Wednesday 17 April 2024

Top 32

Matt Edgar posed an interesting question on X the other day, asking a pretty simple question - if the PDC wiped all the rankings/seedings etc clean, how many of the current top 32 would actually be top 32 players? That's one that I'm going to look at, and try to pick out who clearly is, who probably is, who's a marginal case and who isn't. I'm going to use the scoring figures from September to give the main idea, but will use a bit of subjectivity as there are likely going to be some that are close. I'm also generally going to work on the assumption that it'll take some time to have the results finalise, so I'm taking general trajectory somewhat into account. Let's go.

Obviously yes

1) Luke Humphries - world champ, second in scoring, easy.
2) Michael van Gerwen - sixth in scoring but one of the few players still a danger to win any tourney he enters.
3) Michael Smith - down at 20th in scoring, which is a fair bit of a difference, but I don't think there's any question he's top 32 at all, can up his game when needed.
4) Nathan Aspinall - he's only just in the top 16 in scoring, but he's won a major title in the last twelve months which makes a clear case.
5) Gerwyn Price - fourth in scoring, top five in the world, maybe not quite as red hot as he was twelve months ago but still in the world's elite.
6) Rob Cross - only the one spot behind Price in both the actual rankings and scoring, and yet still perhaps underrated.
7) Dave Chisnall - maybe had a bit of a quiet start to the year, but clearly in the top 16 in scoring, had a fantastic 2023, still looks more than competent.
10) Damon Heta - just on the outside looking in of the top ten in scoring, and still looking for that really big TV run to push to the next level, but I can't think of any format or metric that says he isn't a top 16 player at the very worst.
14) Chris Dobey - Premier League in 2023 did him a world of good, is in the top ten in scoring, really does feel like he's at the spot where it's just a case of him binking something bigger - be it a Euro Tour (that he still only has one final is insane) if not a major, he's getting into the business end on TV a lot now.
17) Stephen Bunting - his numbers are more or less identical to Ross Smith just above him in the rankings, but I'm putting him a tier up based on results - while I don't care about the Masters, he did win it, and the form at the back end of 2023 was undeniable and a ranked breakthrough seems more likely than not real soon.
20) Josh Rock - 2023 was not as explosive as 2022 was for sure, but he was not playing badly in the slightest, and a season of relative quiet is probably going to work out well for him. Still top 10 in scoring, bags of time on his side, he's rapidly gaining experience and a logical next step of a Euro Tour feels probable sooner rather than later.
24) Gary Anderson - still top of the world in scoring. That's all that needs to be said.
26) Luke Littler - obviously a top five player in the world, just needs time to get points on the board and for the rankings to correct themselves.

Safe, but not elite

9) Dimitri van den Bergh - similar to Wright, the scoring isn't there, actually scoring less than Wright in that sample, but it does look like he's turned a corner and, with the UK Open win, is heading back in the correct direction. It's not an obviously yes, but I can't think you can ever exclude him.
12) Danny Noppert - does have a recent win, scoring is outside the top 20 level, he's not really kicked on but he's nowhere near a point where he's not a top 32 player.
16) Ross Smith - statistically he's not too dissimilar to Dobey, but without the feeling that he's going to go and bink something big. Which, of course, he already has done, but while we all know he's good, he's still not someone that'd be on the dark horse list for a TV major for most people. But a clear top 32 player.
19) Ryan Searle - numbers very good, solidly inside the top 16. Early results in 2024 very promising. Putting him outside the 32 would be ridiculous but he does feel like a "well he could be the next to win a Euro Tour maybe" sort of player rather than a "he's a real contender for a TV title".
22) Martin Schindler - has just crept into the top 16 in the scoring rankings. Has just won a Euro Tour. Is still only 27. Now that the senior title monkey is off his back, he is surely only going to go in one direction with the added confidence he should now have.


