Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Players Championship 1/2

Been busy continuing to import the UK Open qualifiers data into my database which is now two thirds done, fortunately the Players Championship events will take half the time, so it's not adding too much to a backlog.

Michael van Gerwen was the winner of both events, never really being troubled apart from needing a deciding leg against Ryan Searle and Luke Woodhouse on the Sunday (the latter missing match darts apparently), outside of him, it was a good weekend for Corey Cadby who's already looking good for all major events, James Wade had a return to form on the Saturday to reach the final, while relatively unknown Ryan Joyce had a storming weekend to reach a semi final and a quarter final, kicking off his tour card with a bang (although why he didn't play the second weekend of UK Open qualifiers is a bit of a mystery). Lower down the ranks, Simon Stevenson hit some of the form we've not seen for about fifteen months, while Danny Noppert continued a consistent start to the season with two board wins.

In terms of disappointing weekends, Peter Wright only grabbing £500 is a weird one, Joe Cullen whiffed twice in losing deciding legs to Chris Dobey and Jarred Cole, and perhaps surprisingly Justin Pipe did the same, after a good run in the UK Open qualis he lost out to James Richardson (fair enough) and Stephen Burton (a bit odd perhaps).

Not much else to add at present, I'm pouring all the time into getting the UK Open data ready before the preview for that one, so here's the updated FRH rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Rob Cross
3 Peter Wright
4 Phil Taylor
5 Daryl Gurney
6 Gary Anderson
7 Mensur Suljovic
8 Simon Whitlock
9 Michael Smith
10 Dave Chisnall
11 Raymond van Barneveld
12 Gerwyn Price
13 Alan Norris
14 Ian White (UP 1)
15 Darren Webster (DOWN 1)
16 James Wade
17 Kim Huybrechts
18 Benito van de Pas
19 Jelle Klaasen
20 Joe Cullen

Lower down, Cadby's climbed ten places this weekend to be on the brink of the top 60, Noppert is less than two grand away from the top 100, while Joyce debuts within the top 150.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

UK Open qualifiers roundup

We now know our field, barring the last few Rileys qualifiers, and we saw two debut winners at PDC senior level over the pro qualifiers - Cadby you'd expect sooner or later, but Ratajski binking one was more of a surprise, while we know he's able to mix it, to be able to do so on the PDC stage consistently enough to get through all the way is another matter that I didn't think he had in him at this stage of his career. Credit to the guy, 17 grand in the Pro Tour bank (including mincashes for two European Tour events that he's apparently qualified for) will take him a long way to making the worlds again this year, and possibly some other major events - including claiming the tour card he so nearly got last season.

Some surprising misses on the pro level that didn't qualify - Suljovic didn't play, which seems an odd choice, he could have entered events 4-6 and would only have needed to win his first two matches in event 4 and then withdrawn in order to qualify, but it's his choice and if it keeps him fresher for later in the year then that's fair enough, he doesn't know quite how much the Premier League might take out of him. From those that did attempt to qualify, I was most surprised by Dekker missing out, he looked in hot form late last year but couldn't get close, Lennon, old Huybrechts and Green are also surprising misses.

I've been able to hack out a list of the dartconnect links from the source to avoid having to use quite so much of their interface, but sadly they don't seem to have any sort of API to grab the information in an easy to parse manner (despite an email to them to see what they could do, which isn't much at this stage), as such it's a slow process, I've got half of one event done, and with more events starting this weekend it's going to be a big backlog. Being away for a chunk of the off weekend before the UK Open doesn't help matters either really.

New FRH rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Rob Cross
3 Peter Wright
4 Phil Taylor
5 Daryl Gurney
6 Gary Anderson
7 Mensur Suljovic
8 Simon Whitlock
9 Michael Smith
10 Dave Chisnall
11 Raymond van Barneveld
12 Gerwyn Price
13 Alan Norris
14 Darren Webster
15 Ian White
16 James Wade
17 Kim Huybrechts
18 Benito van de Pas
19 Jelle Klaasen
20 Joe Cullen

Ratajski rises to #47 with his win, while Cadby is just one place outside the top 70 already. Elsewhere lower down, Steve West's good weekend sees him claim a top 30 spot, Jeffrey de Zwaan's final sees him crack the top 60, while Dave Pallett's resurgence sees him in the top 80.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Second Division Darts results page

Will use this post as a holding page for results that affect the Second Division Darts table and edit it throughout the year:

UK Open Q1 - no games
UK Open Q2 - Darren Webster 6-5 Alan Norris, Darren Webster 6-4 Ian White
UK Open Q3 - no games
UK Open Q4 - no games
UK Open Q5 - no games
UK Open Q6 - no games
PC 1 - Adrian Lewis 6-4 Jamie Lewis
PC 2 - no games

Current table:

Darren Webster 9.58
Adrian Lewis 9.4
Everyone else 9
Alan Norris 8.82
Ian White, Jamie Lewis 8.6

UK Open qualifiers weekend 1

This year I don't think I'll do what I did last year and give explicit props for best/worst performances on a given weekend, I'll just look through the results and say what did and didn't surprise me:

- Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith both had excellent weekends, chopping the titles between them with Smith getting a final to go with his win yesterday, good to see early season form for Smith.
- Rob Cross going 0-3 is hugely surprising. Cadby you can perhaps understand the loss to as on any given day he can outplay anyone, but Jamie Hughes and Ryan Meikle?
- Similarly odd results for Barney, seemingly not playing the third qualifier but busting to Ratajski twice is odd.
- Good run to the final for Darren Webster to lock up a third round spot, sixth leg of the final looked to be the killer where he couldn't hold in eighteen darts but he's got to be happy enough with that score.
- No signs that Benito is returning to form any time soon, three first round busts to Kantele, Mansell and Newell winning just six legs combined, oh wow.
- No super deep runs, but Mervyn King had a consistent weekend, putting four grand in the bank which'll be good enough to go straight into the money.
- Another final for Zoran Lerchbacher, which should set him up very nicely for the season to come. Bumps him up close to Matchplay spots as it stands, pity his previous final looks to get removed just before the cutoff.
- Dave Pallett with a nice semi final should restore some confidence after losing his tour card, probably still needs a last 32 in one of the remaining events to get straight to the money though.
- Jamie Hughes is likely already there though, a last 16 and a quarter final combining for a very solid weekend.
- Matt Edgar is also probably in, with £250 less than Hughes after two last 16 runs and a mincash, missing out on the last 16 with £3250 would be a bit surprising.
- Dave Prins is also going to be there, who saw that coming?

Elsewhere, Andy Hamilton and Alex Roy are among the amateur qualifiers for the UK Open as we aim to repeat 2007, while Mark McGeeney retained the Dutch Open, getting some revenge for the worlds by beating Glen Durrant in the final. Remarkable achievement to win this back to back given the huge fields and short format, there's so many potential landmines to step on.

I've looked at that dartconnect site, and my god, the information they've got there is incredible - it basically has everything I currently put into my database for TV events, except for floor events. This should be hugely useful to get lots and lots of data, although how to get it efficiently is the big question. There's been over 700 matches played this weekend!

Updated FRH rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Rob Cross
3 Peter Wright
4 Phil Taylor
5 Daryl Gurney
6 Gary Anderson
7 Mensur Suljovic
8 Simon Whitlock
9 Michael Smith (UP 1)
10 Dave Chisnall (DOWN 1)
11 Raymond van Barneveld
12 Gerwyn Price
13 Alan Norris
14 Darren Webster (UP 2)
15 Ian White (DOWN 1)
16 James Wade (DOWN 1)
17 Kim Huybrechts (UP 1)
18 Benito van de Pas (DOWN 1)
19 Jelle Klaasen
20 Joe Cullen

Saturday, 3 February 2018

A selection of random thoughts

- Won't say much about the Masters, it's a non-event as far as I'm concerned, but it was good to see Barney back firing, the guy that runs the Darts Elo Twitter account, like me, has Barney making the top 4 of the Premier League, so it's good that he's showing form in an unranked exhibition where we're predicting him to do well in an unranked exhibition.

- Won't say too much about the Premier League either, interesting to see Whitlock play really well and Anderson choke away an unassailable lead, but the rest of the results didn't really tell us too much and those games could easily just be variance.

- Dutch Open is under way, looks like they didn't have quite as many entrants as originally planned (obviously in an event like this there's going to be plenty registering but not showing), but it still seems like an epic event. I really want to try to make it to the next one as it sounds like it's amazing.

