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Colin Osborne is a previous UK Open finalist, League of Darts Winner and multiple Pro Tour winner. Known as ‘The Wizard’ his thoughts appear regularly in Darts World magazine. Below is his review of the early part of 2020:
Well, it’s been a hectic start to 2020. The PDC season kicked off with the annual Q School in Wigan. To say it was a weekend of mixed fortunes is an understatement. Congratulations to everyone who won one of the cherished Tour Cards, they are hard seriously hard to earn and will reward those who can dedicate themselves to making another step up!
A special mention for Aaron Beeney. Some were surprised by his superb effort in gaining an automatically, but not me! A couple of years ago, at Q-School 2018, I encountered Aaron in one of the early rounds. He started the game superbly hitting many 140s and finishing off legs cleanly. I got a foothold in the game it seemed I may get back in into it, but Aaron stepped forward again and closed out the game very well. Later in the day, Canadian player Ken McNeil said that Aaron was a really difficult opponent as he was impossible to read and gave nothing away. Well done on a superb effort Aaron.
On a personal level I had one of those weekends that leaves any player both pleased and puzzled. Despite a poor start, on the Thursday, I played very well overall. My averages are increasing all the time and me game is coming together strongly. My run, to the last 16, on the Saturday featured some really good stuff, I was somewhat disappointed not to hit a 9-dart leg, in a very high-quality game against Paul Rowley, but finishing it in 10 was a reminder that things are coming together nicely.
The downside of Q-School was simply that I did not put together enough of my best darts in a row. Myself, Daryl Fitton and others, ended up in a similar boat after playing very strongly at times. Knowing that you’re playing very well and falling just short can be very frustrating, but the sheer number of quality players, who are capable of the standard needed, to gain a card, means that there are few easy matches and you need to play your best the entire time.
The Challenge Tour kicked off only a few days later and proved a very similar tale. Again, my averages were still improving, and consistent, but they were not translated into enough results. Scott Mitchell must be given huge credit. As a former World Champion he must have been very disappointed to miss out on a Tour Card. But, regrouping so quickly to claim an event, and leading the Challenge Tour rankings, will provide him with plenty of opportunities, on all the PDC Tours, this year.
For those embarking on the Pro Tour, and top level PDC, I would offer a small but of advice:
“Play your own way, work hard, don’t change too much and don’t take any part of it for granted”.
Wizards Wizdom for Tour Card Winners!)
For me, it’s a matter of carrying on doing what I am doing and building toward being at my very best for the next Challenge Tour weekend in April*. I hope to see you out and about in the darting world between now and then.
*Sadly, due to the effect of Covid-19, the Challenge Tour events have been postponed/cancelled.
While chatting away to, three-time World Champion, Glen Durrant for an article in this months Darts World Magazine, Duzza made a somewhat startling revelation! During a discussion of players, who have had more clerical (or white collar type) careers, Duzza stated that one of them was a far better player than him!
Just who do you think that Glen rated so highly? The clue is in the nature of their career. Darts has its roots in working class communities and in pubs and clubs. Yet there have been those who have flouted this tradition and had somewhat different backgrounds or careers. Mark Hylton was a Airline Cabin Manager with an English degree,Scott Mitchell is a farmer and there are other examples.
As a housing manager Glen himself appreciated the difference between his own career and that of many other top rank darters. He expressed admiration for those, such as Darren Webster, who still put in a full week of physical labour before winning PDC darts matches over the weekend!
So who did Glen rate so highly? Turns out it was Chris ‘The Hitman’ Thompson! Chris is a former PDC Tour player who pursued a career in the law alongside his darts! Anyone who has played against Chris, or even watched him, will know that he was indeed very talented. Chris reached the Qtrs of The News of The World event as far back as 1997 and the same stage of the UK Open in 2008. The plain-speaking Yorkshire thrower was incredibly passionate, tough to beat and never gave any player an inch!
Now, to be clear, Glen did ad that it was back in his days of playing Leagues and Opens in the north of England that Chris had been “far better than me…..”.
It is still a lovely compliment for Chris and its typical of Glen that he recalled it in a random chat about career choices!
Scott Mitchell and Robbie Collins picked up their first victories on the PDC circuit with triumphs on the opening day of the 2020 PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour season.
