Sunday 5 February 2017

UK Open Qualification - Weekend 1

PDC ranking season is now under way - congrats to Peter Wright for taking down two of the three events, ending his enormous losing streak to Michael van Gerwen in the process, and nice work by Simon Whitlock to continue to trend up in form and take the other one. Good job by Mark McGeeney on winning the Dutch Open, which surprisingly saw Noppert fall out at the last 256 stage. Got to credit anyone that takes down a tournament that requires a round of 4096.

So what happened of note in the UK Open qualifiers? Will look at this by giving out some awards:

Best weekend long performance - Fairly easy to give this to Wright, but I'll give this to Steve Beaton instead - only denied by Wright in the quarter finals in the first, beat van Gerwen in the second before losing a deciding leg to Chisnall in the quarters again, and a run to the last 16 today. Solid, consistent play sees him up in sixth of the merit table, and gives him a good base to work on for qualification for major tournaments.

Best tournament long performance - Could give this to Pete Hudson or Mick Todd making a semi final out of nowhere, but Whitlock taking it in a field this tough, needing to take out three of my live top four in the last four rounds, has to get the nod.

Best single match performance - Anyone taking down MvG should be in with a shout, but Ritchie Edhouse? Good work. Pity that seemed to drag him down, losing to Willie O'Connor in the next round with Devon Petersen and Ricky Evans to follow isn't a hard run to continue.

Worst weekend long performance - Comparable to expectations it's easy to give this to van Gerwen, but instead I'll go with Robert Thornton. Everyone who entered three events (Taylor, Suljovic and Jenkins didn't, and Taylor hasn't entered the next weekend, so no UK Open for you) made at least 750 quid until you get down to Justin Pipe - except Thornton, who just edged Chris Dobey before losing to Paul Rowley, whose record isn't exactly good, lost 6-0 to Ryan Murray (career earnings prior to that tournament - £190), and then lost 6-3 to Keegan Brown. At just £250 on the board he has work to do, and it is really easy to see a repeat of last year where he needs to come through early rounds and not cash.

Worst single match performance - Can't really give a worst tournament long performance, as it amounts to the same as this - Caven losing every game including a 6-1 to Joe Davis is close, or 6-2 to Lee Bryant... maybe give Caven worst for the weekend and give Thornton this for the 6-0 loss? I think I'll do that instead.

If we say that £1k is going to be enough to make it for sure, there's an awful lot of little known names that have already booked their places - on top of people mentioned above, Ryan Palmer on £2k is interesting, Richard North, Chris Quantock and Matthew Dennant on 1500, Martin Lukeman on 1000 with new tour card holder Steve Lennon?

These conclude next weekend, and there's plenty still to play for, a Sunday of F5ing awaits. Updated top 20 in adjusted rankings following this weekend:

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

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