8) Peter Wright - he's actually just outside the top 32 in scoring, so while I wanted to put him up a category, I'm not sure I can realistically do so, still shows up often enough at the right end of tournaments and has a major fairly recently so can't really exclude him.
11) Jonny Clayton - his game has really, really fallen off of late. Like Peter, he's outside the top 32 in scoring, but there's more than a dozen players that are between him and Wright, Clayton being on the wrong side of Wright. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt having got wins at the Euro Tour level and a major final in fairly recent history, but like Wright his best form might be permanently gone.
13) Dirk van Duijvenbode - is directly adjacent to Wright in the scoring charts. Has yet to properly regain the form he had in 2022 and early 2023, sadly down to injury, he may be over it now and may get back to binking titles, but results speak and he's in the marginal category until proven otherwise.
15) Joe Cullen - have mentioned Joe a few times in Euro Tour tips so far this year. What's he done recently? He got two major semis last year, so I think he's still in, but since then it's been really quiet and his numbers are pretty much splitting the difference between Wright and Clayton.
21) James Wade - numbers are pretty much on the top 32 borderline, but Wade often outperforms his numbers and the experience he has is undeniable, he's probably closer to being out than being in the top 16 for sure but finding 32 better players seems a stretch.
25) Krzysztof Ratajski - only real difference between him and Clemens is that Krzysztof has won a Euro Tour in the last twelve months, so is showing the ability to get results. Without that, I probably put him in the category below.
27) Daryl Gurney - ranking is in the mid 20's. Scoring is in the mid 20's. Has shown some occasional flashes and does have major title pedigree, is still young enough that he can rise back up the ranks for sure and just about holds a spot here.
30) Raymond van Barneveld - very much borderline, but has the same sort of scoring as Gurney has and has shown within the past month that he still has the ability to win titles, so a combination of just enough at both scoring and results is enough for me.

LOL nope

18) Andrew Gilding - this might seem harsh given that he won a major just over a year ago, but the numbers he's putting up are just not there, ranking outside the top 40, not really getting much of anything in terms of results, and we have seen his form tail off after a real purple patch at a UK Open before, except this time he's 53 and may not be able to get it back.
23) Gabriel Clemens - I can understand if you want to put him in the marginal spots, given he is just inside the top 32 in scoring, but he's really not kicked on from that worlds semi, decent Players Championship Finals run aside, and it doesn't feel like he's getting the results to justify a top 32 spot. He's only just outside, but outside for me.
28) Brendan Dolan - only really just about holding on in the top 32 thanks to that worlds quarters run. I can see an argument that he's just inside, the scoring would give some support to this, but I think that ranking money is just delaying the inevitable second slide outside the actual 32 given he's now into his 50's and does not feel like a player that has a title still in him.
29) Jose de Sousa - seems way too long since he's been a relevant player and is just one making up the numbers in the 32 at this stage. Not awful for sure, scoring has him around about the number 40 mark, but another one that's the wrong side of 50 and it's hard to make a case that he's going to be able to hold a spot after the next worlds.
31) Scott Williams - that worlds run was nice, but it's giving him maybe a little bit of an inflated ranking, with his scoring only just breaking 90, the last man on the charts to do so and the lowest player apart from Clayton on that metric. Still only in his mid 30's, he's got room to grow consistency in terms of results and his general level, but that's not 32 right now.
32) Ricardo Pietreczko - I could see an argument that he should be in the 32, but the numbers are more or less at Gilding's level and, outside of that Euro Tour win, I'm not sure he's put up enough consistent performances and results to warrant a top 32 spot. Yet - he is trending the right way but the ranking does seem a touch too high.

So there's six that I'm saying shouldn't be there, as such there should be six that should be in, right? Let's see:

Gian van Veen - still one of the hottest names in the sport, numbers aren't quite so red hot as they were say six to eight months ago, but it seems inevitable he'll win a senior title very soon.
Cameron Menzies - I think the secret's out on just how good he is, if he tidies up the occasional slack spot within matches and puts everything together throughout a tournament, there's no reason he can't win one right now.
Ryan Joyce - trending very much in the right direction, Pro Tour win at the back end of 2023, first major semi final soon after, numbers in the top 32, showing more frequent very good performances.
Mike de Decker - numbers still very strong, ranking safely inside the top 32, had a strong 2023 which saw a first breakthrough into the difficult TV majors, still under 30 and a lot of the inconsistency that was in his game a few years back looks to be getting ironed out and is showing the ability to beat the big names more frequently. Bit of work to do to secure a Matchplay return but could easily do it.
Jim Williams - now this one might be controversial given I'm not sure that he will ever play enough of the circuit to actually get up to where he should be in the rankings, but in terms of pure quality he is absolutely a top 32 player. Numbers are there, he's shown a big stage TV game, he's won a Pro Tour, let's hope he can turn a current provisional Grand Prix spot into an actual one.
Andy Baetens - alright, this might be regarded as a stretch and I won't disagree with anyone that says that, but we're dealing in the context of a complete seeding/ranking reset, so I think that would negate a lot of the adaptation that he's needing to do to the PDC tour, and the level of scores he's putting up is pretty much bang on the top 32 level. Pretty clearly the best player outside the PDC system in 2023, I do think he's that good and at just 35, he's got more than enough time to turn that into reality.

Expect me back tomorrow with thoughts on the next Euro Tour once the draw is out, I'm not sure what time though and it might be a brief post with things I might be doing tomorrow.

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