Sunday 4 December 2022

(29) Schindler, (3) Lukeman, (PDJCh) Yamamoto

Martin Schindler - FRH #23, 630-523 (54.64%), 92.03 scoring (#20), 3.64 consistency
Martin Lukeman - FRH #35, 473-429 (52.44%), 89.78 scoring (#44), 6.44 consistency
Nobuhiro Yamamoto - FRH #156, no data

Lukeman has had quite the breakout season, after a pretty mediocre 2021 season making up the first year of a two year card. Coming into this year he was still probably just known as that guy who had that UK Open run the one time, Martin's had a major improvement in results, capped by a run to the final of the third European Tour event of the season. After beating Adam Gawlas and Gabriel Clemens to reach the final day, he was the beneficiary of Keane Barry getting a bye to face a moderately easy last 16 opponent, then took down potential second round opponent Schindler and Damon Heta, before maybe it was a game too far against Luke Humphries, with his scoring falling off a cliff as he went down 8-2. A disappointing end, but it would be enough of a run that, coupled with a few decent floor runs and some further Sunday runs in Europe (he has knocked out van Gerwen, Searle and Heta, although went no further in any of those events), he got into the Matchplay for the first time, running into a kind of comparable opponent in James Wade, in that Wade seems to do the most with his scoring as he can do in order to get results. Lukeman's scoring is under 90, which isn't brilliant, but the consistency scoring points to the ability to get things done when he needs to, as well as maybe unfortunately giving away some easy legs. If done at the right times then it's not necessarily a huge leak, but it could come back to bite him at some stage. The best result was clearly the Grand Prix, where he would avenge that loss to Wade in the opening round and go one step further again with a deciding leg win over Ross Smith, only being stopped by Aspinall in the quarter finals, albeit he did force a deciding set. Still somewhat up and down, but the ups are good, and along with an opportunistic style, he's a dangerous opponent.

He'll first play Yamamoto, a relatively unknown Japanese player who will make his debut at the age of 45, on the back of winning the DPJ championship with a deciding-leg win against Sho Katsumi, with an average in the low 80's. Looking at the scoring for that final, it wasn't the greatest of standards, he didn't win any legs in better than 16 darts, and the last leg was a seven visit break with his opponent still on 100. Data is extremely limited - he did not qualify for the Asian Championship, and he didn't really get close to doing so, with averages at a median of around 75, and not breaking any higher than he managed in the final he won at any point. Could be the case that he's been extremely lucky to break through and win in that final, and that he's hugely out of his depth, but we've seen some pretty solid players from the area in the past, and maybe it's a case he's just a little nervous and/or was playing a lot more soft tip, with steel tip events only really returning to the area. That said, he did play the Asian Tour a little bit when that was still running, but only averaged 78 over a 40-something leg sample size. Thinking that it's probably the case that at this level he's just not going to be able to compete, and Lukeman should have a fairly comfortable ride.

Schindler on the other hand is a different question entirely, in his second year back after momentarily losing his tour card, he has continued to push up to previously unseen heights, now cracking the world's top 32, and really starting to threaten to win titles at the Pro Tour level at least. That top 20 in scoring across players who have qualified across the season is no joke, and continues a trend which we were starting to see right before he lost his tour card, and that we noticed in spots in 2021 as well where we were backing him each way almost every week. He had already got amongst the seeds on the Pro Tour, and was who I tipped as the most likely player to win a Pro Tour event who hadn't won one before. He's not there yet, but did reach a final, unfortunately one of the ones van Gerwen bothered to play and he lost 8-4, but it's getting closer and you get the sense it's when, rather than if. Reaching the quarter finals or better on five separate occasions is quite a strong level of play to deal with. TV is maybe still a little bit of an issue after a first round worlds exit though - he did win through to the last 16 of the UK Open where van Duijvenbode was far too good, but I think a lot of that, if not all, would have been on the outer boards or board two at best, but he wasn't able to make progress elsewhere. Making Matchplay and Grand Prix debuts, as well as a European Championship return, he drew Price twice (close in the Matchplay, not so much at the Grand Prix), and then hit de Sousa on a 105 streak at Dortmund. He made the Slam through the tour card holder qualifier, but narrow defeats to DvD again, as well as Rob Cross, left him too far behind. Cross would do him again at Minehead most recently, stopping him at the last sixteen after getting past van der Voort and Dobey. Still, it's all more experience and despite him only being 26, he has a lot of that at this stage. The top 32 ranking is on merit, and it should only rise from here, just needing a little bit of luck, maybe a favourable draw or something like that to really make TV progress. This isn't the best draw he could get, but it's not the worst, and Schindler should come through the Martin derby more often than not, although Lukeman would be a live enough underdog that 60/40 seems fair enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment