Andy Baetens and Noa-Lynn van Leuven starred at this past weekend’s Gold-ranked Denmark Open, winning the singles titles and confirming their spots at the 2024 WDF Lakeside World Championships in the process.
Brilliant Baetens continues charge
Fresh off a double title win in Croatia two weeks prior, Belgium’s Baetens figured to be one to watch in Esbjerg. Those suspicions proved correct as he thoroughly dominated the competition to make it three straight event triumphs.
Up against ‘The Beast’ in the Open final was reigning WDF World Champion Neil Duff and it was Duff that raced into an early 2-0 lead thanks to a 101 check out against the darts and a 16-dart hold.
That was as good as it go for the Northern Irishman though as Baetens produced an absolute finishing clinic to reel off the next six legs.
The new WDF World No.1 got on the board with a 136 finish and followed that up with checkouts of 82, 116, 96 and a match-winning 124 as he ran out a 6-2 winner with a 100.78 average.
Baetens was the star of the 246-man field in Denmark, ending the tournament with 10 180s to his credit and an overall average of 98.11.
He began with a quartet of victories over Scandinavian competition before beating 2022 World Masters finalist Barry Copeland in the last eight. In the semi-finals, Baetens averaged 100.48 in a 5-1 win over Gary Stone.
As for Duff, he’d shown some good form to reach his first ranking final of the year. After knocking out Mike Gillet in a last-leg decider in the Last 16, he beat Darren Johnson and Jeppe Stolt on the stage for the loss of just one leg.
Stolt, who in previous rounds had beaten the likes of Martyn Turner and Danny Lauby, was bidding to be the first Dane to ever win the tournament but ran out of steam against Duff.
Van Leuven claims maiden title in Women’s Open
Noa-Lynn van Leuven was one of the rising stars on the WDF circuit last season but didn’t quite get the rewards for her good play. That changed in Denmark as she came through four consecutive last-leg deciders to win her first ranking title.
The 26-year-old opened her campaign with a 4-0 win over Fie Skinnes before enduring her first last-leg shootout in the last 32 against Adriana van Wijgerden-Vermaat. Van Leuven came from 3-2 down and survived match darts in that game before coming from 3-1 down in the next round to dump out Wales captain Rhian O’Sullivan.
Van Leuven then accounted for Monique Lessmeister in seven legs in the quarter-finals to set up a semi-final meeting with defending champion Deta Hedman.
A scintillating 161 finish helped Hedman race into a 3-0 lead and she had darts to wrap up a 4-0 victory. She missed those, and further match darts in the sixth leg, as van Leuven scrapped her way back into the game and overcame some ropey scoring to win 4-3.
Van Leuven was far more comfortable in the final against Germany’s Irina Armstrong, who’d won the Iceland Masters the previous weekend.
A pair of breaks in the first four legs helped van Leuven establish a lead that she’d never relinquish, a 24-darter eventually sealing her a 5-2 victory and a guaranteed Lakeside place for 2024.
Jorgensen retains Youth crown
Nikolaj Jørgensen did the Youth title double on home soil in 2022 and he repeated the trick in 2023, cementing himself as Denmark’s most promising young player.
Jørgensen produced the highest average in every round of the Youth Open, dropping just one leg as he breezed to the title. In the final, he defeated compatriot Lukas Jensen 4-0.
Photos: Dansk Dart Union