Column #CM90 Superbly amplified (or World Matchplay – Round #2)

Saturday, July 25, 2020
Column CM90
Superbly Amplified (or World Matchplay – Round #2)

Am I the only one who is curious why the arena in Milton Keynes is called “Marshall Arena”?

Surely others have wondered too but no doubt most don’t care and are just happy that live darts is finally back.  Still, perhaps some will find the answer to the question interesting.

Marshall is the name of a company (it might be it will now click for a few).  At least my husband reacted immediately: “Marshall… of course, that’s the crème de la crème!”

Yes, exactly.  Marshall is the crème de la crème for all who are somehow involved in rock music be it by playing electric guitars or the drums, as a member of a band or just as a fan of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Pete Townsend and many more.

Most amateurs will dream of having one and the professionals will have one – Marshall is the leading manufacturer of amplifiers. And without those amplifiers the typical sound of Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac or even the Rolling Stones would either not exist or would be completely different.

The founder of the company, Jim Marshall, was born in London in 1923 and was an amateur drummer in his youth. He opened a music shop in London which sold instruments. Many young talents who were friends of his son, Terry, were among his customers so the shop soon became a centre for young rock musicians who often lamented that existing amplifiers didn’t produce the sound they wanted.

Jim and Terry decided to help them and after some experimentation constructed their first amplifier, the amp #1, which quickly became successful.  Many more amplifiers followed which were also successful, so the company had to move. In fact, it moved several times before it came to Bletchley, which is a part of Milton Keynes, in 1967.  The headquarters can still be found here 53 years later.

Thanks to a visit by Jimi Hendrix Marshall became internationally known.  It is not quite clear just what happened…

In one version it is claimed Hendrix got interested in the company after a promoter forced him to play with the Marshall equipment at a certain venue (because he didn’t want to remove the equipment that was already there and replace it with Hendrix’s own.

In another version it is said Hendrix’s drummer, Mitch Mitchell, worked for a time in Marshall’s shop in London and introduced them.

The rest is history and still today Marshall amplifiers are in demand around the world. Today, the company also produces speakers and headphones and their newest amplifier is digital and completely programmable.  And, since 2017 there has existed a Marshall record label as well.  Should you want to hear more about the company here two short videos:

Behind the Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4f9TJ6mFJQ

Marshall Memories: https://youtu.be/rU_DegFF9As

I think one can suppose that in the Marshall Arena Marshall equipment is used.

And so, we are back at the World Matchplay and ready for a look at the astonishing second round.

The second round was played on two evenings and after them the two top favourites to win, world ranked #1 Michael van Gerwen and world champion Peter Wright, were eliminated from the tournament.  So also, among top ten players, were Mensur Suljovic, James Wade and Daryl Gurney.

The first night of the second round started with a thriller.  Michael Smith defeated Mensur Suljovic in overtime 14-12.  Based on averages it was an ordinary match in which Smith just played a little bit better than Suljovic and won deservedly.  Smith threw 10 180s and Suljovic only 2 – probably this plus Smith’s solid finishing made the difference.

This was followed by similarly exciting match between Gary Anderson and James Wade.  Anderson was ahead 9-4 when Wade started one of his feared fightbacks.  In this case it was not enough, and Anderson managed to stay in the match, winning 11-8.

What came next was the biggest upset of the event when of all players Simon Whitlock – whom many had written off – defeated Michael van Gerwen who had a pitch-black night.

Why van Gerwen played as he did is not known.  But he never was in the match at all and at the first break was behind 0-5.  He never managed to really reduce the gap and an unchained Simon Whitlock won 11-4.  van Gerwen couldn’t hit a double and his average was just 90 – almost embarrassing for him.

The last match of the night was the best from an averages standpoint and it was a very close one in which Gabriel Clemens only was once in the lead – at just about the very the end.  But Krzysztof Ratajski managed to win.

And so, Peter Wright moved up into the position as favourite – but only for 24 hours…

The second evening of second round matches was not as thrilling as the first – most matches were a little bit one-sided, but two had surprising results.

First on was Vincent van der Voort vs. Daryl Gurney who looked from the start like he had given in already.  Although he produced a short mini comeback even that seemed half-hearted.  Vincent van der Voort enjoyed a comfortable 11-5 win.

More thrilling was the next contest between Dmitri van den Bergh and Joe Cullen, though it was not a quality match.  But van den Bergh showed he has now learned how to win these matches as well. It was a close call at 11-9 but it was enough.

Of course, this night had its upset as well – Glen Durrant defeated Peter Wright who had been brilliant in the Summer Series.  Wright played the only 100-plus average of the second round, but he couldn’t find a double and even as a spectator I grew desperate.

Probably Wright’s glasses or, more accurately, in this match his missing glasses were the reason.

During the Summer Series Wright played for the first time with glasses and he had everything under control.  In the first round of the World Matchplay he wore them for the first half of the match but took them off as the glare from the lights made it difficult for him to see.  For his second round match he appeared from the start without glasses on stage.

I can imagine it becomes difficult when you switch between wearing glasses or not, especially when it comes to hitting doubles.  With glasses you can see everything clearly – without everything is blurred.

Other players like Gary Anderson and Ian White seem to be able to handle it and should Wright decide to wear them all the time and not constantly switch like he does with his darts he will surely get used to them. But his chance to win the World Matchplay is gone.  We’ll see what happens during the Premier League to be played in Milton Keynes in August.

In the last match of the second round the rejuvenated Adrian Lewis defeated Danny Noppert.  It was another good performance from Lewis.  Noppert just was not strong enough.

And so, after the elimination of van Gerwen and Wright, Glen Durrant was suddenly the favourite to win World Matchplay…

 

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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.