Ian White claimed his first ever European Tour title at the Dutch Darts Championship after recording an 8-5 victory over Ricky Evans on a dramatic day of action in Maastricht on Sunday evening.
‘The Diamond’ has been a prolific performer in floor tournaments over recent years, but now he finally possesses a ranking title on the big stage to add to his collection. The 48-year-old claimed a number of high-profile scalps en route to glory, to clinch his 10th PDC ranking title and his first European Tour title at the 62nd attempt.
Evans showed his class throughout the weekend and moves up to 52nd in the world as a result of his exploits, but he was denied a dream victory in his maiden European Tour Final by the third seed, who held his nerve to secure the £25,000 winner’s prize.
There was little to choose between the pair in terms of the statistics. White averaged 89.18, landed three maximums and converted 38% of his attempts at double, whilst Evans averaged 89.23, crashed in four 180’s and boasted a 28% checkout conversion rate, but the Stoke star’s expert timing proved decisive.
White drew first blood in the final with a 14-dart hold on tops, but Evans replied with a tidy 13-darter, before capitalising on two missed darts at double from ‘The Diamond’ to break throw via D10.
The pair traded maximums in a high-quality fourth leg, but White broke back in style; completing a clinical two-dart 81 kill for an 11-darter. The Stoke star then regained the initiative with a 16-darter on D20, until Evans restored parity at three apiece with a comfortable hold culminating on tops.
The Kettering ace then fired in his second maximum to leave 20 after just 12 darts to create a potential break opportunity, although White conjured up a nerveless 96 outshot to hold throw, before extending his advantage to 5-3 courtesy of a 14-dart break on D16.
Evans continued to battle valiantly and reduced the arrears to 5-4 with a 15-dart break on D8, but the 28-year-old then squandered two darts at double to level, despite landing his third 180 earlier in the leg. White took full advantage to restore his two-leg cushion with a 14-dart break on D10, before a dramatic eleventh leg ensued.
‘The Diamond’ spurned NINE darts at double to hold throw but Evans was unable to take advantage; busting D1 on three separate visits to the board. The nerves were tangible from both men, before the Stoke star eventually sank D1 to hold throw and move within a leg of glory.
‘Rapid’ was scoring strongly and followed up his fourth maximum by pinning tops to close out a 13-dart hold and preserve his hopes, yet any hopes of a fightback were soon thwarted. Despite Evans leaving himself on D8 after 15 darts, White followed up his second maximum with a fine 63 kill on tops to clinch the title.
The world number 11 performed brilliantly throughout to reach just his second ever European Tour Final, continuing from where he left off on Saturday evening. ‘The Diamond’ had recovered from 4-2 behind to defeat Arron Monk 6-4 in round-two with a 102 average, and he was in equally impressive form on finals day.
White breezed through to the quarter-finals with a commanding 6-2 victory over Mervyn King in his opening game of the afternoon. The opening two legs were shared, before ‘The Diamond’ won five of the next six legs; averaging 99.67, firing in three maximums and converting 43% of his attempts at double to cap off a quality display.
This set up a last eight showdown against his fellow Stoke star Adrian Lewis, who edged out Josh Payne in a deciding-leg to seal his quarter-final berth. However, White was in rampant mood; averaging 99.17 and boasting a 50% checkout success rate to dismantle the two-time world champion 6-1, who missed seven of his eight darts at double.
The big names kept on coming for White, as he faced world number two Peter Wright in the semi-finals, after ‘Snakebite’ followed up a 6-1 thumping of Dave Chisnall by battling past Simon Whitlock. Nevertheless, six years to the day since White reached his first and last European Tour final, he produced the goods once more.
Wright stormed into an early 3-0 lead and appeared poised to reach his third European Tour final of the season, but White responded magnificently. ‘The Diamond’ averaged 98.41, crashed in six maximums and converted 42% of his doubles as he won seven of the final eight legs to prevail 7-4; completing the win with a sumptuous 11-dart leg.
Meanwhile, Evans also enjoyed a dream run in Maastricht to seal a spot at the upcoming World Grand Prix. He kicked off Sunday’s proceedings with an emphatic 6-2 win over William O’Connor, who couldn’t replicate the performance that saw him thrash Michael van Gerwen 6-1 on Saturday evening.
‘Rapid’ then took on Joe Cullen in the quarter-finals, with ‘The Rockstar’ appearing in his eighth European Tour quarter-final this year. However, Evans prevailed in a dramatic deciding-leg- surviving three match darts to prevail with a 91.81 average, four maximums and a 35% checkout conversion rate.
This confirmed Evans’ place in his maiden European Tour semi-final, where he took on world number 86 Ritchie Edhouse, who defeated Ross Smith and Kyle Anderson to earn the biggest pay-day of his career to date. However, the world number 57 Evans triumphed, averaging 92.03 and registering five maximums in the process.
The opening four legs all went with throw, before the former World Youth finalist won four of the next five legs to move to the cusp of victory. Edhouse won consecutive legs to reduce the arrears to 6-5, but Evans held his nerve to seal his progression with a sublime 12-darter.
Schedule of Play
Sunday September 9
Afternoon Session (1pm local time, 12pm BST)
Ricky Evans 6-2 William O’Connor
Joe Cullen 6-4 Daryl Gurney
Ritchie Edhouse 6-2 Ross Smith
Kyle Anderson 6-1 Jeffrey de Graaf
Peter Wright 6-1 Dave Chisnall
Simon Whitlock 6-4 Darren Johnson
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Josh Payne
Ian White 6-2 Mervyn King
Evening Session (7.15pm local time, 6.15pm BST)
Ricky Evans 6-5 Joe Cullen
Ritchie Edhouse 6-4 Kyle Anderson
Peter Wright 6-4 Simon Whitlock
Ian White 6-1 Adrian Lewis
Ricky Evans 7-5 Ritchie Edhouse
Ian White 7-4 Peter Wright
Ian White 8-5 Ricky Evans