World Darts Championship: Sky Sports reviews the event as Michael van Gerwen wins at Alexandra Palace
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 02/01/14 8:59pm
We look back at some of the sights and sounds of the 2014 PDC World Darts Championship.
What a PDC World Championship we had this year at Alexandra Palace, as the New Year was ushered in with a new world champion and also a world no 1 as Michael van Gerwen got his hands on the Sid Waddell trophy.
At just 24, the Dutchman could be at the top of the game for years to come, but he was pushed all the way by Peter Wright in a superb final.
During the event we had nine-darters, big upsets and the usual fun and frolics of the darts, so let's take a look at all the big events and major talking points of the World Championship with some views from our experts thrown in.
He went into the tournament as the main challenger to Phil Taylor and when the 16-time champion was sent packing, van Gerwen became the overwhelming favourite to land the title - even more so when he faced surprise package Wright in the final. MVG stormed into a 4-0 lead, but in the end the Dutchman rather scrambled over the line. However, a win is a win and it could be the first of many world titles for the youngster. He also ended Taylor's long reign at the top of the rankings.
There were plenty of shocks at Ally Pally this year but the biggest came in the second round when Taylor was dumped out of the event, going down to a thrilling 4-3 defeat to young Michael Smith. 'The Power' had struggled in his opening match at the tournament but nobody expected he would come unstuck as early as the second round, and it threw the top half of the draw wide open. Again Taylor's future will be questioned, but write him off at our peril.
The Wright stuff
He may have lost the final, but Wright made plenty of friends, and plenty of money during his entertaining run, and he was rewarded with a spot in the upcoming Premier League for his efforts. Wright's dress sense caught the eye, his dance moves raised an eyebrow, but ultimately it was his darting excellence that made his name. Wright often gave the crowd a wave or played to them even when looking to hit a double - and the fact he hit the target more often than not showed he had the one thing all great players need - bottle.
Only seven men have hit the perfect nine-dart leg in the World Championship, but amazingly the last two of those came within an hour of each other as both Terry Jenkins and Kyle Anderson recorded the perfect legs during the first round - and even more amazingly they both lost! Jenkins was beaten by Per Laursen despite his nine-darter, and even his £30,000 consolation didn't last long as Aussie Anderson grabbed half of that prize before he also went out.
Dancing Devon Petersen made a real impact on Alexandra Palace as he came through the qualifiers to make it to the third round. The South African had been out for a year with injury, but he made a sparkling comeback as he showed his moves on and off the oche. The crowd loved his dancing but he also showed his darting skills as he knocked out Steve Beaton and Justin Pipe before James Wade eventually ended his brilliant run.
Hottest ticket in town
The hottest ticket in town is the darts
The darts over Christmas is now a big tradition amongst fans, and almost every session was sold out at Alexandra Palace as more than 50,000 fans attended the event from the first round to the final. As always, fancy dress was the order of the day and there were plenty of weird and wonderful costumes to enjoy, along with plenty of songs and banter. Throw in the dancers on stage and the wonderful walk-on girls and you've got everything needed for a fantastic night out, which is why tickets sell out in minutes every year.
It was a difficult game for both Ronny and Kim Huybrechts as two brothers met in the World Championship for the first time, and younger brother Kim took no joy in coming out on top in their emotional match-up. Older brother Ronny had looked far more assured early on but he could not hit his doubles as Kim scrapped to a 3-1 win despite being largely outplayed in what was a clearly difficult game for both Belgians.
His performance in the final was patchy, but van Gerwen showed all of his ability and plenty of bottle during two key games in his triumphant run. Firstly, he had to show his character to come from 3-1 down to beat former finalist Gary Anderson 4-3 just to reach the quarter-finals, needing a 102 average to see off the Scot. MVG then showed his enormous talent in the last four, making a mockery of what should have been a huge showdown with Adrian Lewis to dispatch 'Jackpot' 6-0 and go marching into the final with a 103 average and an eye-watering 58 percent checkout stat on the doubles.
Andy 'Pieman' Smith is one of the most popular players on the circuit, but he has not had the best of luck in recent times as he had failed to win a match on TV for three years heading into his first round match against Steve Brown. He'd also had a dreadful run at the World Championships, suffering five first round defeats in the last six years, but he finally found that winning formula with a 3-1 success against Brown. Smith was beaten in the second round but the relief of finally winning on TV was evident as he spoke to Sky Sports afterwards.