Sunday, 22 April 2018

Welsh redbit

Not sure anyone saw a Price/Clayton final coming, but that's what we got and it was the Ferret that came out on top, binking his second ranking title and locking up a spot in all of the majors for the rest of the season, which'll allow him to more than consolidate a top 32 in the world spot. Having to do it the hard way in overcoming Mensur Suljovic in the semi final, having already defeated Hopp, Wade and White, this is absolutely deserved.

New FRH rankings:

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

Adrian Lewis gets bumped from the list after only just getting back in, and isn't even next in line now after Benito van de Pas and Mervyn King have overtaken him. Not a huge deal of significant movement lower down, Wayne Jones is up to #90, while there's no less than six players who played this weekend that are within fifteen spots of hitting the top 100.

A short update, but something interesting to consider as a bonus subject - Burton mentioned on Twitter this week during the Premier League that McDonald wasn't mentioning Unibet as the Premier League sponsor at all, which is seemingly due to local Dutch laws regarding gambling sponsorship. The question posed is this - if the government were to lose their mind and ban gambling sponsorship in the UK tomorrow, would the PDC (or, for that matter, Matchroom as a whole) see out the year without going broke?

Let's look at the PDC's current sponsor lineup:


Yep, that's six different bookmakers and an online casino. Amazing level of diversity. But does anyone have any sort of brand loyalty to a single bookmaker? I'd certainly hope they don't - I'll bet wherever has the best price. I can't think of any of these that have stayed with a given tournament for long enough to establish any sort of connection with the tournament. The world snooker (now also run by team Hearn) will always be known as the Embassy to me. The English one day cricket cup will always be the Benson and Hedges. I've not watched Formula One in years, but if you asked me which brand I'd most associate with, say, Ferrari, I'd say Marlboro. I couldn't tell you who sponsors any of those any more, but it's been over 15 years since tobacco advertising went away and it shows how well the new sponsors have caught on. Would it really be that hard for Matchroom to get a bit of insurance and have something other than a bookie sponsor their tournaments? Singha certainly used to sponsor the Grand Slam (not that you can buy the thing anywhere), Cash Converters used to cover (I think) the Players Championship, surely darts is at the level of interest that they can look to attract more mainstream sponsorship deals? I'll leave that one for you all to discuss.

Austria quarter finals

Thank you Johnny Clayton!

Wouldn't be a PDC European Tour event without something going wrong, in leg 2 of the Price/Jones game I'm guessing the whole internet died, with all streams dying and sportradar not continuing to update. Why they couldn't write down the scores and plug them in later, I don't know (it's exactly what the Dart Connect guys did on the stage board in the UK Open), but hopefully what I need will show up, there's enough nerds out there that want this information so hopefully it appears in due course.

Quarter final odds are out - Smith/Cullen's coming in with Smith having a 2-1 advantage, this looks pretty much on the money so nothing there whatsoever. Price is listed as being a 3-1 dog against Cross, he seems much more live than that, but without seeing how Price played I'm a bit hesitant to fire. Cross has come through two 6-5's and will probably hold it together. Gurney/Suljovic is listed at close to a coinflip, Gurney being the slight favourite. He should be shorter than that in any other venue, but Suljovic has been killing it on home soil so I don't really fancy that one either. That just leaves White against Clayton, I don't think we have quite the price to bet on White, I'm only getting him at 63% and the best price is 4/6, it's almost tempting to go with the 7/4 on Clayton that Boyles are offering given the 105 average he just put in. So that leaves no bets, and I'm not going to be in a position to offer anything on the semis or final, so I'll update the tracking and get back after the tournament is done to update the FRH rankings. A few things can happen there - Price can get top 10 if he makes the final, as could White if he breaks his European Tour title duck, Gurney doing so would get him up to fourth, Smith can get ahead of Suljovic if he goes a round deeper, while Cullen can get above Huybrechts with a final appearance. Finally, a Clayton win would see him up into the top 20 for the first time. Stay tuned!

Austria last 16

Steve, Steve, Steve, why do you go and miss seven match darts? That could have made a good day into a great day (see also Nicholson, Paul, this time last week). No real complaints as everything else either came in or we were on the right side of it (apart from Lennon not really showing up), Dimitri was a bit closer than it needed to be, with Beaton we were lucky that Humphries ran out of steam a bit (nice to see that Luke posted a good assessment on Twitter of where his game is at, seems like his head's screwed on right for someone still very new in the pro game), but even Burnett managed to get a match dart, albeit at the bull.

