Wayne Mardle claimed the inaugural PDC Walk-On World Cup title on Thursday evening with victory over five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld.
The PDC devised the competition last weekend in a bid to compensate for the lack of darting action due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The tournament was extremely popular with the darting public, who had the opportunity to determine who has the best entrance in world darts.
The tournament featured current stars and former professionals, with fans encouraged to cast their votes via a series of social media polls. There was an incredible response for Thursday’s final between Mardle and Van Barneveld, with almost 20,000 people having their say.
The Dutchman notoriously enjoyed the better of the pair’s rivalry in their playing days, winning 12 of their 17 competitive meetings. However, Mardle wasn’t to be denied on this occasion, as the sport’s great entertainer prevailed with 56% of the votes.
Mardle’s magnificent ‘Hawaii Five-0’ walk-on still delights fans on the exhibition circuit and ahead of his showdown with Van Barneveld, he treated his legion of fans to another brilliant ‘garden walk-on’, accompanied by his dog Sherlock.
Barney also got into the spirit of things with his own trademark intense persona as ‘Eye of The Tiger’ blared out in his living room, although despite being arguably the most popular player in planet darts, the doyen of Dutch darts was unable to topple an unstoppable Mardle.
The Sky Sports expert has seen off three of the sport’s greats en route to glory, having accounted for 16-time world champion Phil Taylor in the second round, before dumping out world number one Michael van Gerwen in the quarter-finals.
Van Barneveld had claimed the scalp of five major champions to reach Thursday’s showpiece, defeating Adrian Lewis, Mensur Suljovic, Simon Whitlock, Daryl Gurney and Peter Wright, but even his Barney Army weren’t able to parachute him to Walk-On World Cup glory.
The duo were in jovial spirits throughout the course of the final, with Van Barneveld teasing a potential return at Qualifying School in 2021 if he were to triumph, only for Mardle to produce a brilliant social media campaign en route to glory.
The pair have also vowed to recreate their opponents’ entrances on Friday, with Mardle set to replicate Barney’s iconic ‘Eye of The Tiger’ walk-on, whilst the legendary Dutchman will don Mardle’s Hawaiian shirt in what promises to be an unmissable prospect.
Premier League Darts title sponsor Unibet were offering an outright market under their ‘Odds Boost’ section on site, and although Mardle was a 1/2 favourite heading into the final, he was 6/1 ahead of the tournament. Unibet have also pledged to donate all profits to Parkinson’s UK charity.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC