Unibet Home Tour 15: Webster Triumphs.

Darren Webster won Group 15 of the Unibet Home Tour, as the home-staged tournament continued on Friday night.

bwin Grand Slam of Darts – Tuesday Round-Up
Darren Webster came through a tough night to claim Group 15. Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

A perfect night for Webster began with a comeback from 4-1 down to edge out youngster Bradley Brooks 5-4.

Webster had to come from behind once again in his second game of the night, as he recovered 2-0 down in his second match to see off Scott Baker 5-2.

Heading into the final game of the evening, former World Championship runner-up Andy Hamilton needed to beat Webster 5-3 or better to top the group, but it wasn’t to be as Webster held firm to complete the clean sweep.

The Unibet Home Tour continues on Saturday night with Group 16, which will see the fastest thrower on the planet Ricky Evans in action, along with Germany’s Christian Bunse, Canadian Jeff Smith and Martin Atkins.

Unibet Home Tour 
Group 15 – Friday May 1
Darren Webster 5-4 Bradley Brooks
Scott Baker 5-4 Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton 5-3 Bradley Brooks
Darren Webster 5-2 Scott Baker
Bradley Brooks 5-1 Scott Baker
Darren Webster 5-3 Andy Hamilton

Group 16 – Saturday May 2 (1930 BST)
Ricky Evans v Martin Atkins
Christian Bunse v Jeff Smith
Martin Atkins v Jeff Smith
Ricky Evans v Christian Bunse
Christian Bunse v Martin Atkins
Jeff Smith v Ricky Evans

Hendo Answers Our 9-Dart Questions.

Darts World thought that some players may have a few extras minutes on their hands, can’t think why, so we asked them 9 questions that our readers may enjoy. The first to take on the 9-Dart Questions was Red Dragon’s John Henderson:

We caught up with the Highlander John Henderson during the current lockdown to ask him some intriguing questions and learn more about the Scottish rocker.

  1. Where did you get your darting nickname and is there a tale to tell?

I got the nickname for obvious reasons as I’m from the highlands and Sky Sports told me that “Hendo” wasn’t as strong a name so we came up with “The Highlander”.

  1. When did you hit your first 9-Dart leg and what was it like?

I hit my first 9 darter on the practice board at home and being excited was an understatement, as I left the 141 in the board for days!

My first in competition was against Andy Hamilton at my 3rd pro tour in Derby 2011.

  1. Do you have any habits or routines before a (big) match?

Not got any set in stone habits or routines to be honest, but before a big TV event I like to be at the venue 4 hours before my game so I can calmly prepare.

  1. What is your favourite career moment so far?

Winning the British Open was superb, as was getting my first cap for Scotland. However, the hugest spine chilling adrenaline hit I got was playing in the Premier League in Aberdeen against MVG. The walk on I will never ever forget it still makes me shudder let alone getting a 6 – 6 draw – that was the icing on the cake.

  1. Do you have an unfulfilled ambition in darts?

Ambitions would obviously be to win the World Championship but really just to stay injury free, play well and climb those rankings. I believe I can do it so hopefully in the next few years I will continue making my move.

  1. What is your favourite event or venue?

My favourite event is the event I do best in and would be the World Grand Prix in Dublin. I’ve have had many good runs at that and the format suits me as I’m quite handy at double top, as you need to start off with a double. Favourite venue is the Ally Pally as I get Goosebumps when you go up the hill and you see the huge palace, it’s such a great place to finish off the season.

  1. Who do you enjoy playing the most and why?

I love/hate playing the man MVG as he brings the best out in my game, but you just know how good he’s going to be!

  1. Who were the key influences in your darting life/career?

Bob Taylor was a big influence on my darts as it was him that pushed me to take my game further from pub level to county level.

Jason Thame and Gordon Morison were then 2 guys that backed me and helped me believe I could go from the BDO to PDC.

  1. Which player did /do you most enjoy watching?

As a kid I loved watching Lakeside on the BBC and it’s no surprise I loved watching Jocky Wilson and Bob Taylor, both Scottish giants of the game.

