The Top 5 Darts Matches Of All Time

The Top 5 Darts Matches Of All Time

Top 5 Darts Matches Of All Time

Darts has gone from being a pub game to one of the most entertaining, if a tad silly, sports in the world.

Despite its lowly status, it’s become a real money-spinner for the TV companies as well as its organisers and is today one of the most-watched sports on the telly with millions of people around the world tuning in every week to watch.

Darts is also one of the most bet on sports in the UK and globally too and, increasingly, we are seeing more and more participants from a growing number of different countries.

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But how did we get here?

Well, for one thing, it is a great laugh, but otherwise to answer that, here, in no particular order, is our collection of the top five darts matches of all time.

Phil Taylor vs Raymond van Barneveld (2007)

Ask most darts fans what they believe is the greatest darts match in history and they will probably say the 2007 PDC World Championship final between Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld.

Not only was it an epic, but it was also the last year the Circus Tavern hosted the World Championships before proceedings relocated to the Alexandra Palace where they famously remain today.

Here, Barney was playing in his first PDC final after moving over from the BDO, where he had been a four-time champion. 

His opponent, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor was already a 13-time world champion, and it was Taylor, looking to continue a 21 match winning streak at the Circus Tavern, that was to race into a three-set lead.

Taylor had held the trophy since 2004, racking up a 21-match unbeaten run prior to this match but, with a whitewash looking increasingly on the cards, van Barneveld turned the match on its head starting with his, and the tourney’s, first 170 checkout.

Barney went on to take the next three sets to bring the match to 6-6, forcing a deciding set in the process.

The drama didn’t end there. With Barney missing three match darts, the first 10 legs of the decider went with throw before van Barneveld once again failed to take his chance.

Even then, Taylor couldn’t take advantage leaving Barney to eventually hit tops for the title and secure a debut PDC World Championship victory.

Adrian Lewis vs Phil Taylor (2013)

At the 2013 Grand Slam of Darts, we were treated to one of the most exciting matchups in living darts memory.

The reason that it has gone down in legend is that there aren’t many matches that manage to contain a stunning 32 maximums thrown inside of 25 legs.

It’s hard to recall now because his drop-off has been so considerable, but there was a time when Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis was a true king of the darting world. 

He is a two-time, back-to-back world champion after all, banking the big one in both 2011 and 2012.

In his 2013 Grand Slam clash with fellow Potter Phil Taylor, who has claimed this was the best he ever played, Lewis finished the match with a 110.99 average with his opponent posting 109.46.

In a sign of things to come, Taylor opened with 180 with his first three darts of the match and would go on to finish the game with a 16-9 triumph over his own darting protégé.

By the end of the match, the triple 20 was completely destroyed such was the quality the two Stoke chuckers showed on the night.

To this day, there has never been more 180s hit in a PDC match and never has anyone with such a high average as Jackpot posted that night finished on the losing side.

Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross (2018)

Going into the 2018 World Championships, no one had really heard of Rob Cross.

Only a year earlier, Voltage, as the former electrician is known, was watching the event on TV like the rest of us while he was still a member of the Challenge Tour.

Having been encouraged by his uncle to have one last shot at pro darts, Cross set off on his first season with the PDC, where he cashed over £300,000 in prize money and banked four tournament wins.

Nothing could prepare him for what was to follow, though. 

Making it to the Alexandra Palace, Cross went more than deep, reaching the semi-finals, where he was to face the world number one, Michael van Gerwen.

While this was supposed to be a banker for MVG, Cross stayed with his man, helped admittedly by Mighty Mike missing un unlikely 58 doubles during the match.

Unfortunately for the world number one at the time, five of his missed doubles came in the deciding set with the match at 5-4.

With the match firmly in the balance in the sudden-death leg, Cross missed a double 16 for what would have been a 140 checkout.

MVG then repeated the trick which allowed Cross to finally keep his composure and land double eight for the match and complete a remarkable victory. 

Even more remarkably, a retiring Phil Taylor awaited in the final for a fairy tale finish to a glittering career only to be upstaged by Cross, who would finish his first year on the tour as the world champion. 

Raymond van Barneveld v Michael van Gerwen (2016)

Although Taylor was still playing in 2016, and in fact still had another Ally Pally final in him, darts was by now under new command.

Its new number one was the Green Machine, Mighty Michael van Gerwen. 

