23: Players Championship Preview


So we’re feeling pretty good after hitting Bruce Mouat’s win at +550 in the Champions Cup. If I could legally bet on these things, that would have paid for a nice steak dinner. That’s how you get back on the horse.

There is no real need to preview the Players Championship as it has the same teams and same format as the Champions Cup. I mean, sure, the pools are slightly different, and there will be a full round robin in this one. But those are not differences worth discussing.

No, I’m mainly here to make personal notes for the purpose of putting up my ratings against the betting markets helpfully provided by CoolBet.com. One thing about the odds for posted for the Players is that they reacted heavily to the Champions Cup results. De Cruz’s odds have fallen off the table at +3500. Given that my simulations give him a 4.0% chance of winning, that actually makes him the rare longshot worth picking.

A strong pick with a more realistic chance of paying off is Brad Gushue who opened at +650. Note to anyone wishing to place wagers on curling: If you can get Brad Gushue at +650 in an event you should bet on him. Team Gushue actually moved from third to second in my ratings after losing in the semis. They played very well, including a split with top-ranked Mouat where the loss involved an incredible final shot by King Bruce. They also got easy victories over Jacobs and Dunstone along the way.

One of the things I’ve been obsessed with over the past couple of weeks is shot percentage data. I’ve been playing around with a way to tease out measures of performance from the shot-by-shot scoring, and I have developed something pretty decent for now. This information will provide quite a bit of content once the bubble ends, and the exact methodology requires a post of its own. But for now I can reveal who, according to this method, performed the best at the Champions Cup based on the expected difficulty of the shots they threw:

1. Nik Edin
2. Marc Kennedy (Jacobs 3rd)
3. Brendan Bottcher
4. Adam Casey (Gunnlaugson 3rd)
5. Yannick Schwaller
6. Brad Gushue

Bottcher was actually on track for event MVP until he failed to draw to the eight foot in the fifth end against Mouat. That cost him a steal of two, which was the turning point in the championship match. But my focus is on Gushue, because in the data I’ve been able to gather, Gushue ends up near the top in almost every event he enters. My simulations have him as the virtual co-favorite with Mouat here and I feel pretty comfortable with that.

So put me down for bets on Gushue (+650) and de Cruz (+3500). [Note that the odds on Gushue fell to +500 as I wrote this, but that still has value. He is still listed at +600 at SportsInteraction.]

On the women’s side, our pick of Kovaleva (+1000) didn’t work out, although she did get to the quarterfinals before falling to Tirinzoni.

After Anna Hasselborg’s winless effort this week, she’s gone from the favorite at the Champions Cup to the third choice for the Players at +450 behind Einarson and Homan who are both +300. And likewise, she’s dropped to #3 at doubletakeout.com. Normally, a bad four-game stretch wouldn’t be so devastating to a team that was clearly the best in the world for such a prolonged stretch coming into the event. But with a lack of games this season, especially on the women’s side, this week carried more importance than usual.

There isn’t much to like with the women’s odds, but Kovaleva at +1000 continues to have some limited value, so we’ll run it back with her. Here’s what my MVP standings at the Champions Cup looked like for the women:

1. Kerri Einarson
2. Emma Miskew (Homan third)
3. Seung Youn Ha (Kim second)
4. Alina Kovaleva
5. Tara Peterson (Peterson lead)

Kovaleva was the second-best skip at the event and that’s at least something to warrant my continued loyalty to the Russian champs.

For what it’s worth, Einarson was miles ahead of second-best Miskew by this measure. I know I said you can’t ever expect to put money on the betting favorite in these events, but you could justify it with Einarson this week. Especially if you think that her team getting the day off on Monday has some value. And it might! My sims have her team at 23.2% and the odds offer a breakeven point of 23.5%.

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