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"I think 2011 is possibly going to be the best year ever in the PDC because we've got so many great players with confidence in their own ability."
That was the view of former world number Rod Harrington following the 2011 World Darts Championship, a tournament that was full of stunning performances and outstanding action.
Adrian Lewis fulfilled his potential by beating Gary Anderson 7-5 in the final and Rod believes those two players - and several others - now possess the confidence and the form to challenge Phil Taylor on a consistent basis.
We asked Rod to pick out his six star performers from this year's World Championship and these were the men on his list....
The new world champion is the obvious first choice. He's always known that he more natural talent than anybody in darts, but he could never turn it into solid performances, game after game. He'd have two or three good matches and then fall down, but to win the World Championship you need to put six together. This year he was able to achieve that.
After the Grand Prix he realised he had to knuckle down and I think his manager Keith Deller has made him aware of that. He stayed away from other players, he practised on his own and he didn't get involved in silly banter. Crucially he now has both respect for the game and discipline - and they were the two things I always believed he was missing. He now plays the game in a respectful manner (which makes you a better player) and he has the discipline to avoid doing silly things at crucial times. That's why he won the World Championship.
I've been one of his biggest critics in the past. I've told him he was wasting his talent by doing daft things and going out of tournaments early, but thanks to Keith's influence he has knuckled down. At Alexandra Palace he proved that it works if he does it right. There are games he'll win easily because of his talent and other games where he has to grind a result out. There were two occasions in the final when he had to knuckle down and he did that; it's the first time I've seen him do that in a long-distance match. We'll now see him move on and win many more tournaments.
Like Lewis, Gary Anderson has bundles of natural talent but since he arrived in the PDC he has been unable to string enough games together to win a tournament. He lost in the final of this year's UK Open because he showed Phil Taylor too much respect instead of going out and playing his own game. He has never been never brash or loud and has always done things in the right way, but he used to accept defeat too easily when he wasn't playing well.
This tournament proved that he does have what it takes - he averaged more than 100 in his first five games and was only just below 100 in the final. He's definitely going to go on to achieve big things and I think we'll see him reach at least the semi-finals of many more tournaments. His performance at Alexandra Palace was quite simply exceptional.
When he moved over from the BDO to the PDC in 2009 I think he showed our players too much respect; he was a little bit fearful and tended to be on the back foot too often, which affected his play. He came third in last year's World Championship and has improved since then - and then at last month's World Cup he showed great passion and motivation in leading Wales to second place. He's a much more animated player now and that seems to give him an extra five per cent.
He will now kick on and there's no question that this bloke will be a force to reckon with. I am accused of talking about image too much, but he looks good and he interviews well. He's very respectful towards the game and does the right things at the right time, which I admire in players. Like Anderson and Lewis, sponsors will be looking at him and I think his future is very rosy.
He had a terrible 18 months before this World Championship and I've been very critical of his attitude to the game. I believed he spent too much time on the road doing too many exhibitions when he should have been concentrating on the tournaments. He slipped down the rankings, but has told me he's realised he needs to knuckle down and that's why I think he had such a good, professional tournament this year, reaching the semi-finals.
I think we'll see the return of the Jenkins that we saw a couple of years ago. He has always been a heavy 140 player and that was the mainstay of his tournament and gave him opportunities to win sets. He has a lot of bottle and I think he'll have an extremely good year in 2011.
He's one of the three machine-gun Dutchmen, alongside Jelle Klaasen and Michael van Gerwen, and I've always said those guys will lack consistency because they throw so fast. But of the three players, Vincent has now started to take the lead and was a great player to watch at the World Championship. He missed a few doubles against Lewis in the quarter-final and were it not for that he might have found himself in the last four.
He's another really top professional. He isn't loud, he's full of discipline and respect and that's something we can sell our sport on. The crowds love him, I love commentating on him and he can take great encouragement from his run at this World Championship.
I could have opted for Wes Newton as the sixth player, but I'll go for Mark Hylton because he was largely unknown before this tournament started. I've watched him a lot in tour events, but at Alexandra Palace the switch was flicked and he started to play extremely well. He took out some good players in Colin Lloyd and Steve Beaton and is another guy who can take extreme encouragement from his efforts.
