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.

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