Tributes have been paid to experienced American player Dave Kelly, who passed away on Monday June 1 following a battle with illness.
A World Masters semi-finalist in 1991, Kelly competed in the first PDC World Championship in 1994 and three times in the World Matchplay from 1994-1996.
He also continued to compete on the North American circuit, and also played in the PDC’s 2007 US Open and 2008 North American Championship, as well as at the Las Vegas Desert Classic Qualifiers.
Three-time World Champion John Part has led the tributes, saying: “Dave was a man whose talent and charisma made you believe anything was possible.
“His very presence at darts events gave the game that little bit extra that told you here is a sport, the sort of activity the best of the best can pursue with dignity.
“A fierce competitor whose passion doing so was only equalled by his magnanimity and leadership off the board, Dave was a beacon who easily drew people to himself and the game, and became the iconic American leader who rallied his compatriots to accept nothing less than equality in the world of darts, both by example and spirit. The ultimate teammate is gone.”
Writing on Twitter, fellow three-time World Champion John Lowe said: “Sorry to hear Dave Kelly passed away this morning, I have known Dave for many years, he always kept in touch, a great dart player and representative of America.”
1994 World Matchplay champion Larry Butler described Kelly as “one of my favorite people”, and former Sky Sports commentator John Gwynne hailed him as “a most likeable man”.
The PDC sends its condolences to the family and friends of Dave Kelly at this difficult time.
The Reigning World Masters Champion John O’Shea moved top of the league on Monday Night as he secured 3 wins from three over Tony O’Shea, Larry Butler and Laura Turner.
The opening game of the night saw the 1994 World Matchplay Champion Larry Butler take on 2020 BDO Women’s World Championship Quarter-Finalist and Sky Sports Darts Pundit Laura Turner.
The match kicked off with Butler firing in a first 180 in just his 2nd visit to the board before squandering 3 darts for the leg which allowed Turner to snatch it in 17 darts and break Butler’s throw.
The American then broke backfiring in a 2nd 180 and winning the leg in 25 darts. Butler then commanded the match from there on in, winning 5 straight legs which included a further 2 180’s and the winning legs in 15, 18, 17, 24 and 20 darts respectively and allowing Turner just 8 darts at the outer ring during that period to win the game 6-1and pick up a 5th win from 10 outings in the Remote Darts League.
The second game of the night saw the battle of the O’Shea’s as Englishman Tony O’Shea took on Irishman John O’Shea. The match kicked off with Tony firing in a 1st 180 but squandering 4 darts at the outer ring which allowed John to step in and take the leg in 16 darts to break the throw, which he then backed it up with a 20 dart leg to move 2-0 ahead. Tony then picked up his 1st leg of the match in 19 darts, which ended up being his only leg won as John then rattled off 4 consecutive legs which included 2 180’s and winning legs in 16, 11, 20 and 14 darts respectively to take the match 6-1 and move 3 points ahead of Tony in the league phase going into game 3 of the evening.
The third game of the night saw Tony O’Shea up against Larry Butler, with O’Shea looking to pick up his first points of the evening and Butler hoping for back to back wins.
The match began with O’Shea pinninga 1st 180 and a 16-dart leg before back to back 18 darts legs from Butler including a 1st 180 saw him move 2-1 ahead. O’Shea then completed the same fate in winning back to back legs in 18 and 15 darts respectively and a 180 in both of them.
Three consecutive holds of throw in legs 6,7 and 8 with Butler pinning a 19 dart leg to square the match at 3 apiece before both pinning 14 dart legs, firstly Tony then Larry to ensure the match will go all the way to a 10th and deciding leg. In the 9th leg, Butler broke with a 19-dart leg to go within one from back to back wins in the evening’s action thus far. Butler kicked off the deciding leg with a 3rd 180, which put O’Shea under slight pressure as he needed to fire back. A missed dart at tops for a 73 checkout and a 15-dart leg from Butler, allowed O’Shea back to the board on 116, which he took out brilliantly to earn his 1st point of the evening.
