54 year-old Martin “Wolfie” Adams saw off plucky Dean Winstanley in an almighty scrap at Frimley Green, to retain his title. Adams broke boundaries in the darting world after securing the match-winning Double 8, as he becomes only the sixth player in darting history to win three or more world titles, joining Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld and John Part. He also becomes the first player to retain his title since Barneveld scraped past Ronnie Baxter some 12 years ago, but Winstanley will be left thinking on what could easily have been. Adams kicked off with a 14 dart leg, and then rounded off with a cracking 161 finish to lead 1-0.
He then cruised the second to take total command of the Yorkshire star, with an average topping 100. However, he started to lose his way in the third and fourth sets, and was left wondering how he managed to let Winstanley back into the game.
In the third he missed a dart in the fourth leg, and then let his dart drift into Single 1 halfway to Shanghai finish to lead 3-0, as Winstanley got on the board. However, Adams again seemed to take control in the fourth set thanks to a 151 finish in the second leg to go one leg away from a 3-1 lead without response, but lost his scoring power to limit himself to one dart at Double 8 for the set and a 136 checkout in the fourth leg, with Winstanley raising his game to equalise everything.
A scrappy fifth set was won by Adams as Winstanley missed numerous darts a double, but in the sixth he gained the momentum which has seen him reach the final, in taking a 2-0 lead, and in the fourth leg Adams got down to the double 18 after just nine darts, but then missed nearly that amount of darts to win the leg, and that meant Winstanley clinched the set against a frustrated Cambridgeshire player to go into the break at all square 3-3.
Legs started to go against the throw after the break as they both struggled to regain their rhythm, Adams’ average dropping from a 100 average, down a full 10 points to 90, pretty much level with Winstanley, and when the Yorkshireman broke his throw to move ahead 4-3, there were very concerning signs for the defending champion.
He then, however, started to miss crucial double attempts, as he missed two in the opening leg of the eighth to allow Adams to break back immediately, and when Winstanley responded in kind, proceeded to miss another handful of darts to allow Adams to break again, and then get back in at 4-4. “Deano”, spurred on the majority of the enthusiastic Lakeside crowd, was not to be put off though, as he broke Adams in the first leg of the ninth, and even though he was again left kicking himself after Adams broke back immediately, he scrapped to lead 5-4 after his scoring proved once again superior to the visibly nervy Adams. He missed a dart to hold in the first leg of the tenth, again Adams pouncing straight away, and that was all he needed to rely on this time as he held his nerve to take things to 5-5, and effectively a best-of-three sets match. Three darts to break Adams throw in the third leg of the 11th slipped through Winstanley grasp again as Adams snuck in, and the fourth leg that belonged to the debutant proved to be the last leg he’d win, as Adams produced a purple patch that would see him as champion once again. In the massive fifth leg decider with the scores at 5-5, Adams produced a 14-darter on his own throw to go “to the hill”, and two 180s in the opening two legs of the 12th set saw him go one leg away from the trophy, in a set that Winstanley started. With the number 3 seed looking like his didn’t have anything more to give, Adams nearly finished in style, as he left himself 161 after nine darts, a shot that he’s hit twice already this week, but this time he wired the Bullseye for what would have been a memorable finish, Winstanley far behind.
One dart at Double 8 was all that Adams needed to finish up what was a match full of thrills and spills. “I am still the old geezer of this tournament and Deano had me under the cosh but the job of a pro player is to find a way back which is what I did”, said a rejoiced Adams afterwards. “This win means so much. Its title numbers three which equals people like Eric Bristow and John Lowe. Now I want to win it three times in a row next year to equal Eric’s record.” Winstanley admitted: “The best man won on the night but I gave it my best fight. The crowd has been fantastic all week and I would like to thank them for all their support. It was nice to see the man with the beard shake!”