Phil Taylor brought the curtain down on a glittering career at the World Matchplay, as he won his sixteenth title in his finals appearance on the Winter Gardens stage. The most successful player in darting history, is bowling out of competitive action at the end of the season. An emotional Taylor turned the clock back over the last week, as the Power produced some of his best darts in a decade. Pre tournament Taylor was a huge outsider at 20/1 with title sponsors Betvictor; this was due to the potential run he would have if he was going to be crowned champion. On a Friday night the noise reverberated around the Winter Gardens, as Taylor would clash with his nemesis Michael van Gerwen. The sixteen times champion of the world, has struggled against the current world champion over the last four years. Taylor missed the US Masters to get ready for his final Matchplay; this seemed to have been the right thing as Taylor produced a darting masterclass. From start to finish Taylor was majestic, with the Blackpool crowd cheered their man on. Walking in Taylor wonderland echoed around the Winter Gardens, Taylor was feeding off that energy. Taylor got better and better, as Michael van Gerwen couldn’t find the answers needed on this occasion as he has so often in the past. Taylor routed van Gerwen 16-6. In the semi-final, Taylor would play his former understudy in Adrian Lewis, for the first eighteen legs the match was a close contest. Lewis missed a dart to make it 9-9, and from there Taylor moved away. Lewis looked as if he was feeling the effects from a long tournament, but after only just recovering from an operation I’m Lewis would have been over the moon with a semi final place.
In the final Taylor would face the world number three, Peter Wright. Wright made a great gesture, in letting Taylor walk out last in his final ever game on the Winter Gardens stage. In truth, Wright looked an emotional mess on the stage, as it looked as if the occasion was getting to him more than Taylor. In the first two sessions Taylor was in total control of the final, then in the third session, Wright threaten to make a game of the final. Wright won that session 4-1 to give Taylor something to think about, sadly for the Wright fans that was as good as it got. Taylor would just pull away from Wright. Taylor would crown a magical fairytale week, as he hit double sixteen to seal an 18-8 win and his sixteenth World Matchplay title.
Taylor, who averaged 104.24 in the final, said: “It’s fantastic – this has capped everything off for me. It couldn’t have come at a better time, and it’s a bonus for me.
“It’s lovely, it really is, and I’ve loved every minute of it. To win a major at my age is fantastic, and I’ve had a tough week when you look at the draw.
“I’ll miss this place tremendously – I’ve loved it here since the first time I walked through the door. It’s great to win again, and it will go down in history, and I’m delighted for everyone who’s supported me.
“During the final, I was watching every bit of Peter’s body language, and he showed every sign of being a little bit tired,” Taylor added. “I wanted to keep putting him under pressure.
“I was miles in front at one time, and he came back, but I was playing ok, and I kept him under pressure.”
Even though Taylor will walk away from the sport after the World Championships in December, his win at the Matchplay has put him back up to world number four. With much of the darting world asking the question, will the great man be talked around into staying for another year?