As the curtain is drawn on one of the most dramatic and unpredictable PDC World Darts Championships in history, it is time to reflect on the sport’s biggest showpiece event. With upsets galore and unforgettable drama, there is certainly no shortage of talking points.
The Darts Dream
Sometimes, just as sometimes, darts dreams come true. All of us at Rileys of course would like to congratulate Rob Cross on becoming World Champion on his debut at Alexandra Palace. The 27 year-old former electrician has set the darting world alight in his very first year on the Tour. His journey in the PDC began at the UK Open amateur qualifiers in 2016, having been virtually dragged out of bed by his uncle to attend the competition in the first place. After a 150 mile trip to Rileys Norwich, Cross duly won the Qualifier and went onto reach the last 32 where he lost out to a certain Michael van Gerwen. His darting resurgence was in full swing having played in the World Masters and Lakeside qualifiers in 2015, after a long hiatus.
In the tournament itself, Cross survived match darts on two occasions, first from Michael Smith and then against the aforementioned World number one in their much heralded semi-final. He then ended the dream of a 17th World title for Phil Taylor with a dominant display that the Power simply had no response to in his swansong. Cross picked up a cheque for £400,000, the largest in World Championship history.
And now you can try and emulate Cross’s achievements! The UK Open Amateur Qualifiers are open to all players (as long as you aren’t at Q-School or a PDC Tour card holder of course) and all abilities. If you win, you’ll book your place at the UK Open finals at Butlins Minehead in March and a chance to follow in the footsteps of the current World Champion. What are you waiting for?! Enter today!
The Final Farewell
Phil Taylor’s antics this year may have divided opinion, but there is no doubting his outstanding contribution to the game as a whole. When you mention darts to the general public, Taylor’s name often follows immediately.
Taylor looked his imperious self en-route to the final, with only Gary Anderson really pushing him in terms of the score-line, although Jamie Lewis will rue missed doubles in their semi-final clash.
The stats of course speak for themselves. 16 times a World Champion and 16 times a World Matchplay winner. Six Grand Slams and as many UK Open’s, these are statistics which will likely never be repeated.
The fans will never forget Taylor’s contribution to darts, and the sport will not be the same without him.
The Young Guns
The trio of Dimitri van den Bergh, Keegan Brown and Jamie Lewis are three young darts players who have always promised much but arguably have never quite achieved their potential. That is of course, until now.
All three will be the first to admit that they’ve struggled during the 2017 season, but all three came alive on the Ally Pally stage.
Former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown looked in danger of losing his Tour card in the summer, but a run to the last 16 has ensured he remains a firm fixture on the circuit for the coming year. A narrow upset win over James Wade in the opening round will be one of his career highlights.
Belgian Dimitri van den Bergh, himself a World Youth champion in November, notched his best World Championship run, dispatching Stephen Bunting and Jan Dekker in the opening round. His whitewash over Mensur Suljovic particularly caught the eye however before he bowed out to eventual champion Cross in the last eight.
The tournament however will always be synonymous with Welshman Jamie Lewis. The 26 year-old had to win five games to reach Ally Pally and in fact lost a match to get to the 1st round, forcing him into the prelims. But Lewis shone, first overcoming Kenny Neyens and then made light work of fellow countryman Johnny Clayton. His 2nd round win over Peter Wright will live long in the memory averaging over 107 in the process.
How far can these three go we wonder!
The Changing of the Guard
— Daily Star (@Daily_Star) 20 December 2017
While Peter Wright bowed out in the 2nd round, other well established seeds fared even worse. Premier League regulars James Wade, Dave Chisnall, Jelle Klaasen and Adrian Lewis all fell at the first hurdle. All four won’t feature in the Premier League for 2018.
Adrian Lewis in particular suffered the most in terms of his rankings drop. He now lies 20th in the Order or Merit having won the World Title in 2011 and 2012. Jackpot now faces an uphill battle to get back into the top echelon of the sport.
SAMBA TUNGSTEN: Tonight Brazil make their #WHDarts debut – @laura_woodsy went to meet @brazilliant180 on the London eye, naturally.
From 7pm on Sky Sports Darts #LoveTheDarts 🇧🇷 🎯 pic.twitter.com/HMEvKkpjQb
— Sky Sports Darts (@SkySportsDarts) 21 December 2017
After many years of close affairs and much promise, the international qualifiers arguably came into their own at this tournament. Prior to the Worlds, you had to go back to 2014 to witness a preliminary winner progress through to the 2nd round of the tournament. This time however Kevin Munch, Jamie Lewis and the legendary Paul Lim all progressed against the odds. Munch’s win over Lewis particularly caught the eye, with the German perhaps the darts player the darts mad country needs to propel the game in that nation. Paul Lim’s wired double 12 for a nine darter had us all on the edge of our seats. It would have come 27 years after his famous 9-darter at Lakeside.
A worthy mention must also go to Brazilian and Rileys Victoria regular Diogo Portela who won a set against Peter Wright in the opening round.
Inspired by the Worlds? Enter the UK Open Amateur Qualifiers today!