Suzuki shocks reigning women’s champion Ashton at Lakeside while McGeeney and Harms progress
The 42nd BDO World Darts Championships got underway at The Lakeside Country Club on Saturday with Glen Durrant and Lisa Ashton big favourites to become four-time and five-time winners of the event respectively. However, the game that many had been hyping up on day one didn’t fail to disappoint as Ashton was put out by Japanese soft tip star Mikuru Suzuki, while Mark McGeeney and Wesley Harms both came through their first round men’s games in Frimley Green.
Suzuki’s reputation as one of the top female players in world darts was already sky-high, and was enhanced after she came through the Lakeside qualifiers and had an impressive run to the quarter-finals at the World Masters in October. When Martin Adams pulled Lisa Ashton out of the hat to face the Japanese star, many darting aficionados couldn’t wait for the match to get underway.
The opening stages of the first ladies game at Lakeside this year were slightly disappointing overall, certainly for ‘The Lancashire Rose’ Ashton after her exploits at the PDC World Championship just a few weeks ago. It was Suzuki who took the first two legs and managed to hold off an Ashton fightback to seal the opening stanza in a comfortable deciding leg, potentially pivotal in such a short (best of three sets) format.
The quality went up a notch as expected in set two with Ashton finding her range as a 101 checkout sealed a 15-darter and a 2-1 lead in the set. However, Suzuki came roaring back and after the two-time reigning champion missed three set darts, she found double 10 to send most of Japan wild and produce an outstanding upset that threw the women’s tournament at Lakeside wide open if it wasn’t already, even with Ashton’s dominance with four titles in the last five years.
The other ladies tie on day one saw Sharon Prins deny a very brave Roz Bulmer, who had to courage to step up to the oche despite undergoing chemotherapy for the second time. A 156 checkout sealed the first leg for ‘The Racing Angel’, and that was as good as it good for either player as 20 missed darts at Bulmer allowed the Dutchwoman to win both sets 3-2 and set up a quarter-final meeting with Suzuki.
In the highly-anticipated men’s event, number one seed and last year’s runner-up Mark McGeeney opened up the tournament against promising Dutch thrower Derk Telnekes. A nervy start to the match, perhaps down to the fashion of McGeeney’s loss in the 2018 final, saw Telnekes miss three set darts after taking the first leg with a stunning 145 checkout and allow ‘The Gladiator’ to mop up for an early lead. The youngster recovered in style, though, taking set two 3-1.
13, 14 and 16 darters from the Stockport man saw the quality of the match increase significantly in the third set, and Telnekes was unable to stem the tide as McGeeney eventually got over the line with his fifth match dart to move through to round two at Lakeside for the fourth consecutive year.
He will play fellow Englishman Conan Whitehead later in the week after he came through a titanic battle with BDO veteran Martin Phillips. ‘The Barbarian’ won the first set in impressive fashion, securing it 3-1 with a 13-darter, but the former World Master did similar in set two to level the tie. Whitehead was left to rue missed doubles in the third stanza as Phillips punished him, reeling off three straight legs to take the lead from two legs down in that set.
A more scrappy set followed, but the Gillingham man was able to get over the line 3-1 with double 8 to set up a fifth and deciding set. After four more missed doubles from Whitehead, a superb 100 finish from Phillips handed him a 2-1 advantage, enabling him to move within one of the match. After leaving 68 after 12 darts, Whitehead took out a 61 finish to send the match into a tiebreak.
It was a similar story in the following leg – Phillips sat on 36 when Whitehead finished 120, but he missed five match darts in the next leg allowing the veteran to return for double 16 and a 22-darter. That was as close as Phillips got, though, as ‘The Barbarian’ found a 16-darter to win a gruelling final set 5-3 and progress to the last 16 for the second time.
In the other men’s first round proper match of the first day at Lakeside, fans’ favourite Tony O’Shea made his return to the home of world darts with a heavyweight clash against Wesley Harms. ‘The Silverback’ came out on top in their consecutive semi-final meetings in 2012 and 2013, although he went on to lose the final on both occasions.
This time, it was ‘Sparky’ who took the early initiative, winning the first set in three straight legs, but O’Shea found some clutch finishing in set two to take it 3-1. A high-quality third set went right to the wire, and following a miss at the bull from Harms for a 2-1 lead, the former WDF World Cup winner took out a fantastic 120 to move in front to the delight of the sell out crowd.
Harms won set four 3-1 to set up another decider, which O’Shea broke in the first leg of with before the Dutchman produced the best leg of the tournament so far, an 11-darter to level things up. A 15-darter and 17-darter followed as Wesley Harms silenced the crowd at Lakeside and set up a second round meeting with either Willem Mandigers or Paul Hogan.
Hogan, a former two-time quarter-finalist in this event, came through a preliminary round game on Saturday night. Plenty of people have been talking about Wes Newton’s return to the big stage in the build-up to this World Championship – ‘The Warrior’ battling back from losing his PDC Tour Card to qualify for Lakeside. However, he admitted to nerves as ‘Crocodile Dundee’ eased to the first set 3-0.
Double 10 saved Newton on a couple of occasions in the second set as he edged it 3-2 to equal the match, but that was as good as it good for the former Premier League star. Hogan won six of the next seven legs, sealing the match with a 13-darter to knockout Newton with an average of 88.09 and set up that clash with Mandigers.
There were two other preliminary round matches on day one – Justin Thompson producing a fantastic display to put out fellow Aussie Mal Cuming 3-0 with the highest average of the tournament so far (91.17) and another former PDC Tour Card holder Nigel Heydon coming from 2-0 down to beat Jim Widmayer 3-2, winning the last nine legs straight. The pair will face Michael Unterbuchner and Richard Veenstra respectively in the last 32.
Tomorrow sees the early stages of Lakeside continue as Scott Waites, Deta Hedman, Richard Veenstra and World Master Adam Smith-Neale take to the famous stage. However, it could be another all-star ladies match that steals the show with World Trophy winner Fallon Sherrock and Australian Corrine Hammond going head to head. Stay tuned to dartsplanet.tv for all the action.
2019 Lakeside World Championships
Schedule of Play
Saturday January 5
Afternoon Session (1300 GMT)
Mark McGeeney 3-1 Derk Telnekes (3-2, 1-3, 3-2, 3-1)
Jim Widmayer 2-3 Nigel Heydon (3-2, 3-0, 0-3, 0-3, 0-3)
Lisa Ashton 0-2 Mikuru Suzuki (2-3, 2-3)
Martin Phillips 2-3 Conan Whitehead (1-3, 3-1, 3-2, 1-3, 3-5)
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Paul Hogan 3-1 Wes Newton (3-0, 1-3, 3-0, 3-1)
Sharon Prins 2-0 Roz Bulmer (3-2, 3-1)
Mal Cuming 0-3 Justin Thompson (0-3, 2-3, 2-3)
Wesley Harms 3-2 Tony O’Shea (3-0, 1-3, 2-3, 3-1, 3-1)
Sunday January 6
Afternoon Session (1300 GMT)
Scott Waites v Jeffrey van Egdom
Brian Løkken v Krzysztof Kciuk
Deta Hedman v Maria O’Brien
Richard Veenstra v Nigel Heydon
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Roger Janssen v Wouter Vaes
Fallon Sherrock v Corrine Hammond
Mark McGrath v Adam Smith-Neale
Wayne Warren v Mark Layton