Friday 2 December 2022

(25) Clemens, (10) O'Connor, (WS) Greaves

Gabriel Clemens - FRH #26, 465-459 (50.32%), 89.77 scoring (#45), 4.31 consistency
Willie O'Connor - FRH #40, 418-404 (50.85%), 89.83 scoring (#43), 3.98 consistency
Beau Greaves - FRH #150, no data

O'Connor will make his sixth appearance at Ally Pally, and has a generally alright record here, only dropping his first round game on one occasion, and twice bettering seeds, namely James Wilson in 2019 and Glen Durrant twelve months prior. Finishing solidly high on the Pro Tour, the highlight was a European Tour final in Hungary, where he maybe found the final game one too far as he lost a one-sided match to Joe Cullen, but after beating a domestic qualifier, he took out van den Bergh (who was averaging 80), won a decider against Michael Smith, then won by the odd break against de Sousa and Aspinall. This is fairly typical of what Willie does - he will show the game to make us think he's going to have a sustained run, but will then go missing for long periods and never put together enough results to make major tournaments. He's never made the Matchplay or the Grand Prix (at least since it stopped giving two auto-berths to the best Irish players), and he only qualified for one more Euro Tour, so didn't even make that field despite a final run, which seems unthinkable. Just the two board wins on the Pro Tour saw him only make the Players Championship field in the last quarter so got a draw against Krzysztof Ratajski, which he lost, but, and again this is another example of showing what he can do, he did significantly better in the other Minehead event where he beat Scutt, Heaver, Bunting, Wright and Bialecki in a dream run to the UK Open semi final, where he was maybe a little bit unfortunate to lose 11-9 to Danny Noppert, where a win would have opened up lots of doors for him. Still, solid scoring at just shy of ninety is not to be sniffed at, and he has a moderately favourable seed.

That is, of course, if he gets past the current women's world champion in Beau Greaves. One of a few players we don't have data for, she announced herself to the PDC world by running off eight straight Women's Series titles, having not entered the first twelve to presumably concentrate on WDF events or other prior commitments. There, she's won basically every event she's entered and has more rankings points than the number two and three players combined. It's really hard to say just where her level is at though, given that she's not played in the open game to date, at least not on any sort of level that we'd track - the general level of play in women's only events is such that you cannot make an easy comparison. She could have entered some of the Development Tour events but didn't, neither did she try Q-School so we can't look at the Challenge Tour either. She is averaging 85 on the Women's Series, but that is likely to be an underestimate of her quality, given she's won more than 75% of the legs she played and won't have got much help from her opponents to push the average up. If I tried to gauge numbers just looking at the legs she won in finals, she got half of them in fifteen or better, four of which were in twelve or better - just below the 57% that O'Connor has been doing. That said, she was also given ten of the forty legs in seven visits or more. O'Connor is cleaning up the legs he's won in eighteen darts or less 90% of the time. That is probably going to be the weakness - she's won those legs because the level of opponent is such that she's been able to. O'Connor is going to take all of those, and instead of having a 40-20 leg record in the finals, that'd make it 30-30 just on those. Still, she's got a definite chance, just needing to minimise the number of bad legs and probably hope that Willie makes the occasional mistake.

The second round matchup would be the big German in Gabriel Clemens, who is still in the top 32 in the world, but I don't think it's unfair to say that his level has fallen off a bit from two to three years ago, probably to the point where he's not even the best German player any more. Schindler likely has that accolade. His scoring has dropped below 90, which is not where it used to be and it matches up extremely closely to O'Connor (should he beat Beau), to the point where that game is effectively a coin flip. He is still doing more than enough to get into all the majors - he did get a final run in July which solidified a potentially shaky Matchplay spot, but didn't win a leg against van Duijvenbode in that final, and the Matchplay saw him easily beaten by Jose de Sousa. Making majors should continue nicely into the next season, as he put together two quarter final runs to have a strong European Tour finish, but he's not done anything in those majors. He was easily handled by Danny Noppert in the Grand Prix, his match against Clayton in the European Championship was closer but still a reverse, he lost out in the final round of the Grand Slam qualifier to Luke Woodhouse, and was perhaps unfortunate to draw Gary Anderson in the opening round of the Players Championship finals. Maybe these losses are knocking his confidence, and this is truly a seed in danger situation.

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