Going Dutch: Summer Special

OUR Dutch correspondent has had quite a couple of months, he has attended some of the best darts events the PDC and WDF have to offer. He’s been player, pressman, and simply a fan:

After the World Championships at Lakeside, the WDF went to Denmark where the Netherlands’ former World Champion, Jelle Klaasen, finally showed some form, going all the way to the final of the Denmark Masters, only to lose to James Richardson in a deciding leg! Anca Zijlstra also made a final in Denmark.

The same weekend, saw 3 Dutch quarter-finalists at the PDC Austrian Darts Open! MVG beat DVD, and Danny Noppert impressed with a 6-1 win over Joe Cullen. In the semis, Van Gerwen beat Stephen Bunting while Noppert demolished Nathan Aspinall 7-2 producing an all-Dutch final. MVG picked up his second Eurotour title of the year, as he beat Noppert 8-5.

More all-Dutch finals followed at the Development Tour, as Jurjen van der Velde beat Geert Nentjes in the final of event 7. The end of event 10 was also going Dutch, as Geert Nentjes picked up a title himself, beating Jitse van der Wal in the final, fair to say we have some major talents coming through very soon! 

In Leverkusen, Van Gerwen managed to make it three Eurotour titles already this year, as he beat Dimitri van den Bergh in the final of the European Darts Open, that’s 4 more ranking titles than last year for him with 5 months to go. 

At the Czech Darts Open, Luke Humphries ended MVG’s winning streak in the last 8, while Vincent van der Voort represented with a big run to the semi-finals, only losing to Rob Cross. 

For the first time this year, we then went to The Netherlands as the Dutch Darts Championship was played in Zwolle! Highlights were 2 all Dutch ties: Danny Jansen had the crowd on his side, as the 19-year-old beat Vincent van der Voort 6-5 in the first round! Michael van Gerwen then averaged 105 in round 2 to beat Jelle Klaasen in a high-quality contest. 

MVG lost out to Callan Rydz, but Danny ‘The Freeze’ Noppert went all the way to the final, and what an amazing final we got! Both Noppert and Michael Smith averaged in the high 90s, but it was Smith who won it in a deciding leg.

Meanwhile, in the Premier League, Van Gerwen didn’t win much in the last nights, but still comfortably reached the play-offs, as he finished in second place. He then announced he had a hand injury and had to have surgery. But first, he played in the US Masters where he made the final and also lost to Smith. 

He then had one more night to play in: the Premier League Finals night! There, he comfortably beat James Wade to go through to the final! In that final, it was a tough battle against Joe Cullen, but after surviving one match dart, Mighty Mike won the deciding leg to pick up his first major title in two and a half years! 

Anca Zijlstra picked up the WDF Ladies Swiss Open title, and then the WDF went to The Netherlands for the platinum-ranked Dutch Open in Assen! It was a very well-organized event, with Roos van der Velde and Dylan van Lierop picking up the youth titles. In the men event both Ivo Leeksma and Jelle Klaasen reached the last 4. There, Leeksma lost to Mark Barilli but Klaasen survived a match dart against Thibault Tricole before defeating the Frenchman in a deciding set. 

Klaasen then comfortably beat Barilli in the final, to pick up the Dutch Open title, and qualify for Lakeside 2023: a first appearance there in 16 years for the 2006 champion!

Danny Noppert and Dirk van Duijvenbode were the team for the World Cup after MVG’s withdrawal because of his recovery. It was a great team that comfortably reached the quarter-finals and there won a tough battle against Gurney and Dolan from Northern Ireland. In the semi, the Dutch Duo lost to Wales, as Price and Clayton proved to be too strong. 

Back to Holland next: the Dutch Darts Masters, and, for the first time a World Series event, in Amsterdam. 

Van Gerwen made his comeback but lost in a great game to Noppert. Van der Voort was surprised in a win over Price, while Martijn Kleermaker upset the in-form Michael Smith. Jermaine Wattimena edged out Jonny Clayton in a deciding leg, while Van Duijvenbode beat World Champion Peter Wright as 6 of the 8 quarter-finalists were Dutch! Noppert and DVD then made the last 4, where Noppert lost to Van den Bergh, but Aubergenius made it through against Wade, reaching a second tv final! However, in that final Van den Bergh absolutely ran riot winning comfortably! 

Going into the men’s World Matchplay, both Dirk van Duijvenbode and Danny Noppert are in great form: they both picked up a third PDC title in the week before Blackpool! They’re joined by two-time winner Michael van Gerwen. In the women’s series, Aileen de Graaf made multiple finals and semi-finals as she qualified for the very first Women’s World Matchplay in Blackpool, where she’ll take on Laura Turner. So we could have a lot of Dutch success in the Winter Gardens!

