Review: Raymond van Barneveld wins inaugural Ipswich Darts Masters at Corn Exchange

The inaugural Ipswich Darts Masters at the Corn Exchange on Saturday night.

The inaugural Ipswich Darts Masters at the Corn Exchange on Saturday night. - Credit: Archant

It sold out in 27 minutes and it was easy to see why.

The inaugural Ipswich Darts Masters at the Corn Exchange on Saturday night.

The inaugural Ipswich Darts Masters at the Corn Exchange on Saturday night. - Credit: Archant

Some of the world’s best darts players took part in the inaugural Ipswich Darts Masters at the Corn Exchange on Saturday night in front of hundreds of spirited, but not overly rowdy, spectators. A snaking Congo line formed in response to various 1980s disco hits being blasted out before the final summed up the ever-present party atmosphere.

Raymond van Barneveld, the towering, endearing Dutchman and five times champion of the world, justified his uncontested billing as the star attraction by winning the tournament at the end of the night shortly before 11pm.

But the event had started some five hours before that for VIP guests, who were treated to a special meet and greet session with the darts players. They included the formidable James Wade, the flying Dutchman Vincent van der Voort, Ipswich’s own Mervyn King and darts legend Bobby George. The players were patient and pleasant, happy to have a quick chat and pose for a photo for the elite guests.

A number of audience members either won a raffle or outbid each other in an auction, organised by our MC for the night and renowned sports commentator John Gwynne, who was professional and showcased an old-school, Northern wit, to play a leg against a professional.

The inaugural Ipswich Darts Masters at the Corn Exchange on Saturday night.

The inaugural Ipswich Darts Masters at the Corn Exchange on Saturday night. - Credit: Archant

The highlight from these series of fun exhibition matches was undoubtedly local hero Shane Lee-Amies defeating van der Voort, the world number 16 and two-time world championship quarter-finalist. In dramatic scenes, and after his captivating Peter Wright inspired entrance on to the stage, a sharp 140 set-up a finish and he took out Double 16 first time, with his last dart, to leave van der Voort, who had taken the match 100% seriously, looking rather sheepish.

But then came what we came to see: the world’s best players going head-to-head. With the world championships starting in a couple of weeks, the players treated the event as a very useful warm-up. Mervyn King defeated Norwich’s James Hubbard, who was booed out of the building, before being knocked out by Barneveld, who went on to defeat van der Voort, winner over James Wade, in the final to cap a fantastic night of live entertainment.

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