After a thrilling weekend of darts in Barnsley, the final 32 players have been confirmed for the World Matchplay. With none of the top six in the world at Barnsley this weekend as they were on World Series duty, it gave the chasing pack a chance to close the gap in the rankings. Heading into the final two events Rowby-John Rodriguez was sat in the last qualifying place in the order of merit, with Kevin Painter, Max Hopp, Robbie Green, Andrew Gilding and Jamie Lewis all still having a chance to catch Rodriguez. Dave Chisnall won the Saturday event, beating Steve Beaton 6-2 in the final. Rodriguez had given himself a fantastic opportunity after the youngster had lost in the fourth round but had picked up more money than the chasing pack. After Saturday Robbie Green, Max Hopp and Andrew Gilding looked the only players that would now be able to catch Rodriguez, but they would all need to get to at least the quarter-finals.
The drama would start early on Sunday, as Rodriguez lost in the first round and failed to add any money to his world ranking. Out of the chasing pack, it was Green who was going quietly about his business, as the scouser had worked his way into the fourth round again but his game against Peter Hudson was now a must win. Earlier in the day, no one had considered Cristo Reyes a danger, as the Spaniard would have had to make the final to gatecrash the Matchplay but he was doing everything possible to cause an upset. Both Green and Reyes won their fourth round games, to move into the quarter-finals. Green would face number one seed Kim Huybrecht, Green lost the game 6-5 but missed five darts to win. To Green’s horror, Reyes had just beaten Mensur Suljovic 6-2 and was only one game away from crushing Green’s dreams of returning to Blackpool. Reyes fell short in his semi-final, as he was beaten 6-4 by Joe Cullen meaning Green had booked this spot at the World Matchplay.
Green’s only previous appearance at the Winter Gardens was back in 2004, losing to Bob Anderson 10-7. Green then returned to the BDO in 2008, then in 2015 Green went back to PDC Q-School and won his tour card. Sadly, Green’s first year back in the PDC was hampered by elbow and knee injuries, the highlight of that year was reaching the last 16 of the Grand Slam of Darts. 2016 has started well for Green, after treatment, his injury problems seem to be behind him. Now fully fit Green has swiftly risen in the PDC rankings, and 12 years on will grace the Winter Gardens stage. Green will be one of the names that the top 16 seeds will want to avoid in the first round when the draw is done on Thursday.
PDC Order of Merit qualifiers
Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld
Vincent van der Voort
PDC ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers
Benito van de Pas