Sunday 14 January 2024

Tungsten Analysis 2023 Awards

Best single tournament performance

2017 - Phil Taylor, World Matchplay
2018 - Gary Anderson, World Matchplay
2019 - Peter Wright, World Championship
2020 - Ryan Searle, Players Championship 3
2021 - Peter Wright, Players Championship Finals
2022 - Ross Smith, European Championship

Nominees - Berry van Peer, Dutch Open, Scott Williams, World Championship, Ricardo Pietreczko, German Darts Championship, Gary Anderson, Players Championship 25, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Players Championship 6

Winner - Andrew Gilding, UK Open

This has to go to Goldfinger. Anyone powering through to a major title that nobody thought they were in with a reasonable chance of getting has to be a strong contender, and I can't not give it. He's had to come through an awful lot of really competitive players and, apart from maybe Dolan briefly, he's not let any of them get close, then come through the ultimate test in van Gerwen in a deciding leg. Elsewhere, van Peer winning the biggest open in the world on home soil, defeating probably the strongest non-card holder (at the time) in the final is absolutely worth a mention, Scott defeating three top ten players in the world to make unprecedented inroads into a major, and the biggest one at that, needs telling, Ricardo coming through an extremely tough draw to claim a first title was a great achievement, while on the floor, Anderson not dropping below a 95 average after round one with four consecutive 105+ averages was a scary level, while Dirk early on in the season was close to unplayable, with this event being the peak, hitting a 115 in early rounds, not falling below 95 ever, and finishing with three straight ton plus averages to win the title.

Match of the season

2017 - Rob Cross v Michael van Gerwen, World Championship
2018 - Gary Anderson v Mensur Suljovic, World Matchplay
2019 - Peter Wright v Noel Malicdem, World Championship
2020 - Michael van Gerwen v Joe Cullen, World Championship
2021 - Michael Smith v Jonny Clayton, World Championship
2022 - Dirk van Duijvenbode v Ryan Searle, Players Championship Finals

Nominees - Dave Chisnall v Luke Humphries, Hungarian Darts Trophy, Jeffrey de Zwaan v Gerwyn Price, UK Open, Michael van Gerwen v Madars Razma, European Championship, James Wade v Josh Rock, Grand Slam, Ross Smith v Chris Dobey, World Championship, Rob Cross v Chris Dobey, World Championship

Winner - Luke Humphries v Joe Cullen, World Championship

Can't really come up with enough superlatives as to how good this game was - real back and forth, little if anything to separate the players, chances for both to win it, sudden death leg, it's everything you want from a game of darts. There were quite a few good games throughout the worlds, mostly featuring Dobey - Cross being able to comeback was a heartbreaker, but his game in an earlier round against Smith was anticipated to be a highlight as soon as the seedings were set and absolutely delivered. Chizzy against Luke in Hungary saw both average over a ton and a deciding leg, at the UK Open, Price was probably the hottest player in the world at that point but saw de Zwaan roll back the years and average 105 to knock him out, Razma got the game of his life in Dortmund but couldn't quite get over the line in a real tough game, while Wade against Rock saw Josh get back to his mercurial best, but lose out in a 16-15 tussle.

Most disappointing season

2017 - Benito van de Pas
2018 - Rob Cross
2019 - Raymond van Barneveld
2020 - Adrian Lewis
2021 - Jeffrey de Zwaan
2022 - Ian White

Nominees - Michael Smith, Mervyn King, Jeff Smith, Gabriel Clemens, Rowby John Rodriguez, Vincent van der Voort, Alan Soutar

Winner - Josh Rock

This is a controversial one, if only because he has not played bad darts. Not at all - his level of play is still elite. But it's a results business - if you had said to me at the start of the year that Rock would not win any event, and outside of his little cameo at the Grand Slam, that his only win would be against fellow nominee Rowby John Rodriguez, I'd have said that would be an absurdly long price proposition. But it's where we're at. It's not a slight on Rock at all, but I'm sure he's got to feel he should have done better in turning performances into results. Otherwise, Smith has had what is pretty much the darting equivalent of the Crucible curse, except all year - he got a Euro Tour and a floor title, but TV, at least in ranking events, was pretty much a graveyard. King missed the worlds by a distance and will be losing his card next year, Jeff has resigned himself to playing the American circuit, Clemens has failed to really capitalise on his great end to 2022, was basically a jobber to the stars on TV, did nothing on the Euro Tour and is still looking for a first title, Rowby's form has gone completely down the toilet, van der Voort I'm not sure has the motivation and I can't recall him doing a thing this year, while Soutar also failed to make the worlds despite being very nearly seeded for it.

