The darting superstars would usually have been touring the globe in order to merit a spot in the finals of the World Series, but it seems everything is unconventional during these times.
Although, in Austria, there will be signs of normality with crowds returning for the first event live on ITV since lockdown.
So what can we expect from the 24-player field that includes fan favourite and Queen of the Palace Fallon Sherrock?
Yes, he may have reached a semi-final and won an event in the first three days, but getting beat 6-0 and a run to the quarters which seen him embroiled in some substandard matches in the final two, will not have done any favours to his confidence and might have left the Dutchman thinking ‘maybe it’s not the darts.’
MVG is set to meet Premier League table-topper Glen Durrant, who has a superb record against the world number one, if newly-crowned Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh doesn’t upset the odds in what is the pick of the first round ties on Friday night.
All eyes have to be on Gerwyn Price. The Welshman has stated he struggles to get motivated without a crowd, but on the evidence of this week, he couldn’t be more wrong.
Price was fortunate to win on day four, surviving four match darts but it was the way he went through the field in the final event that excited everyone. A 104 average for the day saw him top the order of merit in some style.
The Iceman adding to his two Grand Slam titles shouldn’t be too far away with the form he has shown in the last year and if he thinks a crowd could enhance his performance levels Price is very much the man to beat this weekend.
The bottom half of the draw is tough with world champion Peter Wright and ever-dangerous Nathan Aspinall lurking, though Price fears no one and when asked who his biggest threat in Austria would be, he replied “myself.”
Another player very impressive in the Autumn Series was unseeded Joe Cullen. The Rockstar beat Price and Aspinall to reach the final on day two, two players in his quarter of the draw.
Cullen seems to play his best darts outside of the UK, producing the goods on the European tour over the past few years. And with his best mate Devon Petersen getting all the plaudits for his heroics during the week, he’ll no doubt be wanting to put on a show.
Perhaps the best player in the top half of the draw is James Wade. Flying under the radar since picking up a title in the Summer Series, the Machine finally came to life with a good run on the Autumn Series’ final day, pipped to a semi-final spot by the eventual champion in a last leg decider.
The 2018 finals champion remains adamant he can add to his collection of 9 televised titles and to average no lower than 95 in the Autumn Series is good enough form to concur.
Hopefully the kick up the backside Wade gave himself on Wednesday in Germany preserves the same mentality going into the World Series and facing the winner of Sherrock v Jeff Smith has to be considered a great chance to kickstart the tournament.
- Price 7/1 Skybet
- Wade 40/1 Skybet
- Cullen 100/1 Betway