Sunday, 22 October 2017

Second Division Darts, sponsored by some random bookmaker nobody uses

I posted a short while ago about how the PDC should have a play-in tournament to the Premier League instead of the Masters, then I thought why not go one further with the hypotheticals - let's have a whole second division instead. Logistically and commercially it never happens, even if they could easily sell out smaller venues, the likes of which were seen in the Premier League's infancy (finals day at the Circus Tavern anyone?), but I've taken the ten highest ranked players in the FRH rankings after the World Championship was finished, and then looked to their first meeting this season to give a results. Our line up is Mensur Suljovic, Benito van de Pas, Ian White, Michael Smith, Robert Thornton, Simon Whitlock, Alan Norris, Daryl Gurney, Gerwyn Price and Stephen Bunting. Terry Jenkins would have been the last man in, but it'd be stupid to include him in the exercise. I'm not interested in any sort of "but Suljovic would have been in the main field if the rumours were right and he didn't decline the invite" or "Bunting/Thornton etc did nothing in 2016, invite someone else instead" arguments, it's all a hypothetical, but for 2018 what I will do is take the top 4 players in the FRH rankings who weren't invited to the real Premier League, then hand out six wildcards, and run it throughout the year.

Our current rankings look as follows:

Norris 6-2, yet to play Thornton
Whitlock 5-2, yet to play Thornton, Bunting
Suljovic 4-3, yet to play van de Pas, Thornton
van de Pas 4-3, yet to play Suljovic, Bunting
Smith 4-4, yet to play Bunting
Price 4-4, yet to play Bunting
White 3-6
Gurney 3-6
Bunting 2-3, yet to play van de Pas, Smith, Whitlock, Price
Thornton 2-4, yet to play Suljovic, Whitlock, Norris

That surprises me quite a bit. I'd have thought Norris would be nowhere near the top, and I'd have thought Gurney wouldn't be in real danger of the relegation zone. van de Pas having a winning record is also somewhat surprising. As far as closing out the remaining games go, Suljovic and van de Pas are likely to meet in round 2 of the Players Championship, while the rest of the games involve Thornton or Bunting. Thornton's not likely to play anyone again, he didn't make Hasselt and the only player in the Players Championship Finals in his half is Whitlock, but as van Gerwen is also in that half, it's not likely to happen. Bunting can't realistically face anyone in Hasselt with nobody in his quarter, and while he could get rid of the Price match at Minehead, they'd both need to make the quarters and go through Anderson and Suljovic respectively. So, to complete the scores, I'll first call the games draws, then go back through most recent matches and take the result from 2016 or earlier.

Table if unplayed games are draws (breaking ties by head to head, van de Pas/Suljovic can't be done):

Norris 13 (W6-L2-D1)
Whitlock 12 (5-2-2)
Suljovic 10 (4-3-2)
van de Pas 10 (4-3-2)
Smith 9 (4-4-1)
Price 9 (4-4-1)
Bunting 8 (2-3-4)
Thornton 7 (2-4-3)
White 6 (3-6-0)
Gurney 6 (3-6-0)

Table if unplayed games use most recent game from pre-2017, breaking ties by head to head:

Norris 7-2
Whitlock 6-3
van de Pas 6-3
Price 5-4
Suljovic 5-4
Smith 4-5
White 3-6
Gurney 3-6
Thornton 3-6
Bunting 2-7

Thursday, 19 October 2017

PDC Worlds international qualifiers

Today we finally got a bit of clarity as to what the remaining international qualifiers will be for Alexandra Palace, and it's a touch controversial, not only is it a case of them leaving everything until the last minute, with just eight weeks until the tournament kicks off (by contrast the entire BDO field has been announced and they kick off three weeks or so later), but it seems to be somewhat arbitrary as to how they've allocated the spots. Chucking an extra slot to Eastern Europe seems like a case of "get Ratajski in by any means necessary", and chucking one at whatever the NDFC is seems to be a case of giving Jeff Smith a spot on account of him not making the BDO worlds, due to their comically bad system of international qualifiers. A random spot for Africa just seems like a way to invite Devon Petersen, the only mystery is how they didn't give Max Hopp an auto-berth because darts in Germany is huge, presumably they guess he'll win the German qualifier (or the world youth, which seems even less likely). One spot for the Development Tour seems an odd one - there's already a slot for the best young player, i.e. whoever wins the world youth. Surely if you're going to give one to the minor tours you give it to Wayne Jones?

