Five things we learned from the German Darts Championship

By Alex Moss
27 MARCH 2017 •3:41PM

The PDC European Tour returned this past weekend with the HappyBet German Darts Championship in Hildesheim, the first of 12 events taking place on the tour in 2017.

Peter Wright continued his fine start to the year by lifting the trophy, beating world number one Michael van Gerwen 6-3 in the final last night.

Our chief darts writer ALEX MOSS picks out five things we learned from the last three days of action in Germany…

1. Peter Wright is developing a winning mentality

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CREDIT: PDC EUROPE

What a year Peter Wright is having! Since enjoying a breakthrough run to the final of the 2014 PDC World Championship, the Scot has been battling it out amongst the elite players in the PDC, but with limited success.

Alongside Wright’s run to the final at Alexandra Palace, he also reached the finals of seven other televised tournaments, all of which he lost in, before breaking his TV duck with victory in the UK Open three weeks ago.

After winning his maiden TV title in Minehead, Wright revealed how he had thrown away all of his runners-up trophies from his darts room at his Mendham home and said this year he wanted to replace them with winning ones.

Well, he now has a second title to add to his now spacious trophy cabinet after winning the German Darts Championship on Sunday.

It was Wright’s first win over Michael van Gerwen in a final, another box ticked in what has been a memorable few weeks for the world number three.

Yes, what Wright has achieved in darts over the last three to four years has been remarkable and should be celebrated.

But it now feels like Wright is starting to develop a winning mentality. He is no longer content with taking home the runners-up trophies and, although removing all of his second place prizes may seem to some a step too far, he is certainly not regretting it now. Could he reach double figures for tournament wins in 2017?

2. Gerwyn Price is a force to be reckoned with in the PDC

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CREDIT: PDC EUROPE

We may only be in March, but it already looks like Gerwyn Price is going to be the odds on favourite to scoop the Most Improved Player award at next January’s PDC Annual Awards night.

The Welshman reached his first televised final earlier this month at the UK Open, and he backed up that performance with a run to his maiden European Tour semi-final yesterday.

It is well documented how Price ended his rugby career to take up darts at the start of 2014, winning a tour card at Q-School and making steady progress up the ranks in the PDC ever since.

Aside from a run to the quarter-finals of the World Matchplay in 2015, Price had before this year never produced his best darts on the stage. He ended last year mulling over a third first round defeat in three appearances at the PDC World Championship.

But this year we’ve seen Price start to produce the sort of performances which helped him to win back-to-back Players Championship titles on the floor last year.

Price is pushing the top players now and he even had a dart to knock out eventual winner Peter Wright in the semi-finals. Price is certainly one to watch for the rest of the season.

3. Darren Johnson is the surprise package of 2017

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CREDIT: PDC EUROPE

He’s beaten five of the top 16 players in the PDC in the last fortnight and now Darren Johnson will be a player everyone will not dare be taking lightly.

The 50-year-old, from Mexborough, has been playing on the PDC circuit since 2004, but few, if any, of his previous achievements will match those of the last two weeks.

Wins over Dave Chisnall, Raymond van Barneveld, Benito van de Pas and Michael van Gerwen saw him reach the final of Players Championship 4 in Barnsley two weeks ago.

And this past weekend Johnson completed a stunning comeback from 5-1 down to beat James Wade 6-5, in the second round of the German Darts Championship.

Johnson only won his tour card back in January at Q-School, but he is already making big strides to try and avoid dropping off the tour again at the end of 2018.

4. Green shoots of recovery for Paul Nicholson

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CREDIT: PDC EUROPE

A first round victory on the European Tour stage with a 90.29 average would not have set the heart racing, but for Paul Nicholson and his army of supporters it would have meant a lot.

The 2010 Players Championship Finals winner played his first game on a European Tour stage in almost three years at the weekend, beating Ryan Searle 6-2 before bowing out to Cristo Reyes in the last 32.

Since winning back his tour card at Q-School at the start of the year, Nicholson has showed signs that he is getting back somewhere near to the form he showed on the TV between 2009 and 2012.

Injuries and a loss of form have hampered Nicholson over the last few years, and resulted in him losing his tour card at the end of last year, but 2017 feels like a fresh start for the Asset.

There are still plenty of events to go, but even he will feel he has a chance of qualifying for the World Championship at the end of the season. More appearances on the European Tour, as a player rather than a commentator, will help his cause.

5. Seeded players face added pressure on Saturday

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CREDIT: PDC EUROPE

Make no mistake about it, the seeded players who play on the European Tour this year will be feeling more pressure when they play their first games on Saturday afternoon or evening.

A new rule brought in by the PDC this year states that if a seeded player loses their first game (second round) in a European Tour event then the prize money earned from that particular event will not go towards the Order of Merit.

With a record 12 events on the European Tour this season, the top players should not find it difficult to finish in the top 32 of the European Tour Order of Merit and qualify for the European Championship in Belgium.

But, for those seeded players out of form or only deciding to enter a select number of the events, the importance of winning your second round game is now even greater.

James Wade, Michael Smith and Simon Whitlock were the only seeded players to lose out in the second round at the weekend.

Whilst we do expect the three of them to safely qualify for Hasselt, a few more early exits for either of them could trigger some doubts.

And for a player like Wade, who skipped three of the European Tour events last year, a second round exit or two could be the difference between him being able to skip a weekend or having to enter an extra event to make sure of his place in the European Championship.

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COLUMN: Now he’s won his first major, expect Peter Wright to add more TV titles to his collection

By Alex Moss
5 MARCH 2017 •11:36PM

The wait is finally over. Peter Wright has won his first major title after beating Gerwyn Price 11-6 in the Coral UK Open final tonight.

For all the talk from Wright during the tournament about this year’s UK Open not being a ‘major’ because of the absence of Michael van Gerwen (back injury) and Phil Taylor (did not enter), you could see just how much winning this event means to him.

The promise he made to himself not to cry was broken. As Wright tried to hold back the tears moments after winning the final, his emotions got the better of him as years and years of hard work and dedication were rewarded with his maiden TV title.

As a Wright fan myself, it has been equally both pleasing and frustrating to see his rise in the PDC over the last three or four years.

Pleasing because of the journey he has gone on to get to where he is now. Few people know that before the start of the 2014 PDC World Championship, a tournament in which he reached the final of to kick start his rapid climb to the upper echelons of the sport, it really was make or break for Wright.

If he didn’t reach the latter stages that was it. The money he was using had ran out and this was his last chance to break through and announce himself on the world stage.

Of course, we all know how the tournament unfolded, with Wright going all the way to the final, where he was beaten by van Gerwen. Wright took home a life-changing cheque for £100,000 for finishing as the runner-up, was selected as a wildcard for the Premier League, and has been one of the top players in the PDC ever since.

The only thing missing for Wright has been a major title victory. The frustrating part has been the numerous defeats he has suffered, most of which at the hands of van Gerwen, over the last few years.

The World Championship final defeat has been followed by defeats in the finals of the UK Open (twice), World Series of Darts Finals (twice) and the World Cup of Darts, as well as finishing second best in World Series events in Japan and Dubai.

But the unwanted moniker of being ‘the best player never to win a major’ is no longer in Wright’s possession. Many critics and fans have said it was only a matter of time before he won his first title on television, well now the question will be: now that he has won his first, how many more can he win?

Yes, van Gerwen, the world number one and best player on the planet, was not at Minehead this weekend. But when MVG does return to action he will come up against a much different Peter Wright.

Instead of facing Peter Wright: the perennial bridesmaid in TV finals, van Gerwen will be taking on Peter Wright: major winner. And a major winner who is producing the best darts of his career right now.

Aside from a disappointing weekend in the Masters and the disastrous defeat to van Gerwen in the Premier League, Wright has otherwise consistently produced some excellent darts so far in 2017.

This UK Open is already the fourth title Wright has got his hands on this year, adding to three UK Open Qualifier victories last month. Now that he has ended his search for a first TV title, expect Wright now to go on and win plenty more before his colourful Mohawk is replaced by a wig!

Chris Mason: BDO should listen to people’s ideas so they can flourish

By Chris Mason
6 FEBRUARY 2017 •10:25AM

The BDO World Championship last month was a success in terms of numbers, which was the feedback from both the broadcasters at the event.

I know Channel 4 and BT Sport were over the moon with the viewing figures, and the players absolutely loved they were getting some coverage and getting the respect they deserve.

But I always think back now to that offer PDC chairman Barry Hearn made to buy the BDO for £1 million in 2009.

In my opinion, I think rather than go away and look at what Barry wanted, they wouldn’t even listen to his proposals.

I’m sad about that. The BDO will always have a place in my heart, a lot of my mates still play in that system.

Obviously I cover the BDO on TV, whether it be on Dave or BT Sport. I want them to do well and I’ve always said I’d love to sit down with them and brainstorm.

I’ve got loads of ideas. 99 of them might be a waste of space, but one might be something that could work and give them the boost they need.

It’s great to see that the game is still attracting the youngsters.

