The Form Guide: Humphries on top ahead of World Darts Championship
PDC Stats Analyst Christopher Kempf assesses the top ten PDC stars - based on their last 200 legs played - ahead of the 2023/24 Paddy Power World Darts Championship at London's Alexandra Palace.
#1 Averages - Luke Humphries
#1 OChE - Luke Humphries
#1 Doubles - Ryan Joyce
#1 171-180 - Luke Humphries & Gian van Veen
#1 99, 101+ Checkout - Damon Heta
On recent form, Luke Humphries - now a three-time ranking TV event champion - is the runaway favourite to win the 2024 World Darts Championship, and has incredible momentum on his side as he seeks to win his first World Championship crown.
An intimidating 101.87 average over his last 200 legs puts him three points clear of the PDC's #2 player on form, Gerwyn Price, and comes accompanied by 80 maxima over 200 legs played as a part of a 13-match streak of televised wins.
His OChE rating of 68.79 is the highest recorded by any player in 2023 and represents a stunning 11.7 point increase over the course of just one month.
With three quarter-final finishes already at Alexandra Palace, Humphries may have a semi-final rematch with Michael van Gerwen in his future - but current performance trends suggest that it will be one that 'Cool Hand' will win handily.
Despite recording the fifth-highest televised average in PDC history and his tenth televised nine-dart leg at last month’s Players Championship Finals, Michael van Gerwen has only improved his average by less than a point since October.
His OChE rating and doubles accuracy are all somewhat below par for a player averaging 98.6 - the reigning Premier League champion is ranked only 24th in the PDC for his checkout percentage.
Moreover, the Dutchman would win 2.5% fewer legs against ProTour opponents than Gary Anderson, who has a lower average than the world number two.
As his Players Championship Finals defeat indicates – Van Gerwen’s flashes of brilliance (such as the nine-darter) do little to win him matches, and he has been up until now unaccustomed to regularly encountering opponents who do not hesitate to take advantage of his missed doubles.
Two players who recorded impressive averages in losses to Luke Humphries this past month - Rob Cross and Ryan Searle - have shown themselves to be players to watch as the World Championship approaches.
With the exception of Humphries, these two Englishmen are the two most improved players in the PDC over the past month.
Searle was clinical on the outer ring in Minehead and currently ranks second for his completion percentage among Tour Card Holders, and he combines this proficiency with a 96.55 average, his highest of 2023 and a two-point increase relative to October.
Cross, meanwhile, had the misfortune of setting a record for highest average in a leg-play TV final at the Grand Slam, while losing at least two-thirds of the legs.
Against the average ProTour opponent, however, such efforts would likely win him almost 62% of the legs contested - a 6.3 point increase in OChE in a month now puts him ahead of every other World Champion.
Where does the defending champion Michael Smith stand on current form? On a 95.66 average for his last 200 legs - respectable - but by no means setting high expectations for a successful title defence.
This represents a 1.5 point decline relative to October, just behind the #29 qualifier on the ProTour Order of Merit, Jules van Dongen.
The upcoming World Darts Championship is an even more important juncture for Peter Wright, who stands to lose most of his £500,000 Order of Merit prize from his 2021/22 success.
Wright is in even worse shape than Smith, ranked 15th in the PDC on averages with nothing particular to recommend him as prospective 2024 champion that could not be said about Gian van Veen or Ryan Joyce.
From 2011 to the present day, only nine players have appeared in a World Championship final - this looks to be the year that upsets that striking continuity in darts' biggest match.
*OChE (Ordinal Checkout Efficiency) explained:
OChE is a metric designed to evaluate the efficiency at which players convert their averages into legs won.
The statistic is the % of legs a player would expect to win on the ProTour, calculated from a weighted average of 4,5, 6 & 7 visit checkout rates.