Following a thrilling 16 days at the World Darts Championship, here’s a look back at the most memorable moments
The World Darts Championship never fails to deliver. Despite the absence of the crowds, who play such a fundamental role in bringing the tournament to life, we were still treated to 16 days of gripping drama, as Gerwyn Price walked away with the coveted Sid Waddell Trophy.
Price created a whole host of records as he pocketed the £500,000 top prize, becoming the first Welshman to lift the PDC World Championship title, which saw him end Michael van Gerwen’s seven-year reign as world No 1 in the process.
There were concerns about whether the absence of fans at Alexandra Palace would diminish the prestige of the tournament, but it was still a World Championship to remember, which is testament to all 95 players, the officials and those working tirelessly behind the scenes.
PDC World Championship – Roll of Honour
|14||Phil Taylor||1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013|
|3||Michael van Gerwen||2014, 2017, 2019|
|2||Gary Anderson||2015, 2016|
|Adrian Lewis||2011, 2012|
|John Part||2003, 2008|
|Raymond van Barneveld||2007|
We saw a series of early upsets – Peter Wright, Rob Cross, Michael Smith, Nathan Aspinall and James Wade all crashed out before the last-16 stage, which afforded unheralded names the opportunity to make their mark – step forward Edward Foulkes.
There were a record 877 maximums hit, accompanied by seven 170 finishes and an incredible 246 ton-plus checkouts. However, after 16 days of tungsten tension and 54,237 darts thrown, it was ‘The Iceman’ that kept his cool to etch his name into darting history.
Here’s a look back at some of the highlights from the 2021 tournament…
Price is right for wonderful Welshman
1:40 Price squandered an incredible 11 match darts before eventually closing out victory against Gary Anderson
Price squandered an incredible 11 match darts before eventually closing out victory against Gary Anderson
Gerwyn Price entered PDC Qualifying School as a complete novice. In the early stages of his career, he was often referred to as ‘the former Rugby League and Rugby Union star’. Not anymore.
‘The Iceman’ is now rightly acknowledged for his darting exploits – his 7-3 win over Gary Anderson in Sunday’s final saw him become the 10th player to win the PDC world title, catapulting him to world No 1 in the process.
Ironically, Price’s 2018 Grand Slam win – also against Anderson – marked his major breakthrough, and he has not looked back since. Rob Cross was regarded as the ultimate rags to riches story, but the Welshman’s rise is equally striking.
‘The Machine’ ends nine-dart drought
1:15 James Wade’s nine-darter in his match with Stephen Bunting was the tenth in the history of the PDC World Championship
James Wade’s nine-darter in his match with Stephen Bunting was the tenth in the history of the PDC World Championship
James Wade ended the five-year wait for a nine-dart finish at Alexandra Palace by achieving perfection in his last-32 clash against Bunting – his third nine-darter in front of the TV cameras.
Wade – who has seen a record seven perfect legs hit against him in televised events – is renowned for his nonchalant attitude, but his exploits felt even more surreal due to the absence of jubilant celebrations from a capacity crowd.
The Machine’s nine-darter was the 10th at a PDC World Championship, but it came in a losing cause, as he relinquished a 2-0 lead and continued his wait for an elusive world title, becoming the fifth player to lose a match at Ally Pally after landing the nine.
Dancing Deta makes history
4:34 Deta Hedman became the first black female to feature on the biggest stage in world darts
Deta Hedman became the first black female to feature on the biggest stage in world darts
Deta Hedman made darting history at Alexandra Palace – becoming the first black woman to compete in the PDC World Championship, after making her debut in the sport’s showpiece event at the age of 61.
Hedman has been an incredible ambassador for the sport throughout the last five decades and although she was beaten 3-1 by Andy Boulton, she relished her moment in the spotlight – evidenced by her memorable walk-on.
Elsewhere, Lisa Ashton came agonisingly close to registering her first televised win over a male opponent. The four-time women’s world champion produced a fine display against Adam Hunt, only to exit in a dramatic fifth and final set.
Darting drama & last-leg thrillers
3:17 Gabriel Clemens missed seven match darts in the deciding leg as Krzysztof Ratajski somehow became the first Pole to reach the quarter-finals at the World Darts Championship
Gabriel Clemens missed seven match darts in the deciding leg as Krzysztof Ratajski somehow became the first Pole to reach the quarter-finals at the World Darts Championship
The PDC scrapped tie-breaks for this year’s World Darts Championship – citing concerns about sessions potentially over-running, and initially it was a move that polarised opinion.
Some of the greatest matches in the tournament’s history have concluded with sudden-death legs – Raymond van Barneveld’s famous 2007 triumph against Phil Taylor and Rob Cross’ win over Michael van Gerwen in 2018 being two prominent examples.
The set-play format is conducive for providing drama, but there’s an argument to say the lack of tie-breaks added to the spectacle. It placed greater significance on the pre-match throw for the bull, with 16 matches going all the way to a last-leg decider.
Brilliant Bunting enjoys resurgence
1:40 Stephen Bunting hit five ton+ finishes against Gerwyn Price in their record-breaking semi-final showdown
Stephen Bunting hit five ton+ finishes against Gerwyn Price in their record-breaking semi-final showdown
Stephen Bunting produced arguably his best darts since joining the PDC at Alexandra Palace. ‘The Bullet’ was firing on all cylinders throughout the last fortnight, progressing to the last four before succumbing to eventual champion Price.
Three years ago, the former BDO world champion was considering quitting the sport after tumbling down the rankings, but he credits visiting a sports psychologist for saving his career.
The most impressive aspect of Bunting’s campaign was his proclivity to produce under pressure. He fought back magnificently to defeat James Wade and Ryan Searle, before fending off a Krzysztof Ratajski fightback in the last eight. ‘The Bullet’ is back!
The best leg of all-time?
1:49 Michael van Gerwen and Dave Chisnall went head-to-head for a nine darter in a classic leg of darts
Michael van Gerwen and Dave Chisnall went head-to-head for a nine darter in a classic leg of darts
Dave Chisnall’s extraordinary 5-0 whitewash of Michael van Gerwen had it all, barring a nine-dart finish. Nevertheless, the St Helens star came extremely close in one of the most incredible legs in World Championship history.
In a leg featuring three consecutive maximums, Chisnall missed D12 for the nine-darter, which prompted an outrageous display of showmanship from Van Gerwen.
The Dutchman, who had left 181 after six darts himself, showed Chizzy how it was done by hitting a 141 to leave tops after nine darts, yet he still lost the leg. This was darts at its brilliant best.
MVG and Cullen contest Ally Pally classic
0:47 Michael van Gerwen survived two match darts in his last 16 epic against Joe Cullen, before being whitewashed by Dave Chisnall
Michael van Gerwen survived two match darts in his last 16 epic against Joe Cullen, before being whitewashed by Dave Chisnall
Michael van Gerwen’s last 16 clash against Joe Cullen was a World Championship classic. It was an absorbing contest played at a blistering pace – featuring 34 out of a possible 35 legs.
‘The Rockstar’ produced the performance of his darting life, but suffered heartbreak after wiring two match darts at the bullseye, departing the tournament despite piling in 19 maximums!
It also reaffirmed the power of sport – in ordinary times sport can provide escapism, and that’s never been more necessary given the current climate. The pair contributed to seven sets of pulsating drama, and just for an hour or so, life almost felt normal again.
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