Sunday, 19 January 2020

Your 31 new tour card holders

So Q-School is done, so let's say, in increasing order of interest, who I'm most interested in seeing on tour over the next two years:

31 - Wayne Jones

Over the last couple of years, it's either been he's hit a disproportionate amount of twelve darters compared to the legs he's won, because that seems that's more or less the only way he's been able to win legs. Surely not going to be able to make that much of an impact.

30 - Steve Brown

Will probably be interesting to see where his game is actually at, up until the point where JDC commitments limit the amount he's actually able to do in terms of playing the tour, then he can't get anything going and just drops off after two years.

29 - Martin Atkins (Wigan)

He's been around for a while, and not done anything really remarkable, only just got over the line so will surely just be making up the numbers.

28 - Alan Tabern

Never that much of a fan of older players who've done not enough to retain their card, but do just enough to win it back. Seemed to show a little bit more than Jones so a little bit higher.

27 - Gary Blades

Kind of for the reasons I posted when he won his card - I just don't think he's good enough to be able to have a winning record on the tour. Maybe he can up his game, I don't know, if he's anything other than mediocre it's a bonus. Somewhat funking for him because of his name, but that's about it.

26 - Daniel Larsson

We've never really seen any Scandi's made a sustained impact on the tour, and I'm not convinced that Larsson will be able to do anything different. If he was a bit younger and showing an upward trend, I could believe things, but he's already 38 and wasn't impressive last year.

25 - Harald Leitinger

Perhaps this could be a bit higher given he's apparently alright in soft tip, but this just strikes of someone that won't be able to adapt to the full time nature of the tour given he's come from more or less nowhere.

24 - Peter Jacques

I think my only real interest is that he did show a pretty nice purple patch in 2017 that saw him get into the worlds, so there's something there. That there is something there is a bonus, so maybe that it's been basically absent for two years might be misleading if he's got through here.

23 - Kai Fan Leung

This is possibly misleadingly low. I'm hugely interested given what he's been able to do in this weekend - I'm just not convinced that he's actually going to play enough of the tour to make him worthy of a card. Maybe he stops around for a few months, gets some results and then decides to put in a full effort, that would be interesting. If he plays the first couple of months, wins £500 then heads back home, it's just be a waste of a card.

22 - Ryan Murray

Maybe I could have put the top qualifier from the points table higher. I don't know. I just look at his record, see he's been drakking around the Challenge Tour for years without ever really doing much of anything. Could easily be another one where he's hit some form at just the right time and it's unsustainable.

21 - Steffen Siepmann

Always nice to see more Germans on the tour, he's been gradually improving from where we've seen him on the Euro Tour, but I really don't think it's been enough to think he'll have any real chance of retaining his card.

20 - Darren Penhall

The main interest is in that I have no fucking clue who he is. He's crept over the line in the points table today, coming completely in from under the radar despite me having paid a decent amount of attention to this weekend. Could be that he ends up being outclassed at this level. If so, it may be at least a little bit of fun finding out.

19 - Aaron Beeney

Can't really justify putting him any higher. It's going to be an experience, and there may be a small amount of macabre entertainment to see how long it takes him to win a game, but that's about it really.

18 - Krzysztof Kcuik

He's had a little bit about him from where we've seen him now and again over the past two to three years. We saw with Kanik that the Eastern European guys were able to develop and do a little bit of damage, maybe it's the case with Kcuik that these two years are about getting the hang of a week in week out schedule, then he can come back stronger. He's still south of forty so there's enough time.

17 - William Borland

This could be potentially a little bit higher - it's good to see some younger Scottish players coming through, and he's going in the right direction, these two years should be the next stage in his development and do him a world of good, but I wonder if he's going to be ever so slightly outclassed.

16 - Derk Telnekes

He's been around the Dutch and BDO scene for a couple of years and has come through on the points table, but has he really done anything of note during that time? He's still fairly young, he did play Development Tour events last year, so maybe it's the right time for him to go full time and do something, I just think if he really had something about him we'd have seen more already.

15 - Andy Hamilton

The Hammer's back after a couple of years off the PDC circuit, that might have done him the world of good and he's able to come back invigorated and able to try to come back to the levels he was at a decade ago. Then again, he's not massively set the BDO on fire, he did a bit more in 2019, but 2018 was a bit of a truncated attempt. He's got the class, so if he can find it, it should be fun, if possibly sporadic.

14 - Boris Krcmar

I love the potential of soft tip players shifting over, he's very respected in that form of the game, and clearly has enough quality in the steel tip game to have gone over. The only question is why he didn't try it earlier? Maybe he has his reasons and he can jump on things and make an impact. We'll see.

13 - Jeff Smith

Similar to the Hammer, except the difference here is that he's been in a world final (albeit BDO) more recently, and with his Canadian location it's questionable as to how much he'll actually be able to play the circuit. I hope he gives it a go, we know what he can do, and after the tragedies he had with his business away from darts it'd be a feel good redemption story if he's able to make a real impression on the PDC circuit, plus having North American representation is always a good thing.

12 - Bradley Brooks

I'm always going to be somewhat impressed of someone who was able to win his card the first time at the age Bradley was able to do, gain the experience and have a few decent moments, then not let the initial experience of losing a card put him off at all, winning it straight back. He was one game away from the worlds in the PDPA qualifier, so maybe the last couple of months have seen an uptick in form and he can hit the ground running.

11 - Dirk van Duijvenbode

He's really good. Honestly. The numbers don't lie, he just needs to do it more consistently on the main circuit. The performances he put up in qualification are no joke, I think he just needs one decent result on a largish stage to put that whole Barney busted 180 issue behind him. It's coming, I think it's just a case of when.

10 - Adam Hunt

Winning the Q-School Order of Merit isn't easy, Hunt's been there or there abouts for a while now, and like Brooks he was also one game away from making the worlds in the PDPA qualifer, he's still fairly young and may have accumulated enough experience at this stage where he can actually make a tour card stick after two years.

9 - Nick Kenny

There's been a lot of people talking up his performances on the BDO circuit this season, so I think I'm going to give them enough credit to put him up this high. He got up to the number 6 seed for a reason and is still a few years away from 30, so maybe 2019 was the year that the senior circuit's started to click, and his game is in the place where he can properly attack the PDC scene. We'll see.

8 - Karel Sedlacek

Always exciting to see new nations represented on the PDC scene, and Karel winning through to become the first Czech player to get a tour card is going to be exciting. At the very least, seeing him in Prague is going to be an experience, but I get the feeling it's just a case of opportunity. Maybe not straight away, but maybe it's a case of a Suljovic or a Ratajski that it takes a bit of time, and then he explodes. We've seen spurts at least, so it's a possibility.

7 - Mike de Decker

The Belgian's been on the fringes of the main circuit for a while now, and has won his card back after a couple of year absence - still developing, and developing strongly given his performances in the European Tour in 2019, this feels about the right time for Mike to properly transition to the senior circuit.

6 - Jason Lowe

This might seem quite low, but the guy appears really good. From what people have said he's been bossing the lower reaches of darts which aren't really tracked by major sites, but when we last saw him on the PDC, he looked in great form in the early stages of 2018. If he's not dropped off much in levels from then, and just hasn't been appearing when we can see him, then it's entirely feasible he can jump straight in and show up in the worlds from the Pro Tour in twelve months time.

5 - Scott Waites

How much is he going to play? That's the critical question. I think everyone wanted to see Scott on the PDC circuit 5-10 years ago, it's simply never happened for one reason or another, and what he did play on the BDO scene hasn't been extensive. If, and it is an if, he puts everything into it and gives it a full two years at 100%, then we know Waites' upside and it could be very exciting indeed. We'll see what happens but the potential is there.

4 - Martijn Kleermaker

What's interesting about Kleermaker is that he's had an exceptional twelve to eighteen months on the floor - which is where he's going to need to do things, at least initially, if he's going to make an impact on the PDC. From what he's been saying it seems like he couldn't wait to make the switch, he's done so, all the quality is there, I've got the sense that he's going to be another Danny Noppert-type switcher that might start to come truly good given a year or two.

3 - Wesley Harms

Wesley got to where he was seeded in this year's BDO worlds for a reason. He's shown resilience - he was impressive earlier in the decade, then dropped for a few years, now has made a resurgence to get to the levels where he currently is. While he's been around for a while, he's only 35, so has the combination of a good level of BDO senior experience while not being too old to really make a difference.

2 - Damon Heta

We need another player from Damon's area of the world to start pushing through, following Whitlock's seemingly gradual decline, Anderson's inconsistency, Cadby's off-oche issues and Harris just failing to get onto the circuit yet again. It's a bit rare to see someone that's won a PDC TV title only just winning a card, but we saw then what Heta is able to do, the big question now is how he's able to make the difficult transition to the other side of the world.

1 - Lisa Ashton

Can there be any other number one pick? Sherrock made the headlines, but this is a far bigger story. Ashton winning through a completely non-segregated qualifier to get onto the main tour for a two year span, is what's really making the breakthrough for ladies' darts. It's an enormous event. It sets up the possibility where we could realistically get five ladies into next year's worlds - Ashton through the Pro Tour if she's able to step up, as I think she can, and if Suzuki can do the business on the Asian Tour and Dobromyslova can play the EADC, then it's not beyond the realms of possibility.

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