Tuesday 1 January 2019

World Championships roundup

Congrats to Michael van Gerwen, it wasn't a classic final but Smith's got to be thinking that if he'd hit a couple of key doubles at key moments, that could easily have been five sets each rather than over. Oh well, he'll come back stronger and as I stated in a 2019 predictions thread on Reddit, I think Smith finally bags a major this year - it feels like he's exactly on the same career trajectory as Adrian Lewis was just before he won his world title, and we all saw what he ended up doing.

In the fantasy competition, congrats to Redditor 16redbird16, whose team of Gary Anderson, Michael Smith, Dimitri van den Bergh, Devon Petersen and Royden Lam scored 705, to nick it from Scothead180 who also had Smith but his other selections of Cullen, Dobey, Clemens, Dekker, Humphries and Malicdem ended up 5 points short. They were the only players who broke 700, with Twitter user @warrenallsworth rounding out the podium with Smith, Wilson, Dobey, Evans, Brown, Clemens and Ilagan to finish on 592. It's not anywhere near the dream team of all the cheap players who overperformed (if you think of someone cheap who's done good, they'd be there, only Michael Smith breached the top 15 in terms of points per cost who would have set you back more than 20) which ended up at nearly 1500 points.

They've just announced the Premier League lineup, and it's the lineup everyone thought it'd be - van Gerwen, Cross, Anderson, Wright, Gurney, Price, Wade, Smith, Suljovic and van Barneveld. Think what you like of the Barney selection, but it's an exhibition and there's not anybody that's really outside that staked a huge claim without it being really too soon for them, or wouldn't be a less interesting retread (i.e. Whitlock, Chisnall etc). If only Ian White hadn't gone to pieces on TV at the business end of the season.

Speaking of White, he ended up winning the Second Division Darts, with only the match between Chisnall and Jamie Lewis affecting the rankings from before the world championships - that pushed Chizzy up into second just ahead of Joe Cullen, so they are the two automatic selections based on their 2018 performances. The selections based on the FRH rankings are Simon Whitlock (10th), Dave Chisnall (12th), Darren Webster (13th) and Jonny Clayton (14th), which leaves a question of four wildcards. I'm going to give one to Jeffrey de Zwaan, whose defeat of the world champion twice this season in major events, Matchplay semi final run and win of a PDC title goes along with having the highest points per turn of anyone not already selected makes him obvious. A second will go to Adrian Lewis - he didn't win anything, but he's the highest ranked player in the FRH rankings that isn't yet in, and is scoring more than multiple Premier League players. A third will go to Joe Cullen - he's one spot behind Lewis in the FRH rankings, was only pipped by Chisnall in the very last event of the season to an automatic spot, and his TV and European Tour appearances highlight that he's very much a top 16 player and should be in the mix. That leaves one spot, and I'm going to give it to Krzysztof Ratajski - what he's been able to do over the past 15 months without having a tour card has been nothing short of remarkable, he has one now and I'd really expect him to progress hugely from here.

There's a few that were close to selection - Aspinall and Hopp probably being the closest, Steve West was there or there abouts, Mervyn King and Stephen Bunting maybe - they were certainly the five with the highest ranking not in, but for some of these we have the new third division, exclusively for players younger than 30 as of today.

edit 3/1/19 - I double counted Chisnall, whoops. Thus I'm giving the tenth spot to Steve West, as he seems to be peaking in terms of the quality of his darts right now. Bunting still seems a bit off his best but is trending the right way, King did manage to win an event but doesn't really look like he'll ever get back to his best at this stage.

I'm including both of Aspinall and Hopp obviously, Dimitri van den Bergh is in based off of his world youth title, Danny Noppert gets in through winning a PDC event and going very deep in a major, Luke Humphries did great in the worlds as well and jointly won the Development Tour. Chris Dobey is in having come very close to winning a couple of events and also putting it together on the TV stage, having reached a European Tour final, Steve Lennon also earns selection. That leaves three spots - Martin Schindler can have one as he continues to build on an impressive record on the senior circuit. Keegan Brown's top of more or less any metric that you could care to look at who's not already in, which leaves one spot, and I'm going to give it to now twice PDC senior event winner Josh Payne, who like many here appears to be pulling everything together. I can't include Cadby, as there's still so much that's unknown as to his current status, Richard North and Ricky Evans were also very close.

I'll post up the year end FRH rankings in another post, but needless to say van Gerwen is number one by quite some distance, having a quarter of a million more points than numbers 2 and 3 combined. Then again, getting 300,000 points added to your total today does help...

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