I already posted some match projections on Twitter, so I'm just going to look straight at the odds and reference them:

Smith v van den Bergh - honestly think we're at the stage where we can auto-bet on Dimitri every game until the market adjusts, he's priced as an underdog but he is nowhere near as much of an underdog as the market suggests, Smith's a tough ask and van den Bergh can't play as badly today as he did yesterday, it'll also probably need Smith to not play quite as well as he did when steamrolling Barnard and not losing a leg, but the price is there - 0.25u van den Bergh 9/4.

Cullen v King - tough one to call, on form this year they're extremely evenly matched, Cullen being a slight favourite and the market being priced as such. There's absolutely no value here either way, can't really draw any conclusions from round 2 as neither were really tested and just did what they needed to do with minimum fuss. Next...

Jones v Price - Wayne got a controversial bye and will come into this one a bit cold against Price, who's probably priced as a bit too short of a favourite, but then again he averaged a ton yesterday and seems to be playing a little bit better recently than he has been, and Jones is possibly the other way, an 81 average (albeit with no help from the Austrian qualifier) isn't going to scare anyone.

Cross v Beaton - Both players can probably think themselves lucky to be here, Cross as mentioned surviving a bunch of match darts against Steve West, while Beaton needed to come back from a 4-2 deficit. The market seems to have Cross priced as too short of a favourite, but I'm really not thinking that Beaton can actually produce enough of a game to pip Cross to the line, Rob will surely step it up in a tournament where, with Wright now out, he can get a first European title.

Gurney v Webster - Darren finished pretty quickly yesterday but didn't score too well when he wasn't winning the legs and nearly managed to lose to Burnett, Daryl on the other hand had a bad start against Meulenkamp, losing the first two legs before having little trouble winning six of the next seven to get home, should really have been six straight legs but he missed a ton of doubles in the one Meulenkamp won (a 24 dart hold of throw, yikes). This looks to be 70/30 on the projections and the odds are around there so nothing on this one.

Suljovic v Reyes - Mensur, backed by a passionate crowd who he was playing up to hugely, only lost the one leg against Labanauskas in the performance of the round, winning every leg in fifteen darts or better with two in four visits. The only other player to manage two twelve dart legs in this tournament, other than West's ridiculous four in the first round was, you've guessed where this is going, Cristo Reyes in the first round, who saw off Jelle Klaasen 6-2 yesterday in what was an OK game on the scoring but really bad on the doubles, which dragged the averages down a lot. Suljovic is priced at 1/3, while he shouldn't be that short, I think that the stats are still underestimating him and he does have homefield advantage, and I don't think Reyes is consistent enough at this time to be able to keep it close enough. Probably end up regretting it when he throws like he does against MvG in the worlds a couple of years back.

White v Whitlock - White's also at a stage where we should probably be auto-betting him until the market adjusts. I don't think there's quite as much of an edge as there is in Dimitri games, but I've got this as White winning around 5 in every 8 trials and he's only priced a little bit shorter than evens, so with White being the form player and Whitlock not really doing anything convincing (from 4-4 he could easily have lost the last two legs he won against Adam Hunt), we'll go again - 0.25u White 4/5.

Wade v Clayton - James dumped out Peter Wright in a game where he didn't finish his winning legs that well, but it was Wright that had everything to do with that - in the four legs Wright won Wade was averaging over 120 and so was a huge favourite to finish all of them in a fifth visit, which Peter didn't allow. Clayton got through Max Hopp, it was a decent enough display, getting out to a 5-1 lead and then grabbing a fourth five visit kill to hold and prevent a comeback effort, he needed that with Hopp waiting on 46 to make it 5-4 with the darts in the tenth. Clayton seems to be closer to Wade than the market suggests, looked good yesterday and has got to have gained confidence from that win, let's go 0.25u Clayton 23/10.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Austria round 2 bets

Let's have a look at the matchups we have:

King v Cullen - Jason didn't have much trouble yesterday but didn't need to do a great deal, Mervyn's a different proposition. The line looks decent, I've got King at nearly 70%, perhaps there's tiny value on Cullen, especially if you factor in that King's back can start playing up at any moment, but Mervyn looked decent last week so I'll avoid.

