Four of FDI’s Top Six Face off At the O2.
The culmination of another Premier League campaign is upon us with the final four consisting of Gerwyn Price, Michael Smith, Michael van Gerwen and Jonny Clayton. Using their Faria Darting Index (FDI) ratings on their own as a predictor, the outcome would see Price defeating van Gerwen in the final. There is always more than meets the eye, with a cocktail of factors such as injuries, participation and non-participation on the Pro Tour at the weekend just gone, and the form shown under the bright lights of a Thursday night after sixteen weeks up until now.
We consulted various members of the Darts Orakel team for their predictions on how the night at the O2 will pan out, including the man behind FDI, as well as a guest who is a recent addition to the darts world of statistical analysis: Colin Harris, also known as FEBsData (@FEBsData on Twitter).
Last year I was pretty confident van Gerwen would get it done, but I also thought Cullen could wreak havoc. This year I have a similar view: I believe Price (the favourite) is the most likely winner but Clayton (the outsider) is being grossly underestimated. As the 8/1 long-shot with the bookies, The Ferret is the value from a betting perspective. His form in 2023 has been patchy yet spectacular in spells and he has, in fact, had the second most ton-plus averages in PDC events (behind only Price). He was poor against Aspinall last week in a match it turns out he could afford to lose, then showed his class with a title in Leicester to remind everybody how dangerous he is. So here’s what I’m going to say – the Price game will be tighter than many are anticipating and I expect Jonny to push his compatriot, but ultimately for Price to come through. However, if I’m wrong and Jonny does manage to sneak over the line, I reckon he’ll go on and win the final.
In the other semi, we have two players who have gobbled up the major events in recent memory and yet it feels like neither of them are putting two high-class performances together on the trot, very often. They’re both so good that even despite this, they have won seven nights between them. Smith has looked unbeatable at times and vulnerable at others, sometimes on the same night. I’m not sure van Gerwen’s injury is really a thing, judging by the fact he played on the Pro Tour days later. Generally he hasn’t played well by his standards for a while and had one average in the 80s, one in the early 90s, and a couple in the late 90s in Leicester. I’d probably go for Smith in this one, but I think the World Champ might use up most of his fireworks to get through, then succumb to his opponent in the final.
Winner: Gerwyn Price
I think Price will win, but I can’t think of anything too insightful to say about that. I look at the advantage he has over Smith and MvG in Ordinal Checkout Efficiency (OChE) and the FDI ratings, and his 4-1 record against Clayton in the Premier League speaks for itself. I would feel comfortable in saying Price is a 55-60% favourite to win a final against either of his possible opponents, assuming he gets there.
I won’t speculate about injuries or rivalries and their impact; these guys play each other dozens of times each year so if there was ever a case in which long-term, comprehensive statistics can provide insights about future performance outcomes, then this is it.
Winner: Gerwyn Price
Gerwyn Price has reached the final in four of the last five weeks.He finished top and was the player most in form during large parts of this campaign. Clayton has been more up and down although he did win back-to-back nights. Outside of those nights, he only made the final on two occasions and when you add the fact Gezzy has lost 1 of the last 9 meetings between the two of them, I’d say Gezzy is firm favorite to be in the final later on that evening.
In the other semifinal, Michael van Gerwen was the player in form for the first half of the league phase and now it seems like Michael Smith is the player in form – in particular winning Nights 14 & 15 when it mattered most to him. I expect Bully Boy to 100% bring his A-game and he’ll be determined to make it a hat-trick of majors in the space of seven months. He has also won the last two meetings with MvG, both of them in this years’ Premier League.
If MvG didn’t have the injury concern, I’d say he was favorite, but because I’m not sure whether he’ll be 100%, I’m going with Smith.
The final is a close call. The recent meetings between my two predicted finalists have been evenly matched, with the last ten resulting in five wins for Gezzy and five for Bully Boy. If I had to pick someone I would go for Price, because he seems so sharp in those pressure moments. That’s not to say Smith regresses during those moments, it’s just that Price more often seems to find a little extra to make sure he gets that result over the line, in my opinion. Plus Price is FDI Number 1, of course!
Winner: Gerwyn Price
Gerwyn Price ended up winning the league phase and will start the rightful favourite . Four more ton-plus averages on the Pro Tour at the weekend show the Welshman’s purple patch of form is not abating, and having won eight of his last nine against Clayton, it’s hard to see the Ferret upsetting the odds, for all he’ll be boosted by his victory in Leicester on Sunday.
The other semi sees a repeat of the World Championship Final, with bookmakers unable to split the two Michaels in a real ‘pick’em’ contest. There have to be lingering concerns regarding van Gerwen’s injury last week however, and I’m going to side with Bully Boy to not only come through this match, but go on and beat Price in the final. Smith is a different animal these days, managing his schedule and peaking for big occasions. He’s not played the last six Pro Tours but has maintained an extremely high standard in the Premier League whilst also landing the German Darts Grand Prix last month, which included a demolition of Price with a 108 average.
Winner: Michael Smith
Colin Harris (@FEBsData)
He (Smith) is the only player to have averaged over 90 in every game of the competition this yearColin Harris
Gerwyn Price leads the way in a lot of scoring areas this year. He’s averaged over 100 in a stunning 52.75% of his 91 matches and 52.78% of his 36 Premier League games. However, nobody with five letters in their surname has ever won the PL, so that’s against him (and Smith, of course)!
Only four players have a winning record on finals night, and two of them play here. Jonny Clayton is 2-1, and leading the way is Michael van Gerwen on 14-3. He’s also beaten a Briton in every final he’s won, and is guaranteed to meet one here if he gets past Smith – against whom he recorded his memorable 123.40 in 2016. Smith, for his part, is well rested, having played at least 17 games fewer than any of the other semi-finalists this season. He’s the only one of the four to have averaged over 90 in every game in the competition this year. Clayton, who has already played a remarkable 104 games this season, will need to overcome his poor recent record against his countryman, having lost six of their seven matches this season. If he does so, however, he’s one of the few people to have a winning record against van Gerwen (8-6). I’ve made a case here for any of the four winning the Premier League, and reasons why they won’t too. Stats: you gotta love ’em. I’ll go with Price.
Winner: Gerwyn Price
Image by Taylor Lanning Photography