The PDC ProTour season continued last week in Milton Keynes with the second of three planned Super Series. The four-day block of Players Championship events saw four different players win titles. SAM CARTER picks out five players who had a good week and five players who had a bad week in our latest Five Up, Five Down of the season…
Where better to start than the current world number one and world champion?
Gerwyn Price has had a decent start to TV tournament play this season, making the semi-finals on both occasions. His first Super Series campaign was not as good though, with two defeats in the second round, before he withdrew from the last two days through illness.
Price started this campaign with a 108 average in victory against Joe Murnan and went onto the last 32, where he was defeated by eventual winner Brendan Dolan. There was no such problems on day 2 though, only failing to record a 100+ average on one occasion en route to winning the £10,000 top prize, even exacting some revenge over Dolan in the semi-finals, defeating him in a deciding leg.
Day three was not great from The Iceman, being one of many scalps in non tour card holder Chas Barstow’s spectacular run to the quarter-finals, however in Friday’s event he only dropped 14 legs and was regularly hitting 100+ averages on his way to his second final in four days but he could not stop Peter Wright from winning comfortably 8-3.
That final appearance was enough for him to be the player to accumulate the most amount of prize money over the series, a goal that can’t have been far from Price’s mind and, as world champion, something he should certainly be aiming for.
Price’s World Cup winning team-mate is another man who will be coming away from Milton Keynes feeling pleased with himself.
One of the form players in darts, Jonny Clayton is the only man to win a tournament in both Super Series’ this year and he now has the most amount of money in Players Championships events in 2021 – few would have predicted that at the start of the calendar year.
Clayton’s first two days were not much to shout about, getting to the last 64 and last 32, before a fantastic run on Thursday saw him go all the way. He was never taken to a deciding leg throughout the day and defeated another form player in James Wade in the final, 8-5 with a 13-dart-leg against throw to seal his third title of the year.
On Friday, he was defeated in the first round 6-4 in a superb game by Steve Lennon, but his previous efforts throughout the week were enough to get him up to fourth in the prize money rankings for this Super Series.
Scott Mitchell was one of my 10 new tour card holders to watch at the start of the year and he put in a week that proved why I put him in there.
Mitchell did not have the greatest week in the first Super Series, only picking up £1,000 throughout his first four days as a tour card holder, but on Tuesday he bested this effort in one go, going all the way to the quarter-finals where he was on the losing side of the best game in the tournament, if not the series, by averaging 106 and still losing 6-4 to eventual champion Brendan Dolan.
Two last 16s and a last 32 followed for Scotty Dog, who come close of play was the highest placed new tour card holder for this series of tournaments.
In his recent interview with the Weekly Dartscast, Mitchell outlined the Players Championship Finals and the World Championship as his two big aims for the season, and he looks like a lock for both of those tournaments (particularly the former) and after this level of consistency and quality of victories the sky is the limit for qualification for more ranking tournaments.
From a 50-year-old with not a lot of ProTour experience to a 47-year-old with a load of it, as the Northern Irish number two Brendan Dolan wrapped up his eighth PDC title in stylish fashion on Tuesday.
Dolan threw in big averages of 111, 109 and 106 defeating Jason Lowe, Jamie Hughes, Gerwyn Price, Damon Heta, Scott Mitchell and Joe Cullen throughout the day to meet Michael Smith in the final. Smith, a man who has seven floor titles to his name himself, did lead 4-3 with a break of throw to his name but faltered towards the winning line, allowing Dolan to take five of the next seven legs and win 8-6.
Dolan, most famous for being the first man to hit a double in nine darter in PDC history wasn’t done with his big runs there, reaching the semi-finals on Wednesday and Friday, with more big averages and clinical finishing on display from The History Maker.
A first round defeat on Thursday was a disappointment, but all things considered it was a very good week for Dolan, who now looks set to once again qualify for the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix for the second year in succession, after missing both events for three years between 2017 and 2019.
I had several names in line for this last spot; a tournament win for Peter Wright, more good form from Joe Cullen, a second PDC final in two weeks for Luke Humphries and good weeks from top 10 players James Wade and Michael Smith meant I had plenty of choice, But I decided to go for another new tour card holder in Thursday’s semi-finalist, Jason Heaver.
Considering the high standard in the ProTour these days, if any low ranked player can make sure they don’t lose a first round game in a Super Series they won’t be low ranked for long; it’s even more impressive to see a new tour card holder to do this and this series has already put him in the top 100 in the main PDC Order of Merit as he hunts down the top 64.
These performances are perhaps more impressive considering his first Super Series was one of no victories whatsoever. On day 1 he put that to bed straight away by winning his first-round match before losing out in a deciding leg. Day two was much better for Heaver, beating two top 32 players in Krzysztof Ratajski and Jermaine Wattimena in a good run to the last 16, an effort that he went on to better on day 3, going all the way to the semi-finals.
