‘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.