The golden years
Sky Sports brings you the 20th PDC World Darts Championship over the Christmas period. The tournament has brought us plenty of magical moments over the years, so take a trip back in time with us as we call seven of the most memorable editions...
Last Updated: 11/12/12 9:16am
The third PDC World Championship saw 24 players competing for the £14,000 first prize and after legends such as Bob Anderson, Rod Harrington, Alan Warriner and John Lowe fell in the earlier rounds, the two men left standing were Phil Taylor and Dennis Priestley. The final was a repeat of the first ever PDC World Championship final from two years earlier, but the result would be different as The Power gained revenge for his 6-1 defeat in 1994. It was the closest final in the first decade of the tournament and The Power secured his second PDC title in style.
Five of the first seven PDC finals were contested between Phil Taylor and Dennis Priestley and the year 2000 was no different. The tournament was played in its currently recognisable knock-out form and early shocks included the defeat of the number three Rod Harrington by John Lowe. Peter Manley followed up his 1999 final with a run to the semis and Dennis Smith enjoyed a fabulous run to the last four, beating the likes of Lowe and John Part before losing to The Power. Priestley would put up another gallant effort in a hotly-contested final, but eventually lost 7-3 to Taylor, who claimed his sixth PDC title and eighth overall.
The 2004 World Championship is widely-regarded in darts circles as one of the best ever held, largely due to the dramatic nature of the final. Having relinquished his world title to John Part a year earlier, Phil Taylor was taken right to the wire by Kevin Painter who dominated the early knockings and led 4-2 and 5-3 in the first-to-seven race. Taylor put together three straight sets, before the Artist levelled at 6-6 to send the World Final into a sudden-death leg for the first time in its history. Taylor eventually won it on a double five and Painter missed out on his best ever chance of a world crown. Sid Waddell later said the match changed the course of Taylor's career and set him up for many years of dominance (though he retired after the match, he changed his mind again a few days later...).
Another sudden-death final, saw the new kid on the PDC block, Raymond van Barneveld, overcome Phil Taylor. We'll let the words of Sky Sports expert Wayne Mardle sum it up: "The best match I ever saw was the 2007 World Final. Barney joined the PDC that year and made a statement that he was trying to prove that he was the best in the world - and he did. In that one game he proved that Phil Taylor was beatable in the biggest match of his career at that point. To do that was special. It's not all about the performance for me; it's about the meaning of it all. There was so much drama as well with Phil hitting a 180 in the last leg and Phil following it. You couldn't make it up; it was just fantastic, it really was."
In 2009, Phil Taylor turned the tables on his old rival Raymond van Barneveld with a victory of high quality. The Dutchman averaged more than 100 but was still blitzed by The Power's 110.94 - the highest average in World Championship history. This was arguably Taylor at his peak - his average only dipped below 100 in the first round - and his 14th World Title was truly one to savour. Earlier in the competition, defending champion John Part was eliminated by the unseeded Bill Davis on the opening night in one of the event's biggest-ever shocks and Barney made history by throwing the first ever nine-darter at a World Championship in his quarter-final win over Jelle Klaasen. In only second year, Alexandra Palace had started to feel like home!
Phil Taylor claimed his 15th world title (will it prove to be his last?) at the 2010 edition, but the star of the tournament was arguably an unheralded Australian called Simon Whitlock, who knocked out the likes of Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade en route to an eagerly-contested final with Taylor. However, Barney did enjoy a moment in the spotlight when he threw the second nine-darter in the event's history - to add to the one he'd thrown 12 months earlier.
The overwhelming favourite was once again Phil Taylor, but he was stunned in the last eight by Mark Webster, paving the way for Adrian Lewis to win his first world title. He did so in style against Gary Anderson in the final, throwing a nine-dart finish in the first set as he roared to a 7-5 victory. It was the first nine-darter in a world final - and he was not far away from throwing a second! It would also be the last World Championship Final that the legendary Sid Waddell would commentate on.