World darts champion Raymond van Barneveld will visit Johannesburg later this month as part of the biggest weekend in the sport’s history in South Africa. Van Barneveld will be joined by three other top professionals ? 13-time World Champion Phil Taylor, current Stan James World Matchplay champion James Wade and world number four Terry Jenkins – at the Emperors Palace Casino on 29 and 30 September. Over R400 000 will be on offer over the weekend in the two richest tournaments ever held on South African soil.
The Emperors Palace PDC SA Open, on Saturday, September 29, is open to any South African citizen, with the winner earning a place in the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship in December and also November’s new PartyBets.com Grand Slam of Darts.
That means a guaranteed minimum ?8,000 (R115 000 approx) prize for the SA Open Champion, plus a further R74 000 for the players who finish in the last 16 onwards.
The four semi-inalists from the SA Open will qualify to take on van Barneveld, Taylor, Wade and Jenkins on Sunday in the South African Masters, which will be screened live on SuperSport and has a ?15 000 (R215 000 approx) prize fund.
Each South African will meet a PDC star in the first round of that event, with the winners progressing to the semifinals and final.
“It will be an exciting weekend,” said Dutch superstar van Barneveld, who won his fifth World Championship in January.
“This will be only my second visit to South Africa and I’m looking forward to it. I played in Durban in 1999 so it will be good to see how darts has developed since.
“Wynand Havenga did really well when he played in the World Championship last year and I’m sure there are many players in South Africa would like to follow him and play in the biggest tournaments in the world.”
The Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship will take place from 17 December-1 January at London’s Alexandra Palace, with van Barneveld defending the title he picked up this year with a 7-6 victory over Taylor in arguably the greatest game in the sport’s history.
The pair could meet again in Johannesburg, and van Barneveld added: “We have a great rivalry and enjoy playing each other.
“I think we bring out the best in each other too, and James and Terry have had fantastic years too so it will be a competitive tournament.”