Two world champions will be crowned on the penultimate day at the BDO World Darts Championship.
The World Darts Championship features three different tournaments, of course. So we’ll need to settle the matter of who features in the men’s final. Let’s start there, shall we?
Warren heading for personal milestone
Before play started at the Indigo, Wayne Warren’s best run at the World Darts Championship was to the quarter-finals. It was the same in every single other BDO major. There was a serious worry that the Welshman had a ceiling. In beating Chris Landman, Warren has smashed that ceiling. Now a first final is a possibility. The fifth seed’s confidence has grown since a scruffy opening win over Justin Thompson. Now he faces a big hurdle as the final looms into view.
In an odd work of scheduling, to say the least, Scott Mitchell opens the Saturday afternoon session having completed his quarter-final win over Scott Waites at 11:30pm on Friday night. That means Scotty Dog has had a little over 12 hours to prepare for one of the biggest games of his life.
Victory here will take substantially less money back to the farm than his 2015 triumph, but that won’t matter to Mitchell. The scoring against Leighton Bennett in round one turned out to be an outlier. He put in much the same showing against Michael Unterbuchner and Waites – and when pressured by the latter, he pulled off the win. Mitchell is a natural winner, and his experience of being at this stage once before might prove vital.
A beautiful rivalry begins
Leighton Bennett versus Keane Barry. That’s a fixture you should get familiar with.
The 2020 BDO World Youth Championship final will be the pair’s first stage meeting – there’ll surely be many more. Bennett has had a little time on the Indigo stage, playing four sets against Scott Mitchell in the men’s World Darts Championship. Getting there was a huge achievement for a 14-year-old. He won the youth title at a canter last year, but comes into this as an underdog.
Barry has established himself as a giant of the youth game. The Irish prodigy is the reigning JDC world champion, the JDC International Open champion, the 2019 World Boys’ Master, the Northern Ireland Matchplay winner and the Tom Kirby Memorial Open winner. He reached the PDC World Darts Championship at the age of just 17. All of that happened this year.
The pair both play at lightning speed, so this best-of-five encounter will be over in a flash. It should be a tight battle, and while Barry is likely to come out on top, there’d be little surprise if Bennett can retain his title. Either way, this could be the start of a truly great darting rivalry.
Boss battle for Super Mario
There’s been a lot of talk about Peter Wright’s backstory, given his rise to World Darts Championship success. The Scot quit the game before wife Jo got him back on track. Mario Vandenbogaerde is in the same boat; except he took a whopping 12 years out of the limelight before spousal intervention.
To come back onto the scene and burst into two major semi-finals in the space of a few months is remarkable. The Belgian oozes class, and has played consistent darts in a tournament where we’ve seen most players have at least one wobble. Vandenbogaerde will either make the final, or go down having put up one hell of a fight. He believes he’s living the dream, no matter how it ends.
Jim Williams will certainly be ready for a battle. The second seed has had it a little easier than expected in the last two rounds. Paul Hogan, like Ryan Hogarth, was unable to recover from an early onslaught. Williams knows he’ll have to up his game against Vandenbogaerde, and it’s likely that he will. All being well, he’ll have his first World Darts Championship title in a little over 24 hours. Of course, there’s a good chance it’ll be his last. If Super Mario has his way, there won’t even be a first final.
Women’s darts’ top titans on collision course
First, a gripe. How the women’s World Darts Championship final can be best of five sets (same as the junior final, and the preliminary men’s matches) is utterly baffling. Wheat has been firmly cut from chaff at this point; anything less than best of seven is poor form.
We’ll enjoy what we get, though. Considering the line-up for this final, it’d be a surprise if we don’t see a five-setter.
Lisa Ashton and Mikuru Suzuki are the top two seeds for a reason. Both were picked as Grand Slam players for that same reason. Fallon Sherrock and Beau Greaves are among those pulling the women’s game forwards, but Ashton and Suzuki are the doyennes of darts.
Ashton’s main challenge so far was beating Lorraine Winstanley. That quarter-final could’ve gone differently, but where Winstanley missed her chances, the Lancashire Rose took hers. Elsewhere, her strong scoring has been enough to wipe Paula Jacklin and Corinne Hammond off the board. She has a bone to pick with Suzuki, who beat her in the opening round at last year’s World Darts Championship.
Suzuki, meanwhile, hasn’t had an easy ride at all. Maria O’Brien is an underrated threat and almost proved it in the first round. Anastasia Dobromyslova and Beau Greaves have also forced the Japanese star to bring out her best. It says a lot that all three sets that have needed a fifth leg have seen that leg won by Suzuki. When taken to a final set by O’Brien and Greaves, she won both at a canter.
These are two players who are well-attuned to winning. Both are nerveless performers who can put in big averages. To cut a long story short – if you’re sure who the winner will be, you haven’t been paying attention.
Can someone crowd-fund a couple of extra sets for this final?
BDO World Darts Championship 2020 preview
Saturday, January 11
Afternoon session (from 14:30)
Wayne Warren vs Scott Mitchell (Men’s Semi-Final)
Leighton Bennett vs Keane Barry (Junior Final)
Evening session (from 7 p.m.)
Jim Williams vs Mario Vandenbogaerde (Men’s Semi-Final)
Lisa Ashton vs Mikuru Suzuki (Women’s Final)Tags: BDO, BDO World Darts Championship 2020
Author: Ed McCosh