The Cyclone, Mickey Mansell to his friends, is one of the nicest people on the darts circuit and has had many an impressive moment on the Pro Tour. But why did he suddenly blow so hard after such a calm spell?
One of the best things about having the services of, ‘Darts’ Official Statistician’, Christopher Kempf is that it allows Darts World to combine his unsurpassed numerical knowledge with the Darts World teams long-standing knowledge of many of the game’s other elements.
Here, Ochepedia, as Christopher is known, looks at the numbers behind Michael’s superb and, for many, unexpected return to the darting limelight. Our ‘Coach’ has known and watched Mickey for almost a decade and provides the ‘behind the numbers‘ comments:
Ochepedia – Even today, it seems so unlikely that Mickey Mansell could have won Players Championship 8, blasting his way through a talented field of World Champions and top-16 players to claim his first PDC title. After all, this is the same Mickey Mansell who has not even made a quarterfinal for the better part of four years. The £10,000 earned by the Northern Irishman in his debut win, while all but securing a tour card for the 2019 season, does not even put Mansell into the top 64 in the world.
(Coach – Mickey is a superbly talented player, he combines precision with a very patient, calm, and unruffled style. Not much on the board unsettles him and he uses very little energy during his matches.)
How, then, do we account for the fact that Mansell dispatched his opposition by a combined score of 42-11, never allowing any opponent to throw match darts? How does a player so unheralded make such quick work of four Premier League alumni?
The answer is consistency. Of those 42 legs won by the Clonoe Cyclone, 39 were finished in 18 darts or less. Almost irrespective of his foes’ output, Mansell’s average remained in the mid-90s for leg after leg as the man from County Tyrone dished out 15 and 17 darters, hour after hour. Moreover, if his record of 19 checkouts in 24 attempts (79%) in which he had 3 darts at a double placed him at the level of the world’s top players, his achievement of 23 2-dart checkouts (3-39 odd, 41-98, 100) in 35 attempts placed him well above it.
(Coach: Michael has played almost everyone on the tour over his nine or so years in the PDC. They all know he can play at a very high level and he has defeated most if not all of them before. However, they were, perhaps, used the sub-par Cyclone that has been blowing somewhat weakly for a couple of years before. This event saw Mickey play as he used to.)
All of the exciting and statistically notable features of darts – the 180s, the high checkouts, the 11- and 12-dart legs – are entirely superfluous to a player who plays with such consistency. And in fact, Mansell had zero finishes of 101 or greater, resulting from 30 attempts; only 3 legs in the tournament won in four visits to the board, and a mere 11 180s scored in 53 legs. Perhaps a few stylish visits would have boosted his average or given the commentators something to laud, but one cannot win by a larger margin than a 6-0 whitewash, and Mansell had three of those on Sunday. What need had he to run up the score even further?
(Coach: Once Michael gets moving, and settled he can be very difficult to stop, it takes someone who can outscore him for a long spell and knock him out of his ‘zone’. That day no one managed both!)
Mickey Mansell’s triumph may be the clearest indication yet seen of the effectiveness of 140s in winning legs. The second treble hit in a visit to the board (yielding a 140) gives the biggest boost, in terms of number of darts needed to reach a finish, a double, or win the leg, to a player’s fortunes. The third treble is, of course, always welcome, but the extra benefit tends to be wasted in a leg that the player will win anyway if he hits a 140.
Even 100s, which Mansell also recorded at a prodigious rate, when backed up by solid combination finishing, put just enough pressure on opponents by limiting the number and increasing the difficulty of finishes they can attempt. With 52 100s and 52 140s in 53 legs – very nearly one of each per leg – Mansell wrung every last bit of effectiveness out of each treble scored. Rarely does a player record an average of nearly 107 with his first 9 darts of the leg whilst hitting so few 180s, as Mansell did on Sundays – but if so few 180s resulted in a leg difference of +31 for the day, they were not missed.
(Coach: Now this makes real sense, I have always advocated for the ‘two out of three’ type of approach. It suits Mansell as he is not a show pony who hits 180s in bunches.)
If you like your darts fast and furious, replete with 110+ averages and 170 checkouts, Mickey Mansell may not be the player for you. In that respect, normal service will resume on the PDC circuit once Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross return for the Premier League and for the German Darts Open. But the fact that Mansell is not the best player in the world is perhaps even more a testament to his achievement in Barnsley this past Sunday. The world number 66 managed to win a tournament by the widest possible margin with a minimum of effort – a feat almost without precedent in the current era of professional darts.
(Coach: Those of us who know Mickey and witnessed his efforts on the Pro-Tour, and during the very first Q-School, are seldom surprised by anything he achieves. His patience and resilience are exemplary and it is always pleasing to see him rewarded!)
- Intro: DW Editorial Team
- Italics: Coach.
- Pix: PDC