Sunday 3 December 2023

Ratajski, Hughes, Cameron

A note on Penhall from the previous post before I start - I was wondering where exactly I was getting the data from him, and looking back it was from the early DPA events. As such, I must have decided that the new united tour was of a strong enough quality to consider, but then as it isn't listed in the PDC list of events, I've overlooked it. I've gone back and added the tour, and his scoring gets a bump to 86.16 - not enough that he's favoured, but worth noting.

Krzysztof Ratajski will make his seventh straight appearance at the world championship, after a moderately successful season which saw a relative continuation of his level of play, and a similar set of results to last year on TV, in that he did enough to get into all of the events comfortably, and pick up the odd win, but never really threaten to go deep like he did several times in 2021. That said, he did pick up a European Tour title, the second of his career, which will be enough to keep him in and around the majors for the next season. Looking at the TV events first, Ratajski didn't make a great deal of inroads - at the UK Open, he would be unfortunate to draw Dirk van Duijvenbode, who was playing exceptional stuff at the time, then at Blackpool he'd draw eventual winner Nathan Aspinall, playing solidly but just being a touch behind and losing 10-7. Ratajski would do better at Leicester, knocking out James Wade in a last leg decider, before losing 3-0 to Price, albeit every leg going to a decider there, and he'd also make the last sixteen at Dortmund, beating Joe Cullen but then running into Luke Humphries, the result of a moderately low seeding despite having got a title win. Krzysztof had dropped out of the seedings and was not great at qualifying, missing half the events and typically losing to the seeds when he did make events - with one notable exception that we'll come to. Ratajski did get out of his group at the Grand Slam, a tricky one featuring both Wade and Michael Smith, but Josh Rock would prove to be too strong in the knockout stages, then at the Players Championship Finals he suffered probably his worst result of the season in a first round defeat to Maik Kuivenhoven. But as mentioned, his best performance was in Jena, where he went on a run defeating Ricky Evans, top seed Dave Chisnall, Danny Noppert, Josh Rock and then Stephen Bunting in the final to rocket back up the Pro Tour rankings. Krzysztof was also to have some success on the floor, picking up one title fairly early on in the season over surprise finalist Chris Landman, one event after losing out in the final to Gary Anderson. He's clearly still a top 32 player, but doesn't quite have the game he had two to three years ago to really try to push back into the top 16, at least not on a regular basis, on any given day he can defeat most of the field here.

Jamie Hughes will make a fifth appearance in a row here, and will want to right last year's performance where he had a shocker of a game, averaging under 80 and losing out in a game that was not pretty in the slightest to Jerry Hendriks. Hughes is here as one of the last few players as one of the last few players in through the Pro Tour, which seemed surprising given how he started the season - he made the final of the very first event, defeating Michael Smith and Chris Dobey amongst others, but losing out to Ryan Searle. Hughes would follow this up with another two straight board wins, before going on a horrific dry spell of form with just three wins in the next thirteen events - a time of year which also saw him miss out on qualification for the majority of European Tour events. On that tour he only made one all year, oddly in Prague where he did win his Euro Tour a few years ago now, and he lost to van der Voort in the first round fairly heavily. Jamie did break that barren floor spell with a board final in August (beating Ratajski there), but then went on another poor run with ten events in a row without a board final. This left him on the outside looking in with three events to go, but Hughes was able to break that run with a board final in PC28, defeating Gian van Veen, before in the final pair of events he was able to win the board in both, this despite tricky opening draws to Peter Wright and James Wade. Hopefully for Jamie, this is a genuine pick up in form, the averages in those last three events aren't shabby, and in those last two events it was only Dave Chisnall, who won one and made the final of the other, that was able to stop him with a pair of hundred averages. However, there is one problem that might counter that argument, and that was at Minehead in the last event we've seen, Hughes dropped to an average of below 75 in a 6-1 loss to Joe Cullen. I guess it's possible Hughes has been struggling with some sort of injury that he thought he'd seen the back of then it's recurred, but that's just speculation given nobody reports these sorts of things. Hughes of course did play the UK Open, and would be seeded into round three, but lost out to another player in and around him in the rankings in the shape of Florian Hempel. We've all seen the peak game that Hughes has, but it continues to be a while since we've actually seen it.

Cameron is returning here for a second stab at Ally Pally, having made his debut last year after a series of appearances in the BDO/WDF event, getting a win in a tight affair against Ritchie Edhouse, but would lose out despite a respectable performance in the last 64 to Danny Noppert, winning one set and legs in all the sets he lost. David returns as the top ranked Canadian on the CDC circuit, finishing fourth overall behind Spellman, Buntz and Gates, but ahead of nearest challenger Jacob Taylor to claim a qualifying spot. Cameron fully deserves his spot here - he was a clear couple of points ahead of anyone from Canada in the averages on that circuit, and played well enough to win one of the events and make the final of another in the final weekend of the season, adding to the points he gained from a final midway through the season. Consistency has been the key word - outside of those three finals, in the other nine events he would reach three semi finals and another three quarter finals on top of that, the only times he missed out on going fairly deep being three of the first four events, so a very good sign that his form is trending in the correct direction. Other CDC events saw Cameron lose narrowly to Jules van Dongen in the Cross Border Challenge, and get to the semi final of the Continental Cup. With Canada having two card holders in Campbell and Smith at the time, Cameron was never in the conversation for the World Cup (which might change this year with Smith not trying Q-School), and he also didn't qualify for the US-based World Series events, but David is noted for some successes on the still relatively new seniors circuit - in that worlds, he outscored eventual finalist Richie Howson but lost in a deciding set, and Howson would also defeat Cameron in their Champion of Champions event, taking a narrow 13-11 victory. It also took WDF champion Neil Duff to eliminate him in a last leg, last set thriller at the World Senior Masters, while at their Matchplay it was only eventual champion Leonard Gates who knocked him out 11-9 after a solid win over John Henderson. He's clearly at one end of his career, but it's taking known good opponents to defeat him, and Hughes will have his work cut out potentially here.

No comments:

Post a Comment