Sunday 27 August 2017

Worlds potential winners and losers

I've found it hard to get any real interest in the two World Series events that have taken place this and last weekend, with them being unranked and having almost all of the local players go out more or less without a fight, Cadby excepted, I suppose the only real thing of note is that Gurney's continued to perform and Wade's looked a bit better, so ignoring that and given that we're now less than four months out from Ally Pally, I'm going to take a look at the potential big winners and losers in the Order of Merit looking back to 2016.

Potential big losers:

1) Adrian Lewis

Lewis made the final in 2016 and wasn't too far off being able to beat Gary Anderson to claim a third title, but despite him returning to some form in the Matchplay, he will do very well to not plummet down the rankings. Currently fifth once all money that won't count by the cutoff has been removed, that would give him, as things stand, a last 16 match against Michael Smith, a quarter final against Phil Taylor followed by a semi final against Michael van Gerwen. It's hard to be too confident in any of those.

2) Jelle Klaasen

In the other half in 2016, Jelle was able to get a career-defining win over Phil Taylor in the last sixteen, and followed it up with a deciding set win over Alan Norris before capitulating in the semi final to Gary Anderson. Since then, he's not won a tournament, not been able to make serious inroads into a televised major after the 2016 UK Open, and has had injury struggles which have prevented him from gaining any real consistency. While this will change a bunch before the cutoff, if things froze right now he'd face Kyle Anderson in round two of the worlds, which is frankly a horrible draw, and Mensur Suljovic in the round of 16 would be equally tough.

3) Jamie Caven

Hey guys, remember when Caven won seven consecutive sets to reach round three of the world championships? Me neither, but it supposedly happened less than two years ago, and barring miracles all that's being wiped off the slate as Caven's career path threatens to do a Newton/Hamilton etc without the peaks that they had.

4) Alan Norris

As mentioned above, he managed to get to the quarters in 2016, losing to Klaasen, and looked really good while doing so, taking out Thornton, Murnan and Mark Webster en route - unfortunately, like all his opponents, his form seems to have slipped substantially since then, and his current ranking of 14 isn't likely to rise much, and even if it falls, it's hugely likely that if he was to get to the round of 16, and I'd fancy most round two opponents over him, he's going to run into a truly elite name which he cannot hang with at present.

5) Gary Anderson

He's playing some really great darts, and should be the favourite to reach the final, but he is defending the title money, which is always going to be difficult. He's lost some questionable tight games over medium distances, and he could easily draw a Terry Jenkins or Robert Thornton in round two that could give him issues, and a few of the players in the 15-18 bracket would fancy their chances in a race to four sets.

Potential big winners:

1) Michael van Gerwen

Little analysis needed, he's only defending a third round defeat to Barney, and there's nobody artificially low at present that should give him serious trouble before we get to the longer races to five or more sets.

2-3) Simon Whitlock and Kim Huybrechts

Grouping these two together given their relative similar situation in terms of money defended and rankings - two years ago Whitlock lost to Ricky Evans and Huybrechts lost to Dave Pallett in deciding sets in the first round, both of which they should consider to be disappointing, but this year they've been playing well enough that they shouldn't have a first round hiccup unless they get a bastard draw like a Rob Cross (if he isn't seeded by December, which is entirely possible) or one of the many solid players on the Pro Tour rankings that can be excellent on their days. Right now, Whitlock would be seeded 15 and Huybrechts 18 - drawing each other in what could be a virtual "final" of a second round match.

4) Cristo Reyes

Two years ago he played like complete arse in losing to Wes Newton in the opening round, he's a much more complete and solid player at this stage in his career, and his current ranking is such that he should avoid the truly elite players until at least the round of 16, and we've seen that he can hang with the best on this stage.

5) Rob Cross

This is a multi-way tip - if he doesn't get enough in the bank in the remainder of the year to get a seed, he will be without question the number one name on seed's lists as to who they want to avoid, but if he is seeded, he may not get much beyond the lower ends and get to a real top seed in the second round, where it's still only a race to four sets - and he certainly has the game to be able to defeat anyone over a small-middling distance. Whichever way it goes, he can make serious inroads into this event and then really start to skyrocket in his second year on tour.

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