Thursday 29 February 2024

UK Open rounds 1-3 bets and livepost

OK, here we go, first thing we're going to do is go through every already scheduled game and try to call what we think are decent value bets, then when we get to tomorrow morning we'll start updating this live in play with what we see. Let us hope to god that where we're not getting immediate DartConnect stuff (i.e. on the televised boards) that we don't get the same sort of fuckups that we got last year, but I trust sportradar about as much as I trust Sheffield United to go one half without conceding, so let's go:

Dennant/de Graaf - Market is giving Dennant a small edge at 4/5. That's commensurate with what I was thinking in the preview post, so happy enough to move on.

Taylor/Western - Dom is very, very odds on. It might be slightly silly, but his overall numbers look good enough to just about justify it against a random Rileys qualifier, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if Brandon was to nick it about as much as the market is suggesting.

Lauby/Rafferty - First one where we've got good data on both, and it seems legitimately too close to call, market has Danny as very (21/20) tiny odds against, so seems a clear ignore for me.

Bates/Boulton - Another that appeared close on paper, looking at things this seems like a clear coinflip, neither player is odds against so nothing doing here.

van Dongen/Tricole - We've got more than enough data on both to draw an inference - Jules is better. Significantly better. An implied 60% win chance doesn't truly reflect things enough, 0.25u van Dongen 4/6

Coleman/Wolters - I'm really not convinced by Wolters, and Coleman seems to be doing enough to make me think he's pretty live in this one, so I'm tempted to get on the bandwagon and go with the small flier, 0.1u Coleman 13/10, it is a flier but he's shown enough and this is probably a better environment for Ashley than it is for Tim.

Roes/Reus - Data is fairly limited on both, but I find it hard to believe from what I have seen out of Bradly that he is in a spot where he's going to be severely outclassed, so this seems like an automatic play at the price, 0.1u Roes 12/5

van der Wal/Haines - Market's finding it very hard to split the two. They've got Jitse as a favourite, but it's really not by much at all. I'd have been extremely tempted by a flier on Johnny if the market was moderately favouring the card holder, but they're not.

Brooks/Crabtree - Cameron comes into this one as a minor favourite in the market, not even 60/40 - but looking at the numbers I have, I've got to say I'm tempted by Bradley in this one - only for a small play, but I can't see that Crabtree makes a case to be the better player, so with a bit of an odds against edge, we'll go with the line, 0.1u Brooks 6/5

Toonders/Landman - Landman comes into this one as a significant favourite, and it's understandable given the figures we're seeing from the German prospect. Can't see Landman slipping up here, if I was going to go for a bet it probably would be on Toonders as 7/2 seems like a fair enough price for most players who'd face Landman in this competition, I just don't know enough about him really.

Rodriguez/Meulenkamp - I've got enough data on these to think it's too close to call. Neither player is odds against. Ron looks to be shading it and I think if there is an edge, it's minor in his favour, but 10/11 is not in the slightest bit tempting.

Croft/Borland - I might have been tempted by a flier on Joe here - with Borland being somewhat of a name player, and with Joe being basically unknown, I'd have thought we might have got a tempting price for a shot here, but we can't get better than 2/1, which is nowhere near enough to risk it on someone who, while showing things, is coming up against a decent enough opponent on the biggest stage he's going to have played on.

Lane/Gruellich - Market seems about right in this one. Domink looks a bit better from what I can see, but it's not that big a deal and 8/11 on the German looks to be a sensible enough line so not interested in this one.

Turetta/Grundy - An interesting one. Grundy looks better, but we've not seen enough from Michele to get a real read on just how much better. The Italian looks to have enough about him that we're not going to get involved at 8/15, while Robert is not showing enough that we want to start thinking he's going to win enough where we can make any sort of play that way either.

Kist/Geeraets - Just going to take this one off the board. We have no real way of knowing where Kist is at, while Patrick is still very much in the realms of the unknown as to his talents, Christian being a small favourite seems appropriate enough in the context.

Whitehead/Gates - This one seems a bit too close to me? Conan's looked good on occasions, but what's he done recently? Not a great deal I'd argue, so with the line being fairly tight I'm going to take the American for a small play, 0.1u Gates 4/5

Wenig/Lonsdale - This seems like a clear no play, Lukas looks better as far as I can tell, but Tom looks to have enough about him that I don't think Wenig is 4/7 better, at least not that significantly better where I'd want to start throwing bets around.

Bennett/Mitchell - Am I nuts for thinking that Scott is close enough to Leighton that this is flippy? I'm not sure that I am, I love Bennett but I think Mitchell is close enough that we can go with a small nibble at the price we're offered, 0.1u Mitchell 11/8

Burness/Henderson - We have good data on both, we know Hendo's better, the market also knows Hendo's better, maybe he's that much better than Kevin that 1/2 is underestimating the Scot somewhat here, but Burness has the ability to be a tad annoying and be a spoiler, so while I don't hate a Hendo bet, I'm not going to officially recommend one.

Scutt/Plaisier - Scutt looks a touch better in this game where we know a lot about both, and the market's finding it really hard to split the two with neither at odds against. As I'm seeing it around 60/40, I think there's enough edge to go with the sponsors' line, 0.1u Scutt 19/20

Male/Dragt - Martijn enters this one as quite the significant favourite, approaching a 75/25 advantage. I think he's got enough about him that he could cause the upset a decent amount of the time - probably only talking about a touch more than one in three on a gut feeling, but with the price, we'll got for it, 0.1u Male 5/2

Claydon/Lovely - Market is finding it hard to split these and they actually install Thomas as the tiniest of favourites. I don't have a problem with that, it looks hard to pick a winner based on the numbers I can see, gun to head maybe Brett is the play but we don't need to bet, so we won't.

Puha/Klaasen - I would ideally like more data on Haupai, but he's not doing anywhere near enough to make me think he is as close to Jelle as the market suggests - and the market does not have him odds against. 0.1u Klaasen 5/6 and the temptation to go a quarter unit is definitely there. Give me twice the amount of data to confirm more what I'm seeing and I go with it.

Bialecki/Walker - Think this is a fairly easy avoid. Don't think anyone is going to say Jenson is the better player. Don't think anyone is going to say Jenson doesn't have a puncher's chance in this one. Bialecki being a touch shorter than 1/2 appears completely reasonable.

Krohne/Taylor - The market seems to have caught onto Paul's competence and Michael's lack of any real pedigree, at least in what is publicly available, shoving the German at shorter than 1/3. We're not going to touch things at that sort of price.

Killington/Szaganski - This one feels intuitively tight. The market is shading things in favour of Radek - that's not unreasonable in the slightest, but I'm thinking George is extremely live in this one - but 11/10 is not the sort of price where I'd want to speculate in the context of everything we know about these two.

