Saturday 8 January 2022

Let's pick out some Q-School winners

Blimey, that's come around fast. It looks like a fairly even split of the 32 cards available with the UK maybe edging it 17/15 or there abouts, let's try and pick out ten names to watch for - not necessarily to win a card, but that will be of interest. Will start with the UK:

James Wilson - Had left himself way, way too much to do in the worlds, and then kind of let himself down in his match, but he was playing really good stuff all year, just not getting results. You would think that with the bye to stage two, he should be able to do enough across the four days to, if not bink a card outright, get a couple of deep runs in order to secure the points needed.

Fallon Sherrock - I mean this is an obvious one, but she really needs to start performing on the floor. Last year she didn't at all, if she can work that out then it'll be fine, but it still needs to be done. She is clearly good enough to do so.

Connor Scutt - Has had a real nice set of results towards the end of the season, won't necessarily be a player that's under the radar - by the looks of things he's one of the top four or five players in the FDI Elo rankings that aren't tour card holders, and he has played some PDC stuff before so it won't be a new experience at all. Will need to come from step one, but is playing well enough to do that, then who knows?

Leighton Bennett - We've not heard a great deal from the youth stage as a whole of late, apart from Luke Littler doing amazing things, so it's a little bit up in the air as to exactly where Leighton's game is at, but he is now old enough to enter Q-School, so let's see how things go. It might be the case where getting a tour card straight away could actually be too soon, and a year doing the Challenge and Development Tours to gain PDC experience would be beneficial, but it's always going to be hypothetical one way or another.

James Richardson - We've seem James do some pretty great things on the PDC circuit in previous years, and he's looked alright when we've seen him play in the Modus leagues and other non-PDC events, so he's got the quality, just needs to convert it.

Leonard Gates - The American will finally make a steel tip worlds debut at the WDF event, but before then we'll see if he's able to make an impact. He's trying the UK route rather than the EU event this year, let's see if that works out for him. He did get to stage two last year, he's certainly shown the sorts of averages that can put enough wins together on a given day to do that.

Paul Hogan - This was a name that surprised a heck of a lot of people to appear, lots of people have always been thinking about what Hogan would be able to do if he ever gave the PDC a go, now we'll get to see it in action. With the wealth of floor experience that he has, this could easily be done, you just wonder if he's left it too late.

Robert Thornton - The former major winner didn't actually have a bad 2021, getting into plenty of the Pro Tour events from his ranking at last year's Q-School and performing very solidly in the process. Would not surprise me at all if he goes a little bit better this time around.

Matt Edgar - It's going to be great content one way or another, right? Wasn't exactly playing badly in 2021, just couldn't quite get enough to get into the worlds where just one win would have seen him save his card. There's actually markets as to whether a player will get on the tour, and Matt's actually 1/2. That seems a bit short, but he's got a very good chance.

Ross Montgomery - Another one where I saw the name and thought "what, really", Ross isn't a name I'd have expected to see on a Q-School list any time soon, but it's there. Will be an interesting experience for sure.

Now to the EU:

Rowby-John Rodriguez - This seems like an obvious place to start, Rowby was only one place off actually getting a tour card by right, so will be one that you would expect to claim the card easily enough. He's got a bye to stage two from the Challenge Tour so that one hurdle is out of the way, just a case of playing consistently enough across the days, which I think is something that's now in his game.

Karel Sedlacek - Karel was actually scoring slightly higher than Rowby across the year, and another one where he's unlucky to have lost his card. If he'd beaten Benecky in the regional qualifier I think he'd have ended up safe on countback as things turned out. Seems solid enough to get through, another one that'll have the bye to round two, so let's see if he can get back on tour straight away.

Sebastian Bialecki - The young Pole has done quite a few notable things in 2021, mainly at the UK Open, so let's see if his game has matured enough to produce the results to get onto the main tour. He did win on both the secondary tours this year, so has the experience of getting through these sorts of large fields.

Dragutin Horvat - There's going to be quite a lot of German players in the field, but I'm going to pick Horvat first, we've seen him quite a few times on the PDC tour, there's usually one German that will sneak through the qualifiers, we know he's got the peak game, so why not?

Thibault Tricole - One name that is seems like everyone picks to get a card every year but he can't quite do it, he's been steady for many years now and it would be great to see another country represented on the PDC main tour.

Brian Raman - If we're going to pick the WDF worlds #2 seed, we've got to pick the #1 seed, right? Brian has to be one of the names that will be in the running as a result, the only thing with him and Tricole is they're both starting from stage one, so there's not a lot of room for error if you end up getting a bad draw or having an off day.

Kevin Doets - One player who won't need to take part in stage one is Kevin, who was a little bit unlucky in last year's Q-School, but certainly made a name for himself when he was able to play on the Pro Tour through the top up lists, and was quite unlucky not to actually qualify for the worlds, only finishing off a couple of places outside. I would expect him to rectify things and get on the tour outright.

Cristo Reyes - This is of interest simply because we have no idea where Cristo's game is at, Reyes having not played in nearly two years now. We know how good his game is when he's at his best, although he was a bit off that when he basically stopped playing in 2020. Having just lost his card he will get straight to round two, so will avoid some potential banana skins and just needs one decent run.

Fabian Schmutzler - Got to stick the youngster in here. Will we work out that he is the real deal, or will his Development Tour debut weekend end up being a fluke? There's only one way we're going to find out. I think part of what I said for Bennett in the UK section also applies here, he's so raw that being flung into the deep end might actually hurt his development, but we'll see.

Juan Rodriguez - Need to give some funking power to the guy who got fucked over in the worlds the most due to the ridiculousness of the world we live in right now. At least the others that got fucked over did so at a stage where they were actually able to get some cash in the bank, Juan didn't have that luxury. I'm not sure how strong the earlier stages of the qualifier he came through were, but coming through any sort of big qualifier will have given him confidence at least.

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