Author Archives: Jamie Barron

Column #JB40 Premier League 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015
Column JB40
Premier League 2015

If there wasn’t enough drama at the latest World Championship Final, Barry Hearn made the decision to name the Premier League 2015 lineup immediately after Gary Anderson lifted the trophy. With more players than ever staking a claim for a place this year, the PDC and Sky Sports had a very difficult decision on their hands. A decision I think they got wrong.

Premier League 2015 – Who I would have chosen:

Phil Taylor

Michael Van Gerwen

Adrian Lewis

Gary Anderson

Raymond Van Barneveld

Peter Wright

James Wade

Stephen Bunting

Robert Thornton

Terry Jenkins

Many of you agree with me. Since moving to Blogger (http://www.jambosdarts.blogspot.co.uk) I have ran a poll (down the right hand side of your page) to see if people are happy with the Premier League lineup and 44% of you have answered ‘No’. I urge you to please read this article, hear my views and cast a vote yourselves! Before the announcement came, I had thought carefully about who should be picked and I based my choices on entertainment, form and their overall results in 2014. In all honesty it was a mixture between what I thought was correct and who I wanted to see battle it out every Thursday night.

To expand, the top 4 on my list are the automatic choices for the Premier League due to their top 4 world ranking. Then the next 6 are written in order of who I thought deserved a Premier League spot the most.  Clearly, the defending champion Raymond Van Barneveld was a must pick to come back and defend his crown and I felt the same about Peter Wright who has had a consistent year. His wacky hairstyles and antics are sure to pull in the crowds once more. There was controversy last year when James Wade missed out on the Premier League but I backed that decision as I hoped it would give him the motivation to recapture his form and rediscover his love for the game. He has been able to do this over the last year and therefore again definitely deserves a place in the Premier League. In contrast, a year ago I definitely wouldn’t have predicted Stephen Bunting would have been considered for the Premier League. The Peter Griffen look-a-like however has proven his critics wrong in a breakthrough year and was even able to show his class in defeat against Raymond Van Barneveld in the World Championships. My next choice was Robert Thornton and I thought Thornton thoroughly deserved a Premier League place after another consistent year in which he has won 3 Players Championships Qualifiers as well as contributing to one of the best matches of the year at the World Grand Prix where both he and James Wade hit 9-darters in the double start format. Finally, I would have picked Terry Jenkins as the last player to make up the cut as he would have been a very popular choice amongst fans and fellow professionals. He also had a successful 2014, reaching two more major finals and I think he deserved to be back in the Premier League after a 3-year absence.

Aside from the 10 players I finally chose for my ultimate Premier League lineup 2015, Dave Chisnall, Mervyn King, Kim Huybrechts and Vincent Van Der Voort also came into consideration but in the end I expected them to miss out. When choosing the Premier League Lineup, I believe it is incredibly important to choose players based on 2014 as a whole and not the drama of the World Championships, therefore I think these players just came up short. All in all, 2014 has been a fantastic year for many players and darts continues to go from strength to strength. As per usual, at the PDC Annual Awards, the new World Champion took home the majority of the honours and deservedly so. You will hopefully all agree that it was fantastic to witness Gary Anderson’s rise back to become World Champion after dropping out of the world’s top 16 in 2012. When looking back across the whole year and at all of 2014’s event winners, it is clear to see that it was one of the most unpredictable years we’ve had. Out of the 10 major events credited in the PDC World Championships programme, there were six different winners and in addition to that, there were 12 other Pro Tour champions. The three most successful players of the year were Michael Van Gerwen with 11 victories, Gary Anderson with 8 and Phil Taylor with 7.

Looking back now to Premier League 2015… the official lineup of players taking part in this year’s competition is shown below. I was very shocked at the players included…

Official Premier League 2015 Lineup:

Michael Van Gerwen

Phil Taylor

Gary Anderson

Adrian Lewis

Raymond Van Barneveld

Stephen Bunting

James Wade

Peter Wright

Dave Chisnall

Kim Huybrechts

I correctly predicted eight of the ten players who would get the call to take part but I was very surprised at Dave Chisnall and Kim Huybrechts’ inclusion. Mr Chisnall has always struck me as a ‘nearly’ man and that has definitely been the case this year. Although he reached a major final at the Grand Slam, this was the only major talking point for ‘Chizzy’ in 2014. In 2015 therefore, he will be out to prove his critics wrong and improve on his 7th place Premier League finish last year.  Kim Huybrechts will be a Premier League debutant this year and I have got to say I was astounded the PDC chose him to take part. I’ve never had anything against Huybrechts as a player but I never truly expected the PDC to pick a player outside the top 16 to take part in such a prestigious event. To put this decision into perspective, the final major tournament before the Premier League begins is the Unibet Masters, a great warm up tournament for the Premier League. However, Huybrechts has not qualified for this competition.  If Kim Huybrechts had been the Sky wildcard I would have been less surprised. They may have chosen him for his antics and to witness the Phil Taylor rivalry. However, I personally do not see how he deserves a spot over Robert Thornton. Despite an excellent win, including a 9-darter, against Michael Van Gerwen to reach the Grand Slam semi final, this is the only major semi final he reached all year. Furthermore, neither he nor Dave Chisnall have won a PDC Event this year whereas Robert Thornton has won three. Robert Thornton has had a solid year and his performance at the World Championships was impeccable where he didn’t lose a set until the quarter finals. Even when he was eliminated by Michael Van Gerwen, he put up a fantastic performance, averaging over 100 and coming back from 3:0 down. I believe Thornton can feel very hard done by and since he has never been relegated from the Premier League, I thought he deserved another shot to prove his worth.

It’s now less than a week to go until the Premier League begins in Leeds and before then we’ve got the Unibet Masters to enjoy first this weekend. Despite not being fully happy with the Premier League lineup, I still believe it will be an incredible tournament and of course many of the world’s best players are still taking part. Unfortunately, due to other commitments this year, I will not be able to write weekly reviews. I will still try and write every month however and discuss any controversial moments!

So… to conclude, I am going to finish off with the fixtures for Leeds on Thursday, including a World Championship Final rematch, along with my predictions for the tournament.

Week 1 – Leeds – Fixtures

Dave Chisnall vs Peter Wright

Raymond Van Barneveld vs Adrian Lewis

Kim Huybrechts vs Michael Van Gerwen

Gary Anderson vs Phil Taylor

Stephen Bunting vs James Wade

Predictions

Premier League Champion: Gary Anderson

Final 4: Gary Anderson, Michael Van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Stephen Bunting

Relegated: Dave Chisnall and Kim Huybrechts

Column #JB39 Gary Anderson – Champion of the World

Thursday, January 8, 2015
Column JB39
Gary Anderson – Champion of the World

Gary Anderson is the new PDC World Champion! He can no longer be referred to as the best person never to win the World Championship after a stunning tournament and a scintillating final. On Sunday the 4th January, Anderson flew into the record books as the first Scotsman since Jocky Wilson in 1989 to win the prestigious price. It was a very popular result.

Cast your mind back to last year’s Premier League and if you remember, I wasn’t very successful with my predictions! However, if there’s one thing to learn from this last year it’s if at first you don’t succeed, then try and try again! That’s what I did. In September, I picked Gary Anderson as a Player to Watch and predicted: “I am very confident that Anderson will continue his form and he is definitely capable of a huge major success.” I also picked Stephen Bunting as a Player to Watch and after reaching the Quarter Finals, he has now been included for this year’s Premier League. My final success comes from my World Championship Preview when I said that “if I was a betting man, I would probably put my money on the in form Gary Anderson”.

Enough of my boasting now and let’s rewind all the way back to the 18th of December when Keegan Brown kicked off the World Championship with a victory over three times world champion John Part. As I’ve already written a ‘First Round Round Up,’ I won’t go into the opening games again but they were filled with shocks as Simon Whitlock, Justin Pipe and Wes Newton all exited the competition.

