Wednesday 11 May 2022

PC 14/15

These were a couple of weird events. Basically the entire Premier League didn't enter, so the opportunities for each way gambling looked huge - didn't really work out like that with Smith binking both days, a couple of players (Joyce, O'Shea) that you wouldn't really have fancied, which just left Heta, Chisnall, Rydz and Soutar to go for - and apart from Heta, then possibly Rydz, I'm not sure you're going to be picking the others out. Still, I did at least get Heta, so something was rebuilt after a pretty bad ET5 which dropped me right back to break even for the year. We can go again in Prague this weekend, but for now, let's update the FRH rankings:

1 Peter Wright
2 Gerwyn Price
3 Michael Smith
4 Michael van Gerwen
5 James Wade
6 Jonny Clayton
7 Rob Cross
8 Gary Anderson
9 Danny Noppert
10 Jose de Sousa
11 Ryan Searle
12 Joe Cullen
13 Luke Humphries
14 Dimitri van den Bergh
15 Krzysztof Ratajski
16 Nathan Aspinall
17 Dirk van Duijvenbode
18 Damon Heta
19 Dave Chisnall
20 Callan Rydz

There are no changes - van Gerwen had closed right up to Smith, but he's pulled back away again. Dimitri's final last weekend gives himself a bit of breathing room. Humphries is very close to Cullen and a better weekend could well see him up a place. Lower down, O'Shea's final yesterday puts him just a couple of spots outside of the to 100, Josh Rock is already in there, Gilding's continued accumulation has put him up into the top 90, Sedlacek's up to the top 80 ahead of his home event, while it looks like Devon Petersen is out of the top 30 for the first time in some time. As is Whitlock, for the first time in even longer I would say. Possibly since he joined the PDC.

Luke Littler is some talent, isn't he? He looks a better prospect than Leighton Bennett did around 3 years ago. Already securing the gold-ranked Welsh Open to book a return to the WDF worlds, I think it's only a matter of time before he gets a card. Timing could be unfortunate though, he'd turn 16 just after when I assume Q-School will run, so while he'd be able to have a good run at the Development Tour in 2023, Challenge Tour would be off the table, which would be a real shame. I suppose you've got to cut things off at some point, and holding back on going completely ham on the darts circuit while he completes his up to 16 education can't necessarily be a bad move.

So we head into Prague. There's quite a few things I'm interested in looking at on this one:

- Who's going to qualify? Sedlacek and Gawlas have got the automatic spots from their rankings, but it's a bit of a wildcard after that. Roman Benecky I guess would start as one of the favourites, possibly along with Tomas Houdek whose name I've seen spring up on the secondary tours a few times, but they're 6 and 7 on the FDI Czech rankings respectively, so can we really say that?

- We've got a lot of good young talent in this one. Rock is in there. Bialecki won the Eastern Europe qualifier. Nentjes won one Development Tour and made a final of another last weekend and he's in the hat, as are slightly older names in Schindler, Rowby and Evetts.

- We have some extremely spicy potential last 16 matches. van Gerwen against Clayton jumps off the page, DvdB against Heta ought to be good, Cross/Humphries similarly, then you've got some evenly matched games like van Duijvenbode against Cullen, heck, can we even chuck in Wright against Ratajski? de Sousa and Gurney?

- There's quite a few names that are in the first round who are right in the Matchplay mix, who getting a decent draw would see them try to solidify a place. Lukeman's had another board win the last couple of days and will want to get more money on the board. van der Voort's actually a little bit of a way out and could use the cash. Josh Rock is creeping up and stands a decent chance, he's within 10k of the last spot right now so a couple of good runs and he's right in there and accumulating more than most of the players in this race. Ricky Evans plays and is in now but only at spot 15, Ross Smith's the second man out as opposed to Evans' penultimate man in, that'd be some tie with their respective form (although Ross did hit a nine and have an OK run yesterday, so maybe that's turning a bit). Adrian Lewis isn't guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination, he is only 1k above Evans. Final name I'll chuck in is Ritchie Edhouse, he's not too far behind all of these.

We don't have any secondary tour action until next month and the WDF similarly doesn't have anything until June, with the Swiss Open being rated high enough to count to my stats before the Dutch Open the weekend afterwards, with no PDC events that weekend and a Pro Tour double header in Germany afterwards, I think we might see quite a few of the big affiliate names that play both sides spending some time in Europe soon.

I'll be back tomorrow with Prague tips, it will likely be fairly late on Thursday - I'll have thoughts as a minimum, if lines aren't there yet, I'll fill in the tips with a quick post on break from work about an hour before post.

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