Who will join the World Matchplay roll of honour?
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 28/07/19 6:57am
Only eight men have been crowned World Matchplay champion since the tournament's inception in 1994, but after a week of thrills and spills at the Winter Gardens, we're guaranteed a new name on the trophy come Sunday evening.
Only three men in this year's field had won the World Matchplay title and two of those were dumped out by debutant Glen Durrant, as James Wade and Michael van Gerwen both fell to the Teessider - who was beaten in the semi-finals by Michael Smith.
Defending champion Gary Anderson was sent packing by the veteran Mervyn King in round two and as a result, Smith and his World Cup partner Rob Cross are left to fight it out for the coveted Phil Taylor Trophy in the final.
Ahead of what promises to be a captivating climax at the Winter Gardens, we look back at the eight men to have lifted the World Matchplay title over the past 25 years...
Phil Taylor - 16-time champion
Phil Taylor's astonishing record at the Winter Gardens saw the World Matchplay trophy renamed in his honour following his retirement from professional darts in 2018.
'The Power' dominated this event in devastating fashion, winning 99 of his 107 matches on the Winter Gardens stage, which included a remarkable 38-game winning run between 2008 and 2015.
Taylor landed two nine-dart finishes at this event and he accounts for 12 of the top 15 World Matchplay averages of all time - his 114.99 average against Barrie Bates in 2010 remains the highest in the tournament's history.
Taylor's first Blackpool triumph saw him beat Dennis Priestley in the 1995 showpiece, before he lifted the trophy for an incredible 16th time in his final appearance in 2018; defeating Gerwyn Price, Raymond van Barneveld, Van Gerwen, Adrian Lewis and Peter Wright in the process.
Rod Harrington - Two-time champion
Rod Harrington was the first man to win back-to-back Matchplay crowns following his success in 1998 and 1999.
'The Prince of Style' was top seed in 1998 and defeated Kevin Spiolek, Gary Mawson, Bob Anderson and Keith Deller to reach the final, where he edged out Ronnie Baxter 19-17 in a gruelling affair.
Harrington also saw off a host of high-profile names en route to defending his title in 1999, defeating John Lowe, Peter Evison and Dennis Priestley before recording another 19-17 win in the final, this time against Peter Manley.
Harrington was denied a hat-trick after succumbing in the quarter-finals back in 2000, although his affinity with the Winter Gardens was clear for all to see - as this was the only major televised title he lifted during his PDC career.
Michael van Gerwen - Two-time champion
The World Matchplay has not been a happy hunting ground for Van Gerwen over recent years, although 'The Green Machine' still completed the Blackpool double in 2015 and 2016.
Van Gerwen didn't go beyond the second round in his first three attempts but he underlined his arrival with a magical nine-darter against Steve Beaton in 2012.
Having lost to Phil Taylor in 2014, Van Gerwen finally got his name on the roll of honour with victory over six-time finalist Wade, who had ended Taylor's unprecedented 38-game unbeaten run in the semi-finals.
However, Van Gerwen enjoyed some history of his own 12 months later, retaining his title with an emphatic 18-10 win over 'The Power', to inflict Taylor's first and only ever defeat in a Matchplay final.
Gary Anderson - 2018 champion
Anderson was the eighth and most recent winner of 'The Phil Taylor Trophy' as he finally prevailed in his 10th appearance on the seaside.
'The Flying Scotsman' saw off Stephen Bunting in his opener, before recovering from 4-0 and 7-4 down to defeat Van Barneveld in round-two.
The Scot then survived two match darts in an epic quarter-final clash against Joe Cullen, which saw Anderson land a nine-darter in the fourth leg of the contest.
The two-time world champion defeated debutant Jeffrey de Zwaan in the semi-finals, before edging out Mensur Suljovic 21-19 in the longest final ever staged at the Winter Gardens, to complete the prestigious 'triple crown'.
James Wade - 2007 champion
Wade has made no secret of his affinity with this tournament. His 2007 success marked his first televised PDC title and he has since extended that haul to nine major honours.
'The Machine' was beaten on debut by Phil Taylor in the 2006 final but he went one better 12 months later, defeating Wayne Jones, Priestley, King, Lewis and Terry Jenkins to scoop the £50,000 top prize.
The victory was made all the more impressive given that Wade was seeded 11th in Blackpool. Excluding Wade, the lowest-ranked seed to win a World Matchplay title was Anderson - fourth seed in 2018.
Nevertheless, Wade also boasts an unwanted Matchplay record. He has lost in five separate finals at the Winter Gardens - more than any player in the competition's history, after succumbing four times to Taylor and once to Van Gerwen in 2015.
Colin Lloyd - 2005 champion
Colin Lloyd clinched his first major PDC title at the 2004 World Grand Prix and courtesy of his consistency on the Pro Tour circuit, 'Jaws' headed to Blackpool as top seed in 2005.
His previous six appearances had yielded two semi-finals and two quarter-final appearances, but he achieved his darting destiny in sensational style.
Lloyd defeated Paul Williams and Mark Walsh to reach the quarter-finals, before coming through hard-fought battles against Adrian Lewis and former runner-up Baxter to reach the final.
He took on three-time world champion John Part, who defeated Taylor in the last eight, but Lloyd landed 15 maximums and landed a sensational 170 checkout to complete an 18-12 victory, featuring iconic Sid Waddell commentary.
Peter Evison - 1996 champion
Peter Evison became the second unseeded player to win the World Matchplay title in 1996 - and he remains the last player to do so.
Evison ironically defeated 1994 champion Larry Butler in his opener, before producing an incredible performance to thrash top seed and reigning champion Taylor 8-1 in the last 16, averaging 103.77 in the process.
Evison swept aside Sean Downs before battling past Jamie Harvey to reach the final, where Priestley was his opponent.
Priestley had finished runner-up in each of the last two years but it wasn't third time lucky for 'The Menace', as Evison averaged 100.50 to record a thrilling 16-14 victory and clinch his first PDC major title.
Larry Butler - 1994 champion
Butler etched his name into darting folklore by winning the inaugural staging of the World Matchplay in 1994, to become the first and still to this day, only American to have won a major darts tournament on European soil.
'The Bald Eagle' was competing alongside a number of the game's greats including Taylor, Eric Bristow, Priestley, John Lowe, Jocky Wilson and Bob Anderson, but he performed magnificently to shock a number of the world's best.
Butler cruised into the quarter-finals courtesy of successive 8-2 wins against Steve Raw and his fellow countryman Jerry Umberger, before thumping Scottish great Wilson 11-4 to reach the semi-finals.
The unseeded American then defeated two-time major finalist Shayne Burgess to set up a showdown against top seed Priestley in the final, where Butler once again defied the odds to close out a stunning 16-12 win against the former world champion.
Follow every dart from every session in Blackpool as the World Matchplay continues through to the final on Sunday.