Column #CM89 Gary Anderson is to blame!

Friday, July 24, 2020
Column CM89
Gary Anderson is to blame!

My idea was to abstain from accompanying this year’s World Matchplay with columns since I couldn’t watch it live on the spot.  And I’ve never ever been in Milton Keynes either….

But then Gary Anderson came along and was asked in two different interviews how he intended to pass the time between winning his first round match and his second round match.  I was astonished when both times he mentioned that if in a pinch he could go shopping…

Strange, I thought.  I am almost sure he neither could, nor would go shopping.  First, because I just don’t envision Anderson as a passionate shopper – someone who in his spare time trudges around shops searching for a fancy outfit.  And second, because I couldn’t imagine the PDC would be pleased if players involved in the tournament (who had tested negative for Covid-19) would mingle between rounds with the untested shopping crowd. Players would have to be tested again and each positive test would compromise the tournament.

So, Anderson’s shopping had to be some kind of joke – probably a joke only the British can understand.

But I was curious and decided to do some research and, well, when you start with research normally a column is not far away.

So, Gary Anderson is to blame…

Milton Keynes is not really a town worth a visit, except perhaps for an urban planner who intends to have a look at the architectural eyesores of the 1960s.

Milton Keynes is a so-called “New Town.”  New Towns were constructed in Great Britain in the 1960s as kind of relief towns for major cities. That’s not quite true – after World War II many New Towns were already built – then and later in the 1960s because housing space was scarce. Those built after World War II were mostly built around London.

Milton Keynes was built in 1967, half-way between London and Birmingham.  At first these towns were a real success but today the infrastructure is no longer adequate and social problems are huge.

To build Milton Keynes a few small villages which already existed where included.  As all New Towns, the town was planned on the drafting board – laid out in a grid pattern, a lot of streets, many roundabouts.  Today, the roundabouts of Milton Keynes are decorated with concrete cows.

Milton Keyes is proud to have the biggest indoor ski hall in all of Europe and the longest shopping centre stretching – believe it or not – 720 metres.  (Perhaps this was the impetus for Gary Anderson’s allusion.)

But back to this year’s World Matchplay which is different from all World Matchplays before.

No Winter Gardens, no Blackpool Tower, no crowds at the beach or in the venue, no holiday atmosphere.  The players are alone during their walk-on, the noise is canned and fits most match situations quite well.  Somewhere there seems to sit some really alert technician so the “cheer” comes come at the right moment with only a minor delay.

Nevertheless, most players feel the noise is “weird” – and they all use the same word to describe it.  Only Krzysztof Ratajski thought it was deceptively real – likely because he rarely looks at the crowd and only hears it.

On stage are John McDonald, a referee and two writers – as always.

I feel Sky Sports and the PDC came up with quite a good concept.  Commentators Rod Studd and Wayne Mardle are missing (and I really miss them).  Those present, including Nigel Pearson who replaces Dave Clark, do a good job.

And the matches?

There were no really weak matches in the first round – the lowest averages saw Gabriel Clemens and Steve Beaton with just below 90.

Nevertheless, it was Clemens who caused one of the upsets of the first round when he eliminated reigning champion Rob Cross. Cross had the better average but the lower hitting rate on the doubles.

Gerwyn Price was eliminated first round as well by a laser-focused Danny Noppert.

And Nathan Aspinall didn’t survive the final first round match against Dimitri van den Bergh.  It might be van den Bergh learned something during his enforced stay with Peter Wright during the lockdown – at least van den Bergh thinks he learned a lot about the right attitude from Wright.

The first round was a stumbling block for some more top 16 players as well…

Dave Chisnall and Ian White where eliminated but they never were among the top favourites to win the event.

The highest average was recorded by Krzysztof Ratajski who impressed against Jermaine Wattimena.  Almost as high was Glen Durrant’s – who played as Durrant in top form plays.

Though their averages were not as high both Adrian Lewis and Vincent van der Voort impressed as well.  Probably the lockdown break was good for both.

Three matches required overtime and Mensur Suljovic, James Wade and Joe Cullen prevailed – Cullen in a Sudden Death leg.

One player who looked like he really enjoyed himself was Simon Whitlock who joked around with the cameras and the absent crowd and had no problem winning the opening match against Ryan Joyce.

So, all in all it was a satisfying first round (though some of the top favourites disappointed).  It included drama, fun, great performances and upsets – what more could you ask for?

Well, I suppose there could have been one thing… but I never did find out if Gary Anderson went shopping!

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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.