Into the second round Prince Harry attended the event as the surprises continued. Benito Van De Pas and Cristo Reyes, both unseeded players, knocked out the 8th seed Dave Chisnall and former World Championship finalist Kevin Painter respectively. Van De Pas described the victory as the best win of his life and Reyes became the first Spaniard ever in the Last 16 as he came from 1:3 to knock out ‘The Artist.’ Meanwhile, another notable match was when Raymond Van Barneveld scraped past (4:3) Jamie Caven, who must be one of the unluckiest players in darts! This result was also a repeat of when the players met in the same round the year before. Other dramatic contests included Kim Huybrechts defeating Ian White 4:3 and Stephen Bunting thrashing James Wade 4:1. However, neither of these matches are memorable by their darts as by the drama that our sport now brings. Huybrechts’ wild celebrations throughout the game caused debate which led to Phil Taylor warning him that “He isn’t going to jump around the stage against me. If he does then there will be trouble.” It was the opposite case in the other match as the losing player, James Wade, caused controversy with his somewhat pathetic post match handshake and his post match interview in which he referred to Bunting as an “okay darts player” who he made “look very good.” In fairness to Wade however, the interview was taken immediately after a disappointing loss and he has since apologised, calling his outburst due to “sour grapes.” Finally in this round, the to be World Champion Gary Anderson overcame a major scare against former BDO World Champion Jelle Klaasen. Both players averaged over 100 in the match but despite being two sets down after the fourth set, Anderson showed his mental strength and class to overcome the Dutchman and win 4:3.

As the tournament continued the shocks dried up but this was not to the expense of the entertainment. Michael Van Gerwen overcame a potentially tricky encounter 4:1 against Terry Jenkins and Robert Thornton won his third match in a row without losing a set as he beat Benito Van De Pas 4:0. In the eagerly anticipated clash between Kim Huybrechts and Phil Taylor, Huybrechts led three times before Taylor fought back to earn a place in the quarter finals with a 4:3 win. Huybrechts ignored Taylor’s advice of toning down the celebrations during the match which probably worked to his disadvantage. Taylor’s stare when Huybrechts celebrated was deafening and we all know that you don’t want to play Taylor when he’s angry! However, we all know this match wasn’t the highlight of the round. Instead the highlight was the match between Adrian Lewis and Raymond Van Barneveld which I stated in my ‘First Round Round Up’ would ‘be the greatest third round game ever seen if both players recreate their first round form.’ In a match which Lewis appeared to dominate, Van Barneveld showed resistance we rarely see from him to hang in the match and eventually take it 4:3. The highlight of the match and arguably the tournament was Lewis’ 9-darter which ended up being the only perfect finish in the tournament. As like all 9 darters it was incredible to watch as the crowd went wild with the final double 12. I watched it live on SkySports with my mother whose favourite player is Lewis. When he hit the double we immediately joined in with the ‘Oh Adrian Lewis!’ chant before the commentator stated that “if you’re not on the edge of your seat, you have slipped down the sofa and spilt your coffee!”. This was ironic as in the midst of our celebrations, Mum got red wine on our white sofa! This really was one of the greatest third round game ever seen.

Reigning World Champion Michael Van Gerwen then kicked off the quarter finals with a 5:2 win over the in form Robert Thornton. Van Gerwen stormed into a 3:0 lead in the game before Thornton threw some of the best darts of his life to bring the game back to 3:2. But in the end Van Gerwen proved too strong for the Scot as he triumphed with a 105 average against Thornton’s 101. Next up was an all Scottish tie between Peter Wright and Gary Anderson and the most impressive thing Wright did in this match was getting the cheerleaders involved in his walk on! Anderson eased past Wright 5:1 with a 102 average. On the second night of the quarter finals, Phil Taylor looked like he was going to ease past Dutchman Vincent Van Der Voort when he went 2:0 ahead but after Van Der Voort upped his game massively, he turned the tables to go 3:2 ahead. Then in the sixth set, when Van Der Voort was unable to finish 96, Taylor was able to level the match at 3:3. The 16 time World Champion then won the last two sets to win the match 5:3. Finally, arguably the best match of the quarter finals was between Stephen Bunting and Raymond Van Barneveld. In a match where the players were never separated by more than 1 set, it was finally won by Van Barneved on double 20. Despite the loss, Bunting’s performance and his first year in the PDC have been a major success and this was summed up by Van Barneveld’s incredible post match interview which brought tears to the Liverpudlian’s eyes!

