Monday, 15 January 2018

FRH 2017 Year End Awards

With Glen Durrant surviving match darts in a final that was a lot, lot closer than everybody thought it would be, that's the end of the season, and it's time for the much hyped* FRH year end awards.

Note - only one individual award per person, and it's sorted by importance. The season for these purposes started after 2017 Lakeside, so is more or less a year from today. Number of nominees varies depending on how many people I think are worth a mention

* - not even hyped, let alone much hyped

Best single tournament performance

Nominees - Jamie Lewis, PDC World Championship, Rob Cross, PDC World Championship, John Henderson, World Grand Prix, Daryl Gurney, World Grand Prix, Krzysztof Ratajski, World Masters, Paul Hogan, UK Open

Winner - Phil Taylor, World Matchplay

Could only be one winner for this really, and it has to be Phil in his final season getting that one last major title that many thought was beyond him, and he had to do it the hard way as well - beating current Premier League player Gerwyn Price, old adversary Raymond van Barneveld, current world number one Michael van Gerwen, twice world champion Adrian Lewis and world number two Peter Wright - and not letting anyone outside of Lewis get beyond half way to victory (and Lewis only managed it by one leg). A truly staggering performance. Elsewhere, Hogan came through what'll always be tough pub qualifiers, but to beat Keegan Brown and Jamie Lewis in the opening rounds (results that look a hell of a lot better now than they did at the time) before taking out both Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis is an incredible run for the well respected veteran. Ratajski ran over both the BDO world finalists, a further quarter finalist and a Grand Slam competitor in a ballistic run to claim a first major title, Cross and Lewis's exploits have been well documented recently, while Gurney grabbing a major was a huge result, as was Henderson's run, not only beating van Gerwen but following it up with two great results over Norris and van Barneveld.

Match of the season

Nominees - Rob Cross v Michael Smith, PDC World Championship, Daryl Gurney v Simon Whitlock, World Grand Prix, Glen Durrant v Jim Williams, BDO World Championship, Kyle Anderson v Michael van Gerwen, European Championship, Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright, Premier League Final

Winner - Rob Cross v Michael van Gerwen, PDC World Championship

Again, another award that writes itself - what more could you ask for than arguably the best two players in the world today being inseparable for eight sets, it looking like Michael's won it, only for Rob to say no, dodge match darts and win in a deciding leg. Cross could easily have had more games in here, his match versus Smith being my pick being my pick for the mutual sheer quality, Gurney/Whitlock, van Gerwen/Wright and van Gerwen/Anderson were all high quality affairs that went the distance, while Durrant's match against Williams saw some of the best darts ever played on the Lakeside stage in order to come back from the brink.

Most disappointing season

Nominees - Kim Huybrechts, Chris Dobey, James Wade, Adrian Lewis, Max Hopp, Corey Cadby

Winner - Benito van de Pas

Benito really should have been in the Premier League last season and had to have been in the last one or two players to be chalked off the list, but this year's been a huge regression - many first round TV exits, entered into the world youth as the number 1 seed and lost in the first round, no ranking titles and only looking close once. Huybrechts was a little better on the floor but worse on TV, Dobey should have pushed on to the top 32 but nearly missed the worlds, Hopp did miss the worlds, while Wade and Lewis have plummeted down the rankings, Lewis having a good Matchplay run but nothing else while Wade didn't even have that. How Cadby didn't qualify for the worlds given the number of close to free shots he had at it, I have no idea.

Best young player

Nominees - Nico Blum, Alex Hughes, Dimitri van den Bergh, Luke Humphries, Martin Schindler

Winner - Justin van Tergouw

The Dutchman has managed to retain his BDO world youth title, and has started importantly to make strides in the senior game - only losing to Scott Mitchell in the Dutch Open last 16, qualifying for one of the European Tour events beating van der Voort and giving Kist a very good game, and only just losing to eventual PDC world youth finalist Josh Payne in their event. Blum won the World Youth Masters and has looked OK on the European Tour, what Hughes did in the Champion of Champions at his age is remarkable, Schindler's had a solid all round season on the main and European tours, while Humphries won the Development Tour and van den Bergh claimed the PDC youth title and looks to finally be getting it on the TV stage.

Most disappointing news of the season

Nominees - Deta Hedman not winning the worlds yet again, Glen Durrant not trying Q-School, Morihiro Hashimoto passing away, PDC world championship wildcard clusterfuck, Terry Jenkins mailing in the entire season and missing the worlds as a result

Winner - Phil Taylor still not getting it quietly

I'd have thought at his age he'd be above getting into pointless spats with van Gerwen and Gurney, oh well. Hashimoto hadn't appeared on our screens for some time, but 40 is no age, Durrant deciding to stick with the BDO when he'd clearly be good enough is a shame, and you've got to think that Hedman's chance at a world title has gone now. Elsewhere, the PDC's announcement of the Ratajski, Petersen etc picks was horribly timed and made little logical sense, and certainly rustled many players, and it's so sad that we missed one last appearance of the Bull when it'd have taken minimum effort to qualify.

Personal highlight of the season

Nominees - Peter Wright finally winning a major, Lisa Ashton attempting the Challenge Tour, Berry van Peer making it out of the Grand Slam groups, Paul Lim being Paul Lim

Winner - Mensur Suljovic wins the Champions League

Who can argue with Mensur? He's been good enough to be in the reckoning for quite some time now, and this is a real tricky one to win, there's no easy draws whatsoever and he was able to come through and claim the title. Peter Wright's major was also overdue and well deserved, what van Peer did showed an awful lot of courage, and it was great to see Ashton (and a few others) look to challenge in the men's game and step out of a comfort zone to try to see what they could really do. And Lim! Not just the worlds, the World Cup as well. If only he could have pinned that double 12.

Best new tour card holder

Nominees - Ryan Searle, Steve Lennon, Jamie Bain, Martin Schindler

Winner - Richard North

He's yet to show what he can do on TV, but North has had a fantastic debut season - making a final and doing enough to get into the worlds with ease, also managing to qualify for the Grand Prix. Lennon and Schindler had similar patterns, each managing to crack through to the worlds plus one major, while Searle's been very solid on the floor pushing through to board finals on a regular basis. Bain's been a bit more hit and miss, but his European record has been very good and his numbers are a lot better than his ranking suggests.

Most improved player

Nominees - Joe Cullen, Krzysztof Ratajski, Mark McGeeney, Jonny Clayton

Winner - Daryl Gurney

It is one hell of a jump to go from a marginal top 16 player who might threaten to make a deep run in a big event once in a while, to being a no brain Premier League selection, going deep in nearly every single major event, and actually winning one. Gurney's managed to do that, and a bunch of hard work over the last few years has paid off for him. Elsewhere, Cullen was showing a bit last year what he could do but has now broken through the ceiling and has won on the Pro Tour having been around for ever, he just needs to translate it to the TV more often, Ratajski's converted from someone who's just a name around the place to a feared competitor and major winner who's cleaning up everything in his neighbourhood, McGeeney showed a bit of what he can do yesterday against Durrant, pushing up from a low seed to the BDO number 1, while Clayton has cracked on, also broken a Pro Tour duck and is established in the top 32 and in what's a fascinating race to see who'll join Price as the other half of Wales' World Cup team.

Player of the year

Nominees - Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Glen Durrant, Daryl Gurney

Winner - Rob Cross

Who I thought I'd give this to changed a bunch over the course of the season. With Wright's start I was thinking it could have been him, and if he'd converted the Premier League or the Matchplay he'd probably have got it. Then his form dropped a bit, Gurney came through to win multiple titles including a major, van Gerwen looked invincible in the later majors, while on the other side of the divide Durrant has shown he's clearly the best there again, taking the BDO crown and putting in a great showing in the Grand Slam. It came down to who won that semi final for me, and hence it's got to be Cross - an incredible story that started from nothing and ended with a world title.

I will link this up on Reddit and add in some comments in a later post - next thing I'll probably do as Q-School fast approaches is the Premier League projections that I promised a while ago. I don't intend on covering the Masters, I'm away that weekend and it's a meaningless event.

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