PDC World Championship 2022/23 - 4

30 Years PDC World Championship - 30 years Dutch participants? - Part 4
In the last article we come closer to the present and the number of Dutch participants in the PDC World Championship rises.

In the World Championship 2006 already three Dutch players were in the field of participants. Beside Roland Scholten and Jan van der Rassel Erwin Extercatte - born 1981 - qualified. Extercatte already had been on the PDC Circuit for two years and won 2005 the Open Oust and the Open Holland and had taken part in the German Darts Championship in Halle. He gave his debut in the PDC World Championship 2006 and defeated in the first round Darren Webster but lost second round to Gary Welding who went on and stood in the quarterfinals that year.
2008 Extercatte took part in the PDC World Championship for a second time - this time with a wildcard from the Dutch broadcaster SBS 6. He won in the preliminary round against Alan Bolton from New Zealand and caused an upset in the first round when he eliminated the number 20 seed Colin Osborne. He lost in the second round to Barrie Bates.
2009 Extercatte took part without success in the Players Championships in Nuland and Gladbeck - after that one didn't hear from him anymore - he at least disappeared from international darts.
In this short video clip you can see Ectercatte playing against Fabain Roosenbrand.

In the PDC World Championship 2007 for the first time Raymond van Barneveld stood at the PDC oche. Van Barneveld played for many years on the BDO/WDF circuit and was one of the top players. 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2005 he won the BDO World Championship but lost the final in 2006 against his young country fellow man Jelle Klaasen. At this time there were a lot of dicussions whether Phil Taylor or Raymond van Barneveld was the best player of the world and van Barneveld decided - to be sure tempted by the the promise of a place in the Premier League and the much higher price money in the PDC - to make the switch.

For van Barneveld his first PDC World Championship was the most successful - he defeated in the final Phil Taylor with 7:6 and got his only PDC World Championship title. A lot was speculated whether might be van Barneveld only won because Taylor had - as he liked to do - gifted him the right to throw first and due to this the the Dutchman had the throw in the last set as well. To be sure this match is a good example of how important it can be when you win the throw for the bull.
Van Barneveld defeated in the first round young Australian Mitchell Clegg, who had been celebrated as Australian sensation when he won the Oceanic Masters aged 15 and by this qualified for the World Championship - as youngest player ever. Then the Dutchman defeated Colin Lloyd who was the world number 1 at this time, his fellow country man Rico Vonck and Alan Tabern. In the semi-finals he prevailed overt Andy Jenkins before he won the close final against Taylor.
Van Barnveld had arrived in the PDC and became one of the most popular players ever - and Phil Taylor's rival. Taylor won the World Championship title till his retirement three more times and stood in the final at his last World Championship 2018 while the Dutchman only once again reached the final - in 2009 - and was beaten by Taylor with 7:1.

In 2007 beside van Barneveld and Scholten Josephus Schenk took part again and the before mentioned Rico Vonck qualified as second of the DDF Order of Merit.
Vonck moved into the field of participants when the first of the DDF ranking - Michael van Gerwen - decided to play not the PDC World Championship but to take part in the BDO World Championship. Might be not a very good decision as van Gerwen lost already first round against Gary Robyson though he had entered the event as the favourite.
Rico "Sparky" Vonck was just 19 years of age and won in November before the World Championship a DDF ranking event. In the World Championship he defeated Mark Walsh and Canadian Bryan Cyr before he lost to van Barneveld. In the same year he took part without success in the UK Open and in 2008 he played as well without success a few Players Championships on the continent. After that he disappeared.

After the BDO World Championship 2007 not only Michael van Gerween switched to the PDC, he was accompagnied by Vinvent van der Voort, Jelle Klaasen and Mervyn King. They all had the same sponsor at that time, a kitchen manufacturer and due to this were sometimes called the "Kitchen Boys".
All four qualified for the PDC World Championship 2008 - van der Voort and King by the PDC Order of Merit, van Gerwen and Klaasen by the Pro Tour Order of Merit.
All in all nine Dutch players took part in the PDC World Championship 2008 - beside van Barneveld, van Gerwen and van der Voort Roland Scholten, Leroy Kwadijk, Jan van der Rassel, Toon Greebe, Erwin Extercatte and Jelle Klaasen. Since then the Dutch players are the biggest group of players beside the Englishmen not only in the World Championship but on the Pro Tour as well. All the time new names appear, but not all establish. Some soon disappear as did the mentioned Leroy Kwadijk or Sven Groen, who had a Tour card for two years and qualified for the PDC World Championship 2016 but disappeared completely from darts.

For the prematurately praised van Gerwen the first years in the PDC were not easy. 2008 he lost in the World Championship already in the first round to Phil Taylor with an 85.99 average. 2009 he won a first Players Championship but lost in the PDC World Championship - this time qualified by the Order of Merit - again against Taylor, this time in the second round with the much better average of 99.03. 2010 he was again eliminated first round - this time by James Wade. The same happened in 2011 though this time he lost to Mensur Suljovic. 2012 van Gerwen was out of the top 32 of the Order of Merit and had to qualify by the Pro Tour Order again but he reached the Last 16 where he lost to Simon Whitlock.
Later in the year van Gerwen won his first Major - the World Grand Prix in Dublin and was the number 7 seed for the World Championship 2013. He defeated Paul Lim, Peter Wright, Colin Lloyd, Adrian Lewis and in the semi-finals James Wade and threw a nine-darter. Then he once again lost to Phil Taylor but this time in the final. One year later van Gerwen won his first World Champion title and became for some years the dominant player in the PDC. He won the title again in 2017 and 2019 and was the runner-up in 2020 and 2023.

Twelve Dutch players took part in the PDC World Championship 2023 - so so far highest number. Twenty-two Dutch players have a Tour Card in 2023 - darts in the Netherlands is going strong. The exceptional players Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen layed the foundation.

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