Ricky Evans and Andy Boulton sealed the final two places at this year’s World Championships at the Alexandra Palace, after progressing through the PDPA qualifier at the Ricoh Arena, in Coventry.
Evans beat Boulton 5-4 in today’s final, sealing victory on D20, which means that the Kettering ace will now meet Simon Whitlock in the first-round of this year’s tournament.
Boulton will have to progress through his preliminary clash against Per Laursen, with a first-round meeting against reigning World Champion Gary Anderson lying in wait for the victor.
Evans, a former World-Youth finalist, began his quest for qualification with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Darren Weaver, before beating 2008 World finalist Kirk Shepherd 5-2 to reach the last 32 stage of qualification.
‘Rapid’ then produced an inspired comeback against Welshman Jonny Clayton to seal a fourth-round spot. Clayton, who appeared at the Grand Slam in November, led 4-0, but Evans fought back to set up a tie against the talented Ross Smith.
Evans defeated Smith 5-2 to move to within two victories of sealing an Ally Pally spot, before he met 2006 World semi-finalist Wayne Jones in the last eight. Jones, who defeated former BDO World Master James Wilson in the previous round, succumbed 5-2 to the 25-year-old.
Evans then met Steve West in the decisive semi-final of the qualification stage; both men knew that a win would seal their World Championship spot, but Evans triumphed, beating West 5-2, hitting a spectacular 150 checkout en route to victory.
Boulton’s route was just as taxing. He was placed in the preliminary round of this qualifier, so had to win a total of 7 matches to seal his PDC World Championship debut.
The 42-year-old, from Stoke-on-Trent, has appeared in the BDO’s World Championship. His best performance was a run to the last 16 in 2008, so he has the pedigree. He also appeared at last month’s Grand Slam of Darts, having progressed through the PDC qualifier.
Boulton finished bottom of Group E, although he was faced with an uncompromising trio of names, in the shape of Gary Anderson, Raymond van Barneveld and Larry Butler. Nevertheless, this experience will have undoubtedly stood him in good stead ahead of next month’s event.
Boulton opened up his qualification campaign with victories against Marc Dewsbury and Jim Walker, dropping just three legs in the process. He then recorded an emphatic 5-1 win over John Power to set up a last 32 clash against Devon Petersen.
The popular South-African was one of the favourites to qualify, but ‘The X-Factor’ upset the odds, beating Petersen in a tense last-leg decider.
Boulton then cruised into the last eight, beating Mick Todd 5-1, to set up a last-eight clash against Gary Stone, who knocked out Andy Smith in the previous round. Nevertheless, Boulton prevailed 5-3, to set up a decisive clash against Stuart Kellett.
Kellett has been in the darting wilderness for some while, but produced some tremendous performances at the Ricoh Arena, including a 5-2 win over Robbie Green in the quarter-finals of qualification.
However, Boulton claimed a comfortable 5-1 victory over the former BDO World Number 2, to set up a final against Evans. Whilst both men had sealed their spot, there was still major incentive heading into the final, with the winner avoiding the complication of a preliminary encounter.
Elsewhere, there were a host of big names who failed in their bid to reach this year’s World Championships. Ronnie Baxter, who has been an ever-present in PDC World Championships for well over a decade, had his hopes ended in dramatic circumstances.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Baxter arrived at the arena just past the 11am deadline and was subsequently denied entry into the qualifier. ‘The Rocket’ is one of the most popular figures in the game and his presence will be missed at Alexandra Palace this year.
Paul Nicholson also fell at the first hurdle of qualification, losing 5-4 to Terry Temple. ‘The Asset’ was ranked 25th in the World at this stage last year, but he’s slipped to 41st after missing a number of events through injury. I’m sure Nicholson will return with vengeance in 2016.
Former World Number One Colin Lloyd was also an early casualty in today’s qualifier. Lloyd, who is currently ranked 82nd on the PDC Order of Merit, was beaten 5-2 by Richie Corner in the last 128 this afternoon.
Nathan Aspinall, who was cruelly denied a World Championship spot after suffering a deciding-leg defeat to Max Hopp in last night’s World Youth final, was beaten 5-3 by the ‘Ace of Herts’ Alex Roy in the first round.