Price v Taylor - Tough ask for Taylor, who didn't play too badly yesterday in fairness, but a Price that's returning to form is a whole different proposition. Price is 1/4, I've got it up at 83%, so there's a little bit of value - 1u Price 1/4

Chisnall v Jones - That's a real short price for Dave, even shorter than Price is. I'm not getting Chisnall as much of a favourite as Price though, but he's still easily over 75% to win the game. There's probably tiny underdog value on Jones at 4/1 but he didn't put Burger away easily enough for my liking. (11am edit - Chisnall's withdrawn so ignore this)

Beaton v Humphries - Luke's the favourite, which given the experience difference says everything about their current form. The projections however call this a coinflip, maybe even having Steve a small favourite, I'm a bit cautious as Luke looked very good yesterday slamming in four ton plus finishes, but we have big odds and we usually take them when given, 0.25u Beaton 7/5

White v Dolan - Brendan came through a tough ask in Tabern without needing to throw more than one leg in fifteen darts, White's hugely tougher though, and I don't even give Dolan a 20% shot at this one. The price looks very good here, I won't go quite as strong as on Price given Dolan has shown in the past he can show up on occasion, whereas Taylor has yet to do so - 0.5u White 4/11

Cullen v Lennon - These are the sorts of matches Lennon needs to be winning if he wants to make the next step in the game up towards the top 32, he's a dog against Cullen but not as much of a dog as the market makes out having better than a 45% shot, so we'll take this all day - 0.25u Lennon 13/8

Smith v Barnard - Michael is in surprisingly good form, easily dealing with John Henderson, but even being offered 9/2 I can't suggest a bet in this Michael derby, such is the form Smith is in - the line looks close to perfect.

van de Pas v van den Bergh - Bet of the century, 1u van den Bergh 8/13, simple as, I'd bet Dimitri all the way to 1/5, 1/6 sort of level, that's how much better he's playing than Benito right now.

Webster v Burnett - Burnett looked good in spells yesterday against Steinbauer where he wasn't really tested, and has better chances here than the market thinks against Webster, who's looked a bit better of recent, but Ritchie seems the bet here, 0.25u Burnett 23/10

Gurney v Meulenkamp - A bit surprised at how easy Ron made it look against Gabriel Clemens, but he'll need to step it up again to stand a chance against Gurney, who's nearly a bet, having a projection at just a spot over 80%, 2/7 isn't quite the edge I'm looking for, if the market moves in favour of the Dutchman then get on Daryl.

Whitlock v Hunt - Adam came through a tough out in Menzies in a deciding leg, Whitlock is the next test and he's not completely drawing dead against the indifferent Aussie, we're being offered nearly a good price at 11/4 with Hunt probably having about a 30% shot, it's not quite enough given the value elsewhere.

Klaasen v Reyes - This has the potential to be a game where both are averaging over 105, both are averaging under 80, and literally every possibility in between, I've got this as a flip, the market favours Jelle, so 0.25u Reyes 6/4, should go larger but this is the sort of match which could drive the betting man nuts so I'll just go small.

Cross v West - Steve became only the third player this season to throw four twelve or better dart legs in a race to 11 match, unfortunately for him he's facing one of the other two (Dave Chisnall being the third). The tournament favourite can probably think himself a bit unlucky to get such a tough draw, and I think there's value laying the world champ, 0.1u West 4/1 - Steve's got about a 29% shot I think so let's have a flyer.

Clayton v Hopp - Third game so far where the non-seed is the favourite and we've bet 1-1 so far, I'm not adding to this, Clayton has been quiet so far but projects to win, but isn't an overwhelming favourite (not even 60%) and given Hopp's form it's safe to avoid this.

Wright v Wade - Another big candidate to win the event gets a brutal draw as Wright faces Wade in the match of the night, I'm getting it at about 60/40 Peter, 2/1 Wade looks tempting but with Wright for all intents and purposes being eliminated from the Premier League I do wonder if he switches focus to the ranked events now, especially with no van Gerwen opening things up. No bet.

Suljovic v Labanauskas - Lacking data on Darius, five legs in fifteen darts yesterday looks convincing enough to at least consider a punt at 3/1, but Mensur's on home soil, so I won't.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Austria round 1 bets

Unsurprisingly, the bookies are not forthcoming in offering lines on the matches involving Austrian qualifiers, would have thought they'd have thrown out Wade 1/20 or Lennon 1/10 or similar, but obviously not. This doesn't give us that many first round games to have a look at, but let's go:

