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Column #CM81 2020 World Championship – “O Tannenbaum”

Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Column CM81
2020 World Championship – “O Tannenbaum”

It was a very long and very exciting day of darts yesterday!

Of course, Fallon Sherrock’s win over Ted Evetts was the spectacular highlight – she is now the first woman to ever win a match in a PDC World Championship. And she played well too – winning 3-2 with a 91.48 average (and at one point hitting six triple twenties, bringing the crowd to the edge of their seats in anticipation of a possible perfect game).

We also saw a few one sided 3-0 wins by Damon Heta and Noel Malicdem and three hard fought matches which were won by Ryan Searle, Jeffrey de Zwaan und Cristo Reyes – all exhausting and fascinating! And – both seeded players survived their matches!

Today, the evening session is firmly in German hands – Nico Kurz and Gabriel Clemens will stand on stage. For their walk-on songs one might recommend the “O Tannenbaum” – or more precisely the melody of the song which has been used many times.

In 1824, the choirmaster of the Leipziger Neukirche searched for a children’s song for Christmas in his archive and found this song which originally was a sad love song, in which the fir tree was used as contrast to the disloyal lover. It was changed into a declaration of love for the, at this time, already used Christmas tree. It took some time – until after the Second World War – before the song was popularized and then became known in English and French as well. As the melody was so simple and recognizable around the world it was not only used for the Christmas song – though the text of “O Tannenbaum” was often spoofed.

For example, in some countries the melody was used with the text “The Red Flag” as the song of the international labour movement and as the hymn of the British labour party. With the text “Maryland, My Maryland” it was the battle song of the Confederate states in the American Civil war – and eventually became the state song of the State of Maryland (and despite considerable opposition it remains so to this day).

The seeded players today are Stephen Bunting in the afternoon session and James Wade in the evening session. The range of unseeded players reaches from New Zealand to Japan, Europe and South America.

Ron Meulenkamp will open the afternoon session against the debutant Ben Robb from New Zealand. All I know about Robb is that he is the DPNZ qualifier – which doesn’t really help when you want to predict a match result. So, I will have a cup of tea and wait and see.

After that, Mickey Mansell will play against Seigo Asada. Asada is a strong Asian player – so probably Mansell will get into trouble even though he sometimes shows great performances.

Harry Ward against Madars Razma is another match which is difficult to predict. Razma plays with success on the Nordic and Baltic Tour but outside this he hasn’t produced anything outstanding. Ward plays at a level like Ron Meulenkamp, who opened the afternoon session, and is rather inconsistent. For both players it will be their world championship debut. Razma has more experience – it might be that can help him. On the other hand, Ward looks like he is a pretty cool customer – that could help him.

In the last match of the afternoon, seeded player Stephen Bunting will take the stage and probably he will not have too many problems with his opponent. But I don’t dare to commit myself to this after all the surprising second round results so far.

In the first match of the evening Nico Kurz, the first of three German players and the least experienced, will stand of stage. James Wilson probably will not be unbeatable but Kurz has never played on such a stage, before such a crowd and never in a tournament so big – it will not be easy for him.

The second match is England vs. South America or Josh Payne vs. Diogo Portela. Both have stood on this stage before and both had unremarkable darting seasons. I myself think Payne is the stronger player but it is one of the attractions of these first-round matches – the result often surprises!

With Gabriel Clemens a strong and, this year, quite successful German player takes the stage next. He recently impressed in the Grand Slam. He will play against Benito van de Pas who had a disappointing year and had to qualify by the Tour Card Holders Qualifier for the tournament. One would think Clemens will have no problems winning this match.

The seeded player of the night will be James Wade and the same applies to him as to Stephen Bunting – he should have no problem moving to the next round – though I almost don’t dare to say such a thing!


  • Charis Mutschler

    Charis Mutschler is from Marbach, near Stuttgart, Germany. Her husband introduced her to the sport by bringing a dartboard into their marriage (or was it to their wedding?), turning her from a librarian by day into a darts fanatic by night. Charis has been writing about the sport for years and is a regular at most PDC majors, from which she provides reports and conducts player interviews. She is bilingual and cultured, with a love for literature, dance, music, cats, and the conservation movement. Charis’ writings about darts and its players often transcend the typical, showcasing her class and distinction, unlike Dartoid and the Old Dart Coach.