Jeffrey de Zwaan delivered the performance of the World Darts Championship so far to dump out 10th seed Dave Chisnall in a seven-set thriller, before declaring that he can follow in the footsteps of five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld.
De Zwaan secured his place in the last 16 at Alexandra Palace with a mesmerising display against Chisnall on the final night of action before the Christmas break – averaging 106.09, landing seven maximums, posting 31 scores of 140+ and converting 54% of his attempts at double.
The Dutch star had won five of his previous seven meetings against the five-time major finalist and he came out on top in a thrilling battle that saw all seven sets go against throw. Chisnall played his part in a classic, averaging 102 and firing in ten 180’s, but it wasn’t enough to down De Zwaan.
‘The Black Cobra’ punished an indifferent start from Chisnall to clinch the opening set, but the Englishman responded by sinking a two-dart 72 combination in a second set decider to level up proceedings at one set apiece.
De Zwaan regained the initiative by wrapping up set three without reply but Chisnall repeated the feat in set four – averaging 113 and hammering in 11 and 12-dart legs against the throw. The obscene standard continued in the fifth – back-to-back 11-darters from De Zwaan saw him move 3-2 ahead.
The 23-year-old had the advantage of throw in the sixth as he closed in on victory, but Chisnall responded with a roof-raising 161 checkout to break throw and subsequently force a seventh set decider, as he aimed to reach the fourth round of the PDC World Championship for just the third time.
Many more experienced professionals would have buckled in the face of Chisnall’s skin-saving brilliance, but De Zwaan demonstrated his class with a blistering deciding-set display – he registered a stunning 10-dart hold, sandwiched in between 76 and 78 checkouts, to wrap up an epic triumph.
“It felt amazing to play like that and to beat a great player in Dave Chisnall,” said De Zwaan. “I wasn’t actually playing that well in practice but the confidence was there on stage and that’s what you must have to beat a player like Dave.
“I know if I play like that all the time I can be World Champion, but I don’t want to think about that yet. Darts is all in the moment so you can’t expect to average 106 in every game so we’ll see what happens.”
It’s been a steady year of progress for De Zwaan, who has risen up to 23rd on the PDC Order of Merit after scooping his second ranking title in May. However, he hasn’t truly delivered on the big stage since reaching the World Matchplay semi-finals in July 2018.
Ironically Chisnall was one of his victims in that tournament – ‘The Black Cobra’ also defeated world No 1 Michael van Gerwen and two-time world champion Adrian Lewis en route to reaching the last four, where he succumbed to eventual champion Gary Anderson.
De Zwaan also impressed at Alexandra Palace 12 months ago, despite suffering a second round exit against defending champion Rob Cross on the opening night. The 23-year-old averaged 106.09 on that occasion – exactly the same figure he posted against Chisnall.
That freakish statistic indicates that the prodigiously-talented Dutchman feels extremely comfortable on this stage but the significant difference from this year to last was the timing – when it came to the crunch in the respective sets, De Zwaan delivered to some tune against Chizzy.
The Rijswijk-born star demonstrated terrific maturity against the St Helen’s star and his reward is a last 16 showdown against former finalist Peter Wright – who overcame Japanese World Cup star Seigo Asada 4-2 in a gruelling affair that featured seven ton-plus checkouts.
The game was delayed by a power cut after Gary Anderson produced an electric comeback to thwart Ryan Searle. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ trailed 3-1 but reeled off nine of the next 11 legs to triumph with a 99.85 average and keep his bid for a third World Championship crown alive.
However, Monday night belonged to a devastating De Zwaan. He was due to take on his former mentor Van Barneveld in the second round, although that Dutch Derby never materialised after Barney was beaten in his final competitive event by Darin Young in the opening round.
Van Barneveld enjoyed a glittering career spanning three decades and lifted five World Championship titles in 28 attempts – reaching eight finals and 14 semi-finals in the process. However, De Zwaan believes he has the potential to follow in the footsteps of the doyen of Dutch darts.
“With a 106 average I think I show what I can do. Now I’m number two in the Netherlands and maybe I could be the next Raymond van Barneveld, but I don’t think about that. I just want to play my game and we’ll see what happens.”
If De Zwaan can enjoy even a fraction of Van Barneveld’s success than he will have achieved great things, but the 23-year-old is already a world-class talent in his own right. He’s got the ability and now he’s developing the experience to boot.
Peter Wright will provide a tough examination of his credentials, although if he can maintain this type of form against ‘Snakebite’ and throughout the tournament, the young Dutchman could yet have a very big say on the destination of the Sid Waddell Trophy come New Year’s Day.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC