Friday 4 December 2020

Section 3 - Chisnall, Brown, Meikle, Noppert, Kleermaker, Carolissen

Up and down season for Chizzy really. Dave's always been in that conversation as to the best player not to win a major, or who'll be the next one, and he had the best chance he'll probably ever have to claim one at the Grand Prix. After eliminating a below par Glen Durrant, avoiding Peter Wright as Ryan Joyce beat Wright for him, then edging past Joe Cullen, all he needed to do was beat Gerwyn Price to face Dirk van Duijvenbode in the final, and he had one leg to do it having forced a decider in the last leg. Leaving 68 after nine darts, he missed one match dart at D18, then got a second chance but pulled a second dart at D9 inside, and that was that. Aside from that, it's been a pretty bad run of results - lost to O'Connor at the UK Open first game, lost to van der Voort at the Matchplay first game, lost to Jamie Hughes at the European Championship first game, while he did get through a potentially tricky Grand Slam group he lost to eventual winner Jose de Sousa in the first knockout round, and then finally Dave lost to eventual finalist Mervyn King in the Players Championship finals in the first round. Not a great habit to be in, and mostly players he should be beating.

The numbers are fair enough, there's just a bit more inconsistency creeping back in - probably not on doubles given the one major he did well in was a double in format, which is really preventing him pushing, say, back into the Premier League or into the real elite, he's a way off the top three and I don't think you can say he's up with the second tier of players that are just below him. Floor performances haven't really been great either - he did get one final in the Summer Series (where he lost to Ryan Joyce), but just the couple of quarters beyond that, and limited results on the European Tour contribute to a season that really has to be described as underachieving.

Quiet year for Brown, to the point where the most notable thing I can recall him doing was going back to doing NHS work at the peak of corona, and losing a big lead to Gary Anderson at the Players Championship Finals despite Ando pretty much only having one leg. He's dropped from being seeded last season to being two thirds down the Pro Tour list this year, but has his darting year been that quiet?

Probably. UK Open? Got Daryl Gurney in the first game, looks good statistically which is all we can tell from boards 3-8, got 9-7 up, then lost having missed match darts. Had enough in the bank to make the Matchplay, was able to force James Wade to overtime, but lost out 12-10. A good September dropped off so he didn't make the Grand Prix, didn't qualify for any European events so no final there, then in the Slam qualifier ran into Ryan Joyce averaging 113, so not much can be done there. Just the two board final wins, one of which was converted into a quarter final, isn't the greatest return on the floor, and overall statistics showing about as many legs won as lost and overall scoring below 90 kind of indicates that Brown dropping from the top 32 isn't an inaccurate assessment.

Someone who is over 90 in scoring this year is Ryan Meikle, who was able to put together dominant performances on the Development Tour, winning two events and finishing as runner up in another two, where he was only stopped by Keane Barry in the final. Ryan wasn't able to get past the quarters in the world youth where he dropped out to Jeffrey de Zwaan, but what did he do on the senior circuit?

Well, he did enough on the floor to make the Players Championship Finals - only just as the last player in, but he was able to force things all the way against Peter Wright, pinning a 167 out to force a decider where he had the darts, but completely lost scoring and Wright got an eleven darter in any case even if Ryan wasn't completely unable to hit a treble. Those floor performances indicate middle of the road performances more or less - wasn't able to get to a quarter final, but did win his board on a couple of occasions, one in the Winter Series where he beat Larsson, Leung and Lennon before suffering a horrific defeat to Brendan Dolan having held a 5-0 lead, the other in the Summer Series where he beat Labanauskas, Shepherd and Mitchell before being crushed by Daryl Gurney. Larsson did knock him out of the UK Open - seems to be all part of learning the senior circuit, Ryan is at least doing things right and is setting things up well in order to try to retain his card at the end of next year.

Danny's one of the most underrated players on the circuit. The former Lakeside finalist has been putting together great performances for quite some time, but just not getting the real big run in a ranking major yet. Danny was able to do enough to be one half of the Netherlands team at the World Cup to give an indication of where he's up to in his progress, but he's not been able to really power into the massive result that his statistics would indicate he's capable of. Some of it's bad draws - he got Price in the UK Open, faced an on fire van Duijvenbode in the European Championships, but had some results he might want back. After beating Price at the Matchplay he then lost to Adrian Lewis, didn't even make the slam after losing to Peter Jacques in the qualifier, then got into a bit of a one sided reverse against Gary Anderson at the Grand Prix after getting past a dangerous opponent in Ryan Searle.

Floor form isn't in question though. A semi final and a quarter final in Europe is perfectly fine, and in the Pro Tours he's been great - a semi and a quarter in one of the early weekends, another semi in another early weekend, a quarter and three board finals in the Summer Series, a quarter and three board wins in the Autumn Series, and another couple of board wins in the Winter Series. Incredible consistency, Noppert only had the one first round loss all season - and that was in a deciding leg to Luke Humphries. That's incredibly hard to do and indicates that Danny gives little away cheaply. If you're picking dark horses, this isn't a bad place to start.

Always interesting to see how players who've had a good run in the BDO do once they switch to the PDC, and Kleermaker's made a decent impression in his first year. Martijn won his card through the European countback table, and did most of his best work within the European Tour - winning through to three of the four events, where he picked up some good scalps like Stephen Bunting, Joe Cullen and Krzysztof Ratajski. Those performances got him through to the European Championship, where he pulled off a notable upset in eliminating Rob Cross in the first round, before losing a closely fought affair with Devon Petersen. Getting a TV win in your first year can never be bad.

Elsewhere, Kleermaker's not been quite so hot - only winning his board on one occasion on the second day of the Summer Series, where again he beat Bunting and Ratajski, as well as the always threatening Jason Lowe, but he was able to make the board final on nine separate occasions, next season he'll be looking to turn more of those into deeper runs. That general level of consistency allowed Martijn to reach the Players Championship Finals, getting a tough draw in Gabriel Clemens but, despite being 5-4 up, not being able to generate a match dart. His stats look a little bit on the low side for the results he's got, but prior to switching Kleermaker was cleaning up in BDO/WDF events, so must be doing something right from a matchplay perspective.

Kleermaker's first round opponent will be Cameron Carolissen, who won through the African qualifier (which for all intents and purposes was a South African qualifier), and with Devon Petersen through via other methods, it makes it the first time that we've got two players from South Africa in the worlds to the best of my knowledge. We don't know a great deal about him - he has no record on dartsdatabase, and the only thing I can find in terms of video is a random online league game from back in September - at least in that, he was averaging over 90 over a decent length match (was a race to 21 if I recall rightly).

So what about that qualifier? He managed to get through Vernon Bouwers (one half of the South Africa World Cup team from 2019), Graham Filby (who played the same event twice in 2014/15), then two time worlds competitor Charles Losper in a final where he averaged in the low 80's and was able to get a few solid legs on the board. Apparently only 24, he certainly has time on his side, and looks to have a decent enough game where he could give Martijn some problems if he's able to handle the occasion on debut.

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