A ONE-of-a-kind competition to find a worthy opponent for a legend of the darts world got off to a flier on Sunday (March 5).

Last month, the Leader reported on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity being presented to north Wales by founder and head coach at Ace of Sports, John Jones.

The contest will culminate in two semi-finals and then a final against darts icon Michael Van Gerwen this coming Friday (March 10).

It got underway at the Argoed Sports and Social Club in Mold on Sunday (March 5) with 64 players battling it out to make the coveted final four.

Following what was described as a 'hugely successful' opening day by the Ace of Sports team, it was Jack Cooledge, Philip Wilcock, Gwyn Rowlands and Shaun Thompson who made it through to Friday's night at the oche.

The overall winner will then go on to have the opportunity of facing three-time PDC World Championship winner Van Gerwen in an epic exhibition match.

Each of the four semi-finalists from the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will also receive a prize bundle, courtesy of the event sponsors.

The Leader:

Speaking on reaching the final, Jack Cooledge (above) said: "I said if I could get myself a double, I'd take it and that was it.

"Guy (opponent) was a good standard, found myself two-nil down, I'd missed six or seven doubles on that second leg and he came in and he crept in and stole it.

"I'm feeling class and on top of the world, pint to celebrate!"

Fellow semi-finalist Philip Wilcock (below) said: "I've played darts all my life, we're a darting family. The chance to play against Michael Van Gerwen would be unreal.

The Leader:

"The experience would be once in a lifetime, it's everyone's dream isn't it? It would be brilliant.

"The standard here has been brilliant, it's been a really good day to be fair. My little lads will be over the moon watching me play darts on the finals night, it means the world."

Gwyn Rowlands (below), who will also be competing on Friday, said: "I'm ecstatic. I was a bit nervous and tried to play without pressure, but I'm absolutely made up that I've qualified.

The Leader:

"Hopefully I can go on to get a game against Michael Van Gerwen."

The fourth and final player through into Friday's competition is Shaun Thompson, who said: "I'm made up, I'd love to play Michael Van Gerwen, that would be a big pleasure.

"I'd like to think I could take a few legs off him. I was very nervous (for last game), more than I should have been but I felt it went okay."

The Leader:

The semi-final/final night takes place at the Argoed Sports and Social Club on Friday, March 10 with arrows being thrown as of 7pm.

During the night, Van Gerwen will also hold a Q&A with the audience, even inviting a handful of people at random on stage to play against him.