In the season building up to that year’s World Championships, MVG had taken down The Masters, the UK Open, the World Darts Matchplay, the Grand Slam of Darts, the European Championship and the Players Championship.

On top of this, he was also unbeaten in more than two months and in 25 televised darts matches overall.

In short, van Gerwen was the heavy favourite going into the 2016 PDC Darts World Championships.

However, he was to meet a compatriot in the third round where that year’s title challenge would come unstuck.

That compatriot was, of course, Raymond van Barneveld, who boasted 11 defeats in 14 meetings with fellow Dutchman MVG.

And yet, van Barneveld won 4-3 in sets, despite Mighty Mike boasting an average of 105.78 on the night.

The turning point came in the fifth set when MVG, on whose throw it was, landed a 180 on his way to, what he hoped would be, a cruise into a 3-2 lead in sets.

At this point, van Barneveld needed 304 and somehow duly dug out a maximum, followed by a 124 finish on double 11 to turn the set, and eventually the tie, in his favour and bring an end to van Gerwen’s unbeaten run.

Phil Taylor v Eric Bristow (1997)

Two of the most famous darters of all time went head to head in 97 when the master took on his apprentice.

True their eras of dominance never really collided, and everything pointed to the young Taylor, then coming into his peak years, comfortably seeing off the challenge of his former mentor, who was, by then, some way past his own prime.

As loved as The Power was, and is, the sporting romantics couldn’t help but hope for one last show from the veteran Crafty Cockney

Think along the lines of Tiger’s Masters win in 2018 but considerably more low-key.

Sometime earlier in the 90’s Bristow had been diagnosed with Dartitis, a repetitive strain injury that had left his game compromised, hence Taylor going into the game as the heavy favourite in the darts betting that year.

As a little background, it was Bristow who had discovered the young Taylor back in Stoke, seeing in him instantly the raw talent that would later see The Power unquestionably go on to become the greatest darts player of all time.

The setting was the Circus Tavern in Essex, which back then hosted the World Championships and we’re at the semi-final stage.

And, while Taylor did lead for most of the game, the former protégée was unable to shake off the threat from his close friend in a first to five format match.

Things looked like they were going the way of The Power as he moved ahead 4-3 in sets and 2-1 up in legs.

Requiring only one more leg for victory, Taylor’s visit left a double four hanging, and with Bristow on 141, up stepped The Crafty Cockney to work his way down to 24, where he pinned the double 12 to take things to a deciding set.

Although Taylor would later end up winning the match – despite missing three darts at 32 – it was one last show of defiance from the legendary Bristow, without whom not only would we not have Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor but who was also behind the reinvention of darts as we know it today.

Of course, come the final, Taylor would become world champion once again.

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Rookie Rob Cross Beats Retiring Legend Phil Taylor To Win PDC World Championship

Rookie Rob Cross Beats Retiring Legend Phil Taylor To Win PDC World Championship

Phil Taylor PDC World Championship

In the end, the fairy-tale finish was not to be as Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, 16-times World Champion, was denied a 17th win in his last ever match. It was remarkable that he made the final at all, but at one point it appeared written in the stars as top seeds were eliminated, opening up the tournament for the retiring legend.

But as so often happens in sport, as one star makes way another emerges, and so it was that Rob Cross, 27, who 18 months ago was an amateur player and a working electrician, finished his first ever professional season as the new Darts Champion of the world.

Ranked 28/1 before the start of the tournament, a brilliant Cross — who averaged 107 and landed 20 out of 34 checkout attempts in the final — was too much for Taylor who managed just 10 from 22 in a match that ended in a 7-2 defeat at Alexandra Palace.

Taylor, heavily backed by the crowd, averaged a decent 102 and won 10 legs, scoring 12 180s — one more than Cross — but still had no answer to the rookie.

Landing a 167, Cross immediately went up 2-0 and was soon three sets ahead and never looked like squandering the lead from there. Taylor took down the fourth set but the gap between the two Englishmen was restored when Cross capitalised on his rival’s failure to land his doubles in the following leg.

One set away from defeat, Taylor landed the eighth before Hastings-based Cross, finished in fantastic style with a 140 finish, made up with two treble 18s and a double 16, to win the what will surely be the first of many more major tournaments to come. In total, Cross hit 66 180s in the tournament, 16 more than anyone else.

