Sunday 20 May 2018

Race to Blackpool and other musings

We're now half way through the Players Championship season, which seems unbelievable given we're not even at the end of May yet, but we nearly had the answer to "who'll be the next new player to win a PDC ranking title" in Gabriel Clemens (lol at me thinking the first German would be Schindler a couple of months ago, and he was a dart away from being the third at best). Should have taken it, leading 4-1 you've got to close it out, but a great fightback from Gary Anderson regardless.

Was updating the master computer in running - it's not actually too hard to do, results will come in spurts, particularly in round one, but it's manageable. It did mean that I saw Adam Hunt become the latest person to join the "throw four twelve darters in one match on the floor" club, which Anderson also managed in the semi final. Bizarre given that Hunt, in 171 legs won this year, he's only thrown a twelve dart leg 11 times, so four of them being in one match is insane.

We're getting closer to Blackpool - I think anyone that can realistically get a seed is in already through the Pro Tour (only Klaasen isn't in who's outside on the Pro Tour rankings, but if he got enough to be seeded he'd be safe on the Pro Tour rankings already) so with that in mind I'll look just at the Pro Tour cutoff. We've had the UK qualifiers for two of the three remaining Euro Tour events still to go - worryingly for Norris, he didn't qualify for either of them, losing his first round game both times, so with Huybrechts and Webster seeded he could drop down to the number 16 seed. He should have enough of a gap between him and either of the two players who could catch him (Lewis, Cullen) at 18k and nearly 20k, but either of these could pull a European Tour title out of nowhere, so any wins he can get today and in the remaining couple of weekends should be useful.

So this leaves the Pro Tour - here's the reference chart by Burton:

I think anyone from Wilson upwards is safe. Wattimena should be safe given his great record of qualification in European events, and now that he's seeded on the Pro Tour he should be good. Beaton and Henderson are pretty similar in terms of how they've been picking up cash, if Hendo can beat his qualifier opponent in Denmark he'd be absolutely safe. Mervyn's got two shots to beat qualifiers and make himself safe, despite a weird run of over the last nine Pro Tour events where he's gone out first round seven times, out second round yesterday, then a semi final. West is easily playing well enough to convert from here, he should be able to put home at least another couple of grand in Europe along with what he should gain from the Pro Tour - a good record of making the last 32 or better so far is useful. Keegan's a bit more of a worry having missed qualification twice, but he's won his board on the floor enough that I think he should just get home. North is a bit trickier, he's been very hit and miss and has too many first round exits, his figures (adjusted averages etc) are also concerning. Lennon's on the same cash, but is harder to project as he's only just now got into the Pro Tour seedings, so while he's not managed to win a board on the Pro Tour yet, some of that is bad draws (he's had van Gerwen first round twice, Cross first round once and Wright and Wade very early in events as well) that he'll now avoid. de Zwaan, if he doesn't mess up qualification for Europe (as he oddly has been doing), should be fine, and like Lennon it's hard to project his Pro Tour scores as he's only just now been seeded (although, unlike Lennon, he's been destroying it regardless).

So who can force their way in, given that those on the edge are generally playing well? I think you've got to look at who has the power to be able to go very deep in an event, particularly in Europe. Cadby can, clearly, but despite being entered for this weekend seemingly isn't here so he may have used up too many chances. Klaasen could, but he'll need to readjust to having to qualify for Europe, and simply hasn't been playing well enough - his adjusted points per turn is down at 87, exactly the same to the hundredth of a point as Justin Pipe, and you wouldn't say he's in great form either. Lewis clearly has the game, but needs things to work right - he's just on the edge of being seeded for the Pro Tour, so either he runs into a very high quality seed in the board final, or could get any seed earlier. One good match though and he could easily go deep. Meulenkamp and van der Voort are kind of similar, Vincent's probably been a bit unlucky in spots (his losing average is only a quarter of a point behind his winning average, they're both under 90 mind you), and still has the seeding on the Pro Tour, but I don't see him as being the sort of player that can still make the deep run that'll allow him to close the gap - less than 5% of legs won in twelve darts makes you awfully reliant on hitting fifteens very consistently (which, at less than a 50% clip, he isn't) or your opponents making mistakes. At least Meulenkamp is above 10% in four visit kill rate and can put things together occasionally. Dobey is putting in the scores and has two shots in Europe - it's a bit more of a gap but he at least has the game to do it, one final this year shows that. Like Lewis though, he has the same issue that he's just on the edge of Pro Tour seedings (today he looks to be the last man out assuming no further withdraws). Noppert you feel is getting there, and may have the one big run he needs still in him after the semi final he had in Europe recently. Anyone else seems too far behind - Ratajski I don't think has enough bullets to fire unless there's a huge swathe of non-entrants on the Pro Tour, Dimitri has the game but just has way too much ground to make up.

Going to have a look at the lads that aren't doing it in the Players Championship in a new post, and be back with new FRH rankings after PC12.

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