These results meant the semi final line up was identical to earlier this year in the Premier League but this time there were opposite winners. I was lucky enough to be in the Ally Pally for these matches (see ‘My Day at the Darts’ post) and the best match was clearly between Michael Van Gerwen and Gary Anderson. Anderson was ruthless on his doubles throughout, especially the double 20, and despite Van Gerwen fighting back to 3:3 midway through the contest, it wasn’t enough to keep up with The Flying Scotsman who glided into his second ever World Championship Final with a 6:3 victory. The other semi final contained one of the greatest rivalries the sport has ever produced. The beginning of the match was tight and cagey but after winning four sets on the bounce and hitting seven perfect darts on two separate occasions, Taylor won the match 6:2. This meant Taylor still has his unbelievable run intact, that he has never lost a World Championship semi final.

Going into the final, predictably Taylor was the slight favourite but Anderson thrived off being the underdog as the pair competed in what was probably the best World Championship final since 2007. It certainly wasn’t the best quality final we have ever seen with Anderson ‘only’ averaging 97 but it was highly dramatic and it came down to a test of bottle as Taylor was made to pay for missed doubles. To start the match, both players traded sets before Anderson won two sets to lead 3:1. But then similarly to in his semi final, he proceeded this by losing the next two as Taylor won 6 legs in a row. Taylor then went ahead in the match 4:3 before Anderson leveled to set up a best of 5 sets shootout. The ninth set then provided the main talking point from the game when incredibly Anderson hit two treble 20’s with his first two darts before the third one joined them and knocked them all out! This only intensified the criticism the darts boards have received throughout the tournament. However, Anderson did not let this or shout-outs from the crowd affect him as he came from two legs down in the set to take it 3:2. As he then won the next set also, he thought the finish line was in sight but Taylor again fought back and left the game on a knife edge at 6:6. A nervy final set was anticipated but Anderson looked calm throughout as he won the set 3:0 and hit the double 12 to become the new PDC World Champion. He then picked up the Sid Waddell trophy and £250,000 in prize money.

Looking back on the whole tournament has been fascinating and I think it has only substantiated my beliefs that this was the best World Championships we have ever seen! Over 50,000 people attended the Ally Pally throughout the tournament and over 1.7 million people watched the final on Sky Sports. Sky Sports figures represented a 25% increase on last year as record viewing figures were also recorded in Netherlands and Germany. It really has been incredible and before the tournament started, Anderson stated his belief that “every dog has its day and hopefully mine is soon.”

It was Gary Anderson’s day. It was his tournament. It was his time. 

Column #JB38 My Day at the Darts!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Column JB38
My Day at the Darts!

The night I had been waiting for since June finally arrived…

Since attending the Premier League in Newcastle in 2012, I had longed to attend the darts again but this time I wanted to go to the biggest event in our sport. If I thought the Premier League was good… this was incredible! Easily one of the best nights of my life.

As London is probably my favourite city I have visited in the world, we decided to travel down to London the day before the event. This meant we were able to set off to the Ally Pally from Central London at around 5pm. My father and I made our way on the London Underground to Wood Green station before planning on getting the bus to the palace. However, after realising London buses didn’t accept cash, we decided we had to walk the estimated 20 minutes to our destination. Unsurprisingly with our sense of direction, this didn’t go to plan! After trailing through housing estates and asking numerous people for directions, we finally found the palace by following a group of Dutch shirts and the 118 men! When we reached the palace though, it was magnificent as the grand building stood on the top of the hill looking over the rest of London.

When we entered the Ally Pally we were greeted with the necessary security checks and a check for football shirts. We were then into the Great Hall (also known as the Fan Village) which contained numerous food stalls, bars, a William Hill guests area, a William Hill betting area (with the chance to win a car) and numerous darts boards. There was even the chance to have a go at ladder darts which Phil Taylor has excellently demonstrated during the TV breaks on Sky! While I was in the Fan Village, I caught a glimpse of the legend that is Eric Bristow and when I went to the toilet I was surrounded by Mr. T and a man wearing a banana suit! The effort some fans put into their fancy dress was spectacular!

Luckily, after getting in touch with PDC Press Officer Dave Allen, he agreed that due to my blog and Dartoid’s World column, he would be able to show me around backstage before the start of the matches. I would like to thank Dave very much for this tour and it was fantastic to see how the logistics of the evening work. After going behind the black curtain where Danny Murphy (ex footballer) was refused entry, I was taken to see the Press Room (walking past Keith Deller on the way) which contained many signed dart boards, a filming area for the PDC YouTube Programme ‘On the Wire’ and the prestigious Sid Waddell trophy locked away! Also inside, tables were lined up where working journalists from around the world, including China and the Netherlands, were situated. John Part, Wayne Mardle and Dan Dawson were also in the tent preparing for the evening.

