Lakeside ’22: Duffman and The French Touch left standing

Neil Duff and Thibault Tricole made it through to the World Championship final after coming through their Semi-Finals on Day 8 at Lakeside. 

Duff said he was going to make the final at the start of the week as it was his daughter’s 18th birthday on the day of the final and made it through after beating Richard Veenstra 5-2 in the first men’s Semi-Final of the night, to reach the final on his debut year at Lakeside. 

5th Seed Duff said after the match, “I feel I’ve just taken the next step on the travels of where I want to be, I didn’t come here to lose and I’m standing here after winning a Semi-Final and still just as adamant. I’m not here to lose”.

“Red Dragon has been great, I’m using the Joe Cullen darts which are awesome, they suit me so well and I’m hopefully going to get a set of darts of my own. But it’s nice to have a name like Red Dragon because that’s when you know you have accomplished something in the game.”  

Thibault Tricole is also through to his first World Championship Final after beating Cameron Menzies 5-4 in a very tight last match of the night in Surrey.

The tournament 2nd Seed said after winning, “I’m proud of course, I managed to throw the most important finishes and I know I haven’t been the best player in the tournament, but I like being the outsider which is why I’m in the final”

“Winmau is a prestigious company, I was with them four years ago. I’m proud to be sponsored by Winmau, maybe it’s strange but being sponsored by Winmau gives me confidence as its very serious. I played national tournaments in France, and everyone gave me respect as I was a Winmau player” 

Neil Duff won the opening set of his Semi-Final with Richard Veenstra despite being broken in the opening leg, as Veenstra hit double 16 to take a 1-0 lead in the first set. The Northern Irishman broke straight back though hitting double three with his last dart, followed by double five again with his last dart again to take a 2-1 lead in the set.

Duff Man won the first set, but it was Veenstra who flew out the traps in set 2 taking out tops in a 76 checkout to take a 2-0 lead and break the throw, before hitting the same target again to level the match at 1-1, winning the set without reply. 

The Northern Irishman responded to his opponent hitting a 180 followed by 41 out on tops, before finishing the same score again to break the Veenstra throw and win the third set. 

Duff went on to say “I perform better when the crowd gets bigger, I feed off the crowd and I’m a show-off. The bigger the crowd is, the more I can feed off their energy and I’ll play more relaxed which allows my natural game to come out”

The 5th Seed showed his unbelievable ability on doubles once more, hitting double six with his third dart whilst standing off the oche to the left just so he could see the target. Hitting the double meant that Duff broke the throw in the opening leg of the fourth set. 

However, Veenstra again broke back in the second leg hitting tops after Duff missed two at the same target to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth set. Flyers went on to level the match in the final fifth leg hitting double ten with his last dart to level the Semi-Final at 2-2. 

Duff then stormed to victory on the Lakeside stage averaging 94 which bettered his overall tournament average of 90 and included a 104 checkout on tops to take a 2-0 lead in the fifth set breaking the Dutchman’s throw. 

“Over through lockdown, I’ve been out and again averaging 90 plus averages, I know I can bust that. I can bust Richard’s record average; I can do that on that stage, I know I can and ill do it over a longer period. I beat the all-Ireland record three weeks ago and banged in a 114 average in counties.”

Duff took a 3-2 lead in sets in the match and showed signs of dominance in the match once more, hitting a score of 134 followed by double eighteen in four darts to take the fourth leg of the sixth set, forcing the number 9 seed to throw for the deciding leg of the match which he lost allowing the Northern Irishman to go one away from the final. 

Duff completed a magnificent 3 set winning streak and made it through to the final on his Lakeside debut in what has been a magnificent week for Duff Man, who is beaming with confidence on his finishing and his scoring set up shots. 

“I watched back the game with Jim, my doubling was horrendous, so it was all about getting it right today, sort the doubles out by getting my guys in to play 201 double in double out which is a very good game for me to sort my doubles out. I’m well known at home for being a great finisher and great on my set up play”

Thibaut Tricole opened very strongly in his match with Cameron Menzies, racing into a 2-0 lead, including a 62 out in the third leg of the second set after hitting double sixteen with his last dart.

The French Touch included a 12-dart leg, as he won set two of the match hitting double eight with his last dart in hand to take the set in Surrey. 

Menzies however did not let that affect him, taking out 80 with his one and only dart at double tops to break back after the 2nd seed broke in the first leg. He then hit a maximum to leave double twelve which was taken out in two on double six to lead 2-1 in the third set. 

The 14th Seed won sets three and four and hit checkouts of 112 on tops to take the third set before a 68 out in the third leg of the fourth set to break the Tricole throw. 

The 2nd seed then showed the form at the start of the match once more, taking a 4-2 lead in the match, hitting double eight to seal the sixth set. Menzies missed a dart at double tops to send the fifth set into a deciding leg allowing The French Touch to return to the oche and hit double two to lead once more.

Menzies though did not give up, and he came back on the Lakeside stage once more. The Scotsman missed four darts to win the seventh set but got over the line on his fifth attempt hitting double nine to go within one of Tricole making the score 4-3 in the Semi. 

The French Touch included a 78 finish in just two darts to take the opening leg of set 8 on double twelve, before Menzies hit an out of 76 on double four to take a 2-1 lead in the set. The 14th Seed went on to win the eighth set in a last-leg decider, meaning the final match of the night was going all the way in Surrey. 

The Frenchman showed unbelievable signs of character after being pegged back from having a two-set cushion twice in the match saying “We need to be consistent; I know if I miss one leg or one set I can come back and try again as it’s a long format”

Tricole won the deciding ninth set including a 96 finish in just two darts to take the second leg of the set before closing the match out on double one to reach his first final where he will take on 5th Seed Duff on Sunday. 

“It will be a hard game, Neil Duff it’s his first time participating in the final. He’s a fighter just like myself because I have proved throughout the tournament that I never give up. It’s not the final everyone was expecting, but it will be a very good game and a long fight”

The Men’s Final will take place after Kirsty Hutchinson faces Beau Greaves in the final of the women’s tournament where the winner of that will earn a £25,000 cheque at Lakeside.


WDF World Championship: Semi-Finals

Neil Duff (5) 5-2 Richard Veenstra (9)

Thibault Tricole (2) 5-4 Cameron Menzies (14)

WDF World Championship: Final 

Neil Duff (5) v Thibault Tricole (2)


Words: Harry Masterson

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