Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor is all set for his final appearance at the Alexandra Palace – ahead of his retirement from the sport.
The sixteen-time world champion is bowing out after leaving a legacy that others could only dream of.
As the darting world bids farewell to the undisputed king of the oche, we’ve taken a tearful look at the top five Phil Taylor moments from the PDC World Darts Championship in no particular order.
1995 – Phil Taylor vs Rod Harrington
Every legacy has to start somewhere – and Taylor’s began in the Circus Tavern on the second day of 1995. After romping his way through the then group stage round with two wins over American duo Sean Downs and Gerald Verrier, Taylor knocked out Bob Anderson in the last eight.
A classic took place between himself and John Lowe in the semi, with Taylor advancing by the odd set. The final was somewhat of an anti-climax as Harrington arrived on, prepared for a David Brent lookalike contest that was before its time. Taylor disposed of him by six sets to two.
2013 – Phil Taylor vs Michael van Gerwen
While this final was far from a classic, it was a defining moment in the career of Phil Taylor. While Adrian Lewis had claimed the tag of protégé to ‘The Power’, Taylor wasn’t ready to bow out just yet. However, after Lewis claimed back-to-back world titles in 2011 and 2012, questions began to be asked.
Lewis again looked good in 2013, but was beaten by the then 23-year-old phenomenon Michael van Gerwen. Taylor dropped just a single set en route to the semi-finals, where he overcame Barney in ten sets, before showing van Gerwen that his time hadn’t come just yet – and the old dog was going absolutely nowhere.
2009 – Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld II
After Taylor soul-destroying defeat to RVB in 2007 (we’ll get to that in a minute), he had revenge on his mind. Perhaps the most definitive characteristic that Taylor possessed throughout his career was his killer instinct. Nobody could just ‘turn it on’ quite like ‘The Power’.
Barney had playing well, and even notched a 106 average against Jelle Klassen in the quarter-finals, but nothing could prepare him for Taylor’s most iconic performance in the tournament to date. Taylor was kind enough to let Barney have a single set in a 7-1 demolition of the Dutchman.
Not only that, the Stoke native hit an average of nearly 111. That record still stands to this day and it’s hard to see it being beaten. Revenge is a dish best served cold, but Taylor was truly on fire.
2013 Semi-Final: Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld
This is the only entry on this list that isn’t a grand final, but for good reason. After the pair had taken a final each against each other to this point, tensions were prominent and both players had quite a healthy sporting, if professional dislike for each other. After Barney failed to check-out, he handed the initiative to Taylor, who had sixty-eight left to claim yet another final berth.
He aimed for T20 D4, but missed the sixty. After hitting single sixteen, double sixteen, he celebrated with some gusto in front of a crushed van Barneveld and he took exception to the boisterous nature of the post-match.
Taylor shook his hand, before attempting to leave – only for Barney to reel him back in and a lengthy back and forth took place. Darts had its narrative finally reach a boiling point and it was wonderful.
2007 – Raymond van Barneveld v Phil Taylor
It seems odd, after all Taylor won, to include a loss on this list of definitive moments – yet nobody will ever forget the classic between him and long-time foe Raymond van Barneveld in 2007. A sudden death set to decide the champion of the world sounds dramatic enough, but it also took place in a spell where Taylor had won eleven of the last twelve finals by a combined score of 72 sets to 24.
The darting world was at his mercy and only Canadian John Part had toppled him since 1995. Sky had picked up darts and given it a major push on its network – luckily for us, we got to witness one of the greatest exhibitions of darts of all time.
It may not go down on Taylor’s honour list, but it was the sport that launched darts into the hearts of the public and further enhanced Taylor’s dominance, despite the loss.