Thanks Hendo!


Keep an eye out for more of darts biggest names as they take on Darts World’s:

9-Dart Questions!

Phil Taylor

This Week – Our Weekly Trawl Through Darts’ Archive Nets.

This edition of our regular look back through some of darts most memorable, or significant, moments, stretches from March 15th – March 21st. We journey back as far as the early 1990’s and through to 2015. Wade, Barney, Aspinall, Hamilton and Lazarenko all feature:

29 Years Ago:

Raymond van Barneveld
The RVB legend got moving in 1991. This week 29 years ago marked a good start to a signature season.

The German Open, from 1991, was in the second year of what would prove an unbroken run until this year (lets us hope that they can rearrange 2020’s event!). It was notable for a few reasons. Raymond Van Barneveld began a season that would see him win his first ranking event. RVB had to settle for a Qtr Final here though. U.S. star Steve Brown reached the final and showed a little of what was to come. Steve finished in the 3rd place in the first PDC World Championship in 1994, defeating Peter Evison in the play off match, and was still playing elite darts into his 50’s. As with a number of overseas players it is shame that we did not witness Steve at his best, for a longer time, but the slump in darts popularity made it impossible for many to travel and earn a living. Belgian Bruno Raes claimed the title overcoming Brown in the final. Raes was a quite the home player! Between 1991 and 2009 he was the whole range of Belgian events, Belgian Championships, Gold Cups Opens and National Championships were claimed repeatedly while he seemed rarely to venture beyond his borders. Indeed the German Championship may have been his only non Belgian title. Bruno make an exception for the majors in Britain, reaching the last 32 of the World Championships (x2) and the World Masters as late as 2011.

9 Years Ago:

Vincent van der Voort
Vincent was having a good start to 2011. This week saw him reach the semi’s of the RTL7 Masters.

Speaking of 2011, that year saw the only holding of the RTL7 Masters. The Dutch TV giant sponsored a invitational event not dissimilar to the current Champions League of Darts. After a group stage, four groups of three, the semi finals featured Phil Taylor vs Gary Anderson and Vincent Van de Voort against Raymond van Barneveld (handy for Dutch TV) the sponsors were rewarded with the final they craved. ‘The Power’ took on RVB with Taylor emerging triumphant, as was usually the case, by a score of 8-3 in the final.

Another event beginning to become an established feature on the calendar, was the Torremolinos Open weekend. The 2011 tournament was claimed by young Jake Jones. Jake defeated the immortal, so it seems, Paul Harvey in the final. Jones was not yet 18, whereas Harvey was in his late forties and enjoying a very good spell of results. Jones continued an excellent junior career, but is yet to realise his full potential in the game. Harvey is still playing well and was most recently spotted at Rileys qualifier for the UK Open.

5 Years Ago:

James Wade
Often overlooked James Wade was reaching finals, and winning events, from 2002 to 2015 and indeed this very weekend!

James Wade claimed the Pro Tour event held on March 15th (A feat he came close to repeating yesterday when he was runner up to Ian White). His route to the title was one of the tougher, his defeat of Peter Wright, in the final, was preceeded by wins over a handful of superb players including Micheal Smith, Gerwyn Price, Kev Thomas and Mensur. Many undervalue ‘The Machine’s career, but it should be noted that he has been winning PDC ranking events (Pro Tour) since 2002 and is still only 36 years old! Hidden away on the same day Nathan Aspinall can be seen bowing out at the L64 stage. Nathan should be a lesson to all, it is possible to have a tough time at the highest level but then to learn, re group and step up again.

Birthdays:

Andy Hamilton
Happy Birthday to The Hammer (53).

Amongst this week’s birthdays are: ‘Big Cliff’ Lazerenko (68) and Andy Hamilton (53). Both men reached Major Championship finals, only to be thwarted by the icons of their day. In Cliff’s case Eric, John, Jockey or Bob were usually in his path. Whereas, Andy, was often prevented, from lifting trophies, by fellow Stoke-on-Trent titans Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis.

Cliff, however, did manage to lift both the British Open and the British Matchplay.


Hammer Time? Can Hamilton Return to The Top?

Aaron Gratton (@ABGratton24) looks at the return of ‘The Hammer’, are we seeing a temporary resurgence or a full blown return?

Andy hits that winning double !
Pic: PDC

Barring a ludicrous turn of events on the final day of Q-School, the 2012 World Championship runner-up Andy Hamilton is set to win back his PDC tour card.

‘The Hammer’ ended day three of Q-School with 12 points to his name in the Order of Merit, placing him second only behind Ryan Murray (14 points). That total is likely to be more than enough to end the Stoke-on-Trent throwers hiatus from the tour, having lost his card at the end of the 2017 season.

Hamilton has been active on the BDO circuit, with his last match on the other side being a defeat to eventual champion Wayne Warren in the second round of the recent World Championship held at the Indigo at The O2. Overall he has been a limted success within the BDO. He has recorded a nine dart finish as well as qualifying for two world championships. Andy did not dominate, as he once did, and may need to find another gear should he return to the PDC top table.

The 52-year-old was one of those that were vocal in their criticism of the BDO on social media, writing on his Twitter on 15 January in a clear reference to the issue surrounding prize money at the World Championships: “A refreshing change to know what I’m playing for from the start.”

Hammer Time – will we see this walk on again at PDC events in 2020.
Pic: PDC

It will be interesting to see whether Hamilton can continue his resurgence on the PDC Tour after showing signs of what he is capable of in the BDO. ‘The Hammer’s main goal in 2020 will almost certainly be a return to the PDC World Championship stage at Alexandra Palace, where he has not competed since suffering a first-round exit in the 2016 edition of the tournament at the hands of Joe Murnan.

Hamilton has vast experience and is fiercely determined. Whether he has the firepower over a full season is another question. It will certainly be a storey worth following during 2020.

Update – Andy Hamilton was defeated 4-5 in the opening rd of the final day. It will be a long day ahead for the Stoke man. He should make it bit its now much more nerve racking.


Aaron Gratton is a writer who has been published in publications as different as Marca and the Huffington Post. He is a darts fan and goes by the name of @ABGratton24 on Twitter!

Q School 2020 Day Four: Big Names Battle for Top Tier Return!

The final day of the PDC Q School of 2020 sees several ‘big names’ battling to secure a return to darts top division. Premier League Players, World Championship and major finalists as well as other former stars are amongst those still in with a chance of claiming a tour card:

The Points table, from which at least another 12 players will gain a card, looks like this with one day to go.

1Ryan Murray14
2Andy Hamilton12
3Damon Heta11
4Peter Jacques11
5Steve Brown (Eng)10
6Martin Atkins (Wigan)9
7Alan Tabern9
8Adam Hunt9
9Lisa Ashton9
10Darryl Pilgrim8
11Darryl Fitton7
12William Borland7
13Lee Evans7
14Paul Nicholson7
15Gary Mawson7
16Robert Modra7
17Niall Culleton7
18Ritchie Edhouse7
19Tony Newell7
20Seigo Asada6
21Jarred Cole6
22David Ladley6
23Lewis Pride6
24Tony Richardson6
25Darren Davies6
26Wayne Jones6
27Robert Collins6
28James Richardson6
29Daniel Lauby6
30Ryan Hogarth5
31Colin Osborne5
32Frankie Ansell5

Former World Finalist Andy ‘The Hammer’ Hamilton leads the way for the well known players and is almost certain to regain his tour place. Major winners Paul Nicholson and Daryl Fitton (World Trophy) are within striking distance as is Lisa Ashton the four time Women’s World Champion.

The Wizard is within striking distance of a return to top.

Major finalists Colin Osborne and Wayne Jones could gain cards, with strong final day runs, and former top ten player Alan Tabern is looking good to to remain in the top flight.

