Monday 13 December 2021

Worlds quarter two

Kuivenhoven/Smith - Maik's not done too badly this year, reaching a Pro Tour semi, qualifying for this and the PC finals, and getting into the FRH top 50, scoring over 89 per turn is respectable enough. Smith won the Oceanic Masters to get here, but has minimal useful results on the DPA tour, with seemingly just the one final, and outside of the final of the tourney he won, he was averaging at best in the mid 80's, lower in the early rounds. The final was solid enough, and we've seen the Aussie qualifiers appear generally competent before, so with Maik not being the highest level of Pro Tour player he could have got, I think he nicks a set, but that's it. Kuivenhoven 3-1

Wade/Kuivenhoven - James is a different level though, with a major win to his name and looking real good to return to the Premier League on merit, he should be able to handle anything Maik can throw at him, scoring as he does three points per turn more. Seems similar to the first rounder, the underdog will probably have enough to take a set, but James being forced into a deciding set or worse seems like a long shot. Wade 3-1

Hunt/Krcmar - Adam was a bit disappointing this year after a good 2020, only just creeping into the field as one of the last couple of players and scoring down closer to 87 than 88, fortunately making the European Championship but seemingly not winning a board at all on tour all year. Krcmar on the other hand is scoring a clear two points higher, and has had some brutal draws throughout the year, but got through the PDPA qualifier to save his card, playing some great stuff along the way. Krcmar 3-1

van der Voort/Krcmar - Vincent's season has been ok, scoring just under 91, having a good run recently at Minehead, and being a regular board winner on tour despite never really being in the discussion of someone you'd pick to win one. Would think he'll be OK, especially if Boris underperforms like he did in the Slam, but it'll be a close one. van der Voort 3-2

Evetts/Williams - Kind of a little surprised to see Ted make it in through the Pro Tour (although he obviously had the world youth as a backup), until I remember he had a good run in Gib that counted for 3k to make up for spotty floor form with far too many first round exits. Scoring of below 88 is towards the wrong end of the Pro Tour qualifiers, and well below Jim, who's in the 90's albeit on fairly limited Challenge Tour and Grand Slam sampling (I don't think he got in any Pro Tours?), so I think this is another spot where the Pro Tour qualifier may be in trouble. Williams 3-2

Cullen/Williams - Joe is hanging around the top 16 and shows now and again that he has the game which might be capable of winning a big one, but he just can't quite put it together for enough games to really make it happen. Scoring is up just a shade under 93, can't complain about that, he has a couple of Pro Tour binks this season which he can't complain about, so he should get through, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Jim's experience in worlds, albeit the other side, may cause this one to be dragged out a fair bit. Cullen 3-2

Kleermaker/Michael - Martijn's here after being fucked over last year, with more than a solid season to end in the top 8 of the Pro Tour qualifiers, make the Grand Prix as well as a Pro Tour final, results are maybe a bit better than actual performance given he's only scoring a high-88 over the season. He can't complain about getting Michael in the draw, John finished outside the top 100 on the Pro Tour order of merit, is scoring a good couple of points lower, and had a whole stack of first round exits - around two thirds of his winnings came from one quarter final and edging out Beaton in Hungary. John can put together some good legs, so may nick a set, but I think it's more likely Kleermaker makes up for lost time and sweeps. Kleermaker 3-0

Whitlock/Kleermaker - After a good 2020 on TV, Whitlock's really slid down the rankings, he did make the Euros having made a run to the semis in Gib, but missed all the other big majors and just got to the "easy" ones, so given what he's defending this could easily be the last time he's seeded unless he makes up for lost time in 2022. Simon's averaging bang on 90 this season, so I think he just has enough quality to get by, but Martijn will definitely put the pressure on and force this all the way. Whitlock 3-2

Hempel/Schindler - Bastard draw for both. Hempel, after missing a few of the earlier events, made up for lost time by making both Euro Tours then getting a win over Peter Wright in the big event, and already has a Pro Tour semi in the bank and scoring closer to 92 than 91, enough to put him in the top 32 out of people with a good sample. It's a pity for German darts he's drawn Schindler, who after signs of good play in 2020 without results, is playing even better with results in 2021, and would have been near the top of the Pro Tour rankings if he hadn't won the German Superleague - where he beat Florian in the final. Martin has more stage experience and is playing better so ought to come through, but Hempel will put up a good fight. Schindler 3-1

van den Bergh/Schindler - Dimitri will not like being guaranteed either of these. The Belgian is in the top 10 in the world in scoring, got two Pro Tour binks and had another huge Matchplay run. It really wouldn't surprise me if he lost whoever comes through, but I think more often than not he'll come through - but not before a very tough match. van den Bergh 3-2

Hughes/Smith - Jamie is out of the seeds and not quite as high up in the Pro Tour as he was when he was a Euro Tour winner, sliding down to 40th in the FRH rankings (and he would needed to have won a game at Minehead so we can't blame bullshit withdrawals for that one). He has a couple of Pro Tour semis but has far too many first round exits or one and done runs for a player of his quality, at least for his quality from two years ago, he's down at close on 89 per turn now. Raymond won the DPA qualifier and we saw him here previously losing a deciding set to Alan Tabern. Think he's basically another player who is not going to give too much away, and I think he gets a set, but Jamie should be too much to handle. Hughes 3-1

