May the best players win...
The last day of the Winmau World Masters again started sunny though with heavy fog as well. I couldn't even see the hotel across the street...
I went quite early to the venue as I had an appointment there with Patrick Chaplin - the doctor of darts. While we had exchanged quite a lot of e-mails over the years we never had met before. Well, we were to be sure far from having finished our conversation when the final of the WDDA World Championship started on stage - the very first time that such a match was played on the stage. The crowd followed it with interest and enthusiasm. Winner Ricky Chilton then played an exhibition match against Andy Fordham on stage and again the by Russ Strobel for wheelchair players developed wildfire frame was used.
Andy Fordham returned on stage for the draw of the BDO World Championship 2015 before after a very short break the men's quarterfinals were on. Only the first of the first matches was a clear affair - Martin Phillips defeated the last unseeded player still in the tournament, qualifier Mark McGeeney with 3:0. All other quarterfinals were quite similar and all close. Twice the matches were first dominated by the later loser who soon got a 2:0 lead in the match. But then the match turned around and it stood 2:2. The last set was then fiercely contested and the last leg was very close before the winner was decided. Jamie Hughes, Martin Adams and Glen Durrant joined Martin Phillips in the semi-finals.
There was not much time for the players to recover from the matches - nor for the crowd or the officials - the semi-finals followed almost end-to-end.
First Martin Phillips and Glen Durrant came on stage. The match was nip-and-tuck. Martin Phillips threw two clinical 121 Bullseye finishes and missed a third one. Durrant threw a 102 finish. Thanks to his seventh 180 Phillips had the advantage in the deciding leg of the match and crossed the finishing line first when Durrant didn't manage to finish his 128 points.
Next Martin Adams and Jamie Hughes stood at the oche and the match at the beginning looked like an easy prey for Adams who even had some matchdarts when he was 5:3 in the lead. But Hughes showed a lot of bottle and didn't give in. From 2:5 behind he battled back to level 5:5. Martin Adams had another Matchdart in the sudden death leg but again missed and Hughes progressed into the final.
The following ladies final gave the men's finalists a little break before their match. Both ladies showed some nerve at the beginning. Anastasia Dobromyslova settled first and played herself 3:0 in the lead. Only then Fallon Sherrock managed to win a leg but it was too late and Anastasia Dobromyslova for the first time won the Winmau World Masters.
At the start of the men's final Martin Phillips seemed to be a little bit tired and Hughes went 2:0 in front. But then Phillips seemed to have recovered and levelled 2:2 before the first break. He returned much fresher from the break and took over command. He again scored well and once again convinced with his clinical finishes. Hughes only managed to win one more set before Phillips ended the match on double 10 showing some annoyance that he had failed to end it with the intended 160 checkout.
Martin Phillips to be sure was a deserved tournament winner - he had convinced in all his matches despite his already 54 years of age. Anastasia Dobromyslova's win was deserved as well - though in the final she didn't reach the level of the remarkable semi-final match against Aileen de Graaf.
For me it was the first visit to a BDO Major and I really liked it. It was well organized - especially impressive during the qualifiers with the huge number of participants; the atmosphere was great though the tournament really would deserve a much bigger crowd. The City Hall is a beautiful venue, Richard Ashdown is a really good MC and the referees were almost faultless. Nice though marginal detail - all the players on stage not only get the usual water but each is provided with a small white towel for the match as well. There was no security at all - many of the BDO players are well known but it looks it is not necessary at all to protect them from the fans. It to be sure needs getting used to that there are no chalkers on stage and when the electronic scoreboard on stage doesn't work - what happened once or twice - it gets complicated. I couldn't follow the tournament on TV but I think the television broadcast was good, despite the fact that the complete TV crew consists of exactly seven people - while sky sports has four or five time as many. It certainly was a good idea to use John Gwynne as commentator.
Might be I was lucky with the quality of the matches this year - only on the first day In the City Hall there were a few, very few matches, which one could call "weak". All in all there were many good matches and many very close and thrilling matches. The averages didn't reach 100 often but a lot were around 95 - a high standard. Most players showed a lot of battle, many matches were turned around. Older and younger players stood at the oche, there were some impressive international players like the Japanese Seigo Asada.
I am sorry I still can't predict any favourites for the next Lakeside World Championship.. With Martin Phillips and Anastasia Dobromyslova to be sure the best players of this tournament won. Whether Lakeside will have the same winners - who knows?? To be sure there are strong competitors for them - Aileen de Graaf, Deta Hedman, Fallon Sherrock or Martin Adams, Jamie Hughes, Alan Norris might by Gary Robson.