Taylor beaten but protégé Lewis comes of age

When Phil Taylor chose to mentor a raw but exceptionally talented youngster by the name of Adrian Lewis, Stoke was always destined for two World Champions. Now, at only 25 years of age, Lewis has followed in the footsteps of his illustrious teacher, winning the PDC World Championships 7-5 against Gary Anderson. In a final without the likes of Taylor or Van Barneveld it was the time for a new starlet to shine bright over Alexandra Palace.

Given that two darts tournaments are held simultaneously over the New Year period, confusion can unsurprisingly occur. In 1993 many players left the British Darts Organisation (BDO) and created the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC, or as many of us know it as, ‘the sky competition…’). With more money involved it has down the years attracted the elite of world darts. Since reshuffling the system Taylor has dominated everything, winning fifteen World titles and even being voted runner up in 2010’s Sports Personality of the Year. With his apprentice now vying for top spot, darts can anticipate some tantalising encounters in the coming months.

Smashing action began this year’s proceedings with Colin Lloyd thumping the board out of frustration in his first round match. It may have given him bloody knuckles but he did manage to scrape through. Several big names did crash out early however. John Part, a triple World Champion, was a first round scalp along with seeds Painter, Stompe and quick firing Dutchman Jelle Klaasen. Underachievers also included World number two James Wade and last year’s losing finalist Simon Whitlock. After the first few rounds the match of the tournament was easily Anderson again former champions Dennis Priestley, who attempted an audacious recovery when on the verge of defeat. Only real grit and class from the eventual finalist managed to keep Priestley at bay

The turning point for Taylor came in the quarter finals, where not only he but also Van Barneveld crashed out. In a thrilling evening session Taylor came across a stubborn and at times superb Mark Webster. The Welshman’s consistency put pay to Taylor’s challenge which had slightly faltered over his past few matches. Van Barneveld looked a shadow of his previous self being annihilated by Anderson 5-1 in legs. Once again the lightning atmosphere was something to savour, showing what a magnificent job Barry Hearn has done to promote the game of darts as a spectacle. On the other hand he may have a harder job doing the same to his next challenge; snooker.

Over the five matches before the final, Anderson had averaged in excess of 100 in each, which suggested the final could be something to remember. And so it turned out to be. Inside the first set Adrian Lewis pulled off a 9 dart finish. Two 180s on the trot and then a stunning 141 finish. Never before had this been seen in a World Championship final. Perhaps never again, even Phil ‘the Power’ Taylor hasn’t achieved it yet. It put Lewis on his way and he quickly took a 2-0 lead in the best of 13 set final. With the scoring so high, any opportunity on a double needed to be taken and it was here where Lewis was edging ahead. Anderson fought back as every good Scot does and soon the match was all square at three apiece. But he was always slightly behind in hitting 180s and along with doubles this proved to be very decisive.

Several more sets on the bounce for Lewis putting him 6-3 up and by this stage he had got the crowd behind him as well. Another stirring attempt by Anderson at a comeback with an abundance of twelve and fifteen dart legs, but he was just too far behind. Lewis even had the misfortune of two darts falling out of the board in the same throw before the end. In a match of supreme quality, Lewis broke the record for the most number of 180s hit in a single championship ever, scoring an astonishing sixty in total.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling, I’m in dreamland to be honest,” said Lewis reflecting on his 7-5 victory and £200,000 payday, “To hit a nine-darter was fabulous, especially on an occasion like this.”

So we have another English darts World Champion. If only IOC president Jacques Rogge was watching…


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