayton 67/33 Zonneveld

Anderson 75/25 van den Bergh
Wade 55/45 Lennon
Humphries 80/20 Szaganski
Searle 61/39 Pietreczko

Heta 65/35 Doets
Kuivenhoven 43/57 Dolan
Wattimena 42/58 Veenstra
Joyce 51/49 Cullen

And to look at the last 16, just picking probable winners (even if not favourites) and going from there, as previously mentioned I doubt that I get on to tip a thing, but just to see where things are at:

Price 65/35 van Veen
van Gerwen 70/30 Vandenbogaerde
Chisnall 47/53 Criss
Rock 50/50 Clayton
Anderson 80/20 Wade
Humphries 67/33 Searle
Heta 56/44 Dolan
Veenstra 44/56 Cullen

Check in in the morning for bets.

Tuesday 21 November 2023

PC Finals madness

Bit of a shame that Noppert is out, but understandable. Three days before the final major of the betting season starts (I use the worlds as the starting point), and here's the analysis table:

So what we have here are three columns - the first is a longer sample guide to use the most data possible (I could go back further, but anything from before the UK Open I don't think is overly relevant), then a shorter form guide that's looking at just after the Matchplay to see if there's any major swings that we need to be aware of. The final column is looking at the difference in consistency between the two players on the larger sample - this I'm generally only using as a tiebreaker between whether to fire or not and whether to moderate a bet sizing, rather than attempting to change projections.

So, what bets:

Price/Evans - Maybe I should take a flier on Evans at 5/1 on what is for the first two rounds a short format, but I can't say I like the idea.
Huybrechts/Schindler - 8/13 on Martin seems in the right ballpark about enough, maybe a little long on recent form but easy enough to pass.
Bunting/Mansell - 5/2 on Mickey offers a sliver of value. That said, Stephen's just off the back of a major semi so that confidence may well erode any edge that's worth playing.
van Veen/Landman - 1/4 on van Veen may be pushing it a bit, especially given he was a bit disappointing at the Slam, but Landman's trending the wrong way for sure.
Smith/Williams - Is Smith undervalued here? Perhaps a tad, but despite the trend numbers it feels as if Scott's played a bit better of late and 4/9 is not really the number we're wanting.
Rydz/van Gerwen - We're not touching this one. Callan floating at around 3/1 appears to be correct enough.
Campbell/Slevin - A bit all over the place this one, hard to really call a favourite. Slevin may be picking form back up again (or maybe Matt's dropped off?), but with the market finding it hard to split them, I don't think there's a discernable edge.
de Decker/Vandenbogaerde - This one looks closer in the stats than the market's making out, but with Mario only just slightly longer than 5/4, I'd probably need Mike to be projecting as an underdog in both the samples to fire.

Chisnall/Evans - We've mentioned Lee a couple of times in the past few months and thought we might revisit him as a bet in the future. Well, here we go, 0.1u Evans 4/1, Betfred/Coralbrokes offering that line but I think the generally available 7/2 is enough as well given we're seeing Chizzy only claiming this about the two in three area.
Dobey/van Barneveld - Market concurs with us for the most part in that Chris is better, but not by much, it may overvalue Dobey a tad but with Barney only 6/4 in most places and a tick longer in some random books, we can't really push what only gets close to an edge on current form.
Cross/Menzies - Cameron's up and down for sure, and Rob looked extremely solid this week, but the numbers don't lie and Menzies has great chances in this one, I'll moderate the bet given Rob's really short sample form, but 0.1u Menzies 12/5 looks automatic.
Woodhouse/Whitlock - With Luke floating around the 60% projection range, which might be a touch of an overestimate for consistency reasons, we're not in the slightest bit interested at 8/13, and the corresponding Whitlock pricing probably only reflects a break even punt.
Rock/Rodriguez - 3/10 on Josh appears just about perfect. Looks to be one that should be safe if you're looking for an accumulator, but Rowby's got enough of a puncher's chance that we'll avoid it as a recommended single.
Clemens/Scutt - Connor actually appears to be somewhat respected in the market, coming in at a best price of 6/4. Given we're thinking he should be 5/4 and that might be an overestimate, it looks a neutral play at best.
Clayton/Burton - What is going on with those more recent numbers? The market's pricing this as a 75/25 game, which looks fine for the longer sample, but Clayton's numbers have fallen off a lot in the second half of the year after looking like one of the world's best in the last few months. It wouldn't surprise me if this match appears as one where the play was to take Stephen and it ends up being close, but I'll put enough confidence in the longer data to say that Jonny will be timing things to get it right at the time of year it matters - despite an underwhelming Slam.
Gurney/Zonneveld - Another one with a weird trend, seeing Daryl go from a moderate favourite to a strong one, despite Niels having a couple of good runs late in the season. The market's leaning more towards the form figure than the longer data figure, maybe I should think more about Niels at 5/2 than I actually will do just based on an eye test of Gurney having had a good year, rather than raw data.

