It was just over a week ago that the PDC World Matchplay tournament ended and the quality of the darts was some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. The competition was tight and it was hard to call who would be in the final. Well, it was hard to pick one person who would be in the final; the other was a safe bet.
It came as little surprise that the crown went to Phil “The Power” Taylor who absolutely destroyed Terry Jenkins in the final 18-4. This was Taylor’s unprecedented tenth World Matchplay title just another one to add to the bazillions he already has (I think he’s up to 54 major titles now).
Love him, hate him or just plain bored of him there is no doubt that Phil “The Power” Taylor is the greatest dart player of all time. Since 1990, when he qualified for his first World Championship which he went on to win, Taylor has dominated professional darts and won more major tournaments than any other player.
So how did Taylor become so good at darts? Well for one, he practices hours a day, but I’m sure all professional dart players do that. So maybe it’s just that he is a naturally gifted dart player, a so extremely naturally gifted dart player it’s not natural. Well, that could be the reason, but I doubt that’s the only reason. When you watch Taylor throw darts, every action he takes is deliberate and calculated.
Each dart is sighted carefully, the throwing action never falters and nothing is rushed. He also seems to possesses a Zen-like state of unwavering concentration that’s rarely broken even in the hubbub of noisy large tournament play. It’s like he has taken the simple action of throwing a dart and turned it into a complicated almost scientific process, on par with trying to make the perfect golf swing (pun intended). I think it’s this combination of things that make Phil Taylor stand head and shoulders above the rest of professional darts.
It doesn’t look like Taylor’s domination of the sport is going to end anytime soon, and maybe some of the other pros are daunted at the prospect of facing him. I doubt anyone will achieve as much as Phil has in darts, but while Phil is still playing, will anyone be able to rival him? I like Sid Waddell’s idea of handicapping Taylor to give other dart players a chance, but I honestly think that he is in a class of his own and it’s going to be a long time before anyone gets close. If I did have to pick a likely usurper though, number two ranked James Wade is looking like the best option, and at only 26, I think he’s yet to play his best darts.
There is a great documentary called “Phil Taylor – The Power and the Glory” that you can find here.
It’s in five parts and too long to post here, but there is a great part during the interview when Phil is practicing and he talks us through how he throws his darts. After applying some of Phil’s tips to my own darts I have noticed a marked improvement in my playing. Now I just need to practice some more.
I’ll leave you with this remarkable shot of the maniac, brainiac winning the game (sorry couldn’t resist dropping some lyrics from The Power by Snap!) at the 2008 World Matchplay final.