Sunday 13 December 2020

Section 15 - Aspinall, Waites, Campbell, van der Voort, Meulenkamp, Krcmar

The highest seed we've yet to cover is the back to back semi finalist, who will be defending quite a bit of cash and ranking position as a result, but Nathan Aspinall continues to produce at a high level, and was nearly able to add another major title to his CV with the Premier League, but would ultimately come up one game short in the final against Glen Durrant. It's been a moderately quiet season on TV outside of that tournament for Nathan, but he's been alright on the floor, taking two Pro Tour titles, albeit in terms of coming good at the right time it might be a slight concern that both of them were before the interruption in play, taking PC2 with a last three wins over Wright, Clemens and Price, then taking PC7 with wins over van Gerwen, Noppert and Dolan. Having beaten all of the big three in those runs is clear evidence of what Aspinall can do, and the consistency in results is also there, with an impressive record of just 5/23 Players Championship events where he failed to reach the board final, turning 13 of those 18 into board wins.

On TV and stage he could maybe have done a little more however. He got a bastard draw in the UK Open, getting the world number one, pushing him close but coming up a little bit short. The Matchplay and Grand Prix were both first round exits as well, the first to the eventual winner, the latter to Gabriel Clemens. He'd beat Maik Kuivenhoven at Oberhausen before losing a tight game to eventual finalist James Wade, while the Grand Slam was his best run, just losing out to Dimitri again in the group stage, getting probably his best win of the season over Gerwyn Price, before just failing to avenge the defeat to Dimitri in the quarters, simply not scoring with the darts in the deciding leg allowing three clear at a double to the Belgian major winner (of course he hit a 180 as a moot final visit). An early loss in the PC Finals to Ross Smith could have been even earlier if Scott Waites hadn't missed five match darts to beat him a round before. The Euro Tour was more or less par for the course as well. So all in all, decent enough but maybe coming up a bit short when it really counts.

It's come maybe a decade or more too late, but after maybe the most BDO worlds appearances of anyone before a PDC debut, Scott Waites will make his first appearance after a steady first season, not really making any massive runs anywhere but continually chipping away with 500 quid here, a grand there, getting through his first game twice as often as not (outside of a disastrous Summer Series), and also being able to get into a couple of Euro Tours to add a useful four grand and nearly creep into the European Championship as a result. As mentioned above, he could have got a big win over Aspinall in the Players Championship Finals but blew his chances, and had a good UK Open run to the last 64, beating Damon Heta, upcoming youngster Geert Nentjes, then Madars Razma before going down to Jonny Clayton. It's a solid platform that'll give Scott good chances of retaining his card this time next year.

Scott's Euro Tours were both one and done, beating Darren Penhall before losing to Glen Durrant, the beating Jason Lowe before losing to Ian White. He's had some good wins on the Pro Tour, but also some bad losses, most notably that Summer Series run where he had five straight defeats to van de Pas, Stevenson, Beeney, Wilkinson and Dennant (none of which are here), he's also had losses to Gary Blades, Jesus Noguera, Ryan Murray and Josh Payne. But on the other hand, he's beaten the likes of Simon Whitlock, Devon Petersen, Brendan Dolan, Daryl Gurney, Joe Cullen, Jose de Sousa, Ian White and Vincent van der Voort, all of whom are seeded here, so definitely up as well as down. What Waites will we get?

Matt Campbell returns for a second crack at the worlds, the Canadian taking a set off of Mark McGeeney last season, and returning as a result of topping the CDC table, formulated off a series of four events in September where he won one and reached the final of two more. Campbell wasn't the highest averaging of this series, ending a couple of points below Dave Cameron, but got enough results when it counted to book his return. Campbell averaged 88 in that worlds match, and was in a deciding leg in set four, so could maybe have caused an upset if he'd scored a bit more, checking back at records McGeeney only held in seven visits in that leg and Campbell wasn't even on a double after six.

Campbell might be improving somewhat though, he looked pretty tidy in the World Cup, where as the partner of Jeff Smith (also in this eighth of the draw), they took out the fancied Northern Ireland team in pairs, then got through New Zealand with Campbell averaging 96 to claim the match against Cody Harris. Belgium would be a step too far, but Canada forced a deciding pairs match and it was Campbell, not the more experienced tour card holder Smith, who got the point over Dimitri van den Bergh, averaging 97 - so if Matt can replicate that sort of stage form here, Scott will certainly have his hands full.

