5 of the Biggest Ever Upsets at the PDC World Darts Championship
The 29th PDC World Darts Championship begins in less than a month. For the 15th consecutive year, it will be staged in London’s Alexandra Palace.
Gerwyn Price is the reigning champion. He entered the competition as the third seed. 2020 winner Peter Wright was seeded seven and 2018 winner Rob Cross was ranked just 20.
You need to go back a further ten years to find a player ranked lower than No. 5 that claimed the World Championship title. That was Canadian John Part, who was the 11th seed.
In simple terms, in the modern era, the prize is unlikely to go to a lowly ranked player or a rank outsider with the best darts betting sites. However, there have been some amazing shocks during the history of the tournament.
Here we have listed five extraordinary results which left form students dumbfounded and highly ranked players dumbstruck.
1 – Fallon Sherrock 2020
From an unknown, secretly described as a “novelty act” in dark hallways and corridors backstage of the oche in darting auditoriums, to international star. That’s the story of Fallon Sherrock.
The transformation took less than a week and it happened during the opening rounds of the 2020 World Championship in December 2019.
Until that point, a female player had never won a match at the World Championship. But Sherrock did the unthinkable and re-wrote the record books when defeating Ted Evetts in the opening round.
Evetts was no superstar of the darting world but to the public, Sherrock was every part the no-hoper her 10/1 odds suggested.
Within 24 hours she had been anointed the ‘Queen of the Palace’ and had become a household name courtesy of appearances on breakfast and daytime TV shows.
But would darts fans be won over by this flash-in-the-pan performance? Who said it was a flash-in-the-pan? Just four days later, this time priced at 8/1 with betting sites, she beat the 11th seed Mensur Suljovic 3-1 in the second round of the competition.
Her winning run ended there. In the third round, despite overwhelming support from the sold-out crowd, she fell to Chris Dobey.
Sherrock continues to astound the critics and has upped her game since. In 2021 she became the first woman to reach a televised final. Later in the year she became the first woman to go beyond the group stage of the Grand Slam of Darts.
2 – Michael Smith 2014
At the start of the 2014 World Championship, Phil Taylor was going for a seventeenth title. At this time almost every match ‘The Power’ played was described as a “David and Goliath” encounter.
In the first round of that year’s championship, Taylor demolished New Zealander Rob Szabo with a 96.7 average. 24-year-old Michael Smith averaged 79.6 when booking his second-round meeting with the legend.
It was to prove Goliath’s day. With the sets poised at three-apiece in the race to four the then little-known Smith completed a 128 checkout with a bullseye to stun the World Darts Championship betting favourite and defy his match odds of 16/1.
3 – Jamie Lewis 2018
Jamie Lewis had to win a qualifier to book his place in the first-round draw. Once there he did well to beat a player by the name of Jonny Clayton – considered a player with a bright future at that point!
A third success on the Alley Palley stage was considered massively unlikely as he faced that year’s UK Open winner and number two seed, Peter Wright.
Jamie Lewis blew Wright off of the stage with a 107.3 match average. He proceeded to march on to the semi-finals where Phil Taylor stopped his run.
Sadly, his darting career did not take off as many predicted and the Welshman has fallen at the qualifying stages of most major tournaments since.
4 – Kirk Shepherd 2008
World ranked 142, Kirk Shepherd only booked his place in to the 2008 World Championship courtesy of a PDPA qualifier.
Aged 22, he would surely do well to progress beyond the second round. But, drawn against the number four seed, Terry Jenkins, in his opening game. He was 8/1 to make it to the second-round stage.
Nevertheless, despite a mediocre 79 three-dart average, the youngster defied the odds and defeated his established rival.
More outrageous success was to follow. The 29th seed, Mick McGowan fell to Kirk Shepherd in the second round. Barrie Bates, ranked 13, also lost to the qualifier in round three.
Peter Manley was the next victim. The world-ranked number five was dispatched in the quarter-final setting up a semi-final clash with Wayne Mardle.
2008 was supposed to be Wayne Mardle’s year. ‘Hawaii501’ had reached the semi-final of the World Championship for three successive years and when he eliminated Phil Taylor in the quarter-final of that year’s competition, many believed the crown was finally his.
Not so… In another huge upset Shepherd booked his place in the final against John Part. The history books show the Canadian landed the title. They also show Kirk Shepherd’s run to the final was the most remarkable in the history of the PDC.
5 – James Richardson 2012
A bricklayer by trade, world-ranked 85 James Richardson defied odds of 22/1 to beat five-time World Champion (four times on the BDO circuit), Raymond van Barneveld in the opening round of the 2012 World Championship.
In a spellbinding game, Van Barneveld led both the first and third sets 2–0 and had six darts at a double to win the third. However, Richardson hit two 145 finishes to break Barney's throw in both sets.
Richardson, who had only been on the PDC Tour for six months having won his tour card at qualifying school, departed the competition in the next round. He was beaten 4-1 by Kim Huybrechts.
And There’s More…
Do you agree with our list? That’s extremely doubtful. The World Championship has thrown up some incredible darts betting shocks down the years.
In 2009 American Bill Davis not only became the last man to win a match at the World Championship wearing a standard off the shelf t-shirt, he also eliminated defending world champion John Part in the opening round.
That’s one of many shockers that could and should sit in any such list.
Of course, before the PDC the BDO World Championship was the sport's premier event. It too delivered some amazing results.
Therefore, special mentions must go to Phil Taylor who shocked the darting world in 1990 with him winning the first of 16 world titles at the expense of his mentor Eric Bristow.
Deller Dazzled With a 138 in ‘83
Bristow had lost out to Keith Deller by 6 sets to 5 in the final of the BDO World Darts Championship seven years earlier. It probably remains the biggest upset in the history of the championship under either guise.
Deller, 24 and unknown at the start of the competition, beat world number 3 John Lowe in the quarter-finals and the number two seed (and defending champion), Jocky Wilson, in the semi-finals.
To this day Deller remains the only player to eliminate the world’s top three ranked players in the World Championship.
This final was an all-time classic. Deller had missed seven darts at a double to take the title before Bristow went to the oche needing 121 to win. He hit a 17, followed by treble 18. However, he opted against going for a bullseye with his final dart. He hit an 18 leaving him on double 16.
Deller returned needing 138. If he missed, Bristow would have three darts at his favourite double.
He didn’t miss and the treble 20, treble 18, double 12 checkout he delivered has been known as the ‘Deller Finish’ ever since.
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