Gregory/Griffin - I'm almost half tempted by a play on Rhys here. There's nothing spectacular about Harry's game, but I think there's just about enough that he might keep Griffin honest, and with Rhys only breaking 4/7 in a couple of random spots, there's not the appeal or the thoughts that there's enough separation between the players to go with it.

Hogg/Beveridge - We really don't know where Jason is at. It's a tough one to speculate on accordingly, but we can look at Darren being around 1/2 or even shorter and come to the conclusion that it's not that unreasonable a line to price up.

Pilgrim/Richardson - There's not too many places that have seemingly priced this up, but I think that's an oddschecker naming issue, but what I could see gives Darryl a really strong implied chance which looks to be around the right area, so we move on.

Sumner/Nijman - Wessel's just so much better here. Coralbrokes are giving a bit of a silly line, 0.5u Nijman 1/5, we'll just take that and insure against one of the fliers, Nijman's scarily good and a relatively unknown Rileys qualifier isn't going to be able to live with that standard.

It's already gone 1am without me noticing, so I'm going to cap things for now at round one, and whack through the ten second round games and five third round games before the off tomorrow as we've got a bit of time to work with before those go live.

Friday morning edit - Pre known round 2/3 matches:

Labre/Lennon - Lennon is a strong favourite, but not quite the overwhelming favourite on the numbers that I thought he'd be, so with a best price of 1/4, I'm not actually entertaining the bet, seems as if Jacques is just doing enough, which does surprise me significantly but I'll trust the numbers rather than have a long odds on catastrophe.

Sparidaans/Perez - Appears tight. Christian might just have the smallest of edges, and he's correctly priced as just odds on versus Jeffrey's just odds against, so this is another easy avoid.

Klose/Warner - Klose should win this one quite comfortably, I like Warner but he's a clear second best here, I've got Daniel up at around the mid 70's range so 4/11 best price isn't really moving the needle.

Monk/Slevin - Numbers are throwing Monk back at us around 60/40, which doesn't seem unreasonable, he's actually odds against in several places so I'll take that, 0.1u Monk 11/10

Nentjes/Rupprecht - Pascal looks a tiny favourite from what I can see such is the state of Geert's form, it's only 55/45, but it looks like the market is already on this and if anything overreacting a tad.

van Peer/Kuivenhoven - Berry's the better player but Maik's still pretty competent so I'm only seeing 60/40 or there abouts, typical price is 8/11 which is about right but the exchanges are offering a bit more of a price closer to evens which may be worth a look.

van der Velde/de Zwaan - Jeffrey's better, it's a bit more than 60/40 but not quite 2/1, we can see a price of 4/7 which looks just about perfect to me.

Sedlacek/Owen - Karel is still being returned as a favourite, although it's only a tad more than 55/45, Owen's 11/8 so it's another one where we're seeing what we'd be expecting to see.

Goffin/Kenny - Nick's basically winning this two times out of three, the market's seeing three times out of four which looks to me to be a bit overstating the difference in quality, but I don't have the confidence in Callum's game to have a nibble at what's approaching 11/4, if I'm taking big underdogs I've got to have some faith in their ability to get matches won when they get into a position to do it and that just isn't here.

Roelofs/Burton - Pure flip to me. Absolutely pure flip. Burton's got the market edge, but the vig levels aren't giving me enough of an edge on Owen to go with it, needing probably 11/8 or longer. We're close, but no, again the exchanges might be where you need to go.

Krcmar/Edhouse - Into round three, everything about this one says it's close but that Boris has a small, 55/45 advantage, which looking at the market is baked into his 4/5 price already.

Lukeman/Wattimena - Another one that's close on paper, it's throwing up Lukeman as a similar edged favourite to Krcmar, and the lines are about the same again, if anything the market likes Martin a tad more, but certainly not enough where we can go with Jermaine.

O'Connor/Suljovic - Mensur's numbers are actually keeping this a touch closer than I thought, and it's giving us a third 55/45 in a row, albeit in favour of the Magpie, Mensur's 5/4 so it's another boring market looks right game.

Mansell/White - White's got the better game, it's a little bit more favoured than the last three but we're not even up to 60%, that's just how well Mickey is playing, but there's a few places that are giving White at evens, and the exchanges are showing 2.1 or better, 0.1u White evs is absolutely worth the punt here.

Rodriguez/Razma - Absolute handicapper's nightmare this one. Anything can happen. Madars is better, and with numbers up near 65% he's worth the stab, 0.1u Razma 4/5 on Hills, Rowby could turn it round and Madars could stink, but getting home three in five doesn't seem outrageous so we bet this.

Just getting under way now.

1114 - Looking like we're live in one of our first bets, Male's outdoing Dragt on the averages after a dodgy start, has got the break back, still needs another but he's live at least. Scutt/Plaisier's on throw and appears tight so Connor's going to need a good leg to break somewhere.

1119 - Male gets the break so just needs to hold from here, Geeraets and Haines are legs away from what I think would be upsets.

1121 - Haines gets the win, that looks like a really good performance. Harry Lane's also one away, but Dragt's broken straight back so we're in News of the World territory.

1126 - Harry Lane gets through with a competent enough display, being particularly strong where Gruellich was actually winning legs. Should be live against Huybrechts you would think. Geeraets nicks it but ought to be a dog to Smith-Neale.

1131 - Killington wins a stinker against Szaganski, going to need to up it next round but against Knops he's still going to be live. Plaisier/Scutt went all holds, good contest, loss for the bets but we'll take it, Taylor nicks a scrappy one against Western in the decider and didn't look great, while Male gets our first win on the board with what looked like a comedy doubling break in a decider against Dragt!

1135 - Seeing early prices of 2/1 Haines. Would probably need a bit more but if he plays like he did in round one, that wouldn't be awful. Brooks up 3-1 on Crabtree is a good start.

1139 - 4/6 on Adam Smith-Neale appears kind of tempting with Patrick not doing anything spectacular. Will see if it's priced any closer once more books go live, but will probably add this in the next few minutes.

1142 - Mitchell's got a break on Bennett, so all going OK there. Lane's not even priced at 7/4, I'd have thought we could have got a bit more but the numbers from round one don't lie.

1143 - Brooks safely home for the win, and it looks like Coleman's just got the critical break. Unless nobody could hold for the first four legs.

1145 - 0.1u Smith-Neale 4/6, not seeing anything better coming so will take it, seems easily better than a 60/40 game for him.

1149 - Lane's as short as 11/10 in some books lol. Also not seeing timely updating of stage boards on Dart Connect, stage 2's just finished game 2 and Scutt/Plaisier isn't up yet. Coleman's also in a world of trouble down 5-3.

