PCL Pacific Playoff Preview

PCL Pacific Playoff Preview


by David Pruess, Manager

I've looked over the 4 pacific playoff teams, looking for lineups that best utilize the players with the strongest performances so far this year-- although in some cases there are still some potentially strong players on whom we only have 1 or 2 matches worth of data. For each team, I have suggested what I think their best lineup is, and how strong it is relative to others.

[A note on methodology you may wish to skip-- The "accurate" ratings used in my analysis are a weighted average of the players' 2019 PCL performance and their up-to-date FIDE (or in a few cases FIDE Rapid) rating. If they have played 20 or more games, I simply use the PCL perf. If they have played 10-20 games, it's about 50-50, and if they have played 1-2 matches, the PCL perf only figures in 12.5-25%. I don't then 100% follow these numbers in evaluating lineups-- I take into account some human factors I may know, and also my sense of how matches play out. For example, having a 2000 or a 2200 level-performer on board 4 has a much smaller impact on the match score than a 2700 v a 2500 on board 2, so for the strength of a lineup, I will consider it stronger than the average suggests if the bottom board is 2000 and weaker than the average suggests if the bottom board is 2200.]

1. Minnesota Blizzard

Minnesota Official Accurate Official Accurate
Fidel Corrales 2539 2561 Corrales 2539 2561
Tang 2489 2553 Henriquez 2519 2601.5
Beerdsen 2476 2620 Tang 2489 2553
Bartholomew 2439 2457 Bartholomew 2439 2457
2485.75 2547.75 2496.5 2543

Official Accurate
Henriquez* 2619 (FA penalty) 2681
Beerdsen 2476 2620
Bartholomew 2439 2457
Sean Nagle 2432 2337.5


They don't have as many good lineups as I thought, and it doesn't seem worth it to play both their awesome free agents, Henriquez and Beerdsen at once. They performed relatively better in Battle Royales, so in 4 v 4 their performance won't quite match the numbers indicated here. It's an open question whether Beerdsen or Henriquez should be played-- Henriquez has a higher perf but has played fewer games, so you can't be as sure that he will be consistently that strong.

2. Dallas Destiny

Dallas Official Accurate Official Accurate
Xiong 2651 2745 Xiong 2651 2745
Holt 2561 2600 Holt 2561 2600
Gorovets 2512 2564 Berczes 2509 2497.666667
Jiner 2264 2449 Jiner 2264 2449
2497 2589.5 2496.25 2573

Official Accurate
Xiong 2651 2745
Zhou 2625 2637
Gorovets 2512 2564
Toolin 2170 2265
2489.5 2552.75

Potentially a lot of other lineups to try, with many players on the team performing well. And Holy-Moly those lineups! Seemingly the scariest in the Pacific. If Berczes can perform as well as he did in his one match or if Toolin can perform as well as he did in his, then the 2nd or 3rd lineup might even be stronger than the first. But the first is (imo) the fourth strongest proven lineup in the entire league, and the best in the Pacific.

3. Chengdu Pandas

Chengdu Official Accurate Official Accurate
Ding 2700 2742 Yu 2700 2763.5
Yu 2700 2763.5 Wang Yue 2681 2664
Li Di 2465 2633 Zhao 2612 2674
Zhang/Yunshan 2000 2035.25 Zhang/Yunshan 2000 2035.25
2466.25 2543.4 2498.25 2534

Official Accurate
Yu 2700 2763.5
Bai 2556 2606
Li Di 2465 2633
Zhai 2251 2234
2493 2559

The Pandas have a ton of players who did pretty well, and thus a host of strong lineups in the 2530-50 range, but nothing that cracks 2560. I think board 4 is the least important, and so the best lineup by a fair bit is Ding+Yu+LiDi, which is one of the top lineups in the league, even though the more balanced Yu-Bai-Li-Zhai lineup clocks in at a higher average. Imagine the board 4 goes 0-4, but then you have to face Ding, Yu, and Li Di. Tough.

4. Australia Kangaroos

Australia Official Accurate
Sarana 2634 2697
Smirnov 2549 2616
Fernandez 2472 2489.5
Song 2305 2464
2490 2566.6

Australia has 3 massive stars who have played almost every game for them on boards 1, 2, and 4, and they need them. They don't have any playoff-competitive lineup without them. With them, they seem like a favorite to upset the Blizzard in the first round. That said, Sarana had his worst week, 2-2 v the Blizzard and it's the one match the Roos lost all year.

Looking beyond that match, I would favor the Destiny and Panda lineups above, especially with board 3 being a question mark for the 'Roos.

First Week Lineups and Predictions

1. Minnesota Official Accurate verse 4. Australia Official Accurate
Fidel Corrales 2539 2561 Smirnov 2549 2616
Tang 2489 2553 Illingworth 2512 2507
Beerdsen 2476 2620 Fernandez 2472 2489.5
Mitkov 2473 2460 Song 2305 2464
2494.25 2548.5 2459.5 2519

With Sarana not available, this becomes a bit of a mis-match. Minnesota won't need draw odds. That said, it will be full of interesting games with two balanced lineups, and all 16 games pretty hotly contested. It's in these kind of lineups that a 4-0 can happen in some round and turn everything on its head.

2. Dallas Official Accurate 3. Chengdu Official Accurate
Holt 2561 2600 Yu 2700 2763.5
Preotu 2513 2438.5 Wang Yue 2681 2664
Gorovets 2512 2564 Zhao 2612 2674
Wheeler 2406 2431 Zhang Di 2000 2035.25
2498 2508.4 2498.25 2534.2

Unfortunately, it looks like we won't get to see Xiong (US Champs) or Zhu Jiner in the 2019 PCL playoffs. Chengdu wisely plays one of their very best lineups for a 4v4, and after taking advantage of Xiong's absence, they will probably play another "Sac-4" lineup and defeat the Blizzard, to make a return trip to the PCL Final Four, where they will lose to the representative of the ... you'll have to read my other previews to find out which Division I see winning it all.

(By the way, the way I see this Sac-4 lineup playing out for Chengdu is that their board 4 goes 0-4, but their other three players each get 3 or more. Yu is a threat to go 4-0, so it's hard to see how this lineup loses... on paper.)

Pacific Finals: Pandas beat Blizzard