The last few years of the PDC World Darts Championship have left us pondering which one has been the most memorable. We now know the answer because the latest instalment, which came to an end on Monday night, has been unquestionably the greatest of them all. There was no nine-darter, no real upsets – staples of this wonderful tournament – and greats of the game such as Ronnie Baxter and Colin Monk failed to even qualify. However, that was where the raised eyebrows ended, unless of course you count the thrilling arrows that were thrown at Ally Pally over the last few weeks, culminating in a second title for the man of the year Michael van Gerwen, aka MVG.
It’s very nice to have romance, but the cream rose to the top in such a way that we can forgive the opening rounds providing absolutely nothing in the way of shock exits. Speaking of which, we may sadly have seen the last of Terry Jenkins, who was very insistent that this was his last hurrah. The man responsible for knocking him out in round two, Benito van de Pas, pushed defending champion Gary Anderson to the limit before bowing out himself.
It all meant that we ended up with a quarter-final line-up to savour, with two matches in the afternoon and two at night, and it delivered quality by the bucketload. The matinee saw two rip-roaring contests. First up was Peter Wright, who had been deadly on the doubles, against a resurgent James Wade. It looked for a while as if Snakebite was going to coast to victory, but Aldershot’s finest had other ideas as he produced two consecutive ton-plus finishes. Ultimately though, it was Wright who went through 5-3. Could that game be bettered? What a silly question! Anderson was expected by many to give Dave Chisnall a bit of a hiding, but the former BDO finalist had the game of his life, hitting 21 180s to the Scot’s 12, and came oh so close to pulling off the seemingly improbable. The evening session was always going to struggle to match that, but Daryl Gurney had his moments against MVG, while Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld battled out a real slug-fest with the Dutchman edging through 5-3.
The semis weren’t quite as thrilling, but nonetheless, in keeping with the astronomical standard we’d been enjoying, they oozed class. We had an all-tartan tussle to start, with a Dutch derby to follow. Anderson posed one to many questions for Wright to answer and this was possibly the most disappointing match of the whole competition, such was the level of expectation that had been created by this point. Barney went out to van Gerwen, but not without compiling the highest losing average (109.34) ever seen on this stage – look out for him in this year’s Premier League.
And so to the final. It did look for a time as if Anderson was going to be well on the way to a third successive world title, but you need more than a two-set cushion against MVG, and when the Green Machine took the fifth to peg it back to 3-2 you had that feeling that it was to be his night. An imposter found his way on to the stage during proceedings to offer some light entertainment, which seemed to shake the young Dutchman more than the defending champion, but it was only delaying the inevitable. In the end van Gerwen was crowned supremo for the second time in his career to cap a glorious year amid tears of joy.
On Saturday, the BDO boys take to the oche for their own world championship. If they come anywhere close to providing the same kind of theatre that their PDC counterparts put on, the fans are in for the time of their lives.