Sunday 24 December 2023

Day 7-9 thoughts

Alright, rounds one and two are in the books. We end up marginally down through this stage, but it's better than where we were earlier in the event, so let's see if we can rebuild into the black. Sadly we don't take me posting "Hempel, Krcmar and Jim Williams to make round three" at 50/1 in the copy book when Carl's asking about possible decent bet builders/specials, although we will gladly accept the Weekly Dartscast tip of the year award for it if that comes to fruition, let's look through the last three days before the Christmas break:

Mansell/Zong - More or less as expected. Mansell was mostly solid, but a few moderately slow legs, where if Zong had been a bit tighter and/or hit doubles, he might have pushed things a bit closer, but don't think that either can be overly disappointed with how this one went.

Woodhouse/van Peer - Luke's got to be a tad gutted about this one, this seemed like a good opportunity. First set was there for the taking, get that then we probably don't get into final set shenanigans, where Berry didn't do much special, more Luke just couldn't get a thing going there. Overall a good season, but Woodhouse has left money on the table here.

Razma/de Decker - That might be the best we've seen Razma play in a long time. Madars was generally pretty solid in finishing within five visits, didn't give Mike too much breathing room, still nothing that makes me think he stands much of a chance in round three, but promising signs going forward.

Cross/Tricole - Went as we thought. Rob was too good, despite not playing anywhere near his best himself. Cross might be alright in the next round with that sort of performance, but can't be fucking around like that too much going onwards.

Gilding/Littler - Luke wasn't at his majestic best as he was in round one, but showed enough in the first couple of sets to nick them at the key moments. Last two sets were a dumpster fire for both, but Littler had enough in the bank and got home. Probably one best forgotten.

Noppert/Williams - Scott played some really good stuff - only real duff leg was the deciding one of the first set, which was horrific for both but as Scott got home, he's not going to care much. Not really sure what to think about Danny's performance here, probably wasn't at 100%, but Williams didn't give him much breathing room either.

Clemens/Leung - Good stuff from Gabriel here. Third set was a bit of an anomaly, but outside of those three legs he really wasn't giving his opponent any chances, seven of nine legs going in fifteen darts tops. If you're facing someone at that level, it's kind of hard to do too much about it, although there were spots in set two where Leung could maybe have not missed doubles and it turns out differently. Oh well.

Heta/Lukeman - Weird game. Lukeman looked completely lost at points in this game, was able to pull things back together in the third set, but then Damon went five visit kill b3b to close things out in the fourth. Damon looked fine, Martin could have just done without that huge lull in mainly the second set which for all intents and purposes put the game to bed.

Dolan/Mansell - Who had this one down as potential match of the tournament? I didn't see it live, was still in work at the time, but both players averaging 95 and it going all the way to a deciding leg is not a bad way to start a session. Credit to both, thought it would be tight, it proved to be the case, final set which went eleven straight holds is a testament to both players holding things together.

de Sousa/de Graaf - Jose wasn't bad, Jeffrey was just a touch better throughout, first two sets being entirely holds, then de Graaf nicks a break, holds things out, then puts on a fantastic spurt in set four to close it out. Not bad signs for Jose, but very promising for Jeffrey to put performances like this in through back to back games. It probably wouldn't be enough against Cross if Rob's playing competently, but if he isn't...

Ratajski/Hughes - Krzysztof was a bit slow to start on this one, letting a first set go that he had in the palm of his hands, and then needing a fair bit of luck in the second set to come from 2-1 down. Third set was just fine, three five visit holds doing it, then Hughes had a mare on doubles first leg of set three (after Ratajski takes an inexplicable route on 66) and that was bascially that.

van Duijvenbode/Krcmar - Might have been worked out in post match interviews, but my life's too short to watch Dutch media, the stuff Phil Barrs puts out etc. Dirk looked like early year Dirk in set one. Then current Dirk in sets two to four. Boris was his usual self, competent, not giving much away, but showing pretty limited levels of upside with a peak leg being a great twelve to win the match. Can't really draw too many conclusions from this one.

van den Bergh/Hempel - Not going to lie in the slightest, we dodged some bullets in this one, but Florian kept putting himself into positions where he needs to dig himself out of a hole, and against a tougher opponent (like, say, Stephen Bunting), he's going to get murdered. Fortunately Dimitri displayed current form Dimitri and it was enough for us to get over the line. And sportradar failed for the second time this tournament. Useless twats.