- There were a few players on Twitter (Darren Johnson was at least one, Diogo Portela mentioned it on the weekly podcast) saying that the Challenge Tour days were far too long, and I've got to agree. They've got 200+ runners and they've got to run through all of them twice, that's a big ask. The answer, as far as I'm concerned, is to run them all concurrently. You can certainly save a bunch of time by making sure that as many boards as possible are being used at all times. What I'd do is this:

- Start the weekend on the Friday night, say at 6pm. Play through to the last 128 of events 1 and 2 of the weekend as a minimum, if time permits start playing the last 128 (say last game starts at 10pm). Do event 1 first, then event 2, and don't use the current system of people "winning their board" - draw up a running order, and allocate matches as boards get freed up. This also allows you to tweak the running order, if someone's drawn early in event 2 and late in event 1 you can move their game back to give them rest (you can even do this in advance, if someone's in the last 32 games on in a previous tournament you put the matches of those 64 players to the back of the queue). Only run events 1 and 2 on the Friday so that if players can't get time off work (if you play on a bank holiday weekend you can extend the session a bit) and can only play the weekend proper, they can still play events 3 and 4.
- On the Saturday and onwards, kick off events 3 and 4 first to have them catch up, then once you're at the last 64, you play all of event 1's games at the same time (I think they use 32 boards in these, if it's only 16 then it's shifted a round to play everything concurrently), then all of event 2's, etc etc. At the last 32 stage, you can now play two events concurrently - you'll need to tweak the running order a touch as there'll be players in both events as needed. I've not timed things properly but this should be a lot quicker, but the whole point is that you don't have spots where you're at the quarter finals of the first event and you've got many boards going unused.

- PDC are using something called DartConnect which sounds like it might be the holy grail of floor stats, but I've not seen what it can actually produce yet, and whether it can be worked to farm everything efficiently.

- Adrian Lewis is a bit of a silly boy. You need to work on the floor to stay in the qualifying places for majors as you're not in the top 16, and you go and get yourself suspended in the very first tournament. That's just about as unprofessional as it gets.

- First UK Open qualifier in the books, quite a few of the usual names at the business end but some surprises - the new Spanish kid having a real deep run, Dave Prins showing up, Cross going out before the money to Cadby, who should have had a good run but missed every match dart in the world against Whitlock, and some new/interesting names putting themselves on the brink of qualification already like Nentjes, Rickwood and Rod's lad. Also great to put Shayne Burgess back in the rankings, it's just like the old days.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Premier League predictions and Q-School thoughts

Have got around to running the Premier League players through the master computer, and using a sample of the last darting season, here's what it thinks the standings after Judgment Night will look like:

1) Michael van Gerwen 13.30
2) Raymond van Barneveld 10.76
3) Rob Cross 10.43
4) Gary Anderson 9.09
5) Peter Wright 8.76
6) Michael Smith 8.58
7) Gerwyn Price 8.20
8) Mensur Suljovic 7.87
9) Daryl Gurney 7.17
10) Simon Whitlock 5.85

This, I think, adds up to a touch over 90, it seems as if most players are rounding up ever so slightly. So what's my thoughts on this? A couple of things surprise me - Barney being projected so well being the first, but when he has played in events that count for my database, he's been really, really good, so I'll say it's not too ridiculous. Whitlock being clear bottom doesn't surprise me at all, Gurney being so low looks a bit odd on paper but as I've mentioned plenty of times, for whatever reason my model seems to underrate Daryl (although it did also say to bet on him to lose the match he did lose in the WC, so there is that). Suljovic being quite as low also is a bit funny, I'd have thought he'd be at least ahead of Smith and Price, but the model does tend to favour hit or miss players somewhat so Smith being ahead isn't that odd. Otherwise I don't think there's too much wrong with it - the top four in the world are in the top five places.

We're now crawling to the end of day 2 of Q-School, with the European event being well done by now (starting an hour earlier and having less than half the entrants obviously helps that), and I can't say that I like the format. It's four huge, long crapshoots. They appear to have 32 boards in play given how the byes have been formatted, I don't get why they don't hold this as a Swiss event, which is what you do when you want to work out the top n players in a large field event. If you don't know what that is, Google it, but the gist is that in each round you're paired against someone with a similar record. It seems feasible enough to do - let's say that we have an increase in players to 512 next year, it's a nice round number. Play six legs - no faffing about with a bull, as it's not a knockout we don't care who throws first with an even number of legs. This should take, at a very maximum, fifteen minutes per match - the famous Adams v Fleet leg from Lakeside only took three minutes. Each board needs to play eight matches for a full round of fixtures to be played, so allow two hours. You can run this from 12-8 as it is doing now for the first two days and get four games in for everyone on each day. End of day 2, trim the field to 256. Now each round of matches only takes an hour - play six rounds of games on day 3, and then trim to 128 players. On the final day, you've got half the players playing at any given time, so a round should only take half an hour. Play ten rounds of matches on the final day. You're now needing to play 24 different people, and if you're going to get a card over half of them are going to be against the cream of the entrants - it's a much, much better and fairer test of someone's ability.