Wim’s Rare Darting Treble

As you may have read in DartsWorld Extra I’ve attended three large-scale darts tournaments in the past 3 months, in three different roles: the Dutch Darts Championship in Zwolle as a fan, the Dutch Open in Assen as both player and reporter, and the Dutch Darts Masters in Amsterdam purely in the pressman capacity. 

A PDC Europe tour event, a deservedly famous WDF event, and PDC World Series invitational: three totally different tournaments fullfilling differing functions on their respective calendars. The Masters and Championship were quite similar. Of course, different qualifying criteria, and different formats, and one is ranked and one isn’t. But both had the same MC, same camera people, and pretty much a similar atmosphere! Even some people in the crowd in Amsterdam who I had also seen in Zwolle!

The Dutch Open, however, was a very different tournament, obviously, it is organized by the WDF, a different organisation than the PDC. Even though the WDF is for amateurs, everything was organized very professionally. Very clear where and when you have to play or mark a game, one venue for the men’s event, one for the youth, and one for the women and Paradarts players. 

Perhaps the biggest difference from the PDC events is the atmosphere: it feels like everyone is one big family in the Dutch Open. Probably because everyone knows each other really, some from travelling all over the world to get their WDF ranking points, some from the Dutch ranking tournaments and others from darts groups and social media. I really felt very welcome in the Dutch Open, I had good conversations with a lot of people who were very friendly including Laura Turner and Nanke Klaasen (Jelle’s wife). In the end, everyone at the Dutch Open loves darts and many do not depend upon it for a living, so we all have something in common, maybe that’s why the atmosphere was so relaxed and comfortable.

A thing that was great in the PDC events though, is that you get the opportunity to interview a lot of dart players after they won their game, something the Dutch Open did not really have organised until the final. From the press and media viewpoint, this is a huge advantage and allowed a far wider range of coverage and formats.

Another big difference is the walk-on: in the PDC the walk-on is absolutely filled with dart fans and the players are pretty much unable to shake everyone’s hand. In the WDF, everyone knows each other and may not feel the need to shake the hand of people they often talk to, as the walk-on was very empty, but the players did shake every single hand of a person who was standing there! 

In the end, I can say that I enjoyed every single event hugely, As a fan in Zwolle, it was great to shake players’ hands, get signatures from great players and meet fellow dart fans. As a player in Assen it was fun to play a game of darts in such an important event, and also mark a game in the youth event thus playing a full role. 

In Amsterdam finally, it was absolutely amazing to interview some of the best dart players on this planet (and have a conversation about pandas with James Wade). It was also great to meet fellow dart journalists, even though we’re not writing and interviewing for the same publications, we’re still passionate about the same thing: darts!

Klassen Wins in Gangnam Style

Former World Champion Jelle Klassen had set himself a target before the 2022 Dutch Open, and safe to say he achieved it and then some……

As his wife Nanke told me, Jelle’s goal before the tournament was to make at least the semi-finals, so that he could walk-on with the favourite song of his kids, ‘Gangnam style’. 

Remarkably the 2006 Lakeside winner had no other significant or ranking WDF event to his name during a career heading toward the 20-year-mark. But after a 16-year gap, The Cobra fulfilled his aim following his first Gagnam Style Walk-on he faced Lakeside finalist Thibault Tricole.

Leading 1-0 in sets, Tricole got 1 match dart to make the final but missed! Klaasen punished the French Touch, and it was Dutchman who then won 2-1, as for the first time this weekend Tricole lost a match! 

In the other semi-final Mark Barilli played against Ivo Leeksma in the semi-finals, and once again the crowd supported the Dutchman, no booing or any bad behaviour though! Barilli missed a lot of doubles, but Leeksma didn’t punish enough as it was the Scot who made the final, to the delight of his onlooking friend Davie Kirwan, and Belgian ‘superfan’ Jackie Goethals!

The support Klaasen got was very deserved, after losing his tour card it must have been tough to go back to the WDF circuit, after being a Professional player for so long, and has even played the Premier League.

Barilli seemed to have used up his energies and didn’t really turn up, as Klaasen won 3-0 in sets, a second-ranking BDO/WDF title. Jelle has now also automatically qualified for the 2023 WDF Lakeside World Championship, but the biggest prize was celebrating a big tournament victory, together with his 2 children!

—–ENDS—–

Wim Blokpoel’s pieces appeared in both Darts World Extra 3 and Darts World Magazine (Issue 580)

Images: PDC

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