Thursday 6 February 2020

Five things to watch for in Players Championship 1/2

Finally we're back into the bread and butter of the pro circuit - with everyone apart from Kyle Anderson showing up, it's probably the strongest Pro Tour set of events ever. There's not been a huge amount to talk about this week, they've shifted the next Challenge Tour weekend to three days, which is fine, it's over the Easter weekend so that's one bit of good planning. Of course, as mentioned earlier, this wouldn't be needed if they actually had a little bit of ingenuity in terms of administration. They've also postponed some of the previously announced Asian Tour events apparently, seeming lack of Mexican beer or something.

So, Pro Tour. Numbers 1, 2 up to however many you want to hazard a guess at is how the Q-School winners will do, but as I've already posted on who I'm wanting to see most out of those, I won't repeat myself here, so let's see what else we need to look for:

5) Will we have a nine darter?

It seems inevitable. It's such a strong and large field that someone will surely pin one over the two days, let's just pray it's on a streamed board.

4) How will those struggling to keep their card start off?

I'm thinking more in terms of those that are defending a huge amount from 2018, rather than those who have nothing to defend but simply had a bad first year of a card. Jamie Lewis, Benito van de Pas, Richard North, maybe chuck in the likes of Steve Lennon as well who had a not great 2019. Getting a good start is going to be crucial for these types of players.

3) How will the other new guys do?

Scott Mitchell's replacing Kyle just on the Saturday (he has an exbo on the Sunday which he won't cancel, fair enough to honour previous commitments) and Robert Collins will get a stab on the Sunday, but we're also going to see Jesus Noguera, Callan Rydz and Ciaran Teehan play for the first time, at least as tour card holders - Rydz we've seen a few times last season, but Noguera only got into one or two Pro Tour events, and Teehan I think is on debut.

2) Who else higher up can halt a slide?

Darren Webster has looked a bit better in the last couple of months than previously, but is defending a hell of a lot as he looks to cling on to the top 32 spot he currently holds. Similar with Simon Whitlock and the top sixteen. John Henderson and Steve West are only just in the top 32 as things stand, and West in particular could easily plummet this year. Even higher up than those, Mensur seems like he should be defending a lot, Gary Anderson will be, while Daryl Gurney is maybe a little bit falsely high and will lose a major win by the end of the season.

1) Who's going to make a statement in the first ranked event of the year?

The big four, as far as I'm concerned, are van Gerwen, Price, Wright and Cross, I think they'll all want to lay down a marker, but Cross is down at eighth favourite for this, which seems a little bit ridiculous, but he'll probably be the one most out of these who could do with getting a result. The likes of White, Chisnall, Wade and Lewis who are floating just outside those Premier League places could do with solid performances. Can the up and comers like Dobey, de Zwaan, Wattimena and Hopp solidify a top 20 spot and push through to the top sixteen? Will Glen Durrant continue to climb the rankings at the same rate he did last year? Can the youngsters (relatively speaking, at least for some) just inside the top 32 like Brown, Noppert, van den Bergh and Evans hold off those pushing for a place after a good 2019, the likes of Dolan, Humphries, van der Voort, Clemens and O'Connor are all pushing in the right direction and won't care whose place they'll take.

Each way stabs at PC1 and PC2? I'm already on Cross at a ridiculous 22's, White did look tempting at 50's but he's since been backed into 33's, Clemens and de Sousa at 66's look like they're well worth the effort, Justin Pipe at 150's and Clayton at 80's look to be decent value a bit further out. I may post something more tomorrow or Saturday morning - probably I'll just wait until after PC1 and reevaluate for PC2, I'm on those five already and can't see myself investing more.

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