Phil Taylor has always been a divisive character. Never one to shy away from acknowledging his own brilliance, the Stoke-on-Trent-born darts player often came across as arrogant and patronising towards other players during his three-decade career. Some people admired his confidence and self-belief and suggested it was what made him a champion, while others found his lack of humility off-putting.
Whatever your opinion of Taylor the man, there is no doubting his darting ability. He won a total of 16 world championships between 1990 and 2013 and dominated his sport in a way that few have ever done in any field. He also helped to elevate darts to prime-time TV status, turning the sport into a multi-million-pound industry. There is no doubt that darts would not be where it is today without Phil “The Power” Taylor.
The “Power” finally packed away his darts in 2018, although he did hint a comeback earlier this year, and a new generation of players are now dominating the game and reaping the rewards of the monster pay packets now handed out at the major tournaments. But can anyone ever dominate the game like Taylor did? Or was the Power just a one-off?
Thank you pic.twitter.com/79CYdjzc6H
— Phil Taylor (@PhilTaylor) January 1, 2018
Achieving consistency in any sport is difficult but darts requires such precision and accuracy that maintaining such a high level over decades seems almost super-human. Taylor was machine-like in his delivery of the darts and had the ability to maintain focus in any arena and in any conditions. His driven attitude, dedication and single-mindedness in the pursuit of darting perfection has drawn comparisons to the likes of Tiger Woods. However, the fact that darts is a game that was developed in the public houses of the United Kingdom meant that the sport has sometimes struggled to be taken seriously. To this day, there are still plenty who sneer at the thought of darts as a real sport.
The Young Pretender
In the 25 years since the PDC World Darts Championship was formed, there have only been seven world champions. Taylor won the event 14 times (his other two world championships were won in the BDO) and current champion Michael van Gerwen is next in line with three titles. The Dutchman is currently 30 years old, the same age as Taylor was when he won his first BDO world title and is favourite in the darts betting to add a fourth title this winter. Taylor won first PDC World Championship at the age of 34 and won his last one aged 53.
Happy Birthday @MvG180!
Here’s how Michael van Gerwen compares with 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor and the late, great Eric Bristow when they turned 30… pic.twitter.com/YAPqCrb5St
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) April 25, 2019
So, in terms of age, van Gerwen already has a head start on Taylor. In 2014, he became the youngest ever winner of the PDC World Championship, aged 24, and held the record for the highest darts average score in a televised event (123.40 achieved in the 2016 Premier League) until 2019 when he was pipped by Peter Wright. Van Gerwen has already broken Taylor’s record for the most PDC Pro Tour event victories with a total haul of 75.
If there is one player who can surpass Taylor in terms of world titles, it is Michael van Gerwen but he still needs another 13 wins just to match the legend. It could be argued that competition is now stiffer than ever and that van Gerwen could still be rated as the greatest of all time even if he does not break Taylor’s haul. But if he can get into double figures and achieve two decades of consistency at the elite level then it will be an interesting debate to have.