Sunday 12 December 2021

Worlds quarter one

Will go through each quarter with real quick hits. I've not had the time to do any sort of super in depth preview, so won't do. I'm aware someone may be dropping out, but until I hear who it is (if this is true), I'm going as planned. Will do all the round 1/2 first, then the last 32 onwards.

Edhouse/Wen - Ritchie's been pretty solid, scoring just shy of 90 for the season, getting into all of the easy major events and getting to several Pro Tour quarter finals. Should be way too solid for Wen, who's making his debut, don't really know much about him, has played in the Shanghai World Series a couple of times without doing much of anything, also hard to know how much decent match practice the Asian qualifiers have been able to get really. Edhouse 3-0

Price/Edhouse - Then we get possibly the biggest change in terms of quality, and in one night to boot. Only picking up the one major is probably a bit below par, but compensated by picking up both (sigh) Euro Tours, is still second best in the world in scoring behind MvG, and should easily pass through - wouldn't surprise me if Ritchie were able to pinch a set, but I'm thinking probably not. Price 3-0

Beaton/Sherrock - Steve's not had the greatest of seasons, nothing really of note in terms of results given the calibre of player that he was, especially in the second half of the season, scoring is down below 89 which is round about the mark that plenty of players who aren't here are at right now. Sherrock's done great on TV but garbage on the floor - she's actually scoring 93 in the sample size I have which is pretty much just the Grand Slam, but as noted before she's actually lost more money in entry fees than she has won in prizes on the Challenge Tour. Woof. Game is on TV though. Sherrock 3-1

Huybrechts/Sherrock - Kim's definitely going to be a step up in quality, doing well enough in a Dolan-esque return to form to get back into the top 32, scoring solidly nearer 92 than 91. Question is how he handles the crowd, I think Kim will be fine, he's been in the Premier League, he's played Taylor on this stage, this ought to be nothing new to him, but will be close. Huybrechts 3-2

Smith/Smith - Ross against Jeff. Ross has had an exceptional season, scoring over 92 higher than the likes of Gary Anderson and Dave Chisnall, has managed to break through and bink a title, and it is surely when rather than if he breaks through into the top 32. Jeff has been the player more than most that has been fucked over by government bullshit both here and in Canada, and while I would like to see him rewarded with a win here, and while he clearly has the peak game to do it, the power just hasn't been there, scoring below 88 which is less than fellow North American Danny Baggish. Think Jeff will take a set, his match experience is likely too good not to, but that's it. R Smith 3-1

Bunting/Smith - Stephen's an interesting one, resting just outside the top 16 in the FRH rankings helped by his semi final this time last year. He did bink a Pro Tour earlier in the year, and had a nice little cameo at the Grand Prix with a run to the semis, but outside of that results have been a little bit lacking. I'm sure he won't mind that though. Bunting is scoring solidly enough but is actually nearly a point below Smudger, who I think will cause us our first seeding upset, at least in bracket order. Smith 3-2

Wattimena/Koltsov - Jermaine perhaps a bit lucky to be here, one of the last Pro Tour qualifiers (in the last quarter) having dropped out of the seeds, where he's been the previous three events. He did make the Matchplay, but only as an alternate, and is now needing to fight back on the floor to get into TV events going forward. Which'll be tough, he's not won a board since April, or even reached a board final since the Matchplay. Boris won the EADC qualifier, fortunate as his Pro Tour results have been few and far between. Neither player has been lighting up the scoring, Boris is at 86, Jermaine's a bit better than I thought at just below 90. Koltsov can have great purple patches but I don't see how he sustains it over best of five sets. Wattimena 3-1

van Duijvenbode/Wattimena - Might be a touch one sided this, Dirk's scoring above 92 which is a solid enough advantage that I don't think he'll be troubled. Dirk maybe could have done a little bit more on TV this year, his results have been a touch disappointing following his worlds run twelve months ago, but he has won one on the floor this year and was unlucky not to go back to back to be honest. Jermaine may well take a set, but that's about as much as I think he can do. van Duijvenbode 3-1

Barry/Lam - Ought to be an interesting one this. Keane's had a very good first full season, a key thing being getting qualification for the Euro Tours and having a decent run in Hungary which got him into the joke that was the European Championship, scoring a steady 89. Good job of gaining experience but maybe he'd like to have got a bit more in terms of results on the Pro Tour. Royden is back after a three year absence, winning the Hong Kong qualifier. As mentioned with Wen, really hard to know where he's at in terms of quality, he didn't even play the World Cup and there's not been the Asian Tour for some time now. Hopefully that returns in 2022. As such, it's hard to pick against Keane. Barry 3-1

Clayton/Barry - This will be spicy. Clayton's rise from solid top 16 competitor to multiple major winner (albeit only one of them was ranked, but still) and top five in the world in scoring has been nothing but remarkable. He's handled changing from the hunter to the hunted pretty well and ought to be able to handle Keane easily enough. Maybe Barry has a bit of a spell and can claim a set, but Jonny should be way too solid and close this one out easily. Clayton 3-0

Williams/Shibata - Lewy's started his senior career very well to get here on the Pro Tour list, was another player like Barry above to take advantage of the Euro Tour schedule and get some TV experience following a good win over Ratajski. He's not really lit it up on the floor yet, but did win four boards and convert one into a quarter final, scoring just shy of 89. Shibata I know little about. He won through the Japan qualifier, beating Asada along the way but the last time I saw Seigo his form had dropped off a cliff, so who knows what that's actually worth. Think the kid takes this, but wouldn't be surprised if this ends up in a bit of a brawl. Williams 3-2

