The more darts the one seeing eye here takes in, the more it’s realised how a game can be turned on its head in an instant. Al Paccino might have said in an inch rather than instance and in the case in point here, he couldn’t have been more on the money. As Michael Van Gerwen found out the other night, when it comes to flinging arrows, an inch can make a hell of a difference.
Darius Labanauskis will surely be having similar thoughts today. After being 2-0 up and seemingly cruising before the Lithuanian paid the price for leaving a great old staying survivor like Ian White in with a squeak. There was then another upset when the inconsistencies in Rob Cross’s game picked a most inopportune juncture to raise their head once more.
As more players are discovering all the time, that is not something anybody can afford to do against Krzysztaf Ratajaski. The proficient Polish player has been making incremental progress up through the rankings and will now face reigning Premier League Champion and World Cup winner Jonny Clayton for a place in the last four.
If you read earlier in the week of the fondness yours truly has for Stephen Bunting, it will come as little surprise that similar sentiments apply in case of Vincent van der Voort. The common thread: the speed with which both men launch their missiles. Even without being a devotee of big Vinny’s, gut feeling was that he may have had enough to usurp his fellow Dutchman Danny Noppert. On the premise that the latter may have taken too much out of himself beating MVG.
But not a bit of it. When the older man led the first two legs of the night, it appeared inclinations were correct. However, a combination of his frailties coming back to haunt him and Noppert still feeding off the buzz of beating Mighty Mike meant that the latter actually advanced to a last eight encounter against Ian White with relative ease.
There’s no doubt, though, that the performance of the night came from the man of the week, quite possibly the man of the year, Jonny Clayton against Jose De Sousa. They have developed quite the rivalry in recent months and, again, the ‘Special One’ had his chancea but Clayton now is a different proposition even to a few months back.
It’s not all that long ago he was considering throwing in the towel on professional darts and going back to the building trade. Now, however, ‘The Ferret’ is burrowing his way towards the bigtime in the sport one step a time.