It's nice to see somebody who is unknown to the public do so well on such a big stage. He's a model professional and he looked good, so I'd like to see him perform like this again. I don't know if he's got the game to win a major tournament when there's so many other exceptional players out there, but he certainly is a force to be reckoned with.
Do you agree with Rod's verdict? Is the next year going to be a vintage one for darts? Let us know using the feedback form below.
i will give you all the winner of world title 2011/12 get your cash on Simon Whittlock this year.he will peak for the world championship,as Taylor is past it,Lewis is inconsistent and Anderson does not have the bottle. You will get odds of at least 25/1. ITS A STEAL FROM THE BOOKMAKERS. you have been told
Posted 18:15 28th December 2011
my best darts player is ovs Phil Tayler he is really good
Posted 10:59 23rd December 2011
I have this nagging feeling that nicholson,richie burnett or kevin painter are going to make it to at least the quarter finals or so my bet says,Adrian seams to be missing that sparkle and gary anderson has yet to play and I hope someone has 1 good game aganist phil taylor HOPE its the hammer
Posted 16:50 20th December 2011
Im a big fan of both Anderson and Webster and it's gonna be great seeing them in the Premier League. Congrats to them both.
Posted 04:02 12th January 2011
watch taylor come back this year and show the young ones how he is the greatest darts player ever and win the world title and mant more tournaments
Posted 21:09 9th January 2011
I think this year's World Championship will give Taylor the kick up the backside he needs and I fancy him to come back stronger than ever and sweep away the opposition. I just don't think Lewis, Anderson or Wade will be able to have any real consistency. I remember a few years ago when folk said Taylor was finished..He changed his darts and came back and wiped the floor with everyone. As for the premier league, it looks like the best line up yet and no matter the fixtures, I can't wait to be there in Glasgow!
Posted 12:52 6th January 2011
gary anderson will rise to become world #1
Posted 09:11 6th January 2011
What a year it's been!!!!!!! The Power's supremacy finally being challenged! Jackpot crowned World Champion! A Flying Scotsman a breath of fresh air! Webby finally proving why he is a former World Champion! Holland show their quality and finally win a world cup! And the BDO stand proud by having one of their boys win the Grandslam! 2011 is going to be special, very special. Taylor will be back and no doubt he'll be winning trophies but it's the other great stars of our game that will make darts an even greater sport than it already is by scooping trophies aswell. At one time Darts needed Phil Taylor, now Darts needs more than one superstar, it's needs several for the good of the game. Roll on the Premier League and what is in my opinion the stongest Premier League line up in the history of the competition! LET'S....... PLAY.........DARTS!!!!!!!!!
Posted 23:42 5th January 2011
Derek Conway, I have to say your argument is flawed. By his standard he did not stand out in this championship, what you are saying is that no matter what major he plays or how he plays he should be the no1 player in that event.
Posted 18:46 5th January 2011
This year's World Championship was a breath of fresh air. So many players came of age in this tournament and it was great to see Anderson and particularly, Lewis fulfil the potential that their talent has threatened for a while. Whether this will prove to be a 'changing of the guard' remains to be seen, however it will be very interesting to see Taylor, Barney et al will now up their game in order to compete. You can be sure Phil will be practising like mad to keep up but Barney I'm not too sure about. I think his best days may be behind him. James Wade's form and attitude will be intriguing. For so long he has been 'the next big thing' and he reinforced this feeling after winning the Grand Prix in Dublin. His loss in the Grand Slam of Darts seems to have hit him hard and high-profile losses in the World Cup and the World Champs have allowed the other so-called young guns to overtake. Rod is spot on when he says this year could be the best ever.
Posted 01:04 5th January 2011
isnt it funny how people are so quick to think taylors had it theyre all mad at 50yrs old he again will win more trophys and more money than anyone this year he should be no1 on the list always because if it wasnt for taylor we wouldnt even tune in god help darts when hes retired
Posted 18:28 4th January 2011
It's been another incredible week of sport from Augusta to Anfield via Andalusia, but for every sporting hero there must be a villain.
As darts continues to flourish, we decided to go behind the scenes at the Premier League, and what better night to do it than on a record night for the sport in Leeds.
See Carl Froch at the Premier League darts in Nottingham as he sent a message to George Groves.
Read the thoughts and opinions of Rod Harrington with skysports.com