Clemens/Williams - Gabriel's still looking for that first Pro Tour, and isn't actually scoring overly heavily, just over 90, so if it is Lewy that comes through, this might be a bit competitive. He did make one final but fell two legs short against Rydz, and continues to pick up steady money on the Pro Tour, but would have liked to make more of an impression on the TV stage, which is what he needs to do to really push up the rankings. I think the German's going to have enough to come through, but it'll be tight. Clemens 3-2

Meulenkamp/Ashton - Ron was touch and go as to whether he'd make it, doing the better work earlier in the season on the Pro Tour and holding on in the end having not reached a board final since July. He did look the best he's been for a while in the UK Open, but that was way back early in the year and things have changed since then. Lisa's scoring quite a lot lower though, down at 84 compared to Ron's 89, and despite winning through to the worlds and Slam twice, she's going back to Q-School unless she can win to round three at least. Winning a board once and then not winning more than one match in a Pro Tour all season isn't great really. She can certainly run three-four legs together and grab a set and I'd fancy her to do that, but that's about the limit I think. Meulenkamp 3-1

Smith/Meulenkamp - This isn't as big of an upgrade in quality as Wen to Price, but it might not be far off. Smith's still looking for that elusive first major, and scoring well over 93 puts him into the equation for doing so, but the closest he got this year was the Grand Slam. At least he binked a couple of Pro Tours to get there. Can't see Michael having too many problems here, he's actually got a surprising amount of experience now (that win over Taylor here was eight years ago after all). Smith 3-0

O'Connor/Lauby - Willie is just under 90 in scoring for the season, which isn't a bad standard, eventually sealing his place with a semi final in the penultimate Pro Tour event of the season, and with his couple of wins at the Players Championship Finals over quality opponents in Dobey and Ratajski, maybe he's hitting form at the right time. He does seem to have spells where he performs somewhat better than usual and has done for years. Results prior to that have been a touch disappointing though. Lauby won in through the CDC Tour and showed what he can do last year in a nailbiting first rounder against Ryan Searle, and has kept in match sharpness on the American circuit as well as on the Challenge Tour, where he managed to make a final but was real up and down, ending with a conventional average in the mid 80s. Think Willie's going to be too strong, but Danny should be enough value to take a set. O'Connor 3-1

Durrant/O'Connor - Won't say too much about Glen out of respect really, it's just been a horror show of a season, his scoring is down below 85, is now outside of the FRH top 32, and outside of one run to the quarters way back in February, hasn't won more than one game all season. I can't see how he can trouble Willie, I just hope this doesn't turn into a complete trainwreck as Glen deserves better than that. O'Connor 3-0

Price/Huybrechts - Into round three now, Kim I think has been doing enough throughout the season that he can put Gerwyn under some pressure, he's shown up in my outside value tips for Pro Tour deep runs a few times, and we know he has the top end game that can ask questions of anyone. That said, Price is a clear couple of tiers ahead of Kim and I think he will just be too consistent to allow Huybrechts to get too close to the finish line. Maybe Kim can pick up more than the one set, especially if he wins the darts, but I'm not sure he can get close enough to get onto the hill. Price 4-1

Smith/van Duijvenbode - This one should be a lot of fun. Dirk's been the better player over the season statistically, outscoring Smith by about a point, but there's certainly enough opportunity here for Ross to maybe cause another upset. I'm thinking this is one that can go all the way and become an under the radar classic, Dirk just edging it. van Duijvenbode 4-3

Clayton/Clemens - Got to think that Gabriel's run ends where it should do based on seedings. Clayton's just too good right now, Clemens caused a huge upset this time last year, but I don't think that he will be able to repeat that. This seems like the Price/Huybrechts game, the difference in quality seems comparable, again maybe if Gabriel wins the darts he can claim a couple of sets, but I'd certainly be thinking Jonny ends this one sooner rather than later. Clayton 4-1

Smith/O'Connor - Don't think that Willie will be able to get much further than this. He'll take advantage of possibly the best draw he could hope for, but Michael should be a step too far. I don't think the difference in quality is anywhere near as much as it is in the games involving the Welsh players, but it's enough that I don't think this match will be in too much doubt. Smith 4-2

Price/van Duijvenbode - Kind of unfortunate seeding for Dirk here. He's top ten in the world in scoring, but runs into the world champ in the last sixteen. Definitely think he's got enough quality that he'll give Price a decent test, but Gerwyn should have enough to keep him at arms length and get through without any huge danger. Price 4-2

Clayton/Smith - We've got the 8v9 seeding matchup, so based on that it ought to be incredibly tight, but Clayton's ranking hasn't caught up with Clayton's quality just yet. He's a full point ahead of Michael on scoring and four places ahead on the FRH rankings. He's also only defending third round money, so has the capability of going up several spots in the official rankings without too much of a problem. It'd be the most Smith thing ever to take this to a deciding set and then lose, so that's what I'll go for. Clayton 4-3

Price/Clayton - So we get down to the top two seeds and it's an all-Welsh matchup, also coincidentally the top two in the FDI rankings against each other, I think the question here is if Clayton can repeat what he did in the Grand Prix final where he made Price look ordinary, at least in terms of scoreline, or for that matter his worlds debut, where he also beat Price. Then again, Price won their match at the Slam and was a real comfortable winner at the Matchplay, but those are both leg play events. I think this could legitimately go either way, and I would not be surprised if Clayton forces this the distance or even nicks it. But I'll take Gerwyn given he has course and distance, Jonny's done a lot on the TV stage but it's still uncharted territory. Price 5-3

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