Keegan Brown has been the revelation of the tournament. He’s left pundits and darts fans claiming adamantly that he will win a world title, but are they jumping the gun and placing unwanted pressure on Keegan’s 22 year old shoulders?
With his well documented win in the World Youth Final, and his impressive run in this tournament, beating two former World Champions in Barney and Lewis, only losing out on a place in the semi finals after an impressive Dave Chisnall come back, he looks to have the skill set of a World Champion. His attitude also impresses. I get the feeling that he just loves playing darts.
He’s also the type of player that is good to watch. He fits the van Gerwen mould, releasing aggressive outbursts and celebrations which combine with his quick throw to create exciting games. This style builds a fear factor. His opponents know they could lose four or five legs in a flash. Barney, Lewis and Chisnall all walked into this barrage, with only one managing to survive it.
He has very quickly gained himself a following, with many marking him as a future World Champ.
Many of the Sky Sports pundits stressed that part of the reason for his success was that he had no scar tissue, i.e, no past experiences that could have effected his performance or placed expectation on him. But with everyone talking about him being a future World Champion, he will feel pressure to perform. This is perhaps what van Gerwen has been struggling with in the last few tournaments.
Brown played well in this tournament, no question. However, the players he beat were not of World Champion standard. Lewis had an absolute shocker, losing to another youngster, Rowby-John Rodriguez, in addition to Brown. Barney, you could argue, played very well. However, he played well in terms of his own recent form which has been dropping. He was well in front in the match against Barney, but struggled to finish it off, allowing the Dutchman to threaten a comeback. This happened again in the game against Chisnall, the difference being that Chizzy, the world number 8, had the strength to complete the comeback. It seems that he has a weakness when reaching the winning line, but surely that will improve with experience. After all, he wouldn’t have played long matches on the big stage all that often.
To become World Champion, essentially you need to be the best in the world. Obviously a little luck comes in handy,* but if Keegan is going to become World Champion, he will have to beat at least one of Taylor, van Gerwen, Lewis, Wright, Wade or Anderson playing at their best. Does Brown have the ability to do that? Well at the moment the answer is no, but what about next year or the year after or in twenty years? He certainly has a long way to go to beat the current crop of elite players, but he has one thing on his side. Time.
*You could play Terry Jenkins in the final.