Update: Yao Shi Jin had to pull out due to Wuhan Airport being closed due to the coronavirus. As you can read later on in the article, Yao lives in Wuhan, which makes traveling pretty much impossible now. He will be replaced by Frederic Simon from France. Thanks to Matthijs Wissink for the heads up!
So the biggest Open of the World is knocking on the door and I got not one, not two but a lot of questions about the Asian players participating in the tournament. Time to put all the information together and write an article for everyone interested. Want to keep up with everything I do? Follow the bird and the book!
Yao Shi Jin
Yao Shi Jin, currently 56 years old from the Hubei province in China, is one of the two Asian players who got a wildcard for the Winmau WDDA World Championship which will be held during the Dutch Open in Assen. When you Google his name, you find pretty much nothing but my tweets and the announcement. But the organisation won’t just pick a random chappie, so I took my best Chinese out and did some research:
Hubei literally means ”Above the Lake” and with lake we’re talking about the Dongting Lake. The capital of the Hubei province is ‘Wuhan’. Paradarts in Hubei and Wuhan didn’t do very well compared to other provinces and cities in China, but in 2016/2017 it took off when the first team was established and they got their own training base, located somewhere on Houhu Avenue. Yao Shi Jin became part of the team, as well as becoming captain.
Yao Shi Jin participated in the 10th National Games for Persons with Disabilities and the 7th National Special Olympics Games in 2019, held in Tianjin in the East of China. He reached the semifinal and got 2-0 behind, but fought himself back with a great comeback and reached the finals after a 3-2 win. He won the final of the competition with the same numbers: 3-2.
Due to polio at a young age, Yao Shi Jin had muscle atrophy in his legs with his right hip and leg being paralysed. Before darts, he set up a clothing factory and transportation company and played Mahjong. Other results are a fifth place during the 2018 National Disability Darts Competition. If all’s well, Yao Shi Jin should play Dutch player Matthijs Wissink in his first game in Assen.
(Sources: CJN, Sina, WDPF)
Kwang Hee Cho
Update: Last minute, Vincent d’Hondt cancelled, so my preview was good for the treasure bin. I think Kwang has a great chance to blast through the tournament now.
I don’t know, I’m just hyped for Kwang to come to the Netherlands. The thing is, he’s playing the regular tour in Korea and the Asian Tour and he’s actually one of South Korea’s best players. He was full body paralyzed, but trained a lot to get back on his feet and participate in the PERFECT Tour in South Korea. I highly recommend anyone to read my piece about South Korea here, there’s also a part about Kwang where I explain more. His first match will be against World Champion Vincent d’Hondt from Belgium, to be fair I told Kwang he’s going to win the tournament but Vincent is good… This could be one of the most, if not the most interesting match of the first round if both players play their high standard game.
Rest of the tournament
Okay so four Japanese players will come to participate in the tournament. And they’re not the most familiar, because last year Shingo Enomata and Mikuru Suzuki were there, both familiar names in darts, but here we have some names that made another good night of research. Let’s dive into it:
Toshihiro played the Asian Tour in Kobe (one day) and Taipei (both days) in 2019. He got one win there, in Taipei against Wei Chung Lo. It doesn’t sound much, his highest average there was 70.40, but averages say nothing (yet I talk about them all the time) and it can be worse than this. We find his name on the list of the Bud Brick Memorial Open Tournament which was held on October 8th, 2017 in Kobe (one day after the WDF World Cup ended, which was held from Oct 3-7).
(For everyone who doesn’t know who Bud Brick is: He was vice-president of the WDF for a long time and did a lot for darts in Asia, especially the WDF part, like setting up the WDF Asia/Pacfic Cup, managing the Japanese teams for a long time and getting the WDF World Cup to Kobe.)
Probably even more unknown, Kensuke Sugimoto will also participate and will be Toshihiro’s pair’s partner. He also participated in the Asian Tour, Kobe and Taipei and lost all of his matches, recording a highest avg of 53.3. He participated in an Open Darts Tournament of the Ehime Darts Organisation in 2017, making the L8 in the pairs.
Both Toshihiro and Sugimoto are from Osaka and play in the Osaka Premier League in Division 1. This explains why they’ll play pairs together. Other players who play in Div 1 are: Hisato Soosa, Shingo Enomata and our next player on the list: Tokuyo Takayama.
Also spotted on the list is Winmau’s player Tokuyo Takayama. He played the Asian Tour in Seoul, Kobe and Taipei and won more games than the players above. Highest average is 82.3 on the Asian Tour, he even made the last 16 in Taipei! He played the Las Vegas Open in 2018 and 2019, ending in the L32 both of the times, losing out to Shawn Brenneman in 2019 and to Kevin Luke in 2018. He also made the L16 of the cricket competition in 2019 of the Last Vegas Open, in 2018 he made the semi-finals.
In 2018 Takayama also played the Winmau World Masters, where he lost to Sebastian Steyer in the L128 (first round) with 3-1. He is without doubt our most experienced Japanese player on this list, but the field at the Dutch Open is very strong.
First of all, the field at the Ladies Competition is, in my opinion, pretty open with Mikuru Suzuki, Fallon Sherrock and Beau Greaves not there. My guess would be for Aileen or Maria (O’Brien) to win it, or Lisa Ashton if she plays, but you never know. The only Asian female player on my list (so far) is Chisato Kishi. Another player from Osaka (Osaka is well-represented during the Dutch Open), with experience in Las Vegas as well. She participated in 2018 and 2019, playing pairs with Ken Hwang in 2019 where they won a game. To be fair, looking at her single matches during both Las Vegas Opens, I hope her game has improved over the year or it will be very, very hard. The Dutch Open will be a good experience anyway, but still… Her averages lie between 30-40, which is partly to blame for missing a lot of doubles, and a lot of stray darts.
So, I hope this article gave a bit more insight in what to expect from the Asian players participating during the Dutch Open Darts, which is being held from January 31st until February 2nd in Assen. If I missed any playes, please send me a message, again I’m in the midst of exams so I might have missed someone on the list… Also, I’m at the Dutch Open as well, so feel free to say hi!