Sunday, 17 June 2018

Players Championship 14 - Double Cross? Yeah Wright

Pretty successful weekend for Cross, although he was to be denied a double win as the two highest ranked players in the FRH rankings that showed up met in the final, Peter Wright coming out on top in a 6-4 match, Wright storming into a 5-1 lead before Cross pegged it back to 5-4, Wright managing to finish the game off when Cross seemingly made a huge mess of some sort of finish, hard to tell off of the raw dartconnect scoring but to go from needing 132 and then leaving 15 before ending on 3, that's not pretty.

Michael Smith was a semi finalist with a decent run, the other was Jermaine Wattimena again, as he's made himself incredibly safe for the majors and is actually high up enough on the Pro Tour now that he's in danger of being seeded for ET 11 onwards. It's a bit of a double edged sword in that if you just sneak in you get no ranking money if you lose and the #1 seed if you win... seems like a silly system to me really. Wattimena had scored nicely enough to leave himself on 80 after twelve in the deciding leg, only for Wright to go out with 161. Not bad.

Lower down, Dimitri van den Bergh really should have seen off Wright at an earlier stage, racing to a 4-0 lead with the darts before forgetting how to double and losing 6-4, Noppert picked up a board win to keep himself within touching distance of the Matchplay but it's really reliant on making Hamburg and having a run at this stage, van Duijvenbode won his board again, don't know what's clicked there but he didn't seem to be having double troubles when I was watching on the stream board, while Adam Hunt made a quarter final from nowhere, which aside from a deciding leg win over Steve West was mostly a fortunate draw thing.

Overall in the weekend, Alan Norris only picked up a grand, but as his Matchplay chances are reliant on Adrian Lewis doing something and he only picked up 500 quid (Deller's bokking extending to this weekend as well it seems) it's probably a bit too much for Lewis to overhaul him, given he only has the one shot in Europe. It's also need Kim Huybrechts and Darren Webster to edge past him, they're not far behind but Huybrechts at least isn't showing any inclination to be able to do so. Sven Groen's now 0-14, how far will this run go?

Everything's in the master computer, interesting to see who has the best points per turn over the weekend - if we say a minimum of 25 legs played (just to troll Paul Nicholson and exclude him), the top 10 are, from the bottom to the top, Gabriel Clemens, Ian White, Peter Wright, Dave Chisnall, Mensur Suljovic, Jason Lowe, Martin Schindler, Ron Meulenkamp, Rob Cross and Jermaine Wattimena. Probably some names you expected up there, also some that regular readers might expect but casuals wouldn't, but the order's got to surprise you?

New FRH rankings:

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

Not a huge deal of change. White edges over Chisnall by less than a grand after finalling on Saturday, Chisnall's quarter not quite being enough to get him back over Ian. Cullen only needed to match what Huybrechts did to gain the spot, getting the extra grand over the weekend is just a bonus, but he's very close to van Barneveld for the top 16 and should get above him before the Matchplay guaranteed unless Barney shows up for something. There is only three grand separating Jamie Lewis, King, Henderson, Klaasen and Bunting in the 21-25 bracket, Wattimena's runs have taken him to number 31 on the rankings and very close to Justin Pipe, van Duijvenbode's weekend has placed him just outside the top 80 by only 100 points or so.

I'm tempted to do some in depth Matchplay qualification scenarios, but as they mostly write themselves and the World Cup is on I probably won't bother with it. Be back later in the week for Copenhagen previews.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Players Championship 13 - World Champion wins tournament shocker

Weird how that the clear second best player in the world, who is putting up clearly the second best averages in the world, has actually won an event. Seems some people don't quite get the huge amount of variance there is in a short race format, heck it may possibly be the only reason I make money on betting darts at all, but for those who are of the "Cross luckboxed one tournament and is a fish on a heater" mentality, he's won one.

