Thursday 1 December 2022

(20) Heta, (5) Lewis, (PDCNB) Larsson

Damon Heta - FRH #15, 851-605 (58.45%), 94.59 scoring (#5), 3.82 consistency
Adrian Lewis - FRH #33, 409-362 (53.05%), 91.19 scoring (#29), 4.31 consistency
Daniel Larsson - FRH #104, 128-114 (52.89%), 85.93 scoring (#82), 2.99 consistency

Adie will enter at the first round stage for the second straight year. It looked like he was going to get back into the seeds, mainly on the back of getting a Pro Tour title in July which secured qualification for both the Matchplay and the Grand Prix, but Barney's late charge up the rankings put pay to that, and as such he'll run into one of the hottest players in the world in round two - albeit it is on TV at least. Lewis didn't get a great draw in the Matchplay as he got van Gerwen, but put up a decent showing, but de Sousa was defeated in the Grand Prix before maybe a chance was lost with a deciding leg failure against Chris Dobey. The numbers are still just about up there as top 32 level, he just needs to show his best game on a more consistent basis. That one win wasn't enough to get him into the Grand Slam with the titles being spread about, he was also a bit unconvincing in Europe, getting to one quarter as the #16 seed after Huybrechts had dumped out the top seed, but then lost easily to Noppert, but only made the Sunday one further time in Prague, where he took out the top seed himself, but then the averages collapsed in the following round in a reverse against van der Voort. So still some way off his peak game, but there are some signs he's improving from the nadir he was at.

Daniel Larsson will return for a fourth crack, looking to improve on just the one solitary win back in 2019 over Robert Thornton. He returns having finished second in the Nordic/Baltic rankings behind Darius Labanauskas, no longer having a tour card but still showing consistent results at that level, winning one event and reaching three more finals, going 1-1 against Vladimir Andersen and losing to Labanauskas and Kantele in the final weekend in Riga. He's managed to get into a few of the European Tour events through the specific qualifier for the area, getting wins over Jamie Hughes, Mario Vandenbogaerde and notably Nathan Aspinall, the latter of which set up the infamous viral Whitlock 150 out, but 7k isn't anywhere near enough to have been making the finals. Still a decent enough showing, and his game appears to have improved over the last couple of years, but this feels like way too tough of a matchup in the first round, with Lewis projecting as a very short favourite with the Swede maybe only winning 15% of the time. Will probably need a combination of a peak Daniel game and a Lewis off day for him to get close, although I wouldn't put it past him to get a set. Nick the first then who knows?

Damon Heta will await in the second round, and there is no doubting that he is one of the world's elite players at this stage. He made the big step up by taking the final European Tour title of the season in Gibraltar with wins over Dobey, Cullen, Clemens, van Gerwen and Wright in the final, which cannot be said to be an easy task by any stretch of the imagination, and his level of scoring on the Pro Tour cannot be faulted - amongst those who've played more than a couple of games, only van Gerwen is scoring more points, and that's only by a hundredth, those numbers converting into another two titles, one over Gary Anderson early in the season and another over van Duijvenbode towards the back end of the series. He of course was one half of the World Cup winning team with Simon Whitlock, his biggest achievement to date. The biggest problem in his game has been converting his clear as day talents into television victories. The UK Open looked to be where he'd sorted that, after he dealt out a one sided defeat to Michael van Gerwen and followed it up with a competent display against Jonny Clayton, but at the quarter final stage he dropped under a 90 average to the eventual champion Danny Noppert, and advanced in a ranking tournament since then. Matchplay - steamrollered by Cullen. Grand Prix? Loses to Cullen again, but at least in a deciding set. He was the fifth seed in the European Championship, but lost 6-2 to van der Voort despite averaging seven points higher. He didn't make it out of the Grand Slam group stage despite a winnable group of Clayton, Wattimena and Gates, then as the top seed in Minehead, he lost in the first round to Ricardo Pietreczko. On paper, Heta should defeat Lewis two times out of three, and on the floor I'm sure he would. TV though, that's a different story, and how much do we adjust for this poor run?

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