Mark Dudbridge, who reached the final of the 2005 PDC World Championship, suffered last-leg heartbreak against Luke Woodhouse in round one, whilst Andy Jenkins, a semi-finalist in 2007, was beaten by James Wilson.
Wilson, along with Robbie Green, was extremely successful in the BDO system; I have no doubt that both will enjoy a far more profitable 2016. In fairness, Green has been hampered by a long-standing shoulder problem, whilst Wilson will inevitably benefit from the experience gained from his debut year in the PDC.
However, massive credit must go to both Ricky Evans and Andy Boulton. The World Championships is the pinnacle of the darting calendar, so to cope with the pressure and progress through a 150-man field is a mightily impressive achievement.
William Hill World Darts Championship
Monday November 30, Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Dave Ladley 5-4 James Thompson
Jonathan Worsley 5-4 Par Riihonen
Paul Amos 5-2 Mark Hylton
Andy Boulton 5-1 Marc Dewsbury
Kevin Lane 5-3 Ben Ward
Curtis Hammond 5-4 Simon Burt
Matt Clark 5-4 Ryan Palmer
Jamie Robinson 5-1 Arron Wike
Tony Richardson 5-3 Magnus Caris
Kelvin Hart 5-1 Matt Golding
Nathan Derry 5-3 Thomas Sykes
Dennis Smith 5-3 Jonathan Worsley
Kurt Parry 5-2 Mark Barilli
Nigel Birch 5-1 Adam Hunt
Stuart Harding 5-4 Ian Moss
Jason Marriott 5-2 Steve Douglas
Kevin Thomas 5-4 Stephen Willard
Jay Foreman 5-1 Steve Perkins
Mark Carter 5-4 Barrie Bates
Jason Hogg 5-0 Ricky Williams
Chris Dobey 5-1 Ben Simpson
Andy Smith 5-1 James Forster
Richie Corner 5-2 Colin Lloyd
Mark Jones (Worcs) 5-3 Andy Bless
Dave Ladley 5-1 Phil Milburn
Jason Wilson 5-4 Josh Payne
Jamie Bain 5-0 James Richardson
Gary Stone 5-0 Kieran Evans
Paul Amos 5-1 Jonathan Worsley
Devon Petersen 5-1 Tony Oak
Mark Cox 5-3 Matthew Edgar
John Power 5-3 Lee Moffatt
Andy Boulton 5-2 Jim Walker
Mark Walsh 5-3 Paul Anthony
Mick Todd 5-4 John Bwoles
Matthew Dennant 5-1 Daniel Batchelor
Chris Quantock 5-4 Kevin Lane
Stuart Kellett 5-3 Andy Parsons
Ryan Harrington 5-4 Harry Ward
Lee Evans 5-3 James Hubbard
Curtis Hammond 5-0 Steve Randall
Luke Woodhouse 5-4 Mark Dudbridge
Jason Lovett 5-3 Tony Newell
Darren Johnson 5-1 Andreas Hajimina
Matt Clark 5-0 Jamie Robinson
Mickey Mansell 5-2 Tony Randell
Roxy-James Rodriguez 5-4 Wayne Pepper
Arron Monk 5-1 Brian Woods
Robbie Parker 5-1 Tony Richardson
Robbie Green 5-2 Michael Beale
Martyn Turner 5-4 Chris Mathews
Chris Aubrey 5-2 Nick Fullwell
Nathan Derry 5-3 Kelvin Hart
Terry Temple 5-4 Paul Nicholson
Coni Singh Nagi 5-1 Darren Mawer
Robert Owen 5-2 Mark Frost
Mike Norton 5-0 Dennis Smith
Steve West 5-1 James Kerwick
Matt Padgett 5-3 Alan Tabern
Aaron Turner 5-1 Tomas Seyler
Nigel Birch 5-3 Kurt Parry
Kevin McDine 5-1 Peter Evison
Prakash Jiwa 5-1 Dean Lewer
Alex Roy 5-3 Nathan Aspinall
Nigel Heydon 5-0 Stuart Harding
William O’Connor 5-3 Colin Osborne
Paul Milford 5-1 Adam Smith-Neale
Michael Barnard 5-3 Eddie Dootson
Colin Littlecott 5-2 Jason Marriott
Ricky Evans 5-1 Darren Weaver
Kirk Shepherd 5-1 John Scott
Jonny Clayton 5-1 Martin Thomas
Johnny Haines 5-4 Kevin Thomas
Ross Smith 5-0 Wayne Atwood
Chris Hartrey 5-0 Michael Blake
Kevin Dowling 5-2 Jeff Batham
Jay Foreman 5-3 Darron Brown
Wayne Jones 5-4 Ian Lever
Mark Lawrence 5-1 Steve Hine
Dave Honey 5-3 Ross Twell
Dave Honey Jnr 5-4 Mark Carter
James Wilson 5-3 Andy Jenkins
Colin Fowler 5-1 Alex Frith
Brett Claydon 5-2 Steve McNally
Chris Dobey 5-1 Jason Hogg
Andy Smith 5-2 Richie Corner
Mark Jones 5-4 Dave Ladley
Jamie Bain 5-3 Jason Wilson
Gary Stone 5-1 Paul Amos
Devon Petersen 5-1 Mark Cox
Andy Boulton 5-1 John Power
Mick Todd 5-2 Mark Walsh
Chris Quantock 5-4 Matt Dennant
Stuart Kellett 5-2 Ryan Harrington
Lee Evans 5-2 Curtis Hammond
Luke Woodhouse 5-4 Jason Lovett
Darren Johnson 5-0 Matt Clark
Mickey Mansell 5-2 Roxy-James Rodriguez
Arron Monk 5-3 Robert Parker
Robbie Green 5-2 Martyn Turner
Chris Aubrey 5-4 Nathan Derry
Coni Singh Nagi 5-3 Terry Temple
Robert Owen 5-4 Mike Norton
Steve West 5-3 Matt Padgett
Nigel Birch 5-3 Aaron Turner
Prakash Jiwa 5-0 Kevin McDine
Aley Roy 5-3 Nigel Heydon
William O’Connor 5-1 Paul Milford
Michael Barnard 5-1 Colin Littlecott
Ricky Evans 5 -2 Kirk Shepherd
Jonny Clayton 5-3 Johnny Haines
Ross Smith 5-2 Chris Hartrey
Jay Foreman 5-2 Kevin Dowling
Wayne Jones 5-4 Mark Lawrence
Dave Honey 5-1 Dave Honey Jnr
James Wilson 5-3 Colin Fowler
Chris Dobey 5-1 Brett Claydon
Andy Smith 5-3 Mark Jones
Gary Stone 5-2 Jamie Bain
Andy Boulton 5-4 Devon Petersen
Mick Todd 5-3 Chris Quantock
Stuart Kellett 5-3 Lee Evans
Darren Johnson 5-3 Luke Woodhouse
Arron Monk 5-2 Mickey Mansell
Robbie Green 5-3 Chris Aubrey
Robert Owen 5-2 Coni Singh Nagi
Steve West 5-4 Nigel Birch
Prakash Jiwa 5-1 Alex Roy
Michael Barnard 5-1 William O’Connor
Ricky Evans 5-4 Jonny Clayton
Ross Smith 5-3 Jay Foreman
Wayne Jones 5-4 Dave Honey
James Wilson 5-2 Chris Dobey
Gary Stone 5-3 Andy Smith
Andy Boulton 5-1 Mick Todd
Stuart Kellett 5-3 Darren Johnson
Robbie Green 5-1 Arron Monk
Steve West 5-3 Robert Owen
Michael Barnard 5-3 Prakash Jiwa
Ricky Evans 5-2 Ross Smith
Wayne Jones 5-4 James Wilson
Andy Boulton 5-3 Gary Stone
Stuart Kellett 5-2 Robbie Green
Steve West 5-2 Michael Barnard
Ricky Evans 5-2 Wayne Jones
Andy Boulton 5-1 Stuart Kellett
Ricky Evans 5-2 Steve West
Ricky Evans 5-4 Andy Boulton