It was overall a very weird day - Wright went out first round. Smith went out first round. Dootson and Darbyshire won games. Crazy stuff. White made what was a weird final, going from 4-0 to 4-4 to 6-4, but his appearance in that stage is not unexpected, given how much I've been raving about his game in recent months. Jermaine Wattimena reached the semi final, and by all accounts should have reached the final, getting down to 47 after nine darts against White while leading 5-4 on throw, but being unable to pin the winning double. Shame, as while the longer term stats indicated that he was basically killing a lot in six visits and taking what was given rather than imposing himself on the game, here he had the best adjusted average of anyone on the day (Wright excepted but he only played one game) - 98 flat with seven twelve or better dart legs on the day is a pretty decent standard. The score's now lifted him into the top 32 on the FRH rankings.

Elsewhere, Dirk van Duijvenbode made the quarters, riding his luck a bit in winning three last leg deciders, but hopefully this gives him the confidence to kick on. After Wattimena, the best adjusted average of people to get out of the first round was Martin Schindler - playing some great stuff including a demolition job on Mensur Suljovic, before running into Ian White at the last 16 stage. Bunting also showed some more recent signs that he's getting back to his best in his semi final run, running into a Cross-shaped wall at that stage, but there's enough of an indication that he's getting things back together and isn't one you may want to face in the Matchplay. Interesting return to the quarters for Peter Jacques as well, averaging more or less the same as van Duijvenbode but getting there when it mattered. Lennon, Cullen and Clemens also put in better numbers than their finishing positions suggested.

Tomorrow's a new day, and it's a big one before possibly the most important ten days of the year so far - that period with two European Tour events on back to back weekends with two Players Championship events sandwiched in between is critical, as they're the last events before the Matchplay. We had the UK qualifier for ET9 (the last one before the cutoff, we already knew the ET8 lineup) on Friday, Norris didn't make it so, having not made Copenhagen either, is just reliant on tomorrow and the two midweek PC events to get home, as he's not even close on Pro Tour rankings. Beating Pipe and then losing to Meulenkamp today isn't inspiring. Looking at Burton's table, he should still be safe as he's reliant on both Webster and Huybrechts to do more than him going forward (although he has less than a grand of wiggle room there), and would need Adrian Lewis to close an effective ten grand gap. Then again, it's not like Lewis hasn't won ten grand in one event recently.

On the cutoff for the Pro Tour places, Keegan Brown did himself a world of good by getting to Hamburg, while Lennon and, more critically, North, did themselves no favours. They did lose in the last round 6-4 and 6-5 but should be beating Martin Atkins and Paul Rowley. Dobey added a second shot having already made Copenhagen, but other than him it's mostly Euros that are just outside. Payne and Jame Lewis missed out and are probably too far behind at this stage.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Guess who's back, back again, Adie's back, tell a friend

It didn't work out for him in the final, but Adrian Lewis is at least back chucking at a decent level, and while he couldn't really get close to van Gerwen, he at least has been able to push up several rankings as a result of this run. Got to start to worry Norris that Lewis has just put a 10k dent in the gap there was between the two given Norris's weak Pro Tour ranking, he's going to desperately need something going forward to grab one of the last seeds.

Steve West and Paul Nicholson certainly will be happy with their weekends, although Paul's got to be thinking what could have been after breaking in the penultimate leg, starting off 140 then not being able to leave a finish after twelve darts, with Adie going out in 14 that was very costly.

I feel like I don't really review individual games too much, so I'll give that a try:

van Gerwen/Clayton - even enough through the first four legs but van Gerwen clearly looked the better player, Clayton then missed one dart at tops to break in the fifth as part of a double-double 100 out combination, it then all went downhill from there - missing double 14 to hold and letting van Gerwen in on 82 to get a break, a regulation 15 dart hold followed to put Michael on the hill, Clayton had the chance to extend the game but his scoring deserted him, allowing van Gerwen to clean up 75 on his sixth visit for the match.

West/Cross - how to average 10 points lower than your opponent and win. West has the darts and both players had one dart to break in each of the first three legs, all of which were scrappy, before Cross's finishing deserted him in the fourth and he misses six darts to equalise, West breaking in six visits. Cross breaks straight back with West unable to consolidate the break with mediocre scoring, and it's then routine holds from there, West getting another four visit deciding leg to ice the game.