I'm not disputing that any of the players that had spots announce today don't deserve the spots, they're all excellent players on their day (for Ratajski and Smith it's most days, for Petersen less so), and I think we all want the best players on the oche in the biggest event of the season, but it seems a bit odd that they've allocated things in this way. Does anyone actually think that if Ratajski won one more game on the European Tour they'd give a spot to Madars Razma or Nandor Bezzeg, depending on how they define eastern Europe? If Smith had made Lakeside and took that opportunity they'd give a spot to Dion Laviolette? What if Petersen had won the last Pro Tour event from nowhere, would they give a spot to whoever the next best African player is? I'm not even going to try to work out who that might be. The weirdest thing about Ratajski is that they took away the four spots for next best Europeans, and he'd have got the first one of those positions anyway.

Monday, 16 October 2017

European Championship draw out

That was quick. Got to feel a bit for Suljovic and Kim Huybrechts in getting really awkward draws, but that's the nature of seeding eight players, you'll get oddities like Norris drawing Taylor last year. Ratajski seems to be confirmed in and doesn't have the easiest draw in Peter Wright, and apart from Suljovic the seeds appear to have dodged major bullets. The unseeded games all look to be quite well balanced, which is somewhat refreshing and should allow for some tense moments particularly given the quick race in the first round.

I'm posting the below bunch of stats (my god Google Sheets is so much easier to format on than Openoffice), there are no recommended bets yet as the draw's only been out and there's still a week plus so nothing's going anywhere. One thing I didn't list is that the FRH rankings listed on the sheet include the mincash for this event, so they will look a bit different to those posted up yesterday after Göttingen (i.e. Whitlock's now passed Taylor). So, without further ado, the initial FRH stat barrage, complete with conditional formatting and everything - if it's a bit small, a full size version should be available at if it's too small and can't click through to resize:

Sunday, 15 October 2017

ET12 aftermath

Michael van Gerwen's just claimed yet another title, being pressured well by Rob Cross who forced the Dutchman to pull out some huge checkouts at critical moments. I won't go through the whole best and worst formally for this one, other than saying it was another great performance by van Gerwen, winning his first three matches today for the loss of just two legs, Cross did well again, Andy Boulton can be happy with his weekend although the win against van der Voort was a bit fortunate with just one of six legs won being real quality legs, Keegan Brown also continued his recent resurgence in form with two quality wins before running into Cross. Kist has to be real disappointed with his 6-0 loss to Dekker and a very poor average, Benito van de Pas got whitewashed as well, James Wade also suffered a real bad defeat in the opening round.

In terms of seedings for the Euros, Suljovic and Klaasen held the number 4 and 5 seeds, Cross nipped up to 6 to be in the same section as Smith, knocking Cullen down to 7, while Whitlock was able to hold on to the final seeding spot.

New adjusted FRH rankings:

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

No real big swings as can be expected with van Gerwen grabbing the bulk of the cash, but Cross as reported earlier is now in the top 20 with a seven grand cushion over Mervyn King. Of those that have had big performances since the last update (so incorporating the midweek Players Championship events), James Wilson grabs the last spot in the top 30, Jonny Clayton is up to 37, Wattimena moves ahead of Terry Jenkins who rounds out the top 40, Jamie Caven climbs a few spots to 42, Keegan Brown is back into the top 60, and Andy Boulton is one place outside the top 64. Jeffrey de Zwaan's solid week sees him in the top 80, Alcinas is less than a grand from the top 100, while in ten days' time Colin Lloyd will drop off the list altogether.

With just an exhibition this week don't expect many updates until the European Championship draw is done, I've spotted some small errors in my database that I want to clean up, although as they date back to, at the latest, the BDO worlds, they won't make any difference to any filtered stats if I take it from a year, and all come from players with big sample sizes so won't really affect anything significantly anyway. Not heard anything as to whether the remaining World Masters stats will get posted so I've got to assume they won't at this stage.

