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30 Years Of The World Matchplay - Part Three

30 Years Of The World Matchplay - Part Three

Alex Moss |

The World Matchplay's 30 most memorable matches (Part Three - #10-1)

The World Matchplay is one of the most prestigious tournaments on the darts calendar. First held in 1994, the world’s top players face off every summer over nine days at the iconic Winter Gardens, in Blackpool, for the Phil Taylor Trophy.

This July will mark the 30th staging of the World Matchplay, and over the years darts fans have been treated to hundreds of incredible moments. But what have been the most memorable matches at the World Matchplay over the last 30 years?

The Team at Darts Corner have delved through the archive and put together our own top 30 list. In part one, we took you through #30 to #21 in our countdown of the most unforgettable matches in World Matchplay history. In part two, our countdown continued with matches #20 to #11 in our list. Click on the images below to read parts one and two of our countdown!

World Matchplay Darts Matches World Matchplay Matches Part 2

Check out our very own World Matchplay collection of darts, featuring James Wade, John Lowe and Keith Deller.


Our top 30 list of the World Matchplay's most memorable matches (Part Three - #10-1)

10. Michael van Gerwen 6-16 Phil Taylor (2017 quarter-final)

30 Years Of The World Matchplay - Part Three

There were not many occasions during Phil Taylor’s glittering career that he was priced as a 4/1 underdog, but that was the case when ‘The Power’ locked horns with Michael van Gerwen in the 2017 World Matchplay.

‘Mighty Mike’ was in the midst of what would be a seven-year reign as world number one and went into the quarter-final clash bidding for a third consecutive title in Blackpool.

For Taylor, this was his 24th and final campaign at the Winter Gardens, as he had announced he would be retiring at the end of the 2017/18 season.

A raucous Blackpool crowd roared Taylor on as he punished every mistake that his opponent made. Van Gerwen missed 21 of his 27 shots at a double to finish on the end of a heavy defeat, and a few days later ‘The Power’ would sign off from the Winter Gardens with a 16th title.

9. Phil Taylor 1-8 Peter Evison (1996 last 16)

From one of Phil Taylor’s most memorable nights at the Winter Gardens to one he will have wanted to forget about very quickly.

The 1996 World Matchplay was the third staging of the tournament and for the first time ‘The Power’ went in as the defending champion, having won what would be the first of 16 titles the previous year.

But Taylor’s hunt for back-to-back victories in Blackpool was brought to a halt by Peter Evison, who thrashed the top seed 8-1 in the second round and with a stunning 103.77 average.

Until his 18-10 defeat in the 2016 final to Michael van Gerwen, this would be the heaviest defeat Taylor would suffer on a stage he would make his own over the next 20 years.

8. Phil Taylor 18-13 Adrian Lewis (2013 final)

30 Years Of The World Matchplay - Part Three

In terms of standard, the 2013 clash between Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis is the best final in the history of the World Matchplay.

Taylor’s final average of 111.23 is the highest ever recorded in a Blackpool final, while Lewis’ 105.92 average is the highest losing average in a final at the Winter Gardens.

The all-Stoke contest saw Lewis fire in an astonishing 19 180s, while Taylor replied with three 100-plus finishes that punished ‘Jackpot’.

A 130 checkout helped Taylor get back on level terms at 6-6, while a 136 finish took the top seed to the brink of victory at 17-13.

7. Rob Cross 17-15 Daryl Gurney (2019 semi-final)

30 Years Of The World Matchplay - Part Three

This semi-final clash in the 2019 World Matchplay saw Rob Cross produce one of the most incredible comebacks ever seen at the Winter Gardens.

The 2018 world champion trailed Daryl Gurney 14-7 and 15-10 and looked to be on the verge of defeat, before fighting back to advance as an unlikely winner.

At 15-10 up, Gurney missed four darts at double top to go within one leg of victory and ‘Voltage’ swept in to spark a winning run of seven straight legs.

‘Superchin’ then missed three more darts at a double in the 32nd leg when 16-15 behind, leaving Cross the chance to complete a stunning revival.

6. Phil Taylor 16-7 Chris Mason (2002 quarter-final)

The 2002 World Matchplay quarter-final between Phil Taylor and Chris Mason will always be remembered for what happened in the fifth leg.

Locked at 2-2, Taylor produced a moment of sporting history, with two scores of 180, followed by a 141 checkout, to complete a nine darter.

It was the first nine-dart leg to be broadcast on live British television, and only the second live worldwide, following the late Shaun Greatbatch’s perfect leg in the 2002 Dutch Open final, which was shown live on television in the Netherlands.

The feat saw ‘The Power’ pocket an eye-watering £100,000. For some context, two days later Taylor won the whole tournament, an achievement which was worth £15,000 at the time. To show the growth in the professional game, the 2022 World Matchplay champion scooped a cool £200,000.

5. Simon Whitlock 15-17 Andy Hamilton (2011 quarter-final)

At 15-8 down to Simon Whitlock in the quarter-finals, Andy Hamilton’s World Matchplay campaign in 2011 appeared to be over.

