Column #CM7 “Brexit” Darts

Tuesday, August 3, 2016
Column CM7
“Brexit” Darts

This year, I began my trip to Blackpool feeling slightly uneasy. Only a few days before, the UK had voted to leave the EU and one could read everywhere about bursts of hatred against foreigners. Hatred is an attitude that perplexes me. I just can’t understand that why – when someone is not happy with the EU and, if fact gets what they voted for – it is necessary to hate people or countries which are still members. When asked, probably most people are as unknowledgeable as I am about what the EU really did or did not for individuals. To be sure, the leading EU opponents in the UK told their citizens a lot of lies. It is fair to criticize the EU and their work but it is just not true that the EU is responsible for all the evil and injustice in the world, even beyond the member countries…

But I soon was relieved. I didn’t feel much of the Brexit backlash in Blackpool, other than the need for discussion to set things straight.

Blackpool still hasn’t developed into a nice and beautiful town. It looked as run down as ever. The town has a difficult time competing as a seaside resort against all the seaside resorts in Greece or Spain, which are now-a-days the best-sellers on the British holiday market. The British prefer regular sunshine and warm temperatures for their holidays to the far from consistent weather in Blackpool. And they’ll get more for their money on the continent as well – so in Blackpool you’ll often find weekend-only holiday makers or, during World Matchplay, the darts fans.

With the exception of the first Sunday, darts were only played in the evening during the tournament so I had always to decide what to do during the day. Of course, Blackpool offers some attractions like the Tower or Pleasure Beach but otherwise you can only walk along the Irish Sea. The weather was not really consistent – there was just one really hot and sunny day, which heated up the Winter Gardens, but otherwise it was not bathing weather and I rarely saw people swim. But that might be due to the quality of the water in Blackpool – it is recommended that ardent swimmers go to nearby St. Anne’s. What is really beautiful is Blackpool’s promenade along the Irish Sea – you can walk miles and miles and never feel bored.

Going into the tournament I had no real favourite to claim the win. In the course however, I made out two – Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen, although neither looked to me as dominant and unbeatable as one is or, in the case of Taylor, used to be.

Several times, Taylor only just won and, to me, van Gerwen (compared to the standard we are used to from him), seemed not to be at 100 per cent. He had quite “easy matches” in the first two rounds as both Jamie Caven and Kyle Anderson never really turned up and, in the quarter-finals, Dave Chisnall realised too late he had a chance to defeat van Gerwen. His match against Adrian Lewis in the semi-finals was a “typical” Lewis match as Lewis appeared to be not really focused and threw a lot of slapdash darts – something you can’t allow yourself against the Dutchman or any other top player.

Although many dart fans might disagree with me, I felt van Gerwen only won the final because Taylor, once again, had too much double trouble. Had Taylor played in the final as he did in the semi-final against Gary Anderson we might have seen another winner. When you have a look at the statistics of the semi-finals you’ll see there was more or less no difference between the two players, and the statistics of the finals were very similar too. Gary Anderson played quite well until he met Phil Taylor in the semi-finals. It seems to me he sometimes still has too much respect of Taylor, although of course, Taylor played very near his best against him in the semis and would have been hard to defeat anyway.

Besides Taylor and van Gerwen, the tournament had a lot to offer. The first round defeats of Stephen Bunting, Kim Huybrechts, James Wade, Raymond van Barneveld, and Jelle Klaasen were all real upsets. There were the debutants Payne, Gurney and Norris – although only Payne managed to show his class. There was a “might be hassle” between Adrian Lewis and Gerwyn Price – although their match looked quite friendly. There were the astonishing performances of Steve Beaton and Mervyn King, who both reached the quarterfinals deservedly – to be sure, these were the highlights of the tournament. What we didn’t get for our money was a nine-darter or an overtime match, although some matches were rather close.

So my resume of this year’s World Matchplay is that while it was not a consistently high class tournament, it was a good one and it might be that there are two more players who now must be reckoned in the fight for good placements – Steve Beaton and Mervyn King. And surely, the van Gerwen-Taylor rivalry will turn over a new leaf, as I can’t imagine Taylor will resign himself to lettering missed doubles cost him wins…

And the Brexit? At the moment, no one knows what will really happen and how it might affect the UK and other countries around the world. It appears to me it will be predominantly the UK which has to pay the price for it. My hope is that the UK politicians will at least find a way to wind down the tense situation and arbitrate between parties in a deeply divided country.

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Charis Mutschler
The founder of Global Darts, darts journalist Charis Mutschler hails from Marbach, near Stuttgart, Germany. A regular at most major PDC tournaments, a lover of literature, dance and music and cats, Charis' popular writings about darts and its players often transcend the usual. She brings something unique to the chroniclers of the sport we all love.
Charis Mutschler

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