ET12 quarter final preview and permutations

Odds are up, a quick run down of the games:

Smith/Cross - Cross is installed as around a 60/40 favourite. My data has this as closer but with Cross still being the favourite, factor in that Cross is the more consistent player (nearly a three point lead on losing average) and I think there's not enough value there to consider betting.

Chisnall/Huybrechts - Can throw consistency out of the window here as they're both prone to missing chunks of doubles and taking legs off, the model has this split pretty much 50/50, so with Huybrechts being the 6/4 dog you might start to think about betting him, especially coming off a final in the last European Tour event, I don't think I want to do that though, Chisnall does have the higher losing average, seems to have been doing more all year and will probably do just enough in terms of outscoring the Belgian to compensate for a bit of doubling flakiness.

Whitlock/Boulton - Boulton's a bit of a surprise package this weekend, I have less than 30 (winning) legs of data on him compared to over 200 for Whitlock, he beat Gurney yesterday so can't be playing too badly, I'll ignore this one from a betting standpoint though as there's too many unknowns.

van Gerwen/Cullen - You can get nearly 6/1 on Cullen, which might not be too ridiculous a play. I've got him at 14% to win the match before a deciding leg, and a deciding leg would happen 20% of the time, however he's not looked on top form this weekend, doing enough against some mediocre opponents, van Gerwen looked good against Bunting just now so will have no bets at the quarter final stage.

The Euro field is set barring Boulton making the final, the only question is who's going to be seeded. With Wright going out early the 1-2-3 are locked as van Gerwen, Wright and Smith, Suljovic and Klaasen are currently 4 and 5, but aren't safe in those spots - Cullen's currently number 6 but can get above Klaasen by making the final and above Suljovic with a win - Cross is currently 7 but can also overtake Suljovic with a win, he's four grand behind Cullen with a better countback so if he reaches the final and Cullen doesn't he'd move above Cullen. Whitlock's the last seed and three grand behind Cross, so would need to reach the final to get any higher, tough given that it'd likely need him to go through van Gerwen. Chisnall is two grand behind Whitlock but with an inferior countback record, so he would need to make the final with either Whitlock not doing the same or Cross losing in the quarter final. For Cross and Whitlock and Chisnall, a win would see them all claim the number four seed. Huybrechts is the only remaining player who might get a seed, he would need to reach the final as a minimum, but that would rely on Whitlock not beating Boulton - if that happens Huybrechts would need to win it all, which would see him get the number 5 seed.

Premier League lineup

Few too many shandies yesterday so no opportunity to post any round 3 analysis from the Euro Tour, I didn't see any outstanding value, but I hope people were on yesterday's 4/4 special.

It's getting close to the end of the season, and there's a few discussions on various media regarding what the Premier League lineup should be. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this here, but I think that they should get rid of the Masters (there's very little money in it, it's unranked and you're not seeing anyone you won't be seeing extremely frequently all year, so why bother?) and use that weekend as a Premier League play-in. I'd have it provide two spots from eight invites, with a double elimination setup to allow everyone plenty of TV time - have Saturday afternoon be the winners round 1 (four games), Saturday evening be the winners round 2 and losers round 1 (four games), Sunday afternoon have the losers round 2 and 3 (three games), and then Sunday evening have the winners final and then losers round 4 and the final (three games). This setup would naturally allow a slightly longer match at the business end on Sunday (something like race to 10 on Saturday, race to 12 on Sunday). So what would my lineup be?

van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Wright are locks to be in the top 4 and get an automatic spot. Suljovic and Gurney have to be in there as well based on what they've done, and one is probable to be the final top 4 spot regardless. Barney seems certain based on popularity (especially given no Phil) and seems to still be doing enough to warrant a place on merit. Chisnall is probably the best English player at the moment and has a win on tour, which takes us up to seven, and I'd probably give my eighth automatic spot to Whitlock, based on three ranking titles this year and making a major final. If someone does something amazing in the remaining majors then he'd be the last man out. This then leaves two spots, which as mentioned above I'd have as a play in - I'd invite the following:

Michael Smith - Euro Tour win, only active player in the FRH top 10 not to be in automatically, still young, high scoring and exciting
James Wade - Would be weird not to at least give him a chance of making it, has done little this year so if he beats this field he'd deserve to be in
Adrian Lewis - Similar to Wade, except he's the better natural talent, has a win on tour this year. Both Lewis and Wade did enough to not get immediately dumped out of this year's Premier League, so should get a shot at staying in
Rob Cross - Incredible opening season, find it hard to give him an automatic place given relative lack of success in TV tournaments, but I doubt you'd find anyone that'd not give him the chance to play in (as an aside, with his win earlier today over Keegan Brown, he is now into the FRH top 20)
Gerwyn Price - Polarising figure, field could use a heel to use some wrestling lingo, can back it up with the game on occasions as seen when he reached the UK Open final
Kyle Anderson - Won a TV event, albeit unranked, has a Pro Tour win, deceptively underranked on most rankings lists due to his absence late last year giving him zeroes where he could easily have picked up 30 grand or more
Joe Cullen - Two Pro Tour titles, seems to be continuing to grow as a player, well inside the top 20 so surely not too ridiculous to offer the chance in a format that includes sixteen players
Corey Cadby - Big wildcard entry, but current world youth champion, nobody is questioning his talent and potential, good World Series performances, this naturally assumes he switches to the PDC full time, sorts visas etc.

Jelle Klaasen and Kim Huybrechts I don't think have done enough all season to warrant entry, for various reasons their previous campaigns were disappointing through no fault of their own, but some cycling of players seems necessary. From other names in the FRH top 20, Phil's retiring, Benito's done nothing all year, if he was going to get in it should have been last season, Alan Norris has had way too many events go horribly wrong for my liking, and Ian White's been quiet this season and, despite his quality, isn't the sort of name I think people would flock in to see.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

ET12 round 2 bets

Quick one this before the session starts:

van de Pas/Brown - lacking data on Brown, the data I have leans towards Benito even at the current price, Brown's match (I don't have yesterday's games in my database yet) and the players' respective form should even it out a bit, enough to make it a no bet.

Norris/Richardson - there might be tiny value on Richardson, my data has it as quite close to the current line but possibly pushing Richardson over the edge on form, but it's close enough to ignore. 7/4 would likely be a bet, 6/4 not so much.

Price/Clayton - Clayton, fresh off the back of a tour victory, at near 2/1 against someone in indifferent form who he's already beaten on a much bigger stage? Yes please, 0.25u Clayton 9/5

Smith/Wattimena - Smith's rightly a big favourite here, may be very close to a Smith bet actually, but Wattimena seems to be doing enough to not punt here when also factoring in Smith's swingy form on the European Tour.

Chisnall/Wilson - Chisnall's a big odds on favourite and I really can't see Wilson having enough to win often enough to bet him, but he probably pulls the upset often enough to stop me going on Chizzy either.

Cullen/West - Cullen's been pretty good all year and isn't playing badly at all, I think he's got a much better chance than the market suggests against West, who won 6-1 yesterday but didn't average well in doing so, think Cullen grinds this out comfortably, 0.5u Cullen 1/2

White/van der Voort - seems a fairly even game. I have White having a small edge, so does the market, gun to my head I'd punt VVDV for the upset but it's close enough not to.

Bunting/Eidams - I lack the data on Eidams to properly assess his chances here, Bunting looked alright in Dublin so I'll leave this alone.

Huybrechts/Aspinall - Aspinall looks live here, I'm not sure whether he's quite live enough to get there at 7/4, the foot might be slightly off the pedal after getting the win that looks like it's got him in the Euros, so will avoid this.

Klaasen/Dobey - A lot of the data on Dobey is fairly old, that does put it as a Dobey bet, but I'm reluctant to do so, he's got the critical win already so may relax a touch. Could be worth it if you fancy an upset bet, Klaasen isn't exactly reliable.

Cross/Caven - Cross looks like a juggernaut right now, and is a huge favourite and rightly so. 1u Cross 1/4

Wright/Schindler - Schindler's got the important work done, can't see Wright dropping this one - 1u Wright 1/5

Whitlock/Ratajski - Critical game for the Pole, both are in great form, the line favours Whitlock but not by much, my data favours Whitlock by a lot but it seems a bit false given the situation.

van Gerwen/Lerchbacher - LOL

King/Dekker - Line looks close enough, both are playing OK, think King may be undervalued a touch but not enough to start betting.

Gurney/Boulton - Not touching that at the line with the lack of info on Boulton.