Saturday 16 January 2021

Tungsten Analysis 2020 Awards

So here we are. Finally done with thinking, here's the TA 2020 awards. The same reminder I give every year - players can only win one of the four individual awards, and will take the highest one they can and not be eligible for others, and in terms of new tour card holders, I don't consider players that have previously won a card and have now just won it back (sorry Dirk). Here we go.

Best single tournament performance

Previous winners:
2017 - Phil Taylor, World Matchplay
2018 - Gary Anderson, World Matchplay
2019 - Peter Wright, World Championship

Nominees: Dimitri van den Bergh (World Matchplay), Jose de Sousa (Grand Slam of Darts), Devon Petersen (German Darts Championship), Dirk van Duijvenbode (World Grand Prix), Michael van Gerwen (UK Open)

Winner - Ryan Searle, Players Championship 3

You need to go back and look at this one to realise what a remarkable run it was. Searle opened up against Gerwyn Price, then had a couple of easier games against Michael Barnard and Josh Payne, but that run in was absurd - Michael Smith in the last sixteen, Glen Durrant in the quarters, Jeffrey de Zwaan in the semi and then Michael van Gerwen in the final. Searle took them all out to win his first title and didn't let his level slip all day. You can't get a much harder run than that. In the others, taking your first major title is always going to be a huge achievement so credit for Dimitri and Jose for doing so, Dirk was able to put together a great run - while you'd have expected the previous two to do something sooner rather than later, van Duijvenbode was a bit more out of left field even though he didn't win the title (was tempted to stick Dirk's worlds run in here as well), Petersen's run saw him take out two world champions (well, one at the time) and several other hugely feared opponents, and while you might think van Gerwen winning something is routine, he had an incredibly hard draw of Aspinall, Lowe, Wade, Cross, Gurney and Price. Not a gimmie among them.

Match of the season

Previous winners:
2017 - Rob Cross v Michael van Gerwen, World Championship
2018 - Gary Anderson v Mensur Suljovic, World Matchplay
2019 - Peter Wright v Noel Malicdem, World Championship

Nominees: Krzysztof Ratajski v Chris Dobey (UK Open), Gerwyn Price v Devon Petersen (Players Championship 13), Joe Cullen v Jonny Clayton (World Championship), Michael van Gerwen v Simon Whitlock (Grand Slam), Krzysztof Ratajski v Gabriel Clemens (World Championship), Gerwyn Price v Peter Wright (Players Championship 5)

Winner - Michael van Gerwen v Joe Cullen, World Championship

So many great games could have been picked from the worlds, the two I've picked were incredibly tense that went all the way down to the wire, Cullen/Clayton being one for the purists with a beautiful finish from Cullen to clinch it under pressure, whereas Ratajski and Clemens went 34 out of a possible 35 legs, neither player giving an inch and ending up in the most nailbiting finish. Price against Petersen was one of the great games they've had on the floor, this being the semi final where Petersen averaged 113 and lost the deciding leg, while you can't not pick Whitlock overturning the (then) world number one in a deciding leg in a long format major quarter final. Also need to throw out the PC5 final, four visit legs all over the place, both players averaging 109, incredible stuff. I thought the Ratajski/Dobey match was going to take this for the longest time, under the radar a bit as it was only on board two, but a 10-9 match where both average 105 is right up there. Then van Gerwen against Cullen happened. This game had everything. Literally the only way it could have been better was if Cullen didn't seem completely gone in the deciding leg.

