Dimitri Van den Bergh came within a dart of becoming the first contender to register a victory in this year’s Premier League, but the Belgian admitted the experience of making his Premier League debut in front of a magnificent Rotterdam crowd was ‘unbelievable’.
Van den Bergh shared the spoils with nine-time major winner James Wade in arguably the game of the evening at the Ahoy Arena on Wednesday night, as ‘The Machine’ was denied victory despite averaging 103.35 and crashing in seven maximums.
The World Youth champion opened up an early 2-0 advantage, before
before a stoppage in play saw both players briefly leave the stage due to complaints of a breeze from Wade.
Once play resumed, Wade opened his account in 14 darts before taking out a trademark 106 finish to level proceedings, but Van den Bergh responded by converting sublime 85 and 140 checkouts to register back-to-back 12-dart legs.
For the second time in the contest Wade wiped out Van den Bergh’s two-leg cushion but the 24-year-old conjured up an inspired 121 checkout on the bull to lead once again.
Wade pinned his trusted double ten to restore parity at five apiece but then spurned four darts to secure a point, as Van den Bergh nailed the same target to move within a leg of victory. However, ‘The Machine’ regained working order in the decider to pinch a point, after ‘The Dream Maker’ missed one match dart at double seven.
“I’m a little bit disappointed because of the chances that I’ve created,” Van den Bergh told Josh’s Dartistry. “I could have had more but at the end of the day I was in the Premier League, I was there on the night so I’ve got to do what I always do, look for the positives and work with it the next time.
The Antwerp ace received tremendous backing from the sea of Orange at the Ahoy and he produced a performance worthy of the acclaim, averaging 100.73 and converting 55% of his attempts at a double. This saw him become only the second contender behind Luke Humphries to register a ton-plus average in the competition.
“It was unbelievable,” said Dimitri. “Every time when the crowd started singing, especially in my favour, every little bit of hair on my body stood up. It was unbelievable. I enjoyed every moment of it definitely, and I thank the crowd as well.”
Van den Bergh has always been renowned for producing his best form on the televised stage, having won back-to-back World Youth titles, while reaching a World Series final on debut and enjoying a stunning run to the World Championship quarter-finals in 2018.
Nevertheless, he reached his first senior Pro Tour final at Players Championship 4 last month to put himself in contention for a debut at the World Matchplay and the Belgian believes he’s making considerable strides in the game.
“I believe in myself. That’s for sure. I definitely want to be one of the players [in the Premier League] but it isn’t easy to get there, so the road is long, but I’m on the right way.
“I see myself making steps, that’s for sure. I think I’m number 14 at the moment in the Players Championship rankings, which is the highest I’ve ever been, but it also tells me that I’m capable, so I just need to keep going with what I’m doing and bring it on, that’s all I can say, bring it on.”
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC