Monday 8 April 2019

New PDC ranking winners - who might they be?

First, a recap from this post:

This is from 11 months ago, where I tipped the following to be the next players to win the following:

PDC ranking major: Michael Smith, Mensur Suljovic, Corey Cadby, Dave Chisnall, Ian White
European Tour: Gerwyn Price, Joe Cullen, Dimitri van den Bergh, Kyle Anderson, Jeffrey de Zwaan
Pro Tour: Jamie Lewis, Steve West, Chris Dobey, Nathan Aspinall, James Wilson, Danny Noppert, John Henderson, Cristo Reyes, Martin Schindler, Ryan Joyce

Oh dear. I can be excused Cadby I guess, as at that stage we didn't know anything about the visa etc, but there's a heck of a lot of misses. Smith and Suljovic at least made finals at that level, Price counts, as does Aspinall and Noppert, but there's a few too many misses compared to the hits. Or is there, I guess that people who have already won events are going to hoover most things up, which doesn't leave much to play for, so if we look at the new winners that there were after that post, we had Ian White at European Tour level, Price at that level (and then subsequently major level), Aspinall at Pro Tour level (and then subsequently major level), Noppert at Pro Tour level, then this year we've had Durrant at Pro Tour level. So, Glen aside, everyone that did win something at a newer level was on the list, albeit it was just White at the wrong tier. If you're throwing out 20 names you're going to get good coverage. So let's try this again - again, as with last year, if someone's missing something from a lower tier, but has won something in a higher tier, I'm not including them, so no Cross, Aspinall etc on the Euro Tour list:

PDC ranking majors:

1) Michael Smith - Nothing's really changed here. He's reached the world final, is the highest ranked player not to win a major, has the highest scoring of anyone not to win a major.

2) Mensur Suljovic - Again, not much changed here. He's still playing excellent darts, has made more than one major final, is probably still running badly in terms of luck, it wouldn't surprise anyone if he was to bink one.

3) Dave Chisnall - Compared to last year, he's got the winning mentality on his side having taken down two Pro Tour events this year, he doesn't quite have the all-rounded game that the two above have, but when his game is on he's very difficult to live with, and it really could just take a draw opening up a little bit. Who knows what might have happened if he hadn't chucked away the 8-4 lead he had in the UK Open.

4) Glen Durrant - Honestly, he is that good. He's already right up to speed with the PDC game having won a title very quickly, big stages are clearly not going to be a fear, and the numbers he's putting up are at a top ten level. The only minor doubt is a lack of explosiveness that can give a 12 dart leg out of nowhere, his game is more getting home in 15 with elite consistency which makes him a great front runner, but it's not a terminal issue - his 12 dart percentage is at the same level as Suljovic after all.

5) Corey Cadby - As mentioned in the previous post, it may take a few events for Cadby to really get back up to speed with the amount of time he's effectively had off pro darts, but his ceiling is probably higher than anyone in this list.

European Tour events:

1) Jamie Hughes - I'm jumping Hughes straight up to this level, that's just how well he's playing. As mentioned in the previous post, statistically he has a top five game right now, and really seems to be making up for the lost time that 2018 was. He's got two shots this month to do real damage, and will have many more chances in the years to come.

2) Krzysztof Ratajski - Would the Pole winning a European event surprise anyone? I really don't think it would. He's shown the ability to hang around with and beat the top players in the world, he's won two Pro Tour events in a weekend, and statistically he's only just outside the top 10 in points per turn.

3) Joe Cullen - I'd like him a lot more if he wasn't so incredibly inconsistent on the floor, but he's shown great form in Europe over the last year or two, and always seems to be there or there abouts. He had that great Matchplay game with Anderson which is pointing to him having the ability to close out the number of legs he'd need to do in an evening session against the level of player that he'd be facing, it'd just be a bit more comforting if he wasn't messing it up before the board final stage in the likes of Barnsley quite as often as he is.

4) Kyle Anderson - It's another redo from the previous year, and you might be wondering why, given that his results haven't had the sorts of peaks that point to winning one of these things. It's simply the underlying stats for him - he's in the top 10 this season for points per turn. That's quite hard to do. He's won on TV before so can clearly bring it on the big occasion, why not in Europe?

5) Jeffrey de Zwaan - One more repeat from last year. His 2019's been a bit slow to get going, the solidity just doesn't seem there as often as it needs to be, the A-game is still very clearly present, he just needs to up the level of his B and C games, he's killing legs in twelve darts about as often as anyone, it's just everything else. We've seen at the Matchplay (and elsewhere) what the kid can do when his game is on point, it's surely a matter of when, not if, we get a weekend where everything comes together.

