SOME of the world’s greatest darts players and their fans are at EventCity in Manchester this week for the World Darts Trophy, which will be televised throughout by British Eurosport.
From Thursday (February 26) to Sunday the venue will see action from the world’s top 32 men and 16 ladies including Redditch’s Zoe Jones as they battle it out for their share of the £50,500 prize pot.
The men’s competition is headed by the newly-crowned Lakeside champion Scott ‘Scotty Dog’ Mitchell and his opponent from the epic final, the three-time BDO world champion and recent Dutch Open champion Martin ‘Wolfie’ Adams.
‘The Count’ Ted Hankey – this year’s wildcard and a real crowd-puller – is making a welcome return to the BDO big stage when he takes on 2013 Lakeside world champion Scott Waites, who has to date won 19 BDO ranking titles.
Hankey is one of the most colourful characters in darts and is hoping the World Darts Trophy will kick-start his game, which has brought him so much success over the last decade.
The first men’s player to the oche is Tony O’Shea who, together with Darryl Fitton, will be competing on home turf and are sure to entertain the Manchester crowd.
The pick of the ladies’ first round matches sees Deta Hedman – winner of nine BDO world ranking tournaments in 2014 – against her rival Trina Gulliver MBE, the nine-time world champion.
On Friday ladies’ world champion Lisa Ashton opens her account against Maud Jansson from Sweden. Ashton is competing on home territory and defended her crown at Lakeside this year where she registered the highest ever Ladies’ World Championship finish of 156.
Jones, nicknamed the Pink Panther, will see the tournament as another opportunity for her to continue her excellent progress, having made her Lakeside debut in January.
The 22-year-old sixth seed plays on Friday against Holland’s Anneke Kuijten and will be favourite to progress and earn a potential crack against the elite players of women’s darts.
The number one seed in the ladies’ event is Russia’s three-time Lakeside champion Anastasia Dobromyslova, who defeated Jones in the quarter-finals at the 2015 BDO World Championship.
However, over the past eight months world number six Jones has reached seven semi-finals, finished runner-up in the Swedish and Belgium Opens and won the England Matchplay for the second time in three years, beating Dobromyslova and Gulliver on the way to the title.
After defeating nine-time world champion Gulliver 6-1 in the final, Jones went on to win the Turkish Open a month later.