Yesterday evening, world number six James Wade won the 2018 European Championship, defeating Simon Whitlock 11-8 in the final. The title in Dortmund is Wade’s eighth TV title of his career and his first ranking major for over seven years. The victory sparks a resurgence in form for Wade, whose son Arthur James was born three weeks ago, which Wade largely attributes to his victory.
“I’ve gone through some tough times but this is for Arthur. I’ve won TV titles before and never made the most of it, but I’m buzzing,” James told Dan Dawson following the match.
Both were locked in a tight battle, with Whitlock the first to break throw, leading 3-1 before Wade broke back almost immediately and levelled proceedings at 3-3. Despite averaging only 91.44, ‘The Machine’ did what he did best and managed to take out the key doubles at the right time, as he did in his semi final tie with home favourite Max Hopp. Both exchanged serves until 8-8 when Aldershot-born Wade capitalised on some poor scoring from Whitlock, hitting a 180 en route to taking a 10-8 lead. Wade then held throw, taking out his favourite double – double 10 – to ensure victory and take home the £100,000 prize.
Also on Sunday evening, the two defeated semi-finalists, Joe Cullen and Max Hopp, both squandered chances to reach a first major final in their respective semis between Whitlock and Wade. Joe Cullen, despite getting off to a poor start in his maiden major semi-final, was leading 10-8 before Whitlock broke back and held throw to level proceedings at 10-10. Former European champion ‘The Wizard’ then took out a 110 finish to knock ‘Rockstar’ out of the event and end his hopes of a perfect weekend in Dortmund.
As for the German Hopp, he will be leaving Dortmund with very bittersweet emotions after he missed three match darts to take himself into the European Championship final. Facing Wade, Max Hopp was in impressive form and looked destined to make it to the final, breaking throw in the very first leg with an impressive 126 checkout, his second of the day. Wade broke straight back to 1-1 before ‘The Maximiser’ returned the favour with another 126 checkout before he consolidated his break with a hold of throw. James then held throw and broke again to level proceedings at 3-3. Hopp then broke throw again before holding to lead 5-3. The 21-year-old later widened the gap to 7-3 before Wade held throw to pin it back to 7-4. The two shared the next four games until Wade broke throw to narrow the gap to two legs as Hopp led 9-7. Both held throw, with Hopp now leading 10-8 but the German was unable to take advantage in the next leg as Wade solidly held throw. ‘The Maximiser’ was then unable to take the match in the next leg as he rued match darts before James Wade cruelly snatched victory in the 21st leg with a 102 checkout. Hopp will be disappointed that he was unable to deliver in front of the Dortmund crowd but very much impressed in his four days in Germany.
Focus now moves onto the World Series of Darts Finals in Vienna which commences on Friday. Thanks for reading and catch you later!
Image Credits: PDC