Price/Nicholson - slow first couple of legs, Nicholson's able to get some scoring going and leave 121 after nine in the third, he can't finish on the bull but Price isn't able to hit a big 149 out and Nicholson gets the break in five visits. Price breaks straight back in the same as Nicholson's scoring falls apart, but his scoring goes away and he misses a dart for 170 to hold as Paul makes it 3-2. Price has the chance to get on level terms but misses four darts at double as Nicholson makes it 4-2, and breaks again to go one away after Price can't kill 74 to hold. Paul's set up play disappears in leg 8 as Price gets one break back, and his scoring goes away in the ninth as Price holds in six visits. In leg 10, with Nicholson drakking around on 228 after twelve darts, Price hits nine perfect darts - a maximum to leave 103, 103 out, and then kicks off the decider with a maximum, but despite a 140 follow up he can't finish the game - missing six match darts to allow Nicholson to clean up double sixteen in his sixth visit and advance.

Lewis/Wright - pretty routine game through five legs with it going on serve to 3-2 Lewis, he's then able to break in the sixth after Wright misses three clear at 32 which he'd left after twelve. He immediately rectifies matters with a 140-140-140-81 out break back, but proceeds to miss two darts at tops in the next and Lewis pins tops to get his break back, sealing a 6-3 win on double 12 after Wright can only leave 140 after five visits.

van Gerwen/West - couple of routine five dart holds to start, before van Gerwen misses three darts to make it 2-1 and West steps in to break with a 76 out. West holds a scrappy fourth leg, before van Gerwen puts on the afterburners - back to back four visit finishes in legs six and seven get things back on throw, and a fifteen dart break seals the game in leg six with West unable to leave an out after twelve darts. An eleven dart ninth leg puts van Gerwen one leg from victory, and a solid tenth leg from West is just delaying the inevitable as van Gerwen hits tops to move to the final.

Nicholson/Lewis - Lewis got an immediate break, missing bull for a 167 but cleaning up in fourteen, neither player is able to threaten the other's throw until the eighth leg. Nicholson, after a great twelve darter the leg before, slots in a maximum to leave 24 after twelve darts, Lewis can't finish 164 and we're at 4-4. The Asset can't pin tops to hold and Adie finishes last dart in fifteen to break straight back, and leaves himself tops after twelve in the next leg, cleaning it up to lead 6-4. Nicholson finishes 121 on the bull for another twelve dart leg with Jackpot waiting on 100 for the match, and then equalises with a 128 out on the same target after Lewis misses two match darts. The decider is a horror show as Nicholson, after starting with 140, can't find a treble in his next three visits, while a 180 from Lewis is enough to give him time to finish on tops.

van Gerwen/Lewis - one sided really. van Gerwen held in five, broke in four, held in six before Lewis got on the board with a ten dart leg. van Gerwen makes it 4-1 with a five visit kill, before ending the game as a contest with another break, Lewis missing four darts at double to hold. van Gerwen slots in another twelve dart leg to make it 6-1 in the race to eight, Lewis is able to hold and recover to 6-2 as van Gerwen's going through the motions, but it's routine from there, van Gerwen pinning double twelve for the title with an eleven dart leg.

New FRH rankings:

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

As mentioned earlier, Klaasen's gone and down to 23 (and falling). West is up to #26 following his semi final, another player now ahead of Benito van de Pas, Nicholson rises to #66, while Boulton and Barnard crack into the top 90, with Mike de Decker holding on in the top 100.

Evetts got his third title of the year by claiming the last Development Tour event of the weekend. Scary how he's cleaning up, qualified for the worlds, but didn't get a tour card at Q-School. Maybe it's making him stronger? Who knows.

I'll update the Second Division Darts rankings shortly. One thing I might do for next season is add another tier of it, and have a third division, but only eligible to players under 30. Thoughts?

Gibraltar final session, ah, that's better

Only the Dobey bet missing is quite the result and more than makes up for yesterday. Cullen's got to be kicking himself for missing all those match darts, but we'll take it. If you get a chance, rewatch the Lewis/Wade match, one of the better games we've seen all year.

So we're at the quarter final stage - here's what we've got:


I wouldn't have thought the model would only give van Gerwen one out of every three wins, but it's a pretty short format - heck, Clayton won the last meeting between the two over the same distance, Cross clearly would have the game to beat him, and anyone from the bottom half (with the possible exception of Nicholson, but even then the model's giving Nicholson about a one in six shot at it) could do so on their day. Wright looks to be the pick from the bottom half, and looked in decent nick against Dobey, but Lewis will be no pushover as he looks to climb back up the Pro Tour rankings, and you can guarantee Price would give him a game.

This table obviously gives you the projections which I can directly compare to the odds - 0.1u Clayton 7/1 just because, otherwise the market has Cross/West at 75/25 which is near as damnit to what I'm getting, it's got Price at 8/13 which, if I've done my maths right, is 62% give or take a fraction of a percent, so no value there either, and they've got Wright at the same price as well. They're giving nothing away here, and as I'm going to the pub soon I won't be about to look at the semis, but you can extrapolate what the model would have said from these figures if you want to punt on it. As a result, we're booking a 1.5 unit profit for Gibraltar, unless Clayton does pull the upset, in which case it's 2.3 units, and a new high water mark in terms of career profit. Which would be nice.

One thing I would note away from Gibraltar which I should have done yesterday is that it's been a pretty good weekend for German darts - Schindler booked a double on the Development Tour yesterday, and Unterbuchner won the Swiss Open on the BDO side. On the Development Tour, Ryan Meikle's bagged the first one today, which gives him a second title at that level, and Rowby made the final, so maybe he'll make a bit of a comeback at higher levels. Last one's still in the running but I'll let you know who grabbed it when I do a roundup later today. Worth noting that Adie's back in the top 20 of the FRH rankings as we speak, knocking out Jamie Lewis who had knocked out Jelle Klaasen (who's now also below Mervyn King). He'll stay there unless West wins the title, so...

Gibraltar day 3 - Murphy's Law

Not a good day 2 after a great day 1. Didn't need much to change to be good - think I was clearly on the right side of the Wade/Smith game, Smith leading 5-3 but not getting the last leg he needed (should have been leg 9, with Wade offering Smith eighteen darts to win but Smith wasn't even on a double after then, Wade was clinical in 10/11 to be fair). Huckvale didn't show up outside of the big kill he had in the one leg he won, White/Hopp was a poor game where Ian never really got going outside of a couple of legs spell midway through, and Smith/Wattimena, I have no idea what happened there. Pity Smith didn't get his twelve darter in the last leg when he needed it, rather than the tenth, where he didn't, Jermaine was just good enough to get enough legs home in fifteen darts and took advantage of missed doubles in leg 8. Pretty much the perfect storm of things happening for him to win it.

End result is we are ever so slightly up, about an eighth of a unit. Both Smith's getting home would have changed that to up over a unit and a half, such is the way things go. A few interesting results other than those that we looked at, people were drooling over Cullen's average, but that's heavily inflated as in three legs he killed with the first dart of the visit, Vincent actually put up a bit of a fight against van Gerwen until Michael pulled away as only Michael can. I say that, but Cross did similar to get out of a huge hole against Cristo Reyes. West played really well in beating Darren Webster, although he didn't particularly think so in his post match interview, a clinical twelve dart leg in the decider on throw is as much as you can ask for in that situation really. Boulton beating Bunting was a little bit of a surprise, Nicholson got through Chisnall but didn't play that great in doing so, Barnard was OK but Wright gave him nothing, and Dobey's reached the final day, but only got the one leg in fifteen darts and (conventional) averaged under 85 in a sluggish game. Let's see what we have today:

van Gerwen/Boulton - Kind of a hilarious match. Boulton may actually be value at 13/1 but he doesn't really strike me as the sort of player that would actually believe he can pull this upset.

Clayton/Hopp - Bookies have this match between two winners on the European Tour as a flip (hands up if you thought that sentence would be used at the start of the year. Anyone? Nope? Good). Clayton wasn't really tested at all against Schnier, Hopp should have been against White but wasn't, I've got Clayton as having a bit of an edge here, the model really doesn't like Hopp at all as he's not finishing legs too quickly at all. With this price I can't not bet - 0.25u Clayton evs.

