The 2017 PDC World Darts Championship has statistically been the best World Championship that the PDC has had since it split from the BDO in 1992. The tournament was famous for setting new records, with records being smashed for highest winning and highest losing averages as well as the most 180's from a single player in one match (Gary Anderson - 22) and from a single player throughout the tournament (Gary Anderson - 71) and finally, the most 180's throughout the entire tournament, with a staggering 704 maximums from 63 matches, an average of just under eleven 180's in every match. It all made for the most entertaining championship that we've ever seen. This article will take you through the Championship round-by-round as we see how Michael van Gerwen became the first sporting World Champion of 2017.
We comfortably saw most of the high-ranked of the 32 seeded players advance to the 2nd round. The only real 'shock' saw 2014 BDO World Champion Stephen Bunting eliminated by veteran Darren Webster, who had a good tournament himself, advancing to Round 3 before being seen off by eventual Champion Michael van Gerwen. Vincent van der Voort was also knocked out in Round One by the German, Max Hopp in a slightly more minor shock of the round. The match of the round saw Dave "Chizzy" Chisnall just edge out former Youth Champion Rowby-John Rodriguez by a score of 3-2 in a match which could easily have gone either way. Michael van Gerwen unsurprisingly achieved the highest three-dart average of the round, with the Dutchman averaging 103.34 in his 3-0 victory over qualifier Kim Viljanen as 64 became 32 at the end of Round One.
Again this saw the majority of highly-seeded players progress through. It also saw one of the best matches of the tournament between Michael van Gerwen and Spaniard Cristo Reyes. Reyes managed a higher average than "Mighty Mike"of 106.07, the highest of the round, as well as a higher checkout percentage on the doubles, but managed to somehow still be unable to avoid defeat to van Gerwen, eventually losing by 4 sets to 2. Michael Smith vs. Mervyn King was another classic match at London's 'Ally Pally', where "Bully Boy" Smith had just enough to squeeze past his opponent 4-3 in a match that lasted over an hour and a half. A repeat of the 2004 final between Kevin Painter and 16-times World Champion Phil Taylor was unfortunately not a shade of that famous final, which saw Taylor win in a last leg decider 12 years ago, as Taylor was comfortably victorius 4-0.
This round saw the highest average of the tournament so far, with the reigning, back-to-back Champion Gary Anderson averaging 107.68 in a 4-2 defeat of Benito van de Pas. Elsewhere, comeback king James Wade, who is branded as the best darts player to have never won the Championship, came back from 3-1 down to former Youth Champion Michael Smith to win 4-3. "Superchin" Daryl Gurney again upset the odds by beating Welshman Mark Webster 4-3, following his impressive odds-defying defeat of Robert Thornton by the same scoreline in the previous round to reach the quarter-finals for the first time. Raymond van Barneveld also caused an upset, defeating 5th seed and former back-to-back World Champion Adrian Lewis 4-3.
The quarter-finals saw just two of the top eight seeds not reach the last eight as Adrian Lewis and Mensur Suljovic had already crashed out. The game of the round was between Gary Anderson and Dave Chisnall, which saw "Chizzy" equal a then World Championship record of twenty-one 180's in a single match, but it was not enough to avoid defeat, as Anderson came through 5-3 with a round-high average of 105.9. Elsewhere, Daryl Gurney's unexpected venture into the quarter-finals came to an abrupt end as he went down 5-1 to the "Green Machine" Michael van Gerwen. A repeat of the 2009 final between Raymond van Barneveld and Phil Taylor saw Barney again upset the odds and beat his fellow veteran of the game 5-3. The last quarter-final saw "Snakebite" Peter Wright defeat James Wade by the same scoreline to advance to the final four.
This World Championship was the first ever to not have an Englishman in the semi-finals. The first semi-final was the all Scottish affair between Gary Anderson and Peter Wright. The eccentric Wright had had a good tournament thus far, with a very respectable tournament average over the magical 100 and had also only dropped four sets to get there - joint best with van Gerwen. However, fan-favourite Wright unfortunately could not quite match his earlier high standards in this match and so was inevitably defeated by second seed Anderson.
The second semi-final was possibly the finest match that the 'Ally Pally' has ever seen. Michael van Gerwen smashed the world record for the highest World Championship average, achieving 114.05 in defeating fellow Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld 6-2. But that scoreline wasn't half the story; Barney averaged 109.34 in what was the highest losing average of all time, and yet still ranked as the fourth highest ever average for a World Championship. However, the match was marred slightly as in an interview after the game, an emotional Barney said how he'll be looking to retire in the next few years, which would be a very sore miss for the game of darts.
Then there was the final, the first final since 2009 between Taylor and Barney to feature both of the top two seeds, and Michael van Gerwen vs. Gary Anderson did not disappoint. MvG eeked out Anderson with an average just below 108 to win 7-3 despite a late, inspired comeback from the "Flying Scotsman", in which he set his own record of the most amount of 180's in a match, scoring 22, one more than Chizzy's record from the quarter-finals. With his victory, van Gerwen won the Sid Waddell Trophy for the second time, as well as an all-time high amount of prize money too, scooping a whopping £350,000.
It would be hard to look past Michael van Gerwen for player of the tournament and player of the year. The 2017 World Champion went undefeated in televised PDC events for the whole of 2016, and his "order of merit" from all his victories means that if he were to take a full year off and not throw a single dart until the 2018 World Championship starts in mid-December this year, he would still be the number one seed for the competition. Everyone will definitely have to up their game in 2017 to stop the almost unplayable Dutchman, who deservedly won the 2017 PDC World Darts Championship.