Thursday 30 November 2023

Chisnall, Menzies, Rodriguez

Is this the best season that Dave Chisnall's had since moving to the PDC? In some ways it is, in some ways it isn't. His floor form has been spectacular, maybe even the best of anyone - claiming three Euro Tour titles, defeating Luke Humphries on all three occasions, and adding another final as well coming up just short against Peter Wright, while on the Pro Tour he made another five finals, winning two of them, coming up just a leg short against Callan Rydz and Luke Humphries, only really being comprehensively outplayed the one time against Gerwyn Price (which he rectified with the second of the two wins a day later). His scoring is close enough as damnit to a top ten level - the only thing he's not been able to do is get much traction on TV. Part of this was bad draws, which you can't do too much about - straight out of the gates in the UK Open he got van Gerwen - Chisnall pushed the Dutchman close but finished off one break short. In the Matchplay he got arguably the worst draw possible in Gary Anderson, and a five leg burst from Ando in the second session put Chisnall too far behind, only being able to split the remaining legs for a 10-6 reverse. In Leicester Dave didn't play badly, just ran into Luke Woodhouse who was playing better, only eight players broke the 90 average in the first round and we saw two of them in this game. He'd probably want the Grand Slam back though, a group of Bunting, Wright and Buntz is one that, while not trivial, is one he'd expect to get through, but last leg deciding losses to the two PDC mainstays put him out. Then we have the seeded events, where he ranked very highly - he was the number one seed overall in the European Championship, but the way things turned out he ended up against Chris Dobey, not the nicest opening round but Chizzy was only able to get the two legs, then at Minehead he entered as the number 4 seed, doing a solid job against Lee Evans and looking magnificent in avenging that loss to Dobey, but it would be Woodhouse again that would trip him up in round three. Dave probably just needs to keep playing his darts - the TV record without context looks bad on paper, but looking into it, it's generally understandable.

Cameron's in his second year as a tour card holder, and looks absolutely safe to hold it after a second straight season where he has made the world championship, losing out in a one sided match to Vincent van der Voort twelve months ago after a disturbingly scrappy first round win over Diogo Portela. This season's been another where he's played some fantastic darts which just haven't turned into results - that scoring rank [note - the scoring rank is just between those players in the tournament, the FRH rank is global amongst everyone] doesn't lie, he's throwing great stuff and, after eliminating players who have only played a handful of events, he lies in the top 20 in the Players Championship averages. That ought to have been enough to likely have got through to a final at some stage, but on the floor it's been steady accumulation, with events 19/20 being the peak, winning his board both times and pushing on to one quarter final, but that was the peak, and he didn't augment his money with a great deal from the Euro Tour, appearing in just the three events and ending with a 3-3 record, peaking with a best run to the last 16 in Jena, losing out to Danny Noppert. He's similarly underwhelmed in majors - while he only made the two Minehead events, he got an expected win over a Riley's qualifier before losing heavily to Peter Wright, and as one of the lower seeds in the Players Championship Finals, he got Rob Cross - not ideal, he kept it close for a while but would end up with a 6-3 defeat. He has had some good wins on the floor against the likes of Joe Cullen, Rob Cross, Gian van Veen and Damon Heta, but it's time to pick up more consistent results - while the players who have beaten him on the floor reads somewhat like a who's who of darts, in order for Cameron to climb the rankings he's going to have to turn more of those defeats into victories, and he has the game to do it.

Rusty Jake Rodriguez is an exciting young Austrian player who, it's fair to say, has taken longer than expected to graduate to the full tour after having run riot on the Development Tour in 2021, and will be looking back to Q-School unless he gets an unlikely run to the quarter finals here. That DT run gave him his only previous trip here, where he pulled away from Ben Robb after a tight first couple of sets, and was on the verge of causing an upset against Chris Dobey, taking both the first sets in deciding legs before Chris upped his game and completed the comeback. Since then, it's been tough going for Rusty. On the floor he started with opening round losses in 10 out of 13 events, before hitting a good spell, getting three board wins in five events with notable victories over Gary Anderson, Jose de Sousa, Michael Smith and Ricardo Pietreczko, but then reverted back to early season results with just one board final in the last eleven events, including seven first round defeats - although oddly, his last win on the tour was against Menzies. There's not really much else we can comment on at the senior level - he didn't qualify for a single European Tour event, which left his only major appearance as the UK Open, where he got a bye to the second round but would end up with the worst draw possible in Luke Littler, going down 6-2 in that one. Rusty isn't 23 until midway through the tournament, and it looks unlikely he will remain on the main tour given the tough draw he has, but if he doesn't regain his card, it might not be the worst thing in the world - he is still performing well at Development Tour level, where he finished seventh in the rankings, and it feels like the sort of case where a season regaining a bit of confidence on the Development Tour as well as in some of the opportunities available to non-tour card holders, will push him up to the level needed to remain at the senior level. There's a good player in here already and a heck of a lot of potential, it's just a case of how best to unlock it.

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