Best young player

2017 - Justin van Tergouw
2018 - Luke Humphries/Leighton Bennett
2019 - Keane Barry
2020 - Callan Rydz
2021 - Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
2022 - Josh Rock

Nominees - Gian van Veen, Cam Crabtree, Liam Maendl-Lawrance, Dylan Slevin, Thomas Banks

Winner - Luke Littler

It could only be one, couldn't it? To be honest, barring the huge run he made, I was going to give this to Gian, but being basically neck and neck with him all season on the Development Tour, then completely destroying Gian's major achievements with what he did at the worlds, there's only one answer here. Gian couldn't have done much more at all - form downticked a touch at the end of the season, if he'd have kept things going after the Euros then maybe this becomes a bit more of an interesting question. Elsewhere, Cam's had a very strong season finishing in both the top ten of both the Challenge and Development Tour, winning a title on the former, Liam has looked fairly solid on the Euro Tour and in the WDF circuit, while Dylan broke through early in the season and hasn't looked out of place at the Pro Tour level. Also need to give Banks a shout, he's the same sort of age as Littler, and was able to make the same sort of waves at the UK Open, he's not the same level but he's doing alright given how long he has to develop.

Most disappointing news of the season

2017 - Phil Taylor still not getting it quietly
2018 - Everything to do with the UK Open
2019 - Everything to do with the BDO
2020 - Kyle McKinstry and Wessel Nijman match fixing
2021 - Everything to do with the European Tour/European Championship
2022 - Retrospective awarding of a World Championship place to the Women's Matchplay winner

Nominees - Beau Greaves not testing herself, Wikipedia becoming useless, continued lack of adoption of Dart Connect, Prakash Jiwa allegedly doing things, WDF schedules suffering multiple cancellations

Winner - PDC wrecking the European Tour going forward

This was a late, late entry, but as it came in right before Q-School, I'm counting it for this year. I've gone over this in a previous post, naturally extremely recently, but I don't recall any announcement receiving quite the universal negative reaction ever. For the nominees, Greaves not doing anything on the Development Tour, not even trying Q-School, and taking the easy WDF money rather than going for the PDC worlds has basically killed a year's worth of development, it might make sense financially short term but it's absurdly disappointing to see. Then we have a weird one - the English versions of Wikipedia darts pages have been repeatedly vandalised, truncated and flat out removed by trolls, leaving anyone wanting to do any sort of research either completely stymied or needing to use foreign language versions, indeed while writing this I've mainly used German Wikipedia. It's not a useful site for anything important for years because censorship based on groupthink, but at least for darts it was somewhat comprehensive and accurate. Not any more. The PDC not using Dart Connect for everything continues to be a pain, it would have won this but for the late entrant, it failed in the UK Open, it failed on multiple occasions on the Euro Tour, and it failed in the worlds more than once, including on the first day of the event. It's not just the PDC, the number of WDF events that are not using it, or not using any sort of tracking software at all, if only in the end stages, continues to baffle everyone. Jiwa's I assume still an ongoing case so I won't mention much more beyond that, while the WDF lost the Masters as well as at least one gold level event, and it continues to struggle to maintain a solid schedule, which is a shame as the events they have got on have generally been really solidly run.

Personal highlight of the season

2017 - Mensur Suljovic wins the Champions League
2018 - Ian White claims a European Tour title
2019 - The explosion in quality from non-traditional areas
2020 - The PDC's efforts to get some sort of calendar on
2021 - Matt Campbell winning his tour card
2022 - Danny Noppert claiming a major title

Nominees - Andrew Gilding winning a first title, Berry van Peer's resurgence, the improved World Cup format, Wessel Nijman getting back into form

Winner - A full return for the Asian Tour

Honestly, this doesn't feel like it's been a great year for darts, but to see a solid return for the tour in one of the biggest developing areas in the world, producing a lot of new stars along with returns to form for a lot of familiar names has to be congratulated. Otherwise, Gilding getting a great reward for all his work absolutely brought a smile, as did van Peer demolishing everything in front of him in 2023. The World Cup was a highlight for a lot of people, the expanded format worked pretty well, will chuck in France being vindicated as to their previous omissions as a corollary, I've stated a lot in the past that I'm not a big fan of pairs but for this event it seems to make sense, and while you can think what you like of what Nijman has done in the past, to see him having put the work in while he couldn't play and look like he's progressed his game despite not being able to play competitively until this year, then do what he's done to get his card back, it does seem right that he's been able to do so.

Best new tour card holder

2017 - Richard North
2018 - Danny Noppert
2019 - Glen Durrant
2020 - Damon Heta
2021 - Alan Soutar
2022 - Jim Williams

Nominees - Richard Veenstra, Dylan Slevin, Lee Evans

Winner - Gian van Veen

It's not been a fantastic season for new card holders, with a few exceptions, and van Veen is clearly the highlight. To be so far up the scoring as he has been, and to make the impression he has on multiple vectors, it has to be him. If van Veen had won young player this would have gone to Veenstra, Richard not looking remotely out of place and looking like a strong favourite to push solidly into the top 64 in year two of his card. Slevin and Evans need credit, Dylan's been a bit more up and down while Evans has been more consistent with occasional smaller flashes, but both did enough to make the worlds and give themselves a very good chance of keeping their cards going forward.

Most improved player

2017 - Daryl Gurney
2018 - Jeffrey de Zwaan
2019 - Nathan Aspinall
2020 - Devon Petersen
2021 - Martin Schindler
2022 - Martin Lukeman

Nominees - Gian van Veen, Luke Humphries, Berry van Peer, Darryl Pilgrim, Ricardo Pietreczko, Luke Littler, Reynaldo Rivera

Winner - Radek Szaganski

There's quite a few possibilities here. van Veen was looking solid in 2022, but I'm not sure anyone could have anticipated the jump that he made this year. Humphries is a no brainer mention, going from someone who we're just waiting on to win a major to being arguably the best player in the world, and now world champion. van Peer went from someone we mostly referred to as that dartitis guy to the Dutch Open and Challenge Tour winner, with what could easily have been a very deep worlds run. Pilgrim has been a name that's been known in deep darts circles for a while, but has exploded in 2023, bossing many metrics and it's bizarre that he's not managed to pick up a card for 2024, at least in the manner he didn't. Pietreczko was known about last year, I nominated him for best new tour card holder after all, but he's continued to improve, especially on stage where we're going to see him a lot more in 2024. Littler was a sky is the limit player, but he's gone from "yeah, he should be top 32 no trouble in a couple of years" to "he might be top 10 right now and the Premier League is not ridiculous", while Rivera has come from basically unknown to possibly the best player on the Asian Tour, maybe he's got no better in the last twelve months and he's just showing up, I don't know, but I'm giving it to Radek. At the start of the year, he was basically just a guy making up the numbers on the Tour, and has turned into a Pro Tour winner, being one game away from saving his card at the worlds, and someone you generally don't want to play. It's a very welcome sign that he's been able to get his card straight back.

Player of the year

2017 - Rob Cross
2018 - Gary Anderson
2019 - Michael van Gerwen
2020 - Gerwyn Price
2021 - Jonny Clayton
2022 - Michael van Gerwen

Nominees - Andy Baetens, Beau Greaves, Gary Anderson

Winner - Luke Humphries

This is probably the easiest one of the lot. It probably would have been if Luke didn't bink the worlds, given he'd won three majors, but binking the worlds made it the easiest selection of all time. Baetens and Greaves get mentions through dominating their relative fields of play, Andy we'll see step up in 2024, Beau maybe not so much, while Ando gets a nomination just based on his pure level of statistics, looking like he's absolutely back at his best, even if that's not quite translated into results - you just need to look at his game with Luke at Wolverhampton to know how good he's been in 2023.

Monday 8 January 2024

Oh god what have they done

I wasn't expecting to make a post outside of the year end awards prior to the end of Q-School, and I was initially just going to roll this up into that year end post as the overwhelming winner of most disappointing news of the season - but it's annoyed me enough that it requires a stand alone post. For those that missed it, the PDC put out a couple of announcements late yesterday. The first was to indicate an increase in Pro Tour prize money - this is fine, although it still has the silly situation where a round two win is worth less than a round one win (now half as much!). The second one was the bastard one. So for the Euro Tour now, instead of having the following:

16 seeds from Pro Tour, 24 Pro Tour qualifiers, 2 Home Nation invites, 2 Home Nation qualifiers, 2 associate qualifiers, 1 Nordic qualifier, 1 East Europe qualifier

We have this:

16 players from main OOM, 16 players from Pro Tour (seeds being the top 16 overall from Pro Tour), 10 Pro Tour qualifiers, 4 Home Nation qualifiers, 1 Nordic qualifier, 1 East Europe qualifier

