The final hurdle: The story of Wade's semi struggles

James Wade

James Wade will contest his fourth William Hill World Championship semi-final on Sunday as he bids to reach the final at Alexandra Palace for the first time.

Wade’s previous three last four battles were memorable affairs, as described by Chris Murphy:

2008/09 – Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 James Wade
Having won the UK Open and reached the final of the World Matchplay in 2008, Wade headed to Ally Pally as the number three seed behind Phil Taylor and his semi-final opponent Raymond van Barneveld.

Taylor took care of Mervyn King to reach the final, while Wade and ‘Barney’ traded blows in a much more competitive last four showdown. 

The first set went the way of the Dutchman before Wade rattled off six of the next seven legs to take a 2-1 lead in sets.

The pair then both won a deciding leg apiece in the following couple of sets to leave the left-hander 3-2 up in the race to six sets.

But Van Barneveld produced a surge to win the next two sets before Wade levelled, setting up what promised to be a grandstand finish.

However, it was the five-time World Champion who raced towards the chequered flag as van Barneveld won six straight legs to reach the final at Wade’s expense. 

Van Barneveld suffered a heavy to defeat to Taylor in the final. 

2011/12 – Adrian Lewis 6-5 James Wade
Wade’s best chance to add the World Championship title to his impressive lists of televised triumphs disappeared in dramatic fashion in his semi-final showdown with Adrian Lewis. 

Despite the distraction of a draft on stage, which caused a suspension in play, ‘The Machine’ appeared to be breezing to victory when he opened up a four-set lead at 5-1 ahead. 

But Wade missed a match dart in the eight set and didn’t get another as Lewis won every single leg from that point to complete an incredible comeback victory. 

Wade had been two sets up at the time the players departed the stage and returned alone before Lewis eventually agreed to play on.

The world number four recently said of the incident: “If I hadn’t been a gentleman I would have been world champion. If we had stayed on the stage there is no way I would have lost to Adrian and I believe I would have beaten Andy Hamilton in the final.”

Lewis went on to successfully defend his World Championship crown.  

2012/13 – Michael van Gerwen 6-4 James Wade
Wade’s third semi-final appearance will forever be remembered for what almost happened. 

His opponent, Dutch sensation Michael van Gerwen, landed 17 perfects and narrowly missed double 12 to nail back-to-back nine-darters.

Remarkably, Wade still managed to win that set and provided a stern test for Van Gerwen, who was in the midst of his rise to the top of world darts at the time.

Despite Van Gerwen’s power-scoring Wade never fell more than two sets behind in the game, fighting back from 3-1 behind to level at 3-3 before eventually losing out by six sets to four.

The final saw Taylor claim his 16th and, what would turn out to be, last World Championship title with a 7-4 defeat of Van Gerwen. 

James Wade takes on Michael Smith in one of two semi-finals on Sunday. 

Sunday January 2 (1930 GMT)
2x Semi-Finals
Schedule of Play

Michael Smith v James Wade
Peter Wright v Gary Anderson