The annual celebration of PDC exploits takes place on Monday, where winners of awards such as ‘Player of the Year’ and ‘Best Newcomer’ are commended for their achievements across the season, as a new one beckons in just a few weeks time. Ben from The Maximum and Darts Planet TV joins dartsweb to discuss who deserves the gongs this year.
PDC Player of the Year
Ben: There are so many players who had an outstanding year on the circuit with Mensur Suljovic winning the Danish Darts Open and German Masters and reaching the World Matchplay final, and Gerwyn Price winning both the International Darts Open and the Grand Slam of Darts. But, for me, you can’t look past Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen. Anderson – a former back-to-back World Champion – had a terrific year in winning both the UK Open and World Matchplay, while van Gerwen had a fairly quiet year in the televised events, barring the Premier League, though, the Dutchman did win 19 events on the tour and his third World Championship crown. Van Gerwen has to, and will win this award, in my opinion.
DW: Despite there being plenty ‘Most Improved’ players this year when it comes to TV events, and a broader spread of winners on the big stage, I too think you can’t look past Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson. MvG takes it for me given his overall consistency on the circuit but had Gando have won the World Championship, I think he would have had the edge or, perhaps the two would have shared the award as they did back in January 2016.
PDC’s Best Newcomer
DW: There is one name that springs to mind when I think of players who really emerged in 2018 and that’s Jeffrey de Zwaan. He went into the World Championship with many tipping him to knock Rob Cross out and you can’t knock his efforts; he pushed the 2018 champion to five sets and posted what went on to be the second-highest average of the whole tournament, despite losing. He beat the man who posted the only average better than him in the Worlds, world number one Michael van Gerwen, twice on TV, in the UK Open and the World Matchplay respectively and also won a Players Championship event, all on his debut year on the circuit. Not too shabby, huh?
Ben: This award comes down to whether the PDC class a ‘newcomer’ as someone who won their tour card that year, or someone who is a debutant on the circuit. If they class it as a debutant on the circuit; Danny Noppert wins the award. Otherwise, Nathan Aspinall takes the award. Stockport-based Aspinall not only won his first senior title, but also went on to reach the World Championship semi-finals on debut.
Televised Performance of the Year
Ben: Gary Anderson vs Mensur Suljovic – in July’s World Matchplay final. Anderson denied a 104.43 average and 14 maximums from Austria’s Suljovic, coming out a 21-19 winner in a World Matchplay classic that will live long in the history books.
DW: I can’t disagree with that. Although, I did enjoy the finals of the Grand Slam and the Players Championship Finals – both had plenty of drama (and even some needle in the former’s case!).
Pro Tour Player of the Year
DW: For me, the award should go to someone who has particularly excelled on the floor. And, for me, that’s Ian White. Although his TV performances have become a bit of a monkey on his back, his record in 2018 is very impressive; he has won two Players Championships, one European Tour, reached two finals, five Pro Tour semi-finals and four quarter-finals. Therefore, he deserves an accolade to celebrate his achievements.
Ben: This is the hardest out of them all. Michael van Gerwen won over half of the European Tour events, and topped both the Pro Tour and European Tour Order of Merits, but Ian White sat at the pinnacle of the Players Championship Order of Merit and won for the first time on the European Tour stage. Max Hopp also deserves a mention after winning his maiden PDC title at the German Darts Open in April before the Players Championship 19 title in Dublin later in the year. Ian White takes the award for me, despite van Gerwen’s dominance.
Young Player of the Year
Ben: This is another award that comes down to two players. Luke Humphries – the 2017 and 2018 Development Tour table-topper, and back-to-back World Youth Champion Dimitri van den Bergh. Humphries won three Development Tour events in 2018, en route to topping the Development Tour Order of Merit for a second successive year, while van den Bergh won the World Youth Championship for the second year in succession, and reached the final of the German Darts Masters in front of a 21,000-strong crowd in Gelsenkirchen. Humphries slightly edges the award for me after his sublime season, with the Belgian narrowly missing out.
DW: This one is an award which could be long debated. The PDC definition of ‘young’ seems dubious but I would too have to go with Luke Humphries. His run to the quarter-finals of the PDC World Championship demonstrated his ability to battle it out on the big stage and I think we should be very excited about his potential. DvdB also had an impressive year but perhaps fell a little short of expectations after a strong end to 2017 led many to believe he would kick on further in 2018.
Image Credits: Michael van Gerwen’s Twitter, Sporting Life and Omroep West
Thanks to Ben