After leaving the Press Room, I walked along the route which players take to the stage and then I stood on the stage only 10 minutes before the first match begun! At this point, John McDonald was warming up the crowd that I was looking back upon. Finally on my tour I learnt that the camera men are strategically placed to capture the players’ celebrations as they turn to their family and also that there are ideas to possibly move the matches into the Great Hall in the future to increase the capacity to 4,500.

We then made our way to our seats just in time for the walk-ons and I was delighted to find our seats, although in the stands, were as close to stage as possible. This meant we had an excellent view of the action and after watching it back, you can see me in the background when Gary Anderson is taking a drink! The crowd for the whole night was incredible and there was more atmosphere than at any football match I have attended (please watch the videos – see the link below!).

Luckily the crowd, which featured Jake Wood, Jan Vertongen and Matt Le Tissier, were very respectful and despite some criticism, they did pay attention to the darts! Even when 180 cards were confiscated, it was all in good humour as security guards provided new ones.

I was also delighted with the results on the night but my father narrowly missed out on his bet which had Gary Anderson to beat Michael Van Gerwen 6-4 whereas it finished 6-3! There will be more information on the darts itself in my next post which will be a review of the whole tournament.

Finally, when leaving the Alexandra Palace, you may have thought the drama was over but while waiting for the bus back to Central London, a van pulled up with music blaring before a rapper jumped out and entertained the crowds! This was even funnier as I ended up dancing next to Chewbacca! Then when the bus turned up, the crowds poured in leading to the most congested bus journey I have ever experienced but I realised if I was going to get crushed to death, there is no better way to die than on a bus full of people chanting ‘Gary, Gary, Gary, Gary Anderson!’

Eventually we made it back to our hotel and I reflected on the great night I had and hoped that it would not be the last time I would see the greatest show on earth!

Please view my photos and videos of the night at: http://www.dropshots.com/Jambosdarts/albums/485760

Coming Soon: World Championship 2015 Review and Premier League Line Up 2015!

Column #JB37 First Round Round Up!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Column JB37
First Round Round Up!

I’m going to keep this as short and sweet as possible as I don’t want to interrupt your Christmas preparations too much but I felt I had to write about what has been an incredible first round at the William Hill World Championship. Less than one week ago, the tournament kicked off with 72 players battling it out for the title and now only 32 remain. In this time, seeds have been falling like snow should be at this time of year and I’m sure you wouldn’t have predicted this second round line up at the beginning of the action!

From the opening game of the tournament where 2 time World Champion John Part exited the party with a 3-2 defeat to youngster Keegan Brown, the tone has been set. A total of nine out of the 32 seeds have headed out of the tournament before Christmas including Simon Whitlock, Mervyn King and Wes Newton. The quality has been high but the drama has been even higher with refereeing errors, 170 checkouts and even darts falling out of the board! The best match of the first round is hard to decide on but if you only get the chance to catch up on three matches, I would suggest the Max Hopp, Vincent Van Der Voort and Benito van de Pas games will set your Christmas alight!

Despite the seeds dropping like flies, the main contenders predicted by Sky last Thursday all still remain in the tournament.  Last night, Lewis showed he means business as he hit the highest average of the tournament (101.90) but he is only one of many players who have turned up on the big stage looking confident. I still can’t confidently predict who will win this year’s tournament but after the second round we will have a much better idea as big names are guaranteed to drop out.

When looking at the next round, I was very excited about the matches ahead but also disappointed that such great players are meeting at this early stage. The highlight of the second round looks to be the clash between James Wade and BDO World Champion Stephen Bunting. This draw highlights how the seeding system doesn’t always work, especially when talented players transfer from the BDO. Although at the end of the day, only one player can win this great championships and to be the best, you have to beat the best!

