John Folwer is a an MC, Host and Darts Referee. He has worked with legendary players and promoted darts all over the globe. He recently made his World Championship Officiating debut. His monthly column appears in Darts World Magazine.
Here is December 2019’s Episode:
Hello again readers, what a month I’ve had since my last report. A fantastic week in the sun at the Northern Cyprus open, culminating in calling the finals, sharing those duties with Mick Connerton, on the Sunday afternoon, great job my friend.
I actually played in two of the events, reaching the last 16 of the warm up singles for players that had no partners in the mixed pairs. I decided to enter the Men’s singles on the Saturday night where I was drawn against the number 14 seed, Gabriel Pascaru of Romania. I missed 4 darts at a double in the 1st leg and the rest as they say is history. I may get to referee for him at the World Championships at the O2 Indigo in January.
No sooner had I landed back in England, it was time to repack my bag for a weekend in Essex at the iconic Circus Tavern for the World Masters as seen on Eurosport. It was brilliant to meet up with the majority of the refereeing team again, great job again folks. I called four great matches on the Saturday, then two quarter finals, one of the semi finals and the first five sets of the final.
Congratulations to John O’shea on his victory and commiserations to Scott Waites, the runner up and to all the other qualifiers too. Well done to Lisa Ashton on her victory in the ladies tournament. It was great to see Bobby George and his lovely wife Marie in attendance on the Sunday. Many thanks to everyone for their kind comments and words of encouragement, they are really appreciated.
I am very much looking forward to January at the O2 Indigo. Toward the end of October 2019, at an exhibition in Wittlich,in front of 1500 fans, I finally added Raymond van Barneveld to the list of World champions that I have worked with. It was a fantastic night, in another beautiful part of Germany, that also included Ian White, Max Hopp and Gabriel Clemens.
By the time that you read this I will have officiated at the Malta open for the 3rd time in 4 years. Looking forward to a weekend in Dublin with Devon Petersen and Stephen Bunting at the beginning of December, always a great experience in the Emerald Isle. 2020 looks like it will provide more fantastic times with the diary filling up nicely. Already plenty of events booked in Germany and Switzerland is also booked again. Also my first darts event in Jersey has been confirmed.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading, hopefully you enjoy reading about it as much as I do writing about it.
Signing off for 2019 and wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year in 2020.
Darts World.com’s ‘Resident Pro’, Colin Osborne, has nominated his seven suggestions for the PDC Challenger slots in this year’s Premier League. With an additional Wildcard!
With Hendo and Fallon Sherlock already nominated, for weeks one and two, The Wizard has gone for some serious proven ability in his main selections.
Johnny Clayton is the first name on the list. With William O’ Conner making up a celtic pairing for weeks three and four.
Luke Humphries and Joe Cullen will provide stiff opposition, for their opponents, if Colin gets his way. Both have major experience and have proven ability under serious pressure.
Chris Dobey gave good value during the recent World Championships and had a decent Premier League try out last year. Meanwhile, Jeffrey de Zwann is proving a popular pick with everyone.
Colin’s picks seem to represent the younger generation and his no. 7 is no exception. He goes for Dimitri Van Den Bergh who has already shown enough class, and bottle, to hit a 9 dart leg in a TV major.
Colin’s Wildcard entry is RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD. After a rest up he could prove inspired in Rotterdam.
The Wizard’s selections in full:
W1—Hendo W2— Sherrock W3—Jonny Clayton W4—Willy O Conner W5—Luke humphries W6—Joe Cullen W7—Dobey W8—De zwann W9—Dimi Van den Berg
Raymond van Barneveld can claim a major role in the story of the PDC at the Palace. From his legendary win in the 2007 event, which may have prompted the move, to his superb 9 dart legs, Barney has provided some of the sports’ most iconic moments. In addition, his ‘Barny Army’ of fans bring atmosphere and colour to every event.
RVB’s role in the development and advancement of darts is safe and his reputation as a dart player will only grow. As a five-time World Champion he sits in a club of only three, Bristow (5), Barney (5) and Taylor (16).
Barney, now 52, will play his final World Championship this year and is sure to receive a superb reception and send off when his tournament comes to an end. He seems entirely at peace with his decision and determined to enjoy his curtain call. Raymond will have taken part in almost thirty World Championships since making his debut at the Lakeside in 1991. His remarkable journey has seen him tackle the legends of darts’ first golden era, battle with ‘The Power’ for over a decade and then shepherd a third generation of new players to take the game forward.
RVB decided to cross codes and take his place on the PDC tour in 2006. As a four-time Lakeside champion he was the biggest fish in a middle-sized pond and could easily have remained within the BDO system and racked up titles and fees. Yet, he courted controversy, and risked failure, in order to compete at the highest level and against the very best the game had to offer.
RVB’s first PDC ranking major was the 2006 UK Open unbelievably he won the title. After what could only be described as a stellar debut he prepared for his first PDC World Championship over the festive season of 2006/7. By bludgeoning his way to the final, van Barneveld would realize the ambition that had driven him to the PDC. He was to play Phil “The Power” Taylor over the best of 13 sets. The rest as they say is history. The nip and tuck match, the swings in one direction and then the other, the sudden death bull up and then the winning dart. The sinking to the knees, and the commenators’ superlatives, all form part of the 2007 legend.
Although Raymond has not yet added another World Championship Trophy, he has enjoyed a storied career across both codes. Three World Cup Singles titles, two Winmau World Masters, The Premier League and the Grand Slam of Darts, as well as hitting the first PDC World Championship 9 Dart Leg, were amongst many, placed in the trophy cabinet, during a marvelous career.
Between this year’s first match, vs Darin Young, and an unlikely final appearance on January 1st 2020 the fans at Ally Pally and darts’ fans the world over will bid a fond farewell to a modern legend. On current form Barney may give us a grand finale, Barney’s 3-month form is 10th in the world with a running average of 96.63 for 17 events played.
Raymond van Barneveld, Take a Bow!
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As the growth of the North American darts scene continues to rise, Florida’s Daniel Baggish, Philadelphia’s legendary figure, Darin Young and Ontario’s ‘Ginga Ninja’ Matt Campbell represented North America amicably at the 2020 PDC William Hill World Darts Championship in London prior to the festive break.
Before we delve into the World Championship itself and the plaudits that the three North American representatives deserve, let’s just offer an overview as to just how much the profile of the sport in the North American region has grown over recent years.
Championship Darts Circuit: The growth of the North American game
The growth of the Championship Darts Circuit, a tour that was set up around five years ago by a group of four partners – Peter Citera, Anthony Eugenia, L.David Irete and Jeff Goode. This particular team of darts enthusiasts shared a vast knowledge of the sport and a long-term vision – to pasture together the best players that North America has to offer and to raise the bar in terms of standard on a consistent level, with rewards to match those who can play at the highest level.
Like any new business plan, the CDC did take time to generate interest and build. The Dart Connect system coincided with the launch of the CDC tour, allowing darts fans on a global scale to keep up-to-date with all events and individual performances.
A year or two into the existence of the CDC, tournaments were able to view using online streams and gradually, the Championship Darts Circuit consistently gathered in large viewing figures in each of their events.
Hard work, rewarded
Following the consistent hard work and high-quality players emerging from the CDC tour, in 2018 – the CDC’s efforts were recognised by the PDC and after months of meetings and communication with the PDC, Barry Hearn and Matthew Porter rewarded the CDC’s efforts by offering three spots at the 2019 PDC World Championship, those three places were allocated to the highest-ranked USA player on the CDC tour, whom at the time was Arizona’s Chuck Puleo, the highest-ranked Canadian (Jim Long) and the winner of the North American Championship in Las Vegas, which was none other than Jeff Smith.
Following the 2019 World Championship, both Puleo and Long were rewarded further as the Professional Darts Corporation awarded places to the pair in the USA and the Canadian team at the PDC World Cup of Darts in Germany. Puleo pairing up with the ever-present Darin Young and Long accompanying Dawson Murschell. The Canadian duo performed superbly with a great run to the quarter-finals, just losing out to the Netherlands 2-1, with Murschell enjoying a memorable win over Michael van Gerwen en route.
After an impressive 2019 from a North American perspective on both the CDC tour and in at the PDC World Championship and the World Cup, the growth of the sport and the opportunities that were on the table to the top players in the North American region, more and more ‘new’ players emerged out of the region as the 2019 CDC Tour kicked off on March 30.
Darin Young made a great start to the year on the CDC tour after agonisingly missing out on the PDC World Championship spot in the final event back in 2018. Young won two out of the first three events, reaching the final in all three. Ontario’s Matt Campbell came into some great form midway through the season, reaching four consecutive finals, winning two of them and threw his name into the hat for a place at Alexandra Palace.
The Canadian Burst onto the scene midway through the 2018 CDC tour, reaching the final on-tour in just his first CDC weekend – reaching a final after coming through the qualifiers, producing 23 maximums over the course of the event and just losing out to an on-song Darin Young in one of the greatest finals we’ve seen since the CDC’s inception.
After Young and Campbell continued to reach finals and win events, it came as no surprise to see the pair clinch their places at Alexandra Palace. Campbell, who just missed out on a place at the North American Championship, deservedly booked his debut at the PDC World Championship.
Joining Young and Campbell at the PDC World Darts Championship was none other than Florida-based star, Danny Baggish – a player that’s been taking North American darts by storm over the course of the year, winning events left, right and centre, travelling to tournaments all over North America and producing some breathtaking displays, breaking average records.
Baggish stormed his way through the qualifiers at the North American Championship in Las Vegas. Baggish recorded several averages in the one hundred-and-teens en route. In the North American Championship itself on the PDC stage, Baggish defeated Elliott Milk, Leonard Gates and Jeff Smith to secure his place at Alexandra Palace and setting up an opening round tie with Daryl Gurney in the PDC US Darts Masters.
Ahead of Baggish’s clash with Gurney, it was a tie that excited darts fans, not only in North America but on a global scale, given the quality of Baggish’s performances in 2019. Despite losing out 6-1 to the Irishman, who’s of course a two-time major winner, Baggish certainly won over several fans, globally.
So, as the Championship Darts Circuit tour came to a close, Baggish made the decision to compete in the final two CDC events via the qualifiers. The Florida thrower stormed through the first qualifying event, averaging a whopping 110.5 in both of his victories, sealing qualification with a 111.2 average in a 3-0 win over Mike McClain.
During Main event nine, Baggish produced several impressive displays as he reached the third round, before losing out to an in-form Danny Lauby. Baggish notably saw off three-time world champion John Part in a crushing 5-0 win with a breathtaking 112.2 3-dart average.
As expected, Baggish successfully came through the qualifier for the final CDC event of 2019 and after tasting defeat in the previous event, Baggish successfully stormed through the field in Philadelphia and won his first CDC title at the second time of asking. Baggish enjoyed a series of victories over the likes of Paul Burns (5-0), Joe Chaney (5-2), Dave Richardson (5-1), Jeremiah Millar (6-1), Chuck Puleo (6-2) and Joe Huffman (6-2) in a blistering series of performances to end the CDC season.
So, as the 2020 PDC World Championship kicked off at Alexandra Palace, first-up from a North American standpoint, Ontario’s Matt Campbell came up against former BDO World Championship finalist, Mark McGeeney.
2020 PDC World Championship
Campbell put in a solid performance and matched McGeeney in the scoring stakes, in the end, McGeeney’s stage experience proved to be a telling factor as he pounced on every single error from the Canadian. Campbell fell to a 3-1 defeat, but there were plenty of positives to take from his performance – his scoring was consistently heavy, if his timing was better and grasping the chances more ruthlessly, then he really can be a handful to any player in the PDC ranks. Will Campbell decide to give PDC Qualifying School a go, who knows?
Ever-present USA darting star, Darin Young was involved in an emotionally-charged first round tie as ‘Big Daddy’ completed a memorable 3-1 victory over five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld in a result that ended the Dutch legend’s final World Championship campaign.
For Young, it was a result that filled him with confidence and although the night was surrounded by the aftermath of the Dutchman’s career coming to a close, Young remained upbeat as he moved into round two.
“Raymond’s been on the front-line for the best part of 15-20 years, it’s excitement for me, but honestly, I feel bad for Raymond.” said Young after the win. “I was always the underdog as far as the crowd was concerned, but I kind of played that to my advantage, I think. I’ve put a lot of practise in, my preparations been good and you never know when it’s going to be your last match.”
“There’s no pressure on me whatsoever, everyone in this place was expecting me to lose this match. What I think happened for me is that all the years of experience, all the years of being here and the age I’m at now and the practice that I’ve put in this year, I haven’t put in since I was a young lad is paying off. If I can keep that rhythm going then I don’t really care who I play.”
Following Young’s heroics over van Barneveld, the Philadelphia star almost recorded a Dutch-double. Young moved within a leg of a 3-1 win, before Jeffrey de Zwaan produced heroics of the highest order to force a deciding set. The American moved ahead in the fifth set and missed a match-dart at D8 to stun the ‘Black Cobra’ but de Zwaan used his stage experience to secure a place in the third round of action at the Ally Pally.
It was another impressive showing from Young, who used his experience to carry himself through the tournament and despite defeat, there are many positives to take from another decent World Championship campaign.
Thirdly, it was time for the much-fancied Florida star, Danny Baggish to make his PDC World Championship debut. Baggish used his spare time in London to perfect his preparations as the USA ace sharpened up with the likes of 13-year old star, Leighton Bennett at Target Darts HQ and John Scott alongside the Middlesex super league team.
Baggish was tipped for big things ahead of the action at Alexandra Palace, and it’s fair to say that he won over plenty of fans in the United Kingdom due to his professionalism and his high-quality levels of performance.
Despite Baggish’s great year in terms of his form across North America, questions were asked how would he be able to handle the pressure applied from the PDC professionals, well those fears were soon put to bed as Baggish dug in deep to secure a hard-fought 3-2 win over Andy Boulton in his opening match.
Coming back from 1-0 and 2-1 behind, Baggish really had to remain mentally calm and composed on the oche as he withheld early pressure from Boulton and the Florida ace’s quality shone through as he moved into the second round of the competition.
Following the win, Baggish was full of confidence and expressed his delight as he spoke to a jam-packed media room at Alexandra Palace.
“I feel ecstatic,” said Baggish. “Everyone that’s here, want to be here and to be able to play here for the first time and win is unbelievable.
“I found another gear from 2-1 down and after I made it 2-2, I felt like it was ‘my time’.
Baggish admits that playing darts in London earlier in the week really helped him.
“It’s unbelievable. Where I’m from, there’s no steel-tip leagues, it’s all electronic and soft-tip. What you guys have here is fantastic and I’ve loved it [London].
Baggish was also quick to praise the CDC, insisting: “I wish we could play events every weekend.”
“The CDC is the best thing going right now. If we’re going to continue to bring the best players in North America against each other, then it’s only going to help darts in North America.”
In terms of the possibility of attending PDC Qualifying School, Baggish was quick to admit that he will be there.
“I’ll be at Q-School.” Said Baggish. “If I can play well at a solid pace, then I’ll stand every chance.”
In the second-round, Baggish came up against the much-fancied UK Open champion, Nathan Aspinall. Many wrote Baggish off before a dart was thrown, and the American responded to that as he took the opening set, although he expected a backlash from Aspinall.
As anticipated, Aspinall battled back as the pair continued to trade blows with moments of real quality being produced in what was a fascinating spectacle. Baggish created an opening in the third set, and of for large parts looked like he was heading for a 2-1 lead, but Aspinall really showed his class as he wrapped up a 3-1 win.
Despite defeat, Baggish really showed a glimpse of his potential and even Aspinall was full of praise for the American, insisting that it won’t be the last time that Baggish will appear on the biggest stages in world darts.
On a continual scale, darts in North America is on the rise, massively. it’s certainly going to interesting to see how many North American’s head over to PDC Qualifying School in January.