1152 - Coleman does indeed go down to drop us back to 2-2 for the day. Tim played well in fairness. May need to go manual on the stage games once this batch of back room games goes final with multiple in leg 9 onwards.

1157 - Dart Connect appears dead, but X indicates we at least got the win in the Mitchell game.

1200 - Dart Connect back working. Really surprised to see Pilgrim lose but looks like Richardson had a blinder.

1203 - So on catchups, Richardson did indeed have the performance of the round so far with three twelve darters or better. Meulenkamp also looked really good on board two after checking, Mitchell was solid, Griffin also fought well to advance. Time to recheck bookies.

1207 - Seeing a wide variety of prices on Killington's next game.

1210 - Knops on Hills is stupidly long compared to other bookies. Got to feel it'll be palped so I won't recommend it, but 2/1 with the way Killington played in round one? Take the shot if you want but don't expect to be paid on it.

1216 - Bad few minutes for our bets - van Dongen misses match darts against Tricole and loses, while Klaasen missed a bunch of doubles and has gifted Puha a break. Looks as if Dart Connect is slowly catching up on stage matches with the Scutt game just being entered now.

1217 - Someone look at the Paul Krohne match and tell me where the hell that eleven darter came from in the decider?

1222 - Dennant looked very good in his win over de Graaf. I'm going to ride the Richardson train now, 0.1u Richardson 6/4 given how well he played and that Brown remains unconvincing, if he can beat Pilgrim he can make the evening session.

1225 - Puha goes through after Klaasen rectified things sadly. Hendo moves safely on, and Joe Croft held his nerve really well - got to be very tough to go from 4-0 up to 4-5 in that situation and still come through.

1230 - Probably going to add Graham Hall shortly. Taylor was very fortunate and I'm seeing 4/9 - will just give it a minute to see if anyone prices things a bit better. Whitehead has started disgustingly well, which is a worry.

1235 - 0.25u Hall 4/9, not seeing anything better straight away. Roes looks like he's throwing the game away dropping to 4-2 behind.

1241 - Solid turn around from Gates, now leading 5-4, just got to close it out now. May be tempted by a play on Lee Evans against Landman if and when I see prices.

1242 - Lendog gets the job done, but what on earth is happening to Bialecki, 4-1 down?

1245 - 0.25u Evans 7/4 on 365, others have this closer to a flip, will lock this in on sight.

1249 - Round one close to being finished up, Roes didn't have enough, doesn't look like either played great so a missed opportunity I feel. Beveridge through but not looking fantastic so may consider Mitchell in round two.

1252 - First line I see on Mitchell looks like evens, I am not sure that's enough. Will wait and see. The Master wins a decider, nice.

1255 - Nijman still winning, but going worryingly off the boil with the average plummeting, maybe they both missed a bunch of doubles in one leg but this isn't quite as trivial as it should be.

1259 - Nijman's safely home. Evans against Landman is a touch longer on Betfair so have cashed out the 7/4 and taken 9/5, suggest you do the same if you're on it.

1302 - Looks like DC's having another pause, so will update FRH ranking sheet with round one results while we wait.

1312 - Looks as if DC's caught up. Smith-Neale lost to the one break, looked a bit below par, Monk's also off to a bit of a rough start as well but plenty of time to turn it around.

1315 - 0.25u Nijman 11/10 on 365, they've really priced it odds against? Ladbrokes has it 4/9. Will scratch this from the record if it gets palped obviously.

1320 - Bit surprised to see Rupprecht go out, but that looks to have been the best we've seen from Nentjes for some time. Not seeing much else of interest in round two in terms of further punts, most lines are now up so it's waiting time for round three I guess. Extremely steady performance from Kuivenhoven as well to eliminate van Peer.

1323 - On Nentjes, I'm kind of tempted to fire at small odds against versus Meikle. Ordinarily I wouldn't touch it given the form of both, but if Geert's shown something, maybe it's worth the play? Good leads for both Croft and Knops right now, also 365 has moved the Nijman price to evens, so maybe this actually gets through, moving it by just one tick ought to be a good sign?

1326 - Monk loses, not a great look, just had too many legs where he did nothing on the scoring. We're down a touch but the remaining bets I feel decent about so time to recover.

1328 - Now Betfair have priced Nijman up at 10/11, which is nice.

1333 - Big comeback from George Killington, showing a bit more so maybe we consider him against King? I'd probably have a think about Kuivenhoven given his performance, but a best of 6/5 against Whitlock isn't really interesting.

1339 - Big win for Joe Croft, his next round game against Keane Barry should be a good one. Also checking the scores, Owen performed very well against Sedlacek, Doets is going to be tough but maybe there's enough there to have a nibble, we'll see.

1340 - Got three bets live now - Hall looks to be on throw with Taylor but will need a break, while the plays on Richardson and Evans are just going live. Joshua's just lost the first, looks like a missed double special or something.

1344 - Quick look at some round three lines, Owen and Perez both seem a bit too short, not liking their chances at the lines offered but not really wanting to go the other way on either of them.

1348 - Hall kind of not performing, Taylor looks a touch better and has just got a break, Graham was alright through four but is tailing off badly. Evans has a 3-0 lead though.

1353 - Hall gives us an L, was perfectly fine for three legs then turned into a pub player, but Richardson has a break at 4-2 with the throw and Evans is 5-0 up.

1358 - Big few minutes - Evans completed the whitewash of Landman, Richardson completed a 6-2 win over Keegan Brown, and Nijman's 3-1 up with the throw after losing the first leg so looking good in that one. Can start to look at round three new games soon, interesting that Labre is holding his own somewhat so maybe our assessment that Lennon was overvalued was correct?

1400 - Seems as if Brett Claydon has pulled the upset over Andy Baetens, but the game is nowhere to be seen on sportradar. Hopefully that causes no issues with Dart Connect.

1402 - Never mind, it's on DC already, all is fine.

1404 - Labre now 5-4 up, I hope this isn't a missed opportunity. Nijman and Zonneveld are exchanging breaks, Wessel is still on throw but getting to 5-3 instead of 4-4 with yet another break would be real nice if possible.

1407 - Lee Evans is longer than 2/1 on 365, and 5/4 on Ladbrokes. Do I take it? I'm not sure he's quite that close to Ricky though. Labre also gets the job done, that for me is probably the biggest shock of the day.

1414 - Still not seeing anything that looks overly exciting in round three. That Lee Evans line is probably the closest thing there is. Will give it time, there's still a lot of round two games to finish.

1418 - That is one heck of a turnaround by Graham Usher!

1420 - I see just sneaking through on what I assume to be board two that Gates got past Griffin. Jim Williams is probably going to be a bet as I imagine he'll be undervalued as usual.

1423 - Brett Claydon seems rather tempting. Soutar's better, and he's playing better this year, but I'm not sure he's that much better given Laddies are offering north of 5/2. Ladbrokes quick pricing of Gates indicates that the value on Jim probably isn't going to be there though.

1425 - Yeah, small flier, 0.1u Claydon 27/10 with Ladbrokes.

1434 - Looking like it's another brief pause for DC. 365 are offering a price on Williams that is a bit closer, but still nothing doing.

1442 - Still nothing doing on the DC end. Half tempted by Mario against Hempel, but that second round game isn't confidence building.

1446 - So it seems as if DC is recognising that the games are finished, but not actually reporting any of the scoring, given it's dropped all the live games in some sort of order that's consistent with that theory. It's a waiting game right now.

1451 - Looks like we've just had a big data dump. Nobody in the games that I've caught up on really inspired, so will just wait for the couple of stage games to finish, and then probably have one last look at round three.

1502 - Pretty slow start for White, coupled with a rapid one from Mansell, Ian's on the board now but may already have too much to do. Wasn't expecting Suljovic to be 4-0 up. Dart Connect blaming the wifi - surely after last year this should have been sorted, and why the hell are they using wifi in the first place?

1504 - Daniel Klose is 6/4 on Ladbrokes against Plaisier. Are we even sure he should be an underdog in that one? Suljovic completes the whitewash, and in another good sign for the card holding veterans, van der Voort also moves through.

1515 - Better on 365, 0.1u Klose 13/8. White is making a fight of it!

1518 - And then White has a terrible scoring leg as Mansell leaves a two darter after twelve, and duly cleans up. Oh well.

1534 - Just working through the round three games now. Menzies seems like he should be close to a play, but with Thibault's game only just closing up round two, it'll take a bit for more than one line to filter through. Claydon's holding his own at 3-3 with Soutar.

1539 - Claydon gets the key break and is now one away, as Joshua Richardson nicks a nailbiting decider against Jamie Hughes, nice work.

1544 - Claydon finishes the job, and it looks as if Razma is in a strong position against Rowby, which unless we see a slightly better line on Menzies will probably do for us in terms of bets.

1550 - Seems as if Tricole had a very quick turnaround and is already in play, so with it looking like Razma's about to blow a big lead, we're just down to the Klose/Plaisier game then we're done, guaranteed to be up for the session.

1613 - Klose's got himself into a decent position, up 4-2 with the darts. Probably should have just fired on Menzies as he won as well, but didn't have a great deal of time to react.

1619 - Pretty cool spot where we've got three German players on three adjacent boards all 5-3 up. Can they all convert?

1626 - And they do! Klose finishes up our book nicely in the green, but Tim Wolters dumping out Joyce is the big one.

UK Open rounds 1-3 thoughts

OK, going in order of which mini section has the highest FRH ranked player and working down. Bets will follow in another post

(32) Ricardo Pietreczko v (123) Graham Hall or (182) Paul Krohne/(UR) Michael Taylor

Ought to be a moderately easy one to call. Krohne's made a pretty steady start to life on tour and is scoring pretty well, know little about Taylor, the only one I can see on dartsorakel is not overly impressive so I can't see the Rileys qualifier doing much. Hall ought to be a pretty solid second round opponent and I can't see too much between the two assuming Paul moves through, then they're both unlucky to draw Pietreczko who's easily in the top ten of who you wouldn't want to draw at this stage and I can't see Ricardo being pressed massively.

(33) Gian van Veen v (133) Dom Taylor/(UR) Brandon Western or (144) John Henderson/(163) Kevin Burness

Dom's been pretty competent on most circuits for some time now and should easily have enough to handle Western, who's come through Rileys and is playing the Challenge Tour but isn't averaging the sorts of numbers that should trouble Taylor here. Hendo against Burness should be fun, but John's the much better player right now, scoring more over the last year significantly and while he won the world seniors, I've got to assume Kevin tried to qualify and didn't make it. Hendo/Taylor should be fairly competitive, maybe Dom is slightly better statistically but experience and form should make it pretty even. Unfortunately they've drawn probably the one player you don't want to get, and while they've both got enough that they're not drawing dead, Gian ought to be fine here.

(34) Ryan Joyce v (164) Sebastian Bialecki/(UR) Jenson Walker or (UR) Ashley Coleman/(UR) Tim Wolters

Bialecki's been here a few times before, while Walker we've seen a bit on the secondary tours, making the odd run and 2024 CT numbers aren't awful, but Sebastian seems better. Coleman's a bit better again and is probably better known for Youtube things (if I'm thinking of the right guy), and might be a bit of a popular pick against Wolters, who got through Q-School but we've not seen him play yet and the numbers there probably aren't much better, if at all, than Ashley is. I would take Bialecki to make round three, but Joyce seems like he should be far too dangerous and move through to the evening session.

(35) Luke Woodhouse v (76) Dylan Slevin or (95) Arron Monk

Moderately quiet section - Slevin had a good start to 2023 but has quietened down since then to the point where Monk is actually marginally better statistically and trending in the right direction, ought to be tight but maybe Arron has a slight edge, especially if he's on as he does seem a bit streaky. Woodhouse has had a bit of a quiet start to 2024 and isn't so far ahead that round three would be a foregone conclusion, but Luke's still favoured.

(37) Callan Rydz v (166) Lukas Wenig/(UR) Tom Lonsdale or (245) Benjamin Drue Reus/(UR) Bradly Roes

Wenig has been one we've been watching for a few years now and is finally onto the tour, and he'll play Rileys qualifier Lonsdale, who's averaging mid 80's in the Challenge Tour this year and did have some alright performances on the Dev Tour about 4-5 years ago, but Lukas should be fine. Reus may take a bit of time to get up to full speed on the Pro Tour, but has flashed good performances now and again, while Roes is also a name we've seen for a while on the younger circuits, thinking Benjamin should nick it, but Lukas will move through to play Rydz - there it's a case of what Callan shows up as he does run very hot and cold - an average or even better performance should see Rydz through fine, which seems more likely than not given a more than steady start to 2024, but if he has a bit of a stinker the others have enough to cause the upset.

(38) Mike de Decker v (48) Niels Zonneveld or (140) Wessel Nijman/(UR) David Sumner

Sumner won through Rileys and has some Challenge Tour experience from last year but not this year, that's about all we have so I can't think that someone who didn't try Q-School should stand much of a chance against someone with the quality of Nijman. Zonneveld is a real interesting matchup in round two, Wessel to me looks to have the better stuff but Niels is more than capable of picking up wins if he is given chances which I guess is entirely possible. Mike de Decker is going to be a tough opponent for either, I think if it is Nijman it's going to be very close, but if it was Zonneveld then this feels like a 60/40 sort of game in the Belgian's favour? Not a gimmie for Mike at all.

(39) Madars Razma v (60) Rowby John Rodriguez

Nice easy section of players getting third round byes, both are really up and down, Razma feels in a bit of a falsely high ranking, but not as much as Rowby is who had a stinker of a 2023 and seems like he should be the underdog - albeit this is one where if either is on their best game they'll win. Or if they're on a bad day they'll lose. If both are one way or another, we'll either get something special or a dumpster fire. Who knows.

(40) Jim Williams v (142) Leonard Gates/(220) Conan Whitehead or (208) Rhys Griffin/(UR) Harry Gregory

Lendog is probably the big name to have come through the Rileys qualifiers (although not making himself too many friends in the process), and comes up against Whitehead, who we've known for some time but hasn't been massively impressive statistically in the last year or so despite doing enough to get here through last year's Challenge Tour, and should be an underdog in round one. Griffin has been a name we've known for a bit but hasn't had a brilliant start to being on tour, while Gregory looks a bit off Rhys' standard, having a recent Dev Tour quarter and not really getting as deep as he'd like and the numbers are merely so-so. Looks like a Gates/Griffin round two which Leonard ought to have the edge in, but any of these should be well behind Jim, whose numbers don't lie and look to be clearly superior to anyone he might face in the third round.

(41) Martin Lukeman v (44) Jermaine Wattimena

Another all round three bye game and one between two players evenly matched in FRH rankings, both players seem fairly similar in terms of standards, maybe Lukeman's got the overall slightly better numbers but it feels as if Jermaine might be trending in the right direction a bit more, so this feels razor tight and could be a case of who wins the bull.

(42) Steve Beaton v (85) Rusty Jake Rodriguez/(178) Ron Meulenkamp or (128) Josh Payne

First round is an interesting one, Rusty's dropped off the tour now and was reliant on the DT rankings to get back here, but maybe that's for the best and we get something like we saw from Schindler (and maybe seeing from Jansen this year) if him getting there in the first place was a bit too early, and he gets Meulenkamp, a lot more experienced getting in through the other secondary tour and the CT numbers this year aren't bad at all. Seems fine, might be that Ron's experience pays off albeit Rusty has played a lot of darts over the last 2-3 years. Payne's numbers since back on tour aren't anything special and look a bit streaky, we know he can look really good when on his game but it's been pretty rare and I'm not sure he's even a favourite against ever second round opponent as of right now. Beaton can't hate this draw, but it could certainly be a lot easier and while Steve's better than these three, even still as his career is likely winding down, it is not by a great deal and it wouldn't surprise me if anyone from this section wins through.

(43) Matt Campbell v (111) Nick Kenny or (154) Callum Goffin

Interesting Welsh derby to start here, Kenny's been on and off the tour and is pretty steady, and should comfortably have enough to handle Goffin, who was a bit of a surprise card winner just over a year ago and hasn't really shown anything at any point to make us think it was anything other than a fluke. Campbell's a stronger player than Kenny, but hasn't had the most fantastic of twelve month periods and certainly isn't a lock with the occasional pretty poor showings we've seen now and again.

(45) Ricky Evans v (66) Lee Evans or (96) Chris Landman/(UR) Christopher Toonders

Toonders is here through the Dev Tour, but the numbers aren't anything to shout about and in the first CT weekend the averages were down in the 70's which should be pretty easy for someone with the steady nature that Landman has shown over the last 12-18 months. Evans is slightly better, but that second round game is very much one that could go either way. Ricky has had a bit of a resurgence in 2023, and looks to have a fair bit of a statistical edge, such that it feels like whoever he plays he should get through, at a guess, at least 60% of the time, if not two in three, so a live game but one where Rapid ought to feel he is favoured.

(46) Willie O'Connor v (67) Mensur Suljovic

Another all third round bye game. Willie's done alright the last twelve months, although it does feel like it has been a quiet year, which is the same for Suljovic, with 2023 being such a dry spell he missed the worlds and is in some danger of losing his card if he doesn't pick things up this year. The numbers from Mensur aren't terrible or massively behind his opponent here but O'Connor will go into this one as the favourite.

(47) Simon Whitlock v (62) Berry van Peer or (80) Maik Kuivenhoven

Whitlock's still hanging around the top 64, but seems as far away from the top 32 as he's ever been and the numbers don't give confidence that he'll ever get back there, and these look like potential tough opponents whoever it is. van Peer had a great 2023 and is comfortably outperforming Whitlock, while Kuivenhoven would probably only be a small underdog against Simon, so the sensible pick would be for the former Dutch Open champion to move through to round four.

(49) Cameron Menzies v (74) Jules van Dongen/(93) Thibault Tricole or (103) Bradley Brooks/(121) Cameron Crabtree

Menzies is a quality operator and isn't in my list of next new winners on tour for new reason, and ought to be a favourite to get to the last 64, but any of these potential opponents are capable of causing an upset. van Dongen had a very strong second half of 2023, and would probably be the pick to get through this minefield and face Menzies after he reclaimed his card a couple of months ago, but Tricole, while not quite at the same level statistically, is a pretty strong match player and has shown abilities to get the most out of what he has. Brooks dropped off tour for this year and has had a bit of a slow start to 2024 with mediocre results on secondary circuits and low 80's averages on the Challenge Tour, which Crabtree was comfortably outperforming despite Bradley having higher twelve month scoring, so this may be close and down to form.

(50) Florian Hempel v (59) Mario Vandenbogaerde or (225) Jitse van der Wal/(UR) Johnny Haines

van der Wal is another player who got himself onto the tour this season after being in the fringes for some time, and has had a pretty slow start all things considered, so Haines, a steady veteran who has come through Rileys qualifiers before, should have somewhat of a chance here with the experience he has from being a former card holder for some time. Vandenbogaerde actually finished below Jitse at Q-School, but his body of work and quality in the last twelve months which saw him make the worlds, ought to be too strong for whoever comes through round one. Hempel also needed the worlds to maintain his tour card status and did, and his numbers look to be some distance behind Mario's, so I've got to favour the Belgian to move through, particularly with his experience of good results in these sorts of big field events.

(51) Richard Veenstra v (82) Stephen Burton or (145) Owen Roelofs

We've got two players in their second year of a tour card going up against each other, so plenty of data here - it feels as if Roelofs has been a bit more disappointing and the FRH ranking reflects that, but statistically speaking there's really not much to separate the two players, with Burton actually being a tenth of a point behind in twelve month scoring, so this should be a competitive matchup to see who will face Richard, who got on the tour at the same time but has done a lot more with his card, is a clearly better player than either and should comfortably advance whoever he draws.

