Thursday 21 March 2019

Leverkusen preview

I think I'll put off doing a look at how the new tour card holders are doing until after this event, 10 events played rather than nine seems a much nicer number. Draw is out, they're just going through the Euro associate and home nation qualifier now, the former's nearly done while the latter's still three rounds away from finished.

Top quarter:
Michael van Gerwen v Jason Wilson/Mervyn King
Jermaine Wattimena v Glen Durrant/HNQ2
Michael Smith v Matt Edgar/Krzysztof Ratajski
Gerwyn Price v Scott Taylor/HNQ1

Oh boy, is this section (and the half as a whole, but we'll come on to that later. van Gerwen's got a rematch against King from the UK Open, which should happen, Wilson wasn't bad in 2016 but has been off the radar since then and was merely alright on the Challenge Tour in the first weekend. Wattimena's a tricky last 16 opponent if it goes with seedings, but Jermaine's got one of the toughest potential draws in Glen Durrant, who should have way too much class for any of the home nation qualifiers, and probably be near a 2-1 favourite in the Saturday game. Then the two other seeds in this section also occupy positions in the top five of the FRH rankings. Michael Smith's got a tricky tie against whoever comes through from Edgar or Ratajski, really can't see Krzysztof losing that on current form and it's close to evens between Smith and Ratajski if we see that match up. Gerwyn Price however should be fine, Scott Taylor had a good run at the UK Open and ought to be solid enough to get through the opening round, but while he cashed as a qualifier, he didn't do anything that makes me think he'd threaten Price in current form.

Second quarter:
Mensur Suljovic v Matthew Dennant/Madars Razma
Joe Cullen v Wayne Jones/Vincent van der Voort
James Wade v EQ1/HNQ4
Dave Chisnall v Ted Evetts/Martin Atkins (Leeds)

It doesn't get any easier here. Suljovic has been perfectly fine when he has played, but Razma's had an excellent start to the year with a points per turn score nearing 90, so should take out Dennant with ease given Matt's 2019 form, and maybe threaten the Austrian. Joe Cullen could have problems here, his floor form has been anywhere from mediocre to awful and is a good couple of points per turn behind van der Voort, who's off the back of two quarters in one weekend and ought to be playing well enough to handle the Wolverhampton native in the opening round. We have no idea who Wade'll be playing but I can't see anybody from the qualifier troubling him, then we've got Dave Chisnall, already with two titles this year, against either Ted Evetts, who can be extremely dangerous on his day, or the Yorkshire strain of Martin Atkins, who's at the other end of his career on the first half of two straight European Tour appearances. Would think Evetts should get through it though.

Third quarter:
Ian White v Justin Pipe/Ryan Meikle
Darren Webster v Pavel Jirkal/William Borland
Rob Cross v Steve Beaton/Raymond van Barneveld
Jonny Clayton v Adam Hunt/EQ2

A real mixed bag of games. Ian White's started the season just fine, but has a dangerous opponent whoever he plays - Pipe's not been at the races for a while, but last weekend he threw some great darts in two defeats, while Meikle's very recently claimed a Development Tour title. The next games may not be that great, Webster's had a poor start to 2019 in terms of results and is barely scoring 90 a turn, while his opponent is a wildcard whoever he faces - Jirkal's from the Czech Republic and could be any standard really, while Borland's a young Scot who qualified from nowhere really, making two Development Tour quarters on the Sunday in the first weekend. Next game is world championtastic, Rob Cross facing either Steve Beaton, who's qualified for every Euro Tour possible so far, or Raymond van Barneveld, who had his best result in ages last Sunday in reaching a tour final. Cross should easily handle either, but the first round game is too close to call. Finally we've got Jonny Clayton, in and around the top 20 for scoring this season, against either Adam Hunt, who's been doing alright but has been a bit hit and miss in 2019, or an associate qualifier, would think Clayton ought to advance from this one.

Fourth quarter:
Adrian Lewis v Ritchie Edhouse/Dimitri van den Bergh
Daryl Gurney v Jeffrey de Zwaan/Josh Payne
Peter Wright v Kim Huybrechts/HNQ3
Simon Whitlock v Ross Smith/Ricky Williams

Some good ones here. Adrian Lewis is back in the winners circle for the first time in a long time, but will need to be on his game whoever he plays, Edhouse has started like a train on the Challenge Tour and is only a couple of points behind Adie on scoring, while Dimitri's in the middle of the two, having a bit of a disparity between winning and losing average. Gurney's the potential seed Adie would play in the last sixteen, but will also have a tough ask - Payne has started out very well this season, being only half a point behind Gurney on scoring, while de Zwaan's ability isn't to be questioned, even if he has had a slow start to 2019. Peter Wright will face Kim Huybrechts if the Belgian is able to get past a domestic qualifier, Wright showing a top five game so far this year which he's been showing in the Premier League as well to occupy a playoff place as things stand, Kim's game still appears to be a fair chunk off his best to the point where on 2019 form it's around an 80/20 shot. Finally we have a good opportunity for Ross Smith - Ricky Williams didn't get close to a tour card and took a huge chunk of 2018 off by the looks of things, and Simon Whitlock's form in 2019 has been well documented, he may not be favourite in the market based off name value if he gets through Williams, but Smith projects 65/35 against Whitlock on 2019 form. If he gets to Sunday, who knows from there?

I don't know if the Dart Connect draw order coincides with the numbering of who goes where, but it looks like in the Euro qualifier we'll get one from Wesley Plaisier, Jimmy Hendriks and Danny van Klompenburg getting through, then one from Danny van Trijp, Paulo Ferreira and Michael Rasztovits making it. I don't think it's the ex-Chelsea player. In the German qualifier, they're only just reaching the last 32 on some boards with the winners of quarters making it so it's a bit too much to go through everyone. Bets to follow later.

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