Seigo Asada is carrying the flag for Japan and looking to confirm his World Championship & Asian Tour performances at the highest level. Many will also wish James ‘Ruthless’ Richardson well.

So far the tour card winners have been split between players with a strong pedigree and those who are relatively unknown. Jeff Smith, former BDO World Finalist and World Cup Champion, claimed one of yesterday’s cards, whilst the other was claimed by a lesser known Aaron Beeney, a prison officer who represent London.

The points list is a similar mix of the known and lesser known players. It seems that the Q School, despite its critics, produces a well balanced group, of additional players, for each new season!

Blades, Lowe & Leitinger Claim Day One Tour Cards.

Gary Blades, Jason Lowe and Harald Leitinger were the first three players to win PDC Tour Cards on Day One of the 2020 PDC Qualifying Schools.

Gary Blades Claimed yesterdays first card.
Pic: PDC

The trio all won a Tour Card for the first time with their successes in Wigan and Hildesheim as over 800 players began their quest to secure spots on the PDC circuit.

Lincoln’s Blades, a 39-year-old planner for Anglian Water, makes his return to the circuit after seeing off Tony Newell 5-1 to win their decider in the UK Qualifying School in Wigan.

Blades had previously competed from 2005-2010 on the PDC circuit – competing in the 2005 and 2007 UK Opens – before stepping away from the top level for eight years.

However, his success in claiming eight victories on Thursday – including a 5-2 win over four-time Women’s World Champion Lisa Ashton – saw him claim a coveted two-year PDC Tour Card.

“I’m feeling like this is a weird dream,” admitted Blades. “I didn’t expected today to happen but it has – I’m surprised and ecstatic.

“I stepped away partly because of work and partly because I wasn’t playing well enough. I had a go last year and did okay, but in the last few months I’ve been playing really well.

“I’ve been consistent all day, which isn’t like me! I’ve hit good scores when I needed to and finishes when I needed to. It’s exciting knowing that when the ProTour starts I’ll be there playing the best players in the world.

“We’ll see what happens in the next two years now. Gerwyn Price and Rob Cross are the perfect examples of what can happen when you start testing yourself and get better, so hopefully I can follow in their footsteps.”

Jason Lowe will return to the Pro Tour after a season away.

Lowe, a 47-year-old builder from Cradley Heath, will also compete full-time on the circuit for the first time since Tour Cards were introduced in 2011 after he was a 5-1 winner over Steve Brown in their final.

Lowe averaged over 100 in wins over Corey Burton and Andrew Foster, before seeing off recent World Championship qualifier Ritchie Edhouse, former Challenge Tour event winner Peter Jacques and 2012 World Championship finalist Andy Hamilton.

Lowe previously reached the last 32 as a qualifier at the 2018 UK Open, but had opted out of the 2019 Qualifying School and only decided to enter this year’s event an hour before the entry deadline on Tuesday.

“I’m totally shocked,” said Lowe. “I only entered at the last minute and there’s nobody more shocked than me today – I’ve played well and I’m thrilled.

“I’ve had some fantastic averages but in some matches I’ve missed some doubles and I’ve been lucky in a couple of games, but you need a bit of luck.

“I’ve got to up my game to stand a chance but I’ll put the practice in, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Austria’s Leitinger, 35, edged past Martijn Kleermaker 5-4 in their final in Hildesheim, after the Dutchman missed his chance to claim a Tour Card in their deciding leg.

Leitinger has only previously competed twice in PDC events, in 2011 and 2017, but will now get his chance to become a full-time professional in 2020 and 2021 after securing his status on the PDC circuit.

He won eight games on the day at Halle 39, including defeats of Austrian World Cup representative Zoran Lerchbacher and former World Youth Championship finalist Berry van Peer in deciding legs.

Leitinger also overcame Dutch duo Wesley Harms and Kay Smeets as well as Belgium’s Brian Raman in the latter stages as he progressed to claim a coveted Tour Card.

“Today was my first day at Q School and I’m very happy,” said Leitinger. “It was very hard for me, I had three games which were 5-4.

