It was another night which will live long in the memory of Glen Durrant. A comprehensive 16-7 win against James Wade ensured there would be at least one more chapter to be written in Durrant’s debut World Matchplay campaign.
Durrant, the reigning three-time BDO world champion, will face Michael Smith for a place in Sunday’s final. So much for all the talk of a showdown between Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson on Saturday night.
It has so far been a week at the seaside to remember for Durrant. His maiden appearance in the World Matchplay began last Sunday, when he eased past Adrian Lewis, a two-time world champion, 10-4 in the first round.
A 101 average, the highest posted by a winner on the opening weekend, sent out an early message to the rest of the field and, indeed, to his next opponent, Michael van Gerwen.
A rare clash between the two holders of the PDC and BDO World Championships was set for Tuesday night, the first since van Gerwen took on Stephen Bunting at the 2014 World Grand Prix.
Despite his indifferent form heading into this year’s World Matchplay, van Gerwen arrived at the Winter Gardens still as the pre-tournament favourite. Durrant, meanwhile, was priced at 40/1 – the joint-11th most likely winner, alongside Mensur Suljovic and Dave Chisnall.
One of Durrant’s biggest strengths, particularly during his dominant reign in the BDO, was being a good frontrunner. And against van Gerwen, he held a healthy advantage at 8-5, before the world number one hit back with a run of four legs to edge in front at 9-8.
Beating a former world champion and pushing the best player on the planet close would have been regarded as more than a satisfactory first attempt at the World Matchplay. But Durrant had other ideas.
Durrant won five of the next seven legs, while under the most intense pressure, to win 13-11 and basked in the glory afterwards, as the Winter Gardens crowd stayed behind after a marathon session to serenade their new hero.
Two days on from that unforgettable success, Durrant was back on the stage for a quarter-final against Wade, the man who, after all the second-round carnage, was the only former World Matchplay winner left standing.
While Wade played nowhere near his best, Durrant capitalised with an assured display which bellied his relative inexperience playing on the PDC’s biggest stages. A nine-leg winning margin, bookended with a stylish 137 checkout on two double tops, put the exclamation mark on yet another eye-catching result for the Blackpool debutant.
The match fell way short of matching the drama from Tuesday’s clash of the world champions, but that did not deter the crowd from once again embracing Durrant. The crowd insisted they were ‘walking in a Durrant wonderland’ and you got the feeling Durrant would have happily stayed up on that stage all night, if only for a longer opportunity to try and let it all sink in.
Nathan Aspinall’s win at the UK Open in March, the most recent first-time PDC major winner, was refreshing to see. Although the multi-board setup at Minehead meant we did not really get to follow Aspinall’s breakthrough weekend closely until the final day.
The beauty of the World Matchplay, as a nine-day long event on Sky, sees every match shown live, and we have been able to follow Durrant’s dream debut run in the event every step of the way.
Durrant is a connoisseur of darts, his idol is the 16-time world champion Phil Taylor, who the World Matchplay trophy is named after. Only this year did Durrant go full-time as a darts professional. He has juggled work alongside the darts for many years, and even in his interviews this week, it still comes across just how much this all means to him. Two more wins this weekend and all of Durrant’s dreams will become a reality.
Listen to Glen Durrant on the Weekly Dartscast podcast after he won his tour card onto the PDC circuit back in January via the player below
Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC