Scott Mitchell joined some friends for a drink after winning his match at the 2019 Lakeside, the 2015 Champion thanked them for coming and was met with the reply:
“I didn’t come to see you I came to check out the stage I will be playing on next year!”
Ben Hazel, who uttered the above words to one of his darting mentors, first came to many darts fans’ attention during a superb debut run in the BDO World Championships at the 02 Indigo in 2020. The Bedfordshire thrower will be looking to go even further as the Championship returns to its storied home at the Lakeside.
Mr. Ben, as Hazel is known, will begin his campaign on Saturday against popular New Zealander Haupai Puha. Ben thinks the game may well prove to be a highlight of the opening day, both players are in good recent form and generate considerable crowd support:
“I have played Haupai once before during a remote event in Lockdown and I watched him at the Ally Pally. It could be a great atmosphere, he seems a popular player, and last time the commentators said I was the best supported at the 02”
It seems that the delivery driver will have plenty of support this year as well:
“There are at least fifty people that I know personally who have bought tickets just for my session and that’s without any others supporting me at all!”
Judging by the reaction to Puha’s appearance at the PDC World Championships it’s a fair bet he will also have garnered plenty of support and we could be in for a real Saturday afternoon treat. Chances are we may have to go down to the wire though!
During his run to the last 16 in 2020, the now 31-year-old Hazel defeated dangerous North American Joe ‘Chainsaw’ Chaney before seeing off former World Trophy winner Gary Robson. In both, he needed to claim the deciding set.
Ben’s last 16 tie vs Chris Sandman was another last set thriller, with the final set taking 8 legs to be decided, in the Dutchman’s favour.
Darts World got the impression, during our exclusive conversation, that Ben believes his matches would be shorter if he played to his full potential:
“Winning easier would be handy”, he laughed “But, it would be really nice to get up there and just show how I can really play, that’s the big thing.”
Ben would see it as the ideal way to pay back the tremendous support he receives from his brothers Wayne and Jamie, who have cheered him on and driven him all over the UK and Europe in pursuit of his darting exploits if he could go even further than in 2020 and on a stage, he has always wanted to grace:
“I used to watch it on TV with my dad, it’s been a long-standing ambition, I even told Scott Mitchell…”
Words: CJ Harris-Hulme
Featured Image: Chris Sargeant (Tip Top Pics)
In article image: MODUS Live League
For more on Lakeside 2022 (and the other 2021 World Championships) download the inaugural issue of Darts World Extra
Darts World Magazine (Issue 578) and 2022 bundle offers
Subscribe or purchase your copy