Game four pitted John O’Shea up against Laura Turner and at least a 6-2 win would see O’Shea move into the top 4 of the league phase for the time being. It is fair to say the match was onesided as O’Shea stormed into a 3-0 lead, winning legs in 17, 16 and 23 darts respectively as well as a 1st 180.
The match had a small interruption as O’Shea had some slight technical issues, but the match resumed within 5 minutes. The interruption did not affect O’Shea though as he won 3 legs on the spin in 18, 16 and 17 darts respectively which included a 2nd 180 and a brilliant 140 checkout. The win meant that O’Shea would only need a point in the last match of the night to ensure that he will end in the evening in the top 4 of the league phase but a win would see him move top of the table.
The fifth featured John O’Shea and US veteran Larry Butler, with a point needed for O’Shea to move into top 4 or a win to move top of the table and at least a 6-1 win or better from Butler to see him move into top 4. The match began with an 18-dart break of throw from Butler before O’Shea rattled off 3 consecutive legs in 15, 20, and 14 darts respectively including 2 180s. Butler then won back to back legs in 13 and 14 darts respectively and in both legs, fired in a 180. O’Shea then moved 4-3 ahead with a 15- dart leg before missing 1 dart for a point in 8th leg of the match with Butler winning it in 17 darts to ensure that the match will go all the way.
Back to back legs from O’Shea in 19 and 15 darts respectively gave him his 3rd win of the night and ensure that he will end Night 14 of the Remote Darts League, Top of the table following wins over Tony O’Shea, Laura Turner and now Larry Butler 6-4.
The evening’s finale saw Laura Turner take on Tony O’Shea, with both looking to pick up their 1st win of the evening. It’s fair to say the match was quite one-sided with O’Shea inflicting Turner to a 2nd whitewash defeat of the night in winning his 6 legs in 18, 14, 19, 17, 15 and 13 darts respectively including 2 180’s. The win meant O’Shea finished the evening 8th in the league phase having picked up 13 points from his 12 encounters meaning he’ll need a strong night when he plays his 3 final group games in the hope of finishing in the top 4 and qualifying for the Semi-Finals.
The Remote Darts League continues on Tuesday with England’s Paul Hogan being the headline act and he is joined by Dutchman Richard Veenstra, Canada’s David Cameron and England’s Lorraine Winstanley. The action begins at 9pm BST and the action will be streamed on Facebook and You Tube on the Remote Darts League site/channel.
Steve Brown regularly sends us his round-up of the North American scene, those who have read it closely will notice that it often flags up players who go on to bigger things:
After the disappointing results at the WDF World Cup, I had really hoped for something a little better at the One80 L-Style World Masters. With one of the largest ever US contingents – if not THE largest – making the trip to Essex, there was reason for quiet optimism.
We are all aware of the problems onsite (and I am sure they will be well documented elsewhere in this issue), but that can’t have helped the players, particularly some of the less-experienced ones.
The full line-up of Americans was, Men – Larry Butler, Joe Chaney, Eric Gregory, Michael Walters, Danny Baggish, Robbie Phillips, Patrick Kithi, Timmy Nicoll, and Conner Zaragoza (who actually qualified as a youth, but turned 18 before the Masters); Women – Amanda ‘Stitches’ Preciado, Bonnie Wei, Debbie Ivey, and Renee Ripol; Boys – P.J. Stewart, Jacob Demers, Brendan Mills, and Gavin Nicoll; Girls – Aaja Jalbert.
The Men’s event saw six of our nine falling at the first hurdle. Robbie Phillips and newcomer Eric Gregory both won their openers, but lost second time out, while Danny Baggish (another first-timer) eased through his first two before going down to Gary Stone the round before the stage. It could have been so different, as missed doubles proved costly in a tight match that went all the way. It was even worse for the women as all four Americans failed to to win a match. It must be said, though, that the draws could have been way better. Only Debbie Ivey has previous international experience, and even she had the misfortune to face off with Lisa Ashton in her first match!