Cross’s path to victory

Just 18 months ago, Cross was working as an electrician playing darts only occasionally and whose winnings last year included £7 in a pub game. Cross even gave the game up for three years to look after his family. Then, he took his shot.

After failing to qualify for the 2016 BDO World Championships, he tried his luck at the UK Open, a tourney open to qualifying amateurs. Following defeat at Riley’s Bar in South Benfleet, Essex, Cross was on the verge of quitting before being persuaded by his uncle to take part in the very last qualifier in Norwich, a move which was to prove “sort of life changing,” as Cross described it on Sunday.

He duly won in Norwich and went on to make the final 32, eventually being eliminated by world number one Michael van Gerwen in a close fought 9-5 defeat. From there, his new-found confidence inspired him to go on the PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour where he finished top of the order of merit, giving him an automatic two-year tour card.

Then on the 3rd of February this year, Cross played his first ever match as a professional, earning £250 at a UK Open qualifier in Wigan. In the year that followed, he was to continually make the latter stages of tournaments and beat MVG multiple times including 6-2 in the quarter-final of the European Darts Open and 6-5 in an epic match at this year’s World Championships as he eventually replaced the near-invincible Dutchman as World Champion.

Next up the number three raked Cross will be playing in the Darts Premier League, the next big event from the PDC and due to start next month. Dublin’s 3Arena will open the 2018 season on Thursday, February 1 on Sky Sports Action with the season wrapping up at the Play-Offs at London’s O2 on May 17.

Phil Taylor’s place in Darts’ history

There can be few sportsmen who have dominated and influenced their game quite like Phil “The Power” Taylor. Hailing from Stoke-on-Trent, Taylor was one of the original 16 players that broke away from the BDO to form the World Darts Council in 1992. This committee would soon evolve into the PDC which held its own world championships two years later in 1994, changing darts forever.

The Power won the first of his world titles in 1990 — the same year its latest champion Rob Cross was born — and went on to win a further 15 and almost claimed his 17th last Sunday as he fell just one match short of the ultimate send off. In July, however, he summoned up his brilliant best as he took down a record 16th World Matchplay title, which was to prove his final ever major televised title win in an incredible career.

Taylor’s major titles

World Championship (16): 1990 (BDO), 1992 (BDO), 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013
World Matchplay (16): 1995, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017
World Grand Prix (11): 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013
Grand Slam of Darts (6): 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014
UK Open (5): 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2013
European Championship (4): 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Players’ Championship Finals (3): 2009, 2011, 2012

BDO Championships betting

With the PDC players now taking a well-earned rest, it is timely that the BDO Championships begin this Saturday. The 2018 BDO World Darts Championships will take place from January 6-14 at the Lakeside Country Club where Glen ‘Duzza’ Durrant will begin his title defence against either Gary Robson and Pengiran Mohamed in the first round.

Durrant is the 5/4 favourite with Betway to become the first back-to-back winner at Lakeside since Martin Adams in 2011. His 7-3 win in last year’s final came at the expense of Danny Noppert who the same online bookmakers are rating as a 15/2 shot.

Mark McGeeney and Scott Mitchell hold the BDO world number one and two spots respectively, so they will be the ones looking to stop Durrant’s dominance in the event. That said, a victory for ‘Duzza’ in the final would ensure he ends the season in the BDO’s number one position.

Durrant would meet Mitchell in the semi-final, should they both progress as expected, while he could well face off with McGeeney in the final.

Mitchell is 12/1 to win what would be his second world title, with McGeeney currently priced at 20/1.

Elsewhere, Jamie Hughes is also considered to be a 12/1 shot, with Cameron Menzies rated at 16/1. Further down the money line, Scott Waites is valued by Betway at 22/1 with the old master Martin Adams worth 40/1.

Events will be broadcast in Channel 4 and BT Sport.

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PDC World Championships Betting Preview

PDC World Championships Betting Preview

PDC World Championships

The 25th staging of the PDC World Championships gets underway on Thursday, setting off 18 days of pure darts action and making up what has become part of the holiday season’s crucial viewing for darts fans and non-fans alike.

Sadly, this will be the last time we will see the departing legend and 16x World Champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor throw a dart — at this level at least. But even as the greatest darts player of all time exits stage left, there is still plenty to get excited about.