(52) Alan Soutar v (146) Andy Baetens or (196) Brett Claydon/(285) Thomas Lovely

Claydon has been a known player for over a decade and has been on and off the tour, back on now and the limited data we've got indicates he's had a decent start, which is promising but Lovely, who's never had a card but been a familiar name on secondary tours for almost as long as Claydon, had a very solid Challenge Tour weekend which could be a platform for a minimum of a return here next year, so this appears to be a competitive one. Baetens just sneaked through to round two automatically, and should have no problems defeating whoever comes through, and looks to have a very good chance of progressing a fair bit further, such is the quality of play of the WDF champion. Soutar's figures are a fair bit lower than Baetens' over the last twelve months, but there have been some minor promising signs of late so this might be a little bit closer than it appears on paper.

(53) Michael Mansell v (64) Ian White

A simple all round three game to look at, and it's between players who had a questionable 2022 but a resurgence in 2023. Both players are back up to near where they have been in the past, which gives an advantage to White, given he had a higher level of play and ought to come into this game as a moderate favourite, but with Mickey looking alright this isn't automatic in the slightest.

(54) Keane Barry v (143) James Hurrell or (199) William Borland/(UR) Joe Croft

Croft's an interesting one, related to that Olly, and got through Rileys apparently defeating Leonard Gates the day before Gates won one himself, and had pretty much a whole year on the Challenge Tour last year without ever really getting on my radar. A high 80's average this first weekend however with a fair few high points isn't terrible, and it should ask Borland some questions, the nine dart hero now back with a tour card but not really scoring particularly strongly, so the first round game ought to be an under the radar close one. Hurrell is also on tour now and we've got solid data on him, and he looks a bit better than either first round player, but not by an enormous amount, but still enough to be a favourite. Barry's about the same amount better once more, and comes into this in great form with a Development Tour double, so a combination of good form and superior statistics makes things look good for Keane in this one. 

(55) Steve Lennon or (195) Jacques Labre v (73) Nathan Rafferty/(169) Danny Lauby or (197) Martijn Dragt/(UR) Jack Male

First one where we've got nobody straight through to round three. Lennon's the highest ranked player in FRH but needed to regain his card and did so in style, we've gone on about how good he is plenty on this blog and a first opponent of Labre, who fortunately got a bye but has really disappointed since getting his card, is probably about as good a draw he could have got at this stage. His opponent's going to be interesting - Rafferty's probably the name player, and is steady enough and vastly experienced given he is still Development Tour eligible, but Lauby's an extremely well matched opponent and this is going to be extremely hard to call. The winner of that one should be the favourite to get through to (probably) Lennon - Dragt was a little bit of a surprising card winner, and while he's not been bad he's had a bit of a slow start, while Male is a relatively young player who's come through Rileys, who was OK but not spectacular in the first weekend of the Dev Tour (oddly, he played and beat Rafferty in one event), but he is a previous finalist at that level so should keep Dragt honest, although I'd have to guess that Martin is the stronger player right now. Got to fancy Steve to get through this.

(56) Kevin Doets v (77) Karel Sedlacek or (87) Robert Owen

Fair bit of a smaller section now. Doets held his card and is continuing to improve, and his numbers are more than steady if not spectacular, and while it feels like Sedlacek took a step back in 2023, Karel's numbers aren't too dissimilar to Kevin's - so that could be a good one if and only if he gets through Owen, Robert having course and distance for deep runs here, but his statistics are a clear couple of points behind the Czech's, so it'd have to be an odds against double for the Welshman to get to the last 64 here.

(57) Radek Szaganski/(90) George Killington or (149) Robbie Knops v (71) Mervyn King

Little bit of an odd one in that the highest ranked player is the one starting in the first round, but that's the nature of the tour card system, Radek being the player in question. Killington's been on and off the tour and has shown quality in flashes more than once, albeit flanked by longer spells where he's not been doing much at all. He's still young though so plenty of time to straighten the game out. Knops would then follow in round two, his tour card experience not going great albeit I believe he has had injury issues, he's almost certainly dropping his card back at the end of this year and appears to be a weaker player than whoever he'd play in round two. Also maybe dropping his card is King, although that would be not the end of the world as he would be a pretty strong player on the seniors circuit you feel - not that he's done on the main circuit yet, he's still playing strong enough that he ought to be at a comparable level to where Szaganski is.

(58) Jamie Hughes v (75) Keegan Brown or (135) Darryl Pilgrim/(224) Joshua Richardson

Pilgrim remains one of the strongest players without a tour card and had a very strong start to the year on the Challenge Tour, and ought to be way, way too strong for Richardson, who may not even be the best player in his family and this is the rare spot where the non-card holder is an easy pick. Brown is a bit stronger and has had the occasional purple patch in the last couple of years, but numbers in the last year being below 87 is not a great sign and Pilgrim ought to be a significant favourite again. Hughes has a peak game better than anyone here, but overall he continues not to show it other than in very limited spots, if he finds his game then anything could happen, but I find it hard to say that Darryl isn't the strongest player of this group at this point in time.

(61) Ritchie Edhouse v (63) Boris Krcmar

The last straight round three game we'll look at, and it's between two players very close in the rankings. Hard to pick a winner - Edhouse might have done slightly more on TV, but Krcmar has done a bit more statistically, so maybe the Croat has a marginal edge.

(65) Connor Scutt/(112) Wesley Plaisier or (147) Haupai Puha/(152) Jelle Klaasen v (88) Daniel Klose or (151) Adam Warner

We now get to the stage where we have four tour card holders and the highest placed player is the Rileys' qualifier. Scutt was a bit unlucky to lose the card, but topped the Challenge Tour averages and is probably one that we'll be looking at getting back on tour twelve months from now, if he doesn't auto win a card from the Challenge Tour. Here, he'll face Plaisier, who's also in the top ten on the Challenge Tour and this was my pick of the best (known) game for the first session. On the other half, we've got two players straight onto the tour this year, Puha for the first time and Klaasen back, this feels like it should be a Klaasen win with Puha maybe not quite having the scoring to hang with the former Lakeside champion. Then we've got two second year card holders - Warner was an interesting name to get on tour but he's not done an enormous amount with it, while Klose has shown some good performances and is probably the pick of that entire four player section - although I tend to think that whoever comes through it will be the underdog in the third round.