Tabern/Dolan - as expected Tabern is the favourite, now I've run the projections he does come in as a favourite as I'd have expected, the value is probably on Dolan but only getting about 6/4 with about a 43% win chance isn't huge value, avoiding.
Henderson/Barnard - line looks pretty plumb here, Hendo's installed at 4/7 and I've got him at about 65%, let's move on.
Meulenkamp/Clemens - the model's spitting out Clemens as a favourite. He's priced as an underdog. First bet here, 0.25u Clemens 11/8.
Taylor/Heinz, Cullen/Alexits - not touching these as no data on the Euro guys and the home nations guys aren't exactly great so won't be lumping on at odds on (hugely odds on in Cullen's case).
Edhouse/Labanauskas - Darius is the underdog. Edhouse isn't a name that is hugely familiar to casual darts fans and isn't a bunny, but the Lithuanian should have more than enough to get through as often as required, 0.25u Labanauskas 11/8.
Humphries/Munch - not a huge deal of data on Munch post the worlds, and it favours Humphries, but as there's not much data then if I extended it to include the worlds then it'd probably turn away from a bet on Luke, so will pass.
Huybrechts/West - This looks like a pretty good spot here for Steve, we've got good data on both and I've got Steve at just over 70%, and the odds aren't that close to it - 0.5u West 8/13.
Hunt/Menzies - Think that Hunt is a decent live dog here. He's got enough equity based on the winning legs to bet on, just about, and he's much tighter on the losing legs so could be underestimated - 0.25u Hunt 15/8.
van den Bergh/Stevenson - Not quite as much of an edge on Dimitri as I thought I'd have, mainly due to Stevenson being pretty competent. Will pass on this as if I'm wanting to punt on Dimitri being able to bring what he can do when I have an edge, I probably want to do it when he's a dog and will raise his game to match.
Burton/Hopp - We're lacking a lot of information on Burton, to the point where over the season he rates to be the favourite. I'm chucking that out over a smaller sample for obvious reasons.

Austria quick thoughts

van Gerwen is confirmed out so Clayton gets the last seed, I've not seen a draw for the qualifiers yet but you'd have to assume that Lerchbacher gets through as all of the other semi competent Austrian players are, in their infinite wisdom, playing a tournament in the Philippines, because reasons. So chuck out the two good Rodriguez brothers, Rasztovits, Langendorf played the European qualifier and lost and there's not a great deal left that we know about. The main draw is out so let's have a look at what's going on:

Smith v Henderson/Barnard - three players in form, Smith's fourth in the PDC in overall points per turn right now but Hendo's above 90 and Barnard has just been murdering the Challenge Tour, and is only a couple of points per turn behind the big Scot so the bigger name player in each round won't have it all their own way.
van de Pas v van den Bergh/Stevenson - Benito has to be in trouble here, van den Bergh is averaging a shade under 93 which puts him in the top 10 of the whole PDC, while Stevenson has had some good floor results and a competent 89 points per turn, seven more than the Dutchman.
Cullen v Lennon/HNQ4 - Cullen is averaging less per turn than Lennon, less than a point in fairness but this could be very close between two players with similar statistics if Lennon doesn't hit a banana skin, which he shouldn't.
King v Cullen/Alexits - This is Jason Cullen, who's won a Challenge Tour event this year, while Alexits won the eastern European qualifier to make it, but we know little about him. From what we've seen of Cullen on the main tour he lacks explosive leg power but gets home in 15 more than half the time and has a so-so 86 overall average, nothing that should trouble King though.
Chisnall v Jones/HNQ3 - Wayne is doing OK and is looking pretty consistent, up at 9% four visit kills but under 50% for five visit kills, if he can pull that up to 55-60% that'd be a huge help. He should beat any qualifier but Chisnall ought to have more than enough.
Price v Taylor/Heinz - Taylor we saw earlier this month and he wasn't too impressive, but against a German that we don't know he ought to be OK (although Heinz did beat Kist and Noppert in the qualifier), but Price will overpower either of these.
Cross v Huybrechts/West - Ronny's got a losing record in terms of legs and his overall stats are well below those of Steve, who's up in the top 25 of overall average at 91 plus change. He'll need to do a bit better than that against Cross, who's ahead of all but MvG in that category and should come in as the tournament favourite.
Beaton v Humphries/Munch - The slayer of Adrian Lewis makes a return to the European Tour, and will come up against another World Championship contender in Humphries, who is averaging a lot more than Munch did in the UK Open qualifiers, and would certainly be live against Beaton, who's a couple of points better but the ratio of 4 visit and 5 visit kills are virtually identical.
Gurney v Meulenkamp/Clemens - Fun intra-European qualifier first round game, Clemens averaging 90 to Meulenkamp's 88, Clemens with a bit more consistency compared to Meulenkamp's ability to fire twelves for fun when he wants. Gurney should have enough but if he takes any liberties both have the game to challenge him.
Webster v Burnett/HNQ5 - Burnett is not actually that far behind Webster in terms of averages, but Darren looked good in spots last weekend and if he shows up should hold him off.
Suljovic v Edhouse/Labanauskas - Really interested to see what Darius can do, who had a ridiculous average at Lakeside in a losing effort, Edhouse however has been perhaps a bit unlucky with all three of his winning, losing and overall averages at 89. Suljovic looks to be returning to close to his best but could potentially allow either of these enough chances to get home.
Klaasen v HNQ1/Reyes - Assuming Reyes gets through, this could be pretty interesting - both not in great form, averages within a point of each other on all stats, still being able to finish legs quick when they need to but not putting the bread and butter stuff away.
White v Tabern/Dolan - Ian's quality has been highlighted quite a lot recently, and he should easily be better than either qualifier. Tabern may end up coming in as a favourite but this is close - both with an overall 88 average, Tabern a point better when winning but a couple worse when losing, resulting in a slightly better kill speed.
Whitlock v Hunt/Menzies - We've seen Cameron a few times on tour and he's very up and down - both are within a fifth of a point on overall average, but Menzies finishes in five visits in 10% more legs. Whitlock's below 90 on overall average and having withdrawn last week through illness and looking ordinary in the Premier League, could be there for the taking.
Wright v Wade/HNQ2 - Wade/Wright could be the game of the second round assuming James advances, Wright's stats are a bit better, but it's not by much at all.
Clayton v Burton/Hopp - Our newest tournament winner faces Burton, who shouldn't be a free win - after not playing the UK Open qualifiers he's managed to win a board on the Pro Tour and is just the right side of 90 on overall average this season. Hopp isn't, although more recently he's clearly better and should have the confidence and maturity needed to advance now. Clayton's stats are similar to Burton's with a bit better winning average and a bit worse losing average - if he takes a few legs off Hopp could have him, and maybe even if he doesn't he could have issues.

Looking at what I think the draw order is looking like in the qualifier, Reyes should get a no-name, Wade will get the same, Jones should have got Lerchbacher but he lost to Dietmar Burger, who's up against Goedl for the spot, Lennon ought to get Roxy-James Rodriguez while Burnett gets another random, possibly some guy called Gorjup who beat Kallinger 6-1. Will check it's right later and come back with bets.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Hopp's improvement

One thing that I didn't mention in the previous post is that Hopp's now going to be positioned in or very near to the top 16 on the Pro Tour rankings - I think I read he's #17, but with Gary Anderson above him who's taking the whole European Tour off, that should make Hopp seeded, freeing up a spot in the home nation qualifiers, which is obviously great news for all the domestic qualifiers in the myriad of German events.

So how much better is Hopp playing now than he used to be? Let's compare some stats - let's look at the year through to Players Championship 6, and then from the European Darts Open onwards.

In the first sample, he really wasn't playing very well at all. He was losing more legs than he was winning with a 98-101 record, barely winning 40% of those legs won in five visits, and he had an overall average points per turn of 87.55, a good two points behind Schindler and three behind Clemens just looking at his compatriots. Other people in the 87 bracket included the likes of Adam Huckvale, Michael Rasztovits, Luke Woodhouse and Mike de Decker.

In the second sample, he's winning consistently more than he's losing with a 114-83 record, claiming just short of 60% of legs within fifteen darts, a huge improvement from below mediocre to getting towards the top echelons of the game. His real quick leg speed, the twelve darter, which he's always been able to get now and then out of nowhere even when throwing trash, didn't change at all, stuck on 7%, but keeping that constant and bumping up the par legs is enough for him to raise his average points per turn up to 90.70 - back up to Germany's number one, but Schindler's third less than a quarter of a point per turn behind, so while he has a hugely larger sample size than him and Clemens, he's not blowing them away. Other players on 90 include Steve West, Chris Dobey, Johnny Clayton and Simon Whitlock. Not bad company.

Next up we have the Austrian event, which van Gerwen has apparently withdrawn from to concentrate on the Premier League - which apparently bumps all the seeds up a spot and brings someone in from the rest of the field to make up the sixteenth seed, who that is being a spot unclear but we'll see. It does also mean that there'll be five Austrian spots, so there'll be Rodriguezes everywhere, much fun.