Looking ahead even further to potential last 16 ties and I think if both players make it through their second round games, Terry Jenkins could provide a huge shock as he takes on Michael Van Gerwen. Another potential last 16 tie is Adrian Lewis against Raymond Van Barneveld and if both players recreate their first round form, it will be the greatest third round game ever seen!

After that brief round up, I will leave you to go back to stuffing your turkey, making your trifle or buying those last minute presents! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas from myself and everyone at Dartoid’s World and all the best in 2015. Thank you all for your support, views and comments over the last 12 months and I look forward to continuing my writing in the new year.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year but most importantly… enjoy the darts!

Column #JB36 The William Hill World Championship

Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Column JB36
The William Hill World Championship

Finally, it is nearly upon us. It’s Christmas time again but that is not the highlight of the winter for the thousands of darts fans heading to London in the coming weeks. Instead, it is the period that 50,000 fans have been looking forward to since the tickets were released over six months ago. That’s right, it is the William Hill World Championship. The best and most eagerly anticipated sporting event in the world and it is an absolute dream to announce that I will be there.  

Going into the tournament, Michael Van Gerwen is the reigning champion and world number one but he is not favourite going into the event. This burden instead falls on Phil Taylor again after his World Grand Slam glory but I doubt it will affect him in the slightest! Despite the betting, Sky still chose to focus their pre tournament documentary on ‘Mighty Mike’ and it was excellent viewing for any darts fan. If I needed anything to get me in the mood for the action, then that was it! It was fascinating to see how Van Gerwen has risen to the top but lost his hair in the meantime! This programme showed how Van Gerwen only took up darts as he wasn’t good enough at football but it also highlighted the quality of present day darts with Van Gerwen stating he hit his first nine darter when he was 15 or 16. The fact he couldn’t remember exactly when shows how insignificant it is now as he has gone on to hit four more live on television. Towards the end of the programme, Van Gerwen explained that confidence is the key to his success as he knows that he can beat any other player on the big stage. He said ‘on current form I think I am the best” so will anybody be able to stop him?  

As darts continues to grow, so does the World Championship and again this year’s tournament will be bigger than ever before. This years prize fund has increased to £1,250,000 which is an unbelievable £1,186,000 more than the prize fund of £64,000 at the first ever PDC World Championship in 1994. In addition, with the majority of the 50,000 tickets sold for the event, I wouldn’t argue with Barry Hearn that “this event is the hottest ticket in British sport right now!” 

Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a ticket for the main event, there is still no excuse for missing the action! This year, the World Championship will receive better TV exposure than ever before. Not only has Sky Sports reflected the popularity of darts by dedicating a whole channel to the tournament but the channel will also screen exclusive programmes focusing on the sport’s top names, as well as showing some classic games from the PDC’s history. If that wasn’t good enough, the drama will also be aired worldwide with the PDC’s international broadcast partners. Plus, fans with a LIVEPDC.TV International Pass subscription can watch live coverage of every game, with highlights of all matches available for all LIVEPDC.TV subscribers.

So, this year’s event kicks off on Thursday night with a potential shock in store as former World Champion John Part takes on the Grand Slam’s surprise package in Keegan Brown. Michael Van Gerwen also kicks off the defence of his title on the opening night where he takes on youngster Joe Cullen. The first round games will then entertain us up until the Christmas break and I’m sure there will be a few shocks in store. 

I think this year’s tournament is possibly the most wide open tournament we have ever had with numerous names capable of reaching the latter stages. However, if I was a betting man, I would probably put my money on the in form Gary Anderson. Since I told you to watch out for him on the 7th of September, he has gone from strength to strength and I honestly think he is capable of winning the prestigious Sid Waddell trophy. Next time I write for you, this wonderful tournament may be over for another year so the last thing I want to say is good luck, savour the moment and enjoy the action!

 

#JB35 The Flying Scotsman steams ahead…

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Column JB35
The Flying Scotsman steams ahead…

I’m no psychic but you may recall on the 7th of September I picked Gary Anderson as a player to watch out for. ‘I am very confident that Anderson will continue his form and he is definitely capable of a huge major success’ were my exact words! Joking aside, it didn’t take any darts expert to predict that Anderson would win a major as he has been in such excellent form all year.

Anderson was the number 1 seed going into the Players Championship this weekend and he held on to that spot to lift only his second PDC major title. His only other major title was the Premier League back in 2011. Even the weekend before the main event, Anderson had shown he meant business by winning the final Players Championship Qualifier in Coventry.

