Drowned in all the darts of the last few days was the fact that the Dutch darts player Vincent van der Voort celebrated his Birthday on the 18. December. Van der Voort is among the participants in the World Championship but he'll not be on stage till the 23. December when he will play his First Round match against German Max Hopp. It's difficult to assess his chances. 2016 was not really a great year for the fast throwing and popular Dutchman. Since 2014 he couldn't win a tournament, his best placings this year were a quarter and a semi-final on the Pro Tour and a place in the quarterfinals of the Masters. But to be sure 2016 was not a great year for Max Hopp either who only won one Tournament of the Development Tour.
For van der Voort it will already be his 14. World Championship. His first he played in 2002 at that time still for the BDO and he lost first round to Mensur Suljovic. He took part in the BDO World Championship from 2002 - 2007. After the World Championship 2007 he changed together with Michael van Gerwen, Mervyn King and Jelle Klaasen to the PDC. Van der Voort and King almost immediately made an impact while it took some time for Klaasen and van Gerwen. All four at that time had the same the sponsor - a kitchen producer - and were known as the kitchen boys. Van der Voort qualified for the PDC World Championship 2008 and since then every year stood on the Alexandra Palace stage. He reached the quarterfinals 2011 and 2015. How far he will get this year? Difficult to predict but should Phil Taylor keep on playing like he started van der Voort will at least be eliminated third round. But as for him the World Championship not even started "Happy Birthday, Vincent and Good Darts in the New Year!!!"
The fifth evening of the tournament began with a short press conference with Barry Hearn who announced that price money will again increase next year while the ticket prices for events in the UK and Ireland will be frozen for one year.
During Barry Hearn's press conference already the Preliminary Round match of the evening was played in which young Australian Corey Cadby demolished Chinas Quiang Sun. The Australian dart wonder had an average of 102.48 and a hit rate on the doubles of 67 percent..When he'll meet Joe Cullen in the last match of the evening that really might get interesting especially as Cadby's confidence is as high as Cullen's.
Mervyn King had a very bad start in the match against Steve West and an average under par in the first set as well. In the second set he managed to improve a little bit but still his average was 15 points below West's who won the second leg as well. But Mervin King pulled himself together and played much better afterwards. He managed to level 2:2 and the match went into a deciding set. When it was 2:2 a tiebreaker was needed - one of the players needed two clear legs to win. West was the first to win a leg, King levelled, after West missed with two matchdarts. Than both players hit again one leg each but finally King managed to win tow legs in a row and the match. He was very relieved and very emotional.
Far less dramatic was the following match between Adrian Lewis and the Swedish number 1 Magnus Caris as Caris was no match for Lewis at all. Lewis won the first set easily. In the second set Caris had darts to level but couldn't take his chance. The third set was another clear affair in Lewis favour. A good win for Lewis but it didn't reveal how his form really is, as the opponent was not a challenge.
The evening ended with the second appearance auf the Australian star Corey Cadby against Joe Cullen. The first three sets were amazing from both players with averages of between 107 and 104. Cadby had the better hit rates on the doubles - an astonishing 71 percent which dropped to the end of the match to still 67. It was a really fantastic match which delighted the crowd and the commentators. Neither of the players managed to keep up the level till the end - Cullen's average was then just over 100, Cadby's just below 100. Cullen won it 3:1 - might be really his experienced helped him to it. But it was a fantastic World Championship debut for the young Australian. As only the match winners are interviewed I can't answer the question what his plans for the future are and whether might be he plans to play on the PDC Circuit.
All in all it had been a really great evening with lots of drama and high-class darts and an enthusiastic crowd. When I left the palace it was already quiet and the crowd had already dispersed.