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The greatest darts players of all time

Darts may not have the super athletes that other sports has, but it’s progression from a pub game to where it is now is pretty special.   Gone are the days of televised events where players drank and smoked heavily while competing, modern day darts is a streamlined and flashy sport that attracts huge audiences both live and on television, sponsors are magnetised to the game and prize money has grown to match it’s popularity.

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Over the years, darts has give us some real characters with nicknames to match their reputation – “the Crafty Cockney”, “Phil the power Taylor”, “the Flying Scotsman”, John Thomas “Jocky” Wilson and “Darth Maple” are just some of the dart legends of their time.

But who’s the greatest of them all?  Let’s find out, nicknames included!

John Part

Got to give this man a mention here, Canadian player Part earned the brilliant nickname “Darth Mable”!  And is well known as North America’s greatest darts player.  He won the PDC World Championship in 2003 and 2008 and won the BDO World Championship in 1994.  In 2006 he won the Las Vegas Desert Classic.

He was world number one in 2003 and his £874,151 in prize money to date is the sixteenth highest amount in PDC history and the tab is still running.   In 2017 he was inducted into the PDC Hall of Fame.

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Adrian Lewis

The Stoke-on-Trent native earned the nickname “Jackpot” after he won a $72,000 jackpot whilst competing at the 2005 Las Vegas Desert Classic, has earned £3 million earned in career prize money.

He became only the third man to retain the PDC World Championship in back-to-back years after winning it for the first time in 2011. En route to lifting his maiden title, Lewis became the first player ever to hit a nine-dart finish in the World Championship final.

John Thomas “Jocky” Wilson

After turning pro in 1979, Jocky quickly rose to the top of the game, winning the World Professional Darts Championship in 1982, then again in 1989. Wilson competed in all major darts tournaments of the era and won the British Professional Championship a record four times between 1981 and 1988.

Jocky was a true larger than life character, his heavy drinking and smoking drinking antics made him one of biggest characters in sport (yes it feels weird saying that!)   The Scottish man was a legend of the game and will be as much remembered for his unruly behaviour as his darts playing skills.

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Gary Anderson

Another Scottish man, nicknamed the Flying