The PDC European Tour returned at the weekend with the Dutch Darts Masters in Venray. Alex Moss picks up the main talking points…
1) MVG determined to beat 2015 achievements in 2016
Michael van Gerwen picked up 18 trophies on the PDC tour last year. We’re only into the middle of February and MVG has already picked up the winner’s cheque in three tournaments so far in 2016.
After such a dominant year on the circuit in 2015, some critics questioned whether van Gerwen would be able to replicate his achievements in 2016.
Based on the start he has made to the new season, the question is not whether he can match last year’s 18 trophy haul, but whether he can better it?
MVG was in imperious form in the final of the Dutch Masters on Sunday, averaging over 112 to beat Daryl Gurney 6-2 and make it a hat-trick of titles in his home nation. Will he return next year having surpassed the 18 trophy tally in 2016?
2) Gurney is starting to show his full potential
Although the final against van Gerwen proved to be a step too far, Daryl Gurney was the breakout star of this year’s Dutch Masters.
The Northern Irishman reached his first European Tour final at the weekend and did it the hard way, beating Premier League stars Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis along the way.
Gurney averaged 105.18 as he came back from 4-1 down to beat Wright 6-4 in the last 16, and then backed up that performance by beating Lewis by the same scoreline in the quarter-finals.
Again it was a ton plus average which won the game for Gurney, 106.84 was his average after beating Lewis in a game which also saw him hit a staggering nine 180s. This won’t be the last final he gets to in 2016.
3) Glasses do the trick for Whitlock
There was a new look for Simon Whitlock at the weekend as the Aussie wore glasses while playing darts for the first time in front of the cameras.
It has been a tough few years for the Wizard, as the two-time world finalist has slipped down to 18th in the rankings and also lost his Premier League place.
Whitlock followed in the footsteps of Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld by trying out the glasses, and based on his performances in Venray they look to have helped him.
A 100.51 average helped him edge past Ian White 6-4 in the second round, and after beating Jelle Klaasen 6-3 in the last 16, he eventually lost out 6-3 to Mensur Suljovic in the quarter-finals.
4) Plenty of fight left in the King
When Mervyn King decides to put his darts down and call an end to his career, the tributes will all say he should have achieved a lot more.
The majority of the King’s success has come during his time in the BDO, where he won the World Masters, International Darts League and Zuiderduin Masters, as well as reaching two Lakeside finals.
During his stint in the PDC he has reached four major finals, and you could argue he should have perhaps won them all.
King turns 50 this year and from his display at the Dutch Masters at the weekend, there is clearly plenty of bark left in him yet.
A classy win over the world champion Gary Anderson in the second round set King on his way to the semi-finals, but only after coming from 5-0 down to beat Benito van de Pas 6-5 in the quarter-finals.
5) Van de Pas is not the finished article yet
Benito van de Pas will still be wondering how he did not at least reach the semi-finals of this year’s Dutch Masters.
The 23-year-old broke into the top 32 of the PDC Order of Merit last year, and looked on course to continue his climb up the rankings after cruising past Mark Webster and James Wade with 100 plus averages.
Big Ben had even missed double 18 for a nine darter as he headed into the final session of the tournament.
An all-Dutch semi-final against van Gerwen looked on the cards as he raced into a 5-0 lead against King, but van de Pas then missed 10 match darts before going out 6-5.