Rowby-John Rodriguez was close to tears but then broke out in a fit of laughter. Ultimately, however, it was his own fault that his emotional world had been completely shaken up. The number 67 in the world rankings had just caused the biggest surprise of the European Tour final tournament, which was declared the European Darts Championship, and eliminated one of the biggest favorites with Gerwyn Price.
The Welshman had actually wanted to put himself back at the top of the Order of Merit at the event in Dortmund, but instead experienced his worst bankruptcy of the year and lost 4:6 to the spectacular outsider.
"I didn't think I could win this game. And actually you shouldn't make a show against a showman. Then you get it back 20 times. But my feelings have told me it's right. That it's just my game," said Rodriguez, alluding to situations like his crucial break in the seventh leg when Price twice missed double 20 and the Austrian then went 92 points over single 20 and twice double 18 for the 4: 3 checked. Earlier in the match he had erased 80 points over two double 20s.
Price came back to 4:5, but the 28-year-old Rodriguez kept his nerve in front of more than 4000 spectators and made it into the round of 16 with the 6:4. A point average of 90.36 and a double rate of 55 percent were enough.
"I'm so proud of myself. And happy. It's been such a difficult few months for me. I can't believe what I put on stage there," he said after his coup. The Rodriguez family has been through tough times. His daughter, who was born in 2019, suffers from a heart defect and has already had to undergo several operations. A new heart valve was put in for her in September.
Rodriguez therefore decided not to take part in the Hungarian Darts Open and ultimately missed out on qualifying for the World Grand Prix. He was £500 short of the money list. He would have received £1,000 in Budapest just for taking part.
"She was hospitalized again two days ago," reported Rodriguez after his victory, which was on the brink beforehand. “There was a small chance that I wouldn't compete here. But a few hours before my game my wife told me they were back home and that was a great relief for me. So life is. That's my life and I love it."
With his victory, he increased the chance for Peter Wright to defend first place, but prevented the direct duel between the two contenders for the throne in the round of 16. "It would be great for TV, great for audiences. And I hope that's the case," Wright said after his safe 6-2 win over Ryan Meikle and before his opponent's match. Now Rodriguez could make amends for Price on Saturday (live on DAZN and Sport1). If he also beats Wright, Price would be the new number one.
Michael van Gerwen was on his way there again recently. With the World Matchplay, the Premier League and the World Grand Prix, the reinvigorated Dutchman won three majors. No reason for Wright to be concerned: "He's miles away from me in the rankings and still has to win a few majors," according to "Snakebite", who added a wink to his announcement: "He's only won three in this one Year."
A fourth will not be added in October. Van Gerwen caused the second surprise of the evening. After winning three legs against Chris Dobey, he missed four match darts to make it 5:4 and had to admit defeat to the Englishman in the decider.
For the Germans, too, the EM was quickly over. Gabriel Clemens missed the early break to make it 2-0 on double 14 and double 7 against Jonny Clayton and instead conceded the loss of serve to make it 2-1.
A little later he just missed the highest possible finish of 170 points to a possible 3:3. Clayton, on the other hand, also hit his fourth dart on doubles to make it 4-2. The differences were minimal, and when the score was 4:5, Clemens was unable to use four of Clayton's missed match darts. The Saarlander missed the decider three times, in which he would have had a throw-off. So Clayton checked on double two to win.
The second German, Martin Schindler, was also eliminated beforehand. The in-form Strausberger, with a new walk-on song "Byte" by Martin Garrix
After missing three doubles, Schindler conceded the second break to make it 5-1 and immediately afterwards 6-1. Stand "The Wall" played an impressive average of 101.15 points, but only hit one of his six attempts on the double courts, which meant no chance against a strong Jose de Sousa.
The tournament is now more open than ever and continues without the two Germans and two tournament favourites. The final of the half million pound European Darts Championship is set for Sunday night.
Dirk van Duijvenbode (NED) – Madars Razma (LAT) 6:3
Ryan Searle (ENG) – Martin Lukeman (ENG) 6:5
Danny Noppert (NED) – Andrew Gilding (ENG) 6:3
Rob Cross (ENG) – James Wade (ENG) 5:6
Luke Humphries (ENG) – Krzysztof Ratajski (POL) 6:4
Nathan Aspinall (ENG) – Josh Rock (NIR) 5:6
Michael Smith (ENG) – Karel Sedlacek (CZE) 6:4
Damon Heta (AUS) – Vincent van der Voort (NED) 2:6
Dave Chisnall (ENG) – Stephen Bunting (ENG) 6:0
Dimitri van den Bergh (BEL) – Daryl Gurney (NIL) 6:2
Joe Cullen (ENG) – Ross Smith (ENG) 4:6
José de Sousa (POR) – Martin Schindler (D) 6:1
Peter Wright (SCO) – Ryan Meikle (ENG) 6:2
Gerwyn Price (WAL) – Rowby-John Rodriguez (AUT) 4:6
Michael van Gerwen (NED) – Chris Dobey (ENG) 5:6
Jonny Clayton (WAL) – Gabriel Clemens (D) 6:4
Danny Noppert (NED) – Vincent van der Voort (NED)
James Wade (ENG) – Dirk van Duijvenbode (NED)
Luke Humphries (ENG) – Ryan Searle (ENG)
Michael Smith (ENG) – Josh Rock (NIR)
Dave Chisnall (ENG) – Jonny Clayton (WAL)
Dimitri van den Bergh (BEL) – Ross Smith (ENG)
José de Sousa (POR) – Chris Dobey (ENG)
Peter Wright (SCO) – Rowby-John Rodriguez (AUT)