World Darts Championship: The big talking points
By Paul Prenderville & Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 04/01/19 1:11pm
Talking points and questions from the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace after Michael van Gerwen was crowned world champion for a third time.
Can Van Gerwen be stopped?
The world's best player and its latest champion Michael van Gerwen is not yet 30 but he is already keeping the new generation at arm's length.
Runner-up Michael Smith, a year younger than Van Gerwen at 28, is at the helm of a chasing pack of younger players eager for their share of the silverware. But the Englishman was dispatched emphatically 7-3 in the final, begging the question as to how the far the bridge stretches from Van Gerwen to everybody else.
Daryl Gurney and Gerwyn Price are also younger players who have already lifted trophies but Van Gerwen, now a three-time world champion, is far more experienced at the highest level than his peers.
Female players make their mark
Anastasia Dobromyslova and Lisa Ashton made history as the two qualifiers into the spots reserved for women.
The duo's presence alone was a high-water mark for darts as a whole, not just the women's game.
Dobromyslova lost to Ryan Joyce and Ashton was eliminated by Jan Dekker but their inclusion on the biggest stage in the sport offers an insight into the future. How long until the world's best women are playing alongside the men on a frequent basis?
Bigger and Better?
Opinion was divided as to what the expanded 96-player format would do for the tournament and, while there have been grumbles, it has to be seen widely as a success.
The World Championship is undoubtedly darts' biggest stage and with that comes a responsibility to showcase the tournament and give opportunities, and if that is the measure of success, then there is no argument.
Yes there were some longer than expected gaps for players, and in the early stages some tough watches, but who hasn't sat through a dull 0-0 draw on a Saturday afternoon in the Premier League? And it must be said it wasn't long ago that Seigo Asada and Daryl Gurney were taking part in preliminary-round contests.
Those players have upped their averages and are taking big scalps and aiding the sport's development and expansion, and that has to be a good thing.
This year's tournament has been dubbed the World Championship of shocks, with a host of established names crashing out in the early stages.
Four of the world's top eight lost their opening games, while nine of the world's top 16 had departed the tournament by Christmas.
New faces such as Nathan Aspinall, Luke Humphries and Ryan Joyce emerged in stunning style, producing fearless performances on darts' biggest stage to underline their credentials.
Peter Wright, Gerwyn Price, Mensur Suljovic and Simon Whitlock all suffered surprise second-round defeats, and there is the suggestion that the new format has heaped more pressure on the seeded stars.
The top seeds entered the tournament in round two, therefore their opponents had already acclimatised to the Ally Pally stage and that was reflected in the number of upsets we witnessed.
You can follow every dart when the Premier League action gets underway on February 7 at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, with the season concluding at the Play-Offs on May 23 at The O2 in London.