Gary had the Darts, and opened the match with 81. Humphries signalled his intentions with his first visit, opening with a 180. But Gary hit back in the only way he knows how, with a 180 featuring a beautifully grouped opening two. Humphries only backed the maximum up with 58, and Gary a ton. Gary left Tops, and with Humphries unable to make a dent into the 170 he’d left, Gary converted the Tops second in hand to take the opening leg. 1-0.

Humphries opened his first leg on throw with a Ton, before Gary hit a 140 with first and last in hand. Humphries went trebleless, and Gary punished him with a second 180 in as many legs. Humphries produced back to back visits without a treble, and Gary finding at least one a visit pushed him in front. Gary was able to leave D16 with no pressure to look at the Bull, and after coming inside on D16 and D8, he took D4 last in hand for the break. 2-0.

Gary opened the third with a beautifully grouped 180, and Humphries was unable to return with much, hitting just 57. Gary worked his way up the bed, finding the T20 with his second dart for the ton. Gary continued scoring strongly down to 125, when he found the Outer Bull and T20, before wiring the Tops. Humphries was again chasing Gary’s seismic shadow, and Gary was able to nail Tops first in hand for another comfortable hold. 3-0.

Humphries opened with a 134 via the use of the T19 bed, before Gary walloped him another 140. Humphries did the same, before a Gary 97. A miscount left the Flying Scotsman on a bogey, with an unfinishable 165 next to his name. However, it wouldn’t have mattered what he had left, as Humphries, who had 170 remaining, checked it out to hold and get his first leg on the board. 3-1.

Gary opened with a 140, with Humphries failing to respond, with just 44. Gary found a ton last in hand, before Humphries showed a bit of recovery with a 140. Gary hit a 131 courtesy of employing the T19 and T18 after an opening S20. Gary once again had time to set up, leaving D16 off of 130 with Humphries on 183. A Humphries 171 put the pressure on, but second in hand Gary worked in to hold and take the leg – and win the mini session averaging 108 and producing ZERO trebleless visits. 4-1.

Interval One – Gary Anderson 4-1 Luke Humphries

Humphries had the darts upon his return to the stage, and opened with a trebleless visit of 60. Any illusions of Gary starting to falter were soon shattered as Gary thundered home another smartly grouped 180. They traded 140s, before a slightly fortuitous dart last in hand – Gary was looking for the Bull or Outer, and managed to land in the welcoming arms of the 17 segment. He had 84 left, and took it last in hand on D11 to extend his lead to four. 5-1.

Gary’s first nine was proving irresistible, as he opened the Seventh with yet another 180. Humphries responded with a ton, to which Gary found 83. Gary got down to 138, but could only hit 48 off of it. He went aggressive on the Bull for it, missing but managing to leave D4 after the visit. Humphries was on 79, and had one dart at Tops, which he hit to take the leg. 5-2.

Humphries opened trebleless, scoring just 60, with Gary’s reply edging him slightly in front, hitting 70. Humphries hit a 140, before a bounce out meant Gary only took another 80 points off of his score. Humphries was left on 158, but a 43 from Gary failed to adequately pressure. A 98 left Gary 95, but Humphries checked out 114 on Tops to reduce the gap to two. 5-3.

Gary opened the penultimate leg before the second break with 55, before Humphries replied with a maximum. Gary hit back with a 140, before a Humphries ton. Gary kept scoring big, with a 136, before a second Humphries 180 in the leg left him on 41 after nine thrown. Gary was left on the big fish, but only scored 42 off of it. Humphries came inside on D16 and outside on D8, before Gary, sitting on that 128, found two T18s to leave D10, which he dispatched with aplomb to send the crowd into a frenzy, and to guarantee him the lead at the second interval. 6-3.

The mini session itself was tied at two a piece, with deciding leg of it potentially pivotal for the rest of the match. Humphries opened with a 140, but was once again plagued by a bounce out, with the last dart in hand refusing to remain in the board. They traded 180s, with Gary’s once again being particularly beautifully grouped. Humphries left D20 from 139, with Gary looking to replicate his habit of big visits to leave small doubles. Sat on 186, he landed two T20s, before he once again dealt with the anguish of a bounce out, with the third dart, which would have left D3, crashing into obscurity. Humphries hit D10 to edge the mini session, in which Gary only recorded three trebleless visits. 6-4.

Interval Two – Gary Anderson 6-4 Luke Humphries

Gary started off the third mini session with a 131, resurrecting his L16 habit of making a trip to the 17 segment in between darts at 20. They traded 140s, before Gary was hounded by yet another bounce out, this time the second in hand, before recovering to find the treble with dart three. However, that didn’t set him back, as with Humphries sat on 208, and Gary on 150, he managed to stick two in the T20, before taking a moment to breathe and pin D15 for a monster checkout. 7-4.

