‘Long’ Final & Improbable Comeback = Canadian Glory

by Tom Beresford, CDC Correspondent

Jim Long produced heroics of the highest order to claim the Event #2 title on the Magic Darts Championship Darts Circuit on Sunday evening.

The Canadian representative at the 2019 William Hill World Darts Championship produced a truly astounding comeback to deny Darin Young a sweep in Philadelphia and claimed his first CDC title after two years on North America’s professional tour.

Entering the final on a high note after seeing off the talented Joe Huffman in a convincing 6 – 0 whitewash in the semis, fortune quickly changed for Long as Saturday’s Event #1 champion, Darin Young, mopped up the opening five legs of the final in top form – including a 13-dart leg alongside a pair of 15s – and seemed certain to claim a weekend double to open up the 2019 CDC Tour.

Then things got interesting.

With his back against the wall, Long produced a 13-dart leg with the darts and then took advantage of some sloppy play by Darin to break throw and plant the seeds of doubt that the match was all but over. Young failed to gain scoring momentum after leading off with 100 in the 8th leg and Jim found the double-18 for a 16-darter, following that with legs of 14 and 13 to level the match at five and putting all the pressure on his opponent to claim the last leg with the throw. Darin did get three clear at finishing 56 in the decider, but missed the first dart low and was forced to use the second to set-up a one-dart opportunity at 32 that landed just outside the D-16 wire. That would be his last trip to the line of the day as Long easily cleaned up 48 in two darts to seal the massive comeback victory.

Sunday’s final was the first loss in 11 consecutive matches for Darin, who was on fantastic form again for most of the day, taking out Dan Lauby in the last 16 followed by Ross Snook in the quarterfinals and then Alex Reyes to book his date with Long, dropping a total of only four legs in that span. Jim’s road to the final was a bit rougher as he survived two matches that went to the decider: 5-4 against Jason Brandon in the last 32 and then a thrilling and pressure-packed 6-5 triumph over countryman Gary Mawson in the quarterfinals.

Following the victory, Long spoke with CDC CEO Peter Citera: “It’s (the victory) not quite sunk in yet. I was really out of it down 5-0. I missed a few opportunities, but Darin was just deadly, and it got to 5-0 and I was just hoping to win a few legs.”

Long also added his thoughts on going 5-0 behind in the final: “At that point, it’s easy to assume that you’re probably going to lose and just relax, play and do your best. Earlier on, I missed a key shot, and there was so much pressure on that shot. I thought about Dave (Richardson) being 3-0 ahead in Saturday’s final, and when I was 3-0 down I just thought – c’mon Let’s win the next six legs on Darin, but I had to wait until it was 5-0 Darin. [Laughs]… it was a tale of two matches, the first five to him, and the next six to me.”

When asked about his ‘dream’ debut at Alexandra Palace in December at the PDC World Darts Championship, Jim went on to say: “It was pretty crazy, honestly. People ask me if I had nightmares about the D20 that I missed, and I didn’t at all. I know that I would’ve had an opportunity to go into the third round if I’d have took out that 72… I didn’t realize (all the support) until I came home to Canada, and I talked to everybody who watched it, and gathered to watch it. There were parties with like 40 people at an apartment building in Ontario, and the streets were full. It didn’t occur to me when I was there playing. It would’ve been great to register another win and spend Christmas time together waiting for me to play my next match. It’s incredible, and the best time you’ll ever have.”

Philadelphia also produced a great “coming-out” weekend for many of the qualifiers. Canadian Kiley Edmunds was highly impressive over the first two events as he reached back-to-back Quarter-Finals and American plastic-tip phenom Alex Reyes turned heads also as he reached the Semi-Finals. Both days of action saw seeded players drop early and often to some new faces on the Circuit.

Overall, it was a highly successful opening weekend on the 2019 Magic Darts Championship Darts Circuit, with some excellent darts provided. It’s now on to the next weekend in Ontario in May, which should be an excellent weekend of action that includes the first Junior and Evolution Tour events. Ontario is a hotbed of top darting talent, and fans should be looking forward to another entertaining series of clashes on the live stream and DartConnect.

For complete results/statistics on event #2, please visit https://tv.dartconnect.com/matchlist/cdc19me2.

Young Reigns in Philadelphia

by Tom Beresford, CDC Correspondent

It was a banner day for Darin Young at the Columbia Social Club in Philadelphia as the 2019 Magic Darts Championship Darts Circuit kicked off in exciting fashion.

‘Big Daddy’ was consistent in his play over the course of the day in Philadelphia as he averaged 88.3 over six matches to claim his fifth CDC title in what was likely the most competitive field for the North American Tour to date.

Young dropped just one leg in his opening three victories, easily taking out some top competition in Jim Newman (5-1), Jeremiah Millar (5-0) and Joseph Huffman (5-0) to advance to the Quarter-Finals.

The eventual champion’s quarter-Final clash with Joe Chaney was arguably his toughest test on the day.

Chaney moved into a fantastic position as he opened up a 4-1 lead to put Darin on the brink of a disappointing exit but, with a mixture of fortune and consistency, Young managed to claw his way back by reeling off five consecutive legs to claim the 6-4 victory. Chaney missed many key opportunities to see the match out, and Young converted those chances expertly to move into the last four.

In the Semi-Finals, Young came up against another strong competitor in ‘Soldier’ Leonard Gates. It was a closely contested affair – as you’d expect from two of the strongest players in the field with eight CDC titles between them. There was no separating the pair in the opening stages as they traded legs through the first 8. With the match level at four legs apiece Young found another gear, banging in legs of 14 and 16 darts respectively to run out a 6-4 winner and book his place in the final.

The final featured longtime CDC veteran Young against one of the strongest players in the qualifying field in Dave Richardson, competing in his first event on the Circuit. Richardson, the Scottish-born star who now resides in Ontario, Canada, produced some fantastic finishes of his own over the course of the event to get to the ultimate test – including kicking off the day with a 5-0 whitewash over the 2019 PDC World Championship’s U.S. representative, Chuck Puleo, with a 92.8 average. From that point on, however, Dave was under pressure, advancing to the final by defeating Chicago’s Joe Beecroft, fellow Canadian Kiley Edmunds (who averaged 105 in the qualifiers to book his spot the main event) and 2018 Continental Cup Champion, Gary Mawson, in last-leg deciders.

In the final, it was Richardson that flew out of the traps as he moved into a 3-0 lead with a trio of impressive legs on the trot (17, 15 & 13 darts respectively). But, ‘Big Daddy’ remained calm and focused on the task at hand, once again finding another gear at the most opportune moment and reeling off six legs on the trot to deny Richardson a dream ‘debut’ win. Young’s finishing was exemplary in the six-leg onslaught to glory as ‘Big Daddy’ enjoyed checkouts of 100, 97 and 80 to claim event one on the 2019 Magic Darts Championship Darts Circuit and putting more distance between himself and the rest of the field on the CDC two-year Order of Merit.

Overall, It was a fantastic start to 2019 on the Tour, and the bar is certainly being raised with the CDC/PDC partnership in full effect. Just looking at the number of great players that made round one exits from the competition – Chuck Puleo, Larry Butler, John Part, Danny Lauby and Timmy Nicoll are just some notables – it’s obvious that the best in North America are coming to play in 2019 and the fields are very likely to be the best competition that the continent has seen in decades.

For all the results from Event #1, please visit https://tv.dartconnect.com/matchlist/cdc19me1