Five Up, Five Down: Reviewing the performances from the third PDC Super Series

The PDC ProTour season resumes in Milton Keynes next week with the fourth Super Series. SAM CARTER picks out five players who had a good week and five players who had a bad week from the third Super Series in our latest Five Up, Five Down of the season…

FIVE UP

Martijn Kleermaker

On this occasion, I’m going to start with someone who did not win an event over the four days in Germany, but has had his best series of tournaments by a country mile in the PDC.

Martijn Kleermaker ha not started the season well on the ProTour, winning just one match in the previous two Super Series this season, but the Dutchman managed to better that effort at the first opportunity in Saturday’s event, getting through to the last 32.

He was dispatched convincingly in the next round, going down 6-0 to Dimitri Van den Bergh, and was then undone by another brilliant performance the next day, this time to legendary countryman Raymond van Barneveld.

Day three was to be Kleermaker’s best effort yet, the Dutch Giant defeating names such as Gabriel Clemens, Michael Smith and Brendan Dolan on his way to a maiden PDC final.

It was not to be a first title though, being ousted 8-6 in a close affair to Dirk van Duijvenbode. Another strong run followed on Tuesday, defeating Damon Heta in the last 32 to win his board, before losing to a third countryman in as many days, Danny Noppert.

As some of you may remember, Kleermaker was due to make his PDC World Championship debut last December, but sadly received a positive test for Covid-19.

This run means that I can see no way that we do not see the man from Harderwijk in the 2022 World Championship.

Another Super Series like this next time around may also secure him a spot in the World Matchplay and the World Grand Prix, so Kleermaker can see this Super Series as one that potentially opened several doors for him.

Dimitri Van den Bergh

One man that certainly will be in the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix, most likely for several years now, is Dimitri Van Den Bergh.

I have been saying for a long time now that consistency is all that is stopping the Belgian ace from no longer being the future, but being the present.

A superb run to get to second in the Premier League table has now been followed by yet more consistency in this Super Series, and I have no doubt that Van den Bergh is finally very much the here and now in darts.

Around 40 hours after a superb 6-6 draw with James Wade in the Premier League, Van den Bergh blasted his way to the semi-finals, a 6-0 victory over Jamie Hughes with a massive 111 average being a highlight of the run. He lost that semi-final in a last leg decider to Luke Humphries.

In Sunday’s event, he only dropped six legs in his first three games, before losing to an inspired performance by Michael Smith. The next day was to be an off day for The Dream Maker, losing out to his countryman and friend Kim Huybrechts in the last 64, but that was soon consigned to the history books the next day.  

Van den Bergh won the fourth and final Players Championship of the series in stylish fashion, beating John Brown, Ian White, Alan Soutar, Scott Mitchell and Danny Noppert to set up a clash with the man fresh off a tournament victory the previous day in Dirk Van Duijvenbode.

A magnificent 13-dart leg to hold throw in the decider gave Van den Bergh his first Players Championship success, an objective he would have been keen to tick off at the start of the season.

After only three wins out of eight Players Championship events this year before this series, Van den Bergh will be buzzing to finally get some consistency into his game and the sky will be the limit for him.

Jose De Sousa

The Portuguese was in the half of the Premier League field that chose to travel to Germany for this Super Series and, as I mentioned with Van den Bergh previously, it was certainly worth it for him.

On Saturday, he won the tournament with relative ease, winning legs at an eye-watering ratio of 3:1.

De Sousa’s lowest average of the day was 96, with four of his averages being well above the 100 mark. The highest of these was in the final, a huge 8-1 victory over Luke Humphries saw The Special One chuck in a 114 average to claim his third Players Championship title in his career.

His second nine darter in a month followed on day two and he ended up getting through to the quarter-finals, putting in a 117 average against Jermaine Wattimena in a whitewash at one point.

The last two tournaments were a lot quieter for De Sousa, suffering a first round and a second-round defeat.

De Sousa ended up finishing fourth on the Super Series money list but is quickly proving himself to be a force at both the major tournaments on the big stage and in the smaller, floor tournaments.

Robert Thornton

One of only a few men to win multiple major tournaments in the PDC, darts fans across Scotland and beyond could have been forgiven to start to worry about Robert Thornton’s career.

A disappointing season in 2020 saw him miss out on the World Championship for the first time in his PDC career and drop off the tour.

One of, if not the biggest name at UK Q-School found himself outside the tour card slots and he did not get an invite to any of this year’s tournaments in the PDC, so has been plying his trade in the Modus/Online Darts Live League with mixed results.

As a result of around 30 tour card holders dropping out for this Super Series, The Thorn was granted an invite to play in these four Players Championship events and made the most of his invitation, finishing seventh on the overall ranking list for the Super Series and easily the highest non tour card holder on the list.

Perhaps the pressure being off was what made Thornton perform better, him not needing to win matches to retain a tour card or to make major tournaments.

Saturday’s tournament saw Thornton go to the last 32, losing to Premier League player Nathan Aspinall, an effort that was duplicated the next day, this time to Dimitri Van den Bergh.

Wins over seasoned PDC pros Daryl Gurney and Steve Beaton followed on Monday, as well as defeating Madars Razma on his way to the last 16, where he bowed out to fellow BDO major winner Scott Mitchell.

In what will be probably his last Players Championship appearance this year, Thornton avenged his loss to Nathan Aspinall from a few days before and also defeated Michael Smith who had won Sunday’s event, getting himself into his first PDC semi-final in just under two years.

Dirk van Duijvenbode

The 2020 World Grand Prix finalist had broken in the world’s top 32 for the first time after the latest World Championship and still has a full year to further build on that ranking, only being on the second year of his tour card.

The Aubergenius is getting quite a cult following behind him and was one of a few men who was tipped at the start of the year to scoop his first PDC title, and that’s exactly what he has achieved, winning Monday’s event to make him the second first time winner on the ProTour this season along with Callan Rydz.

Van Duijvenbode did not get his Super Series off to the best of starts, getting beat off countryman Christian Kist in round one on Saturday, and then also Dimitri Van Den Bergh in round two on Sunday.

As stated, van Duijvenbode managed to win Monday’s event, defeating David Evans, Jelle Klaasen, Jeff Smith, Krzysztof Ratajski, Scott Mitchell, Andy Boulton and the aforementioned Martijn Kleermaker 8-6 in the final to get his maiden title after a decade of trying.

The Titan managed to maintain his unbeaten streak on Tuesday too, all the way up to the final, where sadly there was nothing he could do to stop Dimitri Van den Bergh defeating him for the second time in the Super Series and joining him as a first time Players Championship winner, losing to the odd leg in 15.

FIVE DOWN

Devon Petersen

I always find it harder to put players in the “Down” than “Up” section, but as only a couple of players who are higher ranked than Petersen who put in a worse Super Series than the South African, I find it quite easy to put him in on this occasion.

This year’s UK Open quarter-finalist had had two decent Super Series to start off the season, finishing 23rd and 29th in the Order of Merits, which is about what you would expect, but things did not go to plan over in Germany however, only getting to joint 78th on this series’ list.

A mid 80s average saw Petersen be defeated by Nick Kenny in round one on day one, before being defeated by non-tour card holder Benito van de Pas at the same stage on Sunday.

There are no easy draws in the PDC these days, but a favourable draw saw Petersen get himself to the last 32 on Monday, however he put in an indifferent performance which saw him turned over 6-1 against Scott Mitchell.

Normal service for this Super Series was resumed for Petersen after his lengthier run the previous day, this time losing out to Polish number two Krzysztof Kciuk with another mid 80s average. For now, this can be seen as a blip for Petersen, as long as he puts it right at the next set of tournaments in June.

Dave Chisnall

The absence of several Premier League players meant that Chisnall, the world number seven, went into these set of tournaments as the second highest rated player on the main order of merit, and that stat must have filled the Lancashire man with some hope that he could kick on and claim his first PDC title for just under two years.

It was not to be the case though as he put in some poor performances during the four events to only come away with £2,000, winning just 50 per cent of his matches.

