The Top 10 Best Darts Players Ever
Darts is a sport which has grown in worldwide popularity over the years, with professional players now competing for huge prize money and in front of large crowds across the UK, Europe and beyond. There have been several key players who have shaped and contributed to the growth of darts over the years to help take it to new and unrivalled heights.
The debate has been discussed for many years as to who is the best darts player ever. It’s been a tough choice to narrow it down, but in this blog, we’ll take you through our hand-picked top 10 and who we think is the greatest of all time!
Legends through the ages
The best darts players to grace the oche covers several different eras. From the BDO’s heyday in the 1980s to the modern day and the rise of the PDC, the legends in darts have been forged through the ages.
During the sport’s first golden period, an audience of 8.3 million tuned in to watch the 1983 BDO World Championship final between Keith Deller and Eric Bristow. The popular TV show Bullseyealso attracted enormous viewing figures, reaching 20 million in its peak.
Fast forward to the current day and the world’s top players compete against each other in the PDC’s multi-million pound tour with events being held all around the world. The answer to who is the best darts player in the world right now is determined each year at the PDC World Championship, where 96 players battle it out at London’s Alexandra Palace for the £500,000 top prize.
Everyone has their favourites over the years, and these are some of ours. Take a look at our 10 best darts players ever…
Darts used: 22g Datadart Martin Adams Signature Darts
Few players can match the longevity and glittering CV of Martin Adams. The man nicknamed ‘Wolfie’ made his debut in the BDO World Championship in 1994 – the first of 25 consecutive appearances at the Lakeside.
Based in Deeping St James, near Peterborough, Adams spent 20 years as the England captain in the BDO from 1993 to 2013. Known for his jovial demeanour on stage, ‘Wolfie’ is a fans’ favourite and fulfilled his darting dreams by winning the BDO World Championship in 2007.
In one of the most memorable Lakeside finals ever, Adams led the late Phill Nixon 6-0 in sets, before being pegged back to 6-6 and coming through in a last-set decider. ‘Wolfie’ went on to become a three-time world champion with back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011, and became the second player to win the men’s World Masters in three consecutive years between 2008 and 2010.
Adams continues to compete on the World Seniors Darts Tour and remains a popular player amongst darts fans. He has won more than 100 titles during his long career, including a record four men’s singles in the Dutch Open – the largest open tournament in world darts.
Darts used: Whatever he feels like…
Peter Wright’s career is a prime example of how age is not a barrier in darts. After making his World Championship debut at the Lakeside in 1995, as a 24-year-old and dressed in plain black attire, ‘Snakebite’ would go on to be crowned world champion some 25 years later at the age of 49.
The late emergence of Wright, who was born in Scotland and lives in East Anglia, has seen him rack up close to 50 tournament wins in the PDC, including multiple major titles.
Known for his mohawk haircut and colourful outfits on stage, Wright has let his darts do the talking in recent years, beating his fierce rival Michael van Gerwen to win the 2020 PDC World Championship. A second world title followed two years later in 2022, along with a spell as the world number one later that year. His victory in the 2021 World Matchplay is regarded as one of the best ever title-winning campaigns at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, and included a 110 average in the semi-finals as he once again got the better of van Gerwen on the way to lifting the Phil Taylor Trophy.
Darts used: 24g Loxley John Part Signature Darts
Now regularly seen and heard on Sky Sports during their coverage of tournaments, John Part boasts a legendary playing career of his own. The man nicknamed ‘Darth Maple’ made a name for himself by winning the BDO World Championship on his debut in 1994.
His victory was a landmark moment in the world of darts, as he became the first player from outside the UK to win a World Championship title. Part would make more history nine years later beating Phil Taylor in an epic last set decider to clinch the 2003 PDC World Championship – the first player from outside Europe to win the PDC’s world title.
Part further cemented himself among the sport’s greats by winning a third World Championship in 2008 – the first held at London’s Alexandra Palace – and achieved another first as he became the first player to win a world title in three different venues. In 2017, ‘Darth Maple’ joined the PDC Hall of Fame and was the first person from outside of the UK to be inducted, once again illustrating his status as one of the best ever.
Darts used: 17g Winmau Dennis Priestley Signature Darts
The first player to win both the BDO and PDC versions of the World Championship, Dennis Priestley is regarded as one of the all-time greats and has the trophy cabinet to back it up.
Born in Mexborough, the Yorkshire thrower shot to fame in his debut at the 1991 BDO World Championship – winning the tournament at Lakeside after beating Eric Bristow 6-0 in the final. ‘The Menace’ captured the 1992 World Masters the following year before making the switch to the WDC (now the PDC) as one of the breakaway group of players.
