The anticipation around this year’s PDC World Darts Championship wasn’t like any other year; Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor was looking to make amends for his early round knockout last year; Adrian ‘The Jackpot’ Lewis wanted to put the humiliating 6-0 semi-final defeat at the hands of Michael van Gerwen
behind him and van Gerwen himself had to prove that he was a true champion and not a one-hit wonder.
There were also recent beaten finalists, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson, to contend with as well as current BDO dart champion, Stephen Bunting and former PDC winner, Raymond van Barneveld, who were all hungry to prove their worth.
The heated competition of the tournament was seen early on when nine seeded players were knocked out in the first round. It was a case of young triumphing over old as former champion John Part fell at the hands of current PDC World Youth Champion, Keegan Brown and number 10 seed, Mervyn King, was dumped out by 18-year-old German, Max Hopp.
Aussie, Simon Whitlock who was a semi-finalist last year and a beaten finalist in 2010 failed to make it past the first round as well as number 13 seed, Wes Newton – quarter-finalist last year – who was defeated by impressive Spaniard Cristo Reyes.
The second round went more smoothly for the top players with Dave Chisnall (8) the only real scalp of the round. Unseeded 21-year-old Dutch player, Benito van de Pas, took him out impressively 4-2 to keep the theme of young guns making a name for themselves going.
Two new PDC darts players were also out to put their names on everyone’s lips. Reyes continued his good form by seeing off Kevin Painter 4-3. While Stephen Bunting was beginning to put himself in contention with a 4-1 hammering of James Wade to put himself through to the third round.
With the warm-up round out of the way the real contenders began to emerge with Lewis even getting the only 9-darter of the tournament against van Barneveld. That wasn’t enough to save him though as the classy Dutchman disposed of him with a 4-3 victory.
Wright had an exceptional 4-0 victory over Andy Hamilton and both van Gerwen and Anderson won easily 4-1 with the latter of the two getting the second highest average – 104.54. Phil Taylor, Stephen Bunting, Vincent van der Voort and Robert Thornton were the other players to put themselves through to the quarter-finals.
It was here where ‘Might Mike’ van Gerwen roared and seen off the Scotsman, Thornton, 5-2 and in the process knocked up the highest average of the tournament – 105.26.
But that wasn’t the only impressive performance as Anderson destroyed fellow Scot and last year’s runner-up Peter Wright 5-1 to make people take note.
Van Barneveld and Bunting had a duel that ended 5-4 in the favour of ‘Barney’ but it is doubtful that it is the last we’ll see of Bunting. Taylor routinely beat van der Voort 5-3 to set-up a repeat of the 2007 and 2009 finals in the semi-final.
It was Taylor that showed his class and also that despite the new contenders coming through he was still to be considered one. Taylor was on form going 2-0 up early on but then let it slip as van Barneveld got things level after a 3-0 leg win and a miss from Taylor which was taken advantage of.
However, that was to be the end of the Dutchman’s surge as Taylor went on to win the next four sets to take victory 6-2 and book himself a place in the final; his 18th appearance in the PDC Championship.
The other semi-final consisted of reigning champion, Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson who since his poor first round average of 86.20 had gotten his act together and posted a remarkable 103.23 average across the three games he played.
Revenge was on the cards for Anderson as he was knocked out at the last 16 stage by the champion last year and it showed early on. The Scot raced into a 3-1 lead and had the bit between his teeth looking for his second final appearance.
But it wasn’t to be that easy with van Gerwen showing real class to bring things back level to 3-3 and put himself in contention of retaining his crown. However things changed in the eighth set when van Gerwen missed two oppurtunities at double eight to let Anderson in for a 5-3 lead.
That was curtains for van Gerwen and Anderson seen out the sixth set and booked himself in for a final appearance on the Sunday night.
Taylor and Anderson had met 37 times previous to the final with Taylor winning 27 times and Anderson eight – the other two finished in draws. However, this was the first time that both had appeared against each other in the World Championships and the pressure was there for all to see.
Anderson had been the most talked about player in the tournament with the way he took out both of last year’s finalists – Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen. While, Phil Taylor was looking to regain that status that seen him voted runner-up in the 2010 BBC Sport’s Personality of the Year awards.
It was Anderson who started the better and much like the semi-final against van Gerwen he got into an early 3-1 lead. The experienced Taylor wasn’t going to let it be an easy fairytale night for Anderson and brought him straight back to reality by winning six consecutive legs to level it at 3-3.
Nerves began to set in in this close contest as Taylor took the lead 4-3 but let Anderson back in with three missed darts at double 12. It looked like in the ninth set that it wasn’t going to be Anderson’s night when two embedded in the treble 20 were knocked out by the third to give him a no-score. Taylor hit 180 and took the first leg in the ninth set.
But Anderson showed resilience and fought back to lead 5-4 before adding another set and going 6-4 up. Taylor was not finished yet though and hit back with a 3-0 victory in the 11th before a 3-3 victory in the 12th to set-up a deciding set.
It wasn’t to be a heroic ending for Taylor as he misses three at double 16 to give Anderson a 2-0 lead and a chance of winning the match with throw. Taylor slumped and looked the defeated man he was before the ‘Flying Scotsman’ took out double 12 to become only the seventh person to be crowned PDC World Dart’s Champion.
By Kieran Kilkelly
Image via Google
Video via Youtube