Wednesday 30 November 2022

(2) Wright, (27) Mansell, (DPNZ) Robb

Peter Wright - FRH #1, 805-597 (57.42%), 94.92 scoring (#2), 4.52 consistency
Mickey Mansell - FRH #69, 294-316 (48.20%), 89.75 scoring (#46), 4.15 consistency
Ben Robb - FRH #128, 6-11 (35.29%), 85.78 scoring (#83), 8.62 consistency

This is an interesting first round tie. Mansell's done alright after losing his card then winning it back as one of the last two or three players on the points system, doing enough to get into the Players Championship Finals, winning his board on four occasions as well as having a couple of decent cameos on the European Tour, peaking with a Sunday appearance in Prague where he took van Gerwen to a deciding leg and. Scoring just a shade under 90 is just fine, and other stats are right in the middle of the park, so he's given himself a solid platform, and if he can improve on a mediocre worlds record where he has just the one win (ironically, also against a New Zealand qualifier in Haupai Puha) as well as some pretty bad results, he'll set himself up well to retain his card twelve months from now.

His opponent is Ben Robb, who's here for a third crack in four years, having been swept by Ron Meulenkamp in 2020 and getting a set against Rusty Jake Rodriguez last year. Beating Puha 8-4 in the final to get there having gone 3-0 in both group stages and then taking out John Hurring in the semi final. Apparently he averaged 96 in the final there, which isn't bad, and put up a respectable 93 average against Gerwyn Price in the New Zealand leg of the World Series (albeith that is likely inflated a bit given Price was averaging 105). That isn't a bad standard by any stretch of the imagination, and if he comes up against one of the lower picks from the Pro Tour, and while Mansell isn't a bottom tier player, he's certainly not top tier, he stands a good chance. Still think Mickey should be the favourite, but this does feel like the sort of game which Robb can win. Maybe 35%, 40%, something like that - assuming he does play, watching Ben's performances in the World Masters should give us a good indication of his current game, given the only data that we have were those sets against Rusty last time around. Those are just estimates, but it feels kind of right, and if we get some data that says he's going to be hitting eighteen dart legs and better on a regular basis, maybe we can edge those numbers up a touch.

Wright on the other hand is going to be a different class entirely to either of these. The defending champion and number one in the FRH rankings, he trails only van Gerwen in scoring for the last twelve months, although in terms of TV events he's been a little bit disappointing, not reaching any finals, not making the playoffs of the Premier League, and pulling out of the Players Championship Finals for understandable personal reasons. Hopefully that's not going to be playing on his mind and he's 100% coming into the defence of his title. He did have a European Tour win in September along with another couple of finals at that level, and has an identical record on the Pro Tour with an early win over Price and losses to van Gerwen and Cross. I would estimate that the difference in quality between Wright and Mansell is such that he ought to win more than four times out of five, leaving Mickey as a significant underdog, and it's hard to see how he has too much of a chance to win a set, let alone three, and Robb is likely going to be an even more distant second best.

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