A Clash For The Ages?

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Forty years difference, now to only be a few feet apart. Luke Littler v Raymond van Barneveld promises to be one of the most intriguing clashes of the World Championship so far, a true test of the youngster’s mettle and a sign for Barney as to whether age really is just a number.

But hidden beneath this tungsten tussle is the sign of a generational clash, a moment when a new era in the sport’s story threatens to break through. Raymond van Barneveld’s win against Phil Taylor in the 2007 World Championship final (curiously, a matter of weeks before Luke’s birth) signified more than just a changing of hands for the trophy.

It completed a PDC revolution of sorts, a moment in which the two greatest players from the two great codes were now united under one roof. And it paved the way for much else to come: the game’s exponential international growth, a prising of the PDC World Championship from Taylor’s hands and the end of the Circus Tavern age and dawn of the Palace.

Yet there was arguably a much more significant game involving a Dutchman a couple of months earlier. It was a generational clash of another period, as Michael van Gerwen defeated BDO icon Martin Adams to win the Winmau World Masters in 2006.

His hair stuck up in thinly-gelled spikes, Van Gerwen looks almost unrecognisable to now. But every bit of the raw, natural and menacing talent we see now was within the Dutchman then. His victory that day heralded the birth of a new legend, even if the gestation period would amount to several years.

There are several other similar encounters which spring to mind. The mentor v. mentee match-up that was the 1990 world final between Taylor and Eric Bristow. Taylor’s own felling at the hands of Michael Smith at the Palace in 2014. But this one presents an opportunity as much as anything for Barney himself.

When it looked as if his World Championship career had ended in late 2019 to Darin Young, it left a bitter taste in most mouths. But since returning he has yet to have a truly special victory on that stage again. Could tonight be the night?

A landmark step on the way to greatness or a temporary and nostalgic caesura in a changing of the guard? Let’s find out.


Images: PDC

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