It’s Christmas in Europe and a lot of cool events have been put on hold. The World Darts Championship was not included in the list of exceptions – throwers-throwers moved away from the target for three days to spend a holiday with their families. And now there is time to estimate approximate layouts and draw preliminary results.
The first and most important thing that catches your eye is a very small number of sensations. In the first round, only Grant Sampson from South Africa was remembered, who unexpectedly beat Irish wunderkind Keane Barry. True, the South African exploits ended there: in the second match, Grant played at the level of a first-class player (a set of 68.97 is a vivid proof of this) and went home, having previously received the steering wheel from Kim Huybrechts. But at least Barry won! And he earned 15 thousand pounds, which is also important.
In the second round, 29 seeded players out of 32 won. Only three potential favorites sheathed darts after the first match. By the way, this is a record: the seeded had never had such an advantage before.
But can three departures be called unexpected? The real sensation lies in only one thing: James Wade, seeded at the World Cup at number 8, lost to Jim Williams from the eighth decade. Callan Reeds (No. 23) should have lost to Josh Rock in all hands (which he did), and his high rating only misleads – the guy has lost a lot this season. And Daryl Gurney (No. 24) took off from the strong Alan Sutar, and there is no sensation here either.
Thus, 29 seeds remain in the game. The number of unexpected outcomes has sharply shifted to the level of zero. But will darts get any worse?
Not at all. On the contrary, we are waiting for a bunch of amazing content.
Already in the third round, Gervin Price and Raymond van Barneveld will meet – two living legends. The Welsh ex-rugby player is number one on the PDC charts, but Barney knows how to beat him: fresh experience came in November at Grandslam. Both players are on the rise, and their match is already touted as the main event of New Year’s darts.
Of the interesting, I also note the game of Gary Anderson and Chris Dobie. Four years ago, they put out a massive 28-max extravaganza and Chris’s epic miss at a crucial moment. That match still stands before our eyes as one of the best in post-Taylor history, and there is a possibility of its repetition. Moreover, Anderson, who spent an extremely faded season, usually opens up at the end of the year and begins to catch up with giant strides. I think this time will be the same story.
Even the unseeded who made it to the third round don’t look like whipping boys at all. Danny Knoppert and Alan Sutar – why not a sign? Nathan Espinall and Josh Rock – why not a sign? Unless Jim Williams looks like an obvious underdog, but his rival Gabriel Clemens personally does not associate with me with the seed. Therefore, here you can expect good darts.
Yes, this time there will be no wonderful fairy tales about no-names who made a name for themselves in the later stages of the World Cup. All the most juicy places were occupied by notorious tops who are eager to win. And this championship will be remembered for this – the struggle and a very high level of play. At least, in this, judging by the list of the remaining, I really want to believe.