Thursday, 3 December 2020

Section 1 - van Gerwen, Murray, Ilagan, Evans, Mansell, Puha

Before we start, some quick explanations of all the stats on the images:

- Top left box lists what the player has done in the majors. Should be self explanatory.
- Second box says what the player has done off TV - lists all four Euro Tour events, and then the best five results in Players Championship events.
- Third box lists all data in my database from 2020 (including last year's worlds), which is every ranked singles event in the PDC, then selected events from secondary tours and WDF events (of which there's not been many at all obv). PPT = points per turn. Points scored divided by visits to the board. This is not a three dart average.
- Final box lists the player's current FRH ranking (which is an age-weighted version of the main order of merit, taken two days ago), their result last year (this will list the BDO worlds if relevant), the number of previous world championship appearances (the number in brackets indicates BDO appearances), how they qualified for the event, and then the tournament odds (best prices, grabbed from oddschecker yesterday prior to the draw, so may not be available now after the draw).


Not the greatest year for van Gerwen. Not only did he not win the worlds last year, he's had a real bad return full stop, and the interruption to the season has affected him seemingly more than most. He did pick up a couple of big events, but not the real big ones - claiming the Minehead double, although he could easily have missed the UK Open had Jason Lowe taken his visit for the match, and most recently he took the Players Championship Finals, taking that in the final leg against Mervyn King.

Outside of that, it's not great - losing to Simon Whitlock (of all people) three times, being taken out very comfortably by Ian White at the European Championships, and in the weirdest spot, he didn't win a single European Tour event. He did grab three Pro Tour events, over Peter Wright in a close one and then over Jose de Sousa and Mensur Suljovic in what weren't close ones, and he's certainly picked his game up somewhat in the last couple of months, which is good timing at least, but he's now in a virtual last longer race with Peter Wright to be the world number one, and has relinquished the FRH number 1 ranking which he's held pretty much consistently since he first won the world title. 5/2 to bink is a hell of a lot longer than he was last season, and it reflects the now non-existent gap between himself and the rest of the field - you could argue that he isn't in the top two players in the world and I wouldn't disagree with you.


Ryan Murray makes his world championship debut after claiming a tour card for the first time in January, with a very consistent run in the first three days meaning he had nothing left to do on day four. Two exits at the penultimate hurdle on the first two days looked to be good enough, and going out one round earlier on day three sealed the deal. His 2020 has been solid enough to get here through the Pro Tour rankings, and got a good stage win just recently in the Players Championship Finals over Stephen Bunting, then forced Damon Heta to a decider, somewhat of a better performance than losing a decider to Martin Atkins in the UK Open.

It was mainly the Pro Tour that got him here - Murray only made one European Tour event and was unfortunate to come up against Chris Dobey, and Murray peaked on the penultimate day of the Winter Series, making a quarter after eliminating Josh Payne, Devon Petersen, Jeffrey de Zwaan and Dirk van Duijvenbode, and has a couple of other board wins, one in each of the two five event series, the first of which saw him defeat Gary Anderson who was averaging well above 100 at the time. Plenty to build on here, a solid first season, and he's got a real chance of adding another seven and a half grand onto his account.


Lourence Ilagan returns for a fifth attempt, after winning through the hastily-arranged Phillipines qualifier, after the entirety of the Asian Tour didn't happen. As such, it's hard to say where Lourence's game is really at - it's a tough qualifier, but he dodged the probable hardest opponent in Noel Malicdem, he defeated Paolo Nebrida in the final who seems a bit of a random who didn't play much in 2019 at all and Ilagan didn't need to average much over 80 to win, he did beat Christian Perez in the semi finals who's been here a few times previously. Hard to say how many of the players from Asia will play given the lack of match practice. At least Lourence has come through a decent standard quali.

Last year he got into a good position against Cristo Reyes, opening up a two sets lead, but then losing a deciding leg in set 3 and only winning one leg afterwards. On previous appearances, he's lost out to Vincent van der Voort 3-1, Colin Osborne in straight sets after winning a prelim (so we're talking a while ago now), and then even further back he lost to Marko Kantele in a prelim. He only has the one win on this stage against Jamie Lewis in a real short leg play race, this seems to be one of the better chances he'll have to get a true set play victory - with Malicdem, he looked to be in decent nick in the World Cup (getting an awful draw against England), so maybe he can push through to what'd be a huge game against the current world number one.


This time last year, Ricky Evans just crept into the seeds, took out Mark McGeeney, before losing in straight sets to van Gerwen, albeit taking quite a few legs in the process. Nothing much has changed, apart from the McGeeney bit - Evans is hanging around in the top 32, but I'm not quite sure how. He's not managed a single quarter final all year, although he did have a decent record of getting to board finals and then running a few of them, he didn't qualify for any of the European Tour, so how's he in the top 32 still?

Well, he did alright in the UK Open - he got an alright draw in Joe Murnan, then lost out to Gerwyn Price. He made the Matchplay, having picked up some good Euro Tour runs soon after the 2019 Matchplay, but would only win five legs against Daryl Gurney. He came through the wildcard qualifier for the Grand Slam - coming through a fairly tricky run to be fair, Webster, Huybrechts, Gurney and Beaton isn't easy, but could only manage to beat Wayne Warren and take two further legs in the group. Still, it's another chunk of cash. All those board finals got him to the PC Finals, but ran into a brick wall in Jamie Hughes. He's not shown any signs of really being at a top 32 level, or of pushing on higher, so I guess just getting to MvG again will go down as a decent result.


Mickey's making a sixth appearance in the PDC worlds, and has certainly had mixed fortunes in the last couple of years. Like his possible last 64 opponent, he's here primarily from Pro Tour form, picking up enough cash to finish midway up that qualifying table, peaking in the first weekend before the break with a last sixteen and a quarter final, beating Hunt, Gurney, Murray and Zonneveld in that weekend, all of whom have made the worlds this year. Mansell's Summer Series was fine, picking up four grand, but after that he was only able to pick up more than the one victory in just one event, so in terms of form it's not peaking at the right time.

Most recent major game was at the Players Championship Finals, where he was easily outplayed by Jonny Clayton, and he also lost his first game at the UK Open to Niels Zonneveld. In recent worlds appearances he's lost to Asada (fine), an infamous performance against Jim Long, and further back lost in straight sets to Kim Huybrechts, Phil Taylor, and also lost a prelim to a New Zealand qualifier, so Mickey's still to get a win at the worlds. He can certainly play on his day - you don't win a Pro Tour event by being bad, but it's been quite a while since we've seen his peak game.


Haupai Puha makes his debut in the worlds after being the highest ranking player on the DPNZ circuit  when that took place, I'm not entirely sure, but that's why he's here. We've got limited information, but he looks competent enough, having picked up a couple of wins on the DPA tour in 2019, and making a final this season, the DPA being where we're getting most of the 2020 stats on him from. It's not a bad standard, apart from Cody Harris we've not seen too many great players from New Zealand any time recently, so against someone like Mansell he should certainly have enough to ask a few questions.

Puha does have some stage experience - he played with Harris in the most recent World Cup, where they beat Denmark in pairs and where Puha, in round two, was comparable in average to Jeff Smith (in defeat), and played all of the Australasian World Series events in 2019, losing twice to Barney and once to Gary Anderson. It's a definite chance, he's played in fairly big events so against someone who isn't top tier and hasn't got the greatest record at this venue, who knows?

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