Anderson/Beaton - Market appears pretty much spot on to me with it being put at 80/20. Certainly not going to push Ando at 2/9 based on form, as Steve's still got enough about him to maybe play spoiler.
van den Bergh/Williams - Dimi's still valued in the market, but not as much as he was, and his numbers look to be going the wrong way. Jim's only a small underdog in the market with a couple of random places offering 6/5 and a lot just putting him at evens, but this one feels right, 0.1u Williams 11/10.
Wade/O'Connor - Willie's not actually putting up bad numbers against a player that's made quite a few headlines in recent weeks, projections in the low 40% range do surprise me a little. They're not enough to make us want to punt at 8/5 though.
Gilding/Lennon - Couple of players who got some TV reps in the Slam, and Steve is not far off Andrew's level of play at all. However, he still projects as an underdog, and a best price of 11/8 represents only a really small advantage, can't be confident enough about this one to go with it.
Humphries/Lukeman - Luke hype train has got maybe a little bit silly, and Martin coming in at 9/2 appears a little bit disrespectful, but this feels like absolutely the wrong place to be chasing what isn't a big edge in any case.
Szaganski/White - Ian's had a good enough season that he does project as better than Radek, this despite the Pole binking a event recently. Sure, it's closer of late, and I think the line with Ian at 5/6 is more accurate than anything that'd be based off longer form, and not really a play as a result.
Searle/Krcmar - Ryan is the better player, and is getting better of late. Boris isn't bad and could absolutely pull off the upset, but I think with him not even being 5/2 they're giving him correct credit for what he's actually capable of.
Pietreczko/Kist - Christian projecting as a tiny favourite really does surprise me, but he's playing the best he has done since the Lakeside win in my opinion. Ricardo looking a bit off at the Slam is only additional ammunition, I'd take the guy that's outscoring the higher seed at the price that 365 are offering without that, 0.25u Kist 6/4.

Heta/van Dongen - Damon had a nice win last week, but Jules' upturn in form cannot be ignored. Since the Matchplay he's outscoring Heta. It looks like things have finally clicked and the confidence is there, Damon can still pretty easily cock things up on TV, so we'll go normal sizing again at the Ladbrokes price with 0.25u van Dongen 19/10, think the typically available 7/4 is also more than fine for this sizing.
de Sousa/Doets - Market's giving this as a 4/7 against 7/4 line in favour of the Portuguese number one, which looks just about right to me. Kevin's got chances but there is nothing worth gambling here.
Ratajski/Kuivenhoven - Looks like Maik might be trending up slightly in more recent samples, but all it's really doing is taking a price at just north of 2/1 from being at the very best a neutral play, to something without the real edges we need to look at it. Feels like Ratajski's not dropped at all and should be solid enough.
Dolan/Edhouse - Another one where the market's knowledgeable enough to correctly point out that Edhouse isn't a bad player, and they throw him in at around 11/8, or having low 40% chances. That, or they just don't like Brendan. That's more or less how we see it so nothing of interest here.
van Duijvenbode/Wattimena - Not touching this with a bargepole given Dirk's issues. That the market has it as a flip might be a bit of an overreaction, but it's so hard to quantify just how far Dirk is off.
Smith/Veenstra - Richard's good, we all know that, maybe he's not quite as good as he was earlier in the season, and maybe Michael's ramping things up for the big TV events, but he did botch the Slam defense, and we do have a good price on Richard. Coralbrokes are offering just about enough to have a small nibble, 0.1u Veenstra 5/2, but I doubt I go any shorter than that, maybe 9/4 is still just about worth the shot.
Joyce/Klose - Ryan's been one of the success stories of this tour this year, while Daniel's had his moments as well and is definitely live here, but as 13/8 appears to be a correct representation of just how live I think he is, I can't say to bet on this one.
Cullen/Hughes - Joe appears to have fallen a touch off the radar, while Hughes, after a final in the very first weekend, has been quiet as well. Hughes looks a touch undervalued, but it's only just a touch, we can't even get 2/1 which is probably what I would need to start thinking about going against the Rockstar as he warms up for the worlds.

So we have six plays, all underdog shots, two of them seeming like clearer plays than others. Expect me to be back Friday night for the last 32, but likely not getting any tips out before the last 16 because football - although if I can find a quiet pub after the game and can do a lot of the groundwork in advance, then who knows.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Post Slam

Humphries is good. Scarily good. Cross did basically nothing wrong (in the legs Humphries won he was averaging 103 for crying out loud), but for all intents and purposes he couldn't lay a glove on him after the first session. Absurdly good stuff, got to give the credit to Luke but Rob can walk away from that one with his head held high. The question is now whether Humphries is the favourite to bink the worlds. I think we can break this down based on form and data. 

