Glory for Labanauskas and Kantele at latest PDCNB weekend
After a five-month hiatus, the PDC Nordic & Baltic tour returned this weekend with a busy schedule in Keflavík, Iceland.
The increasingly impressive circuit now has three Tour Card holders in its system, and it was two of those, Darius Labanauskas and Madars Razma, who had dominated the early stages of the tour this year. Going into this weekend, Razma had one two events and reached another final and Labanauskas had one won and lost to Razma in a final. Dennis Nilsson had won the other event.
40 entrants took part in ProTour 5 on Saturday afternoon, and Niels-Jørgen Hansen went out early on at the hands of Mindaugas Barauskas. Sweden’s Roland Lenngren produced the highest average of the preliminary round, an 80.5 in a whitewash win over Gissur Oli Halldorsson.
All the big names entered the competition in the last 32, with every top 8 seed winning their first match. A 101 average from Madars Razma meant he stood out, while Oskar Lukasiak and Hannu Suominen went head-to-head in a tight game, Lukasiak coming out on top 6-4. Daniel Larsson and Darius Labanauskas also averaged over 95.
The standard wasn’t quite as good in the last 16, but ‘Razzmatazz’ carried on where he left off with a 99.7 against Cor Dekker, the Latvian only dropping one leg en route to the quarter-finals. The likes of Labanauskas, Kantele, Nilsson and Larsson all progressed to set up a star-studded line-up in the last eight, Roland Lenngren the most surprising name to make it through.
An 11-darter and a 12-darter helped Finnish thrower Kantele to a superb 105.8 average, the best in PDCNB so far in 2019, in his 6-2 success over countryman Ulf Ceder, while Madars Razma thrashed Lenngren to set up a semi-final meeting with Kantele. Darius Labanauskas and Oskar Lukasiak also booked their spots in the last four.
And it was the two favourites who won through, Razma and Labanauskas setting up their second final of the year. The Lithuanian got off to a flyer, winning the first four legs, before Razma incredibly got it back to 5-5, only to squander clutches of match darts in the decider and hand the ProTour 5 title to Labanauskas.
Sunday saw ProTour 6, 44 entrants aiming for glory. Quarter-finalist on Saturday, Roland Lenngren crashed out in the preliminary round with a 6-3 defeat to Jan Mcintosh of the Faroe Islands, with Cor Dekker the standout performer at that stage.
Identically to ProTour 5, all eight seeds progressed to the last 16 with several whitewashes being handed out, while Marko Kantele survived a brutal draw against Per Laursen, coming from behind to win that one 6-5. Madars Razma posted his second successive 90+ average in the last 16, while Søren Hedegaard, Niels Heinsøe and Ivan Springborg all made it to the quarter-finals.
That trio were all beaten, though, by more established players, with Razma, Kantele, Larsson and Nilsson making it to the last four. A superb display by Marko Kantele seemed to get the better of ‘Razzmatazz’ as the Finn stormed ahead and Razma gave up in the sixth leg with the score 5-0.
Dennis Nilsson produced a superb display against his fellow Swede Daniel Larsson, winning the last three legs to deny a 96 average and win 6-4, but his level slightly dropped in the final and Marko Kantele was able to capitalise to win his first PDCNB title of the year.
Razma and Labanauskas lead the way in the Order of Merit, but due to Labanauskas’ excellence on the PDC ProTour, Marko Kantele in third place will tentatively qualify for the World Championship. There were also three PDCNB European Tour qualifiers in Keflavík: Dennis Nilsson, Daniel Larsson and Cor Dekker qualifying for Mannheim, Riesa and Gibraltar respectively.
The Nordic & Baltic tour returns in October with a weekend in Vääksy, Finland before the race to Ally Pally concludes in the capital of Latvia, Riga.
Friday 23 August
European Tour 11 PDCNB Qualifier
Dennis Nilsson 6-2 Niels-Jørgen Hansen
Friday 23 August
European Tour 12 PDCNB Qualifier
Cor Dekker 4-6 Daniel Larsson
Saturday 24 August
PDCNB ProTour 5
Madars Razma 6-1 Roland Lenngren
Ulf Ceder 2-6 Marko Kantele
Darius Labanauskas 6-3 Daniel Larsson
Dennis Nilsson 5-6 Oskar Lukasiak
Madars Razma 6-4 Marko Kantele
Darius Labanauskas 6-3 Oskar Lukasiak
Madars Razma 5-6 Darius Labanauskas
Saturday 24 August
European Tour 13 PDCNB Qualifier
Daniel Larsson 5-6 Cor Dekker
Saturday 25 August
PDCNB ProTour 6
Madars Razma 6-1 Søren Hedgaard
Marko Kantele 6-2 Niels Heinsøe
Darius Labanauskas 0-6 Daniel Larsson
Dennis Nilsson 6-1 Ivan Springborg
Madars Razma 0-6 Marko Kantele
Daniel Larsson 4-6 Dennis Nilsson
Marko Kantele 6-4 Dennis Nilsson