Simon qualifies for Euro event on night of high drama
PLYMOUTH darts professional, Simon Stevenson had to go through a plethora of emotions on Friday night in his quest to try and qualify for both the European Darts Open and the German Darts Championship, the first two of 13 European events which will be contested throughout the year.
Staged at the Barnsley Metrodome, only 18 players would qualify from each event and Stevenson was in the mix from the very start.
In his first match in European Tour UK Qualifier One he was up against David Ladley and made his intentions known as early as the opening leg which he finished in 15 with a checkout of 130.
Stevenson then doubled his advantage with a win in 14, only for the Scunthorpe thrower to level at 2-2.
The Mirror Man edged in front again when finishing a 15-darter with a kill of 109 and went 4-2 up with a leg in 13.
Ladley pulled another one back but two more legs in 14 and 17 was enough for Simon to prevail 6-3.
His next opponent was Nathan Rafferty, but he failed to last the pace as Stevenson won 6-1 which included a 15-dart leg which he finished at the first time of asking from 100.
Now into the board final, and only Ryan Meikle stood between Stevenson and a qualifying spot in the European Darts Open.
Simon began well by taking the first two legs in 14 only for the Ipswich thrower to reduce the deficit when finishing a 15-dart leg with a kill of 101.
Stevenson took the next when checking out from 157 for a win in 15 and then made it 4-1 with yet another 15-darter.
But Stevenson’s 22-year-old opponent took three on the bounce in 12, 19 and 16 to tie at 4-4 and the next two were shared as well to take this enthralling encounter into a deciding leg.
Simon had the better start and needed 60 after just 12 darts but could not capitalise, despite three further visits, and Meikle took it in 19.
It was a cruel twist of fate for the Plymouth thrower, but this is professional sport and he had to put his emotions to one side as he took to the oche for European Tour UK Qualifier Two.
Stevenson’s first opponent came in the shape of Joe Murnan, a player he hadn’t played since 2016 when he won both of their only two meetings.
Simon went 2-0 up taking the first two legs in 13 and although the Bolton marksman pulled one back Stevenson stretched his advantage to 4-1 with legs in 16 and 18.
His third 13-darter of the match made it 5-2 before The Mirror Man wrapped up a 6-3 victory.
Stevenson made another good start when he won the opening leg against his next opponent Prakash Jiwa in 18 with an outshot of 113 and the score stood at 2-2 after the first four were shared.
The Plymouth marksman then won three on the bounce in 16, 14 and 14 to lead 5-2 and although Jiwa took the next two, Stevenson won the 10th leg for a 6-4 victory.
The Mirror Man was now at the same stage he was a few hours earlier, his board final and just one player standing in his way of a European ticket.
That player was Ireland’s Brendan Dolan who Stevenson had met twice before, with each player boasting one win and one defeat.
Simon could not have wished for a better start when he clinched the opening leg in 12, but the 45-year-old from County Fermanagh won the next three in 18, 18 and 13 for a 3-1 lead.
But that was the last leg that the Irishman was to win.
Stevenson stood his ground and never gave his opponent an inch as he reeled off the next five in 16, 14, 18, 14 and 16 for an emphatic victory.
That win made up for his earlier disappointment and he will be in the line-up of the German Darts Championship which will be contested in Hildesheim over the weekend of March 29-31.
Throughout Stevenson’s six matches, he hit 14 maximums and achieved an overall average of 90.90, his best being 94.7 in his win over Dolan.