Raymond van Barneveld celebrates his 48th birthday today. This also marks his tenth year in the Professional Darts Corporation. As a result, I look back at his 10 finest victories in the PDC….
10. Terry Jenkins 1-6 Raymond van Barneveld- 2012 European Championship 1st Round
This may not be remembered as one of Raymond’s finest victories in terms of significance, but performance wise, it was exceptional. This remains Raymond’s highest televised average in the PDC. Barney averaged 113.04 and hit 100% on his doubles, demolishing Jenkins, who averaged nearly 100 himself. RvB followed this victory up with a thrilling 10-9 victory over Michael van Gerwen in round two.
9. Raymond van Barneveld 17-8 James Wade- 2010 World Matchplay Semi-Final
This was one of van Barneveld’s most impressive performances between 2009-2012. He had endured a difficult start to 2010, both personally and professionally and had missed out on the UK Open, a tournament he had already won twice before. However, he returned to the PDC fold in some style; he hit a phenomenal 9-darter in his 10-1 demolition over Denis Ovens in R1, but his performance against Wade was sensational. The Machine has always enjoyed a special affinity with the Matchplay; he won his first ever PDC major at the Winter Gardens in 2007. van Barneveld never let Wade settle; hitting a stunning 136 finish to claim an early 6-4 lead. He continued to wear down Wade with his relentless scoring and proficient scoring, claiming an emphatic 17-8 victory. He lost 18-12 to an imperious Phil Taylor in the final, but threw magnificently throughout the tournament.
8. Raymond van Barneveld 5-1 Jelle Klaasen- 2009 PDC World Championship Quarter-Final
This was an extremely memorable victory for van Barneveld in more ways than one. Ronnie Baxter had missed two match darts to knock him out in the L16, but Raymond certainly capitalised on this opportunity. He had never beaten Jelle Klaasen before, having suffered an agonising 7-5 defeat to Klaasen in the 2006 BDO World Championship Final, but van Barneveld obliterated his Dutch compatriot and hit the tournament’s first EVER 9-darter in the 6th and final set. Just three legs later, he produced a stunning 161 finish to win the match. Incredible!
7. Phil Taylor 10-11 Raymond van Barneveld- 2006 UK Open Quarter-Final
This was a huge match in the context of Raymond’s PDC career. He had faced Taylor twice in his debut Premier League campaign, drawing once and losing once. Their quarter-final clash at the Reebok Stadium was an absolute epic. Taylor led 6-2 at once stage, before van Barneveld produced a stirring fightback to claim an 8-7 lead with some clinical finishing. The game was locked at 10-10, when the drama intensified. Taylor missed three darts at D20 to clinch the match, allowing his Dutch rival a shot at 97. Raymond took it out superbly in two darts, to clinch his first victory over Taylor in the PDC, which sparked jubilant celebrations from the man from Den Haag. van Barneveld subsequently went on to beat Barrie Bates 13-7 in the final, to claim his first ever PDC major.
6. Raymond van Barneveld 13-6 Terry Jenkins- 2007 Las Vegas Desert Classic Final
Raymond recorded his fourth individual PDC major against Jenkins to continue his darting dominance in 2007. He narrowly missed out on the title in 2006, losing to John Part 6-3 in sets. However, he made amends by cruising to victory over the Herefordshire Bull. Barney was coolness personified in the sweltering Vegas heat, averaging 101.55 en route to a 13-6 win.
5. Raymond van Barneveld 8-5 Phil Taylor- 2014 Premier League Semi-Final
van Barneveld met Taylor in last year’s Premier League semi-final after finishing 2nd in the league phase for the second season running. He had endured a frustrating play-off record, having suffered 6 semi-final defeats in Premier League competition. As he trailed Taylor 4-1, it appeared history may be repeating itself, but Barney capitalised on uncharacteristic frailties from Taylor on the doubles, to reduce the arrears. He showed tremendous character and steel to secure victory, hitting a 76 C/O for an 11-darter to clinch the win. He hadn’t beaten Taylor on television for six years, nor had he previously reached a Premier League final; therefore he banished two demons within one big victory.
4. Colin Lloyd 3-4 Raymond van Barneveld- 2007 World Championships 2nd Round
This was van Barneveld’s first World Championship as a PDC professional. Pundits and fans alike were whetting their appetite at the fascinating prospect of a Taylor vs Barney final; however the Dutchman had the unenviable task of facing World No 1 Colin Lloyd in the 2nd round. Lloyd stormed into a 3-0 lead in sets; courtesy of some wonderful finishing. However, van Barneveld fought back superbly, producing nerveless darts under intense scrutiny. Lloyd missed match darts in the seventh and deciding set and the contest fittingly went to a sudden death leg. van Barneveld held his nerve, pinning 56 for a solid 15-darter, to complete the unthinkable comeback. But for van Barneveld, the best was yet to come….
3. Raymond van Barneveld 10-6 Michael van Gerwen- 2014 Premier League Final
The 2014 Premier League final was an all-Dutch affair between the top two players in the League phase. van Barneveld was appearing in his first PL Final after banishing his semi-final demons. He was not at his best against Taylor, but he was efficient and ground out victory. Nevertheless, he raised his level considerably against van Gerwen. He scored superbly throughout and produced fantastic finishes of 94 and 86 to move him to the brink of victory. He held his nerve, taking out D10 to close out a rather routine victory over the World No 1 and defending PL Champion. It was a memorable victory for the 5-Time World Champion; he had performed with tremendous consistency in the Premier League in previous years, with little reward. However, when it mattered, he duly delivered. This no doubt ranks as one of van Barneveld’s finest accomplishments, having beaten both Taylor and MvG in one amazing night at the O2 Arena.
2. Raymond van Barneveld 16-14 Michael van Gerwen- 2012 Grand Slam Final
This was undoubtedly a career defining victory for Raymond van Barneveld. After beating Jenkins in the 2007 Desert Classic final, he was riding the crest of a wave. It seemed unfathomable that he would go five years without tasting major individual success. But this was a stark reality until the 2012 Grand Slam of Darts. Raymond is a big believer in fate and perhaps this victory was based on just that. He was considering skipping the tournament in order to focus on the upcoming World Championships, but his management urged him to compete. He survived a scare in progressing through the group phase, before producing his best form in the knockout stages. He met van Gerwen in the final, who was in ominous form. van Barneveld was at his brilliant best; van Gerwen unleashed a blistering barrage of scoring early on, but RvB held form, taking out 101 and 134 to lead 3-2 early on. MvG continued to fight back, but RvB remained resolute and kept producing vital finishes to preserve his advantage. He took out 95 and 110 to lead 14-11, but MvG bounced back. After Raymond missed three darts at D20 to win the tournament, the contest was back on throw at 15-14, and the 25-year-old Dutchman had all the momentum. The 30th and final leg simply epitomised the class of Raymond van Barneveld. He left 46 after 9 darts and despite van Gerwen setting up D18 with a fantastic 171, Barney remained unflappable, taking it out cleanly for an 11-darter. This victory meant so much to van Barneveld and his family, illustrated by the scenes of raw emotion in the immediate aftermath. This tournament re-ignited Barney’s belief; since this win, he has been a far more potent force.
1. Raymond van Barneveld 7-6 Phil Taylor- 2007 World Championship Final
(Via Professional Darts Corporation)
Yep! You guessed it! It has been dubbed by the overwhelming majority as the greatest game of Darts in history and I tend to concur. It simply had everything; heavy scoring, fantastic finishing, a compelled crowd, intense drama and a sudden death leg. At 3-0 down, van Barneveld’s hopes were hanging by a thread. What was to follow is arguably THE greatest comeback in darting history. The revival was sparked by a magnificent 170 checkout to reduce the arrears to 3-1 in sets; from that moment onwards, Raymond was simply inspired. He hit an astonishing 21 180’s and his last-dart doubling was absolutely exceptional. The climax was a fitting end to a pulsating three-hours of viewing. Taylor started the leg with a 180, but the Dutchman remained unperturbed and responded in kind. Taylor was stunned and could not respond, allowing Barney to hit D20 for a 13-darter to close out victory. No other player in world darts could have launched such a comeback; Raymond’s combination of quality and character was decisive and this was unquestionably the most captivating chapter of their compelling rivalry. Both are still at the pinnacle of World Darts; which is testament to their ability and longevity. Do you agree with my choices? Please let me know and share your best memories of Raymond van Barneveld below. Thanks for reading!