“Eggplant King” wins heated darts battle

World Cup longest game
“Eggplant King” wins heated darts battle

By Kevin Schulte, London

The Darts World Cup is enriched with a memorable match. Dutchman Dirk van Duijvenbode defeats European champion Ross Smith 4-3 in an epic thriller. The game is not only dramatic from a sporting point of view, there is a curious scene on stage in London’s “Ally Pally”.

When Dirk van Duijvenbode used his first match dart, nothing could stop the eccentric Dutchman. The 30-something crosses the stage running as if he had been bitten by a tarantula, waves his arms wildly, looks in the direction of his friends who encourage him about ten meters below the stage and walk just as stiff. It’s almost surprising that van Duijvenbode still has the strength for a jubilant scene like this after the longest and most competitive match of the 2023 World Darts Championship in London.

It wasn’t the toughest match of this world darts championship, but it was the most spectacular. Van Duijvenbode and Ross Smith deliver an epic darts thriller spanning nearly two hours. The Dutchman leads 1-0 and 2-1 in sets, then Smith turns the game to 3-2. And gives his first match dart on bullseye in the sixth round. At this moment, the English missed the round of 16 by a few millimetres. Van Duijvenbode took the chance to equalize 3-3.

In the deciding set, Smith is unimpressed at first, leads 1-0 and 2-1, but then misses three more match darts on double 20s, double 10s and double 5s. Van Duijvenbode goes out again the head of the slipknot. 3-3 in sets, 2-2 in legs. Smith comes back at 3:2. Because in the “Decider” of World Cup matches, it takes two sets to win the set, the match comes to a head. 3:3, 4:3 Smith, 4:4, 5:4 Smith, 5:5.

Decision in “Sudden Death”

A match at the World Darts Championship couldn’t be more balanced, dramatic or competitive. There is usually only one match, if any, at the World Championships each year that is decided by sudden death. That day is today. At 5:5 in the last set, only one round must decide victory or defeat. Ross Smith is allowed to start, a big advantage for the reigning European champion.

Smith appears to be able to take advantage of this, winning his fifth darts match overall, but again missing the double five. The Dutchman is much more intransigent, immediately takes advantage of his first chance to win on the double 20. “It was not my best game. I should have led 3-1. At a certain point, as a As an experienced darts player, you know it will be punished. Luckily, I was able to turn things around. I figured I needed this chance to win, so I’ll take it,” van Duijvenbode said during the interview. the press conference after the game.

Michael van Gerwen is Dirk van Duijvenbode’s next opponent.

(Photo: John Walton/PA Wire/dpa)

The ‘eggplant king’, as van Duijvenbode is known because of his previous job on an eggplant farm in the Netherlands, was also questioned in the Alexandra Palace media room to find out why he received the cheers from Ross after a mid-game win, Smith aped. The Englishman acknowledged the action with an annoyed expression. “Quite simply, he said I celebrated more than he celebrated his European title in my first game here at the World Cup last week. Then today I see him go all 180 as if it were the first in his life”, thus van Duijvenbode’s explanation.

For world number 14. he now faces fellow Dutchman Michael van Gerwen in the round of 16 on Friday night. He is the big favorite for the world title, so “the pressure will definitely be on Michael”, specifies the “eggplant king”. “If I lose to him, people in Holland will say: you lost to the best.”

Nevertheless, van Duijvenbode thinks he has a chance against the three-time world champion, but his performance in the match against Smith won’t be enough. “I’m still far from showing my best game at this World Cup. If I give my best, I can beat any opponent. The problem is that Michael is very good at handling pressure.”

Stephen Bunting’s surprise victory

After Dirk van Duijvenbode, two Englishmen also qualified for the round of 16 on the 12th day of the World Darts Championship tournament. Stephen Bunting surprisingly won 4:2 against his compatriot Dave Chisnall. The two actors surprised nearly 3,000 viewers in “Ally Pally” with a world-class performance. In the end, Bunting used his third match dart to win.

As the tournament approached, the 37-year-old surprised everyone by saying he could become world champion. Apart from the surprising participation in the semi-finals two years ago, “The Bullet” has not managed to convince at all in recent years. Bunting is only 21st in the world rankings. So it was very surprising that Bunting put so much pressure on himself.

Former world champion Rob Cross also stood up to the pressure on Thursday. The Englishman prevailed against his compatriot Mervyn King and easily won 4:1. In the round of 16, Chris Dobey, winner of Anderson, awaits “Voltage”, the nickname of the cross-trained electrician. In the quarter-finals, he could then continue on New Year’s Day against Michael van Gerwen. Or against Dirk van Duijvenbode.

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