He wrote his name into the history books as the winner of the PDC’s inaugural World Championship in 1994 and would go on to reach four more world finals, as well as the finals of the first three editions of the World Matchplay, as he forged a memorable rivalry with Phil Taylor in the 1990s.
Known for his steely determination and focus at the oche, Priestley enjoyed a playing career that spanned over 25 years, which was recognised in 2009 when he was inducted into the PDC Hall of Fame.
Raymond van Barneveld
Darts used: 25g Target Raymond van Barneveld Signature Darts
A five-time world champion and a winner of 80+ titles worldwide, Raymond van Barneveld’s haul of tournament victories puts him firmly amongst the best players of all-time.
‘Barney’ made the first of his 30+ World Championship appearances in 1991, and seven years later would kick-start a darts boom in his home country of the Netherlands, winning the 1998 BDO World Championship at Lakeside.
Further world titles followed in 1999, 2003 and 2005, before the Dutch ace jumped from the BDO to the PDC to lock horns with Phil Taylor to decide who was the real best player in the world.
The two rivals faced off in the 2007 PDC World Championship final, with van Barneveld edging out Taylor in a dramatic sudden-death leg in what many darts fans regard as the greatest game ever played. Van Barneveld’s smooth throw and playing style has helped him build a legion of followers worldwide, known as the ‘Barney Army.’
After retiring from the professional circuit at the end of 2019, ‘Barney’ made his return in 2021 and once again showed his class to return to the world’s top 32 and reach the semi-finals of the 2022 Grand Slam of Darts, a run which included two wins over the then world number one Gerwyn Price.
Darts used: 21g Unicorn John Lowe Signature Darts
John Lowe’s historic and lengthy career in the game sees him feature prominently in this list of the best ever darts players. From reaching the final in the very first BDO World Championship in 1978, Lowe would go on to compete in 28 consecutive World Championships across the BDO and PDC codes.
The Derbyshire-based thrower has the distinction of being the first player to win world titles in three separate decades, claiming the BDO’s flagship trophy in 1979, 1987 and 1993 – all in a unified field before the split which led to the formation of the PDC.
‘Old Stoneface’ also has the honour of being the first player to throw a perfect nine-dart leg on television. Lowe’s nine darter came at the 1984 MFI World Matchplay and was shown on ITV, a feat which saw him pocket a cool £102,000.
Along with his impressive longevity at the highest level, Lowe was admired by darts fans for his sportsmanship whilst at the oche and his textbook throw which hardly changed for 30 years whilst competing for the biggest titles. Lowe’s services to darts and to charity was recognised in 2018 when he was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours.
Darts used: 23g Unicorn Gary Anderson Signature Darts
Nicknamed ‘The Flying Scotsman’, there are not many finer sights in darts than watching Gary Anderson in full flow at the oche. The Scot is one of the most naturally gifted players in the history of the sport and his talent has seen him win plenty of big titles over the years.
Anderson made his World Championship debut at the Lakeside back in 2002, but it wasn’t until many years later that he would stand on top of the world of darts, beating Phil Taylor 7-6 in a thrilling final at the 2015 PDC World Championship to become world champion.
He would go on to join a short list of players to defend the title at Alexandra Palace, going back-to-back in 2016, just two landmark wins in a career which has seen the fans’ favourite rack up more than 70 titles around the world.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ has also won two Premier Leagues, along with victories in the UK Open, World Matchplay and Champions League of Darts, to secure his place in the conversation in the best players of all time.
Eric Bristow is remembered as one of the most iconic figures in the history of darts. A winner of five BDO World Championships, ‘The Crafty Cockney’ dominated the darts scene during the 1980s and played a crucial role in popularising the sport in its first golden era on television.
Born in London, Bristow also won a record five World Masters titles, one of his standout achievements from a career which saw him win in excess of 100 professional tournaments.
His throwing style was completely unique, with his pinkie finger sticking out whilst throwing, a technique that would often be copied but never mastered by amateur players and hopefuls in the pub trying to imitate the legend’s throw.
Bristow would play in 23 consecutive World Championships from 1978 to 2000, including the inaugural BDO event in 1978 and the first seven editions of the breakaway PDC’s version. ‘The Crafty Cockney’ remained an immensely popular player on the exhibition circuit right up until passing away in 2018 and he leaves behind a lasting legacy in the game that will be talked about by generations of darts fans to come.
Michael van Gerwen
Darts used: 21.5g Winmau Michael van Gerwen Signature Darts
One of the most decorated players in the history of the game, Michael van Gerwen’s overflowing trophy cabinet continues to grow year after year.
The Dutch star showed his potential from an early age, winning the 2006 World Masters at the age of just 17 and has gone on to win 150+ professional tournaments in the near two decades since then.
