World Series of Darts (2006 tournament)
|World Series of Darts|
|Venue||Mohegan Sun Resort|
|Prize fund||$300,000 (2006)|
The World Series of Darts was a Professional Darts Corporation event which was introduced in 2006. The event was not a ratings success in the United States and the PDC decided to replace it with another new tournament, the US Open for 2007.
It was held in the USA and saw the top 16 ranked Professional Darts Corporation players take on 16 American players, 12 of which will be winners from several tournaments and 4 from a 'Friday Night Madness' at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. The PDC offered an aspirational prize of US$1,000,000 if an American player won the tournament. The prize for a non-US winner was US$100,000.
2006 showed a huge gulf in class between the PDC pros and the American challengers, with only one home-player out of the 16 that started the tournament, John Kuczynski, getting through to the last 16 after a 6–5 (legs) defeat of John Part. He then lost to Wayne Mardle in the last 16.
- Champion: $100,000
- Runner-up: $48,000
- Semi-finalists: $20,000
- Quarter-finalists: $10,000
- Second round losers: $5,000
- First round losers: $2,000
- Total: $300,000
- Isen Veljic of Chicago, who qualified from the Virginia Beach Qualifier beating Cabell Staples in the final.
- Roger Carter of Auburn, Alabama, who qualified from the Atlanta qualifier, beating Scott Wollaston in the final. Carter has played in the BDO World Darts Championship and the PDC's 2003 Las Vegas Desert Classic.
- Jim Widmayer of Staten Island who made it through the New Jersey qualifier, beating Jerry Van Loan in the final. Widmayer has also played in the 1994 World Matchplay.
- Jim Watkins of Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania qualified from the March 4, 2006 Philadelphia qualifier, defeating Tom Stewart in the final. Watkin's most notable darts career highlight is winning back-to-back National 501 Singles titles in 1993 and 1994.
- David DePriest of Grand Rapids, Michigan qualified from the March 5, 2006 Chicago qualifier, defeating Joe Slivan in the final – Slivan qualified two weeks later.
- Joseph Carter Chaney of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee qualified from the March 11, 2006 Washington, D.C. qualifier, defeating Darin Young.
- John Kuczynski of Zion Grove, Pennsylvania qualified from the March 12, 2006 Las Vegas qualifier, defeating Sean Downs of Colton, California. Kuczynski had played in the 2006 PDC Ladbrokes.com World Championship
- Tim Grossman of Hudson, New York, the 2000 Cricket national champion, qualified from the March 18, 2006 Windsor Locks, Connecticut qualifier, defeating Dave Marienthal of Bloomingdale, New Jersey in a seventh leg tie-breaker.
- Joe Slivan of Winter Park, Florida (who lost to David DePriest in the finals of the March 5 Chicago qualifier) qualified from the March 19, 2006 Houston qualifier, defeating Chris Yates of Midland, Texas.
- Ray Carver of Nashua, New Hampshire qualified from the April 1, 2006 Marlborough, Massachusetts qualifier, defeating Jeff Russell of Dover, New Hampshire.
- Joe Efter of Danielson, Connecticut qualified from the April 2, 2006 Ronkonkoma, New York qualifier, defeating Brad Wethinton of St. Louis.
- Tom Curtin of Townsend, Massachusetts qualified from the April 22, 2006 Somerville, Massachusetts qualifier, defeating Dave Lambert of Lowville, New York.
Day one – First round (Best of 11 legs)
15 of the 16 seeds would progress to the second round as the World Series of Darts got underway. The American home players struggling against the higher ranked pros from the PDC. – The $1m prize for an American winner seemed remote as over half of the 16 first round matches – (nine of the 16 games) were won in under nine legs. Three were 6–0 whitewashes, with four 6-1's and two 6-2's.
The American hero was John "Jonny K" Kuczynski the American number one went through to the second round with a tight 6–5 first round victory over two time World Champion John Part. – in the only match to reach the eleventh and final leg – Part led 2–1 early in the match before Kuczynski reeled off three straight legs to move 4–2 in front and the Americans began to cheer their hero on. A brilliant 161 check-out from Part took the 7th leg and then he levelled despite a 180 from his opponent. The match now was best of three legs to win a place in the second round. Part had a chance in the ninth as well, missing double top to go 5–4 as the American did so.
Roles reversed in leg 10 as Kuczynski missed double ten to hit a 140 out shot to go through. – John Part taking the match to a deciding sudden death leg with a 93 shot. A third 180 from Kuczynski in the decider put him in the driving seat before he missed double top to go through. Part stepped up and after 84 from two darts needed double 16 to win, he missed and Johnny K hit the 40 he needed to make it through to round 2.
