Tuesday 7 November 2017

Grand Slam draw and random comments

The PDC had the final qualifier for the Grand Slam yesterday, and with that, barring weird withdrawals, the last chance for anyone to get into a position to get any more ranking cash prior to the worlds. Jenkins didn't even enter it, so he's done, Dolan managed to lose to Caven so he's out barring a great run at Minehead, anyone else was probably too far back but Robbie Green has two shots to perform a miracle at least. In other random news, Josh Payne has managed to keep his worlds hopes alive by reaching the world youth final, where he'll face Dimitri van den Bergh, I believe that if Dimitri wins there's no spot for Josh and the slot will just go to the PDPA qualifier, so it's win or bust really, shame for Cadby but oh well. The Chinese qualifier has produce a random kid who got whitewashed by Wade in the Shanghai World Series event, and it looks like Marko Kantele got the second SDC slot. Also, it seems that the site that Burton wrote for is on hiatus, which is a shame. Also, as mentioned in a previous post, Rob Cross is now up in the FRH top 10.

So, the draw, what do we have?

Group A: van Gerwen/Cross/Murnan/Montgomery

Seems to be two clear favourites here, van Gerwen and Cross everyone knows about, and should have more than enough to advance from this field. Murnan's a bit of a surprise qualifier, having beaten Benito in a deciding leg first round up and then getting nobody decent following, needing a decider against Ryan Palmer in the last round and only making a single last sixteen all season, so I can't see how he can get close. Montgomery's been around since forever but is on debut here, the limited stats I have on him aren't great and his performances in BDO majors are pretty mediocre, so his game against Murnan could be an early contender for worst of the tournament.

Group B: van Barneveld/Price/Lennon/Hughes

Think there's realistic chances for Hughes here, who's a back to back BDO semi finalist and looked good this time last year, in as close to a home field as he'll get. Barney's maybe a touch rusty and Price hasn't really cracked through into the threat to anyone level, so over a short race Hughes may have some equity. Lennon's going to make his PDC worlds debut this year after a solid season, coming through van den Bergh, Beaton and Cullen in the qualifier, his numbers from the European Tour seem solid so this group could be wide open.

Group C: Taylor/Wade/Green/Machin

Taylor's going to still be solid, and I can't see any of this lineup troubling him even over a short distance, so it's probably a race for second. Wade looked OK in spots last weekend so should probably be the favourite, but Green had to come through a tough qualifier facing North, Temple, Klaasen and van der Voort, so may be returning to some of the form he showed around this time last year. Machin's here on account of winning the World Trophy, where he showed some ability to finish quickly and consistently, so if he plays like he did then he could have a shot, but such is the comedy of the BDO's qualifying system he's never even played Lakeside, so this could be a huge shock in terms of big stage play.

Group D: Gurney/Webster/Webster/Noppert

Interesting group, let's deal with the seed first - Gurney's not a lock to advance out of the group by any means but should do so, I feel only Darren has the explosiveness to threaten him. Noppert has had a really disappointing year, not winning a thing or even making a final, so while he clearly has the game he's not shown it since Lakeside. Mark Webster is in on account of making the World Cup final, which doesn't mean a great deal, while Darren needed to qualify, and did so very comfortably, dropping three legs to Caven but whitewashing both his other opponents. I think the Demolition Man also gets through, but all four could advance if they find form.

Group E: Wright/Norris/Cadby/Durrant

Jesus Christ this group is stacked. I'll look at who I think is the weakest player here in Norris, who has an FRH ranking of 11 so has clearly been doing enough, mostly on TV, so may do alright on the stage. Cadby has had multiple chances to make the worlds but couldn't take any of them, so something might not be right, but did make a World Series final so when the cameras are on he can show up. Durrant needs no introduction, the current Lakeside champion has had a solid season when he's played and showed this time last year that he can hang with the elite players, which leaves Peter Wright, who's won more than ten titles this year. It wouldn't surprise me to see any combination of these players qualify, this is a brutal group.

Group F: Chisnall/Bunting/de Zwaan/Mitchell

Chizzy should have enough to advance, although in a short race it doesn't take too many misses at double to break things badly. Bunting had a fairly comfortable qualification with wins over Richardson, Shepherd and Kamphuis, and has shown occasional glimpses that he's getting back to form, so should probably be the favourite to take the second spot. de Zwaan is on fire right now, reaching Minehead with a semi final Pro Tour run, needing Cadby to knock him out of the world youth at the quarter final stage, having drawn the number 1 seed in the first round and won, and made it here by beating Clayton, White and Thornton, a very respectable combination. Mitchell's a former Lakeside winner who's had a good season, and given this group isn't the toughest, he could upset the apple cart if he plays his A game.

Group G: Suljovic/Smith/Wilson/McGeeney

I'm thinking the first two here are favourites to advance, but in a short format the others aren't out of the equation. Mensur's in too good form to not grab one of the spots, while Smith's been very up and down and can't afford to be down against Wilson, who seems to do his best work in shorter formats, qualifying with a last round victory over a resurgent Keegan Brown, on TV he's kept a lot of games close before falling away so in a race to five he could fall over the line just enough to nick second. McGeeney's a player a lot of casuals may not know about with just two Lakeside appearances where he went out in the second round two times, but he's been very good for a while now, winning the Dutch Open, big events in Germany, England and Switzerland as well as making the World Masters final, to reach the top of the BDO rankings.

Group H: Anderson/Whitlock/van Peer/Menzies

This group doesn't seem too interesting really, Anderson and Whitlock should have far too much for both the world youth finalist from 2016 and the last of the BDO qualifiers on rankings, winning some events in Scotland to push him up the ranks. Whitlock's form is enough that I can't see him struggling against anyone but Anderson, which should be a straight face off for the group win. van Peer's been gaining a lot of floor experience but hasn't matched anything like what he was doing in 2016, so could have issues getting a point in this one.

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