‘Mighty Mike’ has won three PDC World Championships, in 2014, 2017 and 2019, and holds the honour of being only the second player, after Phil Taylor, to have won the World Championship, World Matchplay, Premier League, World Grand Prix, UK Open, Grand Slam of Darts, European Championship and Players Championship Finals all on multiple occasions.
His instinctive and natural playing style has earnt him a large following, along with his ability to throw big checkouts and plenty of big scores within a short period of time in a match. Van Gerwen also set a record three-dart average in a match on television of 123.40 in February 2016.
‘Mighty Mike’ once threw 17 consecutive perfect darts during a match at the PDC World Championship, where he completed a nine-dart leg and then missed the ninth dart at the double in the next leg to achieve an historic feat of back-to-back perfect legs. Van Gerwen threw his ninth televised nine-dart finish in September 2023, a figure only surpassed by Phil Taylor, but with plenty more years ahead of him ‘MVG’ is expected to continue writing his own legacy as one of the very best players in darts history.
Darts used: 26g Target Phil Taylor Signature Darts
Many darts fans will have Phil Taylor as the best darts player of all time and it is clear to see why. ‘The Power’ won a record 16 World Championship titles and finished up his professional career having won 200+ tournaments over 30 years.
Born in Stoke on Trent, Taylor made his World Championship debut in 1990 and lifted the title at Lakeside, seeing off his mentor Eric Bristow 6-1 in the final. Another world title followed two years later in the BDO system, before Taylor would be one of a group of breakaway players to help form a new organisation called the WDC, now known as the PDC.
‘The Power’ would dominate the PDC circuit for the best part of 20 years as he took his overall haul of World Championships to a record 16. His success on the oche also saw him nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 2010, where he finished runner-up to the jockey AP McCoy. It was in 2010 that Taylor completed one of his most memorable achievements, throwing two nine-dart legs in the same match – the first player to complete this remarkable feat on television.
Regarded as one of the most successful British sportsmen in history, Taylor called time on his iconic career at the end of 2017, and in his final year on the PDC tour he won a record-extending 16th World Matchplay title and reached a 21st World Championship final.
So, there’s our top 10 best ever darts players – but who was unlucky not to make the cut and who just missed out on a place in our selection? Looking back through the 1980s, there are several other players who certainly played their part in the game’s golden era during that period. The late Jocky Wilson was a crowd favourite with his flamboyant style and won two BDO World Championships in 1982 and 1989 in what was a trophy-laden decade of success for the Scot. Bob Anderson was another of the leading players from that time, winning the Lakeside in 1988 as well as three World Masters titles on the spin from 1986 to 1988. ‘The Limestone Cowboy’ was still playing on the professional circuit up until 2008 and only retired from playing in June 2023.
From the current crop of players, James Wade is one of the best players to have never won a world title but has still won an impressive 10 major competitions in the PDC, and has been in the top 16 of the world rankings for almost two decades. Adrian Lewis is a back-to-back PDC world champion and has won several other major titles, whilst Gerwyn Price is another contender whose stock is growing all the time, having won the 2021 PDC World Championship to reach the top of the rankings.
From the ladies’ game, Trina Gulliver is a 10-time winner of the BDO Women’s World Championship and claimed more than 150 titles. Despite the absence of a world title on her CV, Deta Hedman has won arguably the most professional tournaments of any player with 230+ victories to her name on the women’s circuit from the late 1980s to the present day.
Up & Coming Darts Players
The emergence of new and exciting young talent each year sees the game continue to progress, with several prospects making a name for themselves in the world of darts. Northern Ireland’s Josh Rock is the 2022 PDC world youth champion and has enjoyed a fast rise in the professional ranks, breaking into the world’s top 32 in less than 18 months with a PDC tour card. Dutch ace Gian van Veen is another up and coming player who looks to have a bright future in the game, topping the 2023 PDC Development Tour Order of Merit and reaching the 2023 PDC World Youth Championship final.
England’s Beau Greaves has dominated the women’s circuit in recent years, winning the 2022 WDF Women’s World Championship as well as the 2023 PDC Women’s World Matchplay titles. The darts sensation enjoyed an incredible 70-match winning run on the PDC Women’s Series and has established herself as one of the best young darts players in the world right now. Another rising star from England is Luke Littler, who has burst onto the scene by finishing second on the 2023 PDC Development Tour Order of Merit to earn a two-year PDC tour card at the age of just 16. ‘The Nuke’ will be testing his skills against the world’s best players week in week out on the professional circuit starting in 2024.
Tell us who you think the best darts player is!
Who in your opinion is the best dart player in the world? Do you agree with our list or is yours different? Get in touch with us and tell us which players make your top 10 best darts players of all time and why. You can tweet us your list on Twitter or leave a comment on our Facebook page.
Pictures: PDC/Lawrence Lustig