Petersen/Hughes - And Jamie gets one of the more fortunate draws, as Devon's quality of play has dropped off a cliff in 2021 after getting to the level where he too was capable of winning a Euro Tour. He only just crept into Minehead at the end of the year as the last man in (prior to alternates), and outside of a bit of a cameo at the UK Open where he came through three players who aren't here before being edged out by Gerwyn Price, he's failed to get results and is scoring nearly a clear point below Hughes. Kind of fortunate for Devon that he didn't get someone scoring higher, but I think it'll only stop him getting blown out, Hughes ought to have enough but I've got a suspicion that Devon will rekindle a bit of stage form and make it a slugfest. Hughes 3-2

Lennon/Razma - Steve is here as one of the bottom half of the Pro Tour qualifiers, which is a little bit of a surprise given a high 90 scoring per turn mark. He's just not been able to get results, going on a fair bit of a dry spot in recent times and like many players doing his best work early, getting two quarters and two board wins in four Pro Tours split over Milton Keynes and Niedernhausen. That's back in April though and a lot changes, he looked ordinary against Heta last time out. Madars claimed a Nordic/Baltic spot, but would have been fine on the Pro Tour ranks winning 250 quid more than Steve did this season. Razma is scoring a fair bit lower at down under 89, he can hit some great power legs but these seem lacking more often this year than they were in his early PDC days. Could be a good one and I'll take Steve to advance, but not without some difficulty. Lennon 3-2

Ratajski/Lennon - Krzysztof is seventh in the world in scoring and one of the players in the conversation as to the best player not to have won a major title. Only Michael Smith is above him in the rankings not to have won one. This clearly isn't the easiest draw the Pole could have got, but the winner of the most recent Pro Tour and Matchplay semi-finalist really ought to come through this one. Would not be at all surprised to see Steve win a set given the standard he's been playing at, and given Krzysztof has dropped the ball a couple of times in TV matches, but an actual win? Not for me. Ratajski 3-1

Joyce/Benecky - Ryan is actually fourth in the Pro Tour list, which feels a bit high to me (behind only Rydz, Ross Smith and Barney) given he didn't reach a final after binking one last year, but the man with the best shirt in darts is scoring over 90, had an impressive Grand Slam group before getting routed by Cross, and is just real consistent in getting wins on tour, going moderately deep a few times without getting to an aforementioned final. Roman won the always tough East Europe qualifier with a surprise win over countryman Karel Sedlacek in the final to send the man with the second best shirt in darts back to Q-School (and, oddly, prevent a rematch from when Joyce played Sedlacek last year). The youngster has had a few alright Development Tour runs, but not produced enough power to make me feel he troubles Ryan in the slightest. It'll be great experience though and will hopefully allow the Czech Republic to come on stronger in the World Cup next season. Joyce 3-1

King/Joyce - Mervyn continues to perform at a high level while being closer to 60 than 50, being unlucky not to make the Premier League having lost the winner takes all final against Clayton in the Masters (and after losing a deciding leg to MvG at the back end of 2020 which might have got him in by right). King has got plenty of board wins and quarters but hasn't really done a great deal on TV, only getting a win against Kleermaker in the Grand Prix and that's it. I think he'll add another one as he has been playing the better stuff in 2021, but I do think it'll be a close run affair. King 3-2

Wade/van der Voort - This one seems a bit underwhelming - wouldn't describe either player as flashy, don't think Vincent has the top level game to put on the afterburners and pull out anything special, James is just that little bit better in all departments. VvdV will be able to win sets, but the match seems like too much of an ask. Wade 4-2

Cullen/Whitlock - Appears to be a game where Joe just needs to not do anything stupid and he'll get home, the differential in scoring is more than enough for Cullen here. Simon'll probably pin a big checkout or two at a key spot and grab a set, but I'm struggling to see a scenario where he'd get more than that. Cullen 4-1

van den Bergh/Hughes - Luck runs out for Jamie here. A five point differential in scoring is quite the difference, Hughes is going to have to roll back a couple of years to be able to lay a glove on Dimitri in this one, I suppose anything's possible but van den Bergh looks so comfortable on TV these days that I think the most likely result is a whitewash. van den Bergh 4-0

Ratajski/King - Ought to be a good one for the purists this. Ratajski doesn't have an overwhelming advantage on King, Mervyn's been a very steady player, arguably playing the best he has done for quite some time. It wouldn't surprise me at all if King is able to force a decider. It also wouldn't surprise me if Mervyn was able to turn Ratajski over. That said, I think more often than not Ratajski claims the match without it getting that far. Ratajski 4-2

Wade/Cullen - This one is going to be incredibly hard to call, a true coinflip. They're separated by one spot in my scoring rankings (Cullen ahead by less than a quarter of a point per turn), Joe being slightly more explosive, James being slightly more consistent. I can't see that this doesn't go all seven sets if this match happens, and I think Joe's been here enough on the TV stage that he will be able to get over the line. Cullen 4-3

van den Bergh/Ratajski - Kind of brutal last sixteen match as we've got two players who are separated in scoring by 0.04 points this season, that's just how closely matched they are. Similar to the last game there's a little bit of a difference in how those scores are compiled - Ratajski is a lot more consistent and is scoring near two points higher in losing legs, while Dimitri is finishing a couple more percent of legs in each of four and five visits for higher winning leg power. Probably just about take the Belgian as a result, could see Ratajski keeping things tight but just gifting Dimitri enough chances to crawl home. van den Bergh 4-3

Cullen/van den Bergh - Could be seeing this one at this stage of majors plenty of times for the next decade. Think Joe's run ends here, frankly Dimitri is the better player, has more experience at the business end of major events, Cullen after all has only gone deeper than this in any major twice, and he'll go one better than he has done in previous seasons. Question really is how big a victory it would be - I'm torn between Cullen taking two or three sets, might well come down to who wins the darts. I'll give Joe the benefit. van den Bergh 5-3

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