Column #CM95 Back to the 2021 PDC World Championship

Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Column CM95
Back to the 2021 PDC World Championship 

As a follow-up to the article about the 2008 BDO Women’s World Championship showdown between Trina Gulliver and Anastasia Dobromyslova final, here is a close look at the two female players in this year’s PDC World Championship – Lisa Ashton and Deta Hedman.

Neither of the two players who played in the memorable BDO Women’s final of 2008 will take part in the PDC World Championship 2021.

Trina Gulliver has backed out from darts, at least for the moment. She was always a player very loyal to the BDO and never accepted invitations to play in the Grand Slam. But in 2019 she was one of the commentators for the PDC World Championship.

Anastasia Dobromyslova on the other hand was never just a BDO player.  She even joined the PCD circuit from 2008 until 2011, which at that time was still possible without a Tour Card.  In 2008, she qualified as an amateur qualifier for the UK Open. Later in the year, she took part in the Grand Slam and, thanks to a wildcard in the 2009 PDC World Championship.

In the first and so far only PDC Women’s World Championship she was eliminated by Stacy Bromberg.  Back at the Grand Slam in 2009 she won her match against Vincent van der Voort.  But all in all, she was not really successful in the PDC and returned in 2011 to the BDO.  She qualified in 2019 for the PDC World Championship but lost first round.

To give the female players a chance to qualify for the 2021 PDC World Championship the PDC organised a women’s series with four events by which the two women’s places in the World Championship were allocated. Anastasia Dobromyslova took part in the series but did not even reach the top ten of the table. At the moment she is just no longer that good. Trina Gulliver didn’t take part in the series.

By the end of the women’s series, it was Lisa Ashton and Deta Hedman who managed to qualify.  It was rather close between Hedman and Fallon Sherrock, who had defeated during the last PDC World Championship Ted Evetts and Mensur Suljovic and was the uncrowned “Queen of the Palace.”

The Corona pandemic unluckily prevented Sherrock to in any significant way savour her glory. Contrary to Lisa Ashton she was not able to get herself a Tour Card in Qualifying School and so the year 2020 for her was, like for most female players, more a year to forget – with the exception of a few online tournaments there were almost no tournaments for the women.

Lisa Ashton not only easily led the table of the Women’s Series with two wins and one runner-up placing, but she also won the women’s qualifier for the Grand Slam of Darts. In addition, she took part in the Summer Series, the Autumn Series and the Winter Series of the PDC, played on the Home Tours and in those Players Championships which were played before the lockdown. All in all, she earned £11,000 in prize money, £7 000 of it on the Pro Tour. Though it doesn’t yet show in her results, Ashton thinks she has improved a lot. And of course, she collected a lot of experience in playing against the top male players. She looked rather nervous though during the Grand Slam and it didn’t go well at all for her.

Ashton will meet Adam Hunt in the first round of the World Championship, who earned twice the money on the Pro Tour which was enough to qualify by the Pro Tour Order of Merit for the event.

Hunt to be sure is not an outstanding player – well, perhaps better not a consistent player, although he has showed some really good matches.  For example, he won against Gabriel Clemens during the Grand Slam of Darts. But he played some really weak matches as well during the year. Like Ashton, he takes part for the second time in the PDC World Championship and also like Ashton in 2019 he lost his first-round match. But while Ashton in 2019 at least won a set, Hunt failed to do so.

I think this first round match will be very much about who will be better in keeping their nerve and who comes into the tournament with more confidence. Ashton will not be without a chance.

The second women’s qualifier, Deta Hedman, is probably one of the most experienced female players. She has already been playing ten years longer than Trina Gulliver and has long been one of the top players in the world and very often the #1 among the women, even though she took a few breaks in her career – due to work commitments and because of the racism she was exposed to due to her skin tone (Hedman is Jamaican).  In the Women’s Series she won one event and reached two semi-finals. She was a semi-finalist in the Grand Slam of Darts qualifier as well.

Though Ashton is the first woman with a Tour Card, she is not the first women on the Pro Tour – that was Deta Hedman, who played from 2002 to 2007 – longer than Anastasia Dobromyslova.

And it was not Fallon Sherrock, who was the first woman to win matches against men in a televised major – that as well was Deta Hedman who in 2005 in the UK Open defeated Aaron Turner and Norman Fletcher.

Hedman has won almost every tournament women can take part in, at least once – with the exception of the BDO Women’s World Championship. Three times she stood in the final and three times she lost – once against Anastasia Dobromyslova, once against Lisa Ashton and once against Trina Gulliver.

It sometimes looks as though she just can’t really settle on stage when she plays in front of the TV cameras. Like Ashton and Sherrock, Hedman took part in Qualifying School and like Sherrock she had no success. Due to the Corona pandemic, other than the Women’s Series she played only the Dutch Open this year – it can well be she is rather rusty. Hedman was drawn against Andy Boulton. Probably she will know him from his time in the BDO.

Boulton was one of the participants in the PDC Home Tour 3 and after the group matches he headed the table so he should be well warmed up and prepared for the World Championship. But Boulton is not really a consistent player. So far, he has stood twice on the stage at Alexandra Palace and both times he lost.

Hedman says she feels men always feel a lot of pressure when they play against women regardless of whether the women play good or weak. Boulton will certainly feel this pressure as but I nevertheless doubt Hedman will prevail.

But one thing is certain – no other female player has deserved an appearance on the stage of the Alexandra Palace more than the legendary Hedman who celebrated her 61st birthday on November 14th.

 

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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.