Gurney/West - Talked a bit about West's game earlier, Gurney came through a slugfest against World Cup partner Brendan Dolan, leaving it quite late to get the break he needed but doing so and getting home 6-4. The bookies favour Gurney quite a bit more than I think they should - they have him at 2/5 when I think West can get home more than 35% of the time. It's a tempting underdog bet, and with West playing what I thought was well but also with him having motivation to be better, I think it's worth a shot - 0.25u West 13/5.

Cross/Whitlock - Cross put in three twelve dart legs against Reyes to rally from a 5-2 deficit, while Whitlock didn't need to get out of second gear against Adam Huckvale, the line is similar to the Gurney/West line. I've got this as around 70/30, which isn't quite enough to bet on Whitlock.

Wattimena/Price - Jermaine edged past Michael Smith as described above, while Price was relatively untroubled against Mike de Decker, with Wattimena getting that win it's a surprisingly tight line. I've got Price winning nearly three out of four trials, which makes this automatic - 0.25u Price 4/6.

Cullen/Nicholson - The European Tour specialist eased past Labanauskas 6-1, while the Asset got through Dave Chisnall, getting a key break midway through the game to give him a decent lead and diving over the line 6-4. Cullen's listed as having about a 2-1 edge, I think it's a bit closer than that, getting Nicholson to just above a 40% chance. We're being offered good odds here, and while I'd like to see what the model would throw out if we just filtered on Cullen's stats in the European Tour, I think we have to go with this - 0.25u Nicholson 21/10.

Lewis/Wade - Two players having somewhat of a resurgence after a poor 2017, Wade's done a bit more than Lewis in terms of making notable runs, and the market finds it hard to split the two. Lewis looked really solid against Suljovic taking out five of his six won legs in fifteen darts or less, and Wade struggled to get past Ross Smith. I'd have thought the model would say bet Lewis given how it works, and then I'd need to account for consistency and the sorts of things the model doesn't account for, but it's calling it a coinflip as well, so no bets here.

Wright/Dobey - Last game up, Dobey is definitely going to need to play better to keep this close, he needs what he threw against Lennon rather than what he did against King. At least we know the game is there. We're offered a good price here with the market thinking Wright wins more than three out of four, and I don't think he wins two out of three. I'll be a bit cautious given how they played yesterday, but 0.1u Dobey 10/3 regardless.

Mostly underdog punts here, but we only really need one to hit to stay level and then think that the Clayton and Price bets get home. Let's go!

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Gibraltar day 2

A bit late to the party today, I blame my local for putting on a decent beer for a change, it's not my fault for drinking it, not at all. I've not yet got yesterday's results into the master computer, which were pretty good betting wise, mainly because we pinned that big outside shot on Ross Smith, so where it may matter and there's not a huge sample size I'll make a note and play it safer. Don't think there was a huge amount of value on Bunting/Boulton which is going on right now, maybe an outside play on Boulton, but probably not.

Price/de Decker - Gerwyn should take this, I've got this as a little better than 3-1 in the Welshman's favour, we're offered 5/12 which might be useful, but we don't have a huge amount of info on Mike and he did slot two twelve darters in, which might be enough to make it a no bet, so I'll no bet this one. Doubt I finish writing up by the time Bunting's done so wouldn't get on if I wanted to.

Webster/West - Bookies have this pretty close with Webster having a small edge, I've got it as the same at not even 55% Webster, so no bet again.

Wade/Smith - Smith's longer than 3/1 again, you'd have thought they might have learned. Smith's at over 250 legs played this year so not a small sample, yesterday's result may improve the percentages slightly having hit a twelve dart leg, master computer gives him 38% which looks to be enough to fire again - 0.25u Smith 10/3.

Whitlock/Huckvale - Similar line to the above game. Don't think that we have as much edge though, Adam's just shy of 200 legs and it's giving him just less than a one in three shot. Yesterday's games shouldn't affect the stats much, so I think there's just enough room for a small play - 0.1u Huckvale 7/2.

Clayton/Schnier - Got to be a long time since someone won 6-2 with a sub-80 average, sure Asquez was offering no help but that wouldn't have stopped Schnier finishing quickly if he could. Should be a canter for Clayton but 1/7 isn't inviting.