Let's look at where Humphries lies in terms of overall scoring through various data points - first, including the worlds and nothing before:

Anderson 96.07
Price 95.62
Humphries 94.85
van Gerwen 94.65
Cross 93.80

Let's cut off after the UK Open is done (so as not to include that):

Anderson 96.24
Price 95.74
Humphries 95.29
van Gerwen 94.11
Cross 94.05

Let's cut off after the Matchplay is done:

Anderson 97.19
Humphries 95.80
Price 95.19
Cross 94.86
van Gerwen 94.65

I don't think anything shorter is necessarily useful - you will quickly run into sample size issues, but it can't be argued that Humphries is improving. A lot. You don't need numbers to see that, you just need eye test. Then again, Ando and Cross are doing the same. That said, I will quite happily defend any bookie who is pricing Humphries as the favourite to bink the worlds - there is an extremely strong argument to say that is the case, but it is as wide open as anything.

New FRH rankings:

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

I'm likely going to start looking at the PC Finals tomorrow and get some tips up for round one by Tuesday/Wednesday. It's been a bit of a rough tournament from a betting standpoint, but hopefully we can rebuild in what ought to be a decent enough event in terms of seeing players where I think I have a data advantage over the field. Back soon.

Saturday 18 November 2023

Slam semis

Another bit of money dropped with Ando. Played great, off to a fantastic start, just couldn't quite keep it going for long enough. But boy, Luke Humphries looks really, really good. He's odds on to win the whole thing for a reason.

I'm not seeing anything of note for the semis. I've got Cross, who was a bit fortunate in that Heta pretty much went to pieces midway through the third mini session, as slightly more (not even 1%) than a 60/40 favourite against Bunting, who one mini session aside completely shut Buntz out of the game. He's 4/6 so we're not interested. Then we have Humphries against Wade, and I've got Humphries flying in at over 80% chances. That's just how good he is right now. If anything, 3/10 represents slight value but I'll give Wade some credit for finding ways to win and looking better of late, so again it seems a clear no bet. There wasn't even enough edge to consider even before we think that James might be playing a tad better than larger historical stats.

Doubt I get in before the final, but with the markets more or less corresponding with how we see things, it's real unlikely we miss anything of consequence.

Friday 17 November 2023

Slam quarters

This has suddenly become wide open, MvG not looking his mercurial best and dropping out at the last sixteen stage, let's look at the quarters:

Wade/Rock - Is it me, or is this not quite as close as the market is making out? Rock looked pretty steady throughout the group stages, and solid enough in the game against Ratajski, although could probably have tightened up the odd leg, while Wade looked comparable in the group stages (although did lose to Ratajski notably), and maybe a touch quicker in finishing than Rock did. Wade's getting results of late, but Josh jumps up with the sizable increase in match length up to around 65% chances. The questions I have is whether James' quality of play very recently drags it back a bit, and this is unchartered waters for Rock, particularly in leg play which historically has been a favoured format of Wade. Rock should take this, maybe slightly more often than the 8/11 price suggests, I'm just not sure he does it often enough in reality to really recommend a play.

Humphries/Anderson - This might be a title decider, albeit with the previously mentioned caveats as to whether Gary, at this stage in his career, has the stamina to be able to come through two best of 31 length matches in one day. Before we get to that question however, he's got to come through now tournament favourite Luke Humphries, and will have a day after to recover if he gets it done. This is a redo from the group stage where Luke won convincingly 5-1, but Gary didn't exactly play badly in that one. Luke generally looked better against common opponents in the group stage, and looked spectacular in a great game against Ryan Searle - albeit Ando looked just as good in knocking out Gerwyn Price. In a decent sample size, I'm seeing Ando as having 58% winning chances - they've both had a day to rest up, Anderson can throw everything into this game, and we're getting a pretty solid price on Betfair. 0.25u Anderson 27/20, even if we said that Luke's quality of play and probable better conditioning for a long game is worth an increase of 5% winning chances, that's still giving Ando 10% more chances than the market implies, and we can't pass that edge up when betting on statistically the best player in the world this year. Winning two Pro Tours in the last two months where you've got to win a best of 11, 13 and 15 fairly close to back to back against high level opponents makes me thing Anderson can still handle a one off best of 31.

Buntz/Bunting - Stowe's made history by being the first American to get this far, but has been pretty darned fortunate to do so - running out to a 5-0 lead against Gilding which maybe masked the quality of his play, ending with another sub-90 average and claiming eight of the ten legs in 19, 21, 17, 17, 20, 17, 20 and 17 darts, a standard that ought to be punished by a better opponent. Bunting didn't really do this in the group stage, and didn't particularly need to do so against Noppert in the last sixteen, but is absolutely a top 16 level player this season and clearly has the ability to do so. We're not overly confident that the data on Buntz, although not small, is quite level with how well he's played, but we do think that Bunting should be a bit shorter than 1/4. Probably not that much shorter than we can bet this, but I would be very surprised if Buntz's run doesn't end here.

