|Both Lourence Ilagan (leftmost) and Noel Malicdem (rightmost) will represent the country in the PDC World Championships this week. Professional Darts Asia|
After being sent to the wilderness last year, Pinoy darts have enjoyed a renaissance in 2018 as the newly formed PDC Asian Tour saw two of its best marksmen made it to the World Championship in London this week.
From its inaugural stop in Seoul, South Korea to its final leg in Pasig, Lourence Ilagan and Noel Malicdem stomped their class above everyone else to emerge two of the top four qualifiers after 12 rounds on the oche for the right to play in the Alexandra Palace.
For both Ilagan and Malicdem, they hope that the pride of the Philippines will be in full display when they take on their Dutch opposition this week more than a month after successfully defended the final stop at in Crowne Plaza, as they dedicate their campaign to Gilbert Ulang who was banned for seven years for alleged match-fixing in the 2017 edition.
"Ipinaglalaban ko si Bhoy [Ulang], knowing na hindi niya magagawa yung mga rumors na sinabi nila. That's why nandito ako para umakyat sa stage at ipaglaban hindi lang Pinoy kundi ang bansang Pilipinas," said the 40-year old Gunner who was a former World Masters semifinalist, moments after he edged out Val Capuyan in a last-leg finale on event 11 last October 13 for his fourth Asian Tour win, cementing his claim as the continent's best darter.
Ilagan will play 35th-ranked veteran Vincent Van der Voort tonight in the Ally Pally (Tuesday morning Manila time)
The nine-dart hitting Malicdem will make his debut against Jeffrey De Graaf on Wednesday, and he is glad that the Filipino representation is not limited to just one darter and he hopes that he will do his best.
"Mas maganda kasi dati isa lang ang ipinadadalang Pinoy, pero ngayon dalawa na kami ni Lourence [Ilagan]. Sobrang saya kasi magkasama na kami sa London, at ibibigay namin ang lahat," said Malicdem who qualified for the Asian Tour after clinching his second title there on the final day.
For the Gentle Giant of Marikina, he has just one advice for youngsters those who aspire to become professional darters in the future.
"Sa mga batang dartero, aral muna. Yung darts andyan lang yan."
Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada