Winmau World Masters 2

The Last 32
On Friday the last 32 of the men were to play, the round in which the seeded players entered he tournament. For some of them it was the last appearance in the tournament as well.
Among the seeded players most of the years are not many from outside the UK - in this year it were only four: Belgian Geert de Vos, the Dutchmen Jeffrey de Graaf and Wesley Harms and Latvian Madars Raszma who somehow managed to play himself up the BDO rankings.. Razma is as well the only player from Latvia who ever was invited to play the Zuiderduin Masters last year. Among the qualifiers this year players from outside the UK are in the Majority and that's in the end which makes the World Masters such a special tournament - players from all over the world taking part. 11 of the qualifiers were not from the UK, three of them not even from Europe - might be a sign that dart players outside the UK start to catch up. So of course Larry Butler is not a debutant on the international stage as he was the only non European who ever won the PDC World Matchplay in 1994.

Despite being an international tournament on the winner list of the Winmau World Masters only four players can be found who were not from the UK: Belgian Erik Clarys, Australian Graham Hunt and the Dutchmen Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen. Erik Clarys was an international successful player, whose career was ended when he fell down a ladder and broke the elbow of his throwing arm. He never recovered though for a short while he tried to throw with his left arm. Australian Graham Hunt won the tournament in 1997, never again won anything important and after some time just disappeared.

I don't need to say a lot about Raymond van Barneveld...only perhaps that the win of the Winmau World Masters familiarized the darts world with the just 17 year old and youngest ever winner Michael van Gerwen. It took some time till he really started to make his mark after he had switched to the PDC, but by now he has proved he's no one-day-wonder - as were many of the other Winmau World winners who were World Champions as well

Who will win the World Masters this year is difficult to predict - even after those last 32 matches. Martin Adams and Scott Waites impressed in their matches but both had not really the strongest opponents, the same one can say about the number 1 seed Glen Durrant. .. The father of his Canadian opponent John Norman Jr. stood at the oche of the World Masters as well many years ago, but that didn't help his son who was just not able to keep up with Durant. Madars Razma won 3:0 but it was not a good match. Reigning champion Martin Phillips had his problems and he needed the luck against James Hurrell, Darryl Fitton's opponent Kyle McKintstry experienced a lot of double trouble. Pip Blackwell and Krzysztof Ratajsky were no convincing winners.

And than there was this match between BDO World Champion Scott Mitchell and American Larry Butler which I almost couldn't watch because it was so thrilling - or, better, because Butler made it so thrilling. He had been able to win it much early as he had dominated from the beginning. But when he missed with his matchdarts Mitchell suddenly was inspired and it got difficult for Butler and the fourth set certainly was not his set. In the last set it was had to head till into the deciding leg and in the end it was a hard fought achievement that he hit the winning double. Should he go on and play like this again and manages to keep his nerve when the finishing line is near, I think he could have a chance to win the tournament. And wouldn't another non UK winner not be delightful?

It had been an interesting, thrilling but very, very long day of darts and when I returned to my hotel I was so tired I felt too tired to eat something...

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