With the brief hiatus in the darting calendar, Josh’s Dartistry has made his 10 darting predictions for 2016. Have a read and see if you agree!
1. Phil Taylor to end his major drought with Matchplay glory.
Phil Taylor’s last major TV title came 14 months ago, at the 2014 Grand Slam of Darts. This is Taylor’s longest drought since winning his first World title 21 years ago, and this period without silverware would have been simply unfathomable just a few years ago.
However, Taylor has fallen to fourth in the world following Adrian Lewis’ run to the World Championship final, and ‘The Power’ faces a defining year in 2016, which may ultimately determine whether he still has the tools to compete consistently at the very highest-level.
However, the statistics illustrate that Taylor is still performing at an extremely high-level. He averaged 108 in departing the UK Open quarter-finals to Peter Wright, 103 in losing to James Wade at the World Matchplay semi-finals and 106 in losing to Adrian Lewis in the European Championship quarter-finals.
Taylor’s scoring remains as potent as ever; the main concern is his doubling under pressure, particularly the D8/D16 segments. If the 55-year-old can regain his ruthless proficiency on the doubles, he will almost certainly return to the winner’s circle once more.
I think Taylor will break his major duck at this year’s World Matchplay. Taylor has a wonderful affinity with the Winter Gardens, until his defeat to James Wade last year, he had won it seven times in succession. Over such a long legs format, Taylor will be extremely difficult to beat if he’s firing on all cylinders.
2. Raymond van Barneveld to win a major TV title.
Raymond van Barneveld, another legend of the game, is another man whom I fancy to win a TV major in 2016. The Five-time world champion enjoyed a tremendous end to 2015, reaching the semi-finals in both the Grand Slam and the World Championships, which has seen him regain his spot in the world’s top ten.
In his run to the last four at last month’s World Championships, Barney defeated world number one Michael van Gerwen in a classic last 16 tie, whilst also defeating the St Helen’s duo of Stephen Bunting and Michael Smith in deciding-sets. The Dutchman performed consistently well for much of the year, and was unfortunate to run into inspired performances on a number of occasions.
However, Raymond still reached the Unibet Masters final, the Premier League semi-finals, the Sydney Masters semi-finals, the Auckland Masters final, the Grand Slam semi-finals and the World Championship semi-finals. The Dutchman was knocking on the door of major success in 2015, and if he can maintain the form he showed at Alexandra Palace, the Barney Army have a good cause to be optimistic heading into 2016.
3. Jeffrey de Zwaan to enjoy a breakthrough year.
I’ve just mentioned Raymond van Barneveld, and now the focus turns to his young protégé, 19-year-old Dutch star Jeffrey de Zwaan. De Zwaan, along with his compatriots Mike Zuydwijk and Dirk van Duijvenbode, are mentored by van Barneveld, but Jeffrey enjoyed an excellent debut year in the PDC.
After claiming a tour-card on the opening day of Q-School twelve months ago, De Zwaan went on to claim a number of notable scalps on the Pro Tour, beating the likes of Phil Taylor, Michael Smith, Stephen Bunting, Jelle Klaasen and Steve Beaton.
Jeffrey made his PDC TV debut at the European Championships, where he was beaten 6-2 by Michael van Gerwen in the first-round, but he made his mark at Alexandra Palace, where he took world number eight Michael Smith to a sudden-death leg in an epic first-round clash.
‘The Black Cobra’ is a prodigious talent, but he also appears to be very grounded and mature. The key for Jeffrey is the European Tour. If he can compete regularly in these events, not only will he gain further experience, he’ll also be in pole position to qualify for more TV majors. Remember the name; because De Zwaan is the future.
4. Mensur Suljovic to break into the world’s top 16.
Austria’s Mensur Suljovic enjoyed a magnificent year in 2015 . He began the year outside of the world’s top 40, yet he ended it inside the world’s top 20. ‘The Gentle’ had only competed sporadically on the Pro Tour in previous years, but he participated full-time on the circuit in 2015, to great effect.
Suljovic, who is a member of ‘Darts-control’, reached the semi-finals in two European Tour events, whilst he displayed tremendous consistency throughout the year, particularly in major ranking tournaments. In his first three ranking majors of 2015, Suljovic reached the quarter-finals of the UK Open and World Matchplay, before reaching the last four in October’s World Grand-Prix.
Mensur then reached his second major semi-final at the Players Championship finals. The Austrian made it through to the last 16 of the World Championships, but his hopes were ended by eventual finalist Adrian Lewis.
Suljovic doesn’t get the recognition he deserves for his performances, perhaps due to his unorthodox action or his methodical style, but he’s unquestionably the most improved performer over the last twelve months.
He has the capability to beat the world’s best; as he illustrated by beating world champion Gary Anderson at the Matchplay in July. I see absolutely no reason why Suljovic cannot continue his resurgence in 2016, and because he’s defending very little prize money next year, he has a wonderful opportunity to break into the elite top 16.
5. Terry Jenkins to fall outside the world’s top 16 (But he will be back!)
This is a prediction I hope is incorrect, but I think Terry Jenkins’ top 16 spot could be in serious jeopardy this year. Terry undoubtedly has the tenacity and ability to bounce back if this scenario arises, but ‘The Raging Bull’ will have to perform superbly this year to retain his top 16 status throughout the year.