Our Youth players fared a little better, wth P.J. Stewart and Gavin Nicoll both winning marches. National Champ P.J. won his first, before coming up against eventual runner-up Charlie Manby. Gavin was showing some great form, reaching the quarter-final of the Boys’, where he was stopped by inform Pole Sebastian Bialecki.
The World Pro Playoffs weren’t any better, with the best performance coming from Robbie Phillips. The man from Cary, NC, reached the last 32, where he was beaten by our Canadian friend, Jeff Smith.
This last weekend brought the ADO National Playoffs for the 2020 WDF Americas Cup. With 45 men and 30 women in action, this was our best turnout for several years. While there were some real battles for qualification for the men’s final group, the final itself was far from close, Danny Baggish (above) dropped just two legs from his seven matches to finish with a total of 19, and Joe Huffman grabbed the other spot with 16 legs. Larry Butler is the alternate, but finished way back on 11. Dani Warmack has only been playing two years, but she has already competed in several National Finals. None have been anywhere as successful as Friday’s, as she end up a clear winner of the women’s final group with 10 points! Dani will be joined in Jamaica by Robin Curry. Carolyn Mars is the alternate.
The day after the senior representatives were decided, it was time to sort out the Youth Team. It wasn’t a huge shock to see the places go to our two National Champions, Aaja Jalbert and P/.J. Stewart. Youth alternates are Rylee Moran and Kaden Anderson.
The Nationals were held in conjunction with the Seacoast Open, which once again, was BDO ranked. Last year, Jeff Smith did the double, winning both the 501 and Cricket Singles, and he repeated the feat this year! Danny Baggish was runner-up in the 501, with Martin Tremblay and Shad Newton the beaten semi-finalists. Jim Widmayer was second in the cricket, with Larry Butler and Leonard Gates finishing at Top 4. Cali West bested Joanne Luke for the Women’s 501, with Robin Curry and Danna Foster one round back, while Debbie Ivey lifted the Cricket title, with Danna Foster second, and Carolyn Mars and Trish Grzesik filling the minor placings.
The finals of the WDF Youth events were carbon copies of the Americas Cup finals, with Aaja Jalbert and P.J. Steward getting the better of Rylee Moran and Kaden Anderson respectively.
A week ago, we had the BDO/WDF Colorado Open. Leonard Gates edged out Elliot Milk for the 501 Singles, with Shad Newton and Danny Pace taking Top 4. Paula Murphy and Stacey Pace clashed yet again in the final of a major 501 Singles, and again, it was Paula who pocketed the win. Valorie Olson and Julie Weger made the semis. Bruce Robbins and Debbie Ivey won the Cricket, from Larry Butler and Tanja Bencic, Semi-finalists were Elliot Milk, Kevin Luke, Jill Horton, and Paula Murphy.
Catch Steve’s round up in our monthly Darts World magazine.
Selecting highlights from the week of February 3-9th would have been thought to be slim pickings until recently. However, the ever expanding global darts calendar and the superb archive of darts records provides some interesting flashbacks:
35 Years Ago:
Dave Whitcombe claimed the WDF Finnish Open, in 1985, defeating “Big” Cliff Lazerenko in the final. Dave was at the peak of his powers in the mid 80’s and would go on to claim the World Masters later the same year. He is often overlooked in the annals of the game’s history. But to claim major titles during that period was not exactly easy. Dave claimed also added The News of the World to his role of honour and deserves to be acknowledged.
10 Years Ago:
Colin’Jaws’ Lloyd got the 2010 season of to a flying start when he claimed the first Pro Tour event of the year. That year the first weekend PDC was held in Gibraltar, Lloyd, the former World No.1, blitzed through the field to claim the title. His run included a 6-0 whitewash over new World Champion Peter Wright. Although Lloyd was beginning to struggle overall he again showed just how talented he is.
