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Column #HR460 PDC Summer Classic is afoot… 

Thursday, July 11, 2024
Column HR460
PDC Summer Classic is afoot…

…but first, a little “con-trav-es-tea” came out of the World Culp involving the champs (England) and runner-up Scotland – more specifically, related to the actions of Peter Wright. The Old Dart Coach and maybe some others are aghast, simply AGHAST at all the hugging by PDC players. The Kumbaya is more likely to be seen at a political rally or a house party in the Castro district in San Francisco.

Can you imagine Eric Bristow and Mr. John Lowe hugging after the 1988 Embassy final when Mr. Lowe emerged triumphant 6 sets to 4?  Of course not.  Maybe it’s the money or a dictate from the higher ups.

Let’s see real rivalries. Genuine dislike. The smiling when you lose – no bueno.  Knock it off. That’s more like it.

The first complaint was that Peter Wright was engaging in a “mind game”.  That’s a “news alert?”  Every dart player worth a pound sterling learns how to gain an edge or they don’t become winners.

Wright was accused, as he walked by Luke Humphries, of asking how his shoulder was?  That brought a response from Michael Smith: “The guy just averaged 78 and he’s giving me shit?!”  Smith added: “That guy should have some strong shoulders because he’s been holding the Premier League up for two years.”

My, aren’t we sensitive, Mikey.

Oh yes, before the semifinal match Wright said we’re “gonna smash up England!” How dare he? Michael Smith does seem to be a bit touchy. Winners don’t whine. Grow up, Michael.

Later, Gary Anderson was the victim of a ruling by referee Kirk Bevins. To set the scene, Anderson wanted 36 with 3 darts. His first hit d18 leaving 18.  His second hit was a single 9 leaving 9.  Anderson, as one may want to do, duly tossed his dart at single 1 leaving d4 which he hit.  BUT Referee Bevins ruled that Anderson’s foot was over the oche declaring a no throw leaving 9 for Wright which he took out.

Anderson complained, asking for a video review which was dismissed immediately – mainly because the PDC doesn’t have video replays.

The ODC can sympathize with Anderson. Many years ago, the ODC argued for a “crutch fault” on a handicapped player which went nowhere (although the ODC and his partner, the late Katy Hopkins did – back to the bar at Chris’s Club in Vallejo). Bummer.

The PDC World Matchplay kicks off on July 13 at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.  In the field of 32, 60% of the players have a chance to win.  The prize money of £800,000 provides a taste for every player as first round losers take home £10,000 – with the winner enhancing his bank account by £200,000.  Consider that in the first World Matchplay in 1994, won by America’s “Bald Eagle” Larry Butler, the total prize money was £42,000. Butler took home £10,000, the same amount as a first-round loser this year.

From 1995 onwards, Phil Taylor made the event his playpen as he won 15 times.  Since Taylor’s departure only Michael van Gerwen has won back-to-back titles, those in 2015 and 2016.

Just a tip for those that want to wager a few “bob” on the outcome… plus a little useless information.  Since 2014, the top seeds haven’t ended up in the finals. This year, that means either Luke Humphries (#1) or Michael van Gerwen (#2) will bite the dust before the final. The fact is that the World Matchplay has been the graveyard of top seeds. Punters beware.

So, can the 2023 Matchplay champion, Nathan Aspinall, repeat?  Past results would say no as no one has repeated since Gary Anderson in 2015-16.  If last year is any indication, which it isn’t, none of the top four seeds will survive the round of 16.

The two betting favorites are the Lukes. They’re on opposite sides of the draw, setting up a potentially juicy final and a replay of the 2024 World Championships…

Littler, the #11 seed, faces a tough challenge to start with #2 Michael van Gerwen. In head-to-head meetings van Gerwen holds a 5-4 edge.

If Littler gets by van Gerwen his real challenge will be #3 Michael Smith in the round of 8. That assumes that Smith gets by Anderson and Rob Cross. Cross is the longshot pick by the ODC.

The first-round pairings provide some fun and intriguing matchups:

Saturday July 13

Gerwyn Price vs. Daryl Gurney

Jonny Clayton vs. Raymond van Barneveld

Luke Humphries vs Ricardo Pietreczko

Nathan Aspinall vs. Luke Woodhouse

Sunday, July 14

Ross Smith vs. Josh Rock

Danny Noppert vs. James Wade

Dimitri Van den Bergh vs. Martin Schindler

Stephen Bunting vs. Ryan Joyce

Evening Session

Rob Cross vs. Gian van Veen

Joe Cullen vs. Brendan Dolan

Peter Wright vs. Andrew Gilding

Dave Chisnall vs. Krzysztof Ratajski

Monday July 15 (1900 BST)

Damon Heta vs. Ryan Searle

Michael Smith vs. Gary Anderson

Michael van Gerwen vs. Luke Littler

Chris Dobey vs. Ritchie Edhouse

Not long ago, the ODC asked:” What ever happened to Adrian Lewis” (a two-time back-to-back World champion in 2011 and 2012)…

After two decades, Lewis has dropped out of the top 64. To remain a PDC tour card holder he’ll have to attend Q School. According to a dart publication Lewis “announced in April 2023 that he was going to quit darts (temporarily), effective immediately. Lewis played his last PDC tournaments in March 2023 and thus has not earned world ranking prize money since then.”  Another source stated that Lewis turned down a half-million-pound tour.

And finally… from Big T (Tony Holyoke) came the following: “Most forget how to pray until a cop car makes a U-turn and starts to follow them.”  Amen.

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.

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