Monday 12 December 2022

(9) Noppert, (23) Edhouse, (CDCCan) Cameron

Danny Noppert - FRH #8, 747-594 (55.70%), 92.68 scoring (#17), 4.47 consistency
Ritchie Edhouse - FRH #46, 362-379 (48.85%), 89.50 scoring (#51), 5.34 consistency
Dave Cameron - FRH #148, 86-58 (59.72%), 87.73 scoring (#71), 5.80 consistency

Edhouse is in the second year of his tour card having won it from the 2020 Challenge Tour, and has already safely retained it for another season after a good year which sees him make Ally Pally for the second time in succession and the third time overall, having previously lost to Wade after beating Boris Koltsov, then twelve months ago he beat Pete Hudson in the first game but lost to defending champion Gerwyn Price. A good year has seen him reach a new best run in the UK Open, getting a bye to round three where he took out Max Hopp but was one of many players to fall to Sebastian Bialecki, and he also made a Grand Slam debut having come through the card holder qualifier, notably denying Adrian Lewis a spot. At Wolverhampton, Ritchie averaged in the mid to high eighties throughout, which was good enough to beat Lisa Ashton, but not Smith or Cullen. Edhouse would however get revenge on Smith as he made the last 32 of the Players Championship Finals for the second year running, getting a final leg upset despite averaging over ten points less than Smith did, and coming close to another upset as he took van den Bergh to a deciding leg. Ritchie's qualification was mostly just through competent match play rather than any spectacular runs, getting to the board final but losing at that stage on nine occasions, but £1250 a time quickly adds up. A decent enough European showing solidified his worlds place, making five events and winning the opening game on four occasions, with the only mistake coming against an unseeded Martin Schindler, which is understandable, and the scoring levels he has are probably not quite enough to really pressure a decent seeded player outside of a good day. The consistency rating indicates it probably does show up now and again, as we saw with the win over Smith, but is it sustainable over a top ten player in a decent length set play game? We might find out.

Cameron is going to make his first PDC world championship appearance having appeared in the BDO/WDF version for pretty much every year for the past decade, but despite that consistent record, he is probably best known to UK-based readers for being that guy that beat Phil Taylor in one of those new seniors events, with a run that also saw him eliminate Robert Thornton on the way. Dave qualifies here through being the best ranked Canadian on the CDC circuit, there he averaged 88 for the season, winning three events beating Gates, Spellman and Campbell in the finals, not a bad return at all. In other US-based events, he was a leg away from beating eventual champion Leonard Gates in the North American championship, taking out tour card holder Jeff Smith in the quarter finals, but appears to have notably cut back on WDF events, focussing more just on the CDC events. The data we've got shows that he's a competent player who looks like one of the better players from the continent, but has a bit of a similar up and down nature as Edhouse does, just a couple of points weaker in the scoring. It seems like he has about a one in three shot, if Ritchie is steady then I'm not sure that Cameron can up the game often enough to get things done, but it looks like there's enough of a game there that if Edhouse was to struggle in spots, he can capitalise and ask questions.

Noppert on the other hand appears far superior to both of these, ascending to the top ten in the world rankings and up to as high as the top five in the FRH rankings before the glut of major events in the autumn, and for one main reason - winning the UK Open. We all knew Danny had big upside from having been a previous Lakeside finalist, Pro Tour winner and twice major semi finalist, but actually breaking through to this level without first doing something on the Euro Tour or getting another couple of Pro Tour titles was quite the jump. Noppert defeated Ryan Meikle, Devon Petersen, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Damon Heta, Willie O'Connor and Michael Smith in the final to claim the crown and stake a big case for a Premier League spot, despite a final day where the averages kind of fell apart, but were enough to get the job done. Not content with that however, Danny would add a further semi final in the Matchplay, then making two further quarter finals, getting out of his Grand Slam group and nearly adding another quarter in Leicester but for Aspinall winning a deciding leg in the last sixteen. A great showing on the big stages, and he'd back things up on lower levels as well - getting a second Pro Tour title in July with a win over Andrew Gilding, and then on the European Tour, he would get close to adding a first title on two occasions, losing the final in Austria to van Gerwen, then losing a deciding leg to Smith on home soil in Zwolle. Previously one of the most underrated players on the circuit who we would bet on at will, that value has kind of gone after he won the big title, but he continues to grind out results which are better than his scoring would suggest, and looks to be the player to beat in this eighth of the draw, although he is probably only a two in three likelihood to win the first match, such is the potential banana skin here.

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