Day two of the World Series of Darts Finals is set to be scintillating.
Sixteen players are left in the mix with a £70,000 top prize in the offing. Eight of them enter in the second round as seeds, and all eight will have targets on their backs. That’s certainly true for James Wade, the defending World Series of Darts Finals winner. He recently attempted to defend his European Championship crown, but was thrashed 6-0 by an inspired Jonny Clayton. His tournament starts this time against…uh oh.
Damon Heta was the main headline-maker of the 2019 World Series. The first ever local qualifier to win an event, Heta could be part of the PDC Pro Tour in just a few months. He can prove his credentials further with success in Amsterdam. He takes on Mensur Suljovic, who stuttered to a win over Kyle Anderson on Friday.
The Eagles have landed
The Polish Eagle battles the bald eagle in the third game. Krzysztof Ratajski won a game that 99 out of 100 players most likely lose, showing an ice-cool edge to scrape past Nathan Aspinall. He’ll be on a high after prevailing in a high-quality game. Daryl Gurney isn’t in awful nick himself, but will be highly wary of the Pole.
Game four is showing high chances of being a belter. Gerwyn Price has never met Michael van Gerwen in the second round of any tournament – the pair normally meet much closer to an event’s denouement. Price has also failed to beat Mighty Mike in any tournament, so perhaps it’s a day for turning tradition on its head. In any case, the Welshman deserves credit for ignoring what’s becoming increasingly unfair treatment; the professionalism helped him to an excellent win over Michael Smith. While he shouldn’t curb his naturally adrenaline-fuelled approach (which is akin to van Gerwen’s), keeping his head down and playing quality darts piped the boo boys down spectacularly.
All Wright for White
Ian White has to be credited for his narrow escape against Ricky Evans. The Kettering thrower looked inspired, but White – often criticised for missing big chances on the stage – stepped in when needed to claim an important win. Peter Wright was thumped 6-1 in last year’s second round. Anything better than that would be a start, but the German Darts Masters champion will want to make the final at least.
Gary Anderson has won most trophies in a glittering career. The World Series of Darts Finals isn’t one of them. The 2017 finalist’s bid to put that right starts against Danny Noppert, who saw off compatriot Jeffrey de Zwaan on Friday. Anderson defeated Noppert on the Dutchman’s World Matchplay debut; this marks the former BDO world finalist’s chance of revenge.
Barney bows out – or does he?
Popular though he is, Noppert won’t be the Dutch star commanding the most attention. It won’t even by Michael van Gerwen hogging the limelight. Raymond van Barneveld, who is a very rich man if he gets royalties for every time Rod Studd calls him “the doyen of Dutch darts” on TV, is potentially playing his final competitive match in the Netherlands. It’d be fitting if it was against Jermaine Wattimena, one of a new generation inspired by Barney and carrying the nation’s interests forwards. Then again, an early exit is hardly the recipe for a fond farewell. We’ll have to wait and see if van Barneveld has retained a bit of the eye of the tiger.
Fans thinking of streaming out after that emotional high might want to remember that there’s an eighth game on afterwards. It’s a good one, too – Rob Cross takes on Dave Chisnall. Why it’s on last, I don’t know. It’s not the craziest scheduling to have been seen in darts over the past couple of weeks. The English duo are likely to notch up some high averages to end the second round with a bang.
World Series of Darts Finals 2019
Day Two schedule
19:00 James Wade v Jonny Clayton
19:30 Damon Heta v Mensur Suljovic
20:00 Daryl Gurney v Krzysztof Ratajski
20:30 Michael van Gerwen v Gerwyn Price
21:00 Peter Wright v Ian White
21:30 Gary Anderson v Danny Noppert
22:00 Raymond van Barneveld v Jermaine Wattimena
22:30 Rob Cross v Dave Chisnall
Author: Ed McCosh