Saturday 24 December 2022

Round 1/2 summary

Kind of feels like we're in the eye of the storm right now, with a nice three day break after powering through 64 matches, before the main event kicks off on Tuesday. Thoughts so far?

It's been incredibly chalky. 29 seeds getting through is a record as far as I can tell, with two whole quarters having all eight seeds make it. As such, we're going to get some incredibly spicy games, but could we call this many getting through beforehand? Let's look at what seeds we had, and how their games could be categorised:

Never realistically going to be threatened: MSmith, Wright, Huybrechts, Dolan, van Gerwen
Might have been threatened if the other guy has game of their lives: Price, Searle, Noppert, Bunting, van den Bergh, Ratajski, Clayton, Dobey
Reasonable threat from opponent, who didn't get close: van Barneveld, Clemens, Schindler, Cullen, van der Voort, Aspinall, Suljovic, RSmith, Anderson
Opponent outperformed to make it close where it shouldn't have been, but didn't quite get home: Humphries, van Duijvenbode, King
Opponent had very realistic chance, but lost: de Sousa, Heta, Chisnall, Cross
Opponent had very realistic chance, and won: Wade, Gurney

Maybe we could have seen that coming. I don't know.

In terms of the Pro Tour vs international qualifiers, a lot of them seemed way out of their depth, especially those from countries/areas where there's been no real tour (Ukraine, South Africa although Sampson did fluke the win, China) or where the tour has been fragmented or postponed (Australasia, Asia although the Phillipines guys dare the exception). Pretty much the only winners or players that really gave their Pro Tour opponents a threat are those from established tours (all the PDPA qualifiers, all the Challenge/Dev Tour qualifiers, Greaves, both North Americans, Labanauskas, probably can chuck Portela and Jiwa in here as well as opposed to group one given the amount of Challenge Tour they've played). I think next season we're very likely to see more of an even split, but it all depends on how they allocate the places.

Trip report? Don't really have a huge amount to say, it wasn't largely different to when I went there before. Got down to London about half four on coach (thanks to a certain group of greedy twats who know who they are), transfer across to Tottenham and check into hotel just under a couple of hours before kickoff. Just enough time to change, make notes from the afternoon session, put on an acca for the session (which didn't win as Greaves didn't win a set), then make my way to Wood Green then the bus up the hill.

Security was a breeze in comparison to 2019, picking up payment card was a bit slow, further delayed by needing to top it up further which would have been easily avoided if they had announced the beer prices in advance, which would make it clear that twenty quid will only get you two pints. Seat seemed to be pretty much identical to when I went the last time - indeed, checking back, it was just one row further back. Didn't get the same large amount of Germans like last time - two seats next to me were completely unused, guy in front of me was a Jackpot fan from Dublin, row behind me were from Wales but lived locally. Decent enough group, seemed knowledgeable. First game was pretty fun, Rowby getting the crowd into it but not really taking advantage of 180 third dart shenanigans and better walk on music. Pints were going flat fairly quickly, lining up pitchers is fine, but pouring singles out of pitchers, less so. Definitely not helped by the complete absence of people going round with kegs on their backs pouring in the actual event hall itself, you know that'd be poured fresh and you miss no action. Second game saw a pretty one-sided crowd, to be expected, but could do without the barracking of Willie. Third game was as tight as we thought it would be, decent enough tussle if the standard wasn't great, then the last game (Smith/Rafferty) was a huge anti-climax.

Crowd on bus back towards Finsbury Park (still yet to work out where on earth you'd go to get a bus back down the hill to the Piccadilly line) was rowdy, but nothing ridiculous, got back to hotel around midnight. Scramble around to try to find some sort of game to watch on the Saturday - with the intended plan of Wimbledon already gone the night before, I was basically hoping for a morning pitch inspection to go well in non-league and it didn't. So head to my usual drinking spot when waiting for a train to think of how to kill several hours before my coach back up north, and I see there's actually trains running in the direction of Manchester, and that they did have some advances available. That seemed like a fucking miracle, so I buy one of those and abandon the coach option - I'd have needed to spend over 20 quid on a taxi back from where the coach would drop me off anyway, so another 15 on top of that to gain about eight hours of time looked like the play.

Would I go again? I'm thinking probably not at this stage. Everything inside is extortionate, I know it's London and I know it's an event, but when you've paid 40 quid minimum to actually get inside in the first place, I don't know whether it's really necessary to gouge every last penny out of what is a captive audience. The PDC's push towards mobile ticketing and needing to jump through hoops to get a paper ticket is not consumer friendly either, and that they cannot work out how to operate to take normal bank cards (or, for that matter, cash) is absurd at this stage. Would still like to be able to get to a session at the Winter Gardens one time, and will probably look to get to a European Tour event at some point (I think that a voucher I've got from when the World Cup was cancelled is still valid at this point in time), but an event in the UK is looking fairly unlikely beyond that.

Should be back tomorrow with a look at the third round.

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