World Darts Championship: We review the action at Alexandra Palace
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 02/01/13 11:34pm
What a tournament it was at Alexandra Palace, with the 20th PDC World Darts Championship to be screened live on Sky Sports going down as one of the best in history.
Phil Taylor emerged from a quality field to lift his 16th world title, but it looked for a long time like the new kid on the block Michael van Gerwen would cement his place as the new force in darts with his maiden victory.
We also saw two nine-darters in the event, with Dean Winstanley pulling off the perfect leg only to see Van Gerwen equal that achievement later on - and almost surpass it with back-to-back efforts.
Here's how the 2013 World Darts Championship unfolded with our pick of the best action...
End of an era?
There were few surprises early on in the event, Colin Lloyd survived against American Darin Young in a 3-2 thriller, while Mervyn King was also on the wrong side of that scoreline against Winstanley, but the first round will be remembered for the World Championship possibly waving goodbye to a legend.
Dennis 'The Menace' Priestley says he will not be trying to qualify for the event again after he lost 3-1 to Ronnie Baxter in real old school battle between two of the most popular veterans on the darts circuit.
Van Gerwen may not have lifted the Sid Waddell trophy, but he came of age at the event with a series of scintillating performances, including when he came within millimetres of achieving something truly special.
The nine-darter is a special feat, even though a few more names have been added to the list, doing it on the big stage in the World Championship is a special achievement, but Van Gerwen almost did the unthinkable by repeating it in the very next leg of his semi-final.
While many players lose their head after hitting a nine-darter, Van Gerwen was straight back into it with six perfect darts revving the crowd up to fever pitch, but he agonisingly missed the double 12 that would have singled him out in darting history.
Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld are great friends off the oche, but their relationship soured after their much-hyped semi-final clash when Taylor took offence to a heavy-handed handshake from the big Dutchman and reacted angrily.
It left a sour taste in the mouth of fans, viewers and Barney, and Taylor was forced to make a full apology after himself being upset by his own actions and even hinted at quitting darts.
Although that talk soon disappeared after he won a 16th world title it will be interesting to see the two clash in the upcoming Premier League.
Walk-on girls adding the darting glamour
The thrill of the darts comes as much with the atmosphere in the crowd as the magic of the darts being played up on the big stage, and this year was no different with the glamorous walk-on girls, vast array of comical signs and fancy dress outfits.
Our own Wayne Mardle was keen to get amongst it and pick out his best costumes and signs amongst the crowd as they enjoyed the hottest ticket in town at the darts.
Gone but not forgotten
This World Championship was sadly the first without 'The Voice of Darts Sid Waddell' in the Sky Sports commentary box, but despite the gloom organisers ensured his name would forever live on in darts by renaming the World Championship trophy in his honour.
Taylor with Sid Waddell trophy
Waddell's son was on stage to hand the Sid Waddell Trophy over to Phil Taylor after he claimed the crown, and what more fitting tribute could there be to have the Geordie wordsmith's name on the biggest prize in darts.
Adrian Lewis was the two-time defending champion and was unbeaten in 15 matches on the Ally Pally stage, and despite 'Jackpot' producing some superb arrows, he was just unable to fend off a rampant Van Gerwen in a 4-3 thriller.
Only a quarter-final, the match would have graced any final, with Lewis weathering a stunning attack of 180 hitting from the Dutchman to even have two darts for the match before going down 4-2 in the deciding set of an enthralling battle.
Both men averaged over 100 and combined for 26 180s, but it was Van Gerwen who sealed a semi-final date with James Wade after hitting one of the biggest double fours of his career.
Dean Winstanley came through a tough first round assignment by upsetting Mervyn King, and his second round was just as tough with quick-fire Dutchman Vincent van der Voort lying in wait, but the Yorkshireman responded in style.
Winstanley did not manage to battle past van der Voort, but he did etch his name into World Championship history as he completed a nine-dart finish on the Alexandra Palace stage - something even Phil Taylor himself has not yet managed to do.
Van Gerwen halved Winstanley's reward though as he equalled his perfect finish, but nobody can take away Winstanley's achievements, and he showed what it meant to him by the way he sprinted almost off the stage to celebrate!