Though there are at the moment no female dartplayers in the PDC and despite that the press room is firmly in male hands, you can find a few females as well. One of those is the lady from sky sports who is responsible to prepare the faces of the presenters and commentators for television. She's only there for the World Matchplay and the PDC World Championship. Lisa has a lot of experience in her job and was involved in many movie productions as well. She is not really responsible for the walk-on girls but often gives them a helping hand. Her workday usually starts around three hours before the first dart is thrown and it ends when the end titles flicker over the TV screen.
Then we of course have the walk-on girls and this year during the first round not everything run smoothly. Actually the same two blond girls were supposed to walk the players on stage the whole first round but one of the girls had an accident and sprained or broke he ankle. And so during the following afternoon session there was only one girl who accompanied a player to the steps on stage, than reverted and walked the same way with the second player. Till the evening session the PDC had managed to find a replacement, blond as well but without any experience in walk-ons and so she looked a little bit unsure during her first "stage appearances". She only stayed for two days and then was replaced by the dark haired Irish walk-on girl who had been booked for the time after Christmas anyway.
And beside those for the second time in the history of the PDC and Sky Sports there is a female presenter for the after match interviews and for those small films about players which are shown during breaks by Sky Sports - Laure James.
For many years Helen Chamberlain had worked in that function for Sky Sports and the PDC. I think her last time was the
PDC World Championship 2011. Chamberlain originally was a football presenter and she still works for Soccer Am. Besides
she works on Poker for Sky Sports. Chamberlain got well-known after a photo shooting for Penthouse in 2004 and she
often made the headlines because of her affairs with well-known sports among those James Wade. The relationship with
Wade didn't last long and after it Chamberlain didn't work for darts any longer. Chamberlain had played darts when
young and in the Video
you can see her throw a 180!
Laure James is already around 12 years now a freelance journalist, who, before she started to work as a darts presenter for Sky sports was best known for football. She is a big Manchester City fan. Beside for Sky Sport she's worked for talkSport, BBC Five Live and the BBC World Service and she is the editor of NI Football Magazine. 2014 she was press manager of the Belfast Book Festival. James was borne in France but today lives in Northern Ireland. She speaks English, French and Italian but I've no idea whether she plays darts herself.
As one could read in Irish newspapers Laure got engaged a short while before Christmas - with her partner Conor Maguire who proposed marriage to her at Belfast airport just before she left for England to work at the World Championship. No wonder she arrived a little bit late on her first day on the job!
Today the quarterfinals will begin. While it's not surprising at all that Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson, Raymond van Barneveld and Phil Taylor are still in the tournament, I not really had expected the other for players.
Vincent van der Voort to be sure enjoyed quite a good year - but a top eight player, really??? His way into the quarterfinals to be sure was - should something like that exist at all - an "easy" path. He met John Henderson, Max Hopp and Dean Winstanley - all decent players to be sure, but not really great and to be sure beatable. But now he's got the biggest chunk before him - Phil Taylor. In this case I think Taylor will prevail despite the hard work he had against Kim Huybrechts.
Robert Thornton is a bit of a surprise as well though he did win two players Championships at the same weekend in May. But in the major tournaments I could imagine he was disappointed by his performances. In the Grand Slam he didn't survive the group phase, in the Masters he was eliminated first round and in the Players Championship Finals in round two. In this World Championship he had similar to Vincent van der Voort not really the strongest opponents - Andrew Gilding and Benito van de Pas both were debutants on this stage and Ronnie Baxter showed a below par performance. And now reigning champion Michael van Gerwen waits for him.
Peter Wright had some kind of rollercoaster year - winner of a pro tour event and an European tour event but a lot of average or even bad results as well. But he already reached the final in Alexandra Palace a year ago - an experience which might help him against Gary Anderson who had been a finalist as well but some more years ago. On the other side Anderson recently has won the Players Championship Finals. Quite a level headed quarterfinal I would say. But should Gary Anderson turn up it could become tight for Wright.
And finally we have Stephen Bunting. He seems to have settled in the PDC already - though I never had doubts he would. But that he would reach the quarterfinals of the World Championship this year I didn't expect. It's his debut here but it's only a year ago that he won the BDO World Championship, you can't say he's not experienced he's even experienced in winning a World Champion title! His win in the first round over Robert Marijanovic to be sure was not challenging him. James Wade once again sidestepped himself though to be sure you shouldn't underestimate Buntings achievement in this and Michael Smith started into the match much too late and Bunting had a free track the first three sets. Now he'll meet Raymond van Barneveld - a BDO World Champions duel one could call it. The Dutchman just showed impressively that he knows how to take chances. And of course he's a lot of experience. I would say a slight advantage for van Barneveld in this match!