“It’s a surprise. I’ve been playing mainly [electronic] darts and now I’ll take the chance in steel darts.”

Kleermaker gained valuable ranking points in his bid to claim a PDC Tour Card, while Raman and Croatia’s Boris Krcmar were semi-finalists on Day One of the four-day Qualifying School in Hildesheim.

Fallon Sherrock, who made history as the first woman to win at the William Hill World Darts Championship last month, claimed three wins – including a 5-4 defeat of returning Paul Nicholson – as she won through to the last 64, before losing out to Darryl Pilgrim.

Ashton joined 2019 Brisbane Darts Masters winner Damon Heta and experienced pair Wayne Jones and Mark Dudbridge in reaching the last 32, while American prospect Danny Lauby joined Andy Hamilton, Robert Collins and Ryan Murray in the last eight.

The 2020 PDC Qualifying School continues on Friday with the second of four days of play, with a further three automatic Tour Cards on offer alongside valuable ranking points for players on the Q School Orders of Merit.

European Qualifying School Day One

Last 16

Brian Raman 5-2 Tytus Kanik

Franz Roetzsch 5-4 Wesley Plaisier

Kay Smeets 5-3 Thomas Junghans

Harald Leitinger 5-2 Wesley Harms

Karel Sedlacek 5-4 Jeffrey de Graaf

Boris Krcmar 5-4 Dragutin Horvat

Martijn Kleermaker 5-4 Thibault Tricole

Tonny Veenhof 5-3 Derk Telnekens

Last Eight

Brian Raman 5-0 Franz Roetzsch

Harald Leitinger 5-2 Kay Smeets

Boris Krcmar 5-3 Karel Sedlacek

Martijn Kleermaker 5-3 Tonny Veenhof

Last Four

Harald Leitinger 5-2 Brian Raman

Martijn Kleermaker 5-4 Boris Krcmar

Final

Harald Leitinger 5-4 Martijn Kleermaker

UK Qualifying School Day One

Last 16

Danny Lauby 5-2 Carl Hamilton

Steve Brown 5-1 Martin Atkins (Wigan)

Jason Lowe 5-2 Peter Jacques

Andy Hamilton 5-4 Adam Hunt

Ryan Murray 5-4 Justin Smith

Tony Newell 5-2 Andy Chalmers

Gary Blades 5-3 Dafydd Edwards

Robert Collins 5-1 Alan Tabern

Last Eight

Steve Brown 5-3 Danny Lauby

Jason Lowe 5-4 Andy Hamilton

Tony Newell 5-3 Ryan Murray

Gary Blades 5-3 Robert Collins

Last Four

Jason Lowe 5-1 Steve Brown

Gary Blades 5-1 Tony Newell

ENDS

Wayne Warren – A Secret Well Kept.

World Finalist Wayne Warren is one of those mysterious players that darts has a habit of throwing up. Darts World has a regular series about such players, it’s called Unsung Heroes. The Welshman (57) certainly fits the first part of the bill, if could secure the BDO World Professional Darts Championship today he will claim the hero status to match.

Warren is vastly experianced, unassuming and as such a little unsung. Perhaps this is about to change.
Pic: L Lustig

Since first appearing, on the main scene, back in 2003, ‘Yank’ as Wayne is known, has had had both great highs and barren spells. He qualified for the BDO World Championship as far back as 2005 and reached the last 32. Unfortunately, this promising start was followed with a run of poor form and near misses and it was not until 2012 that glimpses of Warren’s real ability began to emerge.

After some promising early season results Wayne won the BDO International Open, reached the final of The Gold Cup and qualified for another World Championship. He again reached the last 32 stage, losing out to Alan Norris.

Again, a couple of hit and miss years followed but the Welshman had done enough to again qualify for the Lakeside event in 2018. This time he was to make a big impression. He knocked out talented continental players Willem Mandigers and Wes Harms before losing out in an epic battle with ‘Gladiator’ Mark McGeeney.

