On the journey home, Gabriel Clemens felt incomplete despite his famous week of festivals in London. Reaching the World Cup semifinals is a sensational success for Germany's best darts player, but that meant him after the knockout. not much.
"Disappointment outweighs it. I lost, I'm not in the best of moods," said Clemens after the 6-2 defeat of the outstanding Englishman Michael Smith. The 39-year-old Saarlander commented casually on his final plans: "I also had fresh underpants. Everything was designed to be there until the end."
Jump into the top 20 of the darts rankings
So Clemens and his partner Lisa Hauser had to organize the return trip to their beloved Saarland on Tuesday night, where the trained machinist is eagerly awaited back. Neither the prize money of 100,000 pounds (around 112,000 euros) nor the first jump into the top 20 in the rankings will stick with the World Cup, but the striking moments in Alexandra Palace: First German in the quarter-finals and then also in the semi-finals, on New Year's Day 2023 started with a 5-1 win over Primus Gerwyn Price, who even huge headphones couldn't help.
"Only then will I be able to realize that, I can draw a lot of positive things from it," said Clemens, who in a few years made it from an industrial worker to a darts star who attracted numerous fans to the TV screens. After intensive weeks at the World Cup with a lot of attention and many interviews, the defeated "German Giant" only had one wish late in the evening: "I hope I'll have a day off now." After that, he's looking forward to going back on stage.
Clemens, who often appears dull and sober, won the hearts of many fans with his performances in "Ally Pally". On site, the supporters celebrated the relaxed Saarlander with songs, at home sports stars such as former soccer world champion Thomas Müller cheered on in front of the television. "It pushes you immensely. It's absolutely fantastic this year," said Clemens. Even against the Englishman Smith, loud "Oh, Gabriel Clemens" chants could be heard in the hall on a London hill. "The Ally Pally is German, definitely," he said.
In terms of sport, Clemens immediately admitted his deserved defeat against the famous Smith ("He was like a ball machine"). Now the question will be what is left of the short-term arrow hype around the turn of the year in Germany. The fact that semi-final winner Smith described the Saarlander as a "superstar in Germany" after his victory over Price is bold. Nevertheless, Clemens has been in the public eye in the past few days like no other German darts player before.
The World Cup tournament around Christmas is attracting more and more people in Germany, the semi-final against Smith saw an average of 1.99 million people on Sport1. In addition to the lack of appointments in professional sports and the winter break in the Bundesliga, the reasons also include the presentation of the event. Price, Peter Wright and Co. are more like artificial figures. If a professional like Price puts on gigantic headphones while throwing darts, these images go straight around the sports world. The darts world championship sometimes seems like a reality show in which the factors of entertainment and sport don't take much.
Show fights and galas are coming up
The pros around Clemens will now use the prominence they gained over Christmas and New Year to compete in show fights and galas and continue to promote their sport. On Thursday there is an event in Neu-Ulm, on Saturday the Celebrity Darts World Cup, which has been broadcast by a private broadcaster for years. "I'm looking forward to playing in front of a German audience again," said Clemens, who also expects numerous events on the European Tour in Germany in 2023. The first important major after the World Cup is back in England: The Masters in Milton Keynes is coming up from January 27th to 29th, Clemens is there.
For a bigger and more lasting leap, it would have had to be something more for the German darts market than Clemens' undoubtedly impressive semi-final debut. After hard pandemic years, the responsible PDC Europe hopes to sell even more tickets for the new year through the unexpected success and soon to fill other large halls. After the weeks in London, Clemens is guaranteed to be the driving force.