White/Hopp - Hopp steamrollerd Dudbridge 6-0 yesterday, getting one leg in four visits and another three in five, not bad, but we have enough on Hopp that it's not going to increase his winning chances significantly, and they're nowhere near high enough to not bet on White who continues to be underrated in the market - 0.25u White 5/7.

Gurney/Dolan - Gurney's been given better than a 75% chance in the market today. That looks close to right, I've not quite got him up there so if you like an underdog play and liked the look of Brendan yesterday be my guest, I didn't so no bet.

Cullen/Labanauskas - Joe's been doing well in Europe but badly in the Players Championships, Darius edged past de Graaf in a decent encounter, including back to back 11 darters. We can get 9/5 on Darius, and while he's not got a huge sample and adding yesterday's should help, the computer's only giving him a one in three shot as it is, so I can't see it going up enough to give reasonable value.

Smith/Wattimena - Jermaine easily dealt with the interesting challenge of Tony Dawkins, and his opponent today is at the opposite end of the spectrum. I'm getting Smith at over 80% to claim this one, Jermaine's winning a lot of legs and getting decent results, but he's not winning legs quickly - only 45% of won legs are within fifteen darts, which Smith should punish - 0.5u Smith 2/7.

Cross/Reyes - Cross still hasn't won an event this year, and starts off against Cristo, who threw away a 4-1 lead against Thornton but came back from 5-4 down to advance. There might be really tiny underdog value on Cristo at longer than 4/1 but I'm just not feeling his ability to do it against someone as solid as Rob is.

van Gerwen/van der Voort - Vincent's never winning this one ever, and is on a 1-13 streak against the world number one, some of those losses being very one sided. Just stick Michael in as a banker and move on.

Chisnall/Nicholson - Dave had clear problems with his game at the World Cup, and won't want to be facing Paul, who's quietly built up a solid season statistically without any huge results to show for it, I would have thought this would be a Nicho bet, but only getting 5/2 isn't really enough, I've got Dave winning two out of three so I'd have liked a bit more edge. If you see it lengthening on Nicho then fire but if anything the market is going the other way.

Suljovic/Lewis - Huge clash here, and it's the sort of one that Adie needs to be winning if we're going to start to take him seriously again, I've got this as Adie winning a close one, around 55/45, and the market has it the other way around, but the model is still underrating Mensur a bit, with his losing average still above his winning average, and it's not going to take into account he'll be confident after his win in Gelsenkirchen, so I'm happy to leave this one alone.

King/Dobey - Bookies have this as a flip, oh my. I'd have thought King would be a favourite as he's not exactly playing terribly, at least in Europe, then I could bet Dobey easily, but at 10/11 Dobey I'm not really fancying it. I've not even got Dobey up at 55% so there's nothing here really.

Wright/Barnard - Barnard got past Ratajski first game up yesterday, now he's the last game of the night, that's a big break. Honestly would have thought this would have thrown out a Barnard bet given he's generally 9/2 and nearly 5's on Marathon, but it's saying that it wouldn't even be a bet if we were offered 5/1. No bet here.

That's your lot for today - couple of repeat underdog shots, our usual White punt and Michael Smith getting a favourable matchup stats wise that allows us to go on him as a big favourite. Good luck and I'll get on to filling in the stats.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

The second best film of all time


Welcome to the Rock!

Draw is out for Gibraltar, let's look down it bit by bit, I'm not even going to consider looking at the home nation qualifiers as they'll either get pummelled (anyone that isn't Schnier) or they're facing someone with no real reads (Schnier), so let's go:

van Gerwen v Bates/van der Voort - Bunting v Boulton/Edhouse: While Bunting's shown some signs of life recently, a match against van Gerwen still rates to be a 5-1 preposition. What of the first round games? Barrie/Vinnie actually rates to be quite close, oddly enough - Bates is on very limited information, and what information we have says he's wildly inconsistent, but this sort of thing in a short race looks tasty, 0.1u Bates 18/5. Boulton/Edhouse is on a knife edge, Boulton being such a tiny favourite in the model that he's not even at 52%, with the market giving it very close to evens each way and Andy being the one that doesn't quite get there, I'm happy to avoid this one.

