23-year-old Dutch professional darts player Michael van Gerwen had a match to remember two weeks ago. “Mighty Mike” threw 17 straight perfect darts during a semifinal match against James Wade in the PDC World Championship and was one dart away from becoming the first player ever to hit back-to-back perfect legs.
Watching the video, you feel like you’re seeing one of the greatest sports moments in history. The crowd is pumping, the announcers are amped, and all the while you have van Gerwen calmly throwing perfect darts and working the crowd after hitting his targets.
Van Gerwen, who won Fans’ Player of the Year, was just owning the moment. The fans in attendance at Alexandra Palace in London broke into a “Seven Nation Army” chant as he kept throwing perfect dart after perfect dart. Van Gerwen focused upon his target like a dart-throwing machine and delivered one after the other until he got to 17 in a row. Unfortunately, on the 18th dart, he narrowly missed achieving a second perfect leg.
“That would have been a moment of great sporting genius revealed!” bellowed one of the announcers after the miss.
To put Van Gerwen’s feat into some sort of perspective, it is necessary to delve into the history of the nine-darter, the equivalent of snooker’s 147, baseball’s perfect game, cricket’s six sixes. So rare was it that it for more than three decades after ITV first started broadcasting darts in the early 1970s, it was once something elusive, almost mythical. Cash prizes for nine-darters were often worth more than the winner’s cheque. Not until Taylor at the World Matchplay in 2002 was it achieved live on television.
I honestly felt like I was watching Josh Hamilton on that famous record 28-home run streak at the 2008 Home Run Derby in Yankee Stadium. The crowd, van Gerwen, and the announcers all came together to make the moment awesome.
Van Gerwen won the semifinal match 6-4, but he lost to Phil Taylor in the final. That was incredible.
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