Could this year finish on a high for Daryl Gurney?
2017 was certainly something of a breakout year for Daryl Gurney, the Northern Irishman currently sitting 5th in the PDC Order of Merit. However, rankings can sometimes be misleading in darts, certainly when it comes to pinpointing the form players. Gurney is a good example of that, owing much of his high position - above the likes of Mensur Suljoivc and Simon Whitlock - to a stellar year in 2017.
Darts rankings are based on prize money across two years, so they don't often reflect if you are struggling at the oche at the current time. Gurney's best major tournament finish in 2018 was a fourth-round exit at the UK Open, although he did finish 5th in the Premier League Darts. Other big tournaments have been dotted with first and second round exits.
2017 was golden year for Gurney
That's a far cry from a vintage 2017 for Gurney. The crowning glory for the Derry-born man was a win in the World Grand Prix, by far his most prestigious title to date. That win handed Gurney a cheque for a cool 100,000 pound, but also launched him into the affections of the darts-loving public. To be fair, the signs were good for Gurney all year, reaching the semi-finals in the UK Open, European Championship and World Matchplay.
That remarkable consistency that defined Gurney's play in 2017 seems to have abandoned him. So, the pertinent question is: can he bounce back? The short answer is 'yes', of course, he can. Players can perhaps get lucky in a single tournament, but to show quality throughout a sustained period of time suggests Gurney has much more to give.
Huge odds for Gurney at 2019 PDC World Championship
He's going to be an interesting player to watch, especially as eyes start to turn towards the PDC World Championships in December. Gurney's odds have fluctuated with bookmakers, but he can now be found at a whopping 50/1 with Betway. Not bad, considering any player can be backed with tlatest free bet from Betway.
Of course, while Gurney might represent the value bet for some, he is by no means the favourite with bookmakers. That honour, of course, goes to Michael Van Gerwen, who comes in at even money. Gary Anderson (5/1) and defending champion Rob Cross (13/2) are also among the favourites. It looks like it is going to feature record prize money too, with a purse of 2,500,000 pound touted for the tournament, an increase of 700,000 pound on last year.
Not clear what issues are impacting Gurney's game
It's clear that Gurney is going to have to raise his game if he wants a hefty slice of that prize-money. Often in darts, we can pinpoint what's going wrong tactically, but it might be more of a psychological issue with Gurney. The irony, however, is that he has dug deep in several major tournaments to pull wins out of the bag this season.
One must remember that at 32-year-old, Gurney is still young by the standards of a darts player. Phil Taylor won his last World Championship aged 52. By that measure, Gurney has a couple of decades to put a few of his own in the trophy cabinet. Could his first be as early as the upcoming event on the 13th December? It wouldn't be a surprise.