The tournament kicked off for Anderson with a tight 6-5 victory over Christian Kist in which he averaged over 110 and hit eight 180s! He then went on to defeat Stephen Bunting 10-5 in the second round before knocking out Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor in the quarter-finals. This was incredibly the first time in seven years that Anderson had defeated Taylor in a televised knockout match. In the semi final, Vincent Van Der Voort, the tournament’s surprise package, stood in Anderson’s way but despite a late comeback from 10-3 down, Anderson still went on to win the match 11-7. Finally, only two time world champion Adrian Lewis stood between Anderson and the trophy but it was a comfortable win for the Scotsman who came away 11-6 winner.

This win rounded off an excellent tournament for Anderson who averaged over 100 in every match. He is now 4th in the Order of Merit and this triumph will provide him the perfect platform for success at the Ally Pally. Incidentally, the bookies now have him as third favourite to lift the Sid Waddell trophy.

Another talking point from the Players Championship was the absence of both Phil Taylor and Michael Van Gerwen from the semi-finals. Incredibly, it was the first time since the 2012 European Championship that this had happened. Again, this shows that darts is getting more and more unpredictable! When the world’s top two players aren’t reaching the semi finals, it shows the strength of the full field. In one match, every player in the world’s top 30 is capable of beating each other and that is what is going to make the upcoming World Championships so exciting.

For instance, who would have predicted that after a underwhelming year Vincent Van Der Voort would reach the semi-final of the Players Championship playing with such conviction? Similarly, did you predict that Wes Newton would turn his form around to also reach the last four? Credit must also go to Terry Jenkins for knocking out Taylor and to Jamie Caven who was extremely unlucky to lose 10-9 in the quarter finals against Adrian Lewis. Undoubtedly, darts is in a better place than ever and I can’t wait for the action to begin.

The Alexandra Palace is now officially the next stop on the PDC Circuit. The final qualifiers took place today and the draw takes place tomorrow. The only controversy dampening my spirits tonight is the rumours regarding Richie Burnett that are circulating on Twitter. It is worth noting that no official statement has yet been made and as far as we know, the reports could just be vicious rumours. I hope that this is the case and that Burnett can continue to compete on the main stage but if the rumours about potential drug use are true, I hope he is punished accordingly.

The only other case of a darts player being banned for drug use was in 2006 when Robbie Green was banned for eight weeks after testing positive for marijuana. However, I’m sure the PDC will release a statement in due time so let’s turn our attentions to the best tournament in the world…

It’s 17 days to go…

I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait!

Column #JB34 Old vs. Young…

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Column JB34
Old vs. Young…

Old age is like everything really, to make a success of it you’ve got to start young! Incidentally, Phil Taylor didn’t seriously take up the game until he was 26 which makes me think how good these young players could become today! The World Grand Prix 2014 however was a tournament which showed that age is just a number as Taylor overcame the competitive field to win his 6th Grand Slam title at the age of 54. Taylor’s triumph also made it 7-1 to the PDC in Grand Slam titles against the BDO but I won’t mention that or I risk being branded a BDO basher… again!

In my last post, I wrote that ‘Taylor’s year continues to disappoint his fans’. I knew I shouldn’t have said that. Yet again Taylor came back with a bang, like he always does, with one of his most successful tournaments yet. Taylor kicked off his campaign with a 5-0 victory over Richie George, son of PDC legend Bobby George, before beating Christian Kist 5-1 with an all time record average for the competition of 114.65. He then beat fellow Stokee Andy Hamilton in his final group match to top his table with an impressive +11 leg difference and 6 points. In the first knockout stage, Mr. Taylor was initially losing to Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright but he eventually won the match 10-4 before crushing Michael Smith 16-3 in the next round. As a result, this set up a clash against old rival Mervyn King in the semi final in which Taylor led throughout the match and won 16-9. In the final, it was a repeat of the World Grand Prix final of 2013 as Taylor took on Chisnall and although it wasn’t a repeat of that hammering, the outcome was the same as Taylor won the match 16-13 with a 102.45 average which meant he averaged over 100 in every match throughout the tournament. Despite the predictable final result, it was an excellent match in which Chisnall showed he can battle it out amongst the big boys with a gutsy performance. He had bounced back from being 5-0 down at the beginning of the match.