For the main PDC players, number one seed Colin Lloyd went through to the second round a 6–2 winner over Isen Veljic, Phil Taylor – world champion won 6–2 against Tim O'Gorman and Ronnie Baxter went through an easy 6–1 winner over Brad Wethington.
For other Americans who had graced the PDC stage, disappointment loomed as Jim Widmayer was whitewashed by Adrian Lewis 6–0, – Roger Carter out 6–1 to Roland Scholten before Ray Carver and Jim Watkins headed out in 6–3 losses to Peter Manley and Kevin Painter respectively
Day one – Second round (Best of 11 legs)
Four of the Eight second round matches were held on the opening day with Top seed Colin Lloyd going out 6–5 to Adrian Lewis. The 21-year-old had been a quarter-finalist five months earlier at the World Championships whilst Lloyd had crashed at the first hurdle. Lewis headed 1–0 up and then trailed 2–1 as Lloyd looked to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since the 2005 World Grand Prix where he was a finalist – Lewis then took three legs straight to move 4–2 up before Lloyd took a 100 finish out to close the gap to 4–3. Lewis then went on to 5–3 with a double top. Narrowly missing bull for a win – Lloyd punished Lewis by levelling at 5–5. – Three 100+ scores would set up victory and a place in the last eight for the 21-year-old.
Joining him was Denis Ovens who eliminated Andy Jenkins 6–4 winning 5 of the final 6 legs to win from 1–3 behind. Then 2006 World Finalist Peter Manley moved into the quarter-finals with an easy 6–2 win over Mark Walsh – who was beginning to develop dartitis problems. Manley would lead 5–1 before Walshie took the 7th leg. Manley hitting double 10 to go through.
Saturday finished with Dennis Priestley defeating Dutchman Roland Scholten 6–4 in a very high quality encounter. 51 100+ scores including seven maximums between the pair in just ten legs saw both average around 96 – 97
Day two – Second round (Best of 11 legs)
Day two got underway with Phil Taylor opening a 3–0 lead against Terry Jenkins – Jenkins a relative newcomer to the PDC stage pulled his arrears back to 3–2 in legs before missing a dart to level the score at 3–3 as Taylor moved 4–2 up. A sea change leg took place in the 7th as Taylor missed double 12 to go 5–2 on a 144 as Jenkins made it 4–3.
A 76 checkout put Taylor 5–3 ahead and he went through with an 11 dart leg in the ninth. – Taylor averaged 104.88 and Jenkins 99.59 in arguably the match of the tournament so far.
Mark Dudbridge would join Taylor in the quarter-finals but in a very different match compared to his 6–0 whitewash in the first round. – Kevin Painter would lead 2–0 after nicking the first leg. Dudbridge would hit a 94 to checkout to reduce his arrears before Painter hit double 18 to go 3–1 up. – Dudbridge would win leg five on double 12 before Painter would go 4–2 on double top – Dudbridged had missed the bull when on a 164 that would have made the score 3–3. Painter missed a bull of his own in the 7th leg on a 118 checkout that would have made the score 5–2 and really the game out of Dudbridge's reach. Dudbridge hit the double top to reduce his deficit to 4–3.
That was a crucial leg as Dudbridge moved 5–4 in front before an error in hitting 9 rather than 12 in setting a finish up let Painter in to level the scores a 5–5 on double 16. – Scores in the decider of 180 and 140 to lead up to the checkout of 64. Dudbridge in the quarter-finals of a major for the first time since the World Final of 2005.
The American dream ended in defeat for John Kuczynski. The American, the only home player to reach round two went out 6–3 to Wayne Mardle. Mardle who had been in the semi-finals of the World Championships and in the Premier League averaging 93.44 against Johnny K. – Kuczynski struggled initially as Mardle moved 2–0 in front before the American hit his first leg. – Mardle took the next two as he increased his lead, and the pressure on Kuczynski by moving 4–1 up.
Kuczynski cut the gap and moved himself back into contention with a fine 119 checkout on the bull before Mardle hit double 5 to go 5–2 in front. One last cheer for the last home man was a double top in the eighth, had Mardle missed on 5's then it is likely that Kuczynski would have levelled with a 31 checkout. – An unintentional double 2, double 17 checkout of 38 (thought to be single two for double eighteen put Hawaii 501 into the quarter-finals.
Mardle will now meet Ronnie Baxter after The Rocket showed some brilliant finishing in a 6–4 win over Alan Warriner-Little. Baxter beginning to show some of his best form after a shock first round exit to Ray Carver – who lost to Peter Manley in the first round in averaging 92.02 to Warriner's 88.67
Day two – Quarter-finals (Best of 17 legs)
The quarter-finals saw matches extended to the best of 17 legs and a race to 9, a format more suited to the longer players. In the first quarter-final, Adrian Lewis pulled away from Denis Ovens when the match had been in deadlock at 6–6. Ovens 5–4 and 6–5 up then seemed to lose composure as the 21-year-old went on to win 9–6 with a 108 shanghai 18 checkout.
