Saturday, 13 July 2019

Quarter 3 - Cross or Price? Or White? Or Ratajski?

In reference to the comment at the end of the previous post, of course they couldn't have switched the events up, we can't have players missing the Pro Tour because of that most prestigious events that is the German Darts Masters, can we? Completely forgot that was on this weekend, oh well, I'm sure MvG will clean up again... oh. Still, I hope someone made some Nico Kurz making short work of Gary Anderson pun, just to see who would get it.



Rob Cross is the top seeded player in this section of the draw, and has an OK opener against Chris Dobey, who's making his debut here after being extremely close to qualifying in the past few years, I think being the last man out on at least one occasion. Cross hasn't exactly racked up the titles this year, but has made the final of both the UK Open and the Premier League, and statistically is right up there with the best in the game, although in competitive events we've not seen him on the Pro Tour in quite a while and he's dropped out of the last three Euro Tours he's played pretty early. Dobey's still looking for his first title, getting close in Denmark to clinch his place here but completely running out of steam in the final. Cross has won three out of their four meetings, including the only one this year on the Euro Tour. Rob should have enough you'd think.

Darren Webster's looking to get things back together after a horrible twelve months since he made the quarters last year (beating Cross, oddly enough) - eleven first round defeats on the floor isn't a good look and he's one of the two weakest seeds in the event. It's not a good sign that he's drawn one of the very best qualifiers in Krzysztof Ratajski, the Pole having claimed another floor title recently and has put enough together to qualify for this. Their only previous meeting was on TV in the snow-affected UK Open, and I can't look past a repeat of that result where Ratajski won 10-7, although I think that'd be a minimum sort of scoreline, it could well be more one sided than that.

Gerwyn Price has continued to raise his game after getting his first major title last autumn and can now class himself amongst the world's elite, and has to fancy his chances of doing some damage in this section of the draw. He's continuing to rack up titles having picked up a pair of Pro Tours, reached the UK Open semi and seems to be deep in events more often than not. His first round opponent will be Stephen Bunting, who's managed to get here just about, although that was in doubt a couple of months ago, but a final on the floor at the start of May made things safe enough, and the final in the Czech Republic late last month was overkill. Stephen's a big name and still has his moments, but is somewhat down the pecking order of qualifiers nowadays and surely won't be able to put up enough resistance to trouble the Iceman over a game of this distance - their meeting in Denmark recently wasn't close and Price has won their last three matchups.

Finally we've got Ian White, who is putting together the sort of season he did last year, if not more impressive - winning two Euro Tour titles, making the final of two others, it's just the same lingering question of if he can do it in a televised major. You would think that having the run that he's had in the Euro Tour, it's going to happen sooner rather than later, and he's got a decent chance to get things going against Joe Cullen, who has had quite frankly a horrible last twelve months after nearly beating Gary Anderson here last time around in the quarter final. He made the semis of the European Championship but that's about it - he's slipped from the top 16, hasn't threatened to do much of anything on the Pro Tour, and even in the Euro Tour which, at least in 2018, was the safest of spaces for him, he's started losing early and doing so often. He needs to put his game back together quickly, and running into one of the in form players in the world right now isn't going to be the place where it happens. They've met eleven times, all on the floor, but oddly not since 2016, where White won both meetings very deep in each event.

Later on, Cross ought to be favoured - prohibitively if it was Webster, while it would be closer against Krzysztof, but he still should be comfortable. Price against White would be an incredibly tasty second round match up - Price is playing somewhat better darts, and while I'd project Gerwyn to win it quite a high proportion of the time, in reality it would probably be closer. As for who wins the quarter, I think Cross against either of these should be tight, similarly if Ratajski sneaked through, it'd be tight, except there Price/White probably has the small edge, rather than the other way around.

Quick notes on the Challenge Tour - it's been a huge weekend for Cody Harris, who won event 9 and reached the semis of event 10, where he lost to eventual winner Nick Fullwell, a name who's been around for quite some time (heck, he was in the PDC worlds ten years ago), but has been quiet on the Challenge Tour this year, only having picked up £200 prior to this weekend, so he only sneaks into the top 10 of the current rankings. Harris moves into a tie for third with Ritchie Edhouse who had a rare couple of blanks, while Koltsov in second could only gain £200 on Stephen Burton, who still has a substantial lead. Nathan Rafferty had a good Saturday, picking up £1200 (including making the final where he lost to Fullwell) to get up to sixth, Andy Jenkins hit a nine on a run to the semis, while Martin Atkins (Wigan) was the other beaten finalist. Lower down the order it was a good day for Mareno Michels and Gary Blades, who apart from Harris and Rafferty were the only players to make the last 16 both times. Only £500 separates Noguera in 5th to Beveridge in 11th, so a lot of jockeying for position as Pro Tour alternates might go on and it wouldn't take a huge amount of cash to queue jump several players.

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