There's many, many problems with this. Let's start with the timing - less than 24 hours before Q-School was due to start. There's going to be lots of players that will have signed up for Q-School with the expectation there would not have been major changes to the European Tour format. They may well be somewhat pissed off as of right now. If this is announced in, say, November, I don't think there'd be so many problems with this. Not only those that are looking to get in, consider those who are already in. Consider someone like Mervyn King or Mensur Suljovic - both players who are still easily good enough to be in the equation to get a lot of the cake at things like the Modus events, the World Seniors circuit, and on the WDF circuit in general. They were going to need a huge year to retain their cards having missed the worlds this year, presumably they would have needed to return a decision on if they're going to re-up their card way before yesterday, and with the events available outside of the PDC system today, they would have had a real decision to make as to whether to even try Q-School twelve months from now. At this stage, do they think they're just wasting a year?

The second issue is the removal of the associate qualifiers. There's 800+ players who are at Q-School right now, who may have been thinking "well, if I don't get a card, which with only 30 or so available may be fairly likely, at least I have the opportunity to sneak into a Euro Tour with a god run. Well unless you're in certain areas of Europe, that's now gone. We now no longer have the chance to see Martijn Dragt upset Rob Cross, Berry van Peer defeat Josh Rock and Jonny Clayton, and Wesley Plaisier to the semis - and that's just this year.

The third is the removal of the home nation invites. We could have the absurd situation where we go into the Euro Tour in Prague without the two best Czech players. How is that going to help grow the game? Similar in other countries with the exception of Germany and the Netherlands, where they've got players high enough up in the rankings that you will get the best players in. Surely that sells tickets?

The fourth is the scything down of spots for card holders. That is a huge percentage of potential earnings now gone - from having one spot for every four/five card holders, it's now closer to one in ten. Yes, the qualification path within them will be a little bit easier, but it's still a full extra round on average that someone will have to come through. We've already seen Mickey Mansell voice his displeasure on Twitter, and I'm sure he's not the only one - how is someone supposed to close the gap to the top 32 if the chances to earn solid cash from the Euro Tour are much less frequent, and half the field in the first round is now guaranteed to be players who are either in the top 32, or very close to it? Ignoring that, with the Pro Tour now being all midweek, there's going to be some people who were making marginal decisions as to whether to play Q-School in terms of being able to balance work if they're not quitting, and the presence of European Tour money could quite possibly have made the difference.

Finally, there's the real risk of Premier League syndrome. For all intents and purposes, we've now got the same field as the Matchplay and the Grand Prix, topped up with a few randoms. That has the real risk of becoming extremely boring very quickly like the Premier League has done the last couple of years since they switched formats. Yes, the seedings still being based off of the Pro Tour will make the actual draws themselves a bit different, but you're still going to get much the same group of players being fed into each other every other week, and with the reduced chances of a player being able to break into this, there is an extreme risk of this becoming a closed ecosystem. Repetitive formats and fields are not just related to this level - just look at the World Series participants announced for Bahrain and the Netherlands today.

I can kind of see why they've done this, as having the best players at the tournaments makes them more marketable - but this really, really hurts 75% of the card holders and 90%+ of PDPA members in favour of giving the top, top players a bit more of a friendlier schedule. The manner and extent of how they've done this is the real kicker though. Announcing this after people have made decisions as to whether to enter Q-School, maintain tour card status etc is unacceptable. Changes of this magnitude absolutely had to be made in advance of Q-School entries opening to allow players to make an informed decision of what they are getting into. In addition, the size and number of the changes in combination make this a complete trainwreck. PDC announcing that associate members don't really add to marketability and it is not worth their efforts to host associate qualifiers? Would be unfortunate, but wouldn't hurt by itself, maybe if they cut the spaces to one and held three qualis with the semi finalists getting one spot each and then expanding the last one to a playoff between losing quarter finalists to get up to 13 might have solved this issue. Removing host nation automatic spots? Not sure about that one, and I think you need to at least put out the option for card holders to enter the host nation qualifiers - maybe not all of them, perhaps just those that wouldn't be seeded or something. Having some of the massive players get a freebie into the event and not have to qualify? I could understand this if it was a smaller number, say 4-6, just to manage the schedule a tad and to guarantee some of the biggest names that may not normally play the Pro Tour as much to be in, but 16 is just complete and total overkill, and weakens the Euro Tour as an event of interest.

On a personal note, it's also going to severely limit the upside of this blog. We made 160 bets this past season just gone - less than 100 of them were outside of the Euro Tour. A huge percentage of where we have an edge is by knowing more about the darting world outside the elite than the market. Some of the better punts we had last year on the Euro Tour included Arron Monk over Florian Hempel, Nico Kurz over Dylan Slevin, Mickey Mansell over Matt Campbell, Cameron Menzies over Ricardo Pietreczko and Mike de Decker over Callan Rydz. Back to 2022 some of our best results were Niels Zonneveld over Alan Soutar, Scott Williams over Adam Gawlas, Karel Sedlacek over Adrian Lewis and Niko Springer over Jermaine Wattimena. How many of those sorts of games are we going to get next year? If we were to hold a Euro Tour based on how things stand right now, you would have the following players in round one - Nathan Aspinall, Peter Wright, Joe Cullen, Dimitri van den Bergh, Chris Dobey, Stephen Bunting, Martin Schindler, Andrew Gilding, Daryl Gurney, James Wade, Gian van Veen, Ryan Joyce, Gabriel Clemens, Jose de Sousa, Brendan Dolan, Raymond van Barneveld and Luke Woodhouse. How much change are we going to get out of that field? If they play each other, it's a known quantity match. If they play a host nation, Nordic or East Europe qualifier, most of the time it's a no contest. It's only if we get exactly them against one of the now much fewer tour card qualifiers that we may get a more interesting game - that's assuming that they don't run into a biggish name that becomes a known quantity match straight away. Ten names I've not mentioned - Scott Williams, Luke Littler, Kim Huybrechts, Callan Rydz, Martin Lukeman, Mike de Decker, Jim Williams, Willie O'Connor, Ricky Evans, Steve Beaton. Some might be moderately interesting, but a lot will fly straight into a no value situation. It's been a real sad 24 hours for the progression of the sport and the near universal dislike to the changes on social media is absolutely warranted.

Sunday 7 January 2024

Q-School picks

No rest for the darting cognoscenti, as Q-School kicks off tomorrow, looks to be a 13/17 split between UK/EU, so I'll just list names for now:

UK - Dom Taylor, Darryl Pilgrim, Robert Grundy, Cam Crabtree, Scott Waites, Steve Lennon, George Killington, Alex Spellman, Dan Read, Leighton Bennett, Scott Taylor, Shane McGuirk, Connor Scutt

EU - Thibault Tricole, Wesley Plaisier, Sebastian Bialecki, Mario Vandenbogaerde, Radek Szaganski, Jules van Dongen, Alex Merkx, Ben Robb, Dennie Olde Kalter, Franz Roetzsch, Jeffrey de Graaf, Martijn Dragt, Niko Springer, Patrik Kovacs, Stefan Bellmont, Krzysztof Kciuk, Rusty-Jake Rodriguez

Thursday 4 January 2024

180 in 180 - year end edition

Going to repeat something I did in May, which is basically a data dump of the scoring of anyone who's thrown 180 legs in my database within the last 180 days. I'm not going to give the precise numbers, I'm just going to tier it so it doesn't become another ├╝berlong post like the previous one with the FRH year ends, but within any given tier the first name listed will be the highest, second second etc:

96-96.5 - Gary Anderson
95.5-96 - Luke Humphries
95-95.5 - Luke Littler, Michael van Gerwen
94.5-95 - Gerwyn Price, Rob Cross
94-94.5 - Ross Smith, Chris Dobey
93.5-94 - Stephen Bunting
93-93.5 - Dave Chisnall
92.5-93 - Josh Rock, Gian van Veen, Christian Kist, Nathan Aspinall, Ryan Searle, Michael Smith
92-92.5 - Daryl Gurney, Ricardo Pietreczko, Jim Williams
91.5-92 - Martin Schindler, Cameron Menzies, Raymond van Barneveld, Ryan Joyce, James Wade, Damon Heta, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Jonny Clayton
91-91.5 - Gabriel Clemens, Joe Cullen, Danny Noppert, Krzysztof Ratajski, Mensur Suljovic, Ricky Evans
90.5-91 - Peter Wright, Jules van Dongen, Darryl Pilgrim, Martin Lukeman, Luke Woodhouse, Ian White, Jose de Sousa, Richard Veenstra, Willie O'Connor, Daniel Klose, Andrew Gilding, Boris Krcmar, Brendan Dolan
90-90.5 - Callan Rydz, Scott Williams, Connor Scutt, Keane Barry, Kim Huybrechts
89.5-90 - Mike de Decker, Mickey Mansell, Maik Kuivenhoven, Dimitri van den Bergh, Kevin Doets, Steve Beaton, Andy Boulton, Steve Lennon, Florian Hempel, Simon Whitlock, Ritchie Edhouse
89-89.5 - Mervyn King, Lee Evans, Mario Vandenbogaerde, Radek Szaganski, Wesley Plaisier, Owen Bates, Alan Soutar
88.5-89 - Berry van Peer, Rusty-Jake Rodriguez, Nathan Rafferty, Scott Waites, Madars Razma, Robert Grundy, Stephen Burton, Jamie Hughes, George Killington, Alex Spellman, Graham Usher
88-88.5 - Jermaine Wattimena, Danny Jansen, Niels Zonneveld, Jeffrey de Zwaan, Arron Monk, Martijn Kleermaker, Danny Lauby, Matt Campbell
87.5-88 - Owen Roelofs, James Wilson, Cam Crabtree, Darius Labanauskas, Nick Kenny, Ryan Meikle, Dylan Slevin, Karel Sedlacek, Adam Smith-Neale
87-87.5 - John O'Shea, Robert Owen, Jeffrey Sparidaans
86.5-87 - Graham Hall, Chris Landman, Tony Martinez, Adam Gawlas
86-86.5 - Brian Raman, Keegan Brown, Vincent van der Voort, Jeff Smith, David Cameron, Jurjen van der Velde
85.5-86 - Ronny Huybrechts, Richie Burnett, Stowe Buntz, Josh Payne, Danny van Trijp
85-85.5 - Darren Webster, Rowby-John Rodriguez
84.5-85 - Nobody
84-84.5 - Callum Goffin, Ross Montgomery
83.5-84 - Jimmy Hendriks, Jacques Labre, Kevin Burness, Vladimir Andersen

Worlds aftermath

That was a great final. Nowhere near the best, and it's certainly been talked up to be better than it actually was, Littler in particular tailing off in performance more or less straight after the missed darts to go 5-2 up in sets, but it's created phenomenal viewing figures and was a good enough view that it should hopefully have caught the attention of a much greater audience going forward, which can only be a good thing. Whether they stick around in a couple of weeks and watch a couple of jobbers from Bahrain who I could probably beat is a different question, but it's all good. I'm really not sure on Littler's Premier League inclusion, it's going to make for a really, really crowded calendar for him which could easily burn him out - and it's not like he's got a choice, he needs to play the floor events if he's wanting to get into the majors, he can't rely on his ranking for anything other than the worlds, and a UK Open selection. That said, I completely get it from a marketing and profitability standpoint, the PL is a huge exbo after all and it's why that's likely the last you'll be hearing about it on this blog until this time next year likely. For now, the year end FRH top 100 (+/- are from this time last year):

1 Luke Humphries 1.25m (+4)
2 Michael Smith 657k (-1)
3 Michael van Gerwen 644k (-1)
4 Nathan Aspinall 432k (+3)
5 Rob Cross 426k (+1)
6 Gerwyn Price 407k (-2)
7 Peter Wright 356k (-4)
8 Jonny Clayton 354k (+2)
9 Dave Chisnall 350k (+9)
10 Damon Heta 328k (+4)
11 Joe Cullen 306k (+1)
12 Danny Noppert 284k (-4) 
13 Stephen Bunting 273k (+9)
14 Chris Dobey 269k (+6)
15 Dirk van Duijvenbode 266k (-4)
16 James Wade 265k (0)
17 Andrew Gilding 253k (+21)
18 Ross Smith 247k (-5)
19 Dimitri van den Bergh 243k (-10) 
20 Josh Rock 242k (+10)
21 Ryan Searle 232k (-3)
22 Gabriel Clemens 220k (-3)
23 Gary Anderson 210k (0)
24 Martin Schindler 205k (0)
25 Krzysztof Ratajski 205k (-4)
26 Luke Littler 202k (NEW)
27 Brendan Dolan 193k (-1)
28 Daryl Gurney 182k (-1)
29 Jose de Sousa 162k (-15)
30 Raymond van Barneveld 162k (-2)
31 Scott Williams 158k (+16)
32 Ricardo Pietreczko 133k (+62)
33 Ryan Joyce 120k (+15)
34 Gian van Veen 120k (+59)
35 Kim Huybrechts 115k (-6)
36 Luke Woodhouse 112k (+14)
37 Callan Rydz 104k (-12)
38 Mike de Decker 102k (+14)
39 Madars Razma 99.5k (-7)
40 Jim Williams 90.2k (+3)
41 Martin Lukeman 88.2k (-4)
42 Steve Beaton 77.1k (+14)
43 Matt Campbell 77.1k (+16)
44 Jermaine Wattimena 74.1k (+2)
45 Willie O'Connor 74.1k (+5)
46 Simon Whitlock 72.5k (-5)
47 Ricky Evans 71.8k (+4)
48 Keane Barry 70.3k (-6)
49 Alan Soutar 66.1k (-18)
50 Florian Hempel 64.4k (+3)
51 Michael Mansell 63.9k (+12)
52 Cameron Menzies 62.8k (+13)
53 Richard Veenstra 61.6k (NEW)
54 Kevin Doets 61.6k (+28)
55 Niels Zonneveld 60.3k (+14)
56 Radek Szaganski 59.0k (NEW)
57 Steve Lennon 58.8k (+13)
58 Rowby John Rodriguez 57.7k (-19)
59 Jamie Hughes 55.6k (-2)
60 Boris Krcmar 55.4k (-6)
61 Ritchie Edhouse 54.0k (-12)
62 Mario Vandenbogaerde 53.7k (NEW)
63 Connor Scutt 52.6k (NEW)
64 Ian White 52.2k (-9)
65 Berry van Peer 48.8k (NEW)
66 Adam Gawlas 48.1k (-5)
67 Mensur Suljovic 48.0k (-31)
68 Vincent van der Voort 47.6k (-35)
69 Martijn Kleermaker 47.0k (-25)
70 Ryan Meikle 44.1k (-25)
71 Lee Evans 43.7k (NEW)
72 Mervyn King 42.5k (-38)
73 Keegan Brown 42.0k (-7)
74 Nathan Rafferty 40.6k (-12)
75 Adrian Lewis 39.5k (-40)
76 Jules van Dongen 39.2k (NEW)
77 Karel Sedlacek 39.0k (-19)
78 Dylan Slevin 37.4k (NEW)
79 Christian Kist 37.1k (NEW)
80 Stowe Buntz 36.0k (NEW)
81 Maik Kuivenhoven 30.4k (-2)
82 Jeffrey de Zwaan 30.1k (+6)
83 Richie Burnett 29.8k (+16)
84 Rusty Jake Rodriguez 28.6k (-10)
85 Darius Labanauskas 28.0k (-25)
86 Jeffrey de Graaf 27.5k (NEW)
87 Scott Waites 26.9k (-3)
88 Stephen Burton 26.8k (NEW)
89 Danny Jansen 26.2k (-22)
90 George Killington 25.5k (NEW)
91 Ted Evetts 24.8k (-15)
92 Geert Nentjes 24.5k (-24)
93 Daniel Klose 24.2k (NEW)
94 Andy Boulton 23.1k (-2)
95 Fallon Sherrock 22.7k (-14)
96 Krzysztof Kciuk 22.5k (NEW)
97 Robert Owen 22.5k (NEW)
98 Bradley Brooks 22.4k (-8)
99 Jeff Smith 22.2k (-28)
100 John O'Shea 21.8k (-25)

That's a total of 16 changes from last season, players we've not seen return are Sebastian Bialecki, Lisa Ashton, Jose Justicia, Adam Hunt, Jason Heaver, Jason Lowe, Scott Mitchell, Jimmy Hendriks, John Henderson, Danny van Trijp, Willie Borland, Raymond Smith, Ron Meulenkamp, Danny Baggish, Devon Petersen and Joe Murnan. Perhaps surprisingly, the entirety of the top 70 from last year stuck around, as opposed to anyone dropping from a lot lower.

The rapid Premier League announcement also allows us to nail down our Second and Third Division participants for 2024:

Division Two

On last season's rankings: Danny Noppert, Dave Chisnall
On last season's third division rankings: Kevin Doets
On year end FRH rankings: Jonny Clayton, Damon Heta, Joe Cullen, Stephen Bunting
Wildcard one: Gary Anderson (clearly upped his game to an elite level, and playing enough to warrant a pick)
Wildcard two: Chris Dobey (next player out on the rankings, clear top ten player on the analytics)
Wildcard three: Ross Smith (only a fraction below Dobey in scoring, none of the players between Dobey and Smith in rankings really excited me)

Division Three

On last season's third division rankings: Ricardo Pietreczko, Rowby John Rodriguez
World youth champion: In Premier League
On year end FRH rankings: Dimitri van den Bergh, Josh Rock, Martin Schindler, Gian van Veen
Wildcard one: Keane Barry (close to one of the last players out, still excellent standard)
Wildcard two: Berry van Peer (outstanding Challenge Tour season along with good results on the senior level both in and out of the PDC)
Wildcard three: Dylan Slevin (highest ranking on the Development Tour not in with a tour card, showing flashes on the main tour
Wildcard four: Callan Rydz (winner on tour this year, inconsistent though)

Expect another post shortly, and the year end awards probably over the weekend, but that might get delayed a bit.

