Dirk van Duijvenbode on Dutch darts, the Autumn Series and hardcore music

If there is anyone who 2020 has treated kindly, it is Dirk van Duijvenbode. Despite being denied of competitive arrows like the rest of the darts fraternity for a number of months, he began the year in the form of his life, reaching the semi-final of the Belgian Darts Championship (the only European Tour event held this year to date) and a Players Championship semi-final. How frustrating was it to have this paused by a worldwide pandemic? “I’ve performed better than I did in the years before 2020, so for me it was very disappointing that it came to a stop due to the Coronavirus,” Dirk said. “But I’m trying to take the positive out of it and hopefully the events where I may qualify for will be organised so the year could still be good.”

And Dirk will feel the reward for his hard work and successes this year in the upcoming Autumn Series, where he will be seeded in a floor event for the first time. He is already in good standing to make the World Grand Prix. “I’m very excited about it as I always thought it would be a very hard goal to reach so I’m very pleased that I made the seedings. I am looking forward to the rest of the season and I hope to qualify for a few TV events along the way.”

For van Duijvenbode, it has been a long journey to the upper reaches of the sport, which began as a youth. “When I was young, we used to have a dartboard which we placed in a round chair and played darts on. I always enjoyed it but the board went away and I didn’t think about darts for a long while. I was probably somewhere between 6 and 8 years old.”

Dirk is set to be seeded for the Autumn Series

And ‘The Titan’ has developed his game in a country rich with darting heritage and success. The Netherlands has produced some of the world’s leading stars, including of course the world number one Michael van Gerwen and five-times world champion Raymond van Barneveld. “Growing up, I wasn’t thinking of becoming a professional darts player as I started playing darts when I was 14/15. However when I started playing darts I think I benefitted a lot from the early success of Raymond van Barneveld. He was the first darts player from the Netherlands that really did well on the televised events and he is probably responsible for a huge percentage of people playing darts in our country.”

In one of the more formative experiences of Dirk’s career, he faced the Dutch superstar ‘Barney’ in the first round of the 2016 PDC World Championship, his first and, to date, only world championship. “When I started to play darts seriously, my goal was always to reach the World Championship. Then when you finally reach this goal you play the man who was the reason you started playing darts. So that was all a nice experience. However, there are some other things with this match I don’t like to look back on.”

The PDC star has the unusual task of balancing his darts playing with a job on an aubergine farm. He told me a little bit about his work, “I work in the office doing things like administration and things for certifications etc. It’s easy to combine it with darts as my bosses are very cooperative and I can take time off whenever I want as long as I finish my work.”

Dirk is following in the footsteps of a number of great Dutch darts players, including five-times world champion Raymond van Barneveld

In terms of his tour career, the 28-year-old first gained a place on the Pro Tour back in 2016 by virtue of his ranking. This came following 3 prior attempts at Q-School, and was an important moment in the thrower’s career, “I played in Q-School 2015 but didn’t gain a tour card. Because I was high in the ranking of Q-School and I made the Worlds and Europeans, it wasn’t hard to make the top 64 (I believe I already was top 64 before playing in the Worlds). So because I had a good year, it wasn’t a huge surprise.”

Dirk has since suffered a drop out of the PDC Pro Tour on two occasions. The gruelling competition that is Q-School is often a test of character and willpower, and in coming through it twice, the Dutchman showed his class. What does he make of the event? “A lot of people going in to Q-School can play very well. I think Q-School is a big mental competition as everyone has dreams and goals but you can’t start to reach them unless you get a tour card. I think that’s a big reason why people sometimes underperform.”

With his excellent showings on the circuit, Dirk is making a return to Hildesheim less and less likely, but his excellent arrows aren’t the only thing which grab the headlines. He is well-known for his choice of walk-on music, a hardcore piece which van Duijvenbode has been known to accompany with some moves, as seen here in a highly-viewed YouTube clip from the 2015 European Darts Open. ‘The Titan’ explained the story behind the selection. “That video has been watched a few million times (other websites as well)! I always listen to this music when I travel, work etc. and I always used to go to parties. I really like it and some people may not like it and I respect that as I probably think the same about their music!”

Dirk can be seen at the upcoming Autumn Series, which begins on Saturday with five consecutive days of action through to Wednesday

Image Credits: Stefan Strassenburg and Josh’s Dartistry

Thanks to Dirk van Duijvenbode

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