Wayne Mardle’s five to follow across the darts season in 2021

With the first major of the darting year and opening Players Championship in the books, Wayne Mardle has picked out his names to follow across the season, starting with someone he believes will become the latest new major champion.

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I’m getting a little excited!, in under a months time I’ll be having something meaningful to do. The Premier League of darts commences early April!I’ll actually put on proper clothes rather than track suit bottoms and a hoodie. I might even change my undercrackers. SUPER!

Krzysztof Ratajski

I’m expecting the Polish Eagle to have a big year in 2021. Of the five players on this list, Ratajski is the one who is already established in the world’s top 16.

Polish Eagle to soar

Ratajski has won eight PDC ranking titles over the last two years and produced a run to the quarter-finals of this year’s UK Open – equalling his best ever showing in a televised major.

I already mentioned him in my 2021 major predictions last week.

I’m in his corner this year, I was in James Wade’s corner last year and he got close a couple of times. Ratajski is this year’s James Wade.

I love his game and he’s got that fight and the ability. He’s now experienced enough at the back end of events; he’s won events and now it’s time to shine in the biggies. I like him over a long format, I really do. I think that he’s got that intensity about his game, and big things are going to happen.

Alan Soutar

The Scottish star enjoyed a hugely impressive weekend at the UK Open, beating Raymond van Barneveld, Mickey Mansell and Stephen Bunting, before eventually falling to Dave Chisnall.

He has only recently won his Tour Card.

I followed him to a point in the BDO circuit over the last few years, he never really set the board alight but was a real steady, hard to beat character.

He’s of an age now, where he’s not going to get flustered or put too much pressure on himself. He played brilliantly to get his Tour Card – he averaged 96 in the recent tour events over 13 matches. He’s a good player, and I’ve seen what consistency can do in the PDC. You don’t have to be flashy, flamboyant and brilliant all of the time. If you can stick to a mid-90s average, like James Wade, you’re going to cause anyone problems.


On his return to televised professional darts, Raymond van Barneveld is OUT!

Alan Soutar prevails, clinching a 6-3 win over the former UK Open Champion! pic.twitter.com/M2tOy2QG8R

Vincent Van der Voort

I’ve seen progress in the big Dutchman’s game, probably over the last 10 months to a year. He has had to slightly modify his stance; he’s standing slightly more upright and I think it’s done him the world of good. It will add longevity, he won’t be in pain, it will add accuracy – over-leaning doesn’t work for anyone.

I like what he’s doing, I really do. He played some good stuff at the back end of last year and looked really good in the Worlds, beating Ron Meulenkamp and Nathan Aspinall to reach the last 16 at the Alexandra Palace.

Joe Murnan

My next one is Murnan who is just on a run of form for the last three months. He came to me at the back end of last year after not qualifying for the Worlds and losing his Tour Card and said that he needed to get his game ready for Q-School.

He averaged, I think it was about 95/96 for the duration of Q-School, something that he’s never done before. He only won five matches at the recent Pro Tour events but averaged just shy of 99. I want, this is personal as well, I feel like he’s doing everything he can to improve. If he carries, on he could get to semi-finals of Tour events and maybe he can get back into the winners’ circle.

If he can hold onto his Tour card for the next two or three years, obviously it’s a two-year thing, but really cement himself in the top 32, even top 64, that would be a really good foundation for Joe to kick on. So, I’m looking forward to watching him.

Keane Barry

Our last one is someone who has been promising for a while, for a young man and you can’t keep promising at some point you’ve got to do it and that’s Keane Barry.

I believe that he’s got great games in him, he’s just got to do it more often. He’s got the ability, he can sometimes get a bit quick but I think that he’s growing up at such a rate that, a bit like Soutar and Murnan, a couple of semi-finals or even a final in a Pro Tour event… I’d like to see that, that’s growth.

The players I’m selecting here, I’m not selecting them to win Majors, apart from Ratajski, but I’m selecting them to have good years.

I think that it’s going to be a year of multiple winners. A bit like last year, who would have picked Dimitri Van den Bergh, Jose de Sousa and alike winning majors? I think that they’re going to be spread around again but when it comes to, the World Championship, the Matchplay and the Grand Slam, the main protagonists will always be the top four/five/six in the world.

I don’t see someone from outside the top 32 actually winning a Major. It’s really difficult to do to come from nowhere and win won, are we going to see a Jose again, I doubt it, I doubt it.

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