Tag Archives: Michael van Gerwen

Work tomorrow? Crowd takes Dutch courage as MVG wins again

“Don’t take me home, I just don’t want to go to work, I want to stay here and drink all the beer, please don’t, please don’t take me home.”

The plaintive chant filled the air at Arena MK on a night of darts, drinking and Dutch success otherwise known as the Masters Championship.

I found myself singing along, pitcher of lager in hand, until it dawned on me that I too had work the following morning, at 7:30am to be precise.

As with most of the crowd, however, this panicked thought soon passed, and the party carried on.

It was the first PDC event of the year, pitting the top 16 in the world against each other, and it was the tournament’s fourth successive year of being hosted in Milton Keynes, with Michael Van Gerwen winning the previous three events on the bounce.

Raymond Van Barneveld

Barney Army

The Dutchman headed into the curtain-raiser off the back of a disappointing defeat to Rob Cross in the PDC World Championship semi-final at Alexandra Palace, while it was Cross’ first tournament since his sensational run to the world title.

Both were expected to come through their opening games in comfortable fashion and the pair didn’t disappoint, Cross defeating Ian White 10-3, with MVG beating Kim Huybrechts 10-6.

However, the Barney Army, who were out in force had a scare, but their man, former world champion and two-time Masters runner-up Raymond Van Barneveld, was able to see off the challenge of Dave Chisnall in a final-leg decider to edge through 10-9.

Ally Pally hangover

It was feared that Cross – who’s meteoric rise last year resulted in him ending the season as world No.3 – might suffer a World Championship hangover, and so it proved in his quarter-final.

Mensur Suljovic
Mensur Suljovic

Mensur Suljovic, a notoriously awkward opponent due to his slow throwing rhythm, was able to hang onto the coat-tails of Cross in the early exchanges, coming back from a 4-5 deficit to put together a run of four consecutive winning legs.

The pressure asserted by the Austrian proved to be too much, and the world champion’s frustration on the oche became increasingly apparent.

The Englishman was able to reduce the margin to a single-leg deficit at 9-8, but it proved to be damage limitation as the world No.6 took the 18th leg to send the man from Hastings crashing out.

Cross, who turned professional just a year ago, could only achieve a three-dart average of 99.00, which fell some way short of his world championship final victory over Phil Taylor, where he averaged 107.67.

Going Dutch 

An all-Dutch final between Van Gerwen and Van Barneveld proved to be the spectacle everyone had hoped for.

Bive-time world champion ‘Barney’ raced into a early 4-1 advantage over his compatriot, and then led 5-2.

However Van Gerwen eventually found his best form and put together a string of three successive winning legs to level proceedings at 5-5.

The Barney Army were in full voice as they urged their man to summon up one more big effort and he didn’t disappoint, but MVG went on another winning streak of his own.

The world No.1 took five consecutive legs at 5-8 down to storm into a 10-8 advantage, before doubling out and landing the contest 11-9 in what was an epic seesaw battle full of momentum swings.

His victory meant MVG has still never lost a match on the Milton Keynes stage. The crowd went home elated to set their alarms for the following morning…

BDO’s Silencer out to make a noise at Grand Slam

Jeff Smith insists he and his fellow British Darts Organisation players can “go deep” in this year’s Grand Slam of Darts.

The annual showdown in Wolverhampton (November 12-20) sees the best of the BDO take on the top talent from rival organisation the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).

jeff smith arrows
Jeff Smith on the oche

The winner of the tournament will take home £100,000, the runner up bags £50,000 and the losing semi-finalists will get £25,000 each. Overall the prize fund for the Grand Slam is £400,000, making it the fourth biggest tournament in the world of darts.

Smith stated that this year’s line-up of BDO players at the Grand Slam is “one of the best the organisation has ever brought to the competition” since it began in 2007.

The 40-year old Canadian, who’s been around the darts circuit for a number of years and threw his first dart at the age of just four, is currently flying high in the BDO.

Smith, nicknamed the Silencer, reached the semi-finals of the 2015 BDO World Championship and this year reached the final, losing out to Scott Waites.

The Silencer is now set to make his first appearance at the Grand Slam of Darts and will be joined by seven other BDO players, all of whom are currently in the top 10 of the organisation’s rankings.

This means it is the strongest BDO line up in the history of the competition. Alongside Smith will be:

  • Scott Waites; former Grand Slam winner and current BDO world champion
  • Glen Durrant; current BDO number one
  • Scott Mitchell; former BDO world champion
  • Martin Adams; three-time BDO world champion
  • Daryl Fitton; BDO Masters champion

All five men are returning to the Grand Slam stage, while making their debuts are Danny Noppert from the Netherlands and Jamie Hughes from Tipton, both in the top five of the BDO rankings.

“Don’t be surprised if a few of us BDO boys go deep into the knockout stage”

Causing the PDC a problem

As the dart season rolls into its crucial months of major tournaments, Smith is aiming to cause the PDC a headache or two.

“Obviously the talent level is off the charts in this tournament, but don’t be surprised if a few of us BDO boys go deep into the knockout stage”.

The likes of Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen from the PDC could be up against any of the eight BDO players – a mouthwatering prospect for any darts fan.

waites-gsod
BDO’s Scott Waites won the Grand Slam in 2009

The format begins in the Group Stage with a seeded draw from four pools.

Pool A; seeded players from the PDC, this could be Phil Taylor for example. Pool B PDC Automatic Qualifiers, Pool C PDC Qualifiers and Pool D; the boys from the BDO.

2009 was the last, and only time a player from the BDO won the Grand Slam; current BDO world champion Waites.

However, Smith is confident he will have a few of his rivals from the PDC concerned. “I’m just going to focus on my own game; I’d rather it be them having to worry about my game rather than the other way round

“My overall goal is to literally take one leg at a time, try and grind out a place in the knockout rounds and see what happens”.

The Big Stage

The Canadian admitted he “cannot wait” to be up on the stage at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall in November.

“There’s something about playing on a big stage I love”

“To be honest, I can’t wait. I’ve been playing a lot of tournaments recently; my form is in good shape. But there’s just something about playing on a big stage I love”.

Smith has become somewhat of a crowd favourite in the BDO of late, with his distinctive specs and cool attitude as he makes his way to the oche, to the sound of “New Orleans Is Sinking” by Canadian rock band Tragically Hip.

There’s no doubt The Silencer will receive a warm welcome in Wolverhampton from the darts fanatics. “I’ve been very fortunate to have crowd support,” said Smith. “It gives you a sense that you belong on the stage, it definitely helps motivate me”.

Canadian darts

Typically, darts is a sport dominated by Europeans, particularly British and Dutch talent. There are only a handful of players outside of Europe who’ve actually made it to the big time, Smith being one of them.

smith n part
Smith and Part teamed up at the 2013 World Cup of Darts

John Part, also of Canada and labelled Smith’s “hero”, is the most successful darts player to date outside of Europe.

‘Darth Maple’ as he is known, has won both BDO and PDC World Championships in a glittering career spanning over 35 years.

Smith did hold a place on the PDC tour at one point, but unfortunately had to give it up.

“The PDC was awesome to play, but unfortunately being based out of Canada with a wife and kids, it makes it impossible to challenge the Order of Merit [PDC world ranking system] properly”.

“The fact that BDO events are available to play throughout North America, makes sense for me to focus on the BDO.

“Canada has several good players, past and present, but for the most part they struggle to cope with the level of the UK play.

“Practice, practice, practice. Get out and support the game by playing”

“Canadian players need to keep on qualifying, exposing our players to the pressure is key” said Smith.

The Silencer added that practice is the key for those up and coming. “Practice, practice, practice. Get out and support the game by playing. Grass roots to the top pros, there is a place for everyone in darts.”

Live coverage of every dart thrown at the Grand Slam will be shown on Sky Sports.

The 24 PDC representatives will include major tournament finalists from the past 12 months and eight qualifiers. The full PDC line-up is soon to be confirmed.