By Jethro-Bremner Allison
FOR all the storylines we’ve had over a brilliant three days in Sindelfingen, we were left with a sense of déjà vu as great mates Luke Humphries and Rob Cross progressed to the final for the second year running.
This year, however, not just the title of European Grand Prix winner was at stake, whoever took the victory would also join Michael Smith in Team England for the impending World Cup.
After a remarkable day, Cool Hand saw off a resurgent Barney in the afternoon followed by a quarter-final classic against the scarily good youngster Gian van Veen.
Finally, he snuck past the charismatic Australian Damon Heta in the semi-final to come through his half of the draw.
Cross meanwhile kicked off his afternoon by seeing off Ross Montgomery before tangling with the Polish Eagle Ratajski in his quarter final.
Finally, it was European Champion Ross Smith who fell in the semi-final to set up the repeat from Stuttgart in 2022.
Leg 1 – Humphries has the darts and leads off with 5 perfect darts. The energy in the room is absolutely electric. He pins tops for a 13-legdart. 1-0
Leg 2- As the crowd lustily sing DJ Otzi, Cross keeps his nose ahead in the leg with one treble visits. He’s first to a finish on 161 however he dallies and Humphries misses the double for a 113 steal. Cross finally closes out the leg. 1-1
Leg 3- Humphries is clearly keen not to give Cross a sniff on his throw and leads off this time with a 140. Cross gets his first 180 of the final but he can’t deny Humphries who takes D4 in 14 darts. 2-1
Leg 4- Humphries now pressurising the Cross throw beginning with 4x T20’s. However a 31 visit means Cross who was clinging onto Cool Hand’s coat tails is able to mop up a D8. 2-2
Leg 5- Cross this time on the attack, it’s a max to lead off and Humphries can’t match that in 6. Cross has stolen the darts and Luke can’t react. He’s back on 111 as Cross breaks with a 10 dart leg! 2-3
Leg 6- Humphries reacts to the blow in the best possible way, another max and all of a sudden he’s on the offensive. A beautiful 2 dart 86 out-shot restores parity as he breaks back. 3-3
Leg 7- It’s nip and tuck as these two look inseparable. Cross gets a long shot 140 to steal which fails but Humphries allows him a pop at 78. Tops missed and Humphries steals in to show Cross how it’s done. 4-3
Leg 8- The crowd conga round the room as commentator Glen Durrant threatens to join them, meanwhile Cross has his first comfortable hold in a while. 4-4
Leg 9- Who will take this match by the scruff of the neck? It needs a surge of scoring to pull clear. It feels like this will go all 15 legs. Luke leaves a chink of light in the form of 100 and Cross cleans it up for a huge break. 4-5
Leg 10- These guys look so evenly matched, it’s another close leg. Luke gets a pop at the Big Fish but doesn’t land. Cross makes a mess of his set up but Luke misses 3 at double, will that be crucial? Feels like it. 4-6
Leg 11- The reigning champ is not going without a fight. He leaves 81 after 9 and nails it brilliantly. 5-6.
Leg 12- Cross comes up dry in his first 6 darts opening the door but Humphries struggles with his scoring too. A Cross 180 and 177 gives him the initiative out of nowhere and a double 3 gets him within 1. 5-7
Leg 13- Luke is miles ahead, Cross has already moved his mind to throwing for the Championship in the next leg. Tops makes it 6-7
Leg 14- Determination etched on the Voltage’s face, every dart now is critical. Every treble worth it’s weight in gold. A Luke 180 gets him a long shot 167….he almost gets it! Misses the bull. Cross 72 for the title…single 20, single 16, DOUBLE 18. Cross wins the final to take the title and secure his World Cup place! 6-8
CROSS: talking about the fact this is his first Euro Tour title in his EIGHTH final: “My little girl was born on the 8th, so perhaps the 8th was lucky for me”
HUMPHRIES on missing out on World Cup: “This one hurts the deepest, I can’t catch a break. I get punished every time. One mistake and I’m punished. No-one wants to pull on the English shirt more than me and I feel I showed a lot of bottle in that final, but I’ve lost 4 Euro Tour finals and one of them gets me in the World Cup.”
CROSS on the win: “My family is perfect and I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I’m enjoying my darts and it’s great to get a win. I’m so grateful to the PDC for all the opportunities.”
Images by Taylor Lanning.