Humphries opened with just 55 in the Twelfth, which was met with a Gary ton. Humphries himself hit a ton, before Gary hit another maximum. He followed that up with a 140, but was less than impressed at his treble dodging final dart, uttering his disgust to it when walking up the oche. He eventually had 81 left, nailing the T19, before going outside on D12, and deflecting inside. Humphries couldn’t do much to the 106 he had left, and Gary found D3 last in hand after moving for D6 to up his lead to four again. 8-4

Gary kicked off the Thirteenth with a score of 91, before a Humphries 140. Gary couldn’t push too far forward, hitting back to back visits of 55 and 45, with Humphries hitting a 180 between those two visits. Gary hit back, however, with a 180 to leave himself 130, but he wasn’t allowed a shot at it, with Humphries checking out 85 on the Bull to cut the deficit to three. 8-5.

Humphries opened the Fourteenth with a 180, and Gary was once again denied a three figure score via a bounce out with the last dart in hand, meaning just 80 was taken off of his starting 501. Humphries hit a 134, before a Gary 50 via two T5s, which once again had him muttering in disgust at the visit. Humphries hit 95 to leave 92, which he checked out on D16 last in hand with Gary not in finishing range. 8-6.

Gary fired in two perfect darts to the start the next, before a slight pause and a subsequent flyer, meaning the visit ended with a score of 125, rather than something a wee bit more substantial. He then followed that up with a trebleless visit, with all three darts somehow ending up above the wire. Humphries replied with a 140, before another two treble visit with a wide ending – this time 121 – from Gary. Gary left 58 from 195, but he was unable to convert the Tops, putting the first dart above the wire and the second below, before Humphries checked out the 120 he had left to close the gap to a solitary leg at the third break. 8-7.

Interval Three – Gary Anderson 8-7 Luke Humphries

Humphries opened the session with a ton, before a Gary 97. Humphries hit a 140, met by a Gary ton, before the Flying Scotsman kicked the leg into life, with a thunderous 180 to leave 125. Humphries was once again on 170, finding a treble with the last dart in hand to take 94 off his score. Gary only took 39 off of the 125 as things got a wee bit messy, and Humphries hit Tops with last dart in hand from 76 to draw level for the first time since the match got underway. 8-8.

Gary was back on throw, and opened with a ton, courtesy of a last dart T20. Humphries went trebleless, as did Gary, before a 137 from the Musselburgh Master was met with a 180 from Humphries. Gary found a 140 to leave 75, and was under pressure with Humphries setting up Tops from 178. However, pressure doesn’t faze the finest, and he took the 75 last in hand at the top of the shop to regain the lead. 9-8.

Humphries kicked off the leg with 134 via the T19, before the pair traded 140s. A Gary ton and 140 on the right hand side of the bed kept him interested, before Humphries went above on D5 to check out 130. Gary had an opportunity to break from 121, but opened with a stray T5. His last dart in hand, however, was a T18 to leave D16, were he to return. Sadly it wasn’t to be, as Humphries hit D5 with the first dart in hand to level again.

Gary opened with 85, courtesy of another last dart flyer, before a Humphries reply of a ton. Gary could only find 58 via two darts at the T19, before a 177 from Humphries put the pressure on the Flying Scotsman, but he responded strongly with a 140. Humphries had two opportunities to break, but missed D12 and D6 from 72 to allow Gary back. He had 87 remaining, and there was a minimum expectation of a dart at Bull – but he got more than that, hitting the T17 to leave two darts at D18. The first landed just outside, and the second inside, allowing Humphries a chance at the break, which he took with the first dart in hand to lead. 9-10.

Humphries was looking to head into the final break with a two leg advantage, and opened the Twentieth with 96. Gary could only reply with 60, before firing in a 99, and a beautifully grouped 60 above the wire. It just wasn’t quite happening in this leg as it had been for so much of the match prior, and there was no pressure on Humphries, who was sat on 84, which meant a trebleless first dart didn’t force a go at Bull, and he was able to set up D8, which he hit to lead by two going into the final session of the match. 9-11.

Interval Four – Gary Anderson 9-11 Luke Humphries

This was it. The next time that Gary left the stage, he’d either be a Grand Slam Semi Finalist, or have put in one of the finest performances to end in defeat in the competition’s history. He opened the session with a ton, and backed it up with a 99, with Humphries finding only one treble in the opening two visits. Gary then hit back to back visits of 60, with Humphries firing back with a 140 and a 60 of his own respectively. A 140 left Gary 42, and with Humphries waiting on 50, it seemed crucial that Gary took it. He left D16, and put two wide at the target, and was left to his rue his misses opportunity, as Humphries hit D8 with the last dart in hand to move three in front. 9-12.