It all started pretty nicely for Chizzy, beating Danny Baggish in a sound performance, before being unstuck by Jason Lowe 6-2, averaging a paltry 78.

Sunday was to feature Chisnall’s deepest run, although that was to only a board final, defeating Dutch duo Gino Vos and Kevin Doets, before falling to another Dutchman in Berry Van Peer, a match which saw Chisnall missing several important darts at double at the wrong moments.

A disappointing defeat to Jeff Smith saw Chisnall out in round one on Monday, but it was his final day clash in the second round with Vincent van der Meer that I think will really hurt and disappoint Chizzy, as he got himself down to 16 points after just nine darts against the throw in the deciding leg and failed to take it out in his next two visits to the board, allowing van der Meer to sweep up 48 and knock the 14-time PDC tournament winner out of the event.

As he is not in this year’s Premier League, Chisnall has a long six weeks or so to sit, stew and try to get over a weekend laden with missed opportunities.

Ian White

Another man who would have fancied his chances to get back into the winners circle was Ian White.

I’m sure he would have been very keen to make his uncharacteristic low match wins haul from the previous Super Series a thing of the past, but alas it was not the case, as he ended up performing worse than last time out and only winning one single game across four days of action.

Despite averaging six points more than his opponent, slack doubling in the middle of his match against Mike Warburton resulted in White going from 3-1 up to losing 6-4.

He would go on to lose by the same scoreline on Sunday against Kim Huybrechts, before going down 6-1 to Benito van de Pas the next day.

White finally got a win on the board in Tuesday’s event, beating a disappointing James Askew 6-3, but could do nothing to stop eventual winner Dimitri Van den Bergh coasting past him 6-2.

White’s finest year to date on the PDC circuit was 2019 and he is already seeing a good chunk of that ranking money falling off. I’m sure Diamond will want to buck his ideas up before he departs the top 16 for the first time in seven years and make sure that he recovers from this drop in form.

Andy Hamilton

After a decent UK Open and second Super Series, a lot of us in the darting world probably thought that this would be the kick start Andy Hamilton would need to really motor on and make sure of his top 64 spot and retain his spot on the tour, but on the evidence of this set of tournaments it seems like The Hammer has taken a backwards step toward that milestone after a shocker of a week in Germany.

Things started badly when he averaged 75 and got beat 6-4 at the hands of Australian Gordon Mathers, before being brushed aside by Robert Thornton 6-2 on Sunday, averaging yet again south of the 80 mark.

Another 6-2 defeat and sub-80 average followed on day three, this time going down to Irishman Steve Lennon. Tuesday was to be his finest performance in terms of average, this time an 88, but he was still well and truly hammered by Damon Heta 6-1 and with that result he became one of only a dozen men to come away from Niedernhausen empty handed.

Hamilton is not too far away from retaining his tour card, but will be keen not to make firing blanks on a series by series basis a habit.

Michael van Gerwen

Sadly for MVG, he finds himself in the negative section of my Super Series articles for the second time.

For the past couple of years, and particularly in the post initial lockdown era of darts, Michael van Gerwen seems to be blowing hot and cold on a basis that changes day by day and round by round in tournaments, but with a decent start to life in the 2021 Premier League and with several high profile absentees in these events, I like many were expecting MVG to go on and put in a strong performance across the Super Series and potentially get back to the winners circle

Van Gerwen suffered a 6-4 defeat to Josh Payne in the first round on Saturday, putting in a meagre 84 average. Mighty Mike put in a bit of a better display on Sunday, winning his first game against Lorenzo Pronk, but was beaten by a superb performance by William Borland in the last 64.

MVG matched Saturday’s effort on Monday, defeating Gary Blades 6-4 in round one, before being swept aside by countryman Gino Vos 6-1 in the following round.

On Tuesday, MVG looked set to go on an extremely deep run after blasting his way to the last 16 in fine fashion, before being unstuck by Simon Whitlock.

Yet again, we were left with more questions than answers surrounding the Green Machine, perhaps on another day he may have turned up and run riot like we’ve seen him do so often before.

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