Tuesday 6 December 2022

(28) van der Voort, (25) Menzies, (SAQu) Portela

Vincent van der Voort - FRH #32, 400-386 (50.89%), 88.41 scoring (#63), 5.09 consistency
Cameron Menzies - FRH #72, 336-329 (50.53%), 90.29 scoring (#38), 3.97 consistency
Diogo Portela - FRH #121, 12-19 (38.71%), 86.56 scoring (#79), 12.30 consistency

Semi-finalist in the WDF worlds last year, losing a nailbiter to Thibault Tricole, Menzies will make his PDC world championship debut (assuming he doesn't get randomly timed out for comedy reasons yet again) having come through the Pro Tour route, getting his spot with about three grand to spare. It should be a welcome addition, having won his tour card at Q-School back in January, Cameron's had a pretty consistent showing with under the radar quality scoring. Over 90 per turn is certainly enough to compete for a spot in the last 32, that equates to the top 40 on the Pro Tour for averages (after excluding players who've only played a handful of tournaments), and is only about half a point off being in the top 32 of players who've made this event. Scanning through the results, he's won his board on five occasions, but not been able to progress to a floor quarter final, but at the same time he only has the six first round defeats. Putting £750 minimum on the board more than three quarters of the time was more than enough to get him into Minehead at the end of the year, where he pulled off a notable upset in taking out Josh Rock, which was all down to Menzies playing better, not Rock playing badly, and he was also briefly threatening a comeback against MvG in the following round before Michael shut the door and won 6-4 on the way to the title. The twenty grand he won on the floor was augmented by occasional appearances in Europe, making his way through the opening rounds before losing in events four and five (Beaton then van Gerwen, White then van den Bergh), getting another second round exit in Trier albeit with another pair of ton plus averages, and then making one more appearance but losing in the first round. Still, the additional seven grand is enough to get him into this field, and with the experience from the WDF of playing long format set matches, the play shouldn't bother him too much and he could be a sneaky bet to get through to the last 32 given a favourable draw.

The first step will be to get past Diogo Portela, the ever popular Brazilian making a sixth straight attempt to get through the first round, something he's only managed on one occasion so far, with a win over a misfiring Steve Beaton two years ago, although he did push Soutar to the final set last year. Winning the South American qualifier as you would expect, he was pushed somewhat in a weird qualifying format where it looks like they played two events, and then couldn't split him and an Argentinian player after Diogo suffered a fairly early exit in event two having won event one, and Portela won the playoff with a near 80 average. Not great, but it's got him here, and he's been accumulating lots of experience yet again this season - making the UK Open as a Riley's qualifier where he lost in the first round to Dan Read, averaging in the mid 80's on the Challenge Tour, playing the first 20 of 24 events but failing to make a real impression, only progressing to the last 32 on three occasions and barely scraping into the top 100 in terms of both averages and prize money. He's also been extensively playing the WDF circuit, where he's currently ranked just outside the top 50, with a semi final run in the Isle of Man topping the billing along with quarter finals in Switzerland, Belgium and Italy. This is going to be a pretty tough ask, Cameron appears to be too consistent a scorer for Diogo to deal with, he can play some nice stuff but it just doesn't happen often enough, and I doubt Portela will be able to get by with seven visit leg wins or anything like that.

Vincent van der Voort awaits in round two, and it's been a season where I've not really talked about him too much. That's probably down to, for the most part, mediocre play, averaging well down the average tables on the Pro Tour at only 95th, barely cracking 90 all season long, and a fairly bad 13 first round exits compared to three board wins (only one being converted into anything further, and that was only a quarter final) not being the sort of performance he's needing at all really. He's had a Matchplay quarter drop off his ranking this season, and will lose a fourth round worlds result from two years ago, so could be in the spot where he drops quite a bit in the rankings, especially already being at the level in the Pro Tour where he missed both the Matchplay and Grand Prix this year. The Pro Tour results were enough to get him to Minehead, albeit way down the field and he lost to Martin Schindler in round one, while in the other Minehead event he did at least beat Jermaine Wattimena before being heavily beaten by Callan Rydz. Europe offered some sanctuary, and his rate of qualification was generally pretty good - getting into more than half the events, he'd get up to the seeds in a couple (losing to Wade and Searle), and have a real good showing in Prague, a run to the semi final rescuing what was a near write off season. There he got by Nentjes, Schindler, Lewis (who took out the #1 seed for him), Gawlas before losing to Cross in the semi final, he got the wins but outside of that game with Schindler, the performances were distinctly average. That run did however at least set him up with a trip to Dortmund, where he got a huge upset win over Damon Heta despite averaging seven points lower than the number five seed, and was fairly close to going further, pushing compatriot Danny Noppert all the way to a decider before losing. He needs a result here, and he is the sort of player who is open and realistic enough about how he is playing to know that - and the figures indicate he will probably not do so. Cameron looks on paper to be safely between a 60% and a two in three favourite, which is fairly substantial for any non-seed against a seed.

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