Stats Analysis: Finishing Frustration

Stats Analysis: Finishing Frustration

Christopher Kempf, the statistical analyst of the PDC, looks at why doubles percentages can be misleading, ahead of Thursday's Unibet Premier League Night 13 in Birmingham.

MISSED doubles posed a serious problem last week for many players as the Unibet Premier League visited Cardiff, but especially for Peter Wright (who hit only 13% of his doubles) and Daryl Gurney (21%).

No player since 2013 has won a Premier League match while missing more than 77%, or 23 doubles in total, and only 8% of matches in this time period were won by players who converted fewer than one in three of their finishing attempts.

The median percentage of players winning their group match is 47; the median for players salvaging a draw is 40.

While the PDC-wide stage doubles percentage is 38, the expectations of a Premier League player are greater.

A player recording such a percentage in the Premier League is at serious risk of losing most of his matches - irrespective of scoring power - by giving up legs due to missed doubles.

However, of all Premier League round-robin matches played since 2013 and won by one player (excluding draws), 83% were won by the player with the high average, while only 77% were won by the player with the high doubles percentage for the match.

The fact that accuracy on the doubles tends to be less predictive of the outcome of the match simply indicates that because the matches are very short, there often aren't enough doubles thrown to give a real indication of who was the better finisher on the night.

Consider Rob Cross' Night Four defeat of Daryl Gurney by a score of 7-1, in which Cross recorded an average nearly 12 points higher than that of Daryl Gurney, but his winning seven legs made it nearly impossible to match Gurney's 100% on the doubles (one hit with one dart).

A much longer time-frame than one night is needed to evaluate for which players finishing is their forte.

If we consider all doubles thrown during the recent Premier League careers of the remaining players (2013-present), we can at least get a sense of how accurate their finishing would be if Premier League matches were 100 legs long, though there is too much randomness in short-form matches to accurately predict doubles tallies.

Leading the way is Rob Cross, who in his short Premier League career has managed to hit 50% or a majority of his doubles in 14 out of 29 matches played, yielding an overall doubles percentage of 44.5%.

While Michael van Gerwen's is slightly lower (43.9%), his much longer tenure in the Premier League make such a percentage more indicative of his overall skill, given that he has managed an accuracy rate nearly as high as Cross', but on five times as many attempts.

James Wade (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

We can be assured that for James Wade, nearly two-thirds of all his double attempts (which he converts into won legs at a rate of 42.1%) involve doubles 20 or 10, and that his doubles percentage would be even higher were he able to only throw at his favourite double.

As made evident by last week's loss to Mensur Suljovic, Daryl Gurney has much work to do to reassert his authority as a finisher, as his 37.8% comes in at about the level of the doubles percentage for an average European Tour event, in total.

Because it makes no difference whether a player, throwing three darts to complete a finish like 32 or 40, wins the leg on the first, second or third dart (so long as he does so with one of the three!), the doubles percentage is a somewhat illusory statistic.

A player who lays good markers for himself so as to facilitate the accuracy of the second or third dart is punished, unfairly, with a lower doubles percentage.

But in the long run, the true capabilities of players with respect to finishing emerge very gradually from the data.

It is too soon to conclude that Rob Cross is the best finisher in the Premier League, on the basis of the stats below, or that Daryl Gurney is the worst, because giving oneself the ability to attempt lots of doubles, due to heavy scoring at the start of a leg, is just as important as how one finishes it.

Doubles Percentages, Premier League, 2013-2019 (attempts)
Rob Cross
44.5% (373)
Michael van Gerwen 43.9% (1834)
James Wade 42.1% (951)
Mensur Suljovic 41.4% (266)
Peter Wright 40.0% (1155)
Michael Smith 39.9% (499)
Gerwyn Price 38.9% (270)
Daryl Gurney 37.8% (400)

Follow Christopher Kempf on Twitter through @Ochepedia