Although no major titles came his way Wayne now settled into the role of highly ranked payer, repeatedly reaching the later stages of major BDO/WDF events all over Europe. He was selected to play the 2019 Grand Slam of Darts. He had again qualified for the World Championships!

Red Dragon, never slow to spot, & back, Welsh talent, produce and market Wayne’s signature dart.

Wayne is a non nonsense player. He has a simple technique and uses a simple design dart, produced and marketed by Welsh brand Red Dragon, that are similar to an old Eric Bristow type barrel but with a grip more like (early) Bob Anderson‘s. At 20g he is another member of, what has been termed, “The Light Brigade“.

As our resident coach is fond of saying “there is nothing new in darts were just very good at repackaging!”

‘Yank’ has been on a tremendous run in this years World Championship, he almost seems to have allowed himself to shine. His run has also showed, yet again, the depth of talent in the darting world. While many obsess with the ‘cult of youth’, it can be smarter, and more profitable, to look at the other end of the age spectrum. At 57 Warren will be one of the oldest to grace a World Final and certainly for for the first time.

His defeats of Justin Thompson and Andy Hamilton were based on patience and superb doubling. He seemed to barely miss an opportunity to finish a leg. Against Chris Landman he showed that he could adapt and score heavily in order to establish a dominance. He also showed he could cope with things going his opponents way, Landman repeatedly seemed to be about to get back into the game yet Warren held him at bay and completed the win.

In his semi final Wayne demonstrated he can be a complete player. Playing a player of Scott Mitchell’s standing, in a World Semi-Final, can be intimidating and draining, esp at 57. Wayne Warren simply stepped up a gear and put Scott away with relative ease.

The final takes place later today against fellow Welshman Jim Williams. Williams was a pre-event favourite who has built up his game through the event. Williams seems a more resilient player than the one who appeared at the Grand Slam in November. Let’s face it, against Warren he is going to need to be!


BDO

Big Guns Dominate on Day 5 – BDO World Championships Review.

Former World Champions Scott Mitchell and Scott Waites battled through to the quarter-finals with victories over Michael Unterbuchner and Wesley Harms respectively. 


2015 champion Mitchell, was rampant against ‘T-Rex’, who ultimately failed to take his 
opportunities. Whilst the pairs scoring game was comparable, better doubling on the part of Mitchell tipped the scales in his favour.

Scotty Dog looking in fine fettle this year.
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

‘Scotty Dog’ will now face good friend Scott Waites in the quarters after he produced a sensational comeback to defeat Wesley Harms. The number one seed had stormed into an early lead, but Waites just did enough to keep him at arms length. As we reached the fourth set, ‘Sparky’ went off the boil, leaving to door open for Waites to take the lead.  The former World Champ obliged and raced into a lead for the first time, from there on it was plain sailing for Waites as he secured a dream match-up with Mitchell for Friday afternoon.

There was also room for Manchester’s David Evans to continue his fairy-tale debut run to the BDO World Championship quarter-finals as he defeated number three seed Richard Veenstra. ‘Stretch’ was quick out of the blocks, averaging 105 in an incredible opening set. As he raced into a 3-0 lead with a respectable 98 average it looked although we were all set for an early night, but then Veenstra started to kick in.

Two sets on the spin from ‘Flyers’ set doubt inside the head of Evans, but as nerves started to take a hold of both players Evans found his scoring form once again. Finally getting over the line in set six to confirm his name in the quarter-finals.

Andy Hamilton
The Hammer came up short vs Wayne Warren.

The afternoon session kicked off with a win for former World Championship quarter-finalist Wayne Warren over Andy Hamilton. It was a rapid start from Warren as he raced into an early lead despite trailing in the averages. In the end it would be a story of missed doubles for ‘The Hammer’, as Warren stayed steady on the outer ring to claim victory.


Chris Landman produced one of the comebacks of the tournament as he returned from the brink to see off Ben Hazel. The turning point came in the fifth set, as Hazel spurned opportunities for the match, leaving the door ajar for Landman. That would be just the chance the Dutchman needed as he piled in the big scores and reached his first World Championship quarter-final.