Players Championship events:

1) Dimitri van den Bergh - Yes kids, he's won infinite secondary tier events, he's won two world youth titles, but he's not actually won a senior event yet. He's managed to make a final this year, and is finally showing a little bit more consistency, albeit he still stalls early in too many events - it's only the floor game that's really holding him back, but I don't think it'll be for that much longer.

2) Chris Dobey - The north-east thrower had a good enough worlds to get invited into the contenders, and he's made multiple finals already - I think it's primarily a case of Chris getting one or two decent runs to get him above the Matchplay qualification line, which he's dropped below again, if he has a little bit less pressure to get into the TV majors, I think he'll break one and take it to the house.

3) John Henderson - Hendo's always appearing to be there or there abouts, it's rare that you don't see him progress to a board final and he's got to the last eight on four occasions this year so far. The numbers he's putting up are just fine, he's shown the confidence to be able to hold MvG on a massive stage, it'd just take his rhythm to be spot on and maybe have the draw open up a bit - if he was in the other half on Sunday, who'd have bet against him reaching the final?

4) Steve West - Steve's maybe dropped slightly under the radar in the last six months or so, after breaking out that great TV performance to beat van Gerwen in the European Championship, but statistically his game isn't dropping, he's over 91 per turn this season which is comparable to the likes of Jonny Clayton, who's won multiple titles. He's only just outside the FRH top 20, and there's only one player above him that hasn't won an event, so theoretically he's next in line after...

5) Jermaine Wattimena - While he should be one half of the Netherlands World Cup team, Jermaine may not end up being so if Twitter rumours about yet more Barney love ins are to be believed, but this isn't the time and place for that - Wattimena is continually putting up very competent numbers, and is pushing deep into floor events with increasing regularity, finally reaching a final in the opener this year. Now he just needs to do that in one of the events where MvG doesn't turn up.

6) Gabriel Clemens - The big German made another final this weekend, his second of the year and his third overall. While he's not been that close in either final, he has to be doing something very right to keep reaching those stages, is actually scoring more per turn than Wattimena, and does seem to play his best stuff on the sort of stage that we're looking at - although that's more to do with his limited European Tour appearances last season, we could well be seeing him in multiple majors this year and start to really shoot up the rankings.

7) Ricky Evans - By the looks of things, he hasn't won a senior title yet. That surely has to change soon. He's had a fantastic last eight months or there abouts - two European Tour finals and a Pro Tour final to go with it, his stats aren't quite as high as the others I've mentioned earlier, hence why I've got him down here when results might point to a higher position, and he's also lacking a little bit of consistency, if he can convert a few more losing legs into wins in the ratio he's winning his legs, he's basically John Henderson, only faster.

8) Ross Smith - It's hard to think that Smith is only 30, given how long he's been about, but it's only really been the last twelve months or so where the game is really starting to click. He's made a major TV quarter final, is showing up in board finals and further with a fair bit of regularity, he could just do with a bit more scoring power. Statistically right now he's not too dissimilar to fellow UK Open quarter finalist Josh Payne, he's binked an event, why can't Smudger?

9) Mark McGeeney - Seems wrong not to include the BDO number 1 from last year's worlds. He's not scoring quite as heavily as some of the others on this list (he says days after he hit a nine darter), but while I was a bit sceptical about his game based on what we'd seen in BDO televised events, he's showing enough on the floor here that I can see how he managed that he did whilst in the BDO. Making the semi final last month should boost the confidence a bit, he's probably been a touch unlucky in places but his game since the UK Open appears improved.

10) Steve Lennon - I think Steve just needs to get a decent draw - he is in and around board finals very often, but does tend to stop at that point. He's in and around this group of players as far as his game goes statistically, indeed his rate of going out in fifteen darts is very solid, he's just a bit too inconsistent and has a few too many bad legs. Sooner rather than later would be nice as well, as his Euro Tour final will disappear in a couple of months, knocking him out of Pro Tour seeds in the process in all likelihood.

Next weekend we've got another couple of Pro Tours, as well as a couple of Euro Tour qualifiers, there's also a fairly big open on the BDO side in Germany, so it'll be interesting to see what level of participation we get from Challenge Tour/Euro Tour associate level players - looking through the entry list we've got Artut, Bennett, Blum, Caven, Fulwell, Hamilton, Harms, Harris, Landman, Mandigers, Montgomery, Newton, Parletti, Robson, Smith-Neale, Sparidaans, Telnekes, van Tergouw, Veenstra, Warren and Williams amongst others in an 800+ runner field. Should be a good one, seems a bit in the middle of nowhere though.

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