I think this tournament showed that darts is more open and unpredictable than it has ever been before. You may argue this with Taylor winning again but did you predict Taylor would win at the start of the week? Michael Van Gerwen and James Wade were the two form players going into the event but they both failed to make the semi finals. On the other hand who would have predicted out of form Kim Huybrechts would hit a 9-darter and knock out world champion Van Gerwen? This shows that no one can predict what’s going to happen in the world of darts and that’s why it’s the sport we know and love.

Therefore, I think this winter’s World Championship will be one of the most unforeseeable major tournaments that we have ever had. Maybe there are only about 6 or 7 players that can realistically lift the trophy but I believe that more than 20 different players are in contention for the semi final spots. Thus I am not going to make any predictions but the bookies have now got Taylor as the favourite at 7/4 with current world champion Van Gerwen at 2/1.

On the subject of predictions, it was a tournament of limited success for my players to watch out for as Stephen Bunting and Gary Anderson both made it out of Group H. Ironically, it was the star of my previous article, Mervyn King, who knocked them both out! Anderson resoundingly lost 10-4 to ‘The King’ in the second round and after Bunting secured a fantastic 10-8 win against James Wade he came up short against King in the quarter finals by a scoreline of 16-9. Subsequently it meant it was another impressive tournament for Mervyn King who seems to be on his best run of form since moving to the PDC and I now believe that next year King will return to the Premier League and Bunting will make his debut.

However, in my opinion, these 3 players weren’t the players to make the biggest impact on the Grand Slam. I think they were Dave Chisnall, Kim Huybrechts and Keegan Brown. Chisnall is now a seasoned professional on the PDC tour having moved to the PDC in 2011. Since then I believe that Chisnall has shown potential without really threatening for the majors. This is summed up by him earning a Premier League place in 2014 but only achieving 7th place. I think he is similar to many players in the world’s top 20 who have the potential but just need that extra spark to win their first major. Will his run to the Grand Slam final provide him with this spark? He will need it going into the World Championships as he has never made it past the third round of the illustrious tournament.

I think going into the Grand Slam, Huybrechts was in a similar position to Chisnall as despite having the experience of the PDC tour, he has never really lived up to his potential. Huybrechts also moved to the PDC in 2011 and it was predicted he would be one of the rising stars on the circuit but since then he has only reached one major final at the Players Championship. However, despite still not reaching another final at the Grand Slam, his run to the semi finals will give his fans cause for optimism. He caused the biggest shock of the tournament when beating Van Gerwen in the quarter finals in which he hit his first ever televised 9-darter and beat the world champion 16-10. Incredibly, he was leading the match 12-3 at one point which showed the level at which he was playing. Even Huybrechts’ exit from the tournament can be considered unlucky as he lost 16-15 to Chisnall in the most exciting match of the week. If Huybrechts can recreate this form at the Alexandra Palace, he will undoubtedly progress to the later stages.

Keegan Brown was probably the biggest surprise package of the tournament. Before the tournament you may not even have heard of Keegan Brown and I didn’t even know much about him… but we do now! The 22-year-old progressed through his group with a 5-1 win over two time world champion Adrian Lewis before beating fellow youngster Rowby-John Rodriguez 5-3. On top of the world, he then beat Raymond Van Barneveld in the second round 10-7 before narrowly losing out to Chisnall 16-14 in the quarter finals. His celebrations in particular attracted even more attention but his results won’t have been a shock for Simon Whitlock. Whitlock is Brown’s mentor and saw him lift the 2014 World Youth Championship. I’m sure Whitlock is now wishing he could recreate the form of his apprentice!

Finally, the Grand Slam showed what an excellent position darts is in currently with talent stretching from all corners of the globe. The Players Championships are up next but my thoughts are already at the World Championships which is now just a month away. I’m hoping you won’t miss a minute of the action with Sky Sports new dedicated darts channel and I will be get to witness the event first hand at the Alexandra Palace. One thing’s for sure, if we can recreate the crowd noise from Wolverhampton it will be an excellent atmosphere but maybe the endless singing of ‘Hey Baby’ might not be necessary!