For the third time I was on my way to a World Series Finals event. This edition, it was different than in 2019 and 2021 though: for the first time I went to the friday session too, and it was a first time as press member as well.
I also wore a brand new darts shirt which my mom made for me!
The way to Amsterdam was a bit hectic, as I accidentally went into the wrong underground! Thankfully, I stepped out at the next station and 2 minutes later another metro came which did go to the right direction, so I still arrived on 6 Dutch time, one hour before the party started!
Police and fans were already there, but I had to go to the back of the venue for the press entrance. It was quite a search to the press room but thanks to journalist Pieter Verbeek, and WDF caller Marco Meijer I found my way eventually!
When I came in, John McDonald was trying to pronounce the names of some Dutch guys who were doing the nine-dart shootout game before the pros entered the action. Especially with the name ‘Teun’ I had to help him quite a lot!
In the venue itself I obviously had no issues finding my way, and I had a talk with paradarts player Wilco Wassink, who warned me for interviewing Chizzy, given the fact he has quite an accent! My first interview however, was with Ryan Joyce who beat Danny Baggish in a very close game.
It was a great interview, with Joyce speaking very enthusiastically about his shirt and love for retro video games! A great start, and what’s next was Dave Chisnall!
Chizzy had a good performance in a win over Jamie Hughes and, in fact, I could clearly understand everything he said, quite surprising but it was a great interview from a nice guy!
Damon Heta won an all-Aussie game, and then told me his next goal was to win a European Tour event. I missed Dirk’s walk-on then, but in fact I missed all walk-ons and first legs apart from the first game, never expected to say this but why aren’t the commercial breaks a bit longer!
Van Duijvenbode, surprisingly, was in danger against Haupai Puha but with a bit of help from the crowd Aubergine still won!
It was another nice interview with Dirk who was in a great mood, as I asked him one question in Dutch which was if he thought if he was the favourite against Anderson. His answer: ‘no.’ I then asked why not and he said ‘You said just 1 question in Dutch right?’ with a smile on his face. He then gave a great answer but afterward he did say ‘you lied to me!’, obviously joking once again!
Leonard Gates and Devon Petersen were almost halfway there when I came back from a busy press conference with DVD, and I went to the arena, to see a bit of the action and of course to watch Petersen’s new darts shoes which were the most talked subject on darts twitter this week!
The shoes didn’t bring luck today though as an impressive Gates won the game! Leonard really was a kind, down to earth guy, who then confirmed to me he will be playing in the European Q-School in 2023!
Probably the game of the night was between World Champ Peter Wright and Women’s Matchplay Champ Fallon Sherrock. Fallon didn’t give up at any point and just constantly put the pressure on Snakebite! However, Wright is World Champion for a reason and with a 103,5 average he still won 6-4, to put up a Worlds rematch against Michael Smith in round 2.
However, that doesn’t mean much to Wright as he told me in the press room, as always with his wife Joanne by his side, cause the past is the past and it’s just a new game!
Wright also was wearing a shirt as tribute to Kyle Anderson, which will be sold on auction later on of course for a good cause, so keep your eyes on that!
Two more Dutchmen were next, although Vincent van der Voort failed to beat Canadian Matt Campbell, another very friendly American who I met for the first time, who agreed with me that darts in Canada is at the best point it has ever been!
Campbell then even stayed in the press room to play some table football, very relaxed indeed!
The last match was a cracker between UK Open Champ Danny Noppert and World Cup Champ Simon Whitlock. Noppert won it 6-4, and hit a 170 as well, and takes on the defending champion Clayton tomorrow.
As Danny said, he thinks he is the favourite, but it should be a close game: around 60-40 in his favour!
Some mouthwatering ties later today: not only Clayton-Noppert and a Worlds final repeat, but games between MVG and Heta and Anderson and DVD are ones to look forward to as well!
Words and Images: Wim Blokpoel
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