Ones to Watch!
Well with the World Championships over and preparations under way for the 2012 PDC season, and Q School for newcomers, we at Let’s Play Knockout Darts thought it is perhaps the ideal time to have look at a few players to watch out for in 2012.
There will be many questions asked and answered over the next 12 months or so, will Kim Huybrechts & Dave Chiznall keep up their superb start’s to PDC life, who from 2010 & 2011 entries will kick on like Justin Pipe has done from the 2009 intake. Which youth player will step up to senior level without delay, who from the Q school will make an impact and who will be the surprise package in 2012? Lets see if we can have a look at the likely candidates and answer a few of those queries?
Ian `Diamond’ White
The Diamond could be very impressive in 2012, after all it is the Queens Diamond Jubilee!, this will be the first year when Ian is able to play darts and relax. His ability should shine through. His late start in 2010 and a highly pressured year last year, with the usual financial worries and additional health and other distractions, meant that only in the last part of last year ( & in the UK Open qualifiers) have the true skills of Ian been on display. He is a superb talent that we see close up week in week out and it cannot be hidden for much longer!
Prediction – More major qualifications for Diamond and a sharp rise up the rankings.
Let’s Play Knockout Darts are the unofficial UK fan club of this superb Northern Irish darting talent. One of the best throws to watch in the game and one of the nicest people to go with it! We had high hopes for Mickey during 2011 but a slowish start in which he could not attend all events did not help. However those who watch closely will have seen the signs, narrowly failing to make the Grand Prix, and getting close to The World Championships, show that even from a late start Mickey’s talent nearly pulled him through. The experience he will gain (and £’s) from The World Cup with his good friend Brendon Dolan will stand him in good stead and could be the start of a great year.
Prediction - A bumper year for Mickey: Qualification for at least 3 majors and a few TV wins, the ensuing ranking rise could be dramatic.
Nigel `The Undertaker’ Hayden
Nigel is a tremendous darter, and was on the verge of an England call up when he switched to The PDC two years ago. Despite starting with a bang on his first weekend in pro darts, reaching a pro tour semi and generally upsetting the apple cart! It would be fair to say he has not kicked on as much I would have thought. Yet the performance against Lewis and other good results (grand slam qualification & performance) together with very strong floor form, in the 2nd half of last year, bode really well for Nigel to make big strides in 2012. With a few background issues resolved and strong support behind him it will be very good to watch I suspect.
Prediction – A return to the real form and talent possessed by Nigel, a strong run in at least one major and qualifications everywhere!
This tremendous talent has had a pretty tough spell, mainly his own issue. But I suspect that it is over and it will be 2012 that really makes a difference to Aaron, with MVG moving out of the Youth Tour now, Aaron will be the senior man along with Micheal Smith. Aaron big game experience and what seems like a new maturity will make all the difference. His form toward the back end of 2011 was very strong in PDC, Youth and Open events. For me his wins in both The PDPA World Qualifier & earlier The Colin Monk Classic say a lot about him.
Prediction – A great year and a consolidation of a future career, the only question is does Aaron want it? I suspect the answer is yes!
Mark `Mile High’ Hylton
Despite a tough end to 2011 the achievements of Hylton over the past two years are hard to exaggerate, to qualify for everything and to play on TV as if he had been born to do it is one thing. But at times last year the real `Mile High’ floor game was visible as well. 20 consequetive legs against 4 different players is not achieved often at this level! The lessons learned form defeats at the end of a long year will I am sure be learned and yet more progress is to be made. The really important fact may well be that Hylton is beginning to believe in himself. Mark has long been one of the best hidden talents in the game I suspect that it will no longer be hidden.
Prediction – More rankings climbing for Mile High, he should make even more majors this year. Another long run in a major and if qualified another strong Grand Prix, The only question here is – just how high?
Dennis `Smiffy’ Smith
For all the talk about it being a young mans game many 40+ players who approach things well have huge experience and are majorly talented are proving the youth conquers argument wrong! Dennis had his most successful couple of years for a while between 2010 and now! He is totally professional, dedicated and sorted in life. He is beginning to find that class that saw him reach major Semi’s and Qtrs on a regular basis. It seems people forget that Dennis was a world & Matchplay semi finalist in the same year and was once ranked in the top 5! His form has been very strong in patches over this year and defeat to Simon will have hurt, expect The Great Crusader, as he is known in our house , to come back strong. Anyone doubting the possibility of darting comeback just think Richie Burnett!
Prediction – Additional major, plus a run in one will see Smiffy rise in the ranking this coming year!
Q School Newcomer
The tradition of the newcomer making a impact has to be done via the Q school these days, instead of taking the easy route and picking a big name out of the list I suggest following these 3 guys and see how they do:
Johnny Haines: Class Act from Smiffy Country, quite a few of us who attend loads of opens and watch the results have been waiting for Johnny to give it a go for ages, sure to get lots of support from the Oxford/Swindon posse who seem to be emulating the West Midland guys of a couple of years ago. Johnny often wins or is in the later stages of big opens , has played in The Peoples Darts Final and is scared of no one.
Andrew Gilding: fast developing player from the BDO scene, Gilding has played and beaten most of the best the BDO have to offer in the last 2 years and took out 3 PDC pro’s in a row in the UK Open this year, his dangerous dark horse run was ended by `Mile High’ partly due to the fact we were aware of Andrew and his skills! Once andrew gets into his stride he can be very difficult indeed to stop and posses the game to go a long way. Does he possess the other qualities needed?
Pete Hughes: For those who like a dark horse another great chap we have gotten to know from our own events. Pete has had a quality year and is relatively unknown as yet. However his game is developing quickly and who knows? An outside bet but one worth the eye I think.
Keep a look out for an in depth look at The Q School coming soon.