Heta/Cross - Damon's successfully knocked out the guy who looked like the favourite to win the whole thing, while Cross looked much better in a relentless display that took out Aspinall by the odd break 10-8. Cross is playing the best he has done likely since he won the world title and is up at a top five level of play, while Damon hasn't been playing badly, but is maybe a point or two off where he was at a year or two ago, and with the length of the match here at the quarter final stage, appears to only have about a one in three chance against the former world champion. That makes things close to a play on Rob, who's installed at 8/13, and I wouldn't dissuade you if you wanted to punt on it (as long as it's not done for stupid reasons like "heta going to have post-mvg win letdown lel"), but I think there's enough reasons to believe that Damon might be upturning a little better than Rob is, and just hold off for now.

Back on Sunday morning, maybe Saturday night, for the last four.

Thursday 16 November 2023

Mental note of players I've seen play

Just so I can reference things:

2015 German Darts Masters:

Adrian Lewis
Andrew Gilding
Brendan Dolan
James Wade
Jamie Caven
Jamie Bain
John Henderson
Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright
Robert Thornton
Simon Whitlock
Terry Jenkins
Vincent van der Voort
Wes Newton
Willie O'Connor

2016 World Grand Prix:

Adrian Lewis (2)
Benito van de Pas
Cristo Reyes
Gerwyn Price
James Wade (2)
Jelle Klaasen
Kim Huybrechts
Ian White
Kyle Anderson
Terry Jenkins (2)

2017 International Darts Open

Alan Norris
Dave Chisnall
Dennis Nilsson
Gerwyn Price (2)
Ian White (2)
Jelle Klaasen (2)
Joe Cullen
Josh Payne
Kim Huybrechts (2)
Mensur Suljovic (2)
Mervyn King
Peter Jacques
Peter Wright (2)
Ron Meulenkamp
Ronny Huybrechts
Simon Whitlock (2)

2019/20 Worlds

Benito van de Pas (2)
Danny Baggish
Joe Cullen (2)
Max Hopp
Nathan Aspinall
Nico Kurz
Noel Malicdem
Peter Wright (3)

2022/23 Worlds

Beau Greaves
Florian Hempel
Keegan Brown
Lourence Ilagan
Michael Smith
Nathan Rafferty
Rowby John Rodriguez
Willie O'Connor (2)

2023 Grand Slam

Andrew Gilding (2)
Beau Greaves (2)
Berry van Peer
Brendan Dolan (2)
Chris Dobey
Damon Heta
Danny Noppert
Gerwyn Price (3)
Gian van Veen
Haruki Muramatsu
Johnny Clayton
Josh Rock
Nathan Aspinall (2)
Nathan Rafferty (2)
Ricardo Pietreczko
Ryan Searle

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Slam round 2

Group stages are in the books, now we move on to the last sixteen, and a decent step up in length of game to a first to ten, before an even bigger jump in the quarters. Games take place over two days, odds are out for everything, so let's look through what we've got:

Price v Anderson - Where have we heard this one before? Price won his group looking absurdly good in the process, especially in the second and third games, while Ando dropped a game to Humphries but did his job against van Duijvenbode and Lennon. This is a tricky one for me - I can't split the two for all intents and purposes, maybe giving Ando a 2-3 percent edge, but Price has just looked so good that I think that it's truly a spot where we need to consider immediate form rather than longer data - to an extent. 0.1u Anderson 13/8, that's such a big price that we've got to take it - but we'll temper the bet size. Gary's played fine, we can't just not bet it, but we will factor Gerwyn's play this week in.

Wade/Dobey - James probably hasn't hit top gear in this one yet, but didn't really need to do so to finish off an out of sorts Smith and claim the group on leg difference, while Dobey has got better from game to game, ending with a winner takes all victory over Jonny Clayton. Chris looks to be playing better throughout the sample we are looking at, and is projecting up towards 65% - I'll do the same as I did in the previous game and limit the bet sizing on account of Wade looking really good in terms of results, but there's enough price here to take, 0.1u Dobey 8/11

Rock/Ratajski - Josh hasn't set the averages on fire, but is getting the wins and only dropped four legs to date in sweeping his group. Krzysztof locked up second in the Wade group with a big win over Nathan Girvan, although the numbers have slipped a bit from the roughly 100 he did in both the first two games against the bigger names of the group. This looks an absolute knife edge game here, I can't call one player over another, that's how good Ratajski has been playing (and maybe indicating where Josh has dropped to from this time last year), so I think we have enough edge as we had in the previous one to bet. Will again go small as Rock finally getting wins may spark a bit of an overperformance compared to longer form levels, but 0.1u Ratajski 11/8 regardless.

