Sunday 23 February 2020

Ten things we've learned from this weekend's darts

1) Peter Wright is the best player in the world right now

Sure, he was the world champion, but his level of play is that little bit above anyone else who might have been in the equation. Post-worlds he's a clear point per turn ahead of anyone in the field (Ian White's currently in second) and there's only one other player who's within two points, namely MvG. If I was to extend to include the worlds, White's less than a point behind but it's still the only two players I mentioned who are within two points. He's playing that well, he's taken over from MvG in Faria's Elo rankings which is saying something.

2) We're at peak Devon Petersen

Would it shock you if I said that Devon is in the top five points per turn in the world from Ally Pally forwards inclusive? He's not played a huge amount of legs, but the legs he has won have been extremely impressive after running into a bunch of players doing alright in the first couple of weekends. A semi final on the Saturday was very impressive, whitewashing today's semi finalist Bunting, averaging over 110 and 105 in the next couple of rounds, holding it together against Rob Cross, only being stopped by Wright, while today he won his board again, beating an in-form Christian Bunse (look, if you beat MvG I'm calling you in form), Hendo then Glen Durrant before being edged out by Krzysztof Ratajski. He's not in the first Euro Tour but he is in the second, so combined with the UK Open, there's chances for his notably better stage game to kick in at a time when he's playing well. Which could be scary.

3) There's plenty of entertainment away from the PDC

While being disappointed that there was no obvious stat coverage in this weekend's Slovakian events, there was actually a stream of it, seemingly on the channel of the venue - I'd go and check it out, the first men's final was a solid nip and tuck event between Wayne Warren and David Evans, every leg being a hold and the Welshman claiming it, while the second one was Chris Landman look really good for 3-4 legs against Sebastian Steyer, before they mutually forget how to play darts and Chris gets over the line 6-1. I just picked out the men's finals, there's at least one of the ladies finals between Deta Hedman and Maria O'Brien, and James Beeton I think was in one of the youth finals. Russ Bray's calling it so it's worth searching out just for that.

4) Gerwyn Price confirms he has that MvG hoodoo off his back

I was fearing the worst in today's final when he blew a 7-4 lead to be pulled back to 7-7, where MvG was on throw, but that 171 he hit to leave 94 and then hitting bull to finish it off after MvG hit 174 to leave a single darter, that's some play.

5) Can someone give Dirk van Duijvenbode a break?

I've been talking about Dirk's quality of play for quite some time now, this weekend he drew Glen Durrant in the first round, averaged 102 and lost, then drew Gary Anderson, averaged 98 and lost, 6-5 and 6-4 respectively. He's scoring 93 a turn this season which is easily in the top 20, how high up being dependent on how much you want to filter players with small samples. Sure, the secret is out a little bit after he did have the one good run earlier, but it'd be nice if he was given a couple of layups at some point.

6) Is Steve Lennon back?

Just a small fraction of a point behind Dirk is Steve - he's hit a nine this weekend, made a semi final, made the board final to follow it up, it's some decent play that's got results, he didn't do a great deal in 2019 but wasn't exactly playing badly, maybe he can push on from here.

7) What's Michael Smith doing?

A couple of games this weekend where he's lost in the opening round - Saturday he lost averaging a ton 6-5 to Jamie Lewis (no, Mason, he's not back in form), then today he lost averaging seven points more to Robert Collins. Weird results. He's not playing bad, he's looked majestic in some spots in the Premier League, it's probably weird variance, but you would expect Michael to be claiming these ones.

8) Several players we were hyping last year are still playing well

Danny Noppert's in the top ten of points per turn. Krzysztof Ratajski is there as well. Jose de Sousa's just a place outside. We've mentioned Dirk already. Luke Woodhouse is safely in the top 30. These guys are doing consistent things week in week out - obviously we've seen some of them go on to do great things, some this season, but a consistent drum beat needs to be heard.

9) Is Benito back in peak form?

van de Pas won his board on Saturday, beating Ian White and putting up a 108 burger on Jason Lowe before running into an inspired Steve Lennon, today he whitewashed Martijn Kleermaker, he's been deceptively alright more or less since winning through to the worlds as a wildcard, and perhaps for a little bit before that. He needs to do so as well given his tour card status.

10) UK Open is finalised

The level of "amateur" qualifiers is pretty hilarious, we've talked about the previous weekends already but this weekend we got James Richardson, Darren Beveridge, Jason Askew, Justin Smith and Alfie Thompson added. I was surprised Beveridge didn't get an auto-shout from the Challenge Tour countback, but it is what it is, Richardson we know is quality, Dave's lad has looked threatening on the secondary tours, while Justin's had multiple secondary tour quarters or better as well. That just leaves Alfie - who's apparently not even of drinking age, and will surely give the TV guys a decent story in the opening round if they can avoid talking about Sherrock for five seconds.

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
12 Gary Anderson
13 Mensur Suljovic
14 Krzysztof Ratajski (UP 1)
15 Adrian Lewis (DOWN 1)
16 Chris Dobey
17 Stephen Bunting (UP 1)
18 Simon Whitlock (DOWN 1)
19 Joe Cullen
20 Jonny Clayton

Not a huge amount of movement, Krzysztof making another semi final sees him edge ahead of Adie by less than a purple granny, while Bunting's semi sees him climb above a continuing to slide Whitlock. White's less than a semi final behind Wade, while Duzza's only 8k behind White. Aspinall is within one event of the top five. Lower down, Lennon's up to #43 but there's a decent sized gap to the top 40, Devon's good weekend sees him rise to #55, and a couple of board finals for Scott Mitchell sees him up in the mid 100's.

Next stop is Belgium, I'll probably take a quick gander at who's already qualified, before coming back on Thursday evening once all the remaining qualifiers are done with the first bets in quite a while. Take care ladies and gents.

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