The 2019 PDC World Matchplay dealt up some cracking moments.
It didn’t have the nine-darter that we enjoyed in 2018, but there were two 170 checkouts, lots of big averages and some moments of magic (as well as madness). Rob Cross ended up on top, beating Michael Smith in the final. Up to and including that point, the World Matchplay gave us plenty to savour.
We’ve picked out five of our favourite moments here.
Mervyn King’s big scowly face
Oh, Mervyn. You King amongst men.
The veteran surprised a lot of us by reaching the quarter-finals despite appearing to be on the cusp of spontaneous combustion the whole time. King produced a brilliant performance to beat Nathan Aspinall 10-5 in round one.
But the Norfolk star’s real coup de grace was in knocking out the defending champion, Gary Anderson. The Flying Scotsman wasn’t at his best, but King held his nerve to cause a World Matchplay shock. He sadly melted in the quarter-finals, but the memories last forever.
Just look at his reaction after the 12-darter that sent Anderson packing.
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) July 23, 2019
Daryl Gurney was about to make another huge stride forward in his career. The Players Championship Finals champion had just dumped out the in-form Peter Wright and looked bound for the World Matchplay final. At 14-7 up against Rob Cross in a race to 17, it looked like it was a matter of when, not if.
In the end, after what Gurney described as “30 minutes of hell”, everything had changed.
Cross won three of the next four legs after going 14-7 down to put on the pressure – and Gurney felt it. The Englishman gradually reeled in the lead; the tension within the Winter Gardens was palpable.
Gurney grabbed his 15th leg, but four darts at tops for a 16-10 win missed their target. It was all Cross needed. Not long later it was 15-15, then Cross took the lead. Gurney had the chance to extend the game, but again missed. And so, with a well-timed double 16, the 2018 world champion was in the final.
“I feel absolutely amazing, this will stay with me forever,” Cross gushed afterwards. It’ll most likely stay with everyone who was there.
Duzza’s big moment
Glen Durrant was widely backed to win his World Matchplay first round match, but not to get too much further.
The three-time BDO world champion hadn’t made waves at the UK Open, and so was still waiting for a lengthy run at a major. It was perhaps harsh to write off Adrian Lewis in the first round, but Durrant proved that it was apt with a comfortable win.
Then came a clash of champions. Durrant, the Lakeside winner in January; and Michael van Gerwen, who picked up his third World Championship at the Ally Pally a couple of weeks before. Their clash, as expected, was exceptional. Mistakes were punished, both embarked on some superb streaks, and in the end it was the underdog who caused an almighty stir.
With the world number one gone, the Teesside titan was suddenly backed among the World Matchplay favourites. He saw off James Wade, ensuring that there’d be a new champion, but it wouldn’t prove to be him. Even in defeat at the semi-final stage, Durrant won hearts and minds all over.
After all, who doesn’t love Duzza? He’s beloved by all–oh.
— Glen Durrant (@Duzza180) July 28, 2019
Bunting goes the distance
Stephen Bunting played 81 legs at the World Matchplay. That’s just seven fewer than Glen Durrant, who played an extra match, and a whopping 24 more than fellow beaten quarter-finalist Peter Wright.
Even his exit was quite glorious – Rob Cross had to dig deep to beat him 16-14. Before that, Bunting survived five match darts to stun Ian White and secure his first ever World Matchplay quarter-final berth.
Our Bullet highlight, however, was his first round win against Gerwyn Price. The seventh seed led through the entirety of the opening stages but when it came to the crunch, Bunting had hung in and made the score 11-11.
A brilliant bull finish for an 85 gave Bunting his chance; four match darts missed swung it back in Price’s favour. And so we reached endgame.
A 140, 134 and 102 set Bunting up – but a slack 46 meant that he still required 79 for victory with Price on 87. The Welshman missed one dart at bull to take the match. Bunting didn’t mess around, missing a single match dart before nailing double 11 for the match.
Among a packed crowd of very close encounters, it was up there with the best.
Cross deals with the doubters
When Rob Cross planted his dart into the double four, he wrote his name in a very exclusive chapter of the history books.
Eight players had won the World Matchplay before Cross. But only three – Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor – have won the World Championship as well. For the 28-year-old to already be in legendary company is very promising indeed.
Across five games, Cross stifled all criticism from doubters who crowed that he was a one-hit wonder. Down went Chris Dobey, Krzysztof Ratajski, Stephen Bunting, Daryl Gurney and Michael Smith.
He must have been stunned to be 9-1 up against Smith in the final. The Bully Boy’s gritty comeback almost caused a bigger shock. But unlike with Gurney in Cross’ previous match, there were no slips. A first World Matchplay title was signed, sealed and delivered home to Sussex.
With another massive title under his belt, can the former electrician continue to light up the big tournaments? After this, he’ll believe so.
CROSS IS THE CHAMPION!
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) July 28, 2019
Author: Ed McCosh