Schindler/Wattimena - Good stuff from Martin in this one. Solid performance throughout, probably only the second leg of set three was really a downer with mediocre scoring and a missed dart to get out of it which gave Jermaine a good chance to take a set which he emphatically took, but Martin closed things out well enough. Wattimena wasn't bad, but just a level below.

van Barneveld/Szaganski - Just took too long for Radek to really get going in this one. Barney held every leg on throw in the first two in fifteen tops, and Radek botched two solid chances to break, one in each set. It was all holds from there and Szaganski upped his game, but the damage was done from there. Shame that he's now off the tour (barring a wedge of tour card returns) and will lose the great spot he was in for the majors, I still maintain that someone getting a tour card should always have the option of two years from zero or one year and count the year that's just gone in full, which would really help him out in this spot. If he wins the card back.

Dobey/O'Connor - Really fun game. Both players performing to a really high standard, can't really pick out too many faults at any point. Bunch of credit for Willie, this might be his strongest tournament to date despite a "beat weak qualifier then lose to seed" set of results on paper, but Dobey needed every bit of the 103 he averaged, which is setting up a mesmerising match against Ross Smith in the clear strongest session of round three (which, because PDC/Sky loving big names as opposed to competitive matches, is an afternoon session), hook Thursday afternoon up to my veins.

Huybrechts/Veenstra - OK, so who had Kim Huybrechts on their "not going to win a leg" bingo card? I didn't, Veenstra was very good but I don't think he did anything that was completely unplayable. Huybrechts just didn't play it, set two in particular on the Huybrechts throw looks like a shocker.

Rydz/Pietreczko - Ricardo winning all the sets he had on throw 3-0 is perhaps a bit misleading. Both played well - I'm going to guess if you scratch set one, which was a bit of a dumpster fire for both, they were both averaging 100 throughout, and from that point there was only the one leg that went over fifteen darts, and that one was only down to missed doubles from both. Ricardo having a bit more than Callan was what we thought, but Rydz was not bad in that one in the slightest.

Clayton/Lennon - Jesus christ can anyone hit a double? This game was a perfect microcosm of Lennon's past two (at least years) - great play, but can't get the win, and here because he missed 34 darts at double. Got the first one, then just kept missing on the outer ring. Continually. Clayton wasn't much better, he missed 28 himself, but Steve's got to be kicking himself over this one.

Gurney/Beaton - Very nice game from Daryl here. Extremely solid and competent level throughout, highlighting that he has picked his game up this season notably, didn't get set three but that was more down to Steve being just better. Beaton weren't bad, but he just can't live with Gurney playing as strong as this at this stage of his career - at least not for the duration of a best of five set match.

Searle/Goto - Ryan looked pretty nice in this one - only the pair of really weak legs, both of which he won anyway, some great key break timing in set two, Tomoya had a nice came in set three with a twelve to break in the deciding set given Searle was on tops after twelve himself, Goto's going to come out of this tournament with a lot of credit but Searle will move on.

Rock/van Peer - Something didn't look quite right for Josh here, but it was mainly a case of van Peer being extremely strong on the outer ring and just hitting good timing when it mattered. Wouldn't have needed much in terms of improvements for Josh to take this one, second leg of the match was a mare and the first leg of what was the last set saw scoring evaporate and never really come back on the van Peer throw, but that was enough to lose the match.

Bunting/Joyce - Ryan was not bad, although had a couple of minor miscounts but nothing that I considered incredibly costly. Stephen was just unplayable. If he just pins the 124 out at the end of set two, rather than dicking about and missing five shots before finally closing the set out, who knows what his average would have been. It's a scary enough standard that assuming he comes through Hempel he'll be extremely live against van Gerwen (assuming, of course, he beats Veenstra) in round four, we've already seen one game recently go to a decider.

Aspinall/Evans - Might be the best we've seen Ricky on TV for donkey's years. Nathan wasn't exactly playing badly, although he certainly wasn't at his best, Ricky just allowed very few easy chances, and the half chances that Aspinall was allowed were missed. Probably a case that once the second leg of set two saw three clean missed at 24 by Nathan that the game was gone, and Ricky's timing with a four visit break to open set three really put the knife in.

I'll probably post tips for round three tomorrow afternoon, probably be around tea time UK when something arrives, but it may get pushed back to Boxing Day. In any case, there'll be thoughts out the day before the games.


  1. I'm surprised by the 66 comment, is going bull first really that inexplicable if you're so-so on D18 and love the 16-8 segment? I personally like D18 so I always try T10, but I was always considering the other route a decent alternative depending on your double preferences.

  2. Bull on 66 does not skip down to an easier out compared to going T14, T10, T18 if you miss the bull, you are just going for the smallest target on the board for hubris reasons. It's the lowest percentage shot I see on a regular basis, and if you're that bad on doubles outside of the D16 breakdown you're a poor excuse for a professional dart player. I would rather someone go double 17 to be quite honest