(68) Adam Gawlas v (167) Robert Grundy/(200) Michele Turetta or (209) Jarred Cole

Pretty simple to analyse this one. Grundy and Turetta are both newly on the tour, Robert's had a bit of a slower start but has a larger amount of data than what we've got on the Italian, and he looks the better player. Cole's the next man up who got here through the Dev Tour and got a bye, and I'm not sure that his level of play, while continually getting better, is quite at the level of the card holders, although it's arguable he probably has more experience than either. Awaiting in round three is Gawlas, who had a great run here last year but he is still very up and down. Consistency will come with time, but he could definitely use being more up than down, as his lower level games aren't going to be enough to convert his ranking into a clear edge in this one.

(69) Vincent van der Voort v (106) Jeffrey Sparidaans or (122) Christian Perez

Perez has finally got a visa and is looking not too bad on the Pro Tour, having a nice semi final run very recently. Jeffrey got his tour card at the same time, and has not been horrific but the numbers haven't really been there and Christian ought to be a marginal favourite. Hard to say where van der Voort is at, the raw numbers aren't too dissimilar to what Perez is at, albeit slightly better and slightly more consistent - but with 2023 being a bit of a disaster results wise, is the form there or is he another that we might be saying goodbye to at the tour card level next year after a long spell with having one?

(72) Ryan Meikle v (99) Geert Nentjes or (109) Pascal Rupprecht

We've got two players straight into round two here - Nentjes is just a bit too old for the Development Tour now, and it feels as if 2023 was a bit of a stalling year, with him missing the worlds and overall numbers not being where they have been in the past. Rupprecht was a bit of a surprise card winner at the start of 2023, but while it seems as if he has been a touch on the quiet side, the numbers over the past year are actually superior to those of Geert and maybe he comes in as favourite. If Ryan was playing his best game, he should smoke either of these, but 2023 was a fair bit of a bad year and statistically he's right off it, this could be one where he uses what isn't the worst draw to get himself out of a funk, or it's one where poor form escalates. Hard to say really.

(79) Christian Kist/(213) Patrick Geeraets or (114) Adam Smith-Neale v (83) Jeffrey de Zwaan or (110) Jurjen van der Velde

We're not getting down to the messy stages here with the last few groups. Kist was very, very good for much of 2023, but then injury hampered him and the first weekend of the Challenge Tour puts him somewhere in the middle - not being awful, but not being near where he was when he was at his best. Geeraets was one of the more random names to come through this year's Q-School, we're still finding out what he's about, but the figures don't seem horrible to say the least so maybe he has his chances. Smith-Neale is probably a better player than Patrick, and while he's not at Kist's level if Kist was playing at his peak, with what we might actually see from Christian, Adam may be favoured and does look to be the best form we've seen out of him, maybe since he got his World Masters win. Maybe ever. On the other half we've got two Dutch players who are in the second year of cards looking to push to retain them - Jeffrey's the more well known name and is in the running, and we all know what he can do at his peak and is not out of the equation of getting in that critical top 64, but Jurjen isn't an enormous amount behind him on the rankings, the Dev Tour first weekend stats indicate he's still pretty solid for his age, but in this one he looks a fair bit behind the level of de Zwaan and the former Matchplay semi finalist should have enough and is probably a small favourite to come out of this cluster overall.

(84) Jeffrey de Graaf/(201) Matthew Dennant or (100) Danny van Trijp v (171) Scott Mitchell/(179) Leighton Bennett or (230) Darren Beveridge/(UR) Jason Hogg

We now get into even more of a messy situation. de Graaf is the highest ranked player, mainly due to his worlds run, and while he's definitely had a slow start being back on tour, looks competent enough and has been around long enough to know what he's doing at this level. Dennant is also finally on the tour, and the numbers he's put up so far are not bad at all - we know he's been around and near to getting there a few times, he's certainly not a random and may actually have a small advantage. van Trijp plays the winner, and I'm thinking Danny is not as strong a player as either of his possible opponents so it's a good chance for either of the newer card holders to get deep in this one. On the other side, it's even more confusing. Mitchell against Bennett is a fascinating matchup of young against old with Leighton finally getting onto the tour and putting up some alright early numbers, while Mitchell qualifies from his Challenge Tour ranking in 2023, and has more data and at a comparable standard, so this should be interesting. Ice Cold also won his way onto the tour this January, and his numbers aren't too dissimilar to those of Bennett, while Hogg is a former world championship player who's been here before but who we've not seen for a fair bit, so while we know he's going to be competent, Darren should be favoured, but in terms of who actually makes the evening? Who knows, it's wide open.

(97) Owen Bates/(102) Andy Boulton or (126) Graham Usher v (127) Ronny Huybrechts or (UR) Harry Lane/(UR) Dominik Gruellich

Finally we have the Master up against Andy Boulton - we've got great data on both, and Boulton might be the slightly better player over the past year, although Bates probably has the better trajectory at this point in time so this could be extremely tight. Usher again has comparable statistics to either player and that second round game could also be extremely close. On the other side, Harry Lane is our final Rileys qualifier, back for another year having won the same qualifier, but numbers on the Challenge Tour are not convincing and Gruellich, who's here from the Development Tour but isn't a player that has really caught the attention like most of the others who got here by that route, might have a little bit too much for Lane, with better Challenge Tour figures at least. Ronny might be that little bit better again, and it may be a spot where experience overcomes youth, but I'm not sure any of those three are as good as any of the other three, so whoever comes through Usher's first game would be my pick to get into the pot with the big guns.

That's your lot, I'll have bets at the start of the live post that I'll hopefully put up this evening, then edit the live post throughout the afternoon session tomorrow with thoughts and further punts as matchups become known. It's the best darting day of the year and I can't wait for it.

Monday 26 February 2024

UK Open buildup starting

Well, I did say "probably" in terms of whether I'd come back, but the amount of time I've had to look at all things darts of late has been relatively minimal, so I didn't get back immediately. I could have done a round up post rounding up everything, but it really wouldn't tell us a massive amount as it would look something like:

- Nobody was expecting Littler to be Shepherd 2.0, but he's not Shepherd 2.0
- Searle is playing really well
- Ando is still elite
- Bottenberg may have been a fluke
- Jansen dropping off the tour might be the best thing to happen to him
- Barry doing a good job reminding us that he still exists
- Pilgrim is still one of the best handful of players without a card
- Still too many WDF events with no real data
- While I don't really care about the world seniors, Hendo winning it is cool

So it's UK Open week. I will not be doing power rankings as I did last year, I will be looking at each "pod" of players in rounds 1-3 and getting bets up that I can get up by Thursday, and will be doing the live in play thoughts/bet adding on the Friday. Round 4 post will follow, round 5 post will follow Saturday morning, if not late Friday evening, there won't be a round 6 post as I'll be at football, then quarters will follow Saturday night or Sunday morning, if there's any value at all at that stage.

