Wednesday 2 March 2022

UK Open preview 8/8

(81) Niels Zonneveld/(141) Jonathan Worsley v (91) Kevin Doets/(145) Berry van Peer

We're at the stage where we know that someone out of left field is going to get through to round four. Zonneveld is on year two of a tour card having won it at the same stage as Worsley, Niels has done a bit more with it but neither were really in contention to make the worlds and are going to need a special season to avoid needing to requalify in January, we've got decent data on both and it seems around a near 2-1 edge for Niels. Doets was closer than either to making the worlds despite not having a tour card and will be in an all-Dutch affair with van Peer, who's getting his game back on track after some dartitis issues, although he'll probably lose his card at the end of the year as well. Another pair with good data, it seems a similar margin, Doets just over a 60% favourite. Doets against Zonneveld appears extremely close and I wouldn't want to pick a winner.

(82) Scott Waites/(178) Radek Szaganski or (280) Wesley Plaisier v (146) Brian Raman

Odd that all the ties fall into this spot. Waites would have played Unterbuchner in round one but Michael withdrew, and Raman would have played Koltsov but he withdrew as well (and, longer term, one only hopes Boris doesn't fall victim of this currently endless anti-Russian sentiment which is doing absolutely zero to solve the problem at hand and is just hurting the general public). As for the games, Plaisier did enough work on the Challenge Tour to qualify although we maybe know him most for his frequent appearances on the European Tour through the associate qualifiers, at least in 2019 and earlier. Good Q-School average though. Radek I vaguely knew but is now a card holder, he's done OK and should just have enough to advance through to play Waites, who was unfortunate to lose his card but won it straight back and is playing at a considerably stronger level, and I've got to feel he should eliminate Raman as well, who despite the WDF #1 tag, hasn't done much to impress me in 2022 as of yet, despite getting a couple of results at the weekend.

(85) Adam Gawlas/(171) George Killington or (210) Reece Robinson v (108) Darren Webster or (152) Jose Justicia/(109) Eddie Lovely

Several familiar names here. Killington has looked much improved since the last time we saw him on tour where, to be frank, it was a little bit early, and is about four points better on scoring this season than what Robinson managed on the Challenge Tour (his route of entry) last year, and what he did on the first weekend this year makes me think he's dropped a touch and George should be comfortable here. Gawlas is probably at a comparable level if he can play like he did at the weekend and can put together solid runs of legs, he seems to go missing a fair bit and this one probably gets decided by which player turns up. On the other side, Webster and Justicia both won back cards outright, and we have enough data to throw into the computer and I can't pick a winner. Jose is a few points higher in the Pro Tour averages in those four events so call that a tie breaker? Lovely did alright on his first year on tour in 2021 despite not making the worlds, and has played a little bit better over long form and is about a point higher than Justicia on the 2022 Pro Tour, Lovely is in the 55-60% range against both so could be a sneaky punt on non-name recognition basis. The final game looks incredibly tight as well whichever way you look at it, so good luck picking a winner out of this one. May be one to just take all the underdogs.

(126) Geert Nentjes/(170) Jake Jones v (147) Martin Thomas or (197) Kenny Neyens/(191) Jimmy Hendriks or (UR) Darren Beveridge

Now we're at the super wildcard stage. Geert is the highest ranked of the lot and one of two players with Jake in this section to make round two direct, Jones hasn't really done much since winning his card, while Geert has been a bit up and down and is yet to really fulfil the potential that is there. Nentjes looks better than a 2-1 favourite here. On the other side, Thomas nearly got a card in 2021 and generally did alright for himself getting a bunch of Pro Tour call ups, as well as enough on the Challenge Tour to qualify here. Neyens had the same Challenge Tour finish on the EU side, we saw him win one there and he's also come through a tough open quali to make the worlds in the past, so this one should be tight. Hendriks seems to have been around for a while despite not being 30 for another couple of years, he's already been to Lakeside a couple of times and burned through one tour card already, he's got a handful of wins so far in 2022 but not really done much damage statistically, and Beveridge, another player in this section in through the Challenge Tour, looked to be playing well enough at Q-School and clearly as well in 2021 on the secondary tour and some of the Live League stuff, to be able to fancy a bit of a run through this section, although oddly I can't see stats on the first weekend of the Challenge Tour. As to who advances, maybe Geert has the slight edge in that he'd probably be a bit fresher not having to come through two matches which rate to be close run things?

And we're done. Tips tomorrow, possibly Friday morning (I have the day off work obv)

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