Wednesday 14 June 2023

World Cup

Long time readers will know that I'm not overly invested in unranked events, and I'm certainly not as much of a fan of pairs events as others - although that is primarily on account of seeing it from a playing side in other turn based sports, that you are taking half as many turns as you would normally expect ruins your cadence and makes you play worse unless you're extremely used to it. But it is the World Cup, and with the expansion that we've had and the change in format, not only do we get to see a lot of players that we rarely if ever see on a TV stage, we're going to get to see them all twice, which should give us some useful leads. I'm just going to blast through thoughts.


England - Is this their best team? A couple of months ago, I'd have questioned it, when Humphries and Cross were super tight in the rankings, and it looked like Luke was playing better. Luke is playing better, and 2023 data shows he is quite clearly the best player from England, with neither Cross nor Smith being in the top 5 (heck, not only is Smith not the highest scoring Smith, he is barely in the top ten of England). Still, Michael binked earlier this week, and Rob's finally hit a Euro Tour and it does feel like they're both rounding into form.

Wales - Probably the favourites on paper. Price is the best player in the world by some distance at the moment, while Clayton in 2023 is the fourth best player of any reasonable sample that I have in my database, and third in terms of people who are playing in the event (Humphries is here, and Anderson is second). That they are barely odds against to win the whole thing does not seem obviously unfair, and while the format has been regarded as a leveller and adding variance, that the team has been settled since forever will surely help.

Netherlands - van Gerwen withdrawing at the last minute is obviously a blow, but Dirk is not a massive drop off in quality and if anything Dirk is closer to van Gerwen in quality than he is to Noppert, and it's just the nature of the rankings (Danny still having his UK Open win on them) which has put Danny into the team by default. Readers will know we love Danny's game, but we love Dirk as well and he's the stronger player right now. It is a repeat from last year but I do wonder how much the late changes will throw things.

Scotland - Team of two halves really. Ando is playing extremely well after many years barely playing in Europe or being interested in this event, but that's changed and it's working out great for him, while Peter is playing as bad as I can remember him doing in quite some time, he did nick a Euro Tour to be fair but he's scoring worse than Ricky Evans and Mario Vandenbogaerde are, numbers don't lie. Maybe the nature of the stage and the event sees him get to whatever his current A-game is, and they perform a fair bit better than many think. Maybe Ando plays the Hendo role and bails him out. We'll see. Kind of sucks that the holders aren't seeded, but it is what it is.


A: Belgium seem pretty standard with the Dimi/Kim pairing, two extremely steady players who are a settled team and looking decent enough in 2023, should get through this one. China are always hit and miss, mainly due to random visa issues often limiting who can actually play, if the team can play at all, but they've got Zong here who may be their great hope, while his partner is a known name but doesn't seem overly competent. Finland complete the lineup, Kantele has been getting results at the SDC level but not dominating things statistically, while his partner is much the same, not looking completely horrible but not inspiring either.

B: Germany should be fine, with both Clemens and Schindler scoring a very steady 91 for 2023, putting both of them in the 20's in terms of the whole tour. Got to think they'll get fantastic support and should be very much a threat against more or less anyone. They'll face two teams who are put together from the Asian Tour in Hong Kong and Japan, HK have got someone playing fairly decent in a small sample in Leung, while Lee is alright in places, while Japan have Matsuda doing merely alright Goto is doing a little better but not really threatening, there certainly isn't a peak Asada level sort of player.

C: Australia are defending champions, Heta has the most recent bink of anyone and while maybe not playing quite at as high a level as he was in 2022, is still up at a fairly high level, while Whitlock can still hold his own and get up to a high enough level when needed. Guyana's a great story having come through the qualifier to get here and hearing what the players have come through to do so, while Gibraltar have got some young developing players who have made occasional splashes on the Development Tour. Winners should be obvious but who finishes second should be right up for grabs.

D: Northern Ireland are another team who are not playing their strongest lineup, Rock is clearly their best player but timings mean he'll have to wait a year to get in, that said they're still going to be a tough team to beat with Gurney looking better than he has done for maybe half a decade, while Dolan's been quiet but still scoring just a sliver above 90 and won't let things down. France would have been great twelve months ago, but right now Tricole is still probably fine, while Labre has really struggled to adapt to the tour and seems somewhat out of form. Ukraine are a wildcard, Omelchenko didn't disgrace himself at the worlds but certainly didn't put up anything that looks too dangerous, and the other guy is a complete unknown.

