Will Van Barneveld’s Comeback Be Successful?
The world of darts thought they had bid farewell to Raymond van Barneveld when he announced his retirement following his exit from the 2020 PDC World Darts Championship. But the decision to retire from the game wasn't, it turned out, final. It was less than a year later that Van Barneveld decided to return to the game that he loved. Since then, it's been a slow and steady climb up the hill, but his ability to qualify for the Grand Slam has got people paying attention. Just how far might Van Barneveld go in the latest phase of his career?
In this blog, we'll take a look at the comeback in more detail, including whether he needs it, what success would look like, the future, and more.
An All-Time Great
Van Barneveld said himself that he "has nothing to lose" by returning to the world of darts, but could he hope for more than that? There's no doubt that he's not the force that once was, but let's not forget that we're talking about one of the best ever here. The stage is all set for one final big win, and that'll prompt many people to use a free bet offer to back the dutchman to get his hands on a trophy.
Different Versions of Success
Everyone has their own version of success. To some people, just making a living from darts is a success. And despite being one of the most successful dart players of his era, this is the camp that Van Barneveld falls into. Having separated from his ex-manager, sources suggested that his reason for returning to the darts circuit may have been financially motivated. With his sponsorship deals expiring when he retired, Van Barneveld needs to rebuild his reputation if he's going to draw the attention of corporate sponsors.
Of course, the truth is more complicated than this. Raymond is on record as saying that he loves darts and couldn't imagine his life without it. Since this is a sport that you can play later on in life than many other sports, it makes sense that Van Barneveld would try to give it one more shot at hitting the big time. While he may be content with a few checks, you imagine he would be ecstatic to win a major trophy again, especially after so many people were quick to write him off.
Grand Slam defeat
Fans at the Grand Slam of Darts will have been delighted to see that van Barneveld was back. He's a crowd favorite, after all, having won this competition back in 2012. But a gap of nine years can change the landscape quite significantly, and that's just what Van Barneveld experienced in his match against Gary Anderson. Though he was the starter, he lost the first match. From there, he regained one game to level things up before Anderson began to pull away. In the end, the Dutchman lost the match 5 - 2. In truth, he never looked like he was going to make the last sixteen, but he would have been happy to just be there.
If Van Barneveld is going to make this phase of his darts career a successful one, then he'll need to find some consistency. He's been getting that through training (he apparently begins training at 9 am each day), but what really counts is playing matches against other top players in front of a crowd. Raymond has only had limited experience since his return to darts. Though he's 54, you'd have to think that he can continue playing for a little while longer. If he can stay focused, and push any "retirement" talk to the back of his mind, then he might just relive his glory days.
Of course, whether he wins titles this time around or simply makes up the numbers, there's no doubt that his legacy will be intact. He's achieved too much for that!