His maiden semi-final didn’t go as he would have hoped, being whitewashed 7-0 by eventual winner Jonny Clayton. Victories over Premier League player Dimitri Van den Bergh and 2021 Players Championship Two winner Callan Rydz capped off an excellent week for Heaver, who will be hoping to build on this come April’s edition of the Super Series.
Jeffrey de Zwaan
Ten tournaments in this season and only two matches won from 12 attempts is not a good return from a man who I expected to make a real push towards the top 16 and cement the Dutch number two spot.
A poor first Super Series return of £500 was matched in this Super Series, although at least in the last set of tournaments he was up against opposition that seemed to be throwing their best stuff of the day against him. De Zwaan didn’t have that excuse this time, with nobody needing to throw a 90+ average to defeat The Black Cobra.
To be fair to De Zwaan, he was undone in a few deciding legs over the week but he had several opportunities to not be in that situation. His lack of finding the winning double became his undoing at several points over the week.
De Zwaan will have to go some if he wants to qualify for his fourth consecutive World Matchplay, but he is so talented that him turning up and winning a third Players Championship title at the next Super Series wouldn’t be much of a surprise at all.
Quite a few of the 2021 Premier League players needed a good week in Milton Keynes in order to get some momentum ahead of the upcoming first phase, perhaps none more so than the defending champion Glen Durrant.
A decent first Super Series and two poor performances in front of the television cameras meant Duzza arrived in Milton Keynes with turbulent form, and he only managed to get two wins on the board from six matches.
On Tuesday he became the latest former world champion to be defeated by newbie on the ProTour Alan Soutar, before being turned over by a man who doesn’t have a tour card, Gino Vos in the second round of Wednesday’s tournament.
Thursday saw another last 64 defeat for the Teessider, where he put in a disappointing 80 average (the same as his opponent incidentally) in a 6-4 defeat to Michael Rasztovits. A crushing 6-1 defeat to Jason Lowe in round one on the final day meant Durrant will take part in the Premier League lacking a bit of form, although in truth he is not the only one.
From one man who was BDO world number one not so long ago in Glen Durrant to another as this time we have Mark McGeeney, who also didn’t impress in Milton Keynes.
McGeeney is one of the handful of players who failed to record a single victory all week and finds himself in the five down column on the account of usually being reliable to pick up a decent number of wins in a group of ProTour events such as this.
The Gladiator is on the verge of cementing himself into the top 64 and securing an extra year as a tour card holder, but can’t seem to piece together the run to get him there, only winning two games this year from 11 attempts.
It’s fair to say that McGeeney is not a man known for monstrous averages, but you would certainly expect him to average over 90 on a regular basis, which is something he didn’t achieve once. The former Lakeside runner up could only muster a meager five legs from his four matches and it’s certainly a week to forget for him.
Dimitri Van den Bergh
Sadly for The Dream Maker, whereas Jonny Clayton has managed to reach the five up section twice in a row, it’s probably fair that Van den Bergh finds himself here again.
After this Super Series, Van den Bergh will be 13 Matches into his season and has only managed to win three of them. In the first Super Series he was guilty of playing very well and not getting results, which is something that was true in patches here.
A decent 6-3 win over Matt Edgar started off the series, before a disappointing 6-4 exit to Max Hopp followed. Van den Bergh lost 6-4 again in a high quality affair the next day to the young Austrian Rowby-John Rodriguez.
Van den Bergh’s best performance came on Thursday, beating Karel Sedlacek 6-3 with a 105 average, before losing to fellow full Premier League debutant Jose De Sousa in round two, by the now familiar scoreline of 6-4.
Another early defeat was to follow for the Belgian on Friday’s event. He was 3-1 up on Jason Heaver in round one, but Heaver won five legs without reply, no doubt leaving Van den Bergh wondering what he needs to do to get a good run in a Players Championship event this year.
As with the five up list, I struggled to fill this last spot. Several big names like Ian White, Adrian Lewis and Nathan Aspinall had a disappointing Super Series, in some cases not for the first time however I’ve settled for one of the biggest names of all in Gary Anderson.
Anderson wrote off the 2020 season several times and stated that the 2021 season was where it was at and put the whole darting world on notice. So far, however, there has been nothing to suggest that it’s going to be a banner season for The Flying Scotsman after two defeats at the earliest opportunity on TV along with a below average first Super Series by his standards.
All of that meant that a strong second Super Series campaign was probably essential for Anderson, being one of the many Premier League players this year that seems to be struggling for form, but sadly it just didn’t happen for him.
After going down 6-4 to Andy Boulton in round one of Tuesday’s event, a good victory in round one on Wednesday over Derk Telnekes followed, but it was unable to be backed up with another victory on the day, going out 6-1 to Dirk van Duijvenbode with an uncharacteristic average of 86.
Anderson’s final contribution of the week came on Thursday in the form of another last 64 exit, going down in a decider to Richie Edhouse, despite having a pair of match darts. The former back-to-back world champion pulled out of Friday’s event, citing personal reasons but even so this will go down as a lower than expected return from the man who was in the world final just two-and-a-half months ago.