In sport, what merits perfection? It’s one of the questions to which there’s no definitive answer. Simply because, obviously, in different codes, moments of utter greatness manifest themselves in varying ways.
For instance, for a GAA player, it would most likely be hitting the winning score in an All Ireland Final. A golfer would probably plump for a hole in one. Having the ultimate impact in a rugby game might involve scoring (or converting) the winning try in a European or World Cup decider. Similar sentiments are easily applicable to soccer too.
For exponents of darts, the ultimate achievement must be to check out – in other words win an individual game – by throwing only nine arrows. The most common way of achieving that – though it rarely happens – is going 2 x 3 x 20, 1 x 2 x 19, 1 x 2 x 12. It was probably more than coincidence that it was seeing Michael Van Gerwen achieve the feat one night (and nearly do so again seconds later) which got me hooked on the sport.
The thing is, occasionally, perfection is useless. You see, at the most recent incarnation of the PDC World Championships, Terry Jenkins and Kyle Anderson both hit the zenith of their game – within a few minutes of each – yet both ended up losing their respective first round matches.
Now, that Van Gerwen eventually claimed the Sid Waddell Trophy on January 1st wouldn’t have been the greatest shock, but, it was a championship with entertainment and surprises aplenty all the same. Not least the sight of promising youngster Michael Smith ousting Phil Taylor relatively early into the proceedings.
That ‘The Power’ was eliminated was, in itself, not the biggest turn up going, but, few would have expected him to exit so quickly. Given his antics after he defeated Raymond Van Bernaveld last season – before subsequently suppressing MVG to attain his 16thworld title – you’d wonder how he’ll react to this latest turn of events.
His powers being on the wane has been more obvious recently than ever before. That might seem a strange assessment given the plethora of titles he has annexed already during the season. However, even though he has been winning, it hasn’t been with near the same authority as before. Where once it wouldn’t even have entered the equation, of late, the sense was that it was always at the very least a possibility.
For all that, to see he who did manage to pull it off, and at the stage it transpired, was still a bit more than a little shock. Maybe, though, it actually points to a changing of the guard in the sport. Van Gerwen has been threatening to harvest the golden fleece for a while, so, his doing so could hardly be the epitome of same. Other developments might be stronger pointers, mind you.
Before the Dutchman really began to properly fulfil the potential that has always been obvious, Adrian Lewis was clearly – and rightly – deemed second in the pecking order behind Taylor. And, despite being resoundingly thumped by MVG in the semi final, he must still be considered so. On the night in question, William Tel himself wouldn’t have shot arrows with any greater accuracy or efficiency than the victor.
Difference being that now it is MVG he’s second to. Which, of course, begs the question, where does that leave Taylor? This observer would vouch that, while he may not have the aura of auld, to write him off yet might prove very foolhardy indeed. Beware the power and hunger of a wounded lion!
What may transpire is that whoever is deemed to be at or near the top of the tree might find their stiffest competition emerging from unusual angles. Aside from the delightful dancing of Devon Pietersen, among the other highlights (literally) – once you warmed to them – were the many styling varieties – and playing style – of the very colourful Peter Wright.
The big challenge now for ‘Snakebite’ is to maintain the form he exhibited and become a force on a regular basis. Ditto Gary Anderson, Wes Newton and Simon Whitlock – to varying degrees in each case.
It seems fairly certain, in any case, that the forthcoming Premier League will be far from a one or two horse race. Now all it needs to do is hurry up!