Gary reaches R3 Lat-via victory over Razma

After what felt like an age, of watching many a darter come, and many a darter go, the time had come for the man with Tartan sleeve and two world titles to make his pre Christmas appearance on the Palace stage, hoping to be able to plan for another drive to the Capital after Santa’s visit to Burnham on Sea. The opposition that Gary had to overcome for that place in the Third Round was Latvian Razmatazz, Madars Razma, who had his best year on the Tour in 2022. He’d never made it past this stage in any of his previous visits to the Ally Pally, and was looking to cap off a personal best year with a flourish. However, Gary and the Palace go together like a Match Reporter and Craft Beer (and, let me assure you that THAT is a pairing made in heaven and to be remembered if you see me at any events in the coming year). Much was at stake, but the talking would be done with Tungsten.

Gary started as well as could be expected – saying a hello to the T20 bed, before heading down the board and greeting the T19 twice – opening the affair with a 174. He followed that with a 134, and ended up with 94 remaining. He narrowly missed the T18, before nailing the T20 and the subsequent D8 for an authoritative 12 Dart Hold to win the first leg. (0) 1-0 (0).

Another big start in the Second Leg came in the form of a 139. The chants of Gary’s name were becoming clearer and clearer in the background of the commentary, and his darts were flying like those of a buoyant Scotsman, and he left 160 after Nine. A trebleless visit left a straight ton for the leg, and a laser guided dart at the treble meant two at Tops, the second of which landed for the break. (0) 2-0 (0).

Another two treble start for The Flying Scotsman here, with Razma peppering the T19 bed in the manner which he’s made a name for himself doing. Gary nearly took out the biggest of biggest finishes to wrap up the set, missing the Bull for a 170 out. It was an intelligent miss, if there is such a thing, as the dart landed in the 14. After two wide darts at the D18, the deflection on Dart Three took it into the Double…but the wrong Double, as the D4 received an unplanned visit. Madars was in the Madhouse, and he managed to finish it to break back and be within a hold of a level set. (0) 2-1 (0).

Despite finding his first Max of the tie to open the leg, and a 140 later on in the leg. Gary had a slight moment at the back end of the leg, hitting the S1 from 102, leaving the singular route, which he couldn’t take. One more big score from Razma brought him into the leg, and was key in the hold to force the decider for the first set. (0) 2-2 (0).

Once again Madars opened with a 171, but Gary’s power scoring shone like the Musselburgh sun, hitting a Ton to leave 136, before narrowly missing D8 to ensure its dismissal. He returned to kill the D8 with the first Dart in hand, and take the set. (0) 3-2 (0).

Set 1: Gary Anderson 1-0 Madars Razma

Gary started in the set with a 115, recovering well after an opening stray. Once again left on 136, his eyes widened at the prospect after coming so close in the previous set – but as I’m never afraid to harp on about, the lie of the darts (which I’ll delve further into later) just prevented him from finding that Treble. That said, the Tartan Titan was to continue his love affair with D8, with his second dart at the target after finding the treble. (1) 1-0 (0).

The main thing I had in my notes about the second leg here was Mark Webster’s solo discussion about Gary and Premier League. I’m sure there will come a more appropriate time for one to make his thoughts known on that, but this The Worlds. I’ve got no time for hypotheticals in 2023 as long as Gary marches on. Anyways, Gary hit a 171 to leave Tops, but didn’t even get a shot at it, with Razma taking 121 out on the Bull to break back and level the set. (1) 1-1 (0).

The third leg saw another outstanding Gary effort go unrewarded. A 134 opening, followed by a beautifully grouped 180 and a Ton meant he was on 87 after Nine Darts – But more sublime finishing by his Latvian Opponent, who took out 134 on D16 for a second Ton Plus out in as many legs. (1) 1-2 (0).

Gary came alive in this one after a 140 to leave 272. He followed with 93, giving Razma a chance to seal the set, but he couldn’t get it over the line. Having reached 125, Gary kissed the wire underneath Tops to complete the big one, before returning to hit D10 at the first time of asking. Another set decider. (1) 2-2 (0).

The trebles dried up a wee bit in this one, as neither player was quite in the rhythm they’d found throughout the tie up to this point. The Sky graphic had a slight headache, showing Razma 40 points higher than where he was, and, from that 119 point, he eventually ended up on D5, which he took to level the match. (1) 2-3 (0).

Set 2 – Gary Anderson 1-1 Madars Razma

Gary came out all guns blazing for Set 3, starting with a Max. He had time to set up his desired finish from 130, opting to go for the T10 instead of at the 20s again. He missed that treble, mind, but wrapped up the leg on D5 anyways before too long and take the opening leg. (1) 1-0 (1).