This is a modified version of the Tom original article, photos and social media content has been removed.
Raymond van Barneveld’s William Hill World Darts Championship farewell ended in heartbreak with a shock first round exit, while Rob Cross also crashed out at Alexandra Palace on Saturday.
Van Barneveld’s first round meeting with American Darin Young proved to be the legendary Dutch star’s final professional match as he suffered a 3-1 loss in a nightmare end to his glittering career.
The five-time World Champion had received a hero’s reception from the crowd as he made his way on to the sport’s most famous stage but the night was to end with a cruel defeat.
“The demons won again – I never felt comfortable in the whole match,” admitted van Barneveld, who announced his retirement more than 12 months ago.
“Darin played really well but I could not find anything and I am really disappointed.
“I had practised well and done everything I could to prepare but I didn’t play anything like that on stage. I will never forget or forgive myself for this performance – it has been a nightmare end to a nightmare year.”
Young took the first set 3-1 to pile the pressure on Van Barneveld, who battled back by taking the second set 3-0 but lost the crucial fifth leg in set three to leave himself facing defeat.
The American ace landed another blow with a 160 checkout on the way to taking the first two legs in the fourth set before Van Barneveld forced a decider – only to miss two darts to take the tie to fifth set, which his opponent punished to inflict a devastating loss.
World number two Cross was also left stunned, losing his opener in straight sets to Kim Huybrechts – who moved into round three, having seen off Geert Nentjes on Friday.
Huybrechts produced checkouts of 116 and 152 in a dominant display over the 2018 World Champion, who looked out-of-sorts throughout the encounter.
“I feel stunned – I can’t really believe it,” admitted the Belgian ace.
“Rob Cross did not turn up at all and I know that but I took my chances and I won. I’m very pleased to win.
“I was strong in my mind against one of the best players in the world and I’m proud of how I fought for that victory.”
Luke Humphries joined Huybrechts in the third round after winning an Ally Pally classic against Jermaine Wattimena in a dramatic duel that went down to sudden-death shootout.
After seeing off Devon Petersen on Friday night, Humphries completed a memorable 24 hours with another impressive display.
Wattimena won the first set without dropping a leg and took the first leg in set two but Humphries stormed back by claiming the next three legs in just 35 darts to level up the tie.
The following two sets were shared before the final set reached a tiebreak, in which Wattimena looked to have taken pole position when he punished Humphries for a missed matched dart.
The recently-crowned PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion hit back from 5-4 down, taking out 96 before landing tops to seal glory.
“That was the most thrilling game I’ve ever played in,” said Humphries. “I’d love to say I stayed calm and composed but I didn’t feel that way up on the stage. I do think I found the right things at the right time.
“I’m over the moon to have won that match and I showed a lot of bottle – that’s what you need to win titles like this.
“I love playing here. I love the feeling I get when I am playing on the Ally Pally stage and that is the best game I’ve ever been part of.”
Zoran Lerchbacher also upset the odds to win despite missing several match darts against Jamie Hughes.
After the first four sets were shared, Lerchbacher took a two-leg lead in the decider but squandered eight darts to seal the match, allowing Hughes to force a sudden-death shoot-out which the Austrian won on double eight.
Mark McGeeney enjoyed a debut victory as he fended off the challenge of Canada’s Matt Campbell to progress to round two.
Former Lakeside Championship finalist McGeeney won each of the first two sets 3-1 before a stunning 147 finish helped Campbell halve the match deficit.
The fourth set went down to a deciding leg, which saw McGeeney wrap up the win by landing tops.
Luke Woodhouse produced an assured performance to earn a comfortable World Championship debut victory over veteran ace Paul Lim.
65-year-old Lim checked out 160 in the first leg but that was to be as good as it got for the legendary Singapore star as Woodhouse finished 81, 109 and 87 to to take the opening set.
Emerging star Woodhouse also won the following two sets 3-1 to set up a second round meeting with last year’s runner-up Michael Smith.
Darius Labanauskas breezed to a straight sets victory over Matthew Edgar, who failed to recover from losing the first seven legs.
The Lithuanian talent hit three 180s in a dominant display to defeat Edgar in the opening round for the second successive year.
Japan’s Yuki Yamada claimed a debut win over Ryan Meikle, who was also appearing at Alexandra Palace for the first time.
Meikle took the first set in a decider but Yamada won the crucial fifth legs in sets two and three before clinching the fourth set 3-1 to earn a notable victory.
The William Hill World Championship continues on Sunday with two sessions of first and second round ties, as last year’s runner-up Smith and Lakeside Women’s Champion Mikuru Suzuki join the action.
Day Two will be broadcast live on the Sky Sports Darts channel and through NOW TV in the UK, on PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.
William Hill World Darts Championship
Saturday December 14
Darius Labanauskas 3-0 Matthew Edgar (First Round)
Yuki Yamada 3-1 Ryan Meikle (First Round)
Luke Woodhouse 3-0 Paul Lim (First Round)
Luke Humphries 3-2 Jermaine Wattimena (Second Round)
Mark McGeeney 3-1 Matt Campbell (First Round)
Zoran Lerchbacher 3-2 Jamie Hughes (First Round)
Darin Young 3-1 Raymond van Barneveld (First Round)
The 2019/20 William Hill World Darts Championship begins on Friday at London’s Alexandra Palace, as Michael van Gerwen begins his title defence against Jelle Klaasen or Kevin Burness on the opening night.