E: Ireland's team of O'Connor and Barry shouldn't be too bad, there's not a lot to separate the two but I think they should complement each other fairly well and produce decent results. Croatia is one of many countries that have one good player and one random, we've seen the occasional Croat look alright on a secondary tour level but the player that's going with Krcmar is pretty much a rando, Boris is having another good year but it's yet again a case of pushing numbers through to either a deep floor run or TV results. Thailand complete a group, with "that guy that demonstrated Sky's silly obsession with averages" in that one screenshot showing them after half a leg, and someone else I don't really know. Probably another group that picks itself.

F: Austria seem like a team that could be underrated, Suljovic seems to be on a downward spiral albeit one with a semi run the other day, while Rowby's form has also fallen off a cliff so this looks like a really vulnerable seed. Denmark could pressure, Andersen has not been great as a card holder, but if he can hold things together and Benjamin Drue Reus can show the flashes of form he has done from what we've seen on a secondary level, then they may be in with a shout. The USA complete the group, and it's just a shame that van Dongen is here by default as a card holder, as Spellman, Baggish or others might have been a more useful player, while Gates might arguably be the most in form player in the whole group. Might be one of the most wide open groups in the whole event.

G: Poland should be fine here, Ratajski remains a top level player, if anything turning things up after a little bit of a lull, while Kciuk is one of any number of players they could call up for the #2 role who will be more than competent in a supporting role, maybe Szaganski is a bit better right now and maybe Bialecki will be better long term, but KK is not bad at all. Portugal is the archetypal one man team, de Sousa is maybe not as good as he was and maybe has lost a little bit of the form he was showing in the second half of 2022, whether he can hold it together and get some support from the guy who I don't know, and isn't even one of the odd players I have noticed show up on the Challenge Tour, that's the question. Lithuania bring out the Labanauskas/Barauskas partnership again, Darius has been struggling for a while but I'm thinking Barauskas is going to be better than the random Portuguese player, so this should be an awkward but intriguing match to watch.

H: Canada should stroll through this one, Smith was looking fantastic in New York and Campbell remains an extremely dangerous opponent who brings his best game on TV. India sadly couldn't get Kumar so are lumbered with Gilitwala partnering Jiwa, if it was Kumar, who's had some success on the Asian Tour, maybe they could have pressured but Amit I feel will be hugely outclassed and I don't see how Prakash can compensate. Hungary's the third team, a country where the infrastructure is developing nicely and where we've seen some decent players on occasion - but Sarai doesn't seem one of them and Kovacs is alright, but might have his work cut out.

I: This is a tough group to call. The Czechs are the seed, and Sedlacek and Gawlas seem really good on paper, but I don't know if they're actually playing as well as the hype suggests. They've got two really tough unseeded opponents from Asia as well - the Philippines bring over Perez and Ilagan, one killing it on the Asian Tour while one's won a card and looked very good earlier this week on the first time of using it, while the veteran Lim pairing from Singapore are still playing really well and never seem to drop off. This could be any one of the countries getting through.

J: Spain are the seeds, the pairing of Perales and Martinez looking like they'll be alright although neither is really in the ballpark of scoring 90 this season. South Africa is a pretty decent draw, Devon is simply not good at this stage and while still capable of showing up on a stage, will need to do so, and while his partner Bouwers is a known name I'm not sure how much he'll be able to contribute at this level. Iceland complete the lineup and I think they might be a bit of a way off being able to bring a really competitive team to this level, despite the SDC influx and the decent level of darting infrastructure they appear to have there.

K: Latvia are the seeds, Razma is the main guy but maybe not quite at the best level he has been at and has some off-oche distractions which might not help matters, Zukovs doesn't seem awful as a partner and should have enough to hold things together for the most part if Madars ends up misfiring. Bahrain make a debut but from the relative showing of the two players in the World Series could be in a fair bit of trouble, while New Zealand could threaten the seeds here, Robb having had quite a few fairly strong showings in various formats of late while Parry is incredibly experienced and will play his part, sucks we can't have Puha or Harris but oh well.

L: Final group has Switzerland as seeds, with Bellmont and Walpen having made forays into the Euro Tour as well as at the secondary level, doesn't seem to be an obvious weak link in here and ought to give nothing away whatsoever. Italy probably got a reprieve from being booted due to the expansion but I'm not expecting a great deal out of them, still really waiting for someone to step up and do something of note at any level, while Sweden could easily push to get out of the group, with Nilsson and Lukasiak appearing to be a relatively well balanced pairing who arguably seem on a par with the Swiss lineup, and with Dennis likely have more experience in this sort of setup as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment