Column #CM10 PDC World Championship 2017 – Report #1

Friday, December 24, 2016
Column CM10
At St. Martin in the Fields and Alexandra Palace 

As the World Championship would not begin before the evening I took the bus and underground into the City of London. The city is always crowded and even more so such a short time before Christmas. So I concentrated on only a few destinations – one of those being the church St. Martin’s in the Fields. When you stand in front of it today, just across from the crowds on Trafalgar Square, it is difficult to picture that into the 16th Century it was surrounded by fields – at that time London and Westminster were two separate cities.

St. Martin has built a good reputation in the world of classical music as the home of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields – one of the best chamber orchestras in the world, founded in 1958 by Sir Neville Marriner. Marriner, who died just recently in October 2016, was a great conductor – and was from 1983-1989 conductor of the German Radiosinfonie Orchestra in Stuttgart. His successor at St. Martin’s is Joshua Bell.

As do many churches in London this church has special functions. For one it is the church of the royal house as Buckingham Palace belongs to its parish. On the other side it is the church of the admiralty.

Until now, I hadn’t heard the Academy during a concert in St. Martin’s but in the church, especially before Christmas, free lunchtime concerts often take place for around 30 minutes, often with festive music. You can perfectly combine this with a lunch break in the café in the crypt of the church. There you can have soup, salad or a complete meal should you not opt for coffee and a cake. But often the café is crowded and you will not always find a chair. I decided for the soup and then went up back again by underground and bus to Muswell Hill.

The first match of the World Championship 2017 was, as most first matches are which open a big tournament, not a great match, very nervous and scattered. But as the winner Kevin Painter said after the match it is an achievement to qualify at all for the tournament. And when you have not been on the big stage for some time it is mostly about surviving the First Round – averages are of no interest at all. In the second match young Welshman Jamie Lewis defeated Irishman Mick McGowan in a close and quite interesting contest.

Next up was the first appearance of the reigning champion Gary Anderson against PDPA qualifier and debutant Mark Frost. The crowd tended to sympathized with the underdog. Frost has not played often on a big stage and he looked quite overwhelmed by the situation, especially when the crowd started to cheer for him. A smile was on his face throughout and several times he had to step back to take a deep breath before he threw his darts. Anderson remained professional and handled it well – which could not have been easy. He looked a little bit tired when he turned up in the press room to answer questions.

The last match of the evening was, in part, high class and it was very close. Luck helped Michael Smith a little to get over the finishing line before Ricky Evans. It’s a pity Evans was eliminated. He’s a player I like to watch.

The first evening was not a really enthralling occasion, but you can say that often about first evenings of a tournament. To be sure though, the atmosphere among the crowd was terrific – and certain to intensify in the days ahead.

 

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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.