Darts’ biggest event will see 96 players competing across 28 sessions of action from December 13-January 1 for The Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money.
The tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, on PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.
The festive feast of darts begins on Friday, with former World Championship semi-finalist Klaasen facing Northern Ireland’s Burness in the opening tie for the right to face Van Gerwen in the final game of Day One.
Van Gerwen tasted victory on the Alexandra Palace stage for a third time 12 months ago, but the world number one insists there is no extra pressure on him to claim back-to-back World Championship titles for the first time.
A winner of seven TV titles in 2019, Van Gerwen could pocket £1m in World Championship prize money in the space of 12 months if he clinches the £500,000 top prize for a second successive year.
“They said it too about the World Grand Prix and I defended that this year, so I won’t be getting involved in anything like this.
“I have a big target on my back and when you’re doing well all the time a lot of people don’t want you to win.
“I showed some weakness in the summer but then to bounce back feels even better, I love proving people wrong when they doubt me.
“If I’m at my very best the other players cannot beat me, but you have to show it on the stage and you can’t make mistakes.
“Whoever is on my path I want to destroy, simple.”
The first round will be played across the opening 11 sessions, featuring 32 qualifiers from the ProTour Order of Merit – based on prize money won across 43 non-televised events in 2019 – and 32 International Qualifiers.
Among the players in round one action is five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld, who will face American veteran Darin Young in the opening game of the Dutch legend’s farewell tournament before retirement.
“It’s been a really hard last year, a disaster year you could say,” admitted Van Barneveld, who opens his challenge on Saturday.
“There have been some games where I play well and I think ‘I can still do this’, but in the next match it just doesn’t happen and I don’t know why. That’s why I’m retiring, I can’t take the pain anymore.
“I still have the vision that I’ve saved the whole year to play well at the World Championship and hopefully it’s going to be a good run.
“Is it realistic to say that I’m going to lift this trophy? No, but the belief is still there.
“I will only be happy if I can lift that trophy, but if you offered me a runner-up spot right now then I would take it.”
Van Barneveld is one of two players to hit two nine-dart finishes at the World Championship, and if a player hits two perfect legs at this year’s event they will receive a £100,000 bonus.
Each session of first round action will also feature a second round clash, with the 32 seeded players waiting to face the first round winners.
Among the seeds and highly tipped to go far in just his sixth World Championship is world number three Gerwyn Price – who has never previously won past the last 16 at Alexandra Palace.
The Welshman’s best year in PDC darts, which included the retention of the Grand Slam of Darts title and two other televised finals, has led to him being touted as a potential winner of the World Championship on New Year’s Day.
“I just want to make sure I win my first game at the Worlds because as everyone knows I don’t have the best record there,” admitted Price, who awaits the winner of the game between William O’Connor and Marko Kantele.
“I just want to get through my first game in and then anything can happen, the first round is always the hardest but I’ll give it a good shot.
“My goal is to win my first game, have a decent Christmas and then enjoy being in the tournament rather than just watching it.”
One of the 22 debutants at this year’s event is Glen Durrant, who is hoping to crown a ‘dream’ first year in the PDC with the biggest title of all.
Durrant, who won his PDC Tour Card in January after lifting his third Lakeside Championship, has reached the semi-finals of three televised events in his debut campaign and is now targeting the best possible end to the year.
“It’s been a dream first year and now I want the cherry on the cake with a good run at Alexandra Palace,” said Durrant, who will play Jose De Sousa or Damon Heta in the second round.
“I’m super excited, Ally Pally is going to be really special and in truth I’ve had one eye on it since the World Matchplay finished in July.
“I’ve done really well in my first year, whatever targets I’ve set I’ve exceeded them and to be honest the World Championship feels like a bit of a bonus for me.
“I’m very proud to be a seeded player in my first year, but I’m not taking anything for granted – it’s going to be the old cliché of one game at a time and that’s the way it has to be.
“I’m really determined to go out there and achieve something special while having a bit of fun too.”
The World Championship has changed the lives of many players, none more so than Nathan Aspinall, who is drawing on memories of last year’s incredible run to the semi-finals to spur him on to further success.
A 500/1 shot going into last year’s World Championship, Aspinall enjoyed a sensational Alexandra Palace debut and has since won the UK Open and US Darts Masters in his rise to 12th in the world.
“I’ve got some happy memories from last year and hopefully this year I can be more relaxed from the start, perform well straight from the off and hopefully go one further,” said Aspinall, who will meet Andy Boulton or Danny Baggish in round two.
“I’ve had a really good year. The last couple of months hasn’t gone how I’d have like it to have gone but I’ve still been playing well.
“I proved that with hard work, self-belief and dedication you can achieve a lot of things in the world of darts.
“I’ve always believed in my own ability but did I think I’d reach the heights that I have this year so quick into my career? Probably not, but I have done so you’ve got to build on that.”
The third round is split either side of the Christmas break, with the fourth round being played on December 27-28 ahead of the quarter-finals across two sessions on December 29.
The semi-finals on Monday December 30 will be followed by the final on Wednesday January 1 as sport’s first World Champion of 2020 is crowned after 16 days and 28 sessions of action.
