Dartoids World

Column #HR442 All Hail the New World #1 and World Champion, Luke Humphries

Thursday, January 4, 2024
Column HR442 
All Hail the New World #1 and World Champion, Luke Humphries 

As a young toddler The Old Dart Coach found Saturday a wonderous day of listening to the old standup radio.  His favorite?  Grand Central Station. “Grand Central Station – crossroads of the world with a million stories.”

From December 15, 2023, to January 3, 2024, the Alexandra Palace was ‘The Grand Central Station of Darts”.  Those millions of stories are impossible to cover in 1,100 words.

The ODC previously mentioned that from December 15-23 the event would “separate the wheat from the chaff.”  Unfortunate stupid remark.  Every player that steps onto the stage of the Alexandra Palace is a diamond ready to sparkle under the light of the television cameras.  Unfortunately, half of those who departed the stage did so bort.

“Bort?” An industrial diamond, not sparkling but useful.

One story dominated.  That story was of a 16-year-old named Luke Littler.  In describing his impact on the sport, it would be necessary to unpack the dictionary or travel to Google to obtain the necessary superlatives.  In the short term he’s done for darts what “mustard’s done for hot dogs” – he went through the field like a 28-year-old male does at the weekly “Grab a Granny Night” at the local Holiday Inn.

John Riding had a bet on Littler explaining.  “I checked the draw and thought one side was overloaded with out of form players, so I backed Littler 66/1.”

David Miller ($50 at +5,000) could have hit the jackpot with a Littler win.  A win would have resulted in Mr. Miller winning $25,500.  He would have had to go into the winning witness protection program.

Both can play “What if?”

Riding had a point – but that section had Michael Smith, Michael van Gerwen, Steven Bunting and Damon Heta.  None of these were “out of form.”  Consider the ease with which Littler won his way to the final.  Littler’s averages speak for themselves: 108.74, 106.12, 105.01 and 101.23.

In Littler’s run to the finals he had to defeat Christian Kist (3-0), Andrew Gilding (3-1), Matt Campbell (4-1), Raymond van Barneveld (4-1), a red-hot Brenden Dolan (5-1) and former World Champion Rob Cross (6-2).  Against Rob Cross, Littler lost the first set – the only time he ever trailed. During the course of play Littler won 97 legs and lost 60.

While Littler demanded the spotlight Luke Humphries had some early struggles. Against Ricardo Pietreczko Humphries found himself down 3-1 but then ran three sets for the 4-3 win.  The last three sets Humphries took legs 9-3.

Joe Cullen took a lead 2-nil over Humphries which begat 3-1 and then 3-all. The decider, where you have to win by 2, went the distance until the 11th leg. Cullen leveled at 5 when Humphries missed 6 match doubles.  Humphries won it all in 12 darts and a T20 close (t20, 20, d10).

John Lowe MBE summed up Littler: “Stunning night of darts, both Lukes played with intense confidence, the averages, 106 and 108, maximums, 14 and 16, that says a lot, this could be one of the best finals, and I expect it to be, Littler has brought more exposure to the sport than anyone for all the right reasons, 16 years of age being the lead, Humphries became World Number One after his win last night, just one more hurdle for both these fine players.”  

With that as a set up, it was the most anticipated world final in memory.  It promised a darting present that would be long remembered.  It was not the first time Humphries and Littler had met – four years ago, they faced each other in a local pub tournament. It was a ding dong battle as after 4 sets it was even-Steven.  At that point, Littler captured a pair for a 4-1 lead with only a missed double to make it 5-2. Then Humphries caught fire, winning the next 6 for the 7-4 win.  In the end, Humphries simply outscored Littler 103.67 to 101.13.  Both players had T70 checks.

The Gov’nor, Roger Nickson, the “Proud Parent of Darts from the Past” asked, “Has anyone watched every minute of the PDC World Championships?” The ODC answered, “You’re joking.”  Dr. Linda Batten, one of the great players from the Golden Era, answered, “I’d rather stick red hot pins in my eyes. Roger Nickson the early rounds are unwatchable for me. First, just a load of pissheads out for their Christmas jollee-ups. Not interested in the darts. Secondly, the PDC have traded quantity for quality.  I’ll watch most of it from the quarters onwards.”  

The ODC concurs with the caveat that adding players achieves three purposes.  It’s a goal for players to strive for, it rewards players for playing the many PDC disciplines and it provides a New Year’s bonus.

The ODC has been put under the cosh by the PDC.  His unforgiveable error was in calling Alexandra Palace the “Alexander Place.”  A high-level executive of the PDC sent the following email: “One note for the next 3 weeks if you can say Alexandra Palace (rather than Alexander!) The late Queen would be most offended!”

In true Ron White fashion, the ODC had the right to remain silent.  He didn’t.  “I’m sure the late Queen has more to be offended about including Randy Andy, Prince Harry and King Chuck.”

Russ Bray, referee par excellent, called the final match and with it he bid adieu to the stage.  Bray retires as a man that set the standard for all that wish to referee.  From now on it will be fairways and greens with an occasional step back in the spotlight.  It was announced that Russ will be inducted into the PDC Hall of Fame, joining the late MC Phil Jones.

Another gathering honors is Keith Deller who was notified that he was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by King Charles.  Congratulations to Keith for his contributions to the sport and charity.

The ODC was awarded nothing which most would agree he richly deserves.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL and stay thirsty.

 

Author

  • Howie Reed

    Astute, often controversial, and always humorous, the Old Dart Coach, Howie Reed (a former rodeo cowboy and advertising executive), is heralded as the Dean of Darts Chroniclers - the most prolific and widely followed writer ever about our sport. He goes back decades with the legends and knows where the skeletons are buried (just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers!). Here are four well-known facts about the Old Dart Coach: 1) he is a Republican, 2) he loves the ladies, 3) he can drink most anybody under the table, and 4) he throws darts as bad as Dartoid.

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