Sunday 9 February 2020

Ten things we learned from Players Championship 1/2

Before said ten things, new FRH rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Peter Wright
3 Gerwyn Price
4 Rob Cross
5 Michael Smith
6 Nathan Aspinall
7 Daryl Gurney
8 Dave Chisnall
9 James Wade
10 Ian White
11 Glen Durrant (UP 1)
12 Gary Anderson (DOWN 1)
13 Mensur Suljovic
14 Adrian Lewis
15 Krzysztof Ratajski
16 Chris Dobey (UP 1)
17 Simon Whitlock (DOWN 1)
18 Stephen Bunting
19 Joe Cullen
20 Jonny Clayton

Duzza moving up is just because of his scores being front loaded and Ando's being the reverse. Similar to Dobey, albeit to a much lesser extent so that Glen can survive Gary binking an event and still holding the #11 spot. Lower down, Mickey Mansell's impressive weekend gets him into the top 60, Dirk van Duijvenbode is less than 50 points outside the top 90, while Jeff Smith backing up yesterday with another board win pushes him within 3500 points of the top 100.

So, what did we learn? Let's see:

10) We should appreciate the stupidly good quality we have in the PDC right now

Five nine darters over the weekend! A quarter final where both players average over 113! Let's appreciate what we have right now, it's by far the strongest PDC field we have ever had.

9) Sometimes it takes a year to warm up

I don't think the tour card system is ideal, and I think you all know that, but at least it does give players two years to have a shot at it. It may just be variance, but we've seen quite a few second year card holders have a very good opening weekend. Maik Kuivenhoven's the obvious one, but there's a few others - Mike van Duivenbode didn't do too badly, Conan Whitehead looked decent, maybe having a bit of a winter break has helped them hugely. We'll see in the weeks to come.

8) Lisa Ashton can hang at this level

Maybe not something we learned, as I think most of us knew that she could, but the performance she put in against an extremely underrated player in Christian Bunse is just underlining the point.

7) Luke Humphries is going to bink something soon

Would it surprise you if I said that Luke had the highest points per turn of anyone this weekend? Just look at the averages he put in in losing efforts against Chisnall and Bunting. He's simply playing too well not to get a bit of a break in something real soon.

6) Dirk van Duijvenbode is good at darts

He's finally made a big run through to a semi final. Dirk's been putting in good showings for a while now, but this weekend he's seemingly cut out a few of the bad legs that have cost him in the past, except for that last leg against Jeff Smith on the Saturday event. Who knows, if he had put that one away we could be talking about him a lot more than what we are doing right now. Perhaps this is the confidence spark that'll mean we do take more notice.

5) James Wilson - what the heck?

That's a couple of worrying results - a 77 average against Alan Tabern, then an 82 average against Martin Atkins, which gives him the lowest points per turn of any non-Aaron Beeney cardholder this weekend, only Barrie Bates also dropped below 80 other than those two. That's a concern given we thought he'd turned the corner three to four months ago. I'd hate him to go into an Alan Norris type of downward spiral.

4) Jason Lowe's performance at Q-School isn't a fluke

He may not have lit things up massively this weekend, but his scoring is such that if he can keep playing at this level, or close to it, he should be able to generate enough good Pro Tour runs to get himself into the worlds. This weekend, over less legs of course, he was scoring better than Gerwyn Price was. That's not bad at all.

3) Jeff Smith didn't have just one good run

There's been plenty of players that have had one decent run to a Players Championship final and then done little after that, but backing it up the day after with another board win, taking down Daryl Gurney and Danny "top points per turn Dutchman this weekend, yes really" Noppert before being stopped by van Duijvenbode is a statement of intent. There's a string of events that'll come thick and fast, if he can ride this run of form he could put himself into the equation for non-worlds majors.

2) We have no idea who is the best any more

While I've said that Humphries topped the points per turn table this weekend, Wright, White, Anderson and Aspinall were all separated by less than a quarter of a point. van Gerwen was about a point behind Wright. Floor favourites Ratajski and de Sousa are in the top ten along with Damon Heta. Price and Smith (Michael) are just outside. It's a huge mess and I love it.

1) There's plenty of new card holders that might be here to stay

I've mentioned a few already, but let me chuck some other names around. Kcuik didn't get a win, but scored very highly in defeat and that'll even itself out over the course of a year. Wesley Harms scored real nicely. Mike de Decker looked competent. Kleermaker's scoring profile is pretty confusing but he's not shown anything that makes me think he won't be able to give himself a chance of top 64 in two years time. Ciaran Teehan and Nick Kenny looked useful in spots. It'll be an interesting race for tour card spots in two years time, that's for sure.

Some other things I should throw out that you might have missed unless you have all day to read Twitter - there was a weekend of Eastern Europe qualifiers for the Euro Tour, and the guys making it are from all over - Pratnemer, Koltsov, Gawlas, Kanik and Pero Ljubic got a spot at one each, that's five different nationalities right there, while Scott Taylor and Adam Smith-Neale got through UK Open qualifiers to further strengthen what's looking like a scary set of "amateur" qualifiers.

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