2019/2020 William Hill World Darts Championship Schedule of Play Friday December 13 (1900 GMT) 3x First Round, 1x Second Round Jelle Klaasen v Kevin Burness (First Round) Kim Huybrechts v Geert Nentjes (First Round) Luke Humphries v Devon Petersen (First Round) Michael van Gerwen v Klaasen/Burness (Second Round)
Saturday December 14 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x First Round, 1x Second Round Darius Labanauskas v Matthew Edgar (First Round) Ryan Meikle v Yuki Yamada (First Round) Luke Woodhouse v Paul Lim (First Round) Jermaine Wattimena v Humphries/Petersen (Second Round)
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 3x First Round, 1x Second Round Mark McGeeney v Matt Campbell (First Round) Jamie Hughes v Zoran Lerchbacher (First Round) Raymond van Barneveld v Darin Young (First Round) Rob Cross v Huybrechts/Nentjes (Second Round)
Sunday December 15 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x First Round, 1x Second Round Kyle Anderson v Xiaochen Zong (First Round) Ross Smith v Ciaran Teehan (First Round) Brendan Dolan v Nitin Kumar (First Round) Ian White v Labanauskas/Edgar (Second Round)
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 3x First Round, 1x Second Round Arron Monk v Jose Justicia (First Round) Andy Boulton v Danny Baggish (First Round) James Richardson v Mikuru Suzuki (First Round) Michael Smith v Woodhouse/Lim (Second Round)
Monday December 16 (1900 GMT) 3x First Round, 1x Second Round Steve Lennon v Callan Rydz (First Round) William O’Connor v Marko Kantele (First Round) Vincent van der Voort v Keane Barry (First Round) Gary Anderson v Dolan/Kumar (Second Round)
Tuesday December 17 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x First Round, 1x Second Round Ryan Searle v Robbie King (First Round) Cristo Reyes v Lourence Ilagan (First Round) Rowby-John Rodriguez v Noel Malicdem (First Round) Krzysztof Ratajski v Hughes/Lerchbacher (Second Round)
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 3x First Round, 1x Second Round Ritchie Edhouse v Boris Koltsov (First Round) Jose De Sousa v Damon Heta (First Round) Ted Evetts v Fallon Sherrock (First Round) Jeffrey de Zwaan v Van Barneveld/Young (Second Round)
Wednesday December 18 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x First Round, 1x Second Round Ron Meulenkamp v Ben Robb (First Round) Mickey Mansell v Seigo Asada (First Round) Harry Ward v Madars Razma (First Round) Stephen Bunting v Monk/Justicia (Second Round)
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 3x First Round, 1x Second Round James Wilson v Nico Kurz (First Round) Josh Payne v Diogo Portela (First Round) Gabriel Clemens v Benito van de Pas (First Round) James Wade v Edhouse/Koltsov (Second Round)
Thursday December 19 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 2x First Round, 2x Second Round Justin Pipe v Benjamin Pratnemer (First Round) Ryan Joyce v Jan Dekker (First Round) John Henderson v Richardson/Suzuki (Second Round) Steve Beaton v K Anderson/Zong (Second Round)
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 4x Second Round Chris Dobey v Meulenkamp/Robb (Second Round) Danny Noppert v Lennon/Rydz (Second Round) Dave Chisnall v Van der Voort/Barry (Second Round) Gerwyn Price v O’Connor/Kantele (Second Round)
Friday December 20 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 4x Second Round Darren Webster v Meikle/Yamada (Second Round) Mervyn King v R Smith/Teehan (Second Round) Jonny Clayton v Joyce/Dekker (Second Round) Ricky Evans v McGeeney/Campbell (Second Round)
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 4x Second Round Nathan Aspinall v Boulton/Baggish (Second Round) Joe Cullen v Wilson/Kurz (Second Round) Max Hopp v Clemens/Van de Pas (Second Round) Peter Wright v Rodriguez/Malicdem (Second Round)
Saturday December 21 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 4x Second Round Keegan Brown v Mansell/Asada (Second Round) Simon Whitlock v Ward/Razma (Second Round) Steve West v Searle/R King (Second Round) Adrian Lewis v Reyes/Ilagan (Second Round)
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 4x Second Round Daryl Gurney v Pipe/Pratnemer (Second Round) Glen Durrant v De Sousa/Heta (Second Round) Mensur Suljovic v Evetts/Sherrock (Second Round) Dimitri Van den Bergh v Payne/Portela (Second Round)
Sunday December 22 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x Third Round Clayton/Joyce/Dekker v Bunting/Monk/Justicia White/Labanauskas/Edgar v Hopp/Clemens/Van de Pas Aspinall/Boulton/Baggish v Ratajski/Hughes/Lerchbacher
Evening Session (1900) 3x Third Round Wade/Edhouse/Koltsov v Beaton/K Anderson/Zong Cross/Huybrechts/Nentjes v Noppert/Lennon/Rydz Van Gerwen/Klaasen/Burness v Evans/McGeeney/Campbell
Monday December 23 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x Third Round Cullen/Wilson/Kurz v Wattimena/Humphries/Petersen Lewis/Reyes/Ilagan v Webster/Meikle/Yamada M Smith/Woodhouse/Lim v Van den Bergh/Payne/Portela
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 3x Third Round Chisnall/Van der Voort/Barry v De Zwaan/Van Barneveld/Young G Anderson/Dolan/Kumar v West/Searle/R King Wright/Rodriguez/Malicdem v Brown/Mansell/Asada
Friday December 27 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x Third Round Whitlock/Ward/Razma v King/R Smith/Teehan Suljovic/Evetts/Sherrock v Dobey/Meulenkamp/Robb Gurney/Pipe/Pratnemer v Durrant/De Sousa/Heta
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 1x Third Round, 2x Fourth Round Price/O’Connor/Kantele v Henderson/Richardson/Suzuki Fourth Round games TBC
Saturday December 28 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x Fourth Round
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 3x Fourth Round
Sunday December 29 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 2x Quarter-Finals
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 2x Quarter-Finals
Monday December 30 (1900 GMT) Semi-Finals
Wednesday January 1 (1900 GMT) Final
Format First Round – Best of five sets (no tie-break) Second Round – Best of five sets Third Round – Best of seven sets Fourth Round – Best of seven sets Quarter-Finals – Best of nine sets Semi-Finals – Best of 11 sets Final – Best of 13 sets
A tie-break will be in operation in all round from the second round onwards, where the final set must be won by two clear legs. If the score reaches five-all, the 11th leg will be a sudden-death leg.
