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Keegan Brown is the current Youth World Champion, how far can he go from here?

New Kid On The Oche

Posted: 26.08.14 in Darts Performance Centre Blog category

Keegan Brown is the current Youth World Champion, how far can he go from here?

If you were asked to name a current generation darts player, then Phil “The Power” Taylor would probably be the first candidate to spring to mind. And this would be with very good reason; Phil Taylor has been the more or less undisputed king of darts now for more than two decades.

“The Power” is generally agreed to be the greatest best darts player that has ever lived. He’s won over 200 professional darts tournaments which include 80 major titles and an incredible 16 World Championships – a world record. His first came back in 1990. No other darts player has beaten Phil more times than he’s beaten them.

So all hail The Power. There’ll probably never be another quite like Taylor, who is now approaching his 54th birthday. And whilst darts isn’t an athletic sport as the beer bellies will testify – it’s far from an old man’s game. So it seems likely that The Power’s power will begin to wane now. Last year’s World Championship was, of course, won by the relatively youthful Dutchman Michael van Gerwen, now aged 25. And it may be that the Dutchman comes to dominate in the same way Taylor has for so long.

But there’s a new kid on the oche – even younger – and he’s an Englishman just like Taylor. His name is Keegan Brown and he recently won the darts world youth championship at London’s O2 Arena.

This has caused quite a stir amongst British darts fans searching for their next hero. Darts as a sport has generally been dominated by players from the British Isles – with the occasional Dutchman, Canadian or Australian trying to spoil the Union Jack roadshow now and again.

But the potential fading of the Power and the rise of van Gerwen along with the continued presence of his countryman Raymond van Barneveld (who recently defeated van Gerwen to claim his first ever Premier League title) has British darts fans’ feathers a little ruffled. Look down the list of winners of the PDC World Darts Championship since its inauguration over 20 years ago – and you’ll see the flag of St George flying next to 17 of the 21 winners; 14 of those courtesy of Phil Taylor all on his own! And English darts fans would like to see that remaining the case for the next couple of decades too – hence the concerns over the Dutch win.

So it may well be that the Isle of Wight's Keegan Brown is the next St George riding to slay the Dutch dragons. The 21 year-old defeated Austria's Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-4 to claim the Youth World title – all the while pocketing a tidy £10,000 first-place prize. Perhaps more to the point for English darts fans, he has also secured places in both the Grand Slam of Darts and the PDC World Championship events.

Of course, no-one really expects the youngster to win next year’s PDC World Championship. He’s currently available at a whopping 750-1 with the betting exchange Betfair to win the big event. But the hope is that he – or one of his English contemporaries – may be able to step up to the oche to fill the gap which will inevitably be left by Phil Taylor over the next few years. That isn’t to say, by any means, that The Power has been turned off just yet. Taylor is second favourite to Michael van Gerwen to win next year’s world title with Betfair – at a price of 11/4 - and there isn’t much to choose between the two.

Meanwhile another Englishman, 29 year-old Adrian Lewis comes from the same neck of the woods as Phil Taylor in Stoke-on-Trent and is currently third favourite, at around 6-1 with Betfair.

Lewis won back to back world titles in 2011 and 2012 and it seemed he would go on to become the new Power. But Taylor bounced back the following year, defeating Michael van Gerwen 7-4 in the final.

In last year’s World Championship, Lewis made it through to the semi-finals with relative ease. In fact, not one of his opponents managed to take more than one set away from him. Then in the semis, he came up against eventual tournament winner Michael van Gerwen, scoring well but fumbling his doubles and suffering a very heavy 6–0 loss as a consequence. Lewis just didn’t seem quite himself in that semi-final and you can bet he’ll want to get back to his best in time for this year’s event in December. This is not a player you can write off just yet.

There’s then quite a break in the betting market to Scotland’s Peter Wright – currently a 25-1 shot. The 44 year-old surprised a few people last year, making it all the way to the final where he found van Gerwen just too strong – losing 7-4. Wright is a player you can’t forget thanks to his ever-colour changing Mohawk hairstyle. He changes the colour for every tournament he is involved in, with assistance from his hairdresser wife. The “Snakebite” - as he likes to be known - only needs to add a dash more venom to his game to be in serious contention once more.

The 2007 winner, Raymond van Barneveld, can’t be written off either – particularly after his recent win over van Gerwen. Barney is currently fourth favourite at around 18-1.

All in all, then, next year’s darts world championship event will be a fascinating one to behold. But we’re still a few months away from this year’s world championships (the event is scheduled to take place at the Alexandra Palace from December 2014 to January of next year) and there’s plenty of darts action to take place before then.

As for Keegan Brown’s future prospects – well they could hardly look brighter as things stand. The Isle of Wight youngster is currently ranked 69th in the world. He’s been playing at county level in men's darts competitions for the Isle of Wight since he was aged just 13, having started playing when he was only nine. He clearly has the head for the big occasion – which is what it’s all about at the elite level. The ability to keep one’s cool and stay focussed on the game at hand is the key to success and it’s something Phil “The Power” Taylor has been demonstrating in spades for the last 25 years. Clearly, Brown’s win at the O2 Arena in front of 10,000 darts fans left him encouragingly un-phased.

What’s more, the young upstart has already had the temerity to defeat The Power on two previous occasions and he says the sports’ top players don’t scare him. Specifically, he said after his recent win that younger players like himself don’t fear playing the likes of Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld or Michael Van Gerwen.

Keegan Brown’s mentor is the Waterlooville-based Aussie player Simon Whitlock who will undoubtedly help the young man stay calm for the big events.

Whitlock himself, meanwhile, is no slouch at darts. He made it to the World Championship semi-finals [G2] last year where he was defeated 6-2 by the afore-mentioned Peter Wright.        

Quite what the darts world will look like five or ten years from now is anyone’s guess. But it would seem likely that Keegan Brown will be a central part of it; we may well have a new English kid at the oche – and he may be there some time.

 

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