Been cracking. Darts has, this year.
Okay the PDC World Championship final wasn’t the best we’ve seen, but the two and a bit weeks before were filled with plenty of tasty tungsten.
The Ally Pally saw upsets aplenty, with the expansion of the tournament from 72 to 96 players — including Lisa Ashton and Anastasia Dobromyslova as the two women qualifiers — proving a massive success.
The top seeds didn’t bloom at this year’s event, instead the young pretenders like Nathan Aspinall and Luke Humphries took centre stage, as one by one the big names were dropping out.
See you later, Peter Wright. Pack your flights away, Gerwyn Price.
But one man did avoid the upset, like he always does. Bang, bang, banging them in, like he always does.
M. V. G.
Michael van Gerwen.
Coming out, match after match, looking like a walking talking bag of scampi fries in that trademark lime green shirt, and blowing his opponents away to claim his third title.
It capped off another sensational year for the Dutchman, who had The Masters, the Premier League and the World Cup of Darts sewn up by June.
Mighty Mike can look unplayable when he gets his arrows in order, but 2018 saw the chasing pack also stake their claim for silverware.Embed from Getty Images
Gary Anderson claimed victory in the UK Open, World Matchplay and Champions League of Darts, before James Wade returned from the darting wilderness to win the European Championship.
We’ve got to November, and so far so normal. But then along came the Grand Slam of Darts.
The nine days in Wolverhampton saw loads of darts and farts and darts and fights and then some more darts. It had it all.
As Gary Anderson and Wesley Harms came offstage after the Scots’ otherwise routine 10-2 victory, something didn’t smell right, quite literally.
Harms had accused his victor of breaking wind onstage, with ‘the smell of rotten eggs’ present, leading to the best post match interview of the year, probably ever:
“You can put your finger up my arse there’ll be no smell there, usually if I fart onstage I shit myself,” Anderson said afterwards.
That’s that sorted then.Embed from Getty Images
Anderson went on to play Gerwyn Price in the final. Price, the former rugby player, likes rubbing people up the wrong way like a dodgy masseuse, and this match was no different.
His incessant celebrations after each visit to the oche resulted in ‘The Flying Scotsman’ giving him a wee nudge in the closing stages, as Price took the spoils in a bad tempered affair.
Daryl Gurney then took the spoils in the Players Championship to build on his impressive 2017. ‘SuperChin’ is now ranked in the top five in the world, and looks likely to kick on in the next few years.
The World Championship showed the future of the sport is bright in a post-Phil Taylor world. As well as the aforementioned Aspinall and Humphries, 24-year-old Dimitri van den Bergh showed he has enough to mix with the best, and even on day one, Jeffrey de Zwaan gave Rob Cross a scare.
2018 has set the bar high, here’s to 2019 continuing in the same vein.
Featured Photograph/Wikimedia Commons/Sven Mandel