Collins, a Rileys Qualifier for the 2019 Ladbrokes UK Open who also competed on the Challenge Tour last year, took victory in Event One as he edged out Adam Huckvale 5-4 in the final.
Collins led 3-0 following a strong start in the decider before Huckvale claimed four of the next five as the game went to a ninth leg, but it was the 40-year-old from Lambeth who claimed the £2,000 top prize.
He was also taken to a deciding leg by Ray Marshall on the day, and saw off Australia’s Gordon Mathers, Dutchman Danny van Trijp and England’s Justin Hood during the latter stages of Event One.
Huckvale’s defeat in the final denied him a second Challenge Tour title, following his previous victory in 2018, but he defeated Alan Norris amongst eight wins during the tournament.
Saturday’s second event saw Mitchell scoop his first PDC title in style with a 5-1 defeat of Andrew Gilding in the final, winning the opening three legs without reply before closing out a dominant victory with a 13-dart leg.
The former Lakeside Champion ended Collins’ bid for a daily double in the Last 64 with a 102 average in a 5-3 triumph, while he also whitewashed Cameron Menzies in the quarter-finals and overcame Eddie Lovely 5-2 in the semi-finals.
Gilding was condemned to defeat for a second time on the Challenge Tour, having also lost out in the Event Six decider a year ago, and his victories in the event included a 5-2 success against Huckvale in the Last 16.
Sunday will see Event Three and Event Four conclude the year’s opening weekend as over 300 players compete for £20,000 in prize money on the day.
Mikuru Suzuki retains her BDO Ladies World Championship title as she defeated Lisa Ashton in straight sets on Saturday evening. After coming through a tough encounter with Beau Greaves in the semi-final, the Japanese star saved her best stuff for the final.
Ashton had not dropped a set on route to the final, but found herself in trouble early on against Suzuki. With both players averaging in the high 80’s, it was the ruthless finishing of Suzuki that gave her the initiative.
‘The Lancashire Rose’ would have chances to close out the first set but couldn’t make them count, Suzuki once again showing her ruthless side as she powered into a 2-0 lead. It would be plane sailing for there on as the pressure heaped on Ashton. Suzuki winning the title for a second successive year, beating the number one seed in the final.
It will be an all Welsh BDO Men’s final as Wayne Warren and Jim Williams both won through their respective semi-finals on Saturday evening.
After a quick start from 2015 World Champion Scott Mitchell, Warren was able to peg him back going into the first interval. ‘Yank’ would take the lad for the first time in the contest as the 2-1 scoreline was reversed with Warren leading 3-2.
Despite six perfect darts in the pivotal leg of set six, a magnificent 121 checkout from Mitchell would peg him back to 3-3. From there on Warren would put down a marker, stamping his authority on the game as he reached a first World Championship final aged 58.
He later found out he would face good friend Jim Williams in the final after he squeezed past (Super) Mario Vandenbogaerde. In a game of consistent scoring and the occasional missed double, it was impossible to separate the two as they went stride by stride in the opening six sets.
That was when Williams would make his advantage count, nailing two consecutive sets and making Vandenbogaerde pay for missed doubles. Despite a brief comeback from the Belgian, Williams would finally close out the contest, setting up that all Welsh final for Sunday evening.
In the World Youth Final, Keane Barry proved to have too much for 13-year-old Leighton Bennett as he recorded a 3-0 scoreline. ‘Boom Boom’ defeated Nathan Girvan to claim the title 12 months again but the superior big stage experience of the Irishman was a factor as he claimed the crucial opening set.
Bennett missed two darts at double 16 to make things square, allowing Barry to double his advantage as he steamed towards the title. It would all be wrapped up in the third set as confidence continued to flow for Barry, who adds another prestigious trophy to his cabinet.
Womens World Final: Mikuru Suzuki 3-0 Lisa Ashton
Men’s Semi Finals: Wayne Warren 6-3 Scott Mitchell Jim Williams 6-4 Mario Vandenbogaerde
World Youth Final(BDO): Keane Barry 3-0 Leighton Bennett
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.
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!
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!
