Wednesday 7 December 2022

(11) Anderson, (4) Razma, (IndQu) Jiwa

Gary Anderson - FRH #21, 369-303 (54.91%), 93.87 scoring (#10), 3.92 consistency
Madars Razma - FRH #31, 482-463 (51.01%), 87.88 scoring (#70), 4.34 consistency
Prakash Jiwa - FRH #152, 9-13 (40.91%), 84.15 scoring (#85), 7.46 consistency

It's been another very solid year for Razma, which if it weren't for Barney's heroics, could easily have seen him creep into the seedings for this event. As is, he's entering as number four on the Pro Tour rankings, after a good season which has seen him make debuts in three TV events, the peak being a visit to the Grand Prix quarter finals, where he was able to close out a deciding set 3-0 in a scrappy game with Ryan Searle, before dispatching Daryl Gurney prior to facing Price in the quarters. The catalyst for getting into these events was partially a semi final European Tour run right before the cutoff for the Matchplay - in that event he defeated Horvat, Schindler, Plaisier and Cross before only going down in the semi to Rowby John Rodriguez in a deciding leg, but he had put up solid efforts on the European Tour earlier in the season, that event was his sixth out of a possible nine, and he'd only had one first round exit in the prior five, making the Sunday twice, and added another last 16 and last 32 after the Matchplay to get himself safely into the European Championship, perhaps unfortunate to draw Dirk van Duijvenbode, but the money on the board will be welcome. That's the second of three TV debuts mentioned, in the Matchplay he was 5-0 down at the break to Wright and that would be that. On the floor, his averaging has been pretty much middle of the pack, as have the results to a degree - he did peak in March with a final run where he lost to Gerwyn Price, a defeat he avenged in a board final a week later, but apart from those two, he only had one other board win all year, with twelve first round losses and and a further eight "one and done" showings demonstrating the inconsistency that was always part of his game a few years back, except on a results level rather than a turn by turn/leg by leg basis. This only got him into the Players Championship Finals right in the middle of the pack, losing to Callan Rydz in the opening round. Still, he has shown a good peak game for some time now, and if treble 19 is ticking, he can put up a good fight against pretty much anyone on the circuit.

It's great to see Prakash Jiwa make his debut here, after being a name on the circuit for a number of years (he is in his early fifties), and a switch to representing India rather than England saw him play the Indian qualifier, something he probably should have thought about quite a few years ago, and he was able to defeat previous Ally Pally competitor Nitin Kumar in the final with a reported average in the low 80's. As we've said, Jiwa's been on the circuit for some time, being a tour card holder in the mid 2010's, and we'd seen him in the UK Open a couple of times prior to him winning his card, getting to the last 96 a couple of times in 2012 and 2013, as well as making a return there this year, through winning the qualifier at his local Riley's in Coventry - he'd manage to turn over Toni Alcinas in the opening round, before putting up a decent enough display against Jason Heaver, although the card holder was to win that one 6-3. He's played partially on the Challenge Tour this season (and has played at that level for a number of years), with an overall average of 82, looking at his results he's not been losing to anyone bad at all - he had a September run to the quarters going down to John Bowles, but the names he's lost to in general are mainly veterans who won't give you an easy game - Nathan Girvan, Colin Osborne, Michael Rasztovits, Kai Fan Leung, Alan Tabern, Barrie Bates, Paul Hogan etc. No mugs there. I think Madars should be too strong here, but if Razma slips up a bit it would not surprise me one bit to see Prakash take opportunities given.

This is a huge tournament for Gary Anderson. He's seeded 11, but his FRH rankings is down at 21 - this is entirely down to him defending final money from two years ago. The tour card race ranking has him at number 22 right now - if he drops to there, then he's got decisions to make if he wants to keep appearing on TV. Either he plays a more extensive Pro Tour season (he missed eleven out of thirty this year), he starts back on the European Tour for the first time since forever, or he just does something like bink the UK Open or a couple of Pro Tours to push him up that ranking. In terms of what he's actually played, he's played well - he's in the top ten of Players Championship averages, is tenth in overall scoring, and obviously he had a semi final last time out. In terms of results however, it's been not good. He lost his opening game at the UK Open (although he did draw MvG), the Matchplay (to Gurney, oddly) and the Grand Prix (to van Gerwen again), obviously didn't make the European Championship, had no path into the Grand Slam and didn't even try the qualifier, and at Minehead most recently he got through Clemens but lost to Rob Cross in round two. The closest he got to winning anything all year was an early Players Championship final - a great run beating Lowe, van Gerwen, Whitlock, Dobey, Cross and Cullen before losing to Damon Heta, and he's had two more quarter finals, but that's not a brilliant return for someone who can still play as well as he can. On top of the eleven events he didn't enter, a further eleven saw him not even reach a board final. Sure, he plays infrequently enough that he's not seeded and will hence run into a seed in the first two games barring favours in an adjacent match in the draw, but you expect better. Still got the game, but needs results and needs them now. Hopefully, barring something like a final here, he is correctly left out of the Premier League and doesn't get the Barney treatment (honestly, Barney's done more than Anderson this year), and he can reduce a schedule and bring some good early floor results. Knowing Sky and the PDC however...

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