Humphries/Searle - Luke swept his group with three straight ton plus averages as he looks to add a second major title, while Searle hit a real nice nine to lock up second in a winner takes all against Rafferty where Nathan had just hit a big out himself to ask questions as to whether Ryan could hold. And that was some hold. Luke looks solidly better as you'd expect, I've got it somewhere slightly over a two in three shot, but slightly under 70%. As such, the line is maybe slightly off and Searle at 5/2 is technically not a losing bet as I see it, but without any real edge to recommend a play.

Noppert/Bunting - Danny won his group although he has been a bit underwhelming, only the game with Gilding really impressing, while Stephen got second with a solid win over Peter Wright, and the numbers continue to impress, maybe playing the best he has done in quite some time, perhaps possibly since his BDO days. These two match up fairly tightly, but I've got Bunting at around a 55/45 edge, maybe crank it up a couple of points given the mediocre play of Noppert this week. Market has a best price of 4/5, so it's where we expect it and we can't contemplate any play.

van Gerwen/Heta - Michael cleaned up the group with three wins, but looks at less than top gear, really should have lost versus Cross and needed a comeback against Kleermaker as well. Damon needed to come from behind against Greaves, but did so, triggered by a big out that was somewhat game changing. Market has van Gerwen as the natural favourite, implying a win percentage in the low 70% range - I think we can at least contemplate a play on Heta, who I think is maybe slightly more than a 35% shot in this one, but I'm not sure he's showing enough right now with the two last leg deciders and a mediocre showing in a loss to Aspinall to think he's that close right here right now. Might throw something at a handicap and definitely would not contemplate taking MvG, but I can put off betting Damon here.

Aspinall/Cross - Nathan dropped the last game against Pietreczko in what I've seen described as a weird game without anyone really saying why, other than some match report saying he was just playing quickly in a nothing game. Cross was too good for Sherrock as expected, and despite being the player who came second in the group, I've got him as a marginal favourite, just closer to 55% than 50%. Market is also shading Rob at odds on, so no play here.

Buntz/Gilding - Stowe couldn't get a third straight win, but was able to keep things tight enough against Chisnall to claim the group win, while Andrew was in a bit of a complicated spot but a comfortable 5-1 win against Muramatsu was enough to claim second spot and face the American debutant. Projections give this as an emphatic win for Gilding, but we can't ignore the numbers he put up against Wright and the win he got against Bunting, who are of a comparable level of opponent. We're clearly not going to bet Buntz at shorter than 2/1, question is whether we take Gilding at 1/2 on Hills. I think this is really close - the projection says 80/20, but maybe Stowe is outperforming and it's more 75/25. Not unreasonable to think that, but after the explosive display against Wright, he's gone back to back 88 averages. It's also a bit of a longer game than he's probably played before, but the CDC has first to 7 and 8 in quite a few events, so it's not by that much. I'm going to say no to a bet, but this could end up looking ridiculous.

So three small plays tonight, but nothing tomorrow.

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Slam day 4

lol smith

We are clearly not touching Buntz/Chisnall, van Gerwen/Kleermaker or Aspinall/Pietreczko, which leaves us with five games to consider:

Gilding/Muramatsu - Line looks fair enough. Gilding probably just needs to win by as much as the other players have beaten Muramatsu by and he's probably safe. Haruki's showed enough that maybe he nicks this the one in four times required for Andrew to be a clear no play.

Heta/Greaves - Straight match up for the second spot. Heta's 2/5, implying around a 70/30 game. Heta would be about that much of a favourite against someone like Darren Webster as an example. Is Greaves at that sort of standard? I want to say probably not yet, could get up there though and it's not that much of a differential.

Noppert/Dolan - Danny probably just needs to not shit the bed to get through, whereas Dolan kind of needs to win and then likely get a bit of help, unless he can get a clear win. Market's giving it a bit more than 60/40 in favour of Noppert, I'm thinking it might be a slight bit tighter than that, but the danger is that they play after Gilding plays, and we could be in a situation where if something weird happens Dolan might know he only needs something like three legs to be safe. I'm not going to push what is only a slight edge regardless in these circumstances.

Cross/Sherrock - I mean Rob should be really comfortable here, but we thought that about Kleermaker as well, at 2/9 there's enough oddness that might happen that not looking at this one seems automatic.

Wright/Bunting - Final straight shootout for the group advance, market has it evens each way, we've got Bunting favoured but only by a percent or two, so easy enough no bet.

Full last sixteen look later today.

