Greatest 10 darts matches of all time

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Experts – Wayne ‘Hawaii 501’ Mardle among them – reckoned the World Matchplay final between Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis was among the greatest darts matches ever played.

Here is our top 10.

 

1) PHIL TAYLOR v MIKE GREGORY

1992 BDO world championship final 

Ask Phil Taylor to name his favourite match and he will give the same answer as just about everyone else . . .  

Mike Gregory would doubtless disagree and give another answer, but for sheer sporting drama, this match has few equals in darts or any other sport.

Six times Gregory threw for the biggest prize in darts – and six times he missed.

Taylor went on to win the match in a sudden death tie break in the 11th set – the first time the world championship final had gone the full distance – and afterwards told a heart-broken Gregory: “We should have never played that last leg, then we could have kept the trophy for six months each.”

2) PHIL TAYLOR V JAMES WADE

2010 Premier League final

As early as the third leg, commentator Dave Lanning predicted: “If it goes on like this, it’s likely to be the greatest darts match we’ve ever seen.”

Wade had won the opening leg with a 136 check out, Taylor levelled with a nine darter, then took out 110 to lead 2-1.

Taylor went on to lead 5-2, but couldn’t shake Wade off and at 7-7, the match was in the balance.

The challenge brought out the best in Taylor and he edged ahead again with his second nine-darter of the match. No darts player had ever achieved that before and incredibly, ‘The Power’ started the next with seven perfect darts. 

His eighth dart was just off target, but despite Taylor’s blitz, Wade stayed in the match and had he held his throw in the 18th leg it would have set up a decider.

Taylor got the match-winning break to claim a 10-8 win and finish with a three-dart average of 111.67.

 

3) PHIL TAYLOR v RAY VAN BARNEVELD

2007 PDC world championship final

Phil Taylor and Ray van Barneveld have never hated each other. They hate losing and to avoid the agony of defeat, they have pushed each other on to hit higher scores, take out bigger finishes.

Incredibly, their opening five matches after Barneveld joined the PDC all went to a deciding leg. Taylor won twice, Barneveld won twice and their other match was drawn.

This also went all the way to a sudden death deciding leg after Barneveld had trailed 3-0.

“I just didn’t turn up,” he said, remembering the opening three sets. “I wasn’t there. My manager came to the side of the stage and said: ‘Come on Raymond, you can do it” and then it became a game.”

Barneveld started finding the trebles and doubles – he finished the match with 21 maximum 180s – and held his nerve in the deciding leg of the 13th set.

 

4) KEITH DELLER v ERIC BRISTOW

1983 BDO World championship final

Everyone zoomed in on the bulls eye. The television cameras, the crowd – everyone that is apart from Eric Bristow.

Thinking a finish of 138 was beyond Deller, he declined a dart at the bulls eye to win the fourth leg of the deciding 11th set, then watched the qualifier nail treble 20, treble 18, double 12 to win the championship.

Deller has added ‘138’ to his signature ever since.  

 

5) PHIL TAYLOR v KEVIN PAINTER

2004 PDC World championship final

This match took so much out of Phil Taylor he announced his retirement afterwards and how Ray van Barneveld, James Wade, Mervyn King and more must wish he had stuck by that decision.

“It was physical torture and the greatest night of my life all rolled into one,” said Taylor after overturning a 4-1 deficit at the Circus Tavern to triumph in a sudden-death shoot out in the 13th and deciding set.

 

6) PHIL TAYLOR v JAMES WADE

2008 PDC World Matchplay Final

“We’ve never had a leg of darts like this before,” enthused commentator Dave Lanning after both Taylor and Wade launched the 25th leg with back-to-back 180s.

Wade won that leg in 11 darts, but Taylor lifted the trophy after throwing what Sid Waddell described as “the greatest dart I have seen in 33 years watching the sport.”

Taylor needed the bulls eye to complete a 132 check out and with his target blocked by a dart in the outer bulls eye, he edged along the oche until he was in the queue for the donkey rides on Blackpool beach before firing in the match-winner.  

 

7) ADRIAN LEWIS V PHIL TAYLOR

2010          PDC World Grand Prix semi final

If you’re the best darts player in Stoke, you’re probably the best darts player in the world.

Taylor had proved his supremacy in his home city and beyond by beating Lewis in all 14 matches they played in major televised tournaments.

At 4-2 behind, Lewis decided enough was enough.”Come on Adie,” he told himself, “it’s about time you beat him.”

Lewis put together three sets of magical darts to snatch a 5-4 victory.

 

8)  MARTIN ADAMS V PHILL NIXON

2007 BDO world championship final

A match so exciting, so nerve shredding that Mrs Martin Adams couldn’t bear to watch it.

She hid in the toilets while Phill Nixon, a 500-1 outsider at the start of the championship, wiped out her husband’s 6-0 lead.

By the 13th and deciding set, Nixon couldn’t give any more and Adams won it without reply to win the world championship at the 15th attempt.

 

9) BOBBY GEORGE V MAGNUS CARIS

1994 BDO world championship semi final   

For the first time, there would be two world championships following the split in darts and while Eric Bristow, Phil Taylor, John Lowe and more headed to the WDC, Bobby George, part Liberace, part Del ‘Boy’ Trotter, stuck with the BDO.

He was a personality as big as any in darts, known for his jewellery, chewing gravel Cockney chuckle and acrobatic celebrations . . .

George jumped in the air after nailing a double in his quarter final against Kevin Kenny, but landed awkwardly and after looking at X-rays of his back, doctors ruled him out of his the championship, saying he had broken his back.

George decided the show(man) must go on and had a corset fitted before his semi-final against Magnus Caris.

Caris opened up a 4-2 lead and in the seventh set, he was just one dart from victory.

But he missed double 18 and George roared back, winning nine straight legs to reach the final.

 

10) CHRIS MASON V MARTIN ADAMS

1999 BDO world championship quarter final

This match produced 29 maximum 180s and loads of missed doubles.

At 4-1 ahead, Adams was one set away from the semi finals, but in seven attempts, he couldn’t nail the match-winning double.

Mason wasted five chances himself before finally nailing double one in the ninth and deciding set.

 

Matt Bozeat is the author of ‘Darts Miscellany’ (Pitch) and is currently writing ‘Darts’ 50 Greatest Matches.’   

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