5 Years Ago:
Micheal Van Gerwen was in imperious form in the middle of the last decade. An example was his remarkable run in the UK Open Qualifiers in 2015. Out of the six Pro Tour events, that selected the field for the first major of the year, MVG won four and reached the final of a fifth. His run of four consecutive wins started this week five years ago. In the sixth event Van Gerwen could only manage a poor effort of a place in the last four!
The remarkable Larry Butler returned to the top of world darts with a bang in 2015. The “Bald Eagle” kicked off what would be an almost incredible year with victory in the Camillia Classic in North America. Butler, World Matchplay Champion in 1994, would go on to reach the final of the World Masters and earn a place in the Grand Slam of Darts. He also qualified for the BDO World Championships and reached the last 16. All after a decade away from the top flight, and at the age of 57, as we now know from Wayne Warren age is no barrier to darting success, The Bald Eagle reminded us of that in 2015.
The 2020 Pro Tour kicks off this coming weekend, who will break through this year to challenge the established order? Every year the Pro Tour standard is met by more and more of the players.
The days of a player winning four out of six events may well be over. But other highlights will be made and benchmarks set. This week will look for them and try to make sure they are acknowledged.
This Week is a regular look at darting events throughout the history of recorded darts.
Darius Labanauskas is 43, Lithuaniun and known as ‘Lucky D’, but luck had very little to so with his superb run at this years PDC World Championship. MVG seemed to be a little dismissive of Lucky D after their Qtr final. Not everyone shared his view.
Shortly before the championships I was asked to contribute a few words, on various players, for an eMag (Ultimate Guide to the World Championships https://appsolutely.dev/darts/). There were limited spaces for an extended commentary and each group of qualifiers had to be represented.
One of our selections for the Global/Event Qualifiers section was Darius. Here is what we had to say about him:
Lucky D will provide Lithuania with a superb opportunity of having a darting hero. A former WDF Number 1, and winner of many European Opens, he made his attempt at the PDC system this year. Heaving gained a Pro Tour Card he has progressed well ever since. The experienced, and smart, 43 year old played both the Pro Tour events and on the Scandinavian (affiliated) Tour. This ensured regular income and constant game time. The highlight of the year, from a PDC point of view, would be his run to the final of Players Championship 15. En-Route Darius defeated a wide range of players including the on form Gabriel Clemens and the legendary Steve Beaton. He also qualified for The Players Championships Finals and get some useful PDC stage experience under his belt. Eastern European players have made great strides in recent years Darius has already made a groundbreaking contribution, can he go further?
As you can see I was positively disposed to the Lithuanian and noted his previous victory of Steve Beaton. There were two main reasons for thinking he may do well, and selecting him as a worth additional comment, firstly I had met him a couple of times and he seemed a very focused, determined and switched on guy who understood more than he let on. Secondly, his tactics of playing both the main PDC and Scandinavian tour, fitted with something I have observed about those who are able to spread their efforts.
The fact that income, game time, experience and confidence can be gained, at the same time as moving into the elite, is very important and often results in good world championship performances.
In 2010/11 Mensur surprised many, with his early victory over James Wade, but not those familiar with the Open Event Circuit. The Austrian had been playing superbly for the previous couple of months and had mopped up plenty of income and confidence from events in the Midlands and North. A look at Larry Butler’s global form a few years back showed why his return to the top should not have been a surprise.
Jan Dekker has also benefitted from playing different tours at different times and has again played the system this year to qualify for the worlds, and pocket £15k, in order to retain his ranking and tour card?
In short there is a space for players who are perhaps not quite elite, top 16 level, but are very good and professional in their attitude. Think of them like the journey men in golf. They can earn very good livings and finish high up in tier two events, or rankings, while rarely hitting the absolute peak of their sport.
It is not easy to tell whether Darius will move up a gear and join the elite ranks or whether this will have been just another step on a ground breaking hybrid style career.
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