Column #CM54 WC day four, and the first (and so far, only) German women on the PDC circuit

Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Column CM54
WC day four, and the first (and so far, only) German women on the PDC circuit

Yes, really, it is true, there were German ladies who played a few PDC Europe Events. There were two: Sabrina Spörle and Stefanie Lück.

Sabrina Spörle was more a soft darts player and Stefanie Lück was at that time (2009-2011) quite new in the sport, a big sensation and the great white hope of German darts. In 2010, the young woman won the WDF German Gold Cup and the German National Championship and could celebrate some other good results in the DDV. In 2011 in a PDC European event, she was defeated by John Mc Gowan. There as well she stood in the limelight – especially with the PDC players. Because of her talent she was even sponsored for a short while by Unicorn.

Gordon Shumway put his head above the parapet and predicted that in three years time Lück would play herself to the top spot in the world and become the German equivalent of Trina Gulliver or Anastasia Dobromyslova. Unluckily, this prediction turned out to be wrong. In the ensuing years one heard more about Lück because she was Simon Whitlock’s girlfriend then because of any sporting success. Today, probably only a few will remember the hype.

But Lück is definitely still around. She again won the German National Championship in 2014 and 2017. I saw her again during last year’s Winmau World Masters and currently in the DDV ladies rankings she sits in seventh place. When she won a DSAB soft darts event recently one could read that she played “marvelous.” Lück took part in the “Rest of the World” qualifier for the PDC World Championship but lost among the last 16 to Japan’s Mikuru Suzuki who had qualified a few weeks earlier for the PDC World Championshi. But internationally Lück at the moment plays no part. Sabrina Spörle on the other hand seems only to play from time to time in soft darts tournaments.

On the fourth day of the PDC World Championship Gabriel Clemens, the fourth German player, stood on the Ally Pally stage. He had qualified by the Pro Tour Order of Merit and played against Aden Kirk, who qualified by the PDPA Qualifier. Clemens won the first two legs and threw two 180s in them. In the third leg he was not as clinical but nevertheless won it as well and with it the first set. The second and third sets were quite similar though Clemens looked not quite as assured and was not as dominant. But he still stayed the stronger player and won in the end without problems 3-0. A good debut for the German in this tournament. After the match he shared that he had not been nervous at all, at first, when he came on stage but during the first break he suddenly started to get nervous. He would return home the next morning, work two days and come back for his second round match against John Henderson.

In the following two matches two Irishmen played and we saw two Irish wins. First, William O’Connor who had qualified like his Northern Ireland colleague Brendan Dolan by the Pro Tour Order of Merit, played against the Western European qualifier Yordi Meeuwisse. It was not O’Connor‘s first World Championship but until now he had always lost his first match. This time he had a good start and won the first set 3-1. It was much closer in the next two sets which both went into a deciding leg. Both times the Irishman hit the double first.

Next we had Brendan Dolan who had no problem at all with his opponent, the Chinese qualifier Yuanjun Liu. The young Chinese only won a single leg. As Dolan said after the match, he had believed Liu would play quite well and always expected a comeback. But probably the first appearance on the big stage had been overwhelming for the debutant.

After all these one-sided matches we were rewarded with a nail-biting thriller in the last match of the afternoon between Dave Chisnall and Josh Payne. Chisnall was at first not in the match at all while Payne played two brilliant sets and lead 2-0. In the third set Chisnall somehow forced a deciding leg and won the set. In set four Chisnall was the better player while Payne had to mentally get beyond falling short so close to the finish line. In the last set Chisnall took the lead for the first time. He missed two match darts in the third leg but Payne didn’t find his double either. Finally, Chisnall hit the double two to win an unbelievable match – a really thrilling and high class affair after which everybody needed a break to recover!

The first contest of the afternoon was one which just didn’t enthrall, perhaps because it again was a one-sided affair. Luke Humphries who qualified by the Pro Tour Order of Merit and as first in the Development Tour Order of Merit met Adam Hunt who had qualified by the PDPA qualifier. Hunt had played the complete Pro Tour this year but only once reached a quarter final. Even before the match started one knew Humphries was the better player by far. And – no surprise – it turned out he really was. Humphries progressed with a 3-0 win into the second round.

The second match developed into a one-sided match as well after Matthew Edgar – whose grandfather once played during a News of the World tournament at Alexandra Palace – won the first set. Darius Labanauskas finally arrived in the match in set two and showed – as one is used from his appearances in the BDO World Championship – a good and solid performance. He won his debut 3-1. Labanauskas had qualified by the Nordic and Baltic Tour. In 2018, he took part in a few European Tour Events.

In the last match, crowd favorite Paul Lim came on stage but unluckily was not as clinical on his doubles as his opponent Ross Smith. Smith – who had only just qualified by the Pro Tour Order of Merit – had in 2011 reached the quarterfinals of the BDO World Championship and stood first on the Alexandra Palace stage in 2014. He lost to Simon Whitlock in the first round – that year. But against Paul Lim he stormed through the first two sets. In the third set Lim played better and he won the set. But all hopes for a comeback were dashed when Smith turned on his turbo again and won the match in the following set.

The second round match of the evening pitted one-sided matches victors from before – though not in the way the fans and the crowd had hoped for. An as Santa dressed Peter Wright came on stage but went down to a Spanish whirlwind named Toni Alcinas – a bitter end to a already screwed up year for Wright. Wright couldn’t hit a double – especially not when he needed it, in particular in the deciding legs of sets one and four. So, Alcinas won in the end 3-1 against the #3 of the world. Wright will not have a great Christmas and his already impaired self-assurance will dwindle even more. The tournament had its first big upset!

Outside Alexandra Palace the fans were still discussing the last match of the evening while I started my way home. It was rather late already but I still had some work to do (which you have just read!).

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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.