Column #HR355 World Matchplay – Round Uno

Thursday, July 18, 2022
Column HR355
World Matchplay – Round Uno

The 2022 World Matchplay began with a fitting tribute to commentator John Gwynne who had passed away just 7 days before.  The last of the original three voices of the PDC is silenced… Sid Waddell, Dave Lanning and now John.

Most proclaimed in advance that this was the most competitive ever Matchplay field.  The first round matches would disagree.  Only 2 of the 16 matches went to a 10-9 score.  Three matches went as far at 10-8.

The best match?  Rob Cross’s 11-9 over Chris Dobey on Monday.  Dobey took a 1-4 lead when Cross missed darts for the same score.  That became 7-2 for “Hollywood” Chris Dobey, then 8-2 with a 94 finish of 18, d19, d19.  Cross would catch fire to level at 8 with help from Dobey’s 10 missed doubles.  Dobey used 11 darts to make it 9-8 as Cross leveled at 9.  That called for extra time to win by 2 legs.  For the first time, “Hot Cross Darts” took a lead at 10-9 on 15 darts as Dobey missed 1-at tops.  Dobey opened the 20th leg with a T20 as Cross hit T40 then T34 and T77 leaving 50.  Cross checked out in 13 while Dobey was on 156.

The ODC’s (aka “Chalk-eating Weasel”) selections?  13 for 16.

Krzysztof Ratajski 10-6 over Stephen Bunting.  Bunting had a 3-2 lead when Ratajski blew it open going 7-2 from there.  Bunting changed his walk-on from “Bird is the Word” – eventually The Polish Eagle gave him the bird.

Dimitri Van den Bergh 10-2 over Callan Rydz.  DvD went thru Rydz like a San Antonio breakfast burrito before lunch.  Rydz’s toupee was worse than his 81.99 average.  Or was he wearing a raccoon on his head?

Peter Wright 10-4 over Madars Razma.  Wright jumped to early 5-1 lead playing great and Razma not – and strolled to a 10-4 win.

Rowby-John Rodriguez 10-7 over Jonny Clayton.  RJ was down 2-3 but looked in charge.  Clayton was playing with a damaged eye but, still, RJ was superior.  Clayton took out T30 with RJ on 68 to narrow to 5-4.  RJ, with Clayton at 88 and ready to level, took out T56.  Then a 13- darter for 7-4 which begat 9-6 when 13 darts ended it 10-7.

Day 2 – Afternoon

Getting up at 5:00 am for Dirk van Duijvenbode vs Ryan Searle was worth the effort!   

Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-8 over Ryan Searle was a beer drinker’s delight.  Both play so fast the beer never gets warm.  DvD, known for scoring, didn’t get a T80 until the 10th leg as he got to 4-6.  Level at 6, they’d both hold to level 8 when DvD broke in 11 darts for 9-8, then 12 darts for the win.   

Danny Noppert 10-6 over Brendan Dolan.  Dolan build leads of 5-3 and 6-4 when the wheels fell off.  Dolan missed 7 doubles 6-6.

Daryl Gurney 10-7 over Gary Anderson.  Take away Anderson’s finishes of T34, T10 and T16 and this match was a superb display of mediocrity.  Someone had to win.  Both players had 92 averages.

Michael Smith 11-9 over Andrew Gilding.  Gilding had a dart at tops to go up 9-5 but missed that which led to a 3-leg run by Smith to level at 8.  Smith first lead came at 9-8 where but he missed 2 match darts.  Level at 9, Smith would take the next 2 denying Gilding a double.     

Evening Session

Joe Cullen 10-2 over Damon Heta.  Cullen “En fuego” went through Deta like a dose of salts, including outs of T60 and T20.  

James Wade 10-4 over Martin Lukeman.  Watch this math or get a root canal?  Root canal – less pain.  

Michael van Gerwen 10-7 over Adrian Lewis.  Plastic surgeon match – “nip and tuck” until 6-all.  Lewis had darts to win 4 legs from 6-6.  Whoops.  MvG 9-7.

Nathan Aspinall 10-5 over Luke Humphries.  The Asp built a 7-1 lead, then cruised.  At 14-7 up against Rob Cross in a race to 17, it looked like it was a matter of when, not if.  

Monday

Rob Cross 11-9 over Chris Dobey.  OMG!   

Jose de Sousa 10-6 over Gabriel Clemens.  Jose had to win the 20th leg, twice.  First time, he wanted 100, went 20, d20 and d20 but one fell out.  Next – 136, T20, T20, d18.  Thank you.  

Gerwyn Price 10-8 over Martin Schindler.  Schindler had darts for 5-2 but settled for 4-3.  At 7-7, Price had pair of 11 darters.  The win in 14.  Price dodgy on doubles.   

Dave Chisnall 10-7 over Kim Huybrechts.  Both wilted.  Chizzy less.

Round Two: Tuesday, July 19 (First to 11)

Top two betting favorites, Wright and MVG, in action – both need to improve.  Dimitri Van den Bergh and Aspinall could steal the show.   

#8 Dimitri Van den Bergh vs. Rowby-John Rodriguez.  Van den Bergh fired on all cylinders in round one averaging 100+ with a 73% finish rate.  Like him to beat rookie RJR in a nail-biter.  

Nathan Aspinall vs. James Wade.  Wade should win big.  But Aspinall’s on track for the win.  

#1 Peter Wright vs. #16 Krzysztof Ratajski.  Gotta like Wright but his 37% finishing will have to improve.  Ratajski made the semis last year.  Wright to advance. 

#4 Michael van Gerwen vs. #13 Joe Cullen.  Experts are in love with Cullen’s 10-2 first round win.  They shouldn’t be.  MvG is the betting favorite and will win this one.

Round Two: Wednesday, July 20

Tasty menu for the discerning darter’s pallet…

Danny Noppert vs. Daryl Gurney.  Going with Noppert to outscore Gurney and advance.   

#10 Rob Cross vs.  #7 Jose de Sousa.  After comeback, “Hot Cross Darts” is the call.   

#2 Gerwyn Price vs #15 Dave Chisnall.  Price to make a run to semis with this win.

#14 Dirk van Duijvenbode vs. #3 Michael Smith.  Will be a fast match that will probably go down to tie-breaker.  Neither dilly-dallies at the oche.  van Duijvenbode averaged 103 after a slow start.  Smith was tested against Gilding.  Both need to play their game and not fight their heads.  “Calling Dr. Freud, Dr. Sigmund Freud to Winter Gardens!”  Going with the Dutchman.     

Wayne Mardle: “My first time behind the mic was with John Gwynne.  He told me, ‘Be yourself.’  Then he asked if I was nervous.  ‘No,’ I said.  ‘You should be,’ said he.”

Stay thirsty my friends.

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.
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