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Column #CM120 30 years of PDC World Championships – the Dutchmen (Part 4)

Friday, February 10, 2023
Column CM120
30 years of PDC World Championships – the Dutchmen (Part 4)

In the last article and as we drew closer to the present, the number of Dutch participants in the PDC World Championship continued to rise.

In the 2026 World Championship three Dutch players were in the field of participants.  Besides Roland Scholten and Jan van der Rassel, Erwin Extercatte – born 1981 – qualified.  Extercatte had been on the PDC Circuit for two years and in 2005 won the Open Oust and Open Holland and had taken part in the German Darts Championship in Halle.  He made his debut in the 2006 PDC World Championship and defeated Darren Webster in the first round but lost second round to Gary Welding who went on and stood in the quarterfinals that year.

In 2008, Extercatte took part in the PDC World Championship for a second time – this time with a wildcard from the Dutch broadcaster SBS 6. He won in the preliminary round against Alan Bolton from New Zealand and caused an upset in the first round when he eliminated the number 20 seed Colin Osborne. He lost in the second round to Barrie Bates.

In 2009  Extercatte took part without success in the Players Championships in Nuland and Gladbeck – after that he wasn’t heard from anymore, at least he disappeared from the international darts scene.

In the 2007 PDC World Championship for the first time Raymond van Barneveld stood at the PDC oche. van Barneveld played for many years on the BDO/WDF circuit and was one of the top players. In 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2005 he won the BDO World Championship but lost the final in 2006 against his young country fellowman Jelle Klaasen. At this time there was a lot of discussion as to who –  Phil Taylor or Raymond van Barneveld –  was the best player in the world and van Barneveld decided (no doubt tempted by the promise of a place in the Premier League and the much higher price money in the PDC) to make the switch.

For van Barneveld his first PDC World Championship was the most successful – he defeated in the final Phil Taylor 7-6 and got his only PDC World Championship title. Many speculated that van Barneveld only won because Taylor had  – as he liked to do – gifted him the right to throw first and due to this the the Dutchman had the throw in the last set as well.  To be sure this match is a good example of how important it can be when you win the throw for the bull.

van Barneveld defeated in the first round young Australian Mitchell Clegg, who had been celebrated as the Australian sensation when he won the Oceanic Masters at age 15 and by this qualified for the World Championship – the youngest player ever. Then the Dutchman defeated Colin Lloyd who was the world number 1 at this time, his fellow country man Rico Vonck and Alan Tabern. In the semi-finals he prevailed overt Andy Jenkins before he won the close final against Taylor.

van Barnveld had arrived in the PDC and became one of the most popular players ever – and Phil Taylor‘s rival.  Taylor won the World Championship title until his retirement three more times and stood in the final at his last World Championship in 2018 while the Dutchman only once again reached the final – in 2009 – and was beaten by Taylor 7-1.

In 2007, besides van Barneveld and Scholten, Josephus Schenk took part again and the previously mentioned Rico Vonck qualified by being ranked second in the DDF Order of Merit.

Vonck moved into the field of participants when the first of the DDF ranking – Michael van Gerwen – decided not to in the PDC World Championship but to instead take part in the BDO World Championship. It may not have been a very good decision as van Gerwen lost in the first round against Gary Robyson – though he had entered the event as the favourite.

Rico “Sparky” Vonck was just 19 years of age and in November before the World Championship won a DDF ranking event. In the World Championship he defeated Mark Walsh and Canadian Bryan Cyr before he lost to van Barneveld. In the same year he took part without success in the UK Open and in 2008 he played as well without success in a few Players Championships on the continent. After that he disappeared…

After the 2007 BDO World Championship not only did Michael van Gerween switch to the PDC – he was accompanied by Vincent van der Voort, Jelle Klaasen and Mervyn King. They all had the same sponsor at that time, a kitchen manufacturer  and due to this were sometimes called the “Kitchen Boys”.

All four qualified for the 2008 PDC World Championship – van der Voort and King by the PDC Order of Merit, van Gerwen and Klaasen by the Pro Tour Order of Merit.

All in all nine Dutch players took part in the 2008 PDC World Championship 2008.  Besides van Barneveld there was van Gerwen and van der Voort, Roland Scholten, Leroy Kwadijk, Jan van der Rassel, Toon Greebe, Erwin Extercatte and Jelle Klaasen. Since then the Dutch players have comprised the largest group of players besides the Englishmen, not only in the World Championship but on the Pro Tour as well. All the time new names appear, but not all establish themselves as contenders. Some soon disappear like Leroy Kwadijk or Sven Groen, who had a Tour card for two years and qualified for the 2016 PDC World Championship but then disappeared completely from darts.

For the prematurately praised van Gerwen the first years in the PDC were not easy.  In 2008, he lost in the World Championship in the first round to Phil Taylor with an 85.99 average.  In 2009, he won a first Players Championship but lost in the PDC World Championship – this time qualified by the Order of Merit – again against Taylor, this time in the second round with the much better average of 99.03.  In 2010  he was again eliminated first round – this time by James Wade. The same happened in 2011 though this time he lost to Mensur Suljovic.  In 2012  van Gerwen was out of the top 32 of the Order of Merit and had to qualify by the Pro Tour Order again – he reached the last 16 where he lost to Simon Whitlock.

Later in the year, van Gerwen won his first Major – the World Grand Prix in Dublin and was the number 7 seed for the 2013 World Championship. He defeated Paul Lim, Peter Wright, Colin Lloyd, Adrian Lewis and in the semi-finals James Wade –  and threw a nine-darter. Then he once again lost to Phil Taylor but this time in the final. One year later, van Gerwen won his first World Champion title and became for some years the dominant player in the PDC. He won the title again in 2017 and 2019 and was the runner-up in 2020 and 2023.

Twelve Dutch players took part in the 2023 PDC World Championship – so so far highest number. Twenty-two Dutch players have a Tour Card in 2023.

Darts in the Netherlands is going strong. The exceptional players, Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen, paved the way.


  • 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.