Players Championship Finals – Last 16 Preview
After a hectic day of action on Friday with 16 matches all played over the best of 11 legs, we are now at the Last 16 stage of the Players Championship Finals where we have two sessions each with four matches (played over the best of 19 legs).
Here is a look at how the draw is shaping up.
Michael van Gerwen (1) vs Vincent van der Voort (17)
Dave Chisnall (8) vs Jamie Lewis (24)
Daryl Gurney (28) vs Gary Anderson (12)
James Wade (4) vs Benito van de Pas (13)
Michael Smith (2) vs Mensur Suljovic (15)
Ian White (7) vs Gerwyn Price (23)
Adrian Lewis (6) vs Alan Norris (22)
Peter Wright (3) vs Simon Whitlock (19)
And now onto my previews for all of the Last 16 matches.
- Both players came through their first round matches without too many scares. Smith beating Jamie Caven 6-3 and Suljovic defeated a struggling Mervyn King 6-1. Although the checkout percentage of 42.9% for Suljovic was respectable he did miss all 6 attempts he had at D20.
- Over the last year they have played each other 4 times with Smith winning 3 of them. The most significant previous meeting was last December in the World Championships when Smith won 3 sets to 1 in the Last 64. Of the 20 legs they played in that match Smith won 11 legs to 9 and there really wasn’t a lot to separate them on overall performance.
- Suljovic has had some excellent runs in TV tournaments this year reaching the semis at the Grand Prix and the quarters at the UK Open and World Matchplay, whilst Smith has also reached a career best semi-final in a TV ranking tournament recently at the Grand Slam.
- Lewis came through a tough encounter against Henderson in the first round. He trailed 3-2 at the break with Henderson taking out a 137 to break the Lewis throw. Adrian responded perfectly breaking back with a 104 checkout and then won the remaining legs to take a 6-3 win.
- Norris’s win over Jenkins had plenty of edgy darts, especially before the break with both players missing a lot of doubles. Norris in fact had the most attempts at a double of any player in the first round. It is worth noting though that in the last 5 legs Norris hit 4 out of 8 double attempts so when it really mattered at the end of the match he wasn’t missing as many.
- This is their first competitive meeting with Norris only having joined the PDC at the start of 2015.
- Wade was one of the heaviest scorers during the first round matches, hitting the T20 on a consistent basis and scoring 4x 180s; his finishing wasn’t what you would really expect though, he was only 6 from 18 on D20/D10.
- The strong part of Benito van de Pas’s performance in his win over Bunting was his finishing; he hit 75% of his attempts at a double which was the highest of any winning player in the first round. In his match against Bunting having led 5-0 he had a very nervy finish, with Bunting getting back to 5-4 and Bunting missing 5 doubles to level at 5-5 before Benito took out a 70 finish for a 21 dart winning leg.
- Wade has only been past the Last 16 stage of a TV ranking tournament once in his last 8 TV ranking tournaments; that was at the World Matchplay this year when he reached the final. In only one of his defeats in those 8 TV ranking tournaments has Wade lost to a player ranked in the top 10 (that was MVG in the Matchplay final).
- Benito van de Pas is aiming to get past the Last 16 stage in a PDC TV tournament for the first time, his best win on the TV in his career so far was at last year’s World Championships when he beat Chisnall in the Last 32.
- Wade has won all 3 of their previous meetings, the most recent match being at the German Darts Masters back in April when Wade won 6-0.
- Chisnall eased through his opening match against Joe Murnan without any fuss. He scored well during the match but most of the work was done on his T19 cover shot, Chisnall only hit 1x 180 during the game.
- There was plenty to admire about the Jamie Lewis performance in round one. His scoring was impressive with 6x 180s (the highest of anyone during round one), Lewis hit a 180 in each of the first 5 legs. He had to survive Thornton missing a dart to win the match but he showed great composure in winning the final 2 legs with his first dart at a double.
