Mensur Suljovic to begin defence of International Darts Open against Dimitri van den Bergh or William O’Connor tomorrow

Mensur Suljovic will start the defence of his HappyBet International Darts Open title against Dimitri van den Bergh or William O’Connor in Riesa tomorrow.

The world number seven, who stormed to his maiden televised title at the Unibet Champions League of Darts on Sunday, is back in Germany this weekend to try and defend his first PDC title he won 12 months ago.

Following last night’s European and Host Nation Qualifiers, the 48-player field for the penultimate European Tour event of the season has been confirmed, with Suljovic to face the winner of today’s first-round tie between van den Bergh and O’Connor in the last 32 on Saturday.

With world number one Michael van Gerwen deciding to skip this weekend, Peter Wright is the top seed in Riesa and will be bidding to win his 10th title of 2017, with German hopeful Dragutin Horvat or Chris Quantock up first for him tomorrow.

Elsewhere in the draw, third seed Simon Whitlock could start his campaign with another meeting with his fellow Aussie Kyle Anderson on Saturday, if the Auckland Darts Masters champion gets past Jerry Hendriks in the first round today.

Gibraltar Darts Trophy winner Michael Smith, the fourth seed, faces either Ron Meulenkamp or Mick McGowan, fifth seed Daryl Gurney goes up against Dennis Nilsson or Steve Beaton, while sixth seed Alan Norris will play Max Hopp or Mark Webster in his first outing of the weekend.

Last year’s beaten finalist in Riesa, Kim Huybrechts, the seventh seed, starts against Justin Pipe or Christian Kist, eighth seed Jelle Klaasen will play either Brendan Dolan or Andy Hamilton, while ninth seed Benito van de Pas has a second-round meeting with Vincent van der Voort or Peter Jacques on Saturday.

2017 HappyBet International Darts Open
First Round Draw
Dragutin Horvat vs. Chris Quantock
Ted Evetts vs. Ronny Huybrechts
Brendan Dolan vs. Andy Hamilton
Vincent van der Voort vs. Peter Jacques
Dennis Nilsson vs. Steve Beaton
Darren Webster vs. Luke Woodhouse
Ron Meulenkamp vs. Mick McGowan
Bernd Roith vs. Josh Payne
Dimitri van den Bergh vs. William O’Connor
Steve Lennon vs. Simon Stevenson
Justin Pipe vs. Christian Kist
Keegan Brown vs. Michael Plooy
Max Hopp vs. Mark Webster
Martin Schindler vs. Richie Corner
Jerry Hendriks vs. Kyle Anderson
John Michael vs. Nandor Bezzeg

Second Round Draw
Peter Wright (1) vs. Horvat/Quantock
Cristo Reyes (16) vs. Evetts/R Huybrechts
Jelle Klaasen (8) vs. Dolan/Hamilton
Benito van de Pas (9) vs. van der Voort/Pipe
Daryl Gurney (5) vs. Nilsson/Beaton
Dave Chisnall (12) vs. D Webster/Woodhouse
Michael Smith (4) vs. Meulenkamp/McGowan
Rob Cross (13) vs. Roith/Payne
Mensur Suljovic (2) vs. van den Bergh/O’Connor
Gerwyn Price (15) vs. Lennon/Stevenson
Kim Huybrechts (7) vs. Pipe/Kist
Ian White (10) vs. Brown/Plooy
Alan Norris (6) vs. Hopp/M Webster
Joe Cullen (11) vs. Schindler/Corner
Simon Whitlock (3) vs. Hendriks/Anderson
Mervyn King (14) vs. Michael/Bezzeg

Double qualifying delight in European Qualifiers for van der Voort, Kist and van den Bergh

Vincent van der Voort, Christian Kist and Dimitri van den Bergh have all qualified for the last two European Tour tour events of the season after winning through the European Qualifiers double-header in Riesa last night.

The HappyBet International Darts Open, which starts in Riesa today, and the HappyBet European Darts Trophy, which takes place in Göttingen next month, represent the final two tournaments on the European Tour for 2017.

And with qualification for the European Championship once again based solely on prize money won on the European Tour, the trio have all boosted their chances of qualifying for the major in Hasselt by securing spots in Riesa and Göttingen.

In the International Darts Open European Qualifier, world number 29 van der Voort defeated Yordi Meeuwisse 6-3 in the final round of qualifying, while Kist and van den Bergh won last-leg deciders against Rowby-John Rodriguez and Arjan Konterman respectively.

Other players to come through the qualifier included Ronny Huybrechts, who saw off Willy van de Wiel 6-1 in the final round, John Michael, a 6-5 winner over Jimmy Hendriks, and Jerry Hendriks, who pipped Jermaine Wattimena in a final-leg shootout.

Ron Meulenkamp will make only his second appearance on the European Tour this year after defeating Jan Dekker 6-4 in the final round, while his Dutch compatriot Michael Plooy clinched his spot in the field this weekend with a 6-3 victory against Mario Robbe.

In the European Darts Trophy European Qualifier, the final round saw van der Voort beat Berry van Peer 6-2, van den Bergh see off Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-3, and Kist edge past Antonio Alcinas 6-3.

Recent Players Championship finalist Zoran Lerchbacher secured his spot in Göttingen with a 6-2 win over Jimmy Hendriks, while Dekker qualified with a last-leg victory against Meulenkamp in the final round, and Wattimena defeated Plooy 6-5 to qualify.

Jeffrey de Zwaan secured a second appearance on the European Tour this season with a 6-2 win against Cristo Reyes, while Yordi Meeuwisse qualified for his first European Tour event of 2017 with a 6-2 win over Konterman in the final round.

Last night also saw the Host Nation Qualifier held for this weekend’s International Darts Open, with World Cup team-mates Max Hopp and Martin Schindler among the qualifiers.

Hopp beat Stefan Stoyke 6-3 in the final round, while Schindler edged past Marvin Eßer in a last-leg decider to also qualify.

The duo were joined by Bernd Roith, a 6-4 winner over Christian Bunse, and Dragutin Horvat, who saw off Thomas Junghans to secure a spot in the penultimate European Tour event of the season.

Race to Wolverhampton: Champions League triumph secures Grand Slam spot for Mensur Suljovic

Mensur Suljovic’s stunning victory in the Unibet Champions League of Darts at the weekend has secured him a spot in the bwin Grand Slam of Darts in November.

The world number seven was a 40/1 pre-tournament outsider to win the title in Cardiff, the Austrian upsetting the odds with consecutive victories over Gary Anderson (twice), Peter Wright, Dave Chisnall and Raymond van Barneveld to clinch his maiden televised title in the PDC.

The victory for Suljovic has seen him become the 15th player to have now pre-qualified for the Grand Slam of Darts, with the criteria including the finalists from the Champions League.

TV event winners alongside Suljovic include reigning Grand Slam of Darts champion Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor, Peter Wright, Raymond van Barneveld and Corey Cadby, while finalists Gary Anderson, James Wade, Berry van Peer, Gerwyn Price, Dave Chisnall and Mark Webster are also currently qualified for the 32-player field for the Wolverhampton event.

Among the eight BDO representatives, Glen Durrant, Danny Noppert and Peter Machin have all qualified, and they will be joined by the top five ranked players from the organisation’s rankings on September 30.

Review: Target Phil Taylor Power-9Five Generation 4 26g Darts

When Target got in touch with us just after the World Matchplay, offering us a set of the Power-9Five Generation 4 26g darts to review, the exact same darts which Phil Taylor had just used to win the tournament in Blackpool for a record 16th time, we did not need a second invitation.

As someone who has only really used darts weighing between 19-22g, it did feel a bit daunting at first when the darts to review arrived at Love The Darts HQ. Just a few days had passed since Taylor was using these darts (well, not this exact set!) to win the World Matchplay, and here I was trying them out for myself on my board at home.

Let’s start at the top of the dart: the flight. The Generation 4 darts are equipped with a ghost flight, a unique flight created by Target, which uses a UV chevron grip for ‘the best possible flight hold.’

And they are not wrong in that respect. I’m used to the flights falling out of my darts when entering the board from time to time, but with the Generation 4 darts not once did one of the flights come out, or even appear to be loose, so that certainly gets my approval.

The flights themselves are not the most durable, though, and I did notice after a few hours of use some tears had appeared. From my experience this is not an issue solely for the ghost flight, as my regular size flights will also encounter some wear and tear over time through general usage.

Moving further down the dart, the Generation 4 darts are fitted with a G4 Titanium Power Shaft, which the packaging says have been designed to Taylor’s ‘exact specification’ and are ‘specifically balanced for the stacking style of play ‘The Power’ is known for.’

I may not have been able to replicate the 16-time world champion’s ‘stacking style of play’ when using the Generation 4 darts, but I did get glimpses of it in action while playing with them.

In terms of the flight of the dart through the air, whenever a dart landed in the treble 20, and on top of the bottom wire, it was a rewarding feeling, being able to, momentarily, repeat the desired outcome which Taylor has achieved with these darts on many occasions this year.

Now onto the grip and the barrel of the dart. The Generation 4 uses a textured matt grip, which has been sandblasted by hand using fine particles to create this texture.

The result is a successful one, as it gives you a better grip when holding the dart at the rear of the barrel, while lower down the barrel, for those who use a central grip, a mix of precision milled axial grooves and radial synergy grooves also provide the darter with an improved grip.

I must say this part of the dart is probably my favourite. When looking for a dart to use, the grip has to be one of the areas which is important to get right. Get it wrong and you will struggle with your action and ultimately releasing the dart.

I found the grip on the Generation 4 darts to be beneficial to my throw, and even found after a few hours of using them that it had improved it and made it more smoother.

The bottom of the barrel uses a Black Titanium Nitride Coating, which also helps to enhance the grip of the dart, while the Black Diamond Pro point features a laser diamond pattern for ‘extra grip in the board.’

Before beginning the trial with the darts, I must admit when I first picked them up in my hand I was worried if they were going to stick in the board or not. My throw at times can be quite forceful, but I thought I may have to use even more power to try and keep them in the board.

However, this proved to be far from the case. I can recall perhaps one or two bounce outs from the hours I spent overall using the darts, which is a quite impressive figure on its own.

Even after a bad release, when the dart appeared to be hanging on and with an awkward trajectory in the board, when I went to retrieve it after my throw I found that it was stable in the board and was not loose at all.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the Generation 4 darts. The retail price (£84.95) is not cheap and would put off some, but to own what is essentially a piece of sporting history does not come cheap I suppose.

These are the darts that Taylor has been using during his final season on the professional circuit, and will be the darts he uses for his final tournament, the World Championship, at the end of the year. So I can see how the price has been negotiated to that figure, and I’ll also point out the extra work that has been put in to make these darts look as appealing as they are.

The Generation 4 is a quality dart and it is to be expected given the player they have been designed for. Taylor has mastered them and in the, albeit, limited success I found with them compared to him it is a rewarding experience when you do find the bottom of the treble 20 with your first dart with the same trajectory which ‘The Power’ has famously done.

The 26g makes them easily the heaviest dart I have ever thrown with, so it has been a challenge to adjust to the weight, but I would expect that regardless of which 26g set of darts I was using.

I intend to continue practicing with them and seeing how much progress I can make. For players used to throwing in the 26g region I would expect a smoother transition, the Generation 4 darts are a thing of beauty!

4.5 out of 5 stars

Fifth Development Tour title of 2017 moves Luke Humphries back to the top of Order of Merit

Luke Humphries returned to the top of the Unicorn Development Tour Order of Merit after winning his fifth title on the tour in Barnsley on Sunday.

Berkshire’s Humphries overcame his Red Dragon Darts stablemate Ryan Meikle 5-1 in the Event 16 final as he followed up an earlier quarter-final in Event 15 by taking the £2,000 top prize.

Humphries lost just four legs in his opening four matches as he defeated Shane Reidy, Dylan Powell, Josh Payne and Thomas King, before seeing off Dan Read 5-2 in the quarter-finals and Dimitri van den Bergh 5-3 in the last four.

Suffolk’s Meikle was aiming to win his second Development Tour title of the year, having previously won Event Three back in February.

The left-hander enjoyed wins over Jack Seymour, Tom Lonsdale, Joshua Church, Craig Reeves, Kevin De Vries, Harry Ward and Steve Lennon as he reached the final, only to be denied by Humphries.

The victory for Humphries has propelled him back up to top spot in the Development Tour Order of Merit on £10,100, with van den Bergh close behind on £9,800, and then Adam Hunt back in third on £8,000.

The final Development Tour weekend will be held on November 4-5 at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan, and will be followed on November 6 by the early rounds of the Unicorn World Youth Championship.

The top two players on the Order of Merit following the final event on November 6 will earn two-year tour cards onto the main PDC circuit for 2018 and 2019.

Unicorn Development Tour Event 16
Quarter-Finals
Dimitri Van den Bergh 5-3 Adam Hunt
Luke Humphries 5-2 Dan Read
Steve Lennon 5-4 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Ryan Meikle 5-3 Harry Ward

Semi-Finals
Luke Humphries 5-3 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Ryan Meikle 5-4 Steve Lennon

Final
Luke Humphries 5-1 Ryan Meikle

Martin Schindler clinches first Development Tour title with victory in Event 15 in Barnsley

Germany’s Martin Schindler won his maiden title in the Unicorn Development Tour after beating Justin van Tergouw 5-2 in the Event 15 final in Barnsley on Sunday.

The 21-year-old, who reached the quarter-finals alongside Max Hopp in the World Cup of Darts this summer, won through to his first Development Tour final yesterday, thus surpassing his run to the Event Two semi-finals earlier this year.

After seeing off Austria’s Rowby-John Rodriguez 4-2 in his opening game, Schindler then defeated Bradley Brooks, Sam Carter, Callum Goffin and Kenny Neyens to reach the last eight.

A 5-2 win over Ireland’s Steve Lennon put him through to the semi-finals, where he repeated the scoreline against fellow German Nico Ziemann, before also losing just two legs as he took victory in the final against van Tergouw.

Van Tergouw, who made his European Tour debut a fortnight ago in the Dutch Darts Masters, reached two semi-finals on the Development Tour weekend in Germany back in May.

And the 17-year-old continued to show his promise as he recorded wins over Justin Bradshaw, Reece Kiley, Josh McCarthy, Rob Hewson, Callum Loose, Ronnie Roberts and Harry Ward to make the final, where he was denied the £2,000 prize by Schindler.

Unicorn Development Tour Event 15
Quarter-Finals
Harry Ward 5-4 Luke Humphries
Justin van Tergouw 5-3 Ronnie Roberts
Nico Ziemann 5-3 Dawson Murschell
Martin Schindler 5-2 Steve Lennon

Semi-Finals
Justin van Tergouw 5-2 Harry Ward
Martin Schindler 5-2 Nico Ziemann

Final
Martin Schindler 5-2 Justin van Tergouw

Mensur Suljovic wins first televised title after beating Gary Anderson 11-9 in Champions League of Darts final

Mensur Suljovic is the newest first-time winner of a PDC televised title after beating Gary Anderson 11-9 in the Unibet Champions League of Darts final in Cardiff on Sunday night.

The 45-year-old Austrian, ranked seventh in the world, was the 40/1 pre-tournament outsider with Unibet heading into the weekend, but racked up five straight wins over players in the world’s top eight to claim the £100,000 title.

Suljovic opened the tournament with a 10-3 group stage win over Anderson and also recorded victories against Peter Wright (10-8) and Dave Chisnall (10-5) to finish top of Group B.

An 11-9 win over Group A runner-up Raymond van Barneveld, which was sealed with a stunning 160 checkout, booked his spot in his second TV final, where he repeated the scoreline against Anderson to win his maiden TV title.

“I feel perfect,” Suljovic said. “I never thought I could win this tournament.

“Gary is a brilliant player, a gentleman and I’ve got so much respect for him but I played well and I never gave up.

“I played well and was focused on my game but I never thought I could beat Gary twice.

“I couldn’t dream of being in the semi-finals but I gave it my best and fought so hard.

“I was so happy to get to the final against the best players in the world.”

Anderson led 2-0 and 3-1 in the final before Suljovic took out checkouts of 116 and 118 in a run of five successive legs to move 6-3 up.

The world number two then took three legs in a row to level at 6-6, with an 11-darter squaring the game up again in the 16th leg and an 80 finish with two double tops in leg 18 sending the final into a three-leg shootout.

Suljovic’s favourite double 14 moved him 10-9 up, before three missed doubles from Anderson allowed his rival back in to seal victory by hitting the same bed.