The favorites to win PDC World Championships

This time last year, Michael van Gerwen was set to become a two-time World Champion, joining Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis and Gary ‘The Flying Scotsman’ Anderson as the other double winners on the tour. Now, he arrives at London’s Alexandra Palace — Ally Pally if you’re cool enough — gunning for a third world title.

Anderson, along with world number two and third seed Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright, are likely to be the closest challengers to the Dutch master. In Peter Wright’s case, participation is entirely dependent on his recovery from a recent attack of suspected gallstones, leaving Wright unlikely before Thursday according to a Tweet from his wife. The illness has pushed his price out to 10/1 at Betway to win the event outright, which is surely great value for such a high-ranking player. Wright, always a crowd favourite, brings colour to the show and would be sorely missed should he be absent from the event. This is especially true given that overtook his great rival Gary Anderson in the Order of Merit this year.

Emerging darters and familiar faces round out top favorites

Having won major titles this year, emerging stars Mensur Suljovic and Daryl Gurney will go into the World Championship with confidence, with odds of 50/1 and 40/1 to win outright, respectively.

The meteoric rise of Rob Cross, who is making his Ally Pally debut this year, has repeatedly reached the latter stages of major tournaments leading many to predict a bright future for the 27-year-old and is now pushing for a Premier League place. His performance this year is enough for us to select him as dark horse of the tournament. Not that we expect him to win, but look out for match-to-match value or even jump on an each-way outright bet which could pay off should he run deep enough. Let’s not forget that the rookie has played and beaten Michael van Gerwen on a couple of occasions this year too, so never say never.

And, of course, it would be criminal to rule out former World Champion Raymond van Barneveld, while the likes of James Wade and Dave Chisnall will be on a mission to prove that they still belong in the company of the elite despite recently dropping out of the top eight.

The first matches and final thoughts

The stand out match of the first round is Phil Taylor against Chris Dobey, quarter-finalist in the 2016 Grand Slam of Darts. Dobey, who beat Raymond van Barneveld at the Grand Slam in Wolverhampton, will be a tough opening opponent for Taylor. Phil loves to put young threats in their place, just as he did so brutally to Daryl ‘Superchin’ Gurney last month.

To surmise, Michael van Gerwen, who has won the last four TV events coming into the last four majors, is the red-hot favourite. Then there’s Gary Anderson and Peter Wright with the winner coming from one of those three with Rob Cross, 6/1 to reach the final, as the outsider. But don’t write off Phil Taylor, who has the edge over MVG this year and will want to end on the ultimate high.

Sky Sports will be broadcasting all of the action live, across their Main Event, Action and Arena channels.

Outright World Darts Championship betting odds at Betway

  • 8/11 Michael van Gerwen
  • 6/1 Gary Anderson
  • 10/1 Peter Wright
  • 10/1 Phil Taylor
  • 12/1 Rob Cross
  • 28/1 Adrian Lewis
  • 40/1 Daryl Gurney
  • 50/1 Mensur Suljovic, Raymond van Barneveld
  • 125/1 Dave Chisnall, James Wade. Simon Whitlock
  • 150/1 Kyle Anderson, Michael Smith
  • 200/1 Alan Norris, Benito van de Pas, Jelle Klaasen, Kim Huybrechts
  • 250/1 Cristo Reyes, Jonny Clayton, Mervyn King, Robert Thornton, Darren Webster Stephen Bunting, Dimitri Van den Bergh, Gerwyn Price, Ian White, Joe Cullen
  • 300/1 Steve West
  • 400/1 Vincent van der Voort
  • 500/1 Brendan Dolan, Chris Dobey, James Wilson, Jamie Lewis Jan Dekker, Jeff Smith, John Henderson, Justin Pipe, Mark Webster, Ronny Huybrechts, Steve Beaton, Steve Lennon, Krzysztof Ratajski
  • 750/1 Ted Evetts, Kevin Painter, Richard North, Keegan Brown, Jermaine Wattimena
  • 1000/1 Antonio Alcinas, Devon Petersen, James Richardson, Martin Schindler, Peter Jacques, William O’Connor, Zoran Lerchbacher
  • 2000/1 Aleksandr Oreshkin, Cody Harris, Gordon Mathers, Kenny Neyens, Kevin Munch, Kim Viljanen, Luke Humphries, Marko Kantele, Paul Lim, Willard Bruguier, Alan Ljubic, Bernie Smith, Christian Kist
  • 2500/1 Xiao Chen Zong, Diogo Portela, Kai Fan Leung, Seigo Asada