A two treble visit, featuring cameos from T19 and T18, got the second leg underway for Gary. After a visit from Madars of 23, The Flying Scotsman replied with a 140, and scored the same off of a 170 to leave 30. After missing the first dart at D15, he opted to split, and despite a good marker in the S10 column, he couldn’t quite utilise it for the leg. Razma nailed Tops with the first dart of the visit after missing one in the previous to bring us back level again. (1) 1-1 (1).

After starting with 41, Gary recovered to respond with a 140, and also hit a frustrating Ton, frustrating for the fact that the first dart seemed to be the perfect marker for the other to follow into the red bit. The Musselburgh Master had one dart at Double – narrowly missing D11 for the 124 Out, but he wasn’t to return, as much like Chizzy in the PC’s a few weeks ago, it was a 154 via the T19s to break and suddenly put the Latvian within a leg of a set lead. (1) 1-2 (1).

But cometh the hour, cometh the Gary. In the biggest leg of the match, he edged the scoring charts, and eventually ended up with 56 left on the board with Razma breathing down his experienced neck, he came under on Tops, and nailed D10 to flip the tables and get it back onto his throw for the set. (1) 2-2 (1).

Well, it wasn’t going too well. Gary was sitting on 362 after Six, and it was a scuffle down the Doubles, where the tension became clear for all to see. Gary missed Darts for the Set, Madars missed Darts for the Set, I felt like I missed Darts for the Set. But eventually the D4 section, as much pain as it caused earlier, became the one true salvation as Gary found it to retake the lead in Sets. (1) 3-2 (1).

Set 3 – Gary Anderson 2-1 Madars Razma

Yeesh that was nervy. The amount of jokes about beer consumption during Gary’s game that I made…were much closer to being reality than jokes at this point. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Within just a handful of visits, both men were down to a finish. Razma missed two at D16, before Gary stepped up to miss One at Tops from 72. Razma missed two more, obscuring the D8 bed, but he squeezed in the last dart in hand to lead in the set. (2) 0-1 (1).

The next leg saw Razma take a necessary risk that may have cost him the break. With Gary back on 152, and the Latvian on 95, he hit 25 to leave 70, but with Gary on a finish, opted to go for the T20, before blazing the D5 over. He couldn’t quite get over the line, and Gary’s combination finishing came in clutch, going 12-D20 off of 52 in Two to level. (2) 1-1 (1).

And then it happened. It wasn’t the biggest finish you’ll ever see, in fact, it wasn’t the biggest finish of the night, but the feeling when it went in…I scared people in the same room with my reaction. The T20. The defined 11. The way the final dart sat in the bullseye, like most watching the game, on the edge of its seat. Gary was within one of a hard fought win. (2) 2-1 (1).

But, as you may have been able to tell, every single set went all the way – and this one was no different. As was usual, Gary did everything right. Had 36 waiting off of 170. Razma was well behind. However, things then went a bit downhill. Trouble on D18 meant the journey over to D9 on the other side of the board, from which he came inside. Meanwhile, Razma had hit a 180 out of seemingly nothing to leave himself 8, which he converted in dramatic fashion with last dart in hand. Last Leg Decider (hold your shock…). (2) 2-2 (1).

I’ll be honest – my notes for this leg aren’t Shakespeare. A 137 start from Gary, followed by a Ton, and then THAT finish. It seemed like Gary, in the last set, seemed to develop a penchant for Ton plus finishes, as he converted a 110, in the superbly satisfying T20-S10-D20. A sigh of relief from me that likely felt like a gust of cold wind over my quiet little town of Bexhill. The Prince of Ally Pally started his campaign with a win. (2) 3-2 (1).

Result: Gary Anderson 3-1 Madars Razma

Stats:

Average – 96.39

180s – 4

High Checkout – 121

Doubling Percentage – 30

The Verdict

I actually get to write about a big stage Gary win. Usually, like with most things in life, I’ve been a curse, so hopefully now the spell is broken, he goes onto get a few more wins. Overall, a really good performance. A wee bit scrappy at times, but a very good average, fair doubling, and a clear fire in the belly helped him to the win. That last one in particular jumps out to me, as the reaction after that 121 was unlike much I’ve seen from him in recent times. He spoke about how his Grand Slam absence was a motivator to return there, and that was clear tonight. If he can tighten up his doubling, and keep up this level of scoring, he’ll be a force to reckoned with. Dobey or Kleermaker will be the next opponent, with the pair facing off in the Friday Afternoon session. The winner and Gary will collide in the third game of the Afternoon session on Wednesday 28th December 2022. More on that in the preview, though.

Gary used his Unicorn Phase 3 Noir Darts tonight – who loyal readers of my reports will know are by far my favourite of the Gary range, for every reason you can likely imagine as to why someone would like a dart.

Ryan Segal @theryansegal