Picture that scene in Star Wars when Obi-wan Kenobi confronts Darth Vader on board the Death Star - "Now the circle is complete. When I left you I was the learner; now I am the master", "Only the Master of Evil, Darth." Cue light sabres...
Now imagine that Obi -wan proceeds to kick seven kinds of crap out of Darth Vader, and you've got some idea of what happened when Phil Taylor took on Adrian Lewis in yesterday's Quarter Finals (except that if Adrian Lewis had struck him down, Phil Taylor couldn't have become more powerful than we can possibly imagine, because he already is). Master defeated Apprentice 10-2.
Gary Anderson got through to the semis, as most expected he would. What they weren't expecting was Tony Ayres, a relative unknown, to beat James Wade 10-9 in a nail-biting 19 leg epic, with world no. 62 Ayres winning his first ever ranking Quarter Final.
Another great result was Denis Ovens beating Wes Newton to reach his first televised semi-final in something like 57 events. Nothing personal, Wes, but Denis Ovens is a great veteran player, with abilities way beyond his track record in televised events, who's been playing since the days when Bristow was King and Taylor was making bog handles, so to see him play brilliantly on TV and get some recognition was just great.
Not that I did see the Quarter Finals, mind, as I was walking around Newcastle in the p-ing rain. Still, I think Newcastle looks best in the grey and rain - more atmospheric around the Tyne bridges; if you want sunshine, go to Malaga. Anyway, after a thoroughly pleasant afternoon in the jewel of the North East (and having recovered from the shock of being charged £8 for two pints of lager at a certain public house on the Quayside, which shall remain nameless) I was back home, champing at the bit for the semis and finals.
First up was Anderson-Ayres. We were all rooting for Ayres - everyone loves an outsider don't they? - but he just couldn't sustain the form that had got him that far, and Anderson rapidly began to dominate, eventually taking the match 10-2. Ominous for Anderson was his finishing; such was his dominance that he should have won 10-0, but he missed several important doubles. Anderson is a fantastic scorer, but doubles have been his stumbling block and against a player like Phil Taylor you don't need stumbling blocks. Hats off to Tony Ayres; a great performance to get to the semis - players like him are what the UK Open is all about.
Next to square up were Ovens and Taylor. I'm generally non-partisan when watching darts, and I like Phil Taylor very much (he recently sent me a great personally dedicated and signed photo for my profoundly disabled mate's 20th birthday :o) ) but I must confess I was rooting for Ovens.
The Heat didn't disappoint either, coming out of the traps like a Whippet with an itch. He broke Taylor's throw (and very few people have done that recently) in the first leg with a 14 darter, then threw a great Bullseye finish to hold his own throw. 3-2 up at the break, Ovens extended his lead to 4-2. Taylor was looking rattled - no-one had come at him like this all tournament - but raised his game superbly, winning 5 straight legs to sieze back the initiative. Ovens finally succumbed 10-5 - a score line which didn't accurately reflect how well he played: he hit 19 ton plus scores, 9 140+, 6 maximums (to Taylor's 19, 12 and 7) and finished with an average of 100.68. One person who certainly wasn't surprised was Taylor: long-time pros know just how good Denis Ovens is away from the crowds and cameras, and for me this was the best match of the evening.
So we moved on to the Final. We were expecting big things from Anderson-Taylor, billed as the best England-Scotland fixture since Bristow-Wilson, but the match didn't quite live up to it in the end. Anderson's double trouble resurfaced with a vengeance, and he was clearly feeling the pressure. It was a great shame, as he'd played brilliantly up til the final, but there are a great deal of positives he can take from this tournament too, and hopefully we'll be seeing more of him in the PDC in future. Phil Taylor clinched his 68th major title 11-5.
Congratulations to Phil and everyone else who took part in the UK Open. This tournament has shown why the sport of darts has everything: brilliance, drama, sportsmanship, atmosphere, excitement and some brilliant young talent coming through.
Full round ups of the whole tournament can be found here.