Monday 13 November 2023

Slam day 3

Pretty much worst case scenario yesterday, all four bets losing 5-4, two of which had match darts, missing a combined fifteen darts at double in legs that they lost. Picking off just one of them wouldn't have been too bad, but it is what it is. We are not touching Rock/van Peer or Price/van Veen for obvious reasons, which gives us six games to look at:

Anderson/Lennon - Steve looked OK in game one, but was dragged down to Dirk's level in game two, he's not completely dead but needs a big win and then help from Humphries, Ando similarly needs help from Humphries as well as getting the win. Ando's 1/3 and I see it as 75/25, so let's move on.

Clayton/Dobey - Winner takes all here, looks like Clayton's slightly outplayed Dobey in two games against common opponents, but not by much, I see it as a pure flip, market has neither player odds against, move on.

Ratajski/Girvan - Krzysztof kept things close enough against Smith so that a regulation win against Girvan, who's not looked dreadful but has looked out of his depth, ought to get him into the next round - by my maths a 5-2 would probably force at least a playoff, a 5-1 would make it safe. Hard to really call Krzysztof's edge given the limited data we have on Nathan, but 1/4 with how the two have played doesn't look unfair.

Humphries/van Duijvenbode - Luke's pretty much through already, only two 5-0's going the wrong way would see him out, and it's real hard to consider a bet on Dirk given his post match interviews explaining his injury situation and how far he is off his peak game. 4/11 on Luke seems like it might actually be value but I don't really want to try to evaluate what the line is in this one.

Smith/Wade - Line looks close enough to me, Wade's a touch longer than 6/4 so an implied chance in the high 30% range, I'm seeing low 40%, but even off the floor/TV form for Smith and I think it's an easy ignore.

Searle/Rafferty - Straight heads up game, Searle could do nothing against a great game from Price, while Rafferty got an excellent win against van Veen to give himself a shot. Searle projects about a three in four favourite, the market has it a bit closer, but not really enough that I can consider a bet - although it is the closest thing we have to a bet.

Sunday 12 November 2023

Slam day 2 evening session

Afternoon session just done, everything into the master computer, sadly the results mean we've got three dead rubber games already in the final sets which is going to severely limit the amount of action we might be able to get on, but it's the natural result of an absurdly silly group stage format (although that's probably the fourth silliest thing with how the Slam is organised, behind the huge number of spots given to the Pro Tour qualifier, the quarter final rematch potential which fixes things so that bookies could price up "to win quarter" markets but they don't, and the semis/finals on the same day thing) and we can't do much about it.

Looking at this evening, I'd have been looking at Lennon in the first instance against van Duijvenbode, but he's too short already at 6/4 and Dirk's of no interest either. Wade against Girvan being priced as a 75/25 matchup seems absolutely fine. Wright/Chisnall suddenly became a lot more important after yesterday, Chizzy being priced as a small favourite looks perfectly correct. Kleermaker against Sherrock is the most interesting one, I'm not reading the slightest thing into "zomg sherrock 92 average" bullshit, that's severely inflated due to MvG only allowing her one dart at double. BetVictor think this will somehow be close, I don't, 0.25u Kleermaker 4/6 on BetVictor is the play, anything longer than 1/2 looks absolutely fine. Bunting against Buntz is one where I think there's maybe a slight overreaction to Stowe's game yesterday, but not slight enough to bet against him, he's clearly got enough game to have at least a 25% chance, so Bunting at 2/5 isn't really that interesting. van Gerwen against Cross I think is another one that's mispriced, I find it really hard to separate the two, van Gerwen's fractionally better and if he plays like last night it's going to be tough for Rob, but VC offer us another decent price, 0.1u Cross 7/4. Only not going a quarter unit given the relative performances yesterday. Smith/Ratajski is another one that I think looks very, very close, although if Michael is performing better on TV than he is on the floor then maybe we don't see the level of edge we do in the above game which makes it a clearer small bet sizing, 0.1u Ratajski 6/4 is widely available. Finally we have Humphries/Ando, I'm thinking it's a case where Gary's slightly better as opposed to the market saying Humphries is slightly better, but the margins involved each side of 50% are that small that I can't recommend a play.

Back probably later this evening with the Monday matchups.

Slam day 2 afternoon session

Just a quick post, not having put yesterday's data into the master computer, there's nothing that stands out as value in the afternoon session, the only game that looks like it's a possibility is the Muramatsu one - he looked like probably the upper quartile of what we thought his range might be, and but for a few wired doubles, could easily be playing in the winner's game. 7/4 I don't think is quite enough, but Dolan's not going to have it all his own way. Should be able to get some better analysis ready for before the evening session.

Also Stowe Buntz is a legend and the beer prices yesterday were comical 

Friday 10 November 2023

Slam day 1 picks

Don't expect day 2 picks until probably Sunday morning as I'm going to the afternoon session tomorrow and will be late back accordingly, let's hop through the first day's lineup:

Heta/Pietreczko - Looks real tight, particularly if you go into shorter samples which make it look 50/50 rather than Heta having a small edge. Not loving 4/5 Heta in the slightest, and 6/5 Pietreczko, while not bad, isn't really a solid enough edge for a player who's still lacking a bit of TV experience.