Lorraine Winstanley interview.
Lorraine Winstanley
Photo: BDO


The women’s quarter-final line-up was also confirmed in the afternoon session as Lorraine Winstanley replicated last years performance. It was far from perfect from the Buxton thrower, but the win sets up a meeting with Lisa Ashton in the quarter-finals. 

Results:

Wayne Warren 4-1 Andy Hamilton 
Chris Landman 4-3 Ben Hazel 
Lorraine Winstanley 2-0 Casey Gallagher 

Scott Waites 4-2 Wesley Harms 
Scott Mitchell 4-0 Michael Unterbuchner 
David Evans 4-2 Richard Veenstra 

The Undertaker Claims Open Double – Heydon Triumphs Over Holiday Weekend.

Nigel Heydon has won the West Midlands Open this Bank Holiday Monday with victory over Andy Hamilton. Heydon added the BDO ranked, title to the Darts for Heroes trophy that he claimed the day before.

Nigel ‘The Undertaker’ Heydon claims the 10th Annual Darts for Heroes Trophy.
Pic; Kirsty Wastell

England International Heydon, who has reached both PDC and BDO World Championships, had had a quiet 2019 so far. It seems he has reemerged in fine style.

In reaching the final ‘The Undertaker’ defeated Wayne Wall, Gary Stone before defeating Andy Hamilton 6-5 in the final.

Among those contesting the tournament were PDC star names such as Kevin Painter, Colin Osborne and former champion Nick Fullwell. The final stages were truly gripping with 6 out of 7 matches going to a deciding leg!

Quarter-Finals
Dan Nicholls 4-5 Andy Hamilton
Nick Fullwell 4-5 Jason Heaver
Kevin Painter 4-5 Gary Stone
Wayne Wall 2-5 Nigel Heydon

Semi-Finals
Andy Hamilton 5-4 Jason Heaver
Gary Stone 4-5 Nigel Heydon

Final
Andy Hamilton 5-6 Nigel Heydon

Keep your eye out for a feature on the Darts for Heroes event that Nigel claimed over the weekend. Unusually, for a charity open, it is in its tenth year and goes from strength to strength.

LIGHTS, CAMERA - BUT NO ACTION

Lights, Camera – But no action

LIGHTS, CAMERA - BUT NO ACTION
Photo; DG Media/PDC Europe

Five players battle to stop the rot and get back on TV

Every year in darts new stars emerge and old stars pack away their competitive tungsten for good, but 2017 is unique for the possibility of witnessing so many of the veteran PDC darts players – with whom darts fans grew up and have enduring allegiances – fail to qualify for TV events. By no means are the careers of players like Andy Hamilton and Vincent van der Voort ending, but they may be entering into a phase of their competitive life that involves fewer triumphant entrances onto televised stages and more grinding in the typical PDC floor venues of Wigan and Barnsley. The following five players, absent remarkable returns to form, are very much in danger of disappearing from the televised stage. The darts world will be saddened if they do; but there are dozens of young players currently making their mark on tour that would be all too pleased to bring the veterans’ years-long runs in major tournaments to an end.

WES NEWTON

Wes Newton played one of his most recent televised matches in December 2015, when he described a 1st round victory over Cristo Reyes at the 2016 World Championship as his “worst ever performance”, in which he won the first set of the match with a 67 average. His open and honest approach to his lapse of form has won him countless new fans, but since then he has not reached the quarterfinal of any tournament he has entered, causing him to fall from the 26th ranked player in the world to number 64 today, placing him on the brink of losing his tour card for the 2018 season. Recovery from a shoulder injury has proven difficult for the Warrior. Newton has accumulated only £2,250 in the first 16 ranking events held in 2017 and he intimated on Twitter last month that Unicorn had discontinued his sponsorship. Newton’s tour card guarantees him entry to the remaining 10 Players Championships and 7 European Tour UK qualifiers, so it is possible that with deep runs in a few tournaments Newton could qualify for the Players Championship Finals or stabilize his Order of Merit rank and mount a comeback from there. If Newton is forced to win back his tour card, he would certainly be a favorite to do so at the 2018 Q School.

