Monday 20 February 2023

Ten things we've learned from the last two weekends

It's been an interesting couple of weeks of darts, with the first two Pro Tour weekends in the bank and a real variety of winners that we wouldn't immediately have expected, and some other notable results from elsewhere to report on. Firstly, new FRH rankings:

1 Michael Smith
2 Michael van Gerwen
3 Peter Wright
4 Gerwyn Price
5 Luke Humphries
6 Nathan Aspinall (UP 1)
7 Rob Cross (DOWN 1)
8 Danny Noppert
9 Dimitri van den Bergh
10 Jonny Clayton
11 Dirk van Duijvenbode
12 Joe Cullen
13 Ross Smith
14 Damon Heta
15 Ryan Searle (UP 3)
16 Gabriel Clemens (UP 3)
17 Dave Chisnall
18 Jose de Sousa (DOWN 3)
19 James Wade (DOWN 3)
20 Chris Dobey

But hey, those ten things:

1) The Smiths are still good

Not been a bad time for those down under - first Raymond binked the Super Series, solidifying his reputation as one of the best non-card holders in the world, then Ky was able to win the latest WDF event which has got him into one of their future worlds. When that is, I'm not going to pretend to work out or understand, but it's still an important result for him.

2) Is Ando done?

Maybe not, as his scoring is still pretty solid, and the players he's run into for his four Pro Tour defeats (Bunting, Dolan, Rock, Boulton) for a return of just one win, along with Gilding earlier today in the one Euro Tour qualifier he surprisingly entered, makes it look like it's just a situation of bad draws. But as someone who's far enough down the Pro Tour rankings that he can run into seeds pretty easily, this is an occupational hazard that he's just going to have to deal with, and sooner rather than later, being seven grand below the current Pro Tour cutoff for the Matchplay, with plenty of players ahead of, and just behind him, getting four Euro Tours with new boosted prize money that he's not playing in, it'll be tricky for him to not collapse down the rankings.

3) That was huge for Huybrechts

Can't understate just how important that result was for him. Kim was only just inside the top 32, and in kind of the same spot for the Pro Tour qualifiers for the majors, so to get the boost of a win will be enormous. It'll get him way up the seeding lists for the Pro Tours, and on the borderline of getting into the Euro Tour automatically, especially if he can back things up with another decent result or two.

4) Some ups and downs for some aging players

Whitlock getting a final in the opening weekend, coupled with another 4k in the other events, gives him enough of a platform to get back into majors through the Pro Tour, and maybe turn down a slide which sees him outside the worlds top 32. But for others, it's not great - van der Voort with a 1-4 record and really poor scoring, King with the same record but still OK scoring (and, in fairness, awful draws with losses to DvD twice, Aspinall and Rydz), Suljovic is 0-4 but is scoring even better, again with bad draws being the issue. Labanauskas also has concerning form continuing from 2022 and doesn't have the backdoor of the Nordic tour to rely on.

5) Some young guns doing well

Rock remains up in the top echelons of scoring continuing into 2023, but there's lots of others doing well. Dylan Slevin opened up with a semi final (which I was on at 250/1), and is scoring just fine - naturally a lot of comparisons with the likes of Rock and Barry can be made, that might be a bit ahead of things, but there was plenty of evidence he looked good in both the 2022 secondary circuit and at Q-School. Gian van Veen is on the first page of my average database, and but for a couple of narrow defeats against decent opponents, might have added to just a quarter final this season. de Decker is still relatively young and continuing to score well. We've got a bit of a wait before we get a Dev Tour weekend to see more from people outside of the main tour system, but there's going to be some real tough competition there.

6) Richard Veenstra is for real

It's taken a while for Flyers to get onto the PDC circuit, but there's already signs that he's going to fit in just fine - the Pro Tour system ought to suit someone with such a solid WDF floor record and consistent nature of play. It's showing with 7k in the bank in four events, quite a few notable wins, and we'll see him in the Euro Tour this weekend as well which can really boost things. Who's to say that he won't put enough together to stand a realistic chance of making the Grand Prix?

7) Players we've underrated performing

It might be odd to the casual viewer that we've been bearish on the fortunes of Jonny Clayton and Joe Cullen for a while, but maybe not for too much longer, with the players ranking 1-2 in the scoring rankings. Neither's made a final, and Joe in particular has had some early exits, but over a 100+ leg sample for Cullen and 150 for Clayton, they're ahead of everyone. Who's just behind them? Jim Williams. By contrast, we've been liking his game for some time, and it's being backed up with bigger scoring than we've seen at any point beforehand. He's got a couple of shots at the Euro Tour in the next four events, and may be someone to keep in mind as a long shot when it comes to UK Open outright betting.

8) Is Jamie Hughes back?

Jamie probably had the worst result out of anyone when it came down to worlds results, Keane Barry possibly expected, but he's hit back strongly with a final and two board wins. However, his scoring isn't anywhere near where it was back when he was winning a Euro Tour. That said, good results should restore confidence, and the scoring isn't exactly at a bad level, so maybe we can see it continue to tick up and have the results continue to follow.

9) Some interesting UK Open qualifiers

Matt Edgar's just put a video together, and we knew some players from before the last time I posted, but Luke Littler and Danny Lauby are probably the biggest names to watch. James Richardson is always going to be dangerous, Darryl Pilgrim has shown flashes at the Challenge Tour level now and again, Dan Read is kind of similar, and following on from there there's a real nice mix of youth, experience and unknowns that'll be interesting to analyse.

10) Some players in real trouble

Just looking at the end of the Pro Tour averages, Danny Jansen is showing more and more that his Pro Tour bink is an enormous fluke and getting on the tour was just a bit too early, Devon Petersen is showing no signs of getting back to his peak and could well be without a card this time next year, while some names outside of the top 100 (some of whom we've mentioned earlier) include Labanauskas, Kleermaker, Rowby, Edhouse, van der Voort, Tricole and Sedlacek. A few of these names seem like they could just be a bad couple of weekends (but not what you really want with a major in just a fortnight, unless you're at Kiel to try to turn things around), others are the continuation of bad form from some time, while some might be a case of 2022 being a bit of a fluke? Hard to say at this stage, but something to monitor.

Expect maybe a random post at some point in the next couple of days, before a Euro Tour post on Thursday once we know the draw (we do know all the field now).

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