Rob Cross sealed a fairytale debut year as a full time professional, as he was crowned the William Hill World Darts Champion at Alexandra Palace on New Year’s Day. Cross beat the darting legend Phil Taylor 7-2 in the final, as Taylor said goodbye to professional darts calling time on a glittering career.
Cross dumped out world number one and red-hot favourite Michael van Gerwen in an epic semi-final. Cross beat van Gerwen 6-5 in a sudden-death leg late into the night. Taylor came through a less eventful semi-final, as he beat Jamie Lewis 6-1 to give himself a shot at his seventeenth world title.
Cross, playing in his first world but would never have known, as the Hastings man showed no nerves. Cross raced into a 3 set lead averaging nearly 6 points more than Taylor in the averages, with a roof-raising 167 finish as Cross win nine of the opening eleven legs. Taylor won the fourth set by winning three straight legs.Then in the fifth set, Taylor almost blew the roof off the place, as the great man wired double 12 for a magical nine-dart finish. The killer blow to Taylor was he lost the leg, which seemed to through his consecration as he would lose the set giving Cross his three-set buffer back. Cross would steamroller his away to a 6-1 lead, as Taylor looked to his family and friends with the look as if to say not much I can do here.
Taylor gave his fans something to sing about as he got his second set on the board, walking in a Taylor wonder echoed around the Alexandra Palace as there were signs of an emotional Taylor breaking. In the ninth set, Cross produced another moment of brilliance, by taking out 140 to seal the moment of his life. Cross won his first world title at the first time of asking, and in do emulated the retiring Taylor by winning the world title in his debut appearance in a world championship.
Only two players have ever averaged more than Cross did in the world final, Cross 107.67 average was sublime from start to finish which included eleven 180s and a massive 60 percent checkout stats. The story is a fairytale as Cross only won his first £250 as a pro in February this year. The £400,000 prize money has catapulted Cross into the world’s top 4 in the rankings.
Cross told Skysports:
“I feel great, but I’ve got to say it’s Phil’s last year – I’ve won my first World Championship but it’s about him departing, and that’s why I let him lift the trophy with me,
“He’s been phenomenal. It was my dream 15 years ago to play this guy, and now I’ve played him. It’s absolute phenomenal.
“In the final today, it was a dream to play Phil. Watching him with his dominance over the years he has been excellent, and you won’t see another sportsman like him.
“It’s a life changer; it’s a fairy-tale.
“I was born in 1990, so the coincidence may be there as he won his first World title while I took my first breath of air,
“But with what he’s done for the game I hope he has a happy retirement and I wish him all the best – he’s brilliant.”
On leaving the Ally Pally stage for the final time, Taylor was full of prize for Cross.
“I tried my best; I just didn’t have that push against him. He was like me 25 years ago.
“He was good. He was relentless, he just doesn’t stop putting you under pressure, and that’s the way I used to be.
“I don’t think the money with him will make a scrap of difference, I think it’s about winning and that’s the way I was.
“I’m at the end of my career, and he’s at the beginning of his career, and it was a young man versus an old man. It was a mismatch really; he was a brilliant player.”