We often see players go on exceptional runs of form – but the question many people ask is “how long will it last?”
Take Jonny Clayton as a prime example. Over the past six months, he has been on the crest of a wave. But where did it start? I can pin it down to one particular match – victory against James Wade in the quarter-final of the Masters. If you recall, Jonny only qualified for that tournament because the PDC expanded it to twenty-four players. A few weeks before claiming the Masters crown, he’d only reached round three of the World Championships.
On that day, he was beaten by another who is currently playing some brilliant darts and looking every bit a major winner in waiting – Joe Cullen. But Jonny grabbed his opportunity and in that win against Wade his finishing was almost perfect. That said, both players were fantastic, it was an outstanding match. But what was impressive is the way Clayton took full advantage of his surge in form – by taking that belief straight into the Premier League. Not only did he perform amazingly but ahead of the likes of van Gerwen, Wright and Anderson, he won the entire tournament!
Another one breaking all sorts of scoring records lately is José de Sousa. A 127 average in a recent Super Series match, not to mention 112 in the final. Even by his standards that is exceptional. I remember playing José in the 2011 World Championships qualifier at Ally Pally. If you look at the comparison now, it’s chalk and cheese.
The pandemic has created a mindset shift where only the strongest survive. We’ve seen so many new and different winners in the past year but over the course of the next batch of events, these players will be tested even more.
It’s all about how they deal with that pressure when it comes. Dimitri Van den Bergh, Nathan Aspinall & Joe Cullen who I mentioned earlier, are all hugely talented players more than capable of reaching the heights that De Sousa and Clayton have recently.
Naturally, I hope to be in that mix too. So whenever someone hits that turbo button, there will always be the burning question of “how long will it last?”
Lead Image: L Lustig (PDC)
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