Sunday 22 October 2017

Second Division Darts, sponsored by some random bookmaker nobody uses

I posted a short while ago about how the PDC should have a play-in tournament to the Premier League instead of the Masters, then I thought why not go one further with the hypotheticals - let's have a whole second division instead. Logistically and commercially it never happens, even if they could easily sell out smaller venues, the likes of which were seen in the Premier League's infancy (finals day at the Circus Tavern anyone?), but I've taken the ten highest ranked players in the FRH rankings after the World Championship was finished, and then looked to their first meeting this season to give a results. Our line up is Mensur Suljovic, Benito van de Pas, Ian White, Michael Smith, Robert Thornton, Simon Whitlock, Alan Norris, Daryl Gurney, Gerwyn Price and Stephen Bunting. Terry Jenkins would have been the last man in, but it'd be stupid to include him in the exercise. I'm not interested in any sort of "but Suljovic would have been in the main field if the rumours were right and he didn't decline the invite" or "Bunting/Thornton etc did nothing in 2016, invite someone else instead" arguments, it's all a hypothetical, but for 2018 what I will do is take the top 4 players in the FRH rankings who weren't invited to the real Premier League, then hand out six wildcards, and run it throughout the year.

Our current rankings look as follows:

Norris 6-2, yet to play Thornton
Whitlock 5-2, yet to play Thornton, Bunting
Suljovic 4-3, yet to play van de Pas, Thornton
van de Pas 4-3, yet to play Suljovic, Bunting
Smith 4-4, yet to play Bunting
Price 4-4, yet to play Bunting
White 3-6
Gurney 3-6
Bunting 2-3, yet to play van de Pas, Smith, Whitlock, Price
Thornton 2-4, yet to play Suljovic, Whitlock, Norris

That surprises me quite a bit. I'd have thought Norris would be nowhere near the top, and I'd have thought Gurney wouldn't be in real danger of the relegation zone. van de Pas having a winning record is also somewhat surprising. As far as closing out the remaining games go, Suljovic and van de Pas are likely to meet in round 2 of the Players Championship, while the rest of the games involve Thornton or Bunting. Thornton's not likely to play anyone again, he didn't make Hasselt and the only player in the Players Championship Finals in his half is Whitlock, but as van Gerwen is also in that half, it's not likely to happen. Bunting can't realistically face anyone in Hasselt with nobody in his quarter, and while he could get rid of the Price match at Minehead, they'd both need to make the quarters and go through Anderson and Suljovic respectively. So, to complete the scores, I'll first call the games draws, then go back through most recent matches and take the result from 2016 or earlier.

Table if unplayed games are draws (breaking ties by head to head, van de Pas/Suljovic can't be done):

Norris 13 (W6-L2-D1)
Whitlock 12 (5-2-2)
Suljovic 10 (4-3-2)
van de Pas 10 (4-3-2)
Smith 9 (4-4-1)
Price 9 (4-4-1)
Bunting 8 (2-3-4)
Thornton 7 (2-4-3)
White 6 (3-6-0)
Gurney 6 (3-6-0)

Table if unplayed games use most recent game from pre-2017, breaking ties by head to head:

Norris 7-2
Whitlock 6-3
van de Pas 6-3
Price 5-4
Suljovic 5-4
Smith 4-5
White 3-6
Gurney 3-6
Thornton 3-6
Bunting 2-7

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