As Michael van Gerwen seemingly moves from success to success practically unchallenged, we take a look at the biggest names in darts over the years.
John Thomas Wilson, who for some reason preferred to be known as “Jocky”, was one of the game’s foremost personalities in his heyday and an all-time crowd favourite.
Hailing from Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Wilson was crowned World Champion in both 1982 and 1989 and was a throwback to the days of the pure pub player. Chain smoking and always with a pint on the go (not to mention “seven or eight vodkas”), Jocky, who more than once fell off the stage drunk, was a true darting character.
Such was his star at its peak that, even in a world filled with treble chins, moobs and stretched nylon, Wilson still managed to stand out. So much so, in fact, that he even appeared on the BBC musical TV show Top of the Pops.
The Scotsman was affectionately known as “Gumsy“, having lost his last tooth by the age of 28, which in turn led to him paying out for dentures – dentures that forced him to belch whilst drinking; one time in a live match shot clean out of the big man’s mouth and flew across the oche.
Ultimately, the notorious mouthpiece ended up finding employment as a ball marker in pool games with Eric Bristow. Sadly for Jocky, in his later years he became a council flat recluse, suffering from depression, diabetes and arthritis before his death in 2012.
Anyone idolised by Phil Taylor must be a champion chucker.
The Crafty Cockney certainly was, and is another pre-PDC player whose celebrity transcended the sport. Five times world champion, Eric Bristow won everything there was to win, achieving the World No. 1 rank on three separate occasions from 1980 to 1990.
Along with these titles, he was also World Masters title holder five times and played a crucial role in making darts the game it is today. He wasn’t just one of the top players to join the PDC at its outset in 1993, he was the top player to do so.
He retired a decade ago in 2007, almost 20-years after he was awarded an MBE by the Queen. Since then, he has appeared on the reality TV show “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!” where he made the final four.
The only man to win three world titles in three separate decades, John Lowe was also the first player in the history of the sport to achieve a perfect nine-dart finish on live TV back in 1984.
Chesterfield-born Lowe was one of the most high-profile darts stars during the 1970s and 1980s and is one the very best pre-modern players. He proved this when he added a third World Championship to his trophy cabinet in 1993.
A player of huge skill, his achievements in the game all mark standout moments in darts history and make “Old Stoneface” one of the most significant players of all time.
Raymond van Barneveld
With five World Championships in the bag and success enjoyed across both codes, Raymond van Barneveld looked all set to be easily the greatest Dutch darts player and easily the best non-British thrower of all time.
Unfortunately for “Barney”, another Dutchman would soon emerge to take both of those titles away from him (guess who that could be?). All the same, Barney remains one of the finest, not to mention one of the most popular, darts player of all time. He played a starring role in the rise of darts in his homeland.
He is also a former holder of the Las Vegas Desert Classic and (twice each) the winner of UK Open, World Masters and the World Darts Trophy. He was crowned Darts Premier League Champion in 2014 to boot.
Michael van Gerwen
You will find strong arguments against this statement if you say it out loud, but Michael van Gerwen is not the greatest darts player of all time – yet. Of course, at 28 years old and with two World Championships to his name, there is a far more than reasonable chance that by his retirement he will be.
Current world number one “Mighty Mike” hasn’t looked back since his breakout year in 2013, collecting 23 major titles in his short career. Barely beaten over the past three three years, in just 2017 alone he has been crowned world champion, Premier League champion, Masters winner and (as part of a Dutch pair) World Cup champion.
Other than the UK Open, which he has won before, there isn’t a significant PDC event he hasn’t claimed in 2017 or 2016. It is a run quite like no other.
It goes without saying that Englishman Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor is the greatest darts player of all time. With 16 World Championship titles, he has won everything there is to be won, most of them multiple times. In all, The Power has come out on top in 209 professional tournaments, including 83 major international titles.
It was as the king of the Ally Pally where he truly made his name. Between 1994 and 2007 he reached the World Championship final an incredible 14 consecutive times, winning eight times consecutively from 1995 to 2002.
But the records don’t stop there. In the 2010 Darts Premier League final, he hit duel nine-dart finishes – a feat still to be repeated. That same year, he became the runner-up of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award; not the norm for darts players. One year later (and long overdue), he was inducted into the PDC Hall of Fame.
Phil’s achievements over 25 years also include 15 World Matchplay wins and 11 World Grand Prix titles as part of the sport’s most successful career that leaves him the undisputed greatest player ever to throw a dart. He will be retiring from PDC darts after next January’s climax of the World Championship, bowing out at (where else?) the Ally Pally.