Who fancies another World Darts Championship, then?
You may remember that there was another World Darts Championship recently. A few headlines were made, and the winner went away with a few quid to their name. Now we switch to the brand new venue of the Indigo at London’s O2 Arena, where the best of the BDO will meet. It’s a celebration of grassroots darts, and an important part of the darting calendar. One which, frankly, deserves more than the crude jokes and constant repeats of that clip of poor Tony Fleet.
As for the event itself, Des Jacklin has been clear that he wants everyone to start being nice, and clean up the “toxic” online image the BDO has. So I won’t mention how his reign as chairman has seen the organisation lurch from one PR disaster to the next – or that certain online rants by a certain high-ranking board member could be viewed as “toxic” themselves. I certainly wouldn’t bring up the fact that ticket sales have been atrocious, and won’t dare facilitate rumours that free tickets have been dished out like confetti. Some may be surprised that Fallon Sherrock is the only player to pull out after the prize fund was slashed, but I have no comment. I’d just like to wish the men and women the best of luck in competing for their prize funds of [redacted] and [TBC] respectively.
Super Mario among the favourites
It’s best to focus on what’s happening on the oche. As it happens, day one promises some intriguing matches. The first ever BDO World Darts Championship tie at the Indigo is between two top European talents in Belgium’s Mario Vandenbogaerde, and Sebastian Steyer of Poland.
Steyer is one to watch for sure, however it’s Vandenbogaerde who will be widely tipped to come out on top. The 46-year-old has consistently produced the goods on stage, and was looking set to win the World Masters before being undone by eventual champion John O’Shea. If he hits the 90+ average standard he set at the Circus Tavern, Vandenbogaerde could go a long way.
Pruim targets Hammond scalp
That tie is followed by a preliminary tie between Justin Thompson – who has narrowly lost in the first round at his last two World Darts Championship outings – and debutant Scott Williams. Fifth seed Wayne Warren will play the winner of that match.
In the first women’s game of the year, Vicky Pruim steps in for the aforementioned Sherrock. The Swede’s a fine deputy; she’s been in the game a long time, and will try to pose a challenge for former finalist Corinne Hammond.
The afternoon session concludes with Dave Parletti meeting Chris Landman. Parletti is the fourth seed and a natural favourite for this second round game (and maybe even the half of the draw itself, with Wesley Harms’ recent World Darts Championship form taken into account). Landman has other ideas however, and wants to go out with a bang – should a planned Q-School bid go to plan.
Greaves ready to show star quality
Darren Herewini represents New Zealand at this year’s event – he makes his debut, but so too does opponent Simon Stainton. Andy Hamilton lies in wait for the winner of this preliminary tie. Stainton will be favourite, though the unique pressure of the World Darts Championship can level any playing field.
What follows was originally one of the standout ties of the opening days. Beau Greaves, a player whose huge potential has been a hot topic for a while now. At just 15 years old, the Yorkshire star is the sixth seed at the Indigo. She would’ve been playing ten-time world champion and all-round darting idol Trina Gulliver, but for the Golden Girl’s unfortunate illness-related exit. Tori Kewish steps in to fly the flag for Australia alongside Hammond, and she’ll be keen to show the talent that’s made her an exciting Aussie export.
Big moment for Tricole
Today marks an important day for French darts, with a first ever Gallic entry into a World Darts Championship. Thibault Tricole could be in it for the long haul, too. Tricole is widely tipped to go places, and not just at this event. It helps that his first opponent is a man whose World Championship form, relative to overall talent, might be the worst ever seen. Ross Montgomery should’ve done much better than eight first round exits in 12 visits to the Lakeside (including all of the last four), yet has never found the winning formula. Perhaps the change of venue will do the Scot the world of good.
Jim Williams rounds off the first day of play. Like Gerwyn Price over in the PDC, Williams has been tipped widely to add his name to the reel of Welsh world champions. Of course, it didn’t work out for Price, but the World Trophy winner will fancy his chances of writing himself a different ending. His first hurdle is Gary Stone, who makes his first BDO World Championship appearance for seven years. A lot has changed since then – and not just for the Scot. Stone has showed his credentials by battling to the last 16 of the World Masters in each of the last two seasons.
BDO World Darts Championship schedule
Saturday, January 4
Afternoon session (from 13:00)
Mario Vandenbogaerde v Sebastian Steyer (R2)
Justin Thompson v Scott Williams (R1)
Vicky Pruim v Corrine Hammond (R1 women)
Dave Parletti v Chris Landman (R2)
Evening session (from 7 p.m.)
Darren Herewini v Simon Stainton (R1)
Beau Greaves v Tori Kewish (R1 women)
Thibault Tricole v Ross Montgomery (R1)
Jim Williams v Gary Stone (R2)
Author: Ed McCosh