As for who's actually qualified, I don't think Cadby or de Zwaan are surprising at all, Dootson is for me, as is Robbe. Aspinall's probably done enough already which is nice given I tipped him to come through, I'd have thought some of the BDO movers might have had a bit more impact.

Monday, 15 January 2018

FRH 2017 Year End Awards

With Glen Durrant surviving match darts in a final that was a lot, lot closer than everybody thought it would be, that's the end of the season, and it's time for the much hyped* FRH year end awards.

Note - only one individual award per person, and it's sorted by importance. The season for these purposes started after 2017 Lakeside, so is more or less a year from today. Number of nominees varies depending on how many people I think are worth a mention

* - not even hyped, let alone much hyped

Best single tournament performance

Nominees - Jamie Lewis, PDC World Championship, Rob Cross, PDC World Championship, John Henderson, World Grand Prix, Daryl Gurney, World Grand Prix, Krzysztof Ratajski, World Masters, Paul Hogan, UK Open

Winner - Phil Taylor, World Matchplay

Could only be one winner for this really, and it has to be Phil in his final season getting that one last major title that many thought was beyond him, and he had to do it the hard way as well - beating current Premier League player Gerwyn Price, old adversary Raymond van Barneveld, current world number one Michael van Gerwen, twice world champion Adrian Lewis and world number two Peter Wright - and not letting anyone outside of Lewis get beyond half way to victory (and Lewis only managed it by one leg). A truly staggering performance. Elsewhere, Hogan came through what'll always be tough pub qualifiers, but to beat Keegan Brown and Jamie Lewis in the opening rounds (results that look a hell of a lot better now than they did at the time) before taking out both Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis is an incredible run for the well respected veteran. Ratajski ran over both the BDO world finalists, a further quarter finalist and a Grand Slam competitor in a ballistic run to claim a first major title, Cross and Lewis's exploits have been well documented recently, while Gurney grabbing a major was a huge result, as was Henderson's run, not only beating van Gerwen but following it up with two great results over Norris and van Barneveld.

Match of the season

Nominees - Rob Cross v Michael Smith, PDC World Championship, Daryl Gurney v Simon Whitlock, World Grand Prix, Glen Durrant v Jim Williams, BDO World Championship, Kyle Anderson v Michael van Gerwen, European Championship, Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright, Premier League Final

Winner - Rob Cross v Michael van Gerwen, PDC World Championship

Again, another award that writes itself - what more could you ask for than arguably the best two players in the world today being inseparable for eight sets, it looking like Michael's won it, only for Rob to say no, dodge match darts and win in a deciding leg. Cross could easily have had more games in here, his match versus Smith being my pick being my pick for the mutual sheer quality, Gurney/Whitlock, van Gerwen/Wright and van Gerwen/Anderson were all high quality affairs that went the distance, while Durrant's match against Williams saw some of the best darts ever played on the Lakeside stage in order to come back from the brink.

Most disappointing season

Nominees - Kim Huybrechts, Chris Dobey, James Wade, Adrian Lewis, Max Hopp, Corey Cadby

Winner - Benito van de Pas

Benito really should have been in the Premier League last season and had to have been in the last one or two players to be chalked off the list, but this year's been a huge regression - many first round TV exits, entered into the world youth as the number 1 seed and lost in the first round, no ranking titles and only looking close once. Huybrechts was a little better on the floor but worse on TV, Dobey should have pushed on to the top 32 but nearly missed the worlds, Hopp did miss the worlds, while Wade and Lewis have plummeted down the rankings, Lewis having a good Matchplay run but nothing else while Wade didn't even have that. How Cadby didn't qualify for the worlds given the number of close to free shots he had at it, I have no idea.

