Friday 17 August 2018

Brisbane, Milton Keynes and den Haag

Watching a bit of the replay from Brisbane right now. Was good to see that Cadby managed to avenge his defeat to Simon Whitlock, every leg won in five visits being a decent standard, although the real story has to be Raymond Smith knocking out Michael Smith, who now has a fairly unenviable record of two out of three first round losses on this conclusion to the World Series tour. Ray played some decent stuff - with him currently heading up the DPA rankings, he'd be in line to make the PDC worlds (where, if he also qualified, they would absolutely need to rig the draw to give him Ross Smith as an opponent to screw with the Sky captioning lads). Looking back at his 2017 BDO worlds, he did OK, a lot better in the game he lost rather than the one he won, but not bad. Would certainly be a contender to win his first game, good to see that the shelling he got from van Gerwen didn't affect him too much at this level. But why the hell are ITV slotting in ad breaks after three legs? Only the last two games went beyond eight legs, you can surely show the whole game, we don't need to see a bunch more ads for trade suppliers.

Next, there's been a few ladies players saying that they will be playing the qualifiers for the PDC worlds - Hedman, Winstanley, Hammond, Sherrock and Dobromyslova have confirmed themselves in - that's five of the BDO's top eight. Credit to all of them for doing so while the BDO dithers as to what their stance is going to be - that said, while it would be a standard BDO thing to do, you can't imagine that they will do anything that'll prevent them from appearing at Lakeside (or wherever the hell they hold the worlds) given all the free publicity the two entrants will give for the ladies' worlds, and with these top entrants having already gone in, they cannot surely mass exclude people that play the qualifier, as it'd leave their version so incredibly weak, we really don't need to see a repeat of the men's version in 1994 after the WDC split where Part won without averaging 91 in a single match and winning the final in straight sets while only averaging 82.

Finally, with it being less than four months before the worlds starts, what on earth are they going to do with the Premier League? First, here's a look at some ranking metrics:

I've highlighted in green the current PDC top four, who are all over £130k ahead of Gurney in the world championship race who, if they're not still in the top four after the worlds, surely will be invited anyway. I've also highlighted Smith, Suljovic and Gurney, as I can't imagine any conceivable scenario where they're not invited - Smith reached the final last year, has won a World Series event and has a Pro Tour win, Suljovic has won a Euro Tour event, a World Series event and had a pretty ridiculous average this year, while Gurney's a clear fifth in key rankings, looked good last time and while he could do with winning something, or at least making a final, is still looking pretty solid.

Where's this come from in August you ask? There was a brief bit of Twitter this week from Chris Mason making the point, quite rightly, that they pick players based on commercial reasons ahead of the best players. That said, this year everyone was in the top 11 of the FRH rankings when they made the selection and the consensus was that they've made the right call. This year however, can they really leave Barney out regardless of how far he slips in the rankings (note the FRH ranking - he's defending £80k out of his current £276k at the worlds, as well as over £50k from the World Grand Prix semi final and Grand Slam/Players Championship Finals quarters. So he can certainly drop a bunch. But can we find three players better than Barney that they'd actually pick? Let's look at some of the names:

Cadby - has the talent, has a major final and a ranking win, but would surely be too soon, unless he goes really deep in another big one (and he's surely left it too late to make the Grand Prix).
White - despite three tour finals including two wins, he's surely never getting in unless he wins at least a Euro Tour or makes a major semi.
Whitlock - average is nowhere, hasn't won anything this year, was mostly making up the numbers this year after a decent first 2-3 weeks.
Clayton - he's made a major final and won a Euro Tour in the last twelve months but probably needs another decent run somewhere.
Wade, Lewis, Chisnall - grouping these three together as they're all bouncing back after being dropped last year. None of them have won anything, although Wade and Lewis have at least made multiple finals so you could easily see one or two of those sneaking in.
Price - surely not coming back after this season.
Webster - if he reaches another couple of major quarters he'll have a very good case, but that's a bit of an if.
Cullen - has been there or there abouts on the TV and European Tour, if he can continue to do so then I don't see why not with his rankings having escalated to the top 16 level.
Hopp, de Zwaan - Grouping these two youngsters together - I'm sure the PDC would love to chuck Hopp in, but I think he needs to prove he's not a one hit wonder and can do things week in week out, if he can put together a TV quarter final or better then maybe? de Zwaan's done that, has a win and two other finals, and has the van Gerwen killer tag, so why not?

I think that unless one of these (or someone else from nowhere - I've not even mentioned the likes of Huybrechts, van den Bergh or Bunting who could catch fire) makes a major final there's going to be a serious clusterfuck, and with there being a lack of players making a solid case, then I think you need to reinvite van Barneveld even if he doesn't play another ranked floor event this year and bricks every major. It'll be an interesting decision.

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