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Who to watch in 2022?

The year has started with a new World Champion with Snakebite, Peter Wright winning earlier in January. Something we predicted in our last blog in mid-December. So, who will surprise on the PDC stage in 2022? In this brief article we’ll analyse the movers and shakers and why we reckon they’re likely to win the odd major or two in ’22. After all, one has already done so with Joe Cullen taking out his first major title by winning the Masters just days ago.

Of course, 2022 will be full of titles wins by the big three, Gerwyn Price, Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen. But even these three can and will be beaten again throughout this year as the recent Masters tournament has already shown. Gerwyn now has a tendency to drift into the 5’s at the wrong time. The weight of being the current World Champion will be tough at times for Peter. Then there’s MVG’s hot and cold form where he has struggled to recapture the unbeatable form from that long five year period, 2014-2019. Add to that a surge in form by many players on the circuit, both young and old. Even the best three players on the planet will struggle at times throughout this coming year.

So, who are the ones to watch?

Michael Smith. Excuse the obvious here, but Michael has changed one thing recently that has lifted his game well above the level that has enabled him to achieve a seriously good career over the past decade. His attitude. During the 2022 World Champs, Michael was put under pressure on numerous occasions, made mistakes, missed out-shots as all competitive dart players have had to deal with. A few months back, Michael would have snarled, said something or shown his anger when retrieving his darts. We saw none of that at the 2022 World Championships. It shows he has worked on his mental game and the results? Well, he made it to the final with some saying he should have won it! If he continues with this “attitude”, he will win a major title or two this year.

Ryan Searle. The cat was let out of the bag back in November when post-game, Gary Anderson divulged that “in practise Ryan is one of the best dart players going” (I can’t write a Scottish accent unfortunately). A week later we saw Ryan lose the Players Championship Finals to Peter Wright by a slim 11-10 margin. If you didn’t notice then, his showing at the World Champs and Masters recently shows he is making that transition from the floor to the big stage. We believe “Heavy Metal” Ryan Searle is one to watch in 2022.

Joe Cullen. For a guy who is one of the only pro dart players that throws over his shoulder rather than under the eye. He proved with his Masters win in late January this year that technique doesn’t always have to conform and if you are comfortable, throw the “should do” rule book out and play how you are comfortable. The ex-postman has already shown that he is one to watch after his first televised title and we expect him to repeat that feat again this year, or at least be in the mix.

Callan Rydz. Callan failed to even win a PDC tour card back in 2019. Fast forward just under three years and Callan can add quarter finalist - World Championship to his fast-growing darting achievements. The man nicknamed “the Riot” with the comb over hairdo doesn’t look like a professional dart player, but he has the game and temperament to become one of the hottest darting commodities in town. It’s hard to believe that Rydz’ first pro tour title was less than a year ago in late February 2021 in the Players Championships over another currently hot player, Jonny Clayton. Rydz’s darts in the last six months have notched up another level. Watch out for “the Riot” this year as he will upset many top players on the circuit and is one to watch in this list by Bullseye Darts.

OK, one more. Who can go past the Welshman, Jonny Clayton? He has the all-round game with big, consistent scoring, accurate finishing and even has the wood over his compatriot, friend and current world number one, Gerwyn Price when they meet head to head. His reaching the last 16 in the recent World Championship was probably under par with what both he and the punters thought. But this guy is the real deal and will become a World Champion one day. Forget the fact he’s in his late 40’s, he will be around for some years to come. We think Jonny is set for another stellar year and one that may well end on the most positive note come New Year’s 2022/23. Watch out, ‘cause here comes Jonny!

Straight arrows everyone.

Paul Webber

Owner – Bullseye Darts


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