Rafferty tops Development Tour Order of Merit following dramatic final day

Nathan Rafferty (Kais Bodensieck/PDC)

Nathan Rafferty and Joshua Richardson shared titles as the 2022 Winmau Development Tour season drew to a close in Wigan on Saturday.

The Robin Park Tennis Centre played host to a crucial double-header on Saturday, with Cazoo World Darts Championship and Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts qualification among the prizes up for grabs for the sport’s brightest young stars.

Rafferty jumped above his compatriot Josh Rock on the final day to finish top of this year’s Development Tour Order of Merit, courtesy of his Event 23 success in Saturday’s opening competition.

Fresh from sealing victory in Event 22 on Friday, Rafferty made it back-to-back titles with a 5-2 victory over Welshman Lewy Williams.

Rafferty opened up a 3-1 lead against the Welshman, and after landing a superb 12-darter to move to the cusp of victory, he sealed the deal with a 68 combination to scoop his ninth Development Tour crown.

The Northern Irishman had breezed through to the last 32 with resounding wins over Robbe Dasseville, Mikey Rees and Kayden Milne, before coming out on top in a high-quality clash against Rusty-Jake Rodriguez.

Rafferty posted a 99 average in a 4-2 victory over Dom Taylor, and after battling past Daniel Perry in the last eight, the 22-year-old produced back-to-back 15-darters to complete a deciding-leg win over UK Open quarter-finalist Sebastian Bialecki.

Elsewhere, Williams defeated Joshua Richardson, Nathan Girvan and Brandon Weening in the latter stages to reach Saturday’s Event 23 showpiece and move up to fourth on the Development Tour Order of Merit.

Later in the day, Richardson produced a series of impressive displays to clinch his maiden Development Tour title at Event 24.

After kicking off his campaign with a whitewash win over Jake Neale, Richardson edged out Dylan Slevin in a last-leg shoot-out, before averaging almost 102 in a 4-0 win over Conall Doughty.

The 24-year-old recorded a third whitewash win of the tournament against Archie Macleod, before claiming convincing wins over Jitse Van der Wal, Adam Gawlas and Thomas Banks to seal his spot in the final.

Richardson faced two-time Development Tour winner Jurjen van der Velde in Saturday’s finale, and the Englishman held his nerve to triumph in a deciding leg, landing a 14-darter to claim the £2,000 top prize.

Rock was beaten 4-1 in an extraordinary last 32 tie against Keenan Thomas in Event 23, despite averaging over 108, as Thomas fired in legs of 12 and 11 darts in the closing stages to triumph with a 109.63 average.

Rock then suffered an opening round defeat to Dom Taylor in Event 24, and he went on to finish second on the final Order of Merit, despite his haul of five titles in 2022 in an impressive maiden season on the circuit.

However, Rock will make his Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts debut in Wolverhampton next month, with Rafferty already assured of his qualification after featuring in last year’s World Youth Championship final.

Rafferty will make his World Championship debut at Alexandra Palace later this year though, and is set to be joined by fourth-placed Williams, with Rock and UK Open semi-finalist Keane Barry poised to qualify via the ProTour Order of Merit.

With the top four on the Development Tour Order of Merit already in possession of Tour Cards, Dutch duo Geert Nentjes and Van der Velde are provisionally set to claim Tour Cards for 2023/24, although the latter would miss out should Williams drop out of the world's top 64 in January to lose his Tour Card status.

Nathan Girvan is next in line to secure a place on the professional circuit if Nentjes enters the top 64 over the coming months.

Following the culmination of this year’s Winmau Development Tour, the early rounds of the Winmau World Youth Championship will take place on Sunday afternoon in Wigan.

The World Youth Championship final will then be played on Sunday November 27 during the Cazoo Players Championship Finals in Minehead, as two players compete for £10,000 in prize money and the chance to succeed Ted Evetts in claiming the title.


See full results in the Match Centre.

See match stats through DartConnect.

2022 Winmau Development Tour
Saturday October 8, Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan
Event 23

Lewy Williams 5-3 Nathan Girvan
Brandon Weening 5-3 Owen Bates
Nathan Rafferty 5-3 Daniel Perry
Sebastian Bialecki 5-3 Jitse Van der Wal

Lewy Williams 5-4 Brandon Weening
Nathan Rafferty 5-4 Sebastian Bialecki

Nathan Rafferty 5-2 Lewy Williams

Event 24

Joshua Richardson 5-2 Adam Gawlas
Thomas Banks 5-4 Nathan Rafferty
Owen Maiden 5-3 Lok Man Leung
Jurjen van der Velde 5-3 Brandon Weening

Joshua Richardson 5-2 Thomas Banks
Jurjen van der Velde 5-3 Owen Maiden

Joshua Richardson 5-4 Jurjen van der Velde