Clayton v Schnier/HNQ3 - White v Dudbridge/Hopp - Schnier wasn't terrible the one time we saw him this year, so I'll think he'll beat whoever the HNQ is, but either's going to lose to the Ferret. Dudbridge/Hopp is classic old v new, much as I want Flash to cause the upset, I really can't see it, his game really isn't that good and Hopp rates to claim this three out of four times. As Hopp is 1/4 best price, I see no value here whatsoever.

Gurney v Dolan/Wilson - Webster v Alcinas/West - Six proper players here. Dolan will be looking to win to cause some intra-World Cup team violence, but it's a tough ask against Wilson, who's been getting it quietly and should have more chances than the market suggests, 0.25u Wilson 4/6, don't think it's quite a 1/2 game but there's enough edge here. Alcinas/West sees two defeated last 16 worlds contenders collide, and I think the market's favouring West a bit too much here. I've got Antonio with more than a 40% shot, so 0.25u Alcinas 15/8 looks decent to me, a similar sort of edge to the other first round game here.

Cross v Thornton/Reyes - Whitlock v Huckvale/Burnett - Some more good games here, Thornton against Reyes sees a classic UK against European qualifier, both players have been struggling for a while now, both players have always been inconsistent, so I don't really want to bet this unless the model says I have a big edge - and thankfully it doesn't, Reyes at 8/11 where I've got him at 58% is an easy leave. Huckvale/Burnett is a game between two players at opposite ends of their careers (although Burnett clearly isn't done, and Huckvale's certainly been around for a while), model has this as a coinflip. Huckvale is 6/4 - he's no mug and will have his chances, Burnett's not been playing bad but this looks like a play - 0.25u Huckvale 6/4.

M Smith v Wattimena/HNQ4 - Price v Padgett/de Decker - Won't analyse the first bit as Smith'll be a big favourite in round 2, Wattimena the same in round 1, move on. Padgett against de Decker is a game between two players most don't know a lot about, de Decker's trying to rebuild having lost his tour card but has four Development Tour titles, while Padgett has been in and around the scene for around a decade, not really doing much but having the odd spurt at the UK Open and making the worlds once. We don't have a huge amount of data for either, both at around 100 legs played, but the model's reckoning de Decker has a 60% shot, so 0.25u de Decker 5/6.

Cullen v de Graaf/Labanauskas - Chisnall v Nicholson/HNQ1 - Assuming Paul gets through round 1, that could be an interesting round 2 game, the Asset isn't playing badly at all, and reckons he can beat Chisnall one time in three - if Dave throws some of the junk he did in the World Cup that's believable. On the other side we've got an intra-Europe game, Darius fresh off the World Trophy, while Jeffrey, since making the worlds in 2017 if I remember rightly as one of the top 4 Euros not otherwise qualified, hasn't done much of anything since then and this is just his second appearance on the Euro Tour this year, having got through the home nation qualifier in Zwolle. Market has that tight, model has it tight, ignoring it.

Suljovic v A Lewis/HNQ2 - Wade v J Lewis/R Smith - First round game for Adie will be LOL, but the second round game will be great - model favours Lewis 5/4 but model doesn't recognise that Suljovic has been running bad and averages more when losing than winning. Or that he's just won a non-ranking title. Other pod here looks alright, and gives us a betting spot - Jamie's the favourite and rightly so, but he's far too big of a favourite, since the worlds he's not really backed it up. Model reckons that Smith gets home 40% of the time, which makes 0.25u Smith 4/1 look real good. If that doesn't work we get what looks close to a coinflip in round 2.

Wright v Ratajski/Barnard - King v Dobey/Lennon - Ran the Ratasjki line earlier and it looks OK, Barnard's been playing well and has chances but only about the one in three that the bookies reckon. Either player against Wright should be fun. Dobey/Lennon could be a thriller which the bookies really can't separate, I'm getting Dobey with just about enough of an edge to bet, 0.25u Dobey 20/21, it's not that far off but I've got him above 56% which, even factoring in Lennon's new confidence on the European stage, should be enough.