Friday 9 December 2022

(1) Price, (26) Woodhouse, (UkrQu) Omelchenko

Gerwyn Price - FRH #4, 647-478 (57.51%), 94.73 scoring (#3), 4.97 consistency
Luke Woodhouse - FRH #52, 325-335 (49.24%), 89.25 scoring (#55), 5.47 consistency
Vladyslav Omelchenko - FRH #154, no data

Luke Woodhouse is going to return for a third straight year, and is one of those players that shows glimpses of quality now and again, but has had trouble putting it together often enough and long enough to really go deep into a tournament and progress up towards the top 32. Still, he's never been in any real danger of missing out on the worlds or of losing his tour card, being currently provisionally ranked just inside the top fifty, and this is a pretty good chance of climbing slightly given a favourable first round opponent. The up and down nature of his game is reflected in his stats - scoring approaching 90 is just fine, but the consistency is pointing at a pretty good peak game but dropping off in quite a few legs. In terms of results this year, Woodhouse has been fairly bad on the floor, not actually qualifying for the Players Championship finals following just six board finals, only one of which was won towards the end of the season, the difference has come in qualifiers. He's got onto the European Tour stage six times, averaging one win a time but getting past a seed twice, both of these occurrences being in the last two events he played, once over Ratajski and once over Searle, that added money was extremely handy and he was only just short of actually qualifying for Dortmund. In other qualifiers, he did come through the Grand Slam qualifier to make the main event for the first time, beating four players who'll all be at Ally Pally, culminating with a win over Clemens, but the main event gave him a tough draw, with van Gerwen and recent major winner Ross Smith as well as an always dangerous Nathan Rafferty in there as well. He got the deciding leg win over Smith but then lost heavily to van Gerwen, which left him needing a big win over Rafferty in the last game, and he didn't even manage a small win as Nathan nicked a decider. His only other major appearance in the UK Open saw him handle Ted Evetts fairly easily, but then he ran into Krcmar who was playing well that weekend, not a gimmie but one I'm sure he'd have liked back. Can't complain with the first round draw, the second round however might be a bit too much.

Vladyslav Omelchenko is the fortunate recipient of the PDC, let's put it bluntly, playing politics, replacing what would have been an EADC qualifying spot with a Ukrainian qualifier. Seems a bit unfair to those in the area that aren't currently subject of being the current thing, but it is what it is. Omelchenko won that event to become the first player from his country to make this event, and as I'm not aware of anyone ever making the BDO either, I assume a world championship of any description. What do we know about him? Simple answer is not much. It's not a country known for darts, and prior to them announcing this, I wouldn't have been able to name a single player from there. The qualifier, which Omelchenko obviously won, was actually on nakka, so we can see the averages, and they're nothing to get excited about. 76 in the final isn't terrible, but mid 60's in each of the quarter and semi final are a bit concerning, although he looked a little bit better in what I assume to be earlier rounds. Far too many of the players in the tournament are only averaging in the 50's and 60's, and I get the sense this is going to be a bit of a car crash, I can't imagine Omelchenko will have experienced anything like this before, and he looks like he'll be completely outclassed by Woodhouse.

Who, in turn, should be completely outclassed by the current world number 1 in Gerwyn Price, although as he is defending winners' money, is going to need to bink to get just forty grand ahead of where Wright is right now without him advancing at all, and the current FRH ranking of four indicates more accurately what he's been doing recently. Which is still scoring at a top three level in the world, showing clearly he is still very much someone who can win any given event he enters, the only thing is that he hasn't really done that. Sure, a lot of that is down to the resurgence of van Gerwen, but you would have thought he'd have got to more than one major ranking final. Running through them, at the UK Open the field had been pretty much cleared by the time he got to the quarters, but he lost to Michael Smith. The Matchplay was the final but van Gerwen was too strong. The Grand Prix was a semi, and with the other two of the big three matching up in the other half, this wasn't a bad shot but Nathan Aspinall got the job done. The latter ones were more surprising - the European Championship saw a shock first round defeat to Rowby John Rodriguez, in the Slam he lost to Barney twice, then at the Players Championship Finals, he'd suffer another reverse, here a first round defeat to Ryan Joyce. He did at least win some things - the unranked World Series Finals for one, he got the first European Tour of the season in the bank against Peter Wright but then played a truncated season, losing opening games to Lewis, King, Rodriguez and Suljovic, missing six events, and the Pro Tour would see him pick up two more titles, one early against Madars Razma and another late against Gian van Veen. Game is still very much there, and he does project at 80% against Woodhouse (god knows what it would be against Omelchenko), but will a relative lack of titles and some questionable defeats play on his mind at all? Only time will tell, but let's say all eyes will be on Price against Barney in round three given how the Slam went down.

No comments:

Post a Comment