Has Luke Humphries finally taken over the status of undisputed darts king from Michael van Gerwen?

When Michael van Gerwen passed on the number-one spot in the world rankings at the turn of 2021 to Gerwyn Price after seven years, a change was afoot at the top. 'Mighty Mike' did not seem the same since he had lost to Peter Wright in the final at Alexandra Palace a year earlier.

He switched manufacturers in the aftermath of that defeat and then masterfully won the UK Open. But Van Gerwen could not follow up that title well. The rest of 2020/2021 was shaky and his aura of invincibility was fading. There was a vacuum in darts for a new leader.

When the vacuum arose, Luke Humphries had just returned from the Development Tour. He was not mentioned at the time as one of the heirs to the throne. In reality, no one has really taken over until now. There was a brief rivalry between Wright and Price, but that was short-lived. Michael Smith crowned himself world champion in early 2023, but even "Bullyboy" did not put himself forward as Van Gerwen's final successor after that. Luke Humphries is the next player tipped to takeover, and in all fairness, many signs speak in Humphries' favour, statistics platform Darts Orakel writes.

After becoming world champion, the Englishman was still the third favourite at tournaments behind Michael van Gerwen and Luke Littler in the early part of 2024. Nevertheless, Humphries has reached the final at five of the last six TV majors, four of which he has won. But after a triumphant Euro Tour title and three weekly titles in a row on the Premier League, "Cool Hand Luke" has emphatically emerged as the man to beat.

If there was any doubt prior to the Euro Tour tournament in Munich, there can be none now. Littler may be coveted by the tabloids, but it is Humphries who is leaving his peers far behind. It's not just the titles, but the numbers that go with them.

His tournament average at the German Darts Grand Prix was 107.51, a number surpassed only once in European Tour history. By Michael van Gerwen, who once recorded a tournament average of 107.58 at the peak of his career in 2018. The Van Gerwen of that era was named among the best players of all time, someone who could have matched peak Phil Taylor.

Humphries has thrown no less than eighteen 105+ averages on the European Tour since the beginning of 2022. That's the same number as Gerwyn Price since 2019, and one more than Van Gerwen since the same year.

Even worse for his rivals, the numbers are improving. Last year at this point, he had an annual average of just under 98. At the same point in 2024, he hovers between 101 and 102. In Premier League Darts, Humphries has thrown an average above 100 in 15 of 19 matches. These are figures that only Van Gerwen and Taylor have put up in the past.

The headlines may be about Littler, but it is the other Luke who is letting his darts do the talking. Whether anyone can hold the top spot as long as Taylor and Van Gerwen remains to be seen, especially since there is a lot more strength in depth in the current era.

Chances are, however, Humphries will hold the first spot in the world rankings for at least the forseeable future. It will take some top performances to knock "Cool Hand Luke" off the throne even then.

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