World Series Finals Report – Stray Darts cost Gary as he falls to The Titan

Gary Anderson returned to competitive action on Saturday night as he faced ‘The Titan’ Dirk van Duijvenbode in the Second Round of the Jack’s World Series of Darts Finals. The fixture had been confirmed the night before after Van Duijvenbode’s last leg victory over Haupai Puha on the Friday Night. Both men came into the match as finalists in earlier World Series Events during the year – Gary at Nordic Darts Masters where he was defeated by Dimitri van den Bergh, and Dirk the Dutch Darts Masters when he was defeated by the same opponent.

The Dutch crowd made themselves known as their man walked out first, with many joining Dirk in his dancing as he entered the stage. The atmosphere inevitably subdued as Gary prepared to walk on, but there was an air of respect for the two time World Champ, from a crowd prepared for an enticing encounter at the AFAS Live.

Gary had the darts in the first leg, and painted an early picture of the game in his first two darts. After hitting the Treble 20 with his first dart, his second didn’t quite follow it as it ended up in the one bed. The dart after that was a Single 20, but the consistent inconsistencies in finding the treble would become an all too common theme during the tie. Dirk toed the oche and immediately reminded everyone why he was the most prolific 180 hitter per leg during this year, finding the treble in his first two visits, before just missing with the third. Gary responded with exactly the same score as Dirk had registered. Gary hit another to leave him in the position of needing to check out 140, finding the treble twice before missing the Double 10. Requiring 10, he came inside on the Double 5, and, looking to hit a Single 3 to leave Double 1, he ended up in 17 segment. It was an error he immediately come to rue, as Dirk came back and, with his second dart at tops, made Gary pay on his own throw with the early break. 0-1.

The second leg wielded nothing of real note for The Flying Scotsman, as he trailed well behind Dirk for the entire leg on the Dutchman’s throw. Dirk missed the bull for a 170 after a couple of 140s in the leg, which he attempted for the crowd with Gary well back on 246, but The Titan came back and cleaned up in routine fashion to confirm the early break. 0-2.

The third leg started worryingly for Gary, scoring just 41, but it picked up quickly for The Flying Scotsman. He’d found his range with the Treble again, and left himself on the Big Fish. And, although he was unable to find the Treble first dart to potentially get even the most hardened Dutchmen out of their seats, but he found the Treble the final two times in that visit. After coming inside on Double 15, Gary opted to land the Single 5 for the Double, which he nailed for an essential hold in the race to Six. 1-2.

Leg four saw both players really find their scoring element. Dirk started with a 58 but found his maiden Maximum on the following visit. Gary managed to get down to 171, but Dirk gave him the chance to hit a 131 to leave tops, which he dispatched with first dart in hand to level the scoreline and serve a timely reminder that he still possesses the clinical game that made him a two time back to back Champion of the World. 2-2.

The fifth saw Gary finally grab his first 180 of the match, which left him on 138, in a reverse of the second leg as Dirk trailed well behind. Even with another combination of a Single 1 following the Treble 20, there was no pressure on Gary with Dirk on 231. Even after his next visit Dirk wouldn’t reach a finish, lingering around just over the 180 mark, so, under little pressure, Gary confidently dispatched the Double 10 to lead for the first time on the night. 3-2.

Leg six saw the first instance of an issue that has affected Gary a fair amount recently – bounce outs. Although I’ll talk about the darts he used later in the piece, they were a new set that haven’t made an appearance on stage with him until tonight. Gary was first to a finish after hitting a 105 off of 235 to leave 130, and after hitting the Single 20 with his first dart, the second dart appeared to deflect into the 5 segment and subsequently drop out of the board. Dirk made no mistake though, taking out tops with the final dart in hand from 72 to ensure a hold of throw and a stop to the Gary streak of three legs in a row. 3-3.

Gary responded in the seventh by opening with a 140, but unfortunately the biggest problem that plagued him throughout the match was most prevalent during this leg. More and more darts were finding themselves at the neighbours, rather than arriving into their desired home of the Treble 20. Dirk beat Gary to a finish, missing the Bull for a 167 that would’ve taken the roof off, before Gary came agonisingly close to his own Ton Plus Out, missing tops for a 114 kill. He was given another chance, with Dirk ending up on Double 4 and busting with a wild dart that ended up deep in the 18 segment. Gary came inside on the Double 10, before ticking the top of the Double 5 wire twice in a moment that had any Gary with their hands behind their head in resignation. Dirk was never going to waste two visits to the board, and he nailed Double 8 to break once more, and put himself in position to hold throw and go one away. 3-4.

Leg eight was arguably the worst of the match, as Dirk was struggling to find the treble in particular and Gary was just throwing too many stray darts, with the wayward arrows now more frequently landing in the 5 section than the 1. Gary found his best darts of the leg at a point when it would sadly prove to be too late, leaving 16 off of 147 with a signature 131. However, Dirk returned and with first dart in hand nailed Double 10 to go within one and leave Gary needing three in a row to win the match. 3-5.

Leg nine would unfortunately be the end of Gary’s journey in this years World Series. After nearly completing a sensational 152 Out on Double 16, Gary returned with three in hand to hold and look for the break to level. However, his first dart was awkward and made it difficult to complete the Checkout, and unfortunately, the third dart in particular, landed just wide and invited Dirk in, who, like in Leg six, finished 72 on Tops in three to secure his place in the next round at the expense of The Flying Scotsman, who, as is sadly too often an accompaniment to his play at the moment, showed glimpses of his undeniable class, but not enough against the most prolific 180 hitter per leg in the PDC this year.

Result: Gary Anderson 3-6 Dirk van Duijvenbode

Gary’s Stats:
Average – 90.76
180s – 1
Highest Checkout – 60
Checkout % – 20

The Verdict
Another day of too many glimpses of his quality rather than the consistent best we’ve been treated too over the years. He recently quipped that in recent practice with Ryan Searle, his scoring had been his strong suit and his finishing had been the issue, something that’s been sadly accepted in recent times. He seemed most comfortable finding the trebles for the three figure outshots, but was never far away but not close enough on those Doubles.

As mentioned, he played with a set of darts he hadn’t used on the big stage before. Whilst I don’t think the darts have a specific name as most of his sets do, I figured out watching the match I’d only seen them in once place before, and where they still are: Argos. The flights were the giveaway as they match what comes with the set should you purchase them. The barrels themselves were different to Gary’s usual style, with a thicker barrel and tapered end, which has only recently been present in a set of his Purist darts, which he used during the Cazoo Premier League and bounced out regularly. The darts are described ‘As endorsed by Gary Anderson’, but can now be upgraded to ‘As used by Gary Anderson.

The next tournament featuring The Flying Scotsman will be the Boyle Sports Grand Prix and the Morningside Arena in Leicester. Keep an eye on the PDC Social Channels for the draw details, if, like me, you’re looking to go and cheer him in the PDC’s only Double in Double out competition. Keep an eye on Dunvegan’s Social Channels too for updates.

It’s not a long wait until Gary’s back in action, let’s hope he finds a bit of that magic on that Outer Ring, as the Grand Prix is that one tournament when you don’t just need doubles to get out – you need them to get in, too.

Words: Ryan Segal @theryansegal

Photos: Kelly Deckers/PDC