Max Hopp will face Nathan Aspinall in the final of the PDC World Youth Championships at Minehead in November, with a place in the World Championships at stake for the victor.
Both men came through a high-quality 64 player field in Wigan to reach the final, which will take place on November 29th at Butlins, Minehead (live on ITV 4) during the Players Championship Finals.
Hopp thrashed Stephen Rosney 6-1 in the opening round, before dismantling Number 8 seed Berry van Peer by the same score-line in the following round. The young Dutchman has enjoyed a very profitable year on the tour, winning two Development Tour titles, but the 19-year-old German was far too strong for van Peer.
In the Last 16, Hopp faced Kenny Neyes, who had claimed a shock 6-4 victory over World Grand-Prix quarter-finalist Jamie Lewis in the second-round. However, Neyes couldn’t repeat his heroics, with Hopp easing through 6-3, to set up an enthralling quarter-final with Jeffrey De Zwaan.
De Zwaan, mentored by five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld, has made tremendous strides in the PDC this year, starring in a number of European Tour events, which has sealed his qualification for the European Championships at the end of October. However, ‘The Maximiser’ won a high-quality clash 6-4 to reach the last four.
Hopp faced Dean Reynolds in the semi-finals and a Reynolds victory would have created an intriguing scenario, given that the winner of the World Youth Championships qualifies for the World Championships at Alexandra Palace.
Reynolds has already secured qualification for the BDO World Championship at Lakeside in January, so his participation in the event would have been thrown into doubt.
This scenario appeared to be coming to fruition as Reynolds stormed into a 4-2 lead, however Hopp showed tremendous character to restore parity at 5-5. The Welshman missed D20 for a 120 finish, allowing Hopp to complete the comeback and secure his place in the final.
The German has enjoyed tremendous ‘big-stage’ exposure having competed regularly on the European Tour in 2015, and his tender-age belies his experience and maturity. However, he will face a tough test in Nathan Aspinall.
Aspinall, seeded 7th for this competition, endured a very difficult route just to progress through to the last 16. He beat James Thompson 6-4 in the opening round, before edging through a nail-biting last-leg decider against Sam Head in the last 32.
Aspinall faced Scott Dale for a place in the quarter-finals, with Dale having dropped just three legs in his opening two encounters. Despite this, Aspinall again showcased his gutsy nature, edging through 6-5.
He faced a very challenging test in the last eight; in the shape of second-seed Josh Payne. Payne has reached two senior Pro-Tour quarter-finals in recent months, but Aspinall showed his class and won a tight contest 6-4.
In the semi-finals, he faced Roxy-James Rodriguez, brother of Rowby; last year’s World Youth Championship runner-up. The Austrian had claimed a number of notable scalps throughout the afternoon, including Benito van de Pas, and this weekend’s Developmental Tour winner Bradley Kirk.
It was a topsy-turvy contest. The Englishman, who reached the last 32 of the UK Open earlier this year, stormed into a 3-0 lead, but Roxy reduced the arrears instantly and restored parity at 3-3. Rodriguez appeared to have the momentum, but Aspinall was unfazed, reeling off three successive legs to secure his place in next month’s final.
The level of quality on the PDC Youth Tour is staggering, which was illustrated by the number of high-profile early casualties. 2014 World Youth Champion Keegan Brown suffered a first-round exit to Rowby-John, ironically in a repeat of last year’s final.
Number 1 seed Dimitri van den Bergh also suffered defeat in the last 64, losing 6-4 to Nick Kenny, whilst Dirk van Duijvenbode, who will appear in the European Championships in Hasselt in a fortnight, was beaten 6-2 by Sam Head in Round One.
Elsewhere, as mentioned earlier, both Jamie Lewis and Benito van de Pas, who have established themselves in the Top 32 of the PDC Order of Merit, also suffered relatively exits, departing in the last 32 and last 16 respectively.
It is certainly going to be an enthralling final in Minehead, as both Hopp and Aspinall have experienced the big-stages before, albeit Hopp has enjoyed a far more productive 2015. Hopp will be the favourite, however Aspinall is a tenacious and very capable competitor; write him off at your peril!
2015 PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship
Nick Kenny 6-4 Dimitri Van den Bergh (1)
Jeffrey De Zwaan 6-4 Tommy Lishman
Wouter Vaes 6-4 Jake Jones
Joshua Richardson 6-1 Andrew Briere
Berry van Peer (8) 6-3 Aaron Dyer
Max Hopp 6-1 Stephen Rosney
Kenny Neyes 6-2 Jordan Matthews
Jamie Lewis 6-0 Ryan Meikle
Dean Reynolds (5) 6-3 Robbie King
James Hubbard 6-1 Piyush Chauhan
Shaun Griffiths 6-1 Nicholas Day
Chris Quantock 6-2 Adam Smith-Neale
Mike De Decker (4) 6-2 Dawson Murschell
Sam Hewson 6-4 Sven Groen
Scott Taylor 6-3 Fredi Gselmann
Ted Evetts 6-4 Harry Ward
Josh Payne (2) 6-5 Mike Zuydwijk
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-4 Keegan Brown
Aden Kirk 6-3 Lewis Venes
Jack Tweddell 6-0 Jamie Rundle
Nathan Aspinall (7) 6-4 James Thompson
Sam Head 6-2 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Scott Dale 6-2 John De Kruijf
Kurt Parry 6-5 Steve Lennon
Benito van de Pas (6) 6-0 Rhys Griffin
Matthew Dicken 6-3 Ryan De Vreede
Roxy-James Rodriguez 6-2 Kai Gotthardt
Kevin De Vries 6-1 George Killington
Bradley Kirk (3) 6-1 Josh McCarthy
Adam Hunt 6-0 James O’Toole
Jimmy Hendriks 6-3 Reece Robinson
Thomas Luksch 6-2 Sarthak Patel
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-3 Nick Kenny
Wouter Vaes 6-4 Joshua Richardson
Max Hopp 6-1 Berry van Peer
Kenny Neyens 6-4 Jamie Lewis
Dean Reynolds 6-2 James Hubbard
Shaun Griffiths 6-3 Chris Quantock
Sam Hewson 6-1 Mike De Decker
Scott Taylor 6-5 Ted Evetts
Josh Payne 6-3 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Jack Tweddell 6-4 Aden Kirk
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Sam Head
Scott Dale 6-1 Kurt Parry
Benito van de Pas 6-2 Matthew Dicken
Roxy-James Rodriguez 6-0 Kevin De Vries
Bradley Kirk 6-2 Adam Hunt
Jimmy Hendriks 6-3 Thomas Luksch
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-4 Wouter Vaes
Max Hopp 6-3 Kenny Neyens
Dean Reynolds 6-4 Shaun Griffiths
Scott Taylor 6-5 Sam Hewson
Josh Payne 6-2 Jack Tweddell
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Scott Dale
Roxy-James Rodriguez 6-3 Benito van de Pas
Bradley Kirk 6-1 Jimmy Hendriks
Max Hopp 6-4 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Dean Reynolds 6-5 Scott Taylor
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Josh Payne
Roxy-James Rodriguez 6-3 Bradley Kirk
Max Hopp 6-5 Dean Reynolds
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Roxy-James Rodriguez
Max Hopp v Nathan Aspinall