The catalyst behind Jenkins’ longevity and success has been his consistency. Whilst his determination and desire remains steadfast, his consistency has wavered in recent months. He has hit a concerning amount of single 1s and single 5s in the last few tournaments; whilst his usually proficient doubling has been found wanting.
In 2014, the 9-time major finalist reached two major finals, at the UK Open and the European Championships. As a consequence, Terry will be defending a sizeable amount of prize money on the OOM. He’s currently ranked 11th in the world, but it’s extremely congested between positions 10-17, with just £26,000 separating eight players. Can Terry retain his top 16 spot in 2016? It will be tough, although he’s certainly capable.
6. We will see a 120+ average on TV in 2016.
In my 2015 darting predictions, I claimed that I was adamant we would see a 120+ average on television. This didn’t quite materialise; the highest average posted on TV last year was delivered by Michael van Gerwen, who averaged 116.90 in his 7-0 demolition of James Wade in the Premier League.
Players are regularly threatening the 120+ average on the Pro Tour, and I think it’s only a matter of time until Taylor’s record 118.66 TV average is surpassed. It’s distinctly unlikely that this will be broken over the longer format, but in the best of 11 legs sprint, or over a Premier League type format, I genuinely believe that the 120+ average will be broken in 2016.
7. Glen Durrant will bounce back with vengeance in 2016.
Glen Durrant suffered World Championship heartbreak at the Lakeside for the second consecutive year. After losing in an epic semi-final to Martin Adams in 2015, ‘Duzza’ entered this year’s event as the overwhelming favourite. Nevertheless, he was beaten 5-4 in the quarter-finals by eventual winner Scott Waites, despite ‘Duzza’ leading 4-2.
Glen was clearly devastated after this defeat, as he seemed destined to win his maiden Lakeside crown, particularly due to the early departure of 2nd seed Martin Adams. However, Durrant recovered magnificently from his 2015 setback, and I have no doubt the Teessider will respond magnificently once more.
There was speculation suggesting that Durrant may join the PDC, but Glen has committed to the BDO, and he’ll be hoping to replicate his dominance from 2015, as he’ll be defending his World Masters and Zuiderduin Masters’ crowns.
‘Duzza’ is a top-quality player; he has the prolific scoring power, but he’s also clinical in the finishing department. Bouncing back from his Lakeside disappointment will be difficult, but he has the necessary mental fortitude to recover, and I think the BDO world number one will eclipse his major tally from last year.
8. Martin Adams will return to the Grand Slam.
Martin Adams’ Grand Slam debut was one of the biggest darting stories of 2015. Having declined previous invitations on multiple occasions, ‘Wolfie’ finally accepted the invite last year, and his presence gave the event a massive boost.
Many people expressed uncertainty about how Martin would react to the more boisterous PDC crowds, but he embraced the atmosphere, and the crowd’s subsequently took ‘Wolfie’ to their hearts.
He also performed superbly well; beating Ian White, Jelle Klaasen and Steve Beaton in an extremely testing group phase, before losing 10-9 to Kim Huybrechts in a pulsating last 16 tie. He admitted, if offered the chance to return in 2016, he would relish the prospect, and I’m sure the PDC would welcome Adams back with open arms.
9. Peter Wright to be the next new major winner.
Peter Wright’s wait for his elusive first TV major title goes on, but judging by his performances in 2015, he won’t have to wait much longer. ‘Snakebite’ reached two TV finals, losing in the UK Open and World Series of Darts Finals to Michael van Gerwen on both occasions.
Wright also reached the final of the Japan Darts Masters, losing 8-7 to Phil Taylor, whilst he also reached the World Matchplay semi-finals and the European Championship semi-finals. The Scot was thwarted on both occasions by MvG once more, but he pushed the world number one in three of their four big TV clashes in 2015.
Wright has often experimented too frequently with his equipment, but he appears confident and settled with his current set-up, and he possesses all the necessary attributes to win major titles.
His scoring power has improved immeasurably, but more importantly, his composure under pressure is admirable. His development and progression over the last 2/3 years has been mightily impressive, and I think Peter will cross the winning line during 2016.
10. Holland to win the World Cup of Darts.
Last year I predicted that Holland would win the World Cup of Darts, but the duo of Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld were ousted by Scotland in the semi-finals. They had looked imperious in their previous matches, but van Barneveld was taken unwell throughout the semi-final tie, which essentially extinguished Dutch hopes.
MvG and Barney look set to represent the Dutch for the third year in succession in 2016, as van Barneveld jumped above Vincent van der Voort on the Order of Merit following his semi-final appearance at the Ally Pally. Michael and Raymond, whilst being fierce rivals, are also very good friends, and will be looking to replicate their 2014 World Cup heroics.
They are likely to be 3rd seeds, behind Scottish pair Gary Anderson and Peter Wright, and England’s duo of Adrian Lewis and Phil Taylor. However, van Gerwen is the world’s number one, whilst van Barneveld is a top quality player and a serious danger, irrespective of his ranking position. I think it will be ‘Double Dutch’ in Frankfurt in 2016!
Do you agree with my 10 Darting Predictions for 2016? Please let me know by leaving your thoughts below. Alternatively, if you have any predictions you would like to share, I’d love to hear them!