The PDC Darts World Championship is a great festive competition to get into. It takes place over the festive period, all the big matches are televised in the evening, and singing and drinking are highly encouraged inside the grand arena that is the Alexandra Palace.
The darts is fun and loud and therefore allows you to get involved despite not watching (or caring) about the sport for the rest of the year. The competition, as is always the case with darts, was full of characters and stories. Michael van Gerwen – or MVG as he is perhaps better known – is the world number one and was odds on favourite to claim his second crown. Gary Anderson, meanwhile, was aiming to win the title for a third successive year. Phil Taylor was aiming to go out on a high in what might prove to be his penultimate championship, while various other seeds including Peter Wright, Dave Chisnall and Raymond van Barneveld all fancied their chances of the ultimate glory.
After a relatively straightforward first round, the competition sparked into action with van Gerwen forced to overcome a resilient Cristo Reyes in the second round who recorded the highest average for a losing player, 106.7.
The tournament progressed steadily without any major scalps, leaving six of the eight original favourites to battle it out at the quarter-final stage. Phil Taylor, Daryl Gurney, Dave Chisnall and James Wade all fell by the wayside, leaving van Gerwen, Anderson, Wright and van Barneveld as the final four in the semi-finals. Anderson saw off an out of sorts Peter Wright as his quest to win a third straight title continued, while MVG overcame Barneveld 6-2, that despite Barney recording a new highest losing average of 109.34, just days after Reyes had smashed the original record.
With van Gerwen and Anderson both progressing through potentially difficult ties, the public got what the public wanted, a final showdown between the world’s top two seeds on darts’ biggest stage. Game on.
With such a high standard of darts set throughout the tournament, perhaps unsurprisingly the final was not perfect, with both men missing more darts at double than they would like. Nevertheless, the quickfire pair smashed the record for most 180s in a game, recording a barnstorming 42 between them, while Anderson broke the record for most individual maximums, hitting 22.
While MVG could not quite repeat the record-breaking performance he put in during the semi-finals, he was still in top gear, leaving Anderson with little opportunity to reply. A frantic beginning saw the match go two sets apiece, but van Gerwen reeled off the following four sets to take a commanding 6-2 lead in a race to 7. Anderson did manage to claw a set back, but it was too little too late as van Gerwen checked out on the bullseye to seal a comprehensive 7-3 victory and a paycheque for £350,000.
For van Gerwen, it was the crowning glory on a dominant year which had seen the Dutchman claim an astonishing 25 tournament victories, but there is no doubt that it was this, his second world championship, that was most sweet. Anderson, meanwhile, should be proud of his performance and there is no shame in losing to a quality player like van Gerwen after all. He may not have played to the best of his abilities in the final, but as others have shown, even your best is often not enough to stop the unstoppable Michael van Gerwen.