Match schedule (seeds in brackets)

Thursday December 14 (7pm)

  • (25) Steve Beaton v William O’Connor
  • (32) James Wilson v Krzysztof Ratajski
  • Michael van Gerwen v Christian Kist
  • (16) Gerwyn Price v Ted Evetts

Friday December 15 (7pm)

  • Seigo Asada v Gordon Mathers (P)
  • (21) Stephen Bunting v Dimitri Van den Bergh
  • (6) Phil Taylor v Chris Dobey
  • (20) Rob Cross v Seigo Asada/Gordon Mathers

Saturday December 16
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)

  • Brendan Dolan v Alan Ljubic (P)
  • (14) Benito van de Pas v Steve West
  • (22) Mervyn King v Zoran Lerchbacher
  • (28) Robert Thornton v Brendan Dolan/Alan Ljubic

Evening Session (7pm)

  • Jeff Smith v Luke Humphries (P)
  • (19) Joe Cullen v Jermaine Wattimena
  • (12) Jelle Klaasen v Jan Dekker
  • (3) Gary Anderson v Jeff Smith/Luke Humphries

Sunday December 17
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)

  • Kenny Neyens v Jamie Lewis (P)
  • (15) Alan Norris v Kim Viljanen
  • (24) Kyle Anderson v Peter Jacques
  • (31) Jonny Clayton v Kenny Neyens/Jamie Lewis

Evening Session (7pm)

  • Willard Bruguier v Cody Harris (P)
  • (11) James Wade v Keegan Brown
  • (8) Dave Chisnall v Vincent van der Voort
  • (17) Ian White v Willard Bruguier/Cody Harris

Monday December 18 (7pm)

  • Kai Fan Leung v Paul Lim (P)
  • (5) Mensur Suljovic v Kevin Painter
  • (4) Daryl Gurney v Ronny Huybrechts
  • (30) Mark Webster v Kai Fan Leung/Paul Lim

Tuesday December 19 (7pm)

  • Aleksandr Oreshkin v Kevin Munch (P)
  • (29) John Henderson v Marko Kantele
  • (9) Raymond van Barneveld v Richard North
  • (7) Adrian Lewis v Aleksandr Oreshkin/Kevin Munch

Wednesday December 20 (7pm)

  • Xiao Chen Zong v Bernie Smith (P)
  • (13) Michael Smith v Steve Lennon
  • (10) Simon Whitlock v Martin Schindler
  • (27) Justin Pipe v Xiao Chen Zong/Bernie Smith

Thursday December 21 (7pm)

  • (26) Cristo Reyes v Antonio Alcinas
  • (18) Kim Huybrechts v James Richardson
  • (23) Darren Webster v Devon Petersen
  • (2) Peter Wright v Diogo Portela

Second Round

Friday December 22
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)

  • Price/Evetts v White/Bruguier/Harris
  • Chisnall/Van der Voort v Beaton/O’Connor
  • Klaasen/Dekker v Bunting/Van den Bergh

Evening Session (7pm)

  • Suljovic/Painter v Thornton/Ljubic/Dolan
  • G Anderson/J Smith/Humphries v M Webster/Leung/Lim
  • Van Gerwen/Kist v Wilson/Ratajski

Saturday December 23
Afternoon Session (1pm)

  • Wade/Brown v King/Lerchbacher
  • M Smith/Lennon v Cross/Asada/Mathers
  • Van de Pas/West v Cullen/Wattimena

Evening Session (7pm)

  • Gurney/R Huybrechts v Henderson/Kantele
  • Taylor/Dobey v Pipe/Zong/Smith
  • Van Barneveld/North v K Anderson/Jacques

Wednesday December 27
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)

  • Whitlock/Schindler v D Webster/Petersen
  • Norris/Viljanen v K Huybrechts/Richardson
  • A Lewis/Oreshkin/Munch v Reyes/Alcinas

Evening Session (7pm)

  • Wright/Portela v Clayton/Neyens/J Lewis

All sets are the best of five legs and the following formats apply.

Knockout Stages

  • First Round – Best of five sets
  • Second Round – Best of seven sets
  • Third Round Best of seven sets
  • Quarter-Finals Best of nine sets
  • Semi-Finals Best of 11 sets
  • Final Best of 13 sets (Monday, 1st of January)
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