Rod's Ally Pally stars
Which players stood out at Ally Pally?
Last Updated: 04/01/11 1:03pm
Harrington: who were his Ally Pally stars?
"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....
1. Adrian Lewis
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.
2. Gary Anderson
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.
3. Mark Webster
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.
4. Terry Jenkins
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.
5. Vincent van der Voort
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.
6. Mark Hylton
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.