Sunday 1 July 2018

Hamburg review - the resurgence of Irish darts

So van Gerwen won again, not too much of a surprise, White had half a chance at the upset if he could have timed a twelve dart leg perfectly in leg 10, but the 100-140-137 which would have set him up beautifully for a 124 stab was sadly preceded by a 24, so van Gerwen was able to kill things off. Willie O'Connor was the beaten finalist, and let's have a think about what the Irish, from both sides of the border, have done in the last twelve months. Daryl Gurney won a major title, got into the Premier League, and wasn't far off making the playoffs. Mickey Mansell has won a Pro Tour title. Steve Lennon and now Willie O'Connor have made European Tour finals. Brendan Dolan is showing signs that he may be able to resurrect his career, with decent showings indicating that he should at least be able to get back to the worlds, if nothing else. Further down the pecking order Jason Cullen's managed to win on the Challenge Tour and gain experience at the full PDC level that way. Killian Heffernan looked like a very useful prospect in the BDO youth and hopefully we will see him in Development Tour events sooner rather than later. Kyle McKinstry has been looking competent on the BDO side, and Nathan Rafferty knocked Peter Wright out of the UK Open, has won on the Development Tour and will certainly be one to watch out for.

Andy Boulton managed to edge out Gerwyn Price, don't know how, he seems to have had every opponent simply buckle and let him win easy legs until he ran into O'Connor, while Stephen Bunting was the other semi finalist and must be getting confidence from keeping putting runs together, even if he isn't getting over the line in them.

Matchplay field is now determined, Richard North's got to have been thinking about putting a few quid on O'Connor in the final as insurance, but he's there, as are Lennon, de Zwaan and Klaasen. Seedings look like the draw will be (assuming all seeds win) van Gerwen/Lewis (oh wow), Chisnall/Smith, Anderson/van Barneveld, Gurney/Price, Wright/Huybrechts, Whitlock/Wade, Cross/Webster and Suljovic/White. That van Gerwen half is ridiculously stacked, it's unbelievable. If van Gerwen wins it back he'll definitely have earned it.

New FRH rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Rob Cross
3 Peter Wright
4 Daryl Gurney (UP 1)
5 Gary Anderson (DOWN 1)
6 Phil Taylor
7 Mensur Suljovic
8 Michael Smith
9 Simon Whitlock
10 Ian White
11 Gerwyn Price
12 Darren Webster (UP 2)
13 Dave Chisnall (DOWN 1)
14 James Wade (DOWN 1)
15 Jonny Clayton
16 Joe Cullen (UP 1)
17 Mervyn King (UP 1)
18 Adrian Lewis (DOWN 2)
19 Kim Huybrechts (UP 1)
20 Raymond van Barneveld (DOWN 1)

Barney will almost certainly be out of the top 20 come the Matchplay as Bunting is less than 200 points behind him and has actually played ranking darts matches in the last three months. Klaasen's stopped the rot and passes Jamie Lewis for #24, Pipe's back in the top 30 over Wattimena (for now), while O'Connor gets himself just one place outside the top 50. Boulton's just in the top 75, Lowe is in the top 110 and chasing down current #100 Adam Hunt who's less than 2000 points ahead, Rowley's up in the top 120 and Darius Labanauskas is your #128, and if we had a big tournament seeded via FRH rankings, would see him play MvG in round one. That'd be a fun one.

We've now got a bit of downtime before the Matchplay. It's the Vegas event next weekend, which'll be interesting for the US readers and could give some hints as to who's doing alright there (I can't remember if the new PDC worlds setup means someone can directly qualify through the various events this week, we'll see), then it's Shanghai the week after. I'm very, very tempted to run a Matchplay fantasy comp where you might be able to win some tat, I'll see after I've got various World Cup commitments out of the way. Stay tuned!

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