Humphries opened on throw with just 60, before a Gary 131. The Flying Scotsman was in a vicious mood, backing that up with two consecutive 140s to leave 90 after nine thrown. With Humphries trailing in his wake, Gary could afford to go aggressive, aiming for the Bull but hitting S10, before a big S20, and potentially unintentional D20, which left D10 rather than the Tops he may have been hoping for and/or expecting. However, his second dart at the target went in, and one of the much needed breaks was taken by the Flying Scotsman. 10-12.

Gary needed to back the break up, but could only open with 60, before Humphries proceeded to open with a 180. Gary then only put 36 up, with the only saving grace of the visit being that Humphries could only respond with 59. A Gary 140 followed by a 133 sparked him into life, and left what is, my personal favourite checkout, of 132. He stepped up, and went Bull-T14-D20 for an absolutely inspired finish, and as he spread his wings and pointed to the camera en route to retrieving his arrows. 11-12.

Humphries opened the leg with a ton, before a reply of just 41 from Gary. Humphries landed a 123, before a 60 from Gary courtesy of a T7 and S19, which saw Gary looking visibly frustrated. A 140 kicked Gary into life, but he couldn’t convert the 70 that his hard work had left him, with Humphries hitting D20 to re establish the two leg advantage. 11-13.

Gary started with a score of 97, before Humphries put the pressure on with a 180. Gary made it back to back 97s, before a Humphries 123 continued to put the pressure on. A 140 from Gary put him right back in the hunt for the leg, and Humphries was unable to take his 138. He did, however, leave himself D16, meaning the pressure was on Gary’s 67. But, he made it look as easy as dipping chips in sauce, killing it in two on D8 to once again narrow the arrears to one. 12-13.

Humphries opened the Twenty Sixth leg with 96, having opted to cover with darts two and three. Gary also chose to cover with darts two and three, but to much greater effect, opening with a 174. Humphries looked to hit back, with a 180, but Gary hit a ton to leave 131 – which he was guaranteed to return for. He found the T17 first in hand, and his attention immediately turned to trying to find two D20s – And after the first one sat beautifully, the second one ricocheted off of it and into the bed, to which Gary brought out some swagger and proclaimed ‘Boom’ to the captivated Wolverhampton crowd. 13-13.

It was a race to three now, as both looked to laser focus in on the finish line. Both opened with a score of 96, before Gary put up back to back tons. Humphries played on the 19s to leave himself the 170 finish, and Gary left himself on 70. He was looking at T10, but ended up in the S15. He was looking for another single to leave Tops, but ended up inadvertently finding the Treble. He took some time to recompose and nailed D5 to edge in front for the first time in what felt like an age. 14-13.

Humphries opened the Twenty Eighth with a ton, which Gary responded to with a 96. Humphries hit a 139, and Gary kept in touch with a ton. Humphries hit a 180, before a Gary 145 left him 160. Humphries went under Tops from 82, and although Gary played some good set up darts, he couldn’t take out the 160, meaning Humphries was able to return and take D10. 14-14.

Gary opened with a 96, before Humphries hit a 180. Gary, however, wasn’t having any of that, as he walloped home another 180 to ensure he remained in the hunt. Humphries hit a 140, before Gary was only able to muster 59 points in response. Gary was looking for the outer bull to leave a finish, but the stray attempt left him on the bogey that is 166. Humphries hit a ton to leave 81, and Gary only 46 to leave the Shanghai. Humphries ended up with one dart at D13 from 81, which he hit to break and go within one. 14-15.

Humphries opened the most important leg of the match with a ton, which Gary matched. Humphries hit a 140, before Gary fired back another ton. Both traded 55s, before a Humphries 138. Gary replied with 98, but was just one treble behind once too often in the leg. Humphries missed a match dart at D16 from 68, and with Gary sitting on 148, he needed another moment of pure, unfiltered magic – but could only find a ton. Humphries hit D8 to secure the win and break Tartan Titan hearts. 14-16.

Result: Gary Anderson 14-16 Luke Humphries

The Stats:

Average – 99.61

180s – 10

Highest Checkout – 150

Checkout Success – 14/30 (47%)

The Verdict:

Well…darn. I’m honestly gutted.

That was phenomenal from a phenomenon. Sadly the format proved that bit too much on the day, but Gary played beautifully – as, quite pleasingly, we’ve come to expect.

Some of the phases of play were so smooth, and further emphasise why the Flying Scotsman is the best player in the world to watch in full flow.

With just the shorter format of the Players Championship Finals, and the set format of the Worlds to come, one could argue that it suits the Musselburgh Master that bit more than the Grand Slam.

Regardless, Gary can hold his head up high after a sterling showing in the tournament. Kep an eye out for my upcoming previews of the PC Finals – And why my hatred of a random man has motivated me for the last year.

Also worth noting whilst I think about it – there was a Point change from Leg 20 onwards, with Gary abandoning the Volute point he’d started with after a number of bounce outs for a more ringed variety, which I believe were custom designed Volutes for Peter Wright during the World Cup – Although I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

SOURCE-Ryan Segal

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