Lewis will meet Dennis Priestley after the Yorkshireman came from 5–2 behind against Peter Manley to win 9–7 in a thrilling contest. Manley proved why he is One Dart as he moved into the lead twice breaking the throw and it was only in leg 8 that Priestley began to show the darts that took him to the semi-finals of the 2005 World Grand Prix. Four straight legs put him 6–5 up and left Manley a fight on his hands. Double 10 from Peter levelled the game before the 55-year-old moved 7–6 with a tremendous 124 checkout of Treble 20, 14 and Bull to take the 13th leg.
Manley levelled at seven apeice with double top after Priestley missed doubles, before a bad 15th leg let Dennis edge 8–7 up and within one of the win, the 16th was Similar and Dennis was through a 9–7 winner.
Phil Taylor would also reach the last four though he needed to regain his focus against a determined Mark Dudbridge. Dudbridge beaten 7 sets to four in the final of the 2005 World Championships, the last time he reached a quarter-final trailed Taylor 7–3 in legs as The Power moved into the driving seat after trailing 3–2 before embarking on a five leg run. Three successive legs from Dudbridge closed the gap to 7–6 before Taylor stopped the rot in the fourteenth. A 12-dart leg in the 15ths allowed Taylor home a 9–6 victor.
Ronnie Baxter like Taylor had to regain focus in his match against Wayne Mardle. Baxter led 2–0 and then went on to be 7–1 up at the mid match interval. Mardle who usually takes to be struggling to produce his best darts closed the gap to 7–5 but missed a chance to make it 7–6 as Baxter moved clear to 8–5. Baxter missed a match dart in the next leg and Mardle took double six. But it was different in the 15th as Mardle missed his chance to make it 8–7 as Baxter moved through.
Day two – Semi-finals (Best of 21 legs)
Both semi-finals would be won by comfortable margins.
In the first Dennis Priestley was given no chance by an imperial performance from Adrian Lewis. Lewis moved 3–0 up due to a 93 finish to open the game, followed by 11 and 12 dart legs to go three up. He began the fourth with a 180 but Priestley made it 3–1 with a double 8. Two clinical finishes from Lewis made the score 5–1 followed by a 14-darter to go 6–1 up and realistically have a foot in the final.
The next three legs went all the way to Lewis, meaning at the mid-match stage of 10 legs, Lewis held a 9–1 lead and required just two more from the final 11 to win. At this stage Lewis had a 58% checkout rate with 9 hits from 16 attempts as he turned the screw into the Yorkshireman – who had no answer as Lewis reached a peak average of 104. – Dennis The Menace had chances in the next two legs to cut the gap but Lewis took them to record an amazing 11–1 victory averaging 98.72 to Priestley's 82.97
TV ratings and cancellation
ESPN broadcast the first of eight one-hour segments on Tuesday, July 18, 2006 in prime-time at 7pm. ESPN’s cameras had followed the complete US qualifying process from beginning to end, concluding with the main event itself in Connecticut on May 20–21. The show was scheduled in-between Sportscenter and World Series of Poker, which usually score a Nielsen rating of around 1.0 (approx 1,102,139 households). WSoD premiered at approximately a 0.43 (approx 474,000 households / 559,000 adult viewers), then started sliding for episodes two and three. ESPN then pulled the World Series of Darts programming from its original prime time slot on ESPN1, and relegated it to mid-afternoon broadcast positions on their lesser-viewed sister channel ESPN2.
The relative lack of success with viewing figures led to ESPN's decision not to recommission the event for 2007. Having originally scheduled the WSoD to be played May 18–20, the PDC decided to replace that date in the calendar with a new US Open tournament. The title US Open would have allowed the organisers to invite players from the rival organisation, the British Darts Organisation (BDO). The top BDO players instead agreed to appear in a new Dutch Darts Premier League (DDPL) which clashed with the US Open tournament – however the DDPL was subsequently cancelled due to lack of interest in ticket sales.
- American Qualifiers – Bullseye news
- Isen Veljic
- Roger Carter
- Jim Widmayer
- James Watkins
- David DePriest
- Joseph Carter Chaney
- Darin Young (non-qualifier)
- John Kuczynski
- Tim Grossman
- Joe Slivan
- Ray Carver
- Joe Efter
- Brad Wethington (non-qualifier)
- Tom Curtin
- Friday Night Madness Qualifiers
- ESPN moves WSoD from primetime.
- 2007 PDC Calendar