- For Lewis the win over Thornton was the second TV ranking tournament in a row in which he has played that he has beaten a player ranked in the top 8 (the previous being Michael Smith at the World Grand Prix).
- They have only played one time previously; this was at a pro tour event in September 2014 when Chisnall won their last 16 encounter 6-2.
- White came through a tight match 6-5 against van Barneveld in the opening round. It was a match where neither player showed a great deal of consistency especially on the doubles. White scored well in patches, although he only hit 1x 180 in the match he did hit 10 scores of over 140.
- Price was one of the most impressive performers on the opening day. He recovered well from being 3-1 down against Klaasen to win 6-4. His combination finishing in particular noteworthy, he took out checkouts of 116, 97, 96, 96 and 88.
- Price is in the Last 16 of a TV ranking tournament for the second time, in July he defeated Adrian Lewis at this stage of the World Matchplay.
- White has only been beaten once from the last six times he has played at the Last 16 stage of a PDC TV ranking tournament. This was when he lost 10-9 to Chisnall at the 2014 Euro Championship.
- They have met 3 times previously with White winning all 3 matches. They all came in 2014 and were all away from the TV stage.
- On paper the 6-2 win for Wright over Beaton was comfortable, but Beaton was first to a double in 5 of the 8 legs and had the chances to make things a lot more difficult for Wright, but as he has proven on many occasions Wright is a man who is capable of taking chances that come his way.
- Whitlock’s game against Dolan wasn’t a great quality match. Dolan missed 17 darts in legs that Whitlock went on to win, the Aussie did finish well himself with 50% on the doubles but will have to play a lot better all round to trouble Wright.
- It has been 8 TV ranking tournaments since Whitlock managed to win 2 matches in a row in one; the last time was at the World Matchplay in 2014.
- Whitlock did win their last meeting which was only in October on the pro tour. Wright has won all of their big recent meetings though; including the final of a Euro Tour event in 2014 and most notably 6 sets to 2 in the semi-finals of the World Championships in December 2013.
- Gurney had the only average of over 100 in the first round in what was a really good performance against Kim Huybrechts. Having lost the opening leg to a 12 darter Gurney proceeded to win the next 5 legs with some excellent scoring being a big reason. Although Huybrechts pulled a leg back Gurney wasn’t going to be denied.
- Anderson’s match against Taylor was always going to be tense over such a short format and so it proved especially after the break. Some missed doubles from Taylor at a crucial time gave Anderson a chance which he took.
- Anderson is of course defending his title this week, he didn’t fail to average over 100 in any of his matches during the tournament last year but averaged 96.6 against Taylor.
- Gurney has beaten Anderson this season; this was by a score of 6-3 back in February on the pro tour in a UK Open qualifier. Anderson has beaten Gurney twice previously, both also on the pro tour.
- MVG’s average of 98 in the first round ended his run of 16 consecutive matches with an average of over 100 on TV. Brown made things very difficult for van Gerwen in their opening round match, he pressured MVG with some big scores at the right time but missed some crucial doubles, van Gerwen has shown time and time again he can pull out victory when under pressure and he did once again.
- Vincent van der Voort never hit the heights of his capabilities in his first round win against Pipe; he did what he needed to do and won comfortably against an opponent who struggled. The highlight of van der Voort’s performance was a 157 which was the highest checkout on the opening day.
- MVG has only failed to get past the Last 16 stage in a TV ranking tournament once since December 2012 (18 tournaments). The last time he did lose in the Last 16 was at this tournament last year when he was beaten by Terry Jenkins.
- Last year was the first time van der Voort managed to get past the first round in this tournament. In his last 16 match against Peter Wright last year he won the last 7 legs of the match after being 5-3 down.
- Their last 7 meetings have all been won by van Gerwen, the last time he lost to van der Voort was in May 2012 though they have had a couple of last leg deciders since then. All of their previous encounters have been over a shorter format than this.
Enjoy the darts!