Steve Brown’s got the JDC, he’s been over in Australia promoting the game.

That’s something what we need the BDO for. That’s the old route, I remember playing in the under-21s and the youths, but unfortunately they’ve just sort of lost their way a little bit.

I don’t know what’s going on. County in my opinion needs a complete restructure.

The PDC are more or less covering everything now. They’re involved heavily in Steve Brown’s concept, then they’ve got the Challenge Tour, the Development Tour, and I think the BDO needs to go away and listen to other people and come up with some innovative ideas to attract youth players.

We’ve got to look after the game. We can’t just sit back and think new players are just going to come off the conveyer belt.

What we have at the moment is down to the van Barneveld and Taylor eras really, in terms of the Dutch kids and the European players.

The next generation before that were looking at people like Bristow, Lowe and Jocky.

We’ve got to make sure we’ve got something there to continue it, and I’ve got nothing against what the BDO have done over the years.

Without them we wouldn’t have what we have now. I really want them to flourish and come up with something, maybe sit down and listen to other people’s ideas.

The BDO have players coming through like Jim Williams, Dean Reynolds, Nick Kenny and the new youth champion Justin van Tergouw.

Justin is darts mad. He is driven and dedicated. All I ever did was see him practicing at Lakeside, you can’t fault the young man.

Ultimately, everybody who ends up in the PDC have gone through the BDO, so they must be doing something right.

What they need to do is to somehow stop everybody jumping ship, which is why I was really pleased that Glen Durrant decided to stay put and defend the title at Lakeside next year.

I think it would have devalued it somewhat if he’d have just won it and walked away.

I’m really pleased for Glen and I’m really pleased not only for the BDO fans but for the BDO itself.

It’s important to have your champion on parade and take the trophy around and in less than 12 months’ time to come back and defend it. It deserves that honour.

Christopher Kempf’s Match of the Week: Duzza is in exhibition form in semi-final smash-up

By Christopher Kempf
20 JANUARY 2017 •7:47PM

Glen Durrant, the newly crowned BDO world champion, had much to prove after the two very shaky wins he recorded en route to the Lakeside semi-finals.

It was only by virtue of Paul Hogan’s three missed darts at doubles for a 4-0 whitewash he managed to reach that stage at all.

But even if Duzza’s extraordinary comeback against Hogan turned heads, his throwing of anaemic sub-90 averages in both the second round and the quarter-finals, and missing every finish greater than 85 he attempted in 58 legs of darts assuredly did not.

His struggles seemed to continue in the initial legs of his semi-final match with Jamie Hughes, the BDO world number two.

Through the first six legs, Duzza was again averaging in the 80s, scoring erratically and only winning three of his first four legs by virtue of missed doubles from his opponent.

Despite winning the first set 3-2, it seemed that Durrant was in for a gruelling semi-final, as he struggled to overcome Hughes’ efforts and capitalise on his mistakes.

Within a half an hour’s time, however, Hughes’ confidence had been utterly broken.

En route to a 4-0 set lead, Durrant threw two 12-dart legs and won six more in five visits, conceding only two legs to Hughes on the West Midlands darter’s throw.

Durrant knew full well that he would need to build a massive early lead to stymie Yozza, and he did it in a way that made the comeback seem hopeless.

As if a 132 checkout on the bull to kick off the third set wasn’t enough, Durrant matched the highest checkout of the tournament with his ensuing 170 finish, doing his celebratory “Duzza shuffle” as he walked to the board to retrieve his darts.

The cameras trained on his opponent, and caught a bewildered Hughes bowing his head as he sought to recompose himself.

His next score, however, was a 47, and Durrant later denied Hughes a shot at 74 when the last of his three darts hit double 10.

Duzza had only won three legs in that spectacular set, but it had the psychological impact of thirty.

After a fourth set in which Durrant continued in exhibition form, setting up a double after nine darts in the first leg and hitting the 117 finish in the second, even scoring another 170 visit along the way, the comeback against an opponent romping to victory must have seemed impossible.

Hughes’ scoring, to his credit, remained consistent – his average of 10.46 darts needed to reach a finish was one of the best recorded in the tournament.

Taking advantage of a sudden spate of inaccuracy on the treble 20, Hughes won the fifth set and pulled ahead 2-1 in the sixth.

Then Durrant threw a third 170 visit and Hughes’ comeback crumbled.

On his own throw, with two clear visits to win the set, Hughes missed four doubles – none of them by close margins – before ruefully busting after missing double five to the inside.

With that, all the energy and momentum left in Hughes’ game drained away, and the seventh set seemed an afterthought.

The averages from the match tell a tale of a close fight between two men on form, but Duzza’s psychological onslaught brought to the match something unseen in his previous two games.

This time, Durrant proved why he is ranked number one in the BDO.

He did not hesitate to remind Hughes of that with every spellbinding score – and in doing so threatened him still with more.

OPINION: Will maiden world title triumph at Lakeside sway Glen Durrant to stay with the BDO for another year?

By Alex Moss
15 JANUARY 2017 • 11:58PM

“My dream is to play in the PDC, but holding this trophy, that seems a million miles away.”

Those were the words uttered by BDO number one Glen Durrant, just moments after he beat Danny Noppert 7-3 to win the Lakeside World Professional Darts Championship for the first time, earlier this evening.

While Durrant has been the man dominating the BDO circuit over the last two years, winning the Winmau World Masters, Finder Darts Masters, as well as countless other titles, the biggest one of them all has alluded him until now.

The BDO World Championship has, until tonight, been a tournament filled with heartache for Duzza. Narrow defeats to Martin Adams (2015) and Scott Waites (2016) in the last two years have left the proud Teessider quite visibly distraught afterwards.

But he has battled through adversity and has come out the other side with the World Championship trophy in his hands. Durrant will forever be remembered as a world champion, a tag which him and only 27 other men can lay claim to.

Yet while Durrant will, quite rightly, take the plaudits from his latest triumph, talk of his future in the sport has reached fever pitch. By this time tomorrow evening we will know where Durrant’s future lies, will he be staying with the BDO, or is he jumping ship to the PDC?

Durrant did not detract from the big question when asked on Channel 4 after his victory in the final, and said he would need a few days to sit down with his management to discuss his options. But the reality is, if he is going to give the PDC a go this year he will need to make up his mind quickly.

PDC chairman Barry Hearn no longer dangles the carrot of a tour card in front of the semi-finalists at Lakeside, instead they will need to come through the minefield that is Qualifying School later this week.

The deadline for entries into this year’s Q-School, which runs from Thursday to Sunday, is at 2PM tomorrow, meaning any potential switchers from the BDO now have less than 24 hours to make up their minds.

Will Durrant make the switch? If you would have asked me on Wednesday evening when he was three sets down against Paul Hogan and facing elimination from Lakeside in the second round, I would have said yes.

Now that we’ve seen him come back from that and go on and win the title for the first time, I’m not so sure.

Durrant has said in plenty of interviews over the last two years if he was to win the World Championship at Lakeside he would “honour the trophy” and come back and defend it the following year.

Only John Lowe (in 1994) and Stephen Bunting (in 2015) have not appeared at Lakeside the year after winning at Lakeside since the split, will Durrant add his name to that list?

Durrant turned 46 last November and away from darts has a full-time job as a housing officer. There are obvious benefits in whichever code he decides to play in for the rest of 2017.

As the newly crowned BDO world champion, Durrant will have a whole host of opportunities come his way over the next 12 months. He will not be short of exhibition work in 2017.

As the world champion I can see him taking great pride in showcasing the trophy all around the country, and I’m sure he would do a sterling job in flying the flag for the BDO.

If the qualification criteria stays the same, Durrant will be in the Grand Slam again in 2017, and he is guaranteed to be at Lakeside for the next few years.

It means he can spend less time travelling and chasing ranking points playing in tournaments, instead he can focus on the roles and responsibilities of being a world champion.

Giving Q-School a go represents a whole new challenge for Durrant. From conquering the BDO’s biggest tournament and being at the top of the rankings this evening, he will be back at square one and battling it out against hundreds and hundreds of players for a PDC tour card just a few days later.

With that comes a lot of added pressure, and after achieving his dream of becoming world champion in the BDO, will Durrant want to start from scratch so soon after that triumph?

Whether it’s BDO or PDC for Durrant for the rest of 2017, it will be a life-changing year for the Teessider and a 12 months which he will never forget.

Lockup Dave’s Betting Column: I’m tipping over 10 sets, 25 180s and a big checkout in the final tonight

By Dave South
2 JANUARY 2017 • 2:00PM

We started with 72 players and are down to just two as the final of the William Hill World Darts Championship will be decided at Alexandra Palace this evening.

Will it be Michael van Gerwen or two-time defending world champion Gary Anderson who will lift the Sid Waddell Trophy?

Odds compilers have van Gerwen at 1/3, with Anderson at 11/4. In handicap terms this implies Gerwen should win this by 7-4 or better, with Marathonbet at 16/19, so bookies covering this market.

Overnight I did tip out privately (you know who you are) with van Gerwen’s average at over 103.50 with Paddy Power and has since been adjusted to 105.50.

The value was in the disparity in prices between the highest average price, which varies between 1.33 and 1.64 and the average line, but now this has been adjusted that value is now gone.

For the fact of the final being up to 13 sets does give opportunities to explore the total lines. We have the total legs line at 44.5, but with the expectation of around ten or eleven sets will require a few sets to go the distance and as we know there will be at least one or two sets that are won to nil making the task for difficult.

Breaking this down further, without tie breaks the minimum legs that could be played is 21, with the maximum 64 before triggering the tie break thus 71.

Elsewhere, all compilers take the view on the 180s being in excess of 30 with the line set at 32.5.

Bet365 are taking a chance on first set 180s with the line set at 3.5, 11/8 for four or more and 8/15 for fewer than four? The same firm bet on a first leg maximum and go just 8/11 on an opening leg 180, with 11/10 for no maximum.

There was no maximum in the MVG semi final, but there was in the Anderson semi final, but was scored by Peter Wright!

William Hill bet 7/4 on a 160 or better checkout on the night with Skybet’s request a bet, that punt 8/11 that there are at least 10 sets, 25 maximums and a 130 finish in the match. The same firm bet 4/5 on 10 sets, 21 maximums but a 140 or better finish.

A more longshot 55/1 bet with Skybet is for both to hit a 170 finish, and both to net 10 or more maximums in the match.

However the outcome, I do expect the game to be a spectacle and will head with the 8/11 with Skybet on 10 sets or more, 25 or more 180s and a 130 or better finish!

Tonight’s recommendation

10+ sets, 25 180s or more & 130+ checkout – 8/11 Skybet

Prices correct at time of publication

Lockup Dave’s Betting Column: Anderson to finish with the highest average in semi-final against Wright

By Dave South
1 JANUARY 2017 • 3:24PM

An all Scottish affair will determine one of the finalists for the 2017 William Hill World Darts Championship, but will it be defending two time champion Gary Anderson, or Peter Wright?

One stat you may not read anywhere, is that both players have featured in the last three finals, with Gary lifting the title in the last two, and Wright a beaten finalist in 2014.

Bookmakers have priced as I priced, with Anderson around the 1/2 mark and Wright at 2/1. The head to head shows Anderson leads 17-11 with Wright winning just one of the last eight spanning back to mid April 2014.

The pair met in the 2015 World Championship, where the Flying Scotsman sunk Wright 5-1 in quite the one sided game.

Is Anderson a good tip at 1/2? The head to head would suggest so on the basis that Anderson is undefeated since April 3, 2015 nine meetings ago, with a draw the closest result for Snakebite since.

Anderson certainly charged to his semi final with a 105.9 average versus a very willing Dave Chisnall, who fired in 21 maximums in the process.

Wright pulled together a credible 104.79 performance in beating James Wade, where it took until the fifth set for Snakebite to take the lead off the Machine.

We saw 22 maximums in the game with Wright, and one thing that has been noticed with Wright is his sheer scoring power especially at the right times.

The line for the semi final is exceptionally high at 144.50 with last years final only a couple points higher. It is difficult to argue with the bookmaker pricing of 8/11 for Anderson to get the opening maximum, like he has in the last two matches!

I do like the Wright handicap of 4/6 with a 2.5 set headstart with BetVictor but with many bookmakers above evens, will you take the chance that there will be at least 10 sets with Coral’s 6/5 pricing?

Wright to maintain a 3 dart average of 101.50 will be a challenge indeed, and is a worthy bet in the tendancies of the quarter final performances I have seen and standards displayed!

The bet for us that has a sporting chance must be Wright under 11.5 maximums at evens with Coral and also Anderson to net the highest average, which is 3/5 with Bwin.

Michael van Gerwen will be looking to make it third time lucky since his last title and will want to avert his last World Championship meeting when Barney took out MVG in the third round in last year’s competition.

The head to head have MVG leading 26-16 with MVG remaining unbeaten in the four occasions they have met since the loss.

The last meeting was at the Players Championship Finals in the end of November with Mighty Mike at 1/6 with Barney at 9/2.

This is such a match I want to enjoy without taking a bet on, although the 22.5 180 line is high this could be the only element of value in the game, but with motion in the game, that line could soon shrink with an exchange of maximums.

Tonight’s recommendations

Wright under 11.5 180s – 1/1 Coral

Anderson – highest average vs Wright – 3/5 Bwin

Prices correct at time of publication