Edit - for whatever reason I thought Dimitri was way too old for division three but he's not 30 until July so he's still eligible

Tuesday 2 January 2024

Final

Not going to recap the semis, there'll be plenty of people who will be doing that for us and I have to imagine 99.99% of people who'll ever read this will have watched the games already. We've got Luke on Luke violence in the final, I'm expecting a great match, but where's the value? I think we've got to drill down on context here - Littler's stats are strongly, strongly weighted towards the current tournament. Over a sample from after the last worlds, Humphries is the third highest scorer (Anderson, Price) in the world - but Littler's raised himself up to thirteenth in that timeframe just in this tournament. If you look back at our preview, which did include 2022-3 worlds data (which naturally wouldn't have affected Littler's numbers, but will have affected some others), we only had him just inside the top 32. That's how much he's progressed. There is every single reason to think he's outperforming his season long numbers and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work that out.

But what of win chances? Year long, it's exactly (to the one hundredth of one percent) 70/30 in favour of Humphries. After the UK Open, no real change. From May onwards however, it shifts to just 60/40 in Humphries' favour, with Littler at this point scoring in the top five in the world - albeit at this stage, Littler is down to just 267 legs of sample, 132 (or nearly half) are from this one tournament. Of course, we know Humphries' quality in terms of results was back loaded, so let's look closer. Post-Matchplay, it's still about 60/40 Humphries. However, if we go post-September, it becomes a touch more than 55/45 in favour of Littler. If we look at just this tournament, it is a crazy 70/30 in favour of Littler - that's just how good he has been, his overall scoring is second only to Chris Dobey in the entire field, and it's two points better than Humphries has been doing. I don't think I can touch this game at the current odds of 8/11 - Humphries only looks good at those odds on the longest of samples, on anything more recent than that, we tend to Littler, and we have to think about whether Humphries seemingly being set up to win the whole thing where as Littler is on a huge free hit does play a factor. I'm sure the elder Luke will not be phased by the final scenario - he has after all binked three majors in very recent memory, but I don't see the younger Luke being affected either. I can't really look past what the market says - Humphries is favourite, but not by much.

Quarter final thoughts, semi final bets

Cross/Dobey - Jesus christ, that might have been the biggest collapse of all time. Dobey was absolutely cruising - then Cross only allows him one leg in the remainder of the match where he's one away from winning, Dobey only getting one dart at the bull in that one. Blimey.

Littler/Dolan - Thought Brendan would be more competitive in this one. First and third sets were obviously the key ones to have got, but it is what it is, and it's not as if Luke was playing badly, he likely still goes on to win the match even if Dolan had have got things to 3-3.

Williams/van Gerwen - What an upset. God knows what Michael was doing on his doubles, but it created enough chances for Scott, and he generally took them - I say generally, as he should have been 3-1 up at the third break but for missing set darts.

Humphries/Chisnall - Bit one sided. Chisnall played well. Humphries just played that bit better.

Onto the semis:

Cross/Littler - Think this is another one where the market hype is too much. Littler is not the better player here and should not be going off as favourite. That said, on newer samples it's pretty much a coinflip, and year long I'm only getting Cross at around 55% in the first place. That'd be enough to consider taking the 6/5 that's available in a couple of places, but it is not unreasonable to come to the conclusion that Luke's improved over the course of 2023 and the newer sample is the closer one to the mark. So no bet, but gun to your head I'm taking Cross.

Williams/Humphries - Really, really cannot see Luke making the same mistakes that van Gerwen did yesterday, he's just too used to winning and has not let being in tricky spots affect him in the slightest in this tournament. Coralbrokes and Hills are offering enough to play, 0.5u Humphries 1/6, I can't see any sample in the data where Scott even has a 10% chance of winning this one, so this looks like a fairly safe one. Williams' winning chances went up higher against van Gerwen, but Luke's seemingly even better. Cannot see any way lightning strikes twice.