Prize fund Winner – £500,000 Runner-up – £200,000 Semi-final – £100,000 Quarter-final – £50,000 Fourth round – £35,000 Third round – £25,000 Second round – £15,000 First round – £7,500 £100,000 bonus for any player who hits two nine-dart finishes in the tournament
A huge £100,000 bonus is on offer should any player create history with TWO nine-dart finishes at the 2019/20 William Hill World Darts Championship.
A record-breaking year has seen 47 nine-dart finishes achieved on the PDC circuit worldwide during 2019, most recently with the only televised perfect leg by Michael van Gerwen at the Players Championship Finals.
Seven players have previously hit nine-darters at Alexandra Palace, but nobody has recorded two in the same World Championship.
A massive £100,000 prize is on offer should any player achieve that feat over the next three weeks, with this year’s event beginning on Friday December 13 and running through to the final on New Year’s Day.
“The standard of top-level darts has continued to soar this year and that’s been evident in the record number of nine-darters across the circuit,” said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.
“The World Championship is the perfect stage for bringing the best out of players, and this £100,000 bonus for two nine-darters is another huge incentive for a player to make history at Ally Pally.”
Phil Taylor is the only player who has previously achieved two nine-darters in one televised event, with both coming in the 2010 Premier League final.
Raymond van Barneveld achieved the first nine-darter at Alexandra Palace a decade ago, and is joined by Adrian Lewis in having achieved perfection twice in World Championship history.
Michael van Gerwen, Dean Winstanley, Terry Jenkins, Kyle Anderson and Gary Anderson are the other players who have achieved a nine-darter at Alexandra Palace – with Van Gerwen having been one dart away from hitting back-to-back perfect legs.
* Should two or more players break new ground by achieving two nine-dart finishes, the bonus would be shared on a pro-rata basis. For example, if two players were to each hit two nine-darters, at any stage during the event, they would receive £50,000 each. There is no additional bonus or priority given to players achieving three or more nine-darters, or for the order in which nine-darters are hit.
Michael van Gerwen will begin the defence of his William Hill World Darts Championship title against Jelle Klaasen or Kevin Burness.
The draw was made on Monday for the 2019/2020 William Hill World Darts Championship, which will see 96 of the world’s best players competing from December 13 – January 1 for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5 million in prize money.
Three-time World Champion Van Gerwen heads up the top 32 players from the PDC Order of Merit, who are seeded and will enter at the second round stage.
The first round will feature 32 qualifiers from the ProTour Order of Merit, based on prize money won across 43 non-televised events in 2019, and 32 international qualifiers.
Reigning champion Van Gerwen will begin his bid to retain the title for the first time against either fellow Dutchman Klaasen or Burness, who qualified for the event through the last-chance PDPA Qualifier earlier on Monday.
Departing five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld will bid an emotional farewell at his final event before retirement and he will meet American veteran Darin Young in his opening assignment.
The winner of that tie will play rising Dutch star Jeffrey de Zwaan, a protégé of Van Barneveld in his early career.
Two-time World Champion Gary Anderson will take on Northern Irishman Brendan Dolan or Indian Qualifier Nitin Kumar, while Spain’s Cristo Reyes and Lourence Ilagan of the Philippines will face-off for the right to play two-time winner Adrian Lewis.
Rob Cross, who sensationally won the event on his Alexandra Palace debut two years ago, is set to face either Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts or Dutch youngster Geert Nentjes.
Three-time Lakeside Champion Glen Durrant will face a difficult PDC World Championship debut against either Portuguese number one Jose De Sousa or Brisbane Darts Masters winner Damon Heta, while back-to-back Grand Slam of Darts champion Gerwyn Price will come up against William O’Connor or Marko Kantele.
Japan’s Mikuru Suzuki and England’s Fallon Sherrock are the two women to qualify for this year’s event and they will face James Richardson and Ted Evetts respectively in round one.
The 2019/2020 William Hill World Darts Championship will be broadcast live on Sky Sports and through NOW TV in the UK, on PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.
