|Current PDC Ranking:||13th|
|Major Ranking Titles:||27|
|Highest Televised Average:||113.04|
|Biggest Achievement:||5 Time World Champion|
It was incredible to do my first ever Q/A feature with my darting hero; the player that inspired me to fall in love with Darts. Raymond van Barneveld epitomises the word ‘legend’. The Dutchman has won 5 World Championship titles; only Phil Taylor boasts more. Van Barneveld has also won 27 major ranking events over a stunning career; spanning three decades. Not only does he have incredible natural ability, but his special affinity with the darting crowds, make him an icon. It’s visible just how much the love and support of his adoring ‘Barney Army’ means to him!
Van Barneveld, in my eyes, is the second best darts player of all time. His most notable achievement was beating Phil Taylor 7-6 in the 2007 World Championship Final, which was subsequently dubbed as ‘the greatest darts game of all time.’ Barney trailed 3-0, but hit an incredible 21 180s in an astonishing comeback. The match was concluded in a dramatic last-leg decider, with van Barneveld and Taylor sharing maximums, but it was the Dutchman that closed the game out with a 13-darter on D20.
Raymond’s switch to the PDC changed the complexion of world darts, and very much set a precedent, with the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Vincent van der Voort, Jelle Klaasen, Mervyn King, Gary Anderson and Simon Whitlock all following suit over the next few years. Today, a large proportion of the PDC’s best talents, and most prolific winners, are made up of these former BDO men.
Van Barneveld made a fairy-tale start to life in the Professional Darts Corporation, winning his first televised ranking event, the 2006 UK Open, beating Taylor 11-10 in the quarter-finals en route to victory. Later, came his incredible World Title victory over his old foe, which brought him level with Eric Bristow on 5 World Championship titles. In June 2007, Barney defended his UK Open crown, comprehensively beating Taylor 10-4 in the quarter-finals, before beating Vincent van der Voort in the final. The following month, Raymond won the Las Vegas Desert Classic, beating Terry Jenkins in routine fashion.
However, Raymond then went five years without winning an individual televised major, until winning the 2012 Grand Slam of Darts in an incredible tournament. Barney beat his compatriot Michael van Gerwen 16-14 in an emotional rollercoaster of a contest. Since then, RvB has reached two World Championship semi-finals, won the 2014 Premier League Darts, before winning the World Cup of Darts for the second time; with a new partner, MvG, in June last year.
Van Barneveld has already reached a major final this year, losing to an inspired van Gerwen 11-6 in the Unibet Masters, but he is content with his set-up and confident of enjoying a successful 2015. He had a difficult start to the Premier League and needed a result against Gary Anderson to avoid relegation, but he has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround since, winning 5 consecutive matches, against Taylor, van Gerwen, Chisnall, Anderson & Lewis, to put him just one win away from a guaranteed play-off place, with two fixtures remaining. Van Barneveld remains a prominent force, 17 years on from winning his first World title; only Taylor can boast such consistency and longevity.
Here, Raymond briefly discusses the strength in depth in the PDC, the conveyor belt of Dutch talent coming through the ranks, and his continued desire for success.
Josh Gorton: Raymond, is the current Premier League the strongest field you’ve played in? Is there any added pressure being defending Champion?
Raymond van Barneveld: I think we all say that the Premier League is the best and strongest ever. It is not just the field, but the overall level that is getting higher and higher. I feel no extra pressure being defending champion.
JG: You have enjoyed so much success over an amazing career. What do you think has been your most important victory/victories?
RvB: The two most important victories are my first BDO World Title (1998 against Richie Burnett) and my PDC World Title in 2007 (7-6 win over Taylor)
JG: Who have been the biggest/most positive influences on your career?
RvB: The people around me; there is no need to mention them all, as I am afraid to miss someone! There have been a couple of close people, besides my family, who have been helping me during my career.
JG: You speak openly about your battle with diabetes. Do you believe you may have won even more titles if it wasn’t for your health problems?
RvB: What if … never happens. I cannot know for a fact what my list of wins/achievements would look like if I didn’t have diabetes… It would not be worse, that is for sure.
JG: As we can all see, Dutch darts is firmly on the rise. Are there any talented youngsters coming through that we should look out for?
RvB: There are (many) Dutch youngsters all over the circuit. Jeffrey de Zwaan and Mike Zuydwijk are promising talents; they are both in our Dutch Darts Team. These guys have already made a name for themselves.
JG: You have enjoyed so many fantastic rivalries throughout your career. Who is your favourite opponent and why?
RvB: I have no favourite opponent, although I like to play fast players, because it suits my tempo and I can get in the flow more easily.
JG: You clearly still have the passion for the game. What would you still like to achieve in the rest of your darting career?
RvB: I want to win everything I compete for; otherwise it would be useless to even enter the competition! I know that I have the game to beat all of them, so we will see what the future brings!
JG: That’s great, many thanks for your time Raymond!
RvB: No thanks (needed), thanks for your support!