Wednesday 30 November 2022

(31) Huybrechts, (14) Barry, (Afr) Sampson

Kim Huybrechts - FRH #29, 501-459 (52.19%), 89.55 scoring (#49), 4.28 consistency
Keane Barry - FRH #41, 513-450 (53.27%), 90.20 scoring (#40), 2.70 consistency
Grant Sampson - FRH #155, no data

Compared to the previous section, this might not be one of the more interesting first round ties. Keane's kind of fallen a little bit under the radar in terms of hype, that Rock's done what he has done this season has drawn the attention, but Keane's level of play in 2022 is still extremely competent - the highlight clearly being his UK Open semi final run, running over David Evans, Jeffrey de Zwaan, Graham Hall, Niels Zonneveld, Ricky Evans then James Wade before falling to eventual runner up Michael Smith. So maybe a fortunate run? Still, can only beat what's in front of you, and he backed things up with a last 16 run in the other Minehead event, and has got to a Pro Tour semi final this year. You can't complain with scoring over 90, which puts him ahead of the seed that he would face, and should be comfortable in the first round.

Keane will face Grant Sampson, a surprise winner of the African qualifier, normally reserved for Devon Petersen in case he needed it - which he did, but Grant knocked him out before the final where he looked to be a comfortable winner over whatever a Laezeltrich Wentzel is. We know extremely little about the qualifier or Sampson in question, even beating Petersen doesn't mean that much right now, we can only go with what we've seen from previous players from the area. We didn't see Losper last year, the guy before that got a controversial bye before ending up in a bad game against Noppert, but we then need to go back to 2016 before we see anyone from the area that isn't Petersen. There's some developing players for sure, there's one player whose name I forget who was making great strides in the online games, but it isn't Sampson. Can't think Keane will have too many problems and Sampson is probably at best a one in four shout, maybe less.

Next up would be Kim Huybrechts - back into the top 32 last year, has held things but not made huge strides, merely consolidating his position. Scoring under 90 is not the greatest of looks for the season, and is somewhat indicative that he might drop back out of the 32 sooner rather than later, but he did enough early on to make the Matchplay and the Grand Prix, but lost first round to Dave Chisnall and Peter Wright respectively, not the easiest of draws I know, but at least he got there. He has one semi final this season on the floor, but hasn't got past winning a board outside of that, although he did manage that on eight further occasions. So maybe he is at least getting the results to back up a top 32 position. This one seems way too close to call unless Sampson was to pull off the upset, I'm thinking a flip, and we need to look at the consistency numbers. Huybrechts is only on level terms thanks to a peak game, but his bottom end game seems a fair bit lower than Barry's is. So this could come down to whether Kim gives any opportunities to win legs cheaply away, and whether Keane's able to take them. Will certainly be a potential highlight match which could easily go to a decider, possibly a tiebreak.

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