2019/2020 William Hill World Darts Championship Draw Bracket Seeded Players Enter In Second Round (1) Michael van Gerwen v Jelle Klaasen/Kevin Burness (32) Ricky Evans v Mark McGeeney/Matt Campbell (16) Jonny Clayton v Ryan Joyce/Jan Dekker (17) Stephen Bunting v Arron Monk/Jose Justicia (8) James Wade v Ritchie Edhouse/Boris Koltsov (25) Steve Beaton v Kyle Anderson/Xiaochen Zong (9) Ian White v Darius Labanauskas/Matthew Edgar (24) Max Hopp v Gabriel Clemens/Benito van de Pas (5) Gary Anderson v Brendan Dolan/Nitin Kumar (28) Steve West v Ryan Searle/Robbie King (12) Nathan Aspinall v Andy Boulton/Danny Baggish (21) Krzysztof Ratajski v Jamie Hughes/Zoran Lerchbacher (4) Michael Smith v Luke Woodhouse/Paul Lim (29) Dimitri Van den Bergh v Josh Payne/Diogo Portela (13) Adrian Lewis v Cristo Reyes/Lourence Ilagan (20) Darren Webster v Ryan Meikle/Yuki Yamada (2) Rob Cross v Kim Huybrechts/Geert Nentjes (31) Danny Noppert v Steve Lennon/Callan Rydz (15) Joe Cullen v James Wilson/Nico Kurz (18) Jermaine Wattimena v Luke Humphries/Devon Petersen (7) Peter Wright v Rowby-John Rodriguez/Noel Malicdem (26) Keegan Brown v Mickey Mansell/Seigo Asada (10) Dave Chisnall v Vincent van der Voort/Keane Barry (23) Jeffrey de Zwaan v Raymond van Barneveld/Darin Young (6) Daryl Gurney v Justin Pipe/Benjamin Pratnemer (27) Glen Durrant v Jose De Sousa/Damon Heta (11) Mensur Suljovic v Ted Evetts/Fallon Sherrock (22) Chris Dobey v Ron Meulenkamp/Ben Robb (3) Gerwyn Price v William O’Connor/Marko Kantele (30) John Henderson v James Richardson/Mikuru Suzuki (14) Simon Whitlock v Harry Ward/Madars Razma (19) Mervyn King v Ross Smith/Ciaran Teehan
First Round Jelle Klaasen v Kevin Burness Mark McGeeney v Matt Campbell Ryan Joyce v Jan Dekker Arron Monk v Jose Justicia Ritchie Edhouse v Boris Koltsov Kyle Anderson v Xiaochen Zong Darius Labanauskas v Matthew Edgar Gabriel Clemens v Benito van de Pas Brendan Dolan v Nitin Kumar Ryan Searle v Robbie King Andy Boulton v Danny Baggish Jamie Hughes v Zoran Lerchbacher Luke Woodhouse v Paul Lim Josh Payne v Diogo Portela Cristo Reyes v Lourence Ilagan Ryan Meikle v Yuki Yamada Kim Huybrechts v Geert Nentjes Steve Lennon v Callan Rydz James Wilson v Nico Kurz Luke Humphries v Devon Petersen Rowby-John Rodriguez v Noel Malicdem Mickey Mansell v Seigo Asada Vincent van der Voort v Keane Barry Raymond van Barneveld v Darin Young Justin Pipe v Benjamin Pratnemer Jose De Sousa v Damon Heta Ted Evetts v Fallon Sherrock Ron Meulenkamp v Ben Robb William O’Connor v Marko Kantele James Richardson v Mikuru Suzuki Harry Ward v Madars Razma Ross Smith v Ciaran Teehan
The schedule of play will be confirmed later in the week.
You may have heard of modern dart players experimenting with a number of psychological techniques. Hypnosis has been linked to a number of elite professionals, over the past few years, with Raymond van Barneveld having a poor experience related to it a few years ago. On the other side, Glen Durrant is said to have benefitted from such therapy.
As if to prove there is nothing new under the sun I noticed the following article in a back copy of Darts World 1976.
The Lads From the Red Lion Won’t Take a Trance!
I’ve often been accused of playing darts as if I was in trance, but I didn’t think anybody actually meant it. In future, though I won’t be so sure.
I am reliably informed that a number of teams are considering the possibility of hypnosis to play better darts.
Just what the average league rule book says about this I shudder to think (over to you Dr Darts) but what I would like to know is this; Does it Work?
The team that started all was The Red Lion ay Brackley Northants. Just after Christmas, they were thrashing about, fourth from bottom of the Brackley & District league, and desperately seeking a way to win matches.
Landlord Bill Foddy suggested taking the advice of local hypnotist Bernard Askew who had helped people to stop smoking. Bill’s son Tim, who is a member of the team, tells me:
“We had a team meeting about the idea but decided not to go ahead. Apparently there could not be ‘mass hypnosis’ and it would have to be done individually.” “I suppose we thought it might have looked silly, so we decided to fight on without the aid of hypnosis.”
I wish I could report a happy ending to The Red Lion’s brave decision. Alas, they have now dropped to third from bottom of the league. Thus we are no nearer to knowing if hypnotism could be the answer for darting dunces.
Other sports have experimented with hypnosis, with mixed results. International athletes have reported that it can help after injuries, by giving confidence. But when Stockport County football team were hypnotised, just before a match, they lost 2-1.
A specialist gives a clue: “It is not magic. Hypnosis may help you to relax or sleep better, but it cannot make a five-minute miler into a four-minute miler. Training is what really counts.”
So, there you have it. If I should happen to be playing darts with a glazed look in the eye, please don’t ask to borrow a fiver. I may not have the power to refuse!
Originally published in Darts World No.46 (May 1976)
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