Fallon Sherrock was invited to the PDC World Darts Championship to fill the final International Qualifier spot that didn't have an upcoming qualifier as the Women's World Matchplay winner, a move that was done retrospectively with no such incentive on the line initially when winning in Blackpool.
This led to massive criticism on social media that Sherrock was just shoehorned in due to past achievements but Paul Nicholson sees why it was the case and believes that she deserves it.
"I’m very pleased Fallon Sherrock is in the World Championship – not just for what she’s done in her career but also her achievements in 2022," he said to Sporting Life.
"A lot of people are focusing on what she didn’t do this year such as not winning many matches in the World Series, not getting out of her Grand Slam of Darts group and finishing third in the Women’s Series Order of Merit, which everyone previously thought had cost her a place at Ally Pally.
"But, she attended many Women’s Series events before Beau Greaves made her superhuman impact and probably would have ended up second in the Order of Merit behind Lisa Ashton if she’d been able to compete in the events she missed in August that clashed with the New Zealand Darts Masters.
"That scheduling caused a real headache and ultimately it cost her valuable points in the race to finish in the top two.
"She obviously also won the inaugural Women’s World Matchplay which is the PDC’s only female major televised tournament at the moment and I don’t think any fans or players will begrudge that title being rewarded with a spot at the World Championship in future years."
Sherrock seals spot in 2022/23 PDC World Darts Championship with extra place for Women’s World Matchplay winner
Timing 'doesn't look great'
But while Nicholson is behind the decision, he sees why those who called out the retrospective nature of the qualification have criticised this decision but believes it wouldn't have been the same if Beau Greaves had have just missed out for example.
"However, this week’s very late decision to give Sherrock a spot at Ally Pally based on her success back in July has caused quite a stir to say the least due to the retrospective nature of her qualification. And to be fair to the critics of this decision, that element doesn’t look great," he continued.
"People are assuming it was just to get Fallon in the tournament – but imagine if she'd pipped Beau Greaves to second spot in the Women’s Series. In that scenario I’m pretty sure the PDC would have made the same decision about the Women’s World Matchplay and then give the Women’s Series an extra spot to get Beau into Ally Pally.
"Would there have been the same level – or indeed any - anger towards Beau in that scenario? No. Everyone would have applauded."
One element that seemingly suffers is the PDPA Qualifier but Nicholson says that it's always a toss of a coin in terms of the spots available and those playing shouldn't rely on it.
"Knowing dart players as I do, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are kicking up a fuss and claiming they’ve been robbed of a spot from the forthcoming PDPA qualifying event.
"But if you look back at the PDPA event over the past 10 years, sometimes there’s only one qualifier. It’s never set in stone how many qualifiers will come from it.
"If you’re not good enough to finish inside the 32 qualifying spots that are outside of the world’s top 32 then you don’t really deserve to be there.
This PDPA qualifier is basically a last-chance saloon, bonus opportunity to get to Ally Pally. Nobody should depend on it."
Michael Smith weighs in on Sherrock controversy after receiving late World Championship spot: "Fallon brings excitement and tension"
Won't grab the headlines like Sherrock
Nicholson was noted as previously calling out the PDC for inviting players like Devon Petersen, Diogo Portela and others to fill the best player from that region quota on the International Qualifier list in 2017 but says that he agrees with the reasoning that they gave then that the PDC is not a governing body and is a promotional copy so they can do what they want.
With in the case of Sherrock according to Nicholson, she is a player that is commercially viable as a result and despite critics, fans want to see her.
"It’s not disrespectful to say those players probably won’t do anything of any note at Ally Pally or grab the world’s attention like Fallon Sherrock will.
"Granted, that’s got nothing to do with her qualification but it’s best for the tournament and the game as a whole to have all the pieces of the puzzle there. You need the headline makers, players who create column inches and the ones that the broadcasters love talking about. Fallon does all of those things because of what she’s achieved and how millions of fans want to see her – regardless of what some vocal critics on social media might make you think.
"A few years ago I wasn’t happy when the PDC retrospectively included Krzysztof Ratajski, Jeff Smith and Devon Peterson in the World Championship field for achievements that weren’t originally in the qualification criteria.
"I went to PDPA chairman Peter Manley about this and he said “the PDC are a promotional company, they can do as they see fit.” You can’t really argue with that and from a promotional perspective, Fallon Sherrock being in the tournament is much better than if she isn’t."
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