Wright 10 – 1 Dolan
Chisnall 10 – 5 Thornton
Lewis 10 – 4 White
van Barneveld 10 – 7 Whitlock
Wade 10 – 3 King
Jenkins 10 – 7 Taylor
Anderson 10 – 2 Hamilton
van Gerwen 10 – 5 Newton
Yesterdays standard of play was disappointing. With the top 16 players in the world competing in a major you would expect high averages, close matches and precise finishing, but that’s far from what we saw yesterday.
The first revelation that we can glean from yesterday is that match practice for the players is absolutely essential. The majority of the players appeared to be very rusty, with many taking their time to get their rhythm or just not getting going at all. The players hadn’t played competitive darts in a high pressure environment for up to six weeks, depending on when they were knocked out of the World Championships. This left the players filling their time with exhibitions, practice or in some cases going on a jolly holly, it’s alright for some. The situation was worse for a few of the players. Anderson, busy with media commitments, had confessed that he’s only had a few hours practice before his match. King, a player who relies on meticulous practice had been suffering from a bad back which had crippled his usual routines. Taylor came into this tournament after suffering the loss of his mother and the impact was clear to see. Both the pitiful standard and the final results indicate a lack of match practice for all of the players. The more naturally talented players – Lewis, Anderson, van Gerwen and Chisnall – have all come through victorious. It’s easy to see now why the standard of darts in the modern game is so high. There’s more tournaments and therefore more match practice which lends itself to a higher standard of play.
Not every player was entirely sub-standard, Dave Chisnall, James Wade and Peter Wright all played well. I think their performances are a clear indication that they have the desire to win this tournament. Wright earlier this week said he wanted to dominate all tournaments this year and clearly wants to follow through on his statement. Wade aims to defend his title and Dave wants to prove himself after his disappointing World Championship. The other players may not have been as competitive in this tournament because they don’t see it as a significant notch on their belt. This was also a general trend on twitter. The masters however features the top 16 players. It should be a hotly contested tournament and a sought after title. In snooker, the masters, which has the same set up, is considered in the top three tournaments on the calender. It’s part of the allusive triple crown. It seems that, as yet, the masters is still to gain full recognition of its status as a major in the darting world.
We also learnt that some of the players in the top 16 are going to struggle to hold onto their ranking this year. The likes of Newton, Hamilton and Dolan are going to have a real fight on their hands in the upcoming ranking tournaments. Players outside the top 16 are hunting them down, and quickly. Huybrechts, Bunting, van der Voort, Caven and Smith will all fancy their chance of forcing their way into the top 16 this year. Simon Whitlock, currently ranked 7th, needs to find his form quickly, otherwise he could find himself behind the top 10.
But the most important lesson from yesterdays play involves Barneys glasses. We learnt that whether they are on or off, they don’t make a great deal of difference.
Did you learn anything different from yesterdays play? If so please comment below, thanks for reading.