Lisa Ashton continued her quest for a fifth Ladies World Title as she whitewashed Australia’s Corrine Hammond to reach Saturday’s final at the o2 Indigo. She was dominant in her performance against former finalist Hammond, who failed to win a leg against the rampant ‘Lancashire Rose’. She was joined by Mikuru Suzuki as the Japanese Star battled past Beau Greaves in the second semi-final. Greaves has been the star of the tournament but after finding herself in uncharted territory, the experienced Suzuki proved a step too far. As the opening two sets went with throw, Suzuki found her scoring game in the latter stages of set three, giving Greaves too much ground to make up as she set up a final showdown with Lisa Ashton in the final.
In the men’s quarter-finals Wayne Warren confirmed his first World Championship semi-final appearance at the age of 58. ‘The Yank’ recorded the victory against free-flowing Dutchman Chris Landman, who was also looking for a first semi-final appearance. But in a topsy-turvy encounter, the additional experience of Warren paid dividends as he became our first semi-finalist.
Mario Vandenbogaerde, a player making his World Championship debut after a 12 year absence from the game, also made the Qtr Finals. It was a quick start for ‘Super Mario’ who looked to be heading for a simple victory. But as the pressure grew, David Evans got his foot in the door, taking the third set to plant the seed of doubt before the players took a break for the interval. Aside from briefly getting on level terms, that would be as close as ‘Stretch’ got the semi-finals, the former Belgian number one continuing his dream run into the semi-final stages. The Belgian will now take on tournament favourite Jim Williams in the final after the Welshman made light work of Paul Hogan. ‘Crocodile Dundee’ had been magnificent in his opening two matches, but that form was nowhere to be seen as Williams recorded a 5-1 victory on the Indigo stage.
Scott Mitchell completed the semi-final line-up as he saw off good friend Scott Waites in the final game of the evening. It was nip and tuck all the way through, with neither player able to build up a significant cushion. With both players averaging in the mid 90’s, Mitchell found that extra gear in the crucial deciding set to secure just a second ever World Championship semi-final appearance.
Results Wayne Warren 5-3 Chris Landman Lisa Ashton 2-0 Corrine Hammond Mario Vandenbogaerde 5-3 David Evans
Jim Williams 5-1 Paul Hogan Mikuru Suzuki 2-1 Beau Greaves Scott Mitchell 5-4 Scott Waites
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’ 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.
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.
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.
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
Leighton Bennett Bennett became the youngest ever competitor in the BDO World Championships as he took on former champion of the world Scott Mitchell. ‘Scotty Dog’ settled the better, taking the first two sets without breaking sweat.
However, ‘Boom Boom’ returned from the interval re-invigorated, taking the following set as Mitchell’s heart rate began to rise. But that would only be a minor blip as Mitchell returns to his old ways and defeated the 14-year-old with a respectable 88 average.
Number six seed Nick Kenny was the highest profile casualty of the afternoon session as he was defeated by the Netherlands Dennie Olde Kalter in a five set thriller. Olde Kalter had originally taken a two set lead, but was dragged into a decider by the dogged Kenny.
The British Classic champion would show his class in the latter stages, taking out finishes of 90 and 98 as he ended the Welshman’s chances of a first major title.
Elsewhere in the men’s competition there were wins for number three seed Richard Veenstra and World Championship debutante David Evans. Veenstra made it all the way to the semi-finals in 2016, and will be hoping for another deep run in the brand new venue.
Evans entered as 14th seed in his first World Championship and survived a match dart against Stourbridge’s Nick Fullwell. ‘Stretch’ would claim the final two sets to set up a meeting with Andy Hamilton.
In the women’s competition there were routine victories for former champions Anastasia Dobromyslova and Lisa Ashton. ‘The Lancashire Rose’ cruised past Paula Jacklin, recording the first whitewash win of the tournament.
Elsewhere, Anastasia Dobromyslova was far from her brilliant best as she defeated Sharon Prins in straight sets, she knows improvement will be needed as she faces Mikuru Suzuki in the quarter-finals.
There were also victories for Ben Hazel over seasoned veteran Gary Robson and Scotland’s Ryan Hogarth as he defeated Thibault Tricole of France.
David Evans 3-2 Nick Fullwell Dennie Olde Kalter 3-2 Nick Kenny Anastasia Dobromyslova 2-0 Sharon Prins Richard Veenstra 3-1 Justin Hood
Ben Hazel 3-2 Gary Robson Lisa Ashton 2-0 Paula Jacklin Scott Mitchell 3-1 Leighton Bennett Ryan Hogarth 3-0 Thibault Tricole
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