It would be a symbolic farewell for Raymond van Barneveld. Former protégé Jeffrey de Zwaan who sends him to retirement at his last PDC World Darts Championship.
The Dutch duo could meet in the second round at the World Championship. De Zwaan is already in the second round, while Van Barneveld needs to beat Darin Young first to set up a Dutch clash.
Van Barneveld stood at the cradle of De Zwaan’s professional career. Together with Mike Zuydwijk and Dirk van Duijvenbode, The Black Cobra was part of Team Bengi. This collaboration ended at the beginning of 2018, just before De Zwaan recaptured his PDC Tour Card.
”It would be a nice story if the scholar defeats him at his last World Championship appearance”, De Zwaan admits in an interview with Dartsnews. ”The draw gave mixed feelings of course. Raymond is a good friend and he’s playing his last World Championship. On the other hand, it doesn’t really bother me. He first needs to overcome Young in the first round.”
If it comes to a Dutch clash in the second round, then the spotlight will be mainly aimed on Van Barneveld. The five-time world champion could play his last ever professional match in his career.
For De Zwaan it’s not a problem to stand in the shadow of his illustrious countryman. ”That makes sense. It’s his last World Championship and Raymond is a real legend in darts. It’s just nice that there would be more attention for Raymond.”
This website spoke with darts pundit Wayne Mardle about a potential clash between De Zwaan and Van Barneveld at the Alexandra Palace. Mardle expected more of the two-time Players Championship winner.
The five-time World Championship semi-finalist said that the Dutchman’s talent is great, but his winning ratio isn’t. ”Jeffrey de Zwaan has not risen since I thought he would, in the last 18 months. If he doesn’t do it at the Worlds, he can’t for another seven months”, Mardle added.
De Zwaan agrees with Mardle’s comments. ”That’s correct. It’s been a good year, but I had higher expectations for myself. I have not really progressed, but I’m working on that and trying to improve myself.”
The 22-year-old from Leidschendam suffered an early exit at the Players Championship Finals. Despite a comfortable 3-0 lead, he lost 6-5 to Simon Whitlock in the first round. What went wrong?
”It was a concentration problem and lack of confidence at that moment. I’m working on that at the moment. I need to make sure that I will be confident at the start of the World Championship.”
Although De Zwaan’s World Championship results with defeats in the first round (against Michael Smith, 2016) and second round (against Rob Cross, 2019) are not good, his form during both World Championship appearances offers guidance for the upcoming edition.
”I always play well at the World Championship, but the results are not showing that yet. I need to work on that and hopefully I can prove myself this year.”Interview, Jeffrey de Zwaan