Gary Anderson takes on Michael van Gerwen seeking a third successive world title
Last Updated: 02/01/17 9:30pm
Michael van Gerwen has taken most of the headlines, but we take a closer look as Gary Anderson chases a place alongside the legends of the darts world.
MVG's record-breaking World Championship average and all-conquering 25-title 2016 are threatening to be the stories of the 2017 William Hill World Darts Championship, but Anderson is closing in on a special feat all of his own.
As is his way, the Flying Scotsman has gone about his business in quiet, efficient and brilliant fashion, form that has taken him to the brink of a third successive world title - and a place in the tungsten pantheon of greats.
Only the legendary darting figures of Eric Bristow and Phil Taylor have achieved the feat, Bristow setting the benchmark in the mid-1980s before his protege Taylor rewrote the history books by pulling off the extraordinary feat of eight successive titles before a two-year hiatus preceded another treble.
Some have come close, but not as close as Anderson stands on Monday as we take a look.....
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The History Makers
Eric Bristow (1984-86)
The Crafty Cockney set the benchmark for all those who were to follow with his early domination of the BDO World Championship, then the sport's only code.
Bristow's treble could have come four years earlier, having claimed his first two titles in 1980 and 1981 at Jollees Cabaret Club in Stoke-on Trent before a surprise first round exit at the hands of Steven Brennan in 1982.
Bristow returned in 1983 to lose the final at the hands of a fresh-faced Keith Deller before claiming his treble on his next three visits, beating Dave Whitcombe 7-1 in 1984 to set the ball rolling before renewing rivalries with old nemesis John Lowe.
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Having beaten the Gentleman in 1981, Bristow repeated the feat in 1985 with a 6-2 triumph to claim back-to-back titles and set up the chance to make history in 1986.
A trio of Welshman (Alan Evans, Malcolm Davies and Peter Locke) were dispatched for the loss of just one set before Bristow emerged triumphant from a semi-final battle against Alan Glazier.
Standing in his way once again was Whitcombe and Bristow dished out a lesson, beating the third seed 6-0 for what was to be his final title but not his last final.
He reached four more finals over the next five years including 1987 when his bid for a fourth crown in succession was halted by Lowe who was finally able to extract a measure of revenge.
Phil Taylor (1995-2002 and 2004-06)
The Power's 16 titles are evidence enough of a period of utter domination which began in 1990 with one of his two BDO titles, the second came in 1992 but it was the formation of the WDC (which would later become the PDC) that saw Taylor's remarkable run of success at its zenith.
Taylor lost to familiar foe Dennis Priestley in the inaugural WDC final but he would return in 1995 to beat Rod Harrington and claim his third title and the first of eight in succession at the Circus Tavern.
He beat Priestley in four of the next five finals including a couple of 100+ averages, the first time such a feat had been accomplished. Peter Manley was seen off twice and John Part once as all comers were sent packing by the Power.
At the height of his prowess he claimed back-to-back whitewashes in finals, beating Part 7-0 in 2001 with a 107 average and the same scoreline did for One Dart in 2002.
Amazingly, Taylor reached 13 successive finals, losing to John Part in 2003 to halt his title run at eight, only to return and win another three consecutive crowns before Raymond van Barneveld's tumultuous victory in 2007.
Barney's win halted Taylor's second 'run' at three, but only after Kevin Painter had been seen off in a 2004 classic before Mark Dudbridge was beaten and Manley was whitewashed again in 2006.
No-one has accomplished the three-peat since Taylor's 2004-2006 run. The Power himself chalked up back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, while Adrian Lewis also achieved the feat in 2011 and 2012, but three-in-a-row has not been as close as it will be in 2017.
Taylor was beaten in 2011 semi-final by Mark Webster, while Lewis' bid for the third was also halted at the last four stage, Michael van Gerwen accounting for Jackpot.
The BDO for their part have only seen back-to-back titles claimed twice since Bristow's early benchmark, Raymond van Barneveld chalked up successive titles in 1998 and 1999 before a first-round defeat to Chris Mason in 2000.
Martin 'Wolfie' Adams had to wait an age for his first title to come in 2007 but he didn't have to wait long for the next, beating Dave Chisnall in 2010 and following up with a 2011 triumph over Dean Winstanley before quarter-final defeat in 2012.
A Treble for Gary?
So what of Gary Anderson, the Scot who is now delivering on the unquestionable natural talent having combined an improvement in his finishing with his power scoring.
2017 will be a fourth final in seven years, the first in 2011 ended with defeat to Adrian Lewis but he emerged a stronger player for that defeat to Jackpot.
He claimed his first title with a 7-6 victory over Taylor in a classic, he had earlier seen off Van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Cristo Reyes, Jelle Klaasen and Scott Kirchner, while last year Lewis was beaten in the final after wins over Klaasen, James Wade, Vincent van der Voort, Daryl Gurney and Andy Boulton.
Wright was the vanquished semi-final opponent this year and Van Gerwen, the current world number one, will be the familiar face he meets in the final as he chases a place in the history books and a storied place at the very top of the sport.
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