Could we have seen Raymond van Barneveld’s last TV darts tournament appearance?
The likeable five-time World Darts Champion announced his retirement from the professional sport last year. Barney plans to follow fellow darts champion into exhibition matches, but unlike Phil’s epic last year in the sport, Barney’s has gone to plan.
The 2019 World final was a non-starter as Barney. Entering into the second round by virtue of his then PDC Order of Merit (ranking) (17) Barney fell at the first hurdle losing 3-2 to Lithuanian, Darius Labanauskas an International Qualifier. This was unexpected and a big disappointment to Barney’s fans.
Raymond’s poor performance relegated him twelve places in the Order of Merit to 29. However, this was enough to start the next big TV darts event the UK Open from the fourth round onwards.
The UK Open is sometimes referred to as the FA Cup of darts. Pub players can enter via a series of 16 Riley’s Sports Bar’s know out rounds held across the Country. The winner of each receiving an entry into the main event, even yours truly entered the event in 2004! The format was a little different in those days. Local knockouts in Greene King Pubs followed by regional play-off when the dangerous profession mob joined. I won locally, but couldn’t go to the regional play-off due to other commitments. At least I can say I was unbeaten!
Barney’s fourth-round entry into the 2019 UK Open again was another disappointment. Barney lost to a rank outsider, 68 by PDC ranking, Simon Stevens 10-7. Barney averaged a respectable 94, but it wasn’t enough to see him through.
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Barney was handed a Premier League Wildcard. A few punters and darts fans were unhappy a lacklustre Barney gain entry into the 2019 Premier League as many new higher-ranked players could argue for the sport. Although the Premier League is about bringing the best the PDC can offer to this now annual event, it is also about entertainment. Barney is without question one of best-known dart players to lift a dart. He is a crowd-pleaser, and thousands of fans follow his every game. Although Barney wasn’t on top form and suffering from diabetes, he always tried his best.
The Premier League is played in a round-robin phase before the top four qualify for the playoff knockout finals. After nine weeks the bottom two players are eliminated from the league while the remaining continue for a further seven weeks. However, with the last min withdrawal of Gary Anderson, the format changed.
In Gary’s place, nine ‘player contenders’ were selected to play just one round, a bonus to any that could win their match. At the end of nine weeks instead of two players being eliminated, only one player would leave. Unfortunately, for Barney, he was that player. Gutted with his efforts an emotional Barney said he was quitting now, only to be overturned the following day!
Barney won the event in 2004 beating Michael van Gerwen 10-6 in the play-off final.
Where is Barney? His ranking has fallen even more and hasn’t qualified for the event. In 2010 Raymond reached the final only to be hammered 18-12 by the ‘Power’ Phil Taylor
Barney never won the World Matchplay and never reached another final unlike his Dutch counterpart Michael van Gerwen who has reached the final three times winning twice. Michael also line-up as the World Matchplay favourite for the 2019 title.
The World Series of Darts as any dart fan will know is a non-ranking event. Earnings from this event do not count towards a players Order of Merit tally. The events are to showcase darts as a sport across the World. Eight PDC highly ranked players play eight local qualifiers for a £20,000 first prize.
Barney this year was given a sport at the German Master's leg of the event, and this could be Barney’s last TV appearance unless he qualifies for the other majors and o current form this doesn’t look very likely. However, I hope I am wrong as I like watching Barney play. I would love to see Barney return to top form and turn the magic back on that won him five World titles.
Winners of the World Series event gain a place in the Series finals held in Amsterdam in November. Other players also qualify based upon their performance in the series matches they play in. Barney might be at the finals by PDC invitation.
At this point, it is still too early to say if Barney will be one of the qualifiers at the PDC World Darts Championship held at the Ally Pally London. It will be by Barney’s own admission his last event. Phil Taylor who retired after the 2018 World final made it to the final, losing to a relative newcomer, Rob Cross.
Taylor, in contrast to Barney, had a fantastic last year and went out on a high. However, the fairly tail last World Championship victory was not to be.
Regardless if Barney makes the 2020 World Championship, he will still go down in history as one of the best dart players of all-time.