It’s a New Year and, sadly, that signals the end of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship. However, there is much to reminisce about from a tournament that leaves us with great anticipation for the darts year ahead.

World Darts Championship

The Finalists – Lawrence Lustig/PDC

With so many new characters coming through, more players challenging for the title, and, of course, the atmosphere that the crowd bring to the Alexandra Palace, darts always puts a smile on your face so let’s take a look back at some of the thrills and spills from an enthralling sixteen days at the Ally Pally.

First of all, we were treated to two amazing nine dart finishes. Both came in the first round on the second day of the tournament from Australian Kyle Anderson and Herefordshire’s Terry Jenkins.

A brace of perfect legs so early in the tournament (and on the same day) is rare indeed and stranger still is the fact that both players ended up losing their matches. Jenkins bowed out losing 3-2 to Per Laursen while Anderson was knocked out by Ian White 3-1. Those two nine darters were an early indication that we were going to be in for a fantastic Christmas of Darts.

The first round of games provided us with some exciting, nail biting matches, but for half of the players it wasn’t so enjoyable as there always has to be a loser.

The major casualty of the first round was Dave Chisnall who was beaten 3-2 in an epic match by Scotsman John Henderson. Chizzy missed four match darts in a deciding set but Hendo held his never to prevail, helped on the way by a quality 132 checkout of bull, bull, double sixteen. It was edge of the seat stuff and arguably the best match of round one.

Round one provided excitement and shocks but the biggest upset for some years was waiting around the corner in round two.

Young Michael ‘Bully’ Smith came up against the legend, defending champion, and world no.1, Phil Taylor. Smith came into the game following a brilliant victory over Morihiro Hashimoto and was brimming with confidence for his attempt to toppled The Power and blow the draw wide open.

When Taylor cracked in a 156 finish in the first leg and went on to lead 3-2 in sets the writing looked to be on the wall but Smith dug deep and broke back and then took the game with brilliant 11 and 13 darts legs in the final set clinching the win on the bull.

Smith could not match the feat in the next round against Peter Wright and bowed out to the eventual runner up, but taking out Taylor on the biggest stage has announced him to the world and signaled that Michael Smith could well be the future of darts.

There was plenty of fun and entertainment over the sixteen days of top tungsten and one person shone like a beacon – Devon Petersen. Petersen was like a breath of fresh air with his walk on and spectacular dancing.

The likeable South African may not have won the World Championship but he did win himself a Wayne Mardle t-shirt for best dance moves. His dancing was good and his darting ability wasn’t too shabby either.

The Spartan played beautifully against Steve Beaton, beating him 3-1 to move into the second round of the tournament and a meeting with in-form Justin Pipe. Petersen came out on top again beating The Force 4-1 to suddenly find himself in the Last 16 where he faced a fortunate James Wade.

Wade had almost gone out in both his first and second round matches as his opponents missed numerous match darts. But The Machine managed to find his best form in round three and ended Petersen’s colourful run at the Alexandra Palace. While Petersen was looking back on a great tournament that earned him a few bob and a whole new fan base, Wade was succumbing timidly to Adrian Lewis in the quarter final – a defeat that would see the man from Aldershot miss out on a 2014 Premier League place.

One of the most consistent players of 2013 was Peter Wright. He came into the World Championship playing the best darts of his life and maintained one of the most consistent averages throughout the tournament. Snakebite deservedly reached the final leaving Joe Cullen, Per Laursen, Michael Smith, Wes Newton and Simon Whitlock in his wake before running into the brick wall that is Michael van Gerwen.

Wright went into the final having outplayed Michael van Gerwen in the tournament stats but MvG has arguably been world champion in waiting for two years now and nobody was going to deny him his destiny.

A dull start from the colourful Wright saw van Gerwen race into a four sets to nil lead before Wright discovered his rhythm and got to grips with the occasion to make a game of it before losing 7-4.

The final was ultimately a little one-sided but Wright’s impressive late season form and outlandish character have been enough to earn a place in the 2014 Premier League of Darts. It will be interesting to see how he fares and how he dresses over the fifteen weeks of raucous darts!

This only leaves us to talk about the latest PDC World Champion, Mighty Michael van Gerwen.

The fiery Dutchman has changed the level of darts over the past couple of years but was having something of an average tournament, just doing enough to get through each round.

He probably should have lost to Gary Anderson in their thrilling last 16 match but by the time he came up against two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis in the semi-final the green machine was starting to move through the gears.

We finally saw the van Gerwen we had become used to. He missed nothing and finished sublimely to surprisingly whitewash Jackpot 6-0. All that was left was the small matter of seeing off Peter Wright and on New Year’s Day Michael van Gerwen finally got to hold aloft the Sid Waddell Trophy and bank the quarter of a million pounds cheque.

After more than two weeks of dashing darts we certainly weren’t short-changed in the entertainment stakes. We had shocks aplenty, some truly amazing darts, and every night was exhilarating.

For me this was one of the most enjoyable World Championships I have watched. There are new players emerging all the time and a more level playing field with the slow decline of Phil Taylor. More players can challenge for the major titles which will make for an exciting 2014 that all starts in Liverpool on February 6th with the McCoy’s Premier League.

Laura Dowling is a student journalist and writes occasionally for DartsMad.com