Earlier this year Phil Taylor announced via the PDC that 2017 would be his last year on the circuit. The curtain is set to come down on a remarkable darts career but will the 16-time world champion go out in a blaze of glory or with a whimper?
In true daytime-quiz style, ask 100 people to name a famous darts player and Phil Taylor will score very highly indeed! However, a glittering career spanning over 30 years is set to conclude at the end of 2017. The man nicknamed 'The Power' admitted he's lost his appetite and motivation for the sport with his last commitment set to be 2018 World Championship at Alexandra Palace. He's decided to scale down his commitments this season and isn't competing in the World Cup of Darts for the first time since the tournament's inauguration, leaving debutante Dave Chisnall to partner Adrian Lewis in this year's competition which is shown live on Sky Sports. Prior to the pair's first round tie with Gibraltar, England were still second favourites with World Cup sponsors Betway to take the titledespite Taylor's absence. The good news for Phil Taylor fans is that there are plenty of events remaining in the UK and further afield in which the Stoke-born sportsman is set to compete before his final outing.
It's difficult to know where to begin when reviewing such a sensational career. The list of tournament successes is simply incredible and can be viewed on Philthepower.com. These include eight successive PDC World Championships between 1995 and 2002. Taylor then regained his crown, winning the tournament again in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He has won the World Grand Prix 11 times and the World Matchplay event on a whopping 15 occasions! These successes included seven consecutive victories in Blackpool and when recently reflecting on his mesmeric career Taylor admitted the tournament has always held a special place in his heart. He possesses plenty of memories of the annual competition which is held at the Winter Gardens.
His most recent success came in September 2016 as he wrapped up the Champions League of Darts. Although failing to make the final of the Premier League of darts this year, he's got terrific pedigree in the competition and has held the trophy aloft six times between 2005 and 2012. His 3-dart average has been impressive over the years and has rarely dwindled. Back in the 2011 Champions League of Darts, he averaged an impressive 120.86, the third highest in any televised event. That masterclass also included a 9-dart finish. Perhaps most impressively, he holds the record for highest number of 9-dart finishes, racking up 22 of them across all PDC events. He's 7 clear of second placed Michael Van Gerwen.
Every famous sportsman leaves behind a legacy but there is no denying that the career of Phil Taylor has helped propel darts into the mainstream. His appeal, his talent and his fine finishing have helped him acquire a loyal fanbase who have followed him for a number of years. He is hugely popular with dart's fans worldwide and the game will be a poorer place without his arrows. He has certainly cemented his place in the top five dart's players of all time.
Taylor's favourite tournament - The World Match Play in Blackpool - returns at the end of July and he will be keen to secure one final title in the North West of England. 2017 has been tough going so far although he did reach the quarter finals of the World Championships at the beginning of the year and narrowly missed out on a place in the final of the Premier League. He finished third but his 3-dart average fell below 100 across the course of the tournament. A rarity. Occasionally, Taylor looked uninterested in the early part of the year. If he puts his mind to it, he has at least one or two further successes in the tank. He is playing with the pressure off since announcing his retirement and his final hurrah is sure to draw a huge crowd.
Taylor will not exit quietly, he is a competitive sportsman after all! 'The Power' is likely to progress to the latter stages of the 2018 PDC World Championships and don't be surprised if he makes the final two!