Anderson had earlier bounced back from his group stage loss to Suljovic by overcoming Chisnall on Saturday night, before surviving eight missed match darts from Wright in their Sunday afternoon winner-takes-all clash to claim a semi-final place with a 10-9 triumph.

The Scot then ended Phil Taylor’s title defence at the Motorpoint Arena with an 11-6 victory in the last four, recovering from 102 and 121 finishes in the opening two legs from Taylor to win eight on the spin on his way to victory.

However, it was Suljovic again who enjoyed victory over the two-time world champion to deny him the £100,000 title, with Anderson admitting: “Mensur has been brilliant and you can see how much it means to him.

“He’s been phenomenal for the last two years and he’s been the best player this weekend.

“He deserves it – he’s been the player of the tournament and smashed the lot of us.

“It’s been a great event. It’s a couple of weeks since I won in Perth and I got better as the event went on.

“I struggled against Mensur, then played better on Saturday evening and played well today.

“I did alright in the final and I’d have loved to have made it 10-all and then see what happened in the last leg, but I had three clear darts at double 10 and made a complete mess of it, so we’ll never know.”

Unibet World Grand Prix first round draw: Michael van Gerwen to begin defence of title against Scotland’s John Henderson

Michael van Gerwen will begin the defence of his Unibet World Grand Prix title against Scotland’s John Henderson in the first round in Dublin next month.

The world number one claimed his third title in the double-start tournament by beating Gary Anderson 5-2 in last year’s final, and the Dutchman has been handed an opening round clash with Henderson, ranked 32nd on the PDC Order of Merit, to start his bid for a fourth triumph in Ireland.

The 20th staging of the World Grand Prix gets underway at the Citywest Hotel, in Dublin, two weeks today, with the first round draw having taken place this morning.

Second seed Gary Anderson, who lost out to van Gerwen in the final 12 months ago, takes on debutant Richard North, third seed Peter Wright faces former BDO world champion Stephen Bunting, and fourth seed Adrian Lewis, a runner-up in Dublin back in 2010, has been drawn against Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney in a mouth-watering last 32 tie.

Fifth seed Dave Chisnall, a finalist in 2013, goes up against former world champion Jelle Klaasen, sixth seed Mensur Suljovic plays Ian White, seventh seed Michael Smith takes on Gerwyn Price, and eighth seed Raymond van Barneveld, twice a runner-up in the World Grand Prix, meets recent Auckland Darts Masters winner Kyle Anderson.

Elsewhere in the draw, 2015 champion Robert Thornton, who only got in the field for this year’s event following the withdrawal of Phil Taylor, takes on Kim Huybrechts, while 2008 and 2010 winner James Wade will play Steve West, who memorably knocked out Taylor in his World Grand Prix debut 12 months ago.

Mervyn King, the 2012 runner-up, has drawn Ronny Huybrechts, Benito van de Pas takes on Cristo Reyes, and Simon Whitlock faces Christian Kist.

Rob Cross, the highest-placed qualifier on the Pro Tour Order of Merit, goes up against Steve Beaton, Joe Cullen faces off with Daren Webster, and Alan Norris battles Justin Pipe in the other first round ties.

2017 Unibet World Grand Prix first round draw
(1) Michael van Gerwen v John Henderson
Alan Norris v Justin Pipe
(8) Raymond van Barneveld v Kyle Anderson
Steve Beaton v Rob Cross
(5) Dave Chisnall v Jelle Klaasen
Robert Thornton v Kim Huybrechts
(4) Adrian Lewis v Daryl Gurney
Joe Cullen v Darren Webster
(2) Gary Anderson v Richard North
Simon Whitlock v Christian Kist
(7) Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price
Benito van de Pas v Cristo Reyes
(6) Mensur Suljovic v Ian White
Steve West v James Wade
(3) Peter Wright v Stephen Bunting
Mervyn King v Ronny Huybrechts

William O’Connor and Jason Cullen to contest for Ally Pally spot in Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay final

William O’Connor and Jason Cullen will battle it out for a place in the William Hill World Championship after both made it through to the final of the Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay.

Ireland’s premier domestic tournament took place in Tramore over the weekend, with O’Connor and Cullen securing their places in the final, which will take place on stage at the Citywest Hotel, in Dublin, next month.

Cappamore’s O’Connor has played in several majors before, including the World Grand Prix and UK Open, and has also represented the Republic of Ireland at the World Cup of Darts.

The 31-year-old has yet to appear in the World Championship though, but wins over Dean Forde, Martin Byrne and Roy Bailie has put him now one game away from clinching his debut at the Alexandra Palace at the end of the year.

Wexford-based Cullen, who has qualified for the BDO World Championship and World Masters in the past, is aiming to secure his debut in a PDC televised tournament.

The 29-year-old saw off Sheamus Hagan, Anthony Whoriskey and Keith Rooney to reach the decider, which will take place ahead of the Unibet World Grand Prix final on October 7.

The Tramore Darts Festival also featured the Irish qualifier for the upcoming Unicorn World Youth Championship, with Nathan Rafferty defeating Dean Finn 5-3 in the final to book his spot in November’s event.

Rafferty recorded wins over Luke Pearse and Ronan McCarthy on his way to reaching the decider, where he got the better of Finn to earn him the Irish Youth Matchplay title alongside a spot in the World Youth Championship.

Unibet World Grand Prix field confirmed as Phil Taylor’s withdrawal opens the door for 2015 winner Robert Thornton

The field for next month’s Unibet World Grand Prix has been confirmed this afternoon, with Phil Taylor’s decision not to compete in the double-start event opening the door for 2015 winner Robert Thornton.

The PDC’s third longest-running televised tournament will be staged at Dublin’s Citywest Hotel from October 1-7, with 32 players competing for £400,000 in prize money.

The event features the unique double-start format, meaning that players have to both begin and end every leg with a double throughout the tournament, which is also played in a sets format.

11-time winner Taylor, currently ranked fourth in the world, qualified as one of the top 16 players on the PDC Order of Merit, however he has decided against playing in Dublin as he continues to wind down his career ahead of retiring from the professional circuit at the end of the season.

Taylor’s withdrawal means a reprieve for 2015 champion Thornton, who was set to miss the event after dropping to 17th on the main Order of Merit, a winner in Ireland two years ago when he beat this year’s defending champion Michael van Gerwen in the final.

Van Gerwen won his third World Grand Prix in the double-start event when he reclaimed the title 12 months ago, and he will head the eight seeded players in the tournament.

Gary Anderson, Peter Wright, Adrian Lewis, Dave Chisnall, Mensur Suljovic, Michael Smith and Raymond van Barneveld will also be seeded in Sunday’s first round draw.

Jelle Klaasen, two-time World Grand Prix winner James Wade, Daryl Gurney, Kim Huybrechts, Ian White, Benito van de Pas, Simon Whitlock and Thornton complete the 16 qualifiers from the PDC Order of Merit.

Rob Cross, a runner-up in the HappyBet German Darts Grand Prix this past weekend, heads the 16 Pro Tour Order of Merit qualifiers as he prepares for his World Grand Prix debut.

Christian Kist, Richard North and Ronny Huybrechts have also secured their debuts in the double-start tournament, with the other Pro Tour qualifiers including Mervyn King, Steve Beaton, Stephen Bunting, Justin Pipe, Steve West, Alan Norris, Joe Cullen, Gerwyn Price, Kyle Anderson, Cristo Reyes, Darren Webster and John Henderson.

2017 Unibet World Grand Prix
PDC Order of Merit Qualifiers (Seeding in brackets)
Michael van Gerwen (1), Gary Anderson (2), Peter Wright (3), Adrian Lewis (4), Dave Chisnall (5), Mensur Suljovic (6), Michael Smith (7), Raymond van Barneveld (8), Jelle Klaasen, James Wade, Daryl Gurney, Kim Huybrechts, Ian White, Benito van de Pas, Simon Whitlock, Robert Thornton.
ProTour Order of Merit Qualifiers
Rob Cross, Alan Norris, Joe Cullen, Mervyn King, Gerwyn Price, Steve Beaton, Kyle Anderson, Cristo Reyes, Darren Webster, Stephen Bunting, Christian Kist, John Henderson, Justin Pipe, Steve West, Richard North, Ronny Huybrechts.