What followed over the next half an hour on the Winter Gardens stage was a comeback that ranks among the best in the history of televised darts.

In the 26th leg, ‘The Wizard’ missed three match darts at tops to win 16-10, and Hamilton took out 86 as his resurgence started to build some momentum.

A fourth match dart at tops, this time for a 120 finish, in the next leg gave ‘The Hammer’ another lifeline, closing the gap to three legs at 15-12. Whitlock went high on tops again in the 29th leg, for a match-winning 80 checkout, and Hamilton stepped in to make it 15-14.

With the score now level at 15-15, the 31st leg was full of drama as both players missed multiple darts at double. Hamilton pinned double four to lead 16-15 and, after Whitlock spurned two more darts in the next leg, a memorable comeback was complete when ‘The Hammer’ took out 94 on the bull to win 17-15 in over time.

Check out or range of Andy Hamilton darts, flights and shirts.

4. Michael van Gerwen 15-17 Adrian Lewis (2013 semi-final)

30 Years Of The World Matchplay - Part Three

This semi-final clash between Michael van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis at the 2013 World Matchplay was simply a joy to watch.

Both players were in full flow and this meeting in Blackpool was at the height of their rivalry, with van Gerwen having won his first PDC major title the previous year and Lewis’ back-to-back world title wins from 2011 and 2012 still a recent memory.

‘Jackpot’ got off to a hot start with 121 and 119 checkouts helping him go 4-1 and 8-4 up, before van Gerwen responded with 164 and 112 finishes to eventually level at 12-12.

Another ton-plus checkout from ‘Mighty Mike’ saw him hit the front, with a 121 this time putting him 15-14 ahead, but two missed darts at double for a 16-14 lead proved costly.

Lewis stepped in to break straight back at 15-15 and, after holding throw to go one leg away at 16-15, he fired in a 16th 180 in the next leg to leave 28 for the match. Van Gerwen narrowly missed the double for a 146 finish to force extra time and ‘Jackpot’ pinned double seven to end a thriller.

3. Joe Cullen 17-19 Gary Anderson (2018 quarter-final)

30 Years Of The World Matchplay - Part Three

Joe Cullen and Gary Anderson served up an unforgettable match in the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Matchplay which featured a nine darter and a 170 finish!

The 2018 edition marked the first year without 16-time champion Phil Taylor in the field, and as the tournament entered the last eight a new winner was guaranteed on the newly-named Phil Taylor Trophy.

In a match that initially started as a race to 16 legs, there was never more than one leg separating the two players before Anderson edged through in extra time.

Cullen took out a 170 checkout to lead 10-9 and clinched an important break of throw in the 29th leg to go 15-14 up and throw for the match. However, ‘The Rockstar’ missed two match darts to win 16-14, and bizarrely a fly went across his eye-line as he threw for victory.

Anderson, who had thrown a nine darter in just the fourth leg of the match, capitalised to force sudden death and after six extra legs brought this classic to a close to win 19-17.

Take a look at our range of Gary Anderson darts, flights and cases.

2. Rod Harrington 19-17 Ronnie Baxter (1998 final)

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was not uncommon to see BDO players competing in the PDC’s major events. And in 1998, we were treated to a PDC vs BDO final at the World Matchplay.

Rod Harrington, the PDC world number one, faced off against the BDO’s number two Ronnie Baxter, with the latter having knocked out tournament favourite Phil Taylor 13-10 in the quarter-finals.

This was the first year that the format for the final had increased to the first to 18 legs, having previously been a race to 16 legs, yet this would be the first time a Blackpool decider would go to extra time.

A dramatic finale saw Baxter miss a match dart at tops with the score at 17-14 in his favour. Harrington levelled at 17-17 and, with his opponent sat waiting on tops, ‘The Prince of Style’ produced an incredible 125 finish (treble 15, tops, tops) to take the lead, before completing the comeback in the next leg to win the title.

1. Gary Anderson 21-19 Mensur Suljovic (2018 final)

30 Years Of The World Matchplay - Part Three

The 2018 marathon final between Gary Anderson and Mensur Suljovic tops our list as the most memorable match in World Matchplay history.

This contest set the record as the longest match ever played at the Winter Gardens, with the pair battling over 40 legs and for almost two hours to decide the champion.

At 17-13 up, Anderson was just one leg away from the finish line and completing Sky’s ‘triple crown’ of the World Championship, World Matchplay and Premier League titles.

But Suljovic fired back with two bullseye finishes helping him win five legs in a row to take the lead in sudden death at 18-17.

‘The Flying Scotsman’ responded by taking the next two legs to lead 19-18 before seeing a match dart at the bull in the 38th leg bounce out of the board!

A reprieved Suljovic levelled again at 19-19 but two missed darts at double for 20-19 in the next leg proved costly. Anderson broke throw and then held to win a thriller and join Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen as only the third player to complete Sky’s ‘triple crown.’

Browse our range of Gary Anderson darts, flights and cases and our collection of Mensur Suljovic darts.


Want to celebrate your favourite player? Check out our World Matchplay collection featuring Michael Smith, Gary Anderson, John Part and many more players.

Pictures credit: PDC

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