This Week – Ally Pally Qualifiers, Players Championship Breakthroughs and Maltese Comebacks.

‘This Week’ occasionally bumps into a problem it can do little about. Since darts first popularity explosion, during the 1970s, the calendar has moved around regularly. The season has expanded and contracted and the split in the early 90s added to the complications.

BRENDAN DOLAN IN ACTION.
PIC; LAWRENCE LUSTIG

One event that is not often given the attention it deserves is the PDPA qualifier. This gives players a last shot at qualifying for Ally Pally. The modern version has offered one or two places since 2010. Only Two years ago this week, Brendan Dolan managed to qualify by reaching the last 2 of the qualifier. The £11,000 he gained in prize money ensured that he was able to retain a place on the Pro Tour.

After a spell of good form which was not rewarded Dolan broke through again, reaching the Qtr finals of the 2019 World Championships this year and won two Pro Tour events. ‘The History Maker’ is back in the top 64 of the rankings and is looking forward to rising the charts again.

The Malta Open also takes place around this time every year. Ten years ago in 2009, it was claimed by Mark Thompson. Mark had had a decent spell in the early stages of the PDC but was struck down by injury. Mark’s 2009 victory was popular with players and supporters alike. Keeping up its reputation, for being a comeback zone, John Boy Walton claimed the title five years ago in 2014. Last year witnessed Jon Micheal claiming a trio, of Malta open wins, he first won in 2004 before regaining the crown in 2012. Based on that pattern he will win again in 2025!

PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS SEMI FINAL
CHRIS DOBEY IN ACTION.
Pic: L Lustig / PDC

The Players Championship Finals will soon provide a rich vein of ‘This Week’ snippets. The Ladbrokes sponsored event moved to the early December spot in 2011/12. It has provided breakthroughs for many players who take advantage of the short format (early on). Scott Rand, Kim Hubrechts, Justin Pipe and yesterday Chris Dobey reached the later stages for the first time in their careers. Oddly all have struggled to maintain their presence at the highest level. Four years ago this week Mensur reached the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time. The popular Austrian has gone from strength to strength since and may break the pattern of high peaks and swift falls. Time will tell if Hollywood Dobey can fulfil his undoubted potential.