Darts PDC European Tour – Gibraltar Review
Gibraltar is the home of many major UK bookmakers, including the likes of Coral and Ladbrokes. Their presence has lead to investment and sponsorship to bring some of the biggest events on the sporting calendar to the island and that’s great news for the locals as well as UK natives working in Gibraltar. The latest addition to the schedule was the Darts PDC European Tour which took place over the course of the weekend.
With £135,000 in prize money available to the competitors, including a £25,000 winner’s cheque, it was no surprise to see some of the leading names in the sport out in force. Not only were they battling to land the cash pot available, but many were also chasing ranking points that would see them book their place in the European Championship later this year. Competition for points and places were tight at this late stage and that made for interesting viewing.
Followers were able to keep pace with the play on the PDC website and mobile app and there was also coverage supplied by a number of UK bookmakers. There was betting available, allowing supporters the chance to ramp up their interest with a bet on the outcome. Live championship darts is exciting, of course, but it’s not quite as enjoyable as landing a profit on the play by correctly predicting the outright winner or the results of the day’s best games. Bookies offered betting odds on the champion as well as dozens of markets on each match, including correct score and handicap.
Noppert the Standout on Day One
Day one saw Danny Noppert make headlines when moving into a qualifying position for the Unibet European Championship. He achieved that by claiming victory in the opening round of the Gibraltar trophy. This event was the 13th tournament of the season and it was also the last chance for players to cement their qualification. Some saw their hopes hanging in the balance while other players knew they needed a big effort to throw themselves into contention. It had been an enjoyable European Tour, but things were about to get much more interesting.
The pack were looking to force a way into the 32 places available at the European Championship which get underway on 24 October in Gottingen. The standout results of day one from the afternoon session were Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Justin Pipe and Steve Beaton 6-5 Tony Newell. The evening session was just as enjoyable, if not more so. Chris Dobey kept his dreams alive with an impressive 6-4 win over William O’Connor, Danny Noppert beat Keegan Brown 6-5 and Ritchie Edhouse had enough about him to see off the challenge of Jamie Hughes thanks to a 6-3 score.
Day one was all about Danny Noppert but he didn’t enjoy anywhere near the same success on day two as he was beaten convincingly by Michael Smith. The latter secured his own spot at the European Championship with an eye-catching 6-1 win over Noppert and that was the standout result of the afternoon session on day two. Round two is when the 16 seeded players, including Michael Van Gerwen, enter the fold and that’s when things get serious. The big boys have had a chance to check out the competition before entering the fray eager to shake things up and prove just why they are high ranking professional darts players.
MVG Fights Back to Avoid Early Exit
Being a seeded player doesn’t automatically guarantee success at the European Tour, however. That’s the case for a number of reasons. Either the top-ranking players have already secured their place in the European Championship and aim to keep their best efforts for the main event or the non-seeded players who have been knocking on the door of late are eager to prove their worth and close the gap between themselves and the big names.
That was the case with Kim Huybrechts who was the only non-seeded player to reach the third round in Gibraltar. He did so with a cracking 6-3 win over Jonny Clayton and put on a real show in doing so. The Belgian not only secured his place in round three with that confidence-boosting win, but he also kept alive his dreams of playing at the European Championships where he believes he belongs. Huybrechts has blown hot and cold in recent times but there’s no doubt he’s better than most of the chasing pack and would be a benefit to the championships. On his day he is capable of giving anyone a tough outing.
On day two the crowds also came out in force to mark the arrival of fans favourite Michael van Gerwen who announced his presence with a thrilling win over Jose De Sousa. MVG has already qualified for the European Championships so isn’t as ruthless as he was during the early exchanges. He found himself 3-1 down and staring at an early exit. The champion landed five legs on the spin as he flexed his muscles and raged to a jaw-dropping 6-3 victory. That was quite something when considering he looked dead and buried at 3-1. It was another example of just how dangerous it is to wright Mighty van Gerwen off.
Krzysztof Ratajski Makes History
David Francis flew the flag for the host nation, having come through as a qualifier, but he didn’t stay long and was dispatched by Gerwyn Price. The gulf in class between the players was striking, Price easing to a 6-0 whitewash against a man who enjoyed the backing of many inside the venue. Was that result down to Price being talented and in the mood to cause an upset or did it have more to do with Francis being miles off the pace and in over his head when the main players joined? A strong argument could be made for both.
Moving onto Sunday’s final day of play and followers had already witnessed some surprise results and upsets, but they hadn’t seen anything yet. The final paired Dave Chisnall and Krzysztof Ratajski and it was the latter who came out on top. He became the first Polish player to win a European Tour competition, achieved thanks to an 8-2 score.