Phil Taylor produced a phenomenal performance at Wembley Arena last night, regaining the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts title with a 10-8 defeat of defending champion James ‘The Machine’ Wade.
‘The Power’ hit two nine-dart legs, the first time this feat has been achieved in the same match, and, according to Wade, an accomplishment that may never be repeated in such a short format. For good measure, Taylor also completed seven perfect darts on his way to a ten-dart leg, and threw a couple of 12-darters. That Wade managed to stay in touch is of great credit to the younger player, and the confidence he will gain from running an in-form Taylor so close may be crucial in key tournaments in June and July.
Contrary to the views of some commentators, this was not the greatest darts match of all time – the Premier League is virtually an exhibition event, and lacks the tension, prestige and drama of the World Championship or Matchplay. It was however, clearly the finest darting performance since the sport first appeared on TV forty years ago.
I spoke to Taylor yesterday morning, recording an interview for The Wrong Bed podcast – his relaxed demeanour certainly translated into the events of the evening. I had begun my piece by describing him as the world’s greatest sportsman. “No, no, that’s not right,” he had interrupted in that familiar Midlands tone. “I’m the world’s most successful sportsman.”
The Power has his detractors, those who dislike his cockiness or perceived arrogance. But this wasn’t conceit, this was a statement of fact. In no other sport has one man or woman dominated in this way for so long, regularly and often pushing the boundaries of their game beyond the expectations of any of their contemporaries. Yesterday morning I found Taylor in an affable, honest and strikingly humble mood. Last night he showed once again that there is, and ever will be, only one Phi Taylor.