Dartoids World


Thursday, July 20, 2023
Column HR416 

The stage at the Winter Gardens (Blackpool) has seen players and fans battling sweltering heat.  The fans, of course, were forced to consume aiming fluid while players were limited to H2O.  This year, the temperature has been unusually cool.  The second round of the World Matchplay was “en fuego”.

Some guy using the name Daryl Gurney showed up to play Gary Anderson.  Now, this guy didn’t play like “The Chin” we know and love.  The imposter opened a lead of 6-nil hitting 6 closes with 6 darts.  Anderson needed a 12–darter with a T21 check to get a leg.  Gurney would win 11-4 averaging 104.43 while hitting 11 of 16 checks – only one miss cost him a leg.  Anderson didn’t play badly as he averaged 102.47.

Some would agree that Joe Cullen had little chance against #4 Gerwyn Price who despite a few hiccups was playing the best of all.  Cullen took advantage of Price missing 6 doubles to lose 3 legs for leads of 4-1 and 5-2.  A Cullen missed bull got Price to 4-5.  Price missed 2 more doubles as Cullen extended to 7-5 followed by a 14-darter for 8-5.  Finally, “The Price was Right” as a run of 5 gave him his first lead at 9-8 and then 10-8 one leg from victory.

Cullen regained his composure with 13 and 12 darts to draw level at 10 after Price missed the bull for the 11th leg.  Both held to level at 11.  In 14 darts Cullen edged ahead 12-11.  In what proved to be the decider Price got there first missing d20 and d10 allowing Cullen the chance for a T12 finish which he took for the 13-11 win.

Following two blistering matches, Nathan Aspinall and Danny Noppert played a “teeter totter” match where they were level after 8.  In 11 and 16 darts Aspinall lead 6-4, then in 12, 8-6.  Noppert in 13 darts would tie at 9.  Aspinall would snare the next 2 for the 11-9 win but only after Noppert missed double tops to send the match to OT.

Before the #1 seed (Michel Smith) faced #17 (Chris Dobey) two things were certain on paper: it will be high scoring and Michael Smith would advance to the round of 8.  This is where “that’s why they play the game” is pertinent.  It was high scoring with averages of 99.81 and 98.24.  There were 49 scores of more than a ton, 20 of T40+.  Yes, it was high scoring.

Smith opened up 3-0 including a 12-darter with a T21 check.  When Smith attempted bull finishes that failed Dobey got 2 back.  Smith answered with a pair going up 5-2, then missed 3 checks for 6-2 instead being ahead only 5-3.  Dobey added two more, in 26 darts, to level.  Three misses by Smith gave Dobey his first lead at 6-5 which was then expanded to 8-5 when Smith missed one at d14 presenting Dobey a shot at T10 out which he gratefully took out.  At 10-5 Dobey gave up two legs then took his 11th when Smith missed one at d20 from T06.

Day two of the second round began as “blow out city”.  The ODC’s favorite song is “What a Difference a Day Makes” by Dinah Washington.  For Brenden Dolan it was a couple of days after he used timely doubles sending MvG home 10-7.  Then Dolan missed 10 doubles falling behind Damon Heta 5-0.  At 5-1 Heta turned it on taking a T50, 65, 91 (bull) and 88 to lead 9-1.  Heta made it 10-1 in 12-darts and concluded with a T21 check.  Taps was finally played when Heta closed things out for the 11-1 win.

Dirk van Duijvenbode built a 3-0 lead over Luke Humphries which included a pair of double bull checks plus a T32 12-darter.  From 3-2 at the pause Duijvenbode got to 5-3 after Humphries missed 4.  At level 5 Duijvenbode garnered 3 on the trot for 8-5 which became 9-6.  Humphries claimed an 11-darter for 9-7 only to have Duijvenbode use just 10 darts for 10-7 and one leg from advancing.  “Cool Hand Luke” interrupted the Duijvenbode celebration with a three-leg run including a bull finish that drew them level at 10.  Each man held to level at 11 and 12. Humphries broke getting his 13 in 15 darts including an 88 finish.

Duijvenbode, in the 26th leg, after 15 darts wanted 200.  After the same number of darts left Humphries had 1 dart at 38 which he missed.  Humphries nailed the d19 for the 14-12 overtime win.

The Clayton-Van den Bergh match saw both hold for through 2.  Then Clayton broke in 11 darts and followed with a T70 to lead 3-1.  Van den Bergh got it to 3-4 when he clocked a T25 check following that with T15I for a level at 4.  A Van den Bergh miss gave Clayton a leg with a 66-finish.  In 42 darts Clayton expanded that lead to 9-5 with the 9th win a 156-out.  At 10-6 Van den Bergh missed 4 to extend giving Clayton the 11-6 win.

Peter Wright and Ryan Searle met to see who would face Jonny Clayton in the next round.  Both held to level at 2.  Searle would hold for 3-2, then break and hold for 5-2.  Wright grabbed one back for 5-3, then missed 3 from 20 as Searle got his 6th leg.  Going to the break Wright got one back.  Following the break Searle got to 8-4.

Then the double wheels fell off the Searle victory wagon as 6 misses changed the score to 8-5 which morphed into 8-6 with another miss.  A 16-darter made the lead 9-6, then 10-8.  Wright could have denied Searle a 10th leg missing 2 at 32, although he did hit d16 to force a 19th leg.  Searle finished in stylist fashion with a T12 (18, T18, d20).

With seeds 1 to 7 sent home, a “neophyte” would suggest that the quarters, semis and finals would be a “piece of cake” from eight on would be easy.  Au contraire.  Those remaining are all playing well – as the PDC has become the ultimate “on any day sport”.

Good stuff on tap:

  • Luke Humphries vs. Damon Heta
  • Daryl Gurney vs. Joe Cullen
  • Nathan Aspinall vs. Chris Dobey
  • Ryan Searle vs. Jonny Clayton

Stay thirsty my friends.



  • Howie Reed

    Astute, often controversial, and always humorous, the Old Dart Coach, Howie Reed (a former rodeo cowboy and advertising executive), is heralded as the Dean of Darts Chroniclers - the most prolific and widely followed writer ever about our sport. He goes back decades with the legends and knows where the skeletons are buried (just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers!). Here are four well-known facts about the Old Dart Coach: 1) he is a Republican, 2) he loves the ladies, 3) he can drink most anybody under the table, and 4) he throws darts as bad as Dartoid.