Sunday 4 February 2024

Open letter to PDC/PDPA

Just a collection of thoughts/suggestions that would make the global PDC tournament system be fairer and better:

1) Increase the automatic spots from stage 1 to stage 2 at Q-School from 8 to 16

This seems like a no brainer - anyone that loses out at the last 16 stage of any day of stage 1 will be guaranteed enough points to make it through to stage 2, so why schedule an additional eight matches on day 2 and sixteen matches on day 3 for no reason? Just move them through to stage 2 and be done with it.

2) Have Q-School stage 1 act as a top up list for stage 2

This is something I've suggested before (or at least I think I have), and certainly one that other keyboard warriors have thought to be a sensible idea. You already know you are guaranteed to have byes on days 2, 3 and 4 as you are taking the tour card winners out of the equation, so why not do exactly what they do with the Challenge Tour order of merit to top up Players Championship events with Q-School? Anyone who is serious about winning a card will have already budgeted to extend a potential trip should they have qualified for stage 2, this is of course coupled with the likes of players coming in from far overseas who won't have planned for an extension, they will likely have booked for the whole week outright at the start, along with those who live close to the venues in question anyway. Get a full 128 on each day. This also helps to limit the sorts of situations we have seen more than once on the final day where players have missed out on a tour card when they would have won one if they didn't enter - at least with winning in the round of 128 being worth a point (as the round is full), you don't get the asinine situation where you can actually win a game and still potentially be in a worse position than you were. That's something that could also be addressed somehow, but unless you went with Swiss for stage 2 I don't know how you solve the situation in a sensible manner (please nobody suggest using tournament average that's even worse).

3) Have secondary tours operate a "only best n tournaments count towards rankings" rule

This is exactly the same as what the BDO/WDF used (use? WDF criteria change so often it's hard to keep up) to order their rankings. We've seen a few situations where there have been schedule clashes between secondary tours and larger events, and people have had to pick and choose - this year the first Asian Tour weekend was during Q-School, we've seen Euro Tours clash with Development Tours last year (as well as this year with the Leverkusen event), this year we may see some Nordic players get into that World Series from off the tour and miss a Challenge Tour weekend, as well as increasing numbers of opportunities outside the PDC system making scheduling for players trickier. Now I don't think this would make a massive difference to the rankings at all given how hugely top heavy the prize money is (probably makes most difference to something like the qualification for the World Youth), and someone who's going to every event on a secondary tour is naturally going to have more bullets to fire than someone who doesn't, but this might allow people to take opportunities at higher levels knowing they can still effectively max out their potential on a year long tour (albeit the big carrot of getting onto a Euro Tour is now effectively gone).

4) Have the first Challenge Tour weekend be the one with four events

The first weekend is usually the one which has by far the most entrants - not only is it on the back of Q-School, so you may have a lot more players in the area where the events are held, but it is naturally the one weekend most players will enter on account that binking early gives the most calendar in front of you to get Pro Tour call ups. As such, what I'd suggest is to continue to hold it over a three day spell, be it Fri/Sat/Sun or Sat/Sun/Mon, then have the weekday being one event, and the Saturday/Sunday being three - each having one stand alone event, then starting the fourth event not already mentioned on the Saturday, play it down to completing something like the last 128/last 64, and then playing it to a finish on the Sunday, pausing the tournament in the same way that the Dutch Open's done today or as you see in lots of WDF events where they will hold stage finals on the Sunday. This ought to alleviate the issue with playing an absolute ton of darts on a single day, both from a playing and an administrative standpoint.

5) Revert the European Tour rules to the 2023 state

Can't see this happening ever given the PDC have taken this protectionist/commercial decision, but given the near universal backlash at it from more or less everyone outside of Peter Wright, maybe they can just admit they're wrong on this one?

6) Loosen the exclusivity criteria on players about to lose their tour card

This is something that cropped up on Edgar's channel - I do not see what commercial advantage the PDC has in forcing players who are at the end of a bad two year period and are going to drop off the tour to only play in PDC events. Looking at the calendar this year, it is roughly two thirds of the Euro Tours that are after the Matchplay (which are even less relevant for the players in question than they were before), and about half the Pro Tour events. Last year it was even more Euro Tours before the Matchplay. So what I would suggest is that, straight after the Matchplay, players not in the first year of a two year card who are:

a) at least £20,000 behind the provisional tour card race cut off line
b) not provisionally qualified for either the World Championship or Players Championship Finals and are at least £5,000 away from doing so

They are open to play non-PDC events from that point forward. I use those two criteria for a reason - the second one is obvious in that it ensures that, barring a miracle bink of a Pro Tour, or winning the PDPA qualifier, they're not going to be appearing on a TV event and as such hold little commercial value for the PDC. The first one is to really lock down on those who are going to lose a card - by setting the difference at £20k, it ensures that (barring a worlds prize money increase), they could get through the PDPA qualifier for the worlds but would need to beat a seed in order to get anywhere near close enough to retaining their card. This at least gives players options - they may well go to Q-School and get their card straight back, but if they don't, it's given them a 4-5 month window where they can start accumulating WDF ranking points, maybe hit the Lakeside quali, start back earning through the WSDT, Modus etc, rather than just being in a limbo period where they're just seeing out the clock with nothing to really do apart from praying to hit at the PDPA qualifier.

7) Give everybody who wins a card at Q-School the option of a one year card and retaining 2023 prize money on their rankings

This isn't one that I expect to see used that often with the European Tour changes, but I don't really see the benefit of having everybody reset completely to zero - particularly in the event of someone having a good second year of a card, but a stinker of a first one couldn't be overcome. Take Radek Szaganski - as of the start of December, he was provisionally in the Matchplay, now he is on zero. Why shouldn't he have the option of, upon getting his card back, having his 2023 money count - but on the proviso he works in the exact same way as the top 64, in that you do not have a second year to fall back on if you don't go on to make the top 64. Now some might say "but then it's not a level playing field for everyone it's not fair" - but if we enacted it for (again, say) Szaganski now, then by the critical timing point for everyone that won a card last year (i.e. after the 25/26 worlds), all the 2023 money is gone from the ranking anyway - the only advantage is if he was to hold on to major qualification spots. Plus, if the player gambles and loses and doesn't get into the top 64, that is one less player they will need to finish ahead of in order to retain their card. Sure, you might also see whoever gets into the last Matchplay spot as it is now say "but him retaining his ranking money means I don't get to go to Blackpool it's not fair", but if you're really trying to say you are more worthy of a spot than someone who earned more than you did on the Pro Tour in the last twelve months, that's not the strongest argument in the world, is it?

Will probably come back with some thoughts about what's gone on with everything Dutch Open/Challenge Tour etc this week