Raymond van Barneveld produced a vintage performance as he dumped World Number 1 Michael van Gerwen out of the Sydney Darts Masters.
Van Barneveld had lost 11 of his last 13 meetings with MvG prior to their quarter-final clash in Sydney, but the veteran Dutchman was at his brilliant best as he comprehensively dispatched MvG 8-4, having led 5-1 and 7-2 at one stage.
The encounter began in quite comical circumstances, as MvG spilled his glass of water on the stage during van Barneveld’s throw, but the 48-year-old Dutchman remained unperturbed, hitting 14 and 13 darters respectively to establish an early 2-0 advantage.
The Five-Time World Champion was at his clinical best in the third leg, punishing van Gerwen’s failed attempt at 76 with a silky-smooth 108 checkout culminating on D16. He then extended his lead to 4-0; finishing 204 in just 4 darts with his compatriot helplessly adrift.
Van Gerwen finally got off the mark in the fifth leg after a phenomenal scoring sequence, where he left D16 after just 9 darts. He converted D8 for a 12-darter, but van Barneveld responded in identical fashion, nailing D8 with his last dart for an emphatic 12-darter and a 5-1 lead at the break.
MvG had admittedly not been at his consistent best, but he wasn’t playing poorly by any means. Nevertheless, Raymond was performing superbly; his average touching 110 in comparison to MvG’s 100.
The 28-year-old from Boxtel secured his 2nd leg of the contest with D20 immediately after the break, but a stunning 177 for van Barneveld set up D12 in leg eight and he demonstrated great composure, pinning D3 with his last dart for a 6-2 lead.
Barney moved one leg away from victory in leg nine, after he punished an uncharacteristically mediocre scoring leg from MvG. RvB missed three darts at D20, but still returned to complete a 16-darter and secure another break of throw.
Although Raymond was in a dominant position, van Gerwen has both the ability and temperament to roll off a series of legs in succession. He stayed alive with a nerveless 88 finish for a 12-darter, after van Barneveld had missed one dart at D5 for an 8-2 victory.
MvG then held comfortably in the 11th leg, to secure back-to-back legs for the first time in the match, but van Barneveld showed his experience, kicking off leg 12 with a brilliant maximum to alleviate the pressure on him.
Barney was always in control of the leg, and after van Gerwen failed to convert a 108 finish, the former postman returned to the oche and delivered, hitting D10 to seal a tremendous 8-4 victory.
It was an extremely impressive performance from van Barneveld; from start to finish. He was at his scintillating best in the opening stages, averaging 113 at one point in the sixth leg.
It’s not often that Michael van Gerwen is completely overpowered in the scoring stakes, but he didn’t have a single dart to break throw in the opening session.
Van Barneveld inevitably didn’t maintain the electrifying standard after the interval, but his timing was exemplary. Whenever he was under pressure, he managed to produce a fantastic score and his clutch-doubling was reminiscent of his incredible Premier League recovery earlier this year.
After a hugely encouraging tournament in Perth, where he averaged 103 against Whitlock and van Gerwen, it’s fantastic that Barney has maintained this form. He appears incredibly calm and relaxed and admitted he was extremely content with his current set-up.
RvB stated: “I’m still here. I’m still Raymond van Barneveld. I believe in myself and I believe in my setup.” It would be fantastic to see Raymond go all the way tomorrow and lift the title in Sydney. On tonight’s basis, you wouldn’t back against him!
Van Barneveld will face Adrian Lewis in tomorrow’s semi-final, after Jackpot overcame Gary Anderson 8-7 in an epic battle. Elsewhere, Phil Taylor will take on Peter Wright in Saturday’s other semi-final. Taylor eased past a lethargic Stephen Bunting 8-2, whilst Wright gained revenge for his mauling against Wade in Perth, winning 3 successive legs to edge out the Machine 8-6.