Carl Fletcher: How Fallon Sherrock’s World Championship exploits have surpassed the realms of expectations

Carl Fletcher, one of the leading and most respected statistical analysts in the sport, delves into the stats behind Fallon Sherrock’s history-making debut.

There’s no doubt that the most significant story from the opening 11 days of the William Hill World Darts Championship has been Fallon Sherrock creating history, defeating both Ted Evetts and Mensur Suljovic to reach the third round.

The two victories so far from the newly-crowned Queen of the Palace have catapulted herself personally and the sport of darts as a whole into the headlines globally.

Sherrock, who became the first women to beat a man at the tournament, has used the support she’s received to galvanise her performance. And, whilst her opponents have been on the receiving end of less than favourable support, this cannot be detracted from the standard of darts she’s produced until now on debut at the biggest tournament in the sport.

Firstly, she’s been continuously producing a fine start to each leg. She’s currently averaging 108.12 with her first three darts per leg, with only nine of her opening 42 visits being treble-less. This may not sound too emphatic, but it’s given her a foothold in most legs, made her competitive and arguably kept her opponents on the back foot, if they weren’t already enough!

The next pressing point is her consistency. She’s not wasted many darts, having only threw 42 stray darts from the 653 she’s thrown in this year’s tournament.

This equates to just 6.4% – considering that the best two players statistically in this field heading into the World Championship were around 4%, that is a phenomenal stat, given the extreme spotlight she’s under.

This has helped her be on a finish after nine darts in 13 legs (31%) and ensured she’s had darts at a double in 30 (71.4%) of the 42 legs she’s played thus far.

It’s from this point however that her real prowess has come to the fore and that’s her finishing.

First and foremost, her overall double percentage of 51.1% (23/45) is up there with the best – which is hardly surprising given hitting double 16 and double 20 alike has come relatively easy to her with both being pinned at a 60% success rate.

Her checkout efficiency on finishes of 80 or below has been mesmerising too. She’s visited the oche 21 times within this range and walked away with the leg sewn up on 17 occasions, checking out 81% of these opportunities has been instrumental in claiming the two scalps she has already.

She’s handled the pressure amazingly well given all the furore surrounding her. Another well worthwhile statistic to demonstrate this has been her last dart in hand proficiency on the double.

Of the 23 legs she’s won, 14 have been third dart in hand (60.9%). I’m sure her opponents would have been expecting to return for another visit with more regularity than they have.

Her success rate with that dart in hand is 56%, with 14 hits from 25 attempts. This figure is hardly surprising given the aforementioned record on combination finishes below 80, but even at 100-plus it’s impressive with four legs having been won with a ton-plus out from 29 attempts (13.8%).

The good start to the leg, the consistency in the mid part of the leg and the brutal finishing she’s displayed so far have all meant that 21 of her winning 23 legs have been within 18 darts or less.

That in general will provide a test for anyone and will keep her in contention in every leg thus creating the opportunities she’s been taking so far.

If she can carry on producing to this standard under the growing media spotlight and perhaps under the increasing expectation levels spectators now have of her who knows how far this fairytale can go.

I’m sure we’ll find out in her next match, which is arguably – on form – her hardest assignment to date.

Fallon Sherrock will return to the oche this coming Friday afternoon as she faces Chris Dobey following the brief Christmas break at Alexandra Palace.

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