A look back at Phil Taylor at the World Championship
Phil Taylor has been the powerful force as well as the immovable object when it comes to planet darts. With his final World Championship on the horizon, we’ve delved into the archives to relive his remarkable achievements.
Taylor has dominated the darting landscape for decades, but his time at the top of the tungsten ladder will come to an end after this year’s tournament at Alexandra Palace.
The 57-year-old from Stoke-on-Trent may not be a winning machine anymore, but he will be out to prove that he can still mix it with the very best.
Taylor has not won darts’ richest prize since 2013 and knows the curtain will come down on his time in the sport.
1990 & 1992
It all started in the BDO version of the World Championship at Lakeside for Taylor. His first title came against his mentor, the Crafty Cockney Eric Bristow. The 29-year-old unemployed engineer stunned the darting world by defeating the five-time champion in comprehensive fashion 6-1.
A quarter-final exit at the hands of eventual champion Dennis Priestley followed a year later, but he returned to claim his second title at Frimley Green in a 6-5 deciding-leg classic against Mike Gregory. This, after his opponent had missed six darts to win the title himself.
After losing in the inaugural PDC final at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet against Priestley, Taylor returned even more determined than ever. He beat Rod Harrington 6-2 before exacting his revenge over The Menace 6-4 and then inflicting two further defeats on the same opponent in the final, 6-3 followed by a 6-0 romp.
Priestley lost four out of five finals to The Power 1999-2002
Taylor claimed his seventh world title with victory over Surrey newsagent Peter Manley 6-2 and he then crushed Priestley’s dreams for a fourth time in 2000 thanks to a 7-3 win.
A year later, Canada’s Darth Maple John Part won only three legs as he was whitewashed 7-0 by a rampant Taylor, who then crushed Manley for the second time in four years with another 7-0 scoreline. One Dart was left so infuriated by the loss that he refused to shake Taylor’s hand on the oche.
Manley was so infuriated by Taylor's win in 2002, he refused to shake his hand 2004
Part ended Taylor’s winning run in 2003 with a thrilling 7-6 victory, but he reclaimed the crown after edging Kevin Painter in a sudden-death leg which will live long in the memory.
With The Artist left on 128, Taylor came to the oche needing 40. He missed tops, double 10, before sealing victory with a nerveless double 5 with his last dart. He announced his retirement from darts but performed a U-turn four days later.
A look back to 2004 which saw Taylor brush past The Artist in a darting masterpiece 2005-2008
Taylor faced surprise finalist Mark Dudbridge at the summit of darts a year later, but despite a valiant effort from the 13th seed, it was Taylor who prevailed 7-4 to claim the £60,000 first prize with his 12th title.
And he was back for more 12 months later, although he was forced to come through 6-5 against Wayne Hawaii 501 Mardle to reach the final. Once more, Peter Manley was waiting for him, but once again, the imperious Taylor produced another 7-0 whitewash.
Van Barneveld upset Taylor to win the last ever match to be played at the Circus Tavern
The last final at the Circus Tavern saw Raymond van Barneveld, who defected from rival organisation the BDO in February, reach the final at the first attempt. Taylor was waiting for him in a mouthwatering encounter which went to a sudden-death leg which the Dutchman won.
“Of all the finals I’ve played in, I would probably put this one as the best,” said Taylor. “In the last leg, when I kicked in with 180, I thought ‘I’ve got you now’, but he hit a 180 back.
“It was probably the best final leg I’ve ever played in.”
Darts was bigger than ever and by 2008 the tournament had moved to Alexander Palace. But the omens were not good for Taylor, who failed to reach the final of the competition for the first time in PDC history after losing a rip-roaring encounter 5-4 to Wayne Mardle in the quarter-finals.
Mardle toppled Taylor in a quarter-final classic… 2009-2010
After a three-year gap, Taylor reached his first final at Alexander Palace and he was in the mood for revenge, hammering Van Barneveld 7-1 as well as setting a world-record average for a tournament final of 110.94.
But Taylor exacted his revenge over RVB two years' later
And he was back for more, sealing another title triumph, this time over first-time finalist Simon Whitlock 7-3 to claim the biggest prize of his career to date with a fund of £1m.
Vintage Taylor cruised to victory over Australia's Whitlock in 2010 2013-2017
Here's Taylor's victory over Van Gerwen in 2013
Taylor’s last title triumph came against 23-year-old Michael van Gerwen. In the final, he came back from 4-2 down to defeat the up-and-coming Dutchman, sealing victory with double 16.
“I’m probably the proudest man in the world,” said Taylor. “I’ve got to give Michael everything, he’s phenomenal that kid. Michael is one of the best players I’ve seen in my career.”
Taylor suffered a huge upset by losing to world No 32 Michael Smith in 2014, but returned a year later to reach his 20th World Championship final.
Anderson shocked the mighty Taylor to take the title over the border to Scotland
Gary Anderson had beaten Taylor in the Players Championship Finals and ‘The Flying Scotsman’ came out on top when they met again in the 2015 final with a stunning 7-6 victory.
Darts’ elder statesman suffered a disappointing third-round exit to Jelle Klaasen in 2016 and he then bowed out to old foe Van Barneveld at the quarter-final stage last year.
The 2018 World Championship from Alexandra Palace starts on Thursday, December 14 and ends New Year’s Day.
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