Meet the Players - Wales
For the PDC World Championship 2021/22 with Jim Williams, Lewy Williams, Nick Kenny, Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton five players from Wales qualified. Price is the still reigning champion, Clayton the most successful player of the year 2021.
Both are connected by friednship and by rivalry on stage. In the PDC World Cup they are a team - they won the event in 2020.
Actually we had a very similar constellation in the inaugural BDO World Championship. There as well two high class Welsh players - who were best of friends and big rivals and who played together in winning the Welsh team of the very first WDF World Cup - stood at the oche: Alan Evans and Leighton Rees. Rees defeated Evans in the quarterfinals and won the tournament. At the BDO World Championship 1979 Rees again defeated Leighton Rees - this time in the semi-finals - but lost himself in the final against John Lowe. Rees and Evans both took part several more times in the World Championship, Rees for the last time in 1990. Evans took part for the last time in 1988 and in 1987 once again reached the semi-finals.
In this year's World Championship Price and Clayton could have met in the quarterfinals as well. Last year Clayton lost the the third round to Joe Cullen, he could have met Price only in the final. This year Clayton lost in the fourth round against a great playing Michael Smith.
But there were of course many more Welsh players who took part in both World Championships and there were a few more Welsh World Champions though Price so far is the only one in the PDC. But a few Welsh players appeared in the later rounds of the PDC World Championship - Jamie Lewis reached the semi-finals in 2018, Richie Burnett stood in 2002 and 2003 in the quarterfinals.
In the BDO World Championship the Welsh fared better Beside Leighton Rees we had with Richie Burnett in 1995 the next Wesh World Champion (he defeated Raymond van Barneveld in the final) and Burnett both in 1996 and in 1998 stood in the semi-finals. 2008 Mark Webster followed - his opponent in the final was Simon Whitlock. And in the last BDO World Championship played in 2020 whe even had an all Welsh final in which Wayne Warren defeated Jim Williams. Warren had his first appearance in the BDO World Championship 2005 where he lost third round to Mervyn King. Beside there was the today forgotten Welshman Ritchie Davies who reached 2003 the final of the tournament - and lost to Raymond van Barneveld. Davies hade already qualified for the World Championship 1997 for the first time and took part in it every year till 2004 when he stood in the quarterfinals. Several more Welsh players can be found among the participants over the years - players like Sean Palfrey, Ceri Morgan, Peter Locke, James Marshall and Eric Burden were regulars in the 1980s till the mid 1990s. 1992 Martin Phillips for the first time took part and reached the quarterfinals. He returned 1993 and 1994 and than took a break. 2003 he was back and after 2007 he took part every year. 2010 and 2011 he stood in the semi-finals. All in all the number of participants in the BDO World Championship dropped over the years.
In the first years of the PDC World Championship between 1994 and 2000 no Welsh player took part. That finally changed when Richie Burnett switched to the PDC and from 2001 for some years qualified for the event. 2003 and 2007 beside Wayne Atwood qualified. 2005 Alan Reynolds was the Welsh qualifier, 2006 we find Steve Alker - who was 2001 among the participants of the BDO World Championship. From 2007 to 2010 Barrie Bates represented Wales in the PDC tournament. He was joined in 2010 by Mark Webster, who had switched over from the BDO, and by Steve Evans who only qualified this year. Burnett returned 2012 and joined Webster for three more years. 2013 for the first time Jamie Lewis qualified by the Development Tour Order of Merit. 2015 Gerwyn Price appeared for the first time in the Ally Pally (this year and the next one he qualified by the Pro Tour Order of Merit), two years later - 2017 -- Jonny Clayton gave his debut. 2018 Mark Webster took a break and changed into the commentating team of Sky Sports. Price and Clayton stayed and were joined by varying other Welsh players. 2021 Nick Kenny gave his debut, in 2022 it were Jim Williams and Lewy Williams. Both Price and Clayton were at the start of the World Championship 2021/2022 among the favourites to win the title.
The best-known dartplayers from Wales are:
: Leighton Rees was born on 17. January 1940 and passed away on 8. June 2003. Since 1976 he was a darts professional after he had - like Evans - become well-known as participant in the televised Indoor League. 1976 Rees reached the final of the News of the World and he won one year later together with Evans and Rocky Jones the inaugural WDF World Cup. 1978 Rees won the inaugural BDO World Championship. Though he didn't win much more he stayed for many years a popular player. From 1990 he often appeared toegther with his friend Alan Evans on the exhibition circuit.
: Evans - born 14. June1949 - reached the Final of the News of the World 1972, the first ever televised tournament, and won 1975 the British Open - the first event which was televised by the BBC. In the same year he won the World Masters as well. 1977 he was member of the winning Welsh World Cup Teams of the very first WDF World Cups. In the BDO World Championship he twice reached the semi-finals. Evans passed away with 49 years 1999 after several years with health problems. Named after him is a 150 finish with three bullseyes.
: born on 22. December 1947, passed away on 29. February 2020, took part in the BDO World Championship from 1979 to 1987 and stood 1980, 1981 and 1984 in the quarterfinals.
: had his BDO World Championship debut in 1983. He reached the quarterfinals in 1984 and 1986. 1986 he defeated in his way there among others Paul Lim. 2006 Locke reappeared in the UK Open but lost his first match.
born 30. April 1960 played from 1988 till 2019 on the BDO Circuit. In 2010 and 2011 he reached the semi-finals of the BDO World Championship, won over the years a lot of tournaments and played his best year in 2014 when he won his only Major Event, the World Masters. At his World Championship debut 1991 he lost to Phil Taylor. With different partners - Eric Burden and Sean Palfrey - he won several times the WDF Europe Cup Pairs. 2019 he took for the last time part in the BDO World Championship but lost first round.
: is born 1967 and started his career after the split in 1994 in the BDO were he won several tournaments. He entered the BDO World Championship 1995 at his debut as the number 2 seed and won the title. On his way to the final he defeated in the first round Peter Wright. After he had lost in the first round of the BDO World Championship 1999 he switched to the PDC but took part till 2001 in the World Masters. Burnett was far less successful in the PDC then he had been in the BDO but in 2001 stood in the final of the World Matchplay where he lost to Phil Taylor. After that he lost his form, suffered from dartitis and had some financial problems. 2012 he returned and played together with Mark Webster as Team Wales till 2015 in the PDC World. He was tested positive for drugs and banned from playing in the PDC. 2017 he won back his Tour Card but soon lost it again.
- born 12. June 1962 - started 2003 to play on the BDO Circuit and won 2012 the BDO International Open - his first tournament win. 2005 he qualified for the first time for the BDO World Championship. 2018 he stood in the quarterfinals, 2020 he won it. With the end of the BDO his career came to a standstill. 2021 he took part without success in the PDC Qualifying School and now plays on the WDF Circuit.
The 1983 born Mark Webster played from 2005 - 2009 with a lot of success on the BDO Circuit but switched after he had won the BDO World Championship 2008 to the PDC were he had a few good years. But than he suffered from dartitis , slid down the ranking and lost his Tour Card. verlor. So far he didn't try to get it back.
: Barrie Bates -born 17. October 1969 - started to play on the PDC Circuit 2002 and first was successful in Floor Events . He even was the Floor player of the year in 2006. In the same year he reached the final of the UK Open. 2009 he stood in the quarterfinals of the PDC World Championship. 2010 he reached together with Mark Webster the final of the inaugural PDC World Cup. In following years he had some problems both with injuries and with gout and lost his Tour Card. He got it back in Qualifying School 2019.
Jamie Lewis, born 1991, started his darts carreer 2009 on the BDO Circuit, but soon switched to the PDC where he was most successful in Floor Events before he reached out of the blue the semi-finals of the PDC World Championship 2018. But after that he lost both his form and his Tour Card. So far he didn't get it back. Lewis suffers from anxiety disorder.
The 1984 born Jim Williams played from 2012 - 2020 on the BDO Circuit and won several Open titles. 2018 he stood in the semi- finals of the World Masters, 2020 in the final of the World Championship. After the end of the BDO he tried in vain to get a Tour Card. So Williams played on the PDC Challenge Tour and was so successful that he headed the UK Challenge Tour Order of Merit at the end of 2021. He was awarded a Tour Card for 2022.
Gerwyn Price - born 1985 - managed in a short time an unbelievable rise in the PDC. Barrie Bates met the former Rugby player in some local tournaments and advised him to take part in Qualifying School. And Price got a Tour Card 2014 at first ask. 2016 he won his first Players Championship, 2017 he reached the final of the UK Open, 2018 he won the Grand Slam, defended this title in 2019, won 2020 the World Grand Prix and 2021 the World Championship, the World Matchplay and the Grand Slam. No other Welsh player was as successful in the PDC.
born 1974 first played for a few years on the BDO Circuit before he switched to the PDC in 2015. He was not such a high flyer as Gerwyn Price but won in 2017 his first Players Championship and in 2018 an European Tour event. 2020 he won together with Gerwyn Price the PDC World Cup and never looked back. 2021 he won the Masters, the World Series Final, the Premier League and the World Grand Prix - to be sure he is the player of the year!
born on 18. January 2002 started to play darts only in 2017. 2020 he qualified by the Riley's Amateur Qualifiers for UK Open and played himself among the 64. 2021 he got a Tour Card and qualified both for the European Championship and the PDC World Championship 2022.