Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Race for the prize

I posted a week or two ago that I wanted to look into the tour card race a bit, fortunately dartsdatabase has this set out fairly accurately, so I've augmented their table with a bit of extra information:


This excludes the top 50 on the tour card race list, and also excludes Barney, whose expected retirement number 2 (Electric Boogaloo) will free up an extra spot. The figures look like they include ET3/ET4 mincashes, but shouldn't affect the overall analysis. So while you'd think you're looking at the top 14 of these will retain their cards, if any new tour card holders from 2019, who are keeping their cards regardless, break into the top 64 at the end of the season, that'll be one less player from this list that can get in the top 64, so realistically you're looking at anywhere between 10 and 13 spots - Durrant seems like a lock to hit the top 64, Hughes I'd say is better than 50/50 if he keeps playing the way he is, then there's plenty of players that are playing well enough that they should at least make the worlds and push for other majors - if they make a bit of a run at some point, who knows. Boulton, Labanauskas, Razma, McGeeney and Baker have all shown something about them so far that indicates they could do something.

So for those who are here, they more or less break down into three categories - the first is those that are in the second year of a new tour card, the second are those that have been around for a while but have drakked around the edge of the top 64 without ever really threatening the top 32, then those who were in the top 32 and a lot of the majors as a result whose form dropped in 2018 and are defending a huge amount. Now those second two overlap a bit, but looking at that third group, I'd chuck van de Pas, Norris, Thornton, Webster and Pipe in there, all seeds for the worlds in 2018. van de Pas probably has enough in the bank already to be safe. Thornton's not dropped quite as much as others and is playing pretty decently so should be fine given he's currently above the cutoff. Pipe's below, but has been playing very nicely, so with him not being too far below, I'd think he's going to be fine. That leaves Norris and Webster. Mark looks in real trouble, especially if he can't cut out his horrendous streak of failing to qualify for European Tour events. We all know what Norris has been through, but he at least has the benefit of a bit of money cushion in the bank if he's not able to turn things around quickly, and he has a higher peak than almost anyone on this list.

The second group is probably going to be a case of if you've got the cash in the bank, you'll be alright, otherwise, you're in trouble. I can't see Ronny getting out of it, Lerchbacher has a lot of work to do, possibly too much, but is at least trending in the right direction, Alcinas and Dekker will surely be fine, that leaves Mansell - he's got a good buffer to work with, but he seems so, so far off his mid 2018 form that it really wouldn't surprise you if it all disappeared quickly.

Then we have our 2018 newbies. Cadby's obviously going to be fine, Stevenson and Tabern have a good enough combination of cash in the bank and decent play to be the same. Anyone from Hudson downwards is probably done, with the possible exception of Brooks, who's doing significantly better than the pack and could easily do some sort of Development Tour run and get in the worlds through that route. That then leaves two groups - the Edgar/Owen/Jones/Hunt/Marijanovic cluster, then Woodhouse/Burness/Meikle/Monk and van Duijvenbode a bit further down. Just looking at how they're scoring, Hunt and Marijanovic seem favourites to pull away, Jones has had an awful start on legs won/lost and is playing so, so inconsistently, that leaves Edgar, who's maybe running bad per the previous post and has a bit of a cash head start, and Owen, who's got about as bad a leg record as Jones albeit with a bit more consistency.

Of the others, Woodhouse has a shot, he's looked really good in places and could easily be in contention to make Minehead with enough of a seeding to have a winnable game, and then maybe the worlds. Burness is surely going to have to rely on retaining the Tom Kirby and getting another favourable worlds outcome. Meikle is probably not playing quite well enough to claw back the deficit, but Monk and van Duijvenbode are both certainly playing at a good enough level where they may be able to hit some form and get the scores they need.

So who's going to retain a card? If I had to pick 12, I'd go van de Pas, Thornton, Pipe, Cadby, Stevenson, Tabern, Alcinas, Dekker, Edgar, Hunt, Woodhouse and Norris. I've given thoughts on basically everyone, and who's certainly got the potential to make a run at saving their card, but one thing you've got to watch out for is opportunities to get major cash outside of the Pro Tour. Anyone could qualify for the Grand Slam as a wildcard. Can Mansell play the Tom Kirby and get in the worlds that way? There's always the PDPA worlds qualifier if you're not able to string enough Pro Tour money together and make it in that way. Some of the Euro guys, if they get in to Euro Tour events, could certainly have the game to make a run if they get a decent draw, you could certainly see someone like a Lerchbacher making a last 8 run if he hits form. I mentioned it with Brooks, but it'd be similar with someone like Meikle - hit some form on the Development Tour and you can sneak into the worlds through that route. Devon Petersen must surely be close to 100% to get some sort of invite or be a big favourite in a qualifier. It'll be an interesting couple of months as people start to build positions for major qualification later in the year.

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