The magic of darts is interpreted differently by everyone. High level is often a prerequisite for the day's crowd, but more importantly: is someone throwing at a nice pace? Matches where the optimal point of quality and ease come together are not often. But we came pretty close to that point on Thursday, December 20, 2007. We are looking back at the 2008 PDC World Championship, where Vincent van der Voort and Jelle Klaasen met in the first round.
It was the first PDC World Championship at the Alexandra Palace, and the first World Championship at all for Vander Voort and Klaasen since their move to the PDC in early 2007. Van der Voort was the most in form of the two in 2007. He reached the final of the UK Open, where he eventually lost to Raymond van Barneveld in the final. Jelle Klaasen's highlight was a quarterfinal spot in the Grand Slam of Darts, where he lost to Kevin McDine. Klaasen was, however, the best-unseeded player to start in London.
Back in the day with: Gary Robson, major winner albeit with World Championship disappointment
Due to the final place at the 2007 UK Open, Van der Voort was seeded 26th at the World Championship. The winner would later have to face Adrian Lewis. As a connoisseur, Jackpot will have enjoyed watching Van der Voort and Klaasen. Both men take only four seconds to throw their three darts at the board. That normally guarantees viewing pleasure, a nice pace, a flying match. Van der Voort and ex-Lakeside champion Jelle Klaasen can be expected to do the same.
Doubles for dough
Jelle Klaasen was allowed to start the match. He immediately started with a 15-darter, which bodes well for the average level of the match: no fewer than 15 or 16 darts. Van der Voort did break Klaasen to a 2-1 lead in the first set, but he cleverly broke back in 14 darts and then was out without a care in 16 darts on his own leg: 0-1 for the unseeded Klaasen.
In the second set Van der Voort showed he was not off his game. Thanks in part to two 180s he rushed to the set lead in 16 darts twice. Klaasen was also not off the mark and held his own throw twice in 15 darts twice via a 104 finish. It came down to the deciding leg, in which both men (partly distracted by the crowd) missed a cartload of doubles. In 27 darts, Van der Voort tied 1-1 in sets, where Klaasen could just as easily have made it 2-0.
At the beginning of the third set the level decreased further. Klaasen started with a mere 20-darter. Van der Voort reached 1-1 in 14 darts, but despite his seventh 180 he had to let Klaasen win the next legs in 15 and 14 darts. Thus he was 1-2 ahead in sets. After this set 14 of the possible 15 legs were played. In short: speed, scores, finishes, and excitement.
Cartload of matchdarts
In the fourth set, the pressure was on Van der Voort: he had to take this set, otherwise he would be eliminated. He handled the pressure beautifully: in the first, his own leg, he had a finish after nine darts and eventually took the leg in sixteen darts. Klaasen responded with a 12-darter, however, and broke Van der Voort the next leg in 14 darts. In the fourth leg, Klaasen got his first match darts: it was four on double 16. Van der Voort saved himself with a 19 darter. The following leg, Vinnie held throw in 12 darts. Ten times 180 he had now recorded.
So it came down to a fifth and deciding set. It started with a 13-darter by Klaasen, and a 12-darter by Van der Voort. In the fourth leg Klaasen got five more matchdarts to finish it off, but again failed. In 20 darts Van der Voort forced a tiebreak. The tiebreak went well with the darts. However, in leg 10 it seemed to be 4-5 for Klaasen. Only he missed his tenth matchdart on 66. Van der Voort was out the next turn and so there was a sudden death.
The big magic of sudden death was in the bullpen this time. A year earlier, the World Cup final between Van Barneveld and Taylor was decided this way. Taylor threw his dart into the single bull, Van Barneveld piled it into the bullseye. Now, at Van der Voort v Klaasen, a pin was poked into the hole of Klaasen's dart (outside the bull) by Paul Hinks. Vander Voort did throw inside the bull.
After Van der Voort last led in the second set, he finished it off in the final last leg of the match. In 17 darts on double 18, because Klaasen was too far away. With twelve 180s, Van der Voort advanced to the second round. There he would lose 4-2 to Adrian Lewis.