Gilding/Dolan - Extremely tight, finding it close to impossible to pick a winner. Market appears the same, 11/10 on Brendan if we had to pick someone would probably be how lean, but we don't have to pick anyone.

Searle/van Veen - Should be extremely competitive. Am seeing this very close once more, with van Veen having a small edge, not really getting more than 55% in any sort of sample. Market has him shading it at 5/6 with Searle evens, so will ignore this one from betting angles.

Dobey/Rock - Small edge to Dobey on this one, which looks to grow from the low 50% range to the high 50% range as we get more form based. Which isn't enough to tip in another one where neither player is odds against but Chris is looking the better of the two in the market.

Noppert/Muramatsu - Haruki is going to be tough to call. As detailed in the previous post, his top game is pretty decent, but there's horrific inconsistency which may well end up giving Danny a couple of legs head start, which is extremely dangerous in the shortest format we have in the pro game today. 7/2 I don't think is a horrible price, but I kind of want to see what he does before recommending any play. This might cause us to lose our market if, as I think, he is a bit better than expected and a good showing lets the cat out of the back, but it's a risk I'll take.

Aspinall/Greaves - Beau's going to be even tougher to call. 5/1 is one that might be a touch long, but Nathan's really good, so I'm happy again to pass this one.

Clayton/van Peer - Kind of half tempted by van Peer. He's floating around a one in three shot, but improves to closer to 40% as we get more form based, albeit that might then start to run into form issues for a non card holder. A price approaching 5/2 is maybe a touch harsh, but it's not the slam dunk play I'd have liked it to be. If the market is bullish on Clayton in the warm up then I don't hate a small play on the Challenge Tour winner.

Price/Rafferty - Nathan's in trouble in this one. A price of 5/1 over a decent sample doesn't look unkind at all. As we get more recent and form based, his chances do go up a bit into the low 20% range, but that's still a long shot and not something we really want to be considering.

Wade/Ratajski - James is playing well, but Ratajski looks better to me - hovering in the mid to high 50% mark dependent on samples. As such, this is probably the closest thing we have to a bet so far with most markets giving Krzysztof an underdog status, albeit at 11/10 generally available. I'm going to say no, simply given that Wade looks to be upturning in form with a recent major final run, but this is possibly just me talking myself out of a decent bet.

Cross/Kleermaker - Looks like a standard two in three game for Rob over large samples, ticking slowly upwards towards three in four as we get more form based. 3/10 isn't worth considering, 3/1 on Martijn might have been worth a look if he had a couple of extra percent across the board and the trend was the other way, but he doesn't and it isn't.

Chisnall/Bunting - Good game this one. Chisnall's favoured, but not by much, fluctuating between a 55% favourite and a pure coinflip. He's 4/5, Bunting's 6/5, that's a bunch of no thanks for punting.

van Duijvenbode/Anderson - Gary is correctly favoured here - starting at around 60%, rising to about two in three as we get more form based, which we'd kind of expect given Dirk's best work appeared to be earlier in the year. Sadly the market puts him at 4/7, that's not in the slightest bit interesting, and Dirk's not long enough either, and with a possible minor injury issue that really affected him in Dortmund I think it's hard to quantify exactly what we'd need.

Humphries/Lennon - Steve's a talented player, but Luke is good enough now that this does represent a real gulf in class, I'm seeing Luke up at 70% give or take a percent regardless of sample, 10/3 on Lennon is the better side, but there is no significant edge and it feels like one he wouldn't really capitalise on for some reason.

Wright/Buntz - What level of game Stowe brings is going to be very interesting to see. For now, this one looks like a pretty trivial ignore - Peter's just off the back of a major win, so this looks like bad timing, and 7/2 doesn't feel like it's an overly generous price in the first place.

van Gerwen/Sherrock - Why does this feel like one where we should just empty the clip on MvG at 1/12? I won't, there's enough random things that can happen that makes it just not worth the risk.

Smith/Girvan - Why does this also feel like one where we should just empty the clip on Smith at 1/6? Scoring on the Development Tour is down at 83, while that's deflated a bit due to quality of opponent, this looks like a horrible mismatch. I'll just not bet this one and then regret it later.