Best young player

Nominees - Nico Blum, Alex Hughes, Dimitri van den Bergh, Luke Humphries, Martin Schindler

Winner - Justin van Tergouw

The Dutchman has managed to retain his BDO world youth title, and has started importantly to make strides in the senior game - only losing to Scott Mitchell in the Dutch Open last 16, qualifying for one of the European Tour events beating van der Voort and giving Kist a very good game, and only just losing to eventual PDC world youth finalist Josh Payne in their event. Blum won the World Youth Masters and has looked OK on the European Tour, what Hughes did in the Champion of Champions at his age is remarkable, Schindler's had a solid all round season on the main and European tours, while Humphries won the Development Tour and van den Bergh claimed the PDC youth title and looks to finally be getting it on the TV stage.

Most disappointing news of the season

Nominees - Deta Hedman not winning the worlds yet again, Glen Durrant not trying Q-School, Morihiro Hashimoto passing away, PDC world championship wildcard clusterfuck, Terry Jenkins mailing in the entire season and missing the worlds as a result

Winner - Phil Taylor still not getting it quietly

I'd have thought at his age he'd be above getting into pointless spats with van Gerwen and Gurney, oh well. Hashimoto hadn't appeared on our screens for some time, but 40 is no age, Durrant deciding to stick with the BDO when he'd clearly be good enough is a shame, and you've got to think that Hedman's chance at a world title has gone now. Elsewhere, the PDC's announcement of the Ratajski, Petersen etc picks was horribly timed and made little logical sense, and certainly rustled many players, and it's so sad that we missed one last appearance of the Bull when it'd have taken minimum effort to qualify.

Personal highlight of the season

Nominees - Peter Wright finally winning a major, Lisa Ashton attempting the Challenge Tour, Berry van Peer making it out of the Grand Slam groups, Paul Lim being Paul Lim

Winner - Mensur Suljovic wins the Champions League

Who can argue with Mensur? He's been good enough to be in the reckoning for quite some time now, and this is a real tricky one to win, there's no easy draws whatsoever and he was able to come through and claim the title. Peter Wright's major was also overdue and well deserved, what van Peer did showed an awful lot of courage, and it was great to see Ashton (and a few others) look to challenge in the men's game and step out of a comfort zone to try to see what they could really do. And Lim! Not just the worlds, the World Cup as well. If only he could have pinned that double 12.

Best new tour card holder

Nominees - Ryan Searle, Steve Lennon, Jamie Bain, Martin Schindler

Winner - Richard North

He's yet to show what he can do on TV, but North has had a fantastic debut season - making a final and doing enough to get into the worlds with ease, also managing to qualify for the Grand Prix. Lennon and Schindler had similar patterns, each managing to crack through to the worlds plus one major, while Searle's been very solid on the floor pushing through to board finals on a regular basis. Bain's been a bit more hit and miss, but his European record has been very good and his numbers are a lot better than his ranking suggests.

Most improved player

Nominees - Joe Cullen, Krzysztof Ratajski, Mark McGeeney, Jonny Clayton

Winner - Daryl Gurney

It is one hell of a jump to go from a marginal top 16 player who might threaten to make a deep run in a big event once in a while, to being a no brain Premier League selection, going deep in nearly every single major event, and actually winning one. Gurney's managed to do that, and a bunch of hard work over the last few years has paid off for him. Elsewhere, Cullen was showing a bit last year what he could do but has now broken through the ceiling and has won on the Pro Tour having been around for ever, he just needs to translate it to the TV more often, Ratajski's converted from someone who's just a name around the place to a feared competitor and major winner who's cleaning up everything in his neighbourhood, McGeeney showed a bit of what he can do yesterday against Durrant, pushing up from a low seed to the BDO number 1, while Clayton has cracked on, also broken a Pro Tour duck and is established in the top 32 and in what's a fascinating race to see who'll join Price as the other half of Wales' World Cup team.

Player of the year

Nominees - Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Glen Durrant, Daryl Gurney

Winner - Rob Cross

Who I thought I'd give this to changed a bunch over the course of the season. With Wright's start I was thinking it could have been him, and if he'd converted the Premier League or the Matchplay he'd probably have got it. Then his form dropped a bit, Gurney came through to win multiple titles including a major, van Gerwen looked invincible in the later majors, while on the other side of the divide Durrant has shown he's clearly the best there again, taking the BDO crown and putting in a great showing in the Grand Slam. It came down to who won that semi final for me, and hence it's got to be Cross - an incredible story that started from nothing and ended with a world title.

I will link this up on Reddit and add in some comments in a later post - next thing I'll probably do as Q-School fast approaches is the Premier League projections that I promised a while ago. I don't intend on covering the Masters, I'm away that weekend and it's a meaningless event.