The ripped off Ricardo Pietreczko showed his fist to the German fans and gave the legendary darts referee Russ Bray a big hug. After the narrow 3-2 win against Englishman Callan Rydz, Pietreczko, nicknamed Pikachu, lost a lot of weight at the World Cup.
"It definitely wasn't an easy game. I knew I had to step on the gas again," said the 29-year-old from Nuremberg in London, describing the close duel.
Pietreczko, Gabriel Clemens, Martin Schindler and Florian Hempel: For the first time, four German representatives will be in the third round after Christmas. The black, red and gold views at the legendary Alexandra Palace are better than ever.
And debutant Pietreczko gets the absolute highlight match, he meets top favorite Luke Humphries from England. "I've never played such a long mode before. I'll see how it goes. Humphries is just as much of an opponent as Callan Rydz," said the confident Pietreczko on Sport1.
"Lick me and the bag"
The decisive factor against Rydz was the high double rate with which Pietreczko coldly punished his opponent's negligence. In round one, the World Cup debutant, nicknamed Pikachu, won 3-0 against the Japanese Mikuru Suzuki. Pietreczko is the German whiz kid in 2023 and won a top-class tournament in Hildesheim in October. But Humphries, nicknamed “Cool Hand Luke,” now faces the greatest possible test.
Florian Hempel has already exceeded expectations. The 33-year-old from Cologne only secured a World Cup ticket at the last minute and defeated Dylan Slevin (Ireland) and star player Dimitri van den Bergh (Belgium) one after the other. “Lick me en de Täsch,” Hempel shouted to his loved ones in the video after the World Cup madness on Friday evening.
With, among other things, two ten-darters in a row, the German turned around a 0-2 deficit against the world-class professional. "I've already celebrated one or two comebacks. You can never lose faith in yourself. The emotions are significantly higher than two years ago. It's emotionally great," said Hempel, who was with van den Bergh two years ago who had defeated the World Cup. He played himself “into a frenzy”.
Schindler's top opponents eliminated
The two seeded Germans, Schindler and Clemens, were most expected to move into round three. While Clemens, who unexpectedly made it to the World Cup semi-finals last year, now faces a complicated task in England's Dave Chisnall, Schindler has somewhat better prospects.
The 27-year-old Strausberger will not face top Dutch player Danny Noppert in round three, but rather his conqueror Scott Williams from England. "I think it's no secret to say that Scott Williams will be an easier draw than Danny Noppert. But Williams shouldn't be underestimated either. I think if I had a similar game to today again, I would "I'll win too, but that remains to be seen," said Schindler.