Vincent's hanging around in the top 32, still turning up with good runs here and there, which was most notable at the Matchplay, where he matched his best performance in that event with a quarter final run. van der Voort played the best we've seen him in quite some time, at least on stage, averaging in the high 90's with two comfortable wins over Dave Chisnall and Daryl Gurney, before losing a 10-5 lead to Glen Durrant in a controversial quarter final, eventually going down in overtime. Vincent's also picked up a couple of decent Pro Tour runs, fortunately in terms of form both were in the Winter Series - starting it well with a quarter final in the first event (albeit he faced two Challenge Tour callups and two players who've not qualified for the worlds), then followed it up with a semi final, notably beating James Wade and whitewashing Darius Labanauskas in the final eight.

Outside of those it's been a mixed bag - he's got through to the last sixteen and board finals on the Pro Tour often enough, but it wasn't quite enough to keep him high enough in the rankings to qualify for the Grand Prix, only one Euro Tour appearance (where he was somehow seeded) wasn't enough to make the finals, but taking van Gerwen to a deciding leg isn't too bad, he lost out to Robert Thornton in the Grand Slam qualifier well short of the final, and in the majors he did make, he couldn't quite beat Bunting in a decider in the UK Open (after beating John Michael), while at the Players Championship Finals, Vincent similarly lost a decider, after beating Derk Telnekes he went out to Jose de Sousa. Probably fair to say that with a little bit of additional luck he might have got a lot more in the bank, but sometimes you've got to make your own luck.

Ron's not had the best of seasons really, but just about managed to scrape into the worlds as a result of having a good record in qualifying for the European Tour. Ron got through the qualifiers three times, but while he only got the one win, it put him in a position where he could still qualify for Oberhausen. Previously losing deciders to Mike de Decker and Richard North, Ron got through Michael Rosenauer but, with just the one win required, couldn't handle an inspired Dave Chisnall. That said, the four grand from those appearances was just enough to augment his Pro Tour winnings to make it here, and absolutely required as he finished low enough down the rankings not to make the Players Championship Finals. It'll only be Ron's second major appearance after the UK Open, where he lost his first game to Richard North.

It's the Pro Tour that's been a problem - Ron had a horrific start to the year with just the two wins before the suspension of play, then only adding another two wins in the Summer Series, the best player he beat of those four being Jelle Klaasen. Ron did have an outside chance of making the Matchplay at this point with a good end to 2019 still counting, but just couldn't get the results needed. The Autumn Series was a little better as Meulenkamp did at least make a board final once, and the Winter Series was further improvement, where he made two board finals and won one, getting wins over Jonny Clayton and Ross Smith. As such, while it's a trend upwards, it's only a slight one and it seems a world away from 2019 where it seemed as if Ron was in a tour quarter final or better every other week. Will be a tough first round task to match his last 64 appearance from twelve months ago.

The reason it'll be tough is that he's drawn Boris Krcmar, the multiple time soft tip world champion who was able to claim a tour card on countback back in January, and has had a solid enough first season, pretty much entirely on the Pro Tour, as he didn't make any European Tour appearances and withdrew from the UK Open. After naturally taking a bit of time to get to grips with the week in week out steel tip play, only picking up five wins in the six events he played prior to the shutdown and the Summer Series, Boris gradually improved his play, claiming back to back board wins to start the week with wins over Clemens, Chisnall, Lowe and Ratajski, he additionally wouldn't lose in the first round in any of the events, and added another board win in the Winter Series to close the season, defeating the Dutch pair of Noppert and Wattimena in that event. This was enough to get him into the Players Championship Finals, which is the best indication of what he can do - he averaged 107 in losing 6-5 to Michael Smith, not being able to kill 116 for the match.

Boris didn't actually qualify through the Pro Tour, although he may well have done - he got there through winning the Eastern European qualifier, a similar event to the one he won a decade ago to qualify for his previous appearance where he lost a prelim to Per Laursen. Krcmar beat Patrick Kovacs in the final with an average in the mid-90s. Krcmar was an overwhelming favourite to win this event, which lacked many real powerful names with the most well known player probably being Adam Gawlas, the young Czech up and comer who lost to Kovacs in the other semi final. Still, you can only beat what you come up against, and Boris certainly did that - and has the quality to do that another couple of times at least in the main event.

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