So no bets, there's quite a few where we're in a holding pattern while we wait for information on the players we lack data on, and hopefully our suspicions are confirmed before we lose a potential market in games 2/3 - but in general it looks like the markets are correctly valuing most players in this with it being a pretty darned strong field, and with the matches being a bit flippy given the short race distance. Let's see if we get anything for Sunday.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Slam initial thoughts

Actual tips for the first round will come tomorrow, but for now, here's initial thoughts of win projections for each group game, based on stats dating back to the worlds inclusive to try to capture as much as possible for some of the more random players:

Sherrock and Greaves have 11 and 4 legs won respectively in the sample, which is way, way too small to consider. If Greaves had played the Challenge and Development Tours, she'd probably have got there, but she didn't. Sherrock did play the former but didn't get enough. That leaves in terms of low samples to be wary of Girvan, with just the 36 legs won, and Muramatsu, with 43 legs won. The latter is particularly misleading in terms of how well he rates, as he pretty much ran hotter than the sun in the legs he won, and in the 28 legs he lost he scored over 12 points lower per turn, one of three players (Paul Lim, Conan Whitehead) in the database to be over 10 for that stat with some reasonable number of legs played. As the projections are based on legs won, take the percentages with a pinch of salt, but he may well be more competitive than you think in a group that has three solid players, but no superstar players that you would think "Premier League" or anything like that, despite having two major winners and another major finalist.

So who's getting through?

A: Feels like Girvan is the obvious weak spot, making it a clear two from three. Think Smith has the edge, floor form has been mediocre but he's found it when he's needed it, which makes it look like a battle between Wade and Ratajski for second. This feels intuitively close but Wade looks to be rounding into form at the right time. Smith > Wade > Ratajski > Girvan

B: This is an absolute knife fight. van Peer is a real dangerous operator and should be able to challenge any of these, but I don't think he actually gets a win, leaving the same sort of scenario as we've had in the first group. Clayton I think's been the best player of the lot this season, Dobey appears to be in solid form, while Rock's numbers don't lie but he's had a very disappointing second season and not really converted it into titles, or results generally. Dobey > Clayton > Rock > van Peer

C: Group of death anyone? I'm putting Lennon last straight off the bat, I like his play a lot and he's been very underrated for ages, but this is a who's who of darts right now and it's a brutal draw. Dirk I think is maybe a touch off his peak form, which for me leaves it between Humphries, who's picked up a major very recently, and Anderson, who on the numbers might have been the best player out of anyone the last six months. I'd take Ando to nick it, and then probably later on run into issues in a longer matchup. Anderson > Humphries > van Duijvenbode > Lennon

D: I think we've got a clear top and bottom here. Price has been outstanding all year, and while two of the games will not be gimmies, I think he should still take them the overwhelming amount of the time. Rafferty looks out of his depth in this group, which leaves us with a straight clash between Searle and van Veen, which despite Searle not doing a whole lot wrong all season and maybe not getting the results he should have done, I've kind of got to give the edge to the ascending Dutch talent. Price > van Veen > Searle > Rafferty

E: This looks exceedingly tight between the three card holders. Buntz is going to be an interesting proposition (Spellman would have been more interesting but we can't pick our winners sadly), and it wouldn't surprise me to see him pressure at least one player, if not get into a spot to nick one, but this does look like a bad group in what looks like a huge step up in quality and experience. Wright's nicked a major but I can't be looking past Chisnall, who's barely put a foot wrong all season, and Bunting, who's maybe the most underrated player on the planet at the moment, to get through. It could be one where this ends up with two wins a piece, it's that tight. Chisnall > Bunting > Wright > Buntz

F: This appears to be clearly the most interesting group. Noppert is arguably the weakest top seed, and is best described as extremely steady. Gilding has the major win this season and while the level maybe isn't quite what it was in the first half of the year, still isn't bad. Dolan is likely Northern Ireland's number three right now, but is still very competent and a danger in a short format. Then we have Muramatsu, who in limited data has looked very up and down, and none of these players look that far ahead that he's out of any of the games. General feeling is to go in seeding order, but it wouldn't surprise me to see any result possible here. Noppert > Gilding > Dolan > Muramatsu

G: Probably the easiest group to call in terms of the actual qualifiers. van Gerwen is still an elite talent, although the field has caught up a lot. Cross remains severely underrated. Kleermaker I feel isn't overly suited to this sort of format, while Sherrock I think is genuinely making up the numbers at this level. van Gerwen > Cross > Kleermaker > Sherrock

H: This is a bit of an awkward one to call. Aspinall's been a bit mediocre since claiming the Matchplay, but does look to still have enough of a game to be able to clear up a short format match. Heta is maybe not quite at the same level he was at last year, while Pietreczko is very much in the ascendency and a danger to either one of these. That leaves Greaves, who I have no idea where she is at given she's basically chosen to stagnate playing nothing other than women's events. There's clearly a game there that can threaten, but these are three good players and hopefully this is a wake up call. I'm going to go for the player on the rise, but this looks any two from three. Aspinall > Pietreczko > Heta > Greaves

Expect tips on Friday evening for the Saturday sessions.