Most disappointing season

Previous winners:
2017 - Benito van de Pas
2018 - Rob Cross
2019 - Raymond van Barneveld

Nominees: Chris Dobey, Steve Beaton, Jamie Hughes, John Henderson

Winner - Adrian Lewis

Not a great number of picks here, and I've excluded the likes of Kyle Anderson, Wayne Warren and Fallon Sherrock who could have had years at least doing something but were prevented from doing so through no fault of their own. Dobey's been off the pace for quite some time, has started missing majors again and seems to have taken a fair step backwards. Beaton's been incredibly quiet on the floor, is now also missing majors, and suffered a huge defeat on the opening day of the worlds which might potentially be the last time we see him, Hughes really hasn't been the same player since the middle of 2019 (while some of it may be injury related), and Hendo has been able to do pretty much nothing all year and was incredibly fortunate to even qualify for the worlds. But it's got to go to Adie I think. Out of the worlds at the first hurdle, out of the Players Championship at the first hurdle, didn't even qualify for the Grand Slam, missed the Grand Prix through no fault of his own, out of the UK Open at the first hurdle, no floor finals at all, if it wasn't for the Matchplay, 2020 might have been a total loss for Lewis, and he can no longer bank on a top 16 position to make majors. He's got a lot of work to do in 2021.

Best young player

Previous winners:
2017 - Justin van Tergouw
2018 - Luke Humphries/Leighton Bennett
2019 - Keane Barry

Nominees: Keane Barry, Bradley Brooks, Ryan Meikle, Kevin Doets, Lewy Williams

Winner - Callan Rydz

This is an incredibly tough one to call with the youth calendar outside of the PDC being basically reduced to zero, so I'm pretty much looking at PDC work. Brooks through winning the world youth after winning his tour card back is clearly worth a shout, as is Meikle for winning the Development Tour and doing enough to get through to the Players Championship Finals, showing dangerous ability at times on the senior tour. Barry continues to progress at an incredible rate and will be a huge threat on the tour already, while Doets is a fairly new name to me but has managed to win both Development and Challenge Tour titles in 2020. Should also mention Williams, made waves at the UK Open and could be a pretty big name in the near future. It has to go to Rydz though. He's already putting up performances of a top 32 level, has shown the capability of making deep runs at senior level and in his game against Peter Wright at the Players Championship Finals, showed that he's able to mix it at the very highest level. With a year of experience at senior level on the board, who knows what he'll be capable of in 2021.

Most disappointing news of the season

Previous winners:
2017 - Phil Taylor still not getting it quietly
2018 - Everything to do with the UK Open
2019 - Everything to do with the BDO

Nominees: The almost complete absence of non-PDC darts, Lewis/Bunting/Kleermaker being screwed out of major tournaments, crowds being back in the UK for just one session, BDO continuing to piss off Wayne Warren

Winner - Kyle McKinstry and Wessel Nijman match fixing

I could just say everything to do with government reactions to Covid, be it us losing more or less every non-professional tournament in 2020 outside of the Dutch Open at a time when the second tier of the game was going to be in a huge state of flux in any case, which has also cost us the entirety of the ladies and youth games, cost us the Asian Tour and the majority of other regional tours, as well as giving us stupid restrictions which has seen multiple players miss out on appearances at major events through no fault of their own when, more likely than not, they were of no risk to anyone. It was also incredibly sad to see that yes, we can get crowds into the worlds, then Matchroom get fucked over after just one day, exactly as they got fucked over with the snooker. I suppose the worst news that wasn't related to all this was the BDO stiffing Wayne Warren for a huge chunk of the initially advertised money and then the whole trophy palaver afterwards. But no, it has to go to McKinstry and Nijman doing what they did in the whole murky world that was the Modus events, especially sad since McKinstry had just had a big UK Open run and Wessel was only just starting on what could have been a very promising career.

Personal highlight of the season

Previous winners:
2017 - Mensur Suljovic wins the Champions League
2018 - Ian White claims a European Tour title
2019 - The explosion in quality from non-traditional areas

Nominees: Deta Hedman making it into the worlds, Danny Baggish becoming a high quality player, Jose de Sousa binking a major title, Jose de Sousa's miscounting, Michael van Gerwen's 141 approach to leave tops, Lisa Ashton winning a tour card

Winner - The PDC's efforts to get some sort of calendar on

This can be the only real winner. The amount of work that that Barry Hearn, Matt Porter and everyone behind the scenes to get on what they were able to, with a hell of a lot of innovation with the Home Tour, the various Series and finally being able to get some crowds into some of the events based in Europe. They've been dealt an absolute bastard of a hand but knocked it out of the park. Elsewhere, Deta really upping things in the Women's Series to get a worlds appearance was great to see, Danny Baggish doing the best of the international qualifiers at the worlds and being part of a much improving US-scene is nice, de Sousa making a big breakthrough and giving us plenty of comedy moments along the way has to be a highlight, but in terms of a single best visit of the season, van Gerwen showing Chisnall how you should finish off a nine dart leg has to be it. And I can't not mention Lisa Ashton making a huge breakthrough and (just about) getting onto the tour. That should have been much bigger news than anything Sherrock did.

Best new tour card holder

Previous winners:
2017 - Richard North
2018 - Danny Noppert
2019 - Glen Durrant

Nominees: Jason Lowe, Karel Sedlacek, Boris Krcmar, Callan Rydz, Scott Waites

Winner - Damon Heta

Got to be Damon. The level of play he's put up consistently all year, both on the floor, where he was able to win one title and reach the final in another, and on stage where he already looks a danger to go deep in any tournament he enters, is clearly better than anyone else who's come onto the tour this season. A top ten level of scoring is no fluke. Elsewhere, Rydz we've talked about as having a great season, the European combination of Sedlacek and Krcmar have looked solid once they've got used to the whole tour system, kind of similar with Waites who's been involved in some good tussles, notably against Aspinall, and shown why he should have switched to the PDC a decade ago. Final mention is to Lowe, who had a real good start to the season, was doing next to nothing wrong on the floor, nearly beat van Gerwen in a great UK Open run, then did get the scalp of Michael Smith at the worlds.

Most improved player

Previous winners:
2017 - Daryl Gurney
2018 - Jeffrey de Zwaan
2019 - Nathan Aspinall

Nominees: Jose de Sousa, Ryan Searle, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Adam Hunt, Franz Roetzsch

Winner - Devon Petersen

Has to be Devon. He was showing some signs in 2019, but I don't think anyone could see this sort of transformation into a top ten player in terms of scoring, a European Tour winner and a major semi finalist. It's been a remarkable rise in quality, especially if you compare to two or three years ago where he was just holding onto his tour card by the skin of his teeth with a run of world championship upsets. de Sousa's gone from someone who can win the occasional event to European Tour winner, then major winner, now Premier League player and top five rated in terms of scoring, Searle's managed to break through to the level of Pro Tour winner, has looked deadly at times on TV and is not an easy out for anyone, Adam Hunt has finally started to make some waves, improve his averages and start to put in some good performances on stage with a nice Grand Slam performance, being pretty unlucky to not go further than he did in the worlds, only being stopped by fellow nominee Dirk van Duijvenbode, whose 2020 after grabbing his tour card back is quite special. Also got to stick a shout out to Roetzsch, we've not seen much of him, but having come from basically nowhere to putting in some incredible performances in the European Tour, grabbing some big scalps and being one game away from making a major, that's got to be some improvement.

Player of the year

Previous winners:
2017 - Rob Cross
2018 - Gary Anderson
2019 - Michael van Gerwen

Nominees: Jose de Sousa, Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright

Winner - Gerwyn Price

It has to go to the world champion and new world number one. It may not be completely true on scoring, but there's a clear best three, and in terms of pure results, Price takes it, having taken the world title, taken another major, claiming the World Cup, making another ranking major final and semi final, as well as binking a Euro Tour and four Pro Tour titles. Wright had the best scoring of anyone, claimed another major in the European Championship, and did enough on the Pro Tour to get the number one seeding for the Players Championship Finals. de Sousa made huge strides with two massive wins, while van Gerwen was able to claim another two major titles and only be beaten by Wright in terms of scoring, but was never really in contention following that shock loss to Chisnall, a poor Premier League and multiple surprise defeats to Whitlock.

That's it. Let us know your thoughts and where you agree or disagree if you want. I might be back with some Masters stuff, but it's a pretty quiet time right now.

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