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Magic Moments of the World Matchplay

Rod Harrington celebrates winning the title in 1998 after an epic tie break against Ronnie Baxter (credit: Sky)
The World Matchplay is the longest running televised PDC major tournament and has provided the sport with some of its' finest moments during its' 19-year history, we take a look back at our top six.

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The event was introduced to the newly formed PDC calendar in 1994 and has grown year on year to become one of the most prestigious tournaments in the sport.

The stunning Winter Gardens venue in Blackpool provides the scene for a summertime feast of darts each year, and for many players, this represents the highlight of their season.

We take a trip down memory lane to recall some of the finest moments ever witnessed on the famous World Matchplay stage.

6) Andy Hamilton's comeback against Simon Whitlock - 2011

The Quarter-Finals of the 2011 event provided the scene for the greatest comeback in the history of the tournament and perhaps in PDC history.

Having defeated Scottish duo Gary Anderson and John Henderson to reach the last eight, Andy Hamilton's good run looked to be coming to a disappointing end as he trailed Australian star Simon Whitlock 15-8 in a race to 17 legs.

But if there is one player in the world of darts who epitomises the blood, sweat and tears attitude to get to the top of the sport, it is Andy Hamilton.
 
The Hammer watched his opponent squander countless chances at doubles to take victory and held his nerve to reel off eight consecutive legs to go one away at 16-15.

The match had to be won by two clear legs and after breaking the Whitlock throw yet again in the previous leg, the Stoke ace sealed an incredible victory with a 94 finish on the bull.

Although his amazing run was brought to an end by eventual champion Phil Taylor in the Semi-Finals, it was that run that saw him retain his place in the world's top 16 and become the catalyst for a memorable season which also saw him reach the World Championship final and receive a wildcard place in the 2012 Premier League. 


5) Phil Taylor's sensational 132 checkout for the title - 2008

The 2008 event saw the second meeting in three years between Phil Taylor and James Wade in the final.

The result was a formality, as a rampant Phil Taylor put himself on the brink of victory at 17-9 against a helpless defending champion.

But this tournament will ultimately be remembered for the way in which it was won; Taylor, leaving himself on 132 for glory, saw his first dart land in the 25 but blocking the bullseye.

With Wade wiring a 160 finish and leaving tops, The Power was forced into going for treble 19 to leave the bull; he picked off the treble 19 with ease and paused as he unconventionally stepped to the far right of oche to open up the angle for a shot at the bull.

With only a fraction on the bull visible, Taylor incredibly picked out the centre of the target and broke down in tears as he lifted his ninth World Matchplay title.   

 

4) Raymond van Barneveld's nine darter - 2010

The opening night of a tournament is not one that often lives long in the memory, but a moment of magic from five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld ensured that the 2010 curtain raiser would.
 
Barney returned to action following a lengthy break from the game which saw him spend time with his native Football team at the World Cup in South Africa, and he looked rejuvenated as he coasted into an 8-1 lead against Denis Ovens in his opening round match.

The popular Dutchman had been solid if not brilliant in the match, but lit up the Winter Gardens in leg ten as he fired in a nine dart finish with back-to-back 180s followed by an ultra-cool 141 checkout to complete the feat and send the 2,000 strong crowd wild.

Van Barneveld went on to reach the final that year, finishing runner-up to Phil Taylor.

 

3) Rod Harrington wins an epic 1998 final

World number one Rod Harrington was up against it when took to the stage against local favourite Ronnie Baxter to contest the final of 1998.

In the previous rounds, Bob Anderson and Keith Deller had both fallen at the hands of Harrington, who like Baxter, was appearing in his first ever World Matchplay final.

The duo provided a thriller in the intense heat of the big stage, engulfed by 2,000 gripped spectators who had seen 34 legs fail to separate the pair.

The unique aspect of the World Matchplay format means that all matches must be won by two clear legs, and as the game headed into the tie break there was no guessing which way it would go.

Fittingly then, it would take a moment of genius from the Prince of Style to set him on the way to victory.

Requiring 125 for a 18-17 lead, Harrington opted for treble 15 as opposed to the conventional bullseye route, leaving 80 with two darts in hand; he then stunned Baxter and the crowd alike but hitting two double tops to complete the checkout and leave him needing one leg on throw for the title.

Harrington, sporting a shirt, tie and waistcoat, narrowly missed double ten for a 140 finish to seal the win in style in the next leg, but returned to hit double five with his second dart to spark mass celebrations as he lifted the first of what would be back-to-back Matchplay titles as he replicated the feat a year later. 


2) Colin Lloyd 170 checkout to win the 2005 title

To this day, Colin Lloyd's showpiece finish to secure the title in 2005 remains unmatched.

No player had ever won a title by hitting a 170 checkout, but Jaws made history when he kept his cool to produce the magical feat against John Part seven years ago.

Part came into the match as favourite having knocked out Phil Taylor in the Quarter-Finals, but Lloyd, fresh from his run to the Premier League final a few months earlier, had other ideas.

A rampant Lloyd proved too strong for the Canadian and surged into a 17-12 lead; but after missing three darts for the title in the previous leg, few fancied him to hit the 170 as he set up the shot with a score of 136.

The world number one shrugged off the pressure applied by his opponent as he fired in two quick-fire treble 20s and finished with a dart in the centre of the bullseye to seal a maiden Matchplay crown. 

The shot remains the most memorable moment in Lloyd's career and a benchmark in the sport. In the words of Sid Waddell: "'Lloydy my son, you have done it"

 

1) Phil Taylor hits the first ever televised live nine darter - 2002

Live televised darts had been in progress since the PDC formed in 1994, but in eight years was yet to witness a nine dart finish, the pinnacle of the sport.

If anyone could do it, inevitably it would be Phil Taylor, the greatest player ever to grace the modern game.

In the early stages of his 2002 Quarter-Final against his eventual foe Chris Mason, Taylor began the fifth leg with a maximum, a common occurrence for the mighty Power.

It was only when he followed it up with a second 180 at his next visit however that the crowd and the millions at home watching the game held their breath.

The Power had come close on many occasions but had previously failed to convert the finish; this time though, he made no mistake, showing no sign of nerves as he fired in treble 20, treble 19 and double 12 to write a new chapter in darting history.

The Stoke great received a staggering £100,000 bonus for the achievement and did the double by going on to win the title that year.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of that moment and few would back against the Power marking it in true style with another one this time around!

 
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Magic Moments of the World Matchplay

The World Matchplay is the longest running televised PDC major tournament and has provided the sport with some of its' finest moments during its' 19-year history, we take a look back at our top six.

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