ANDY HAMILTON

The Hammer described failing to qualify for the 2017 World Championship – which ended a 12-year run of appearances at that event – as “a new low point” in his career. Currently ranked 54th in the PDC, Andy Hamilton is likely to retain his tour card as he is defending very little in the way of earnings from the second half of 2015. But that is unlikely to satisfy the tenacious Stoke native, a World Championship finalist as little as five years ago, Hamilton’s form hinted at a comeback in the second weekend of last April, in which he beat three top-64 players (Wes Newton, Jamie Lewis, Ronny Huybrechts) and qualified himself for the German Open. A last-16 finish at a Players Championship has put him within a few hundred pounds of the pace to qualify for the Players Championship Finals, but other televised tournaments have fallen out of reach for him this year. Hamilton’s unique throwing action looks increasingly outmoded in a PDC stocked with technically proficient young players, but it has worked marvelously for the three-time ranking title winner in the past and he has given no indication of giving up the fight.

VINCENT VAN DER VOORT

A weary Vincent van der Voort confessed to Dan Dawson after losing to Max Hopp in the 2017 World Championship that persistent pain from a back injury was threatening to bring his darts career to a close, much to the dismay of darts fans for whom his quick throwing style and wildly popular walk-on music have been major attractions to the game. Whether back pain continues to try Vincent’s endurance in May is an open question, as Vincent has not elaborated on his hint at an impending retirement. Within three months of that interview, however, the Dutch Destroyer smashed his way through to the fifth round of the UK Open, taking out a 106 finish in a deciding leg to dump out fellow Dutchman Jelle Klaasen. van der Voort, however, is defending substantially more money earned in 2015 than he is earning this year, and has fallen to 27th in the Order of Merit. If Fast Vinny fancies another go on the Ally Pally stage, he will have to fight hard for it, as he has not advanced beyond the second round of a Players Championship event this year and is well behind schedule on earnings to qualify for the World Matchplay or the World Grand Prix.

JAMIE CAVEN

The world number 32, Jamie Caven, has clung on to his top-32 position gamely for months thanks to appearances in Blackpool and Dublin, but he will find further defense of his ranking difficult in light of the recent successes of Steve West, John Henderson and Christian Kist on and off the European Tour. Caven is not matching his successes on the 2015 European Tour with corresponding exploits on the 2017 circuit, and disappointed himself with a first round loss to Kevin Painter at Ally Pally in December. Without an appearance on the Euro Tour thus far, Caven nonetheless put forth an encouraging finish at the third Players Championship, in which he whitewashed James Wilson and secured a £1500 prize. Of any player in danger of falling under the radar of televised darts, Caven is probably most secure in his current position, as his mediocre 2015 campaign leaves him reasonable targets to meet as he defends earnings from two years ago. A 6-5 loss to Matt Clark in a deciding qualifier match for Sindelfingen suggests that Caven is close to breaking through for a good result; but the dropped last-leg decider nevertheless netted him not a single penny.

BRENDAN DOLAN

A recent glance at the list of Dolan’s 2017 ranking cashes revealed an astonishing fact – that Brendan Dolan, a mainstay of televised darts and a legendary History Maker for his throwing of the first-ever double-start perfect leg, could miss the majority of major tournaments this year. Dolan was seeded throughout his 2015 European Tour campaign, which guaranteed him a four-figure cash for every appearance he made, but this year the Ulsterman has not appeared at any European Tour event, having lost to Darren Webster and Steve Beaton in matches that would have qualified him for an outing in Germany. A mere £3,500 of ranking money earned in the Players Championships puts him nearly out of the race for Blackpool and Dublin – a great shock for a player who had acquitted himself so well at Ally Pally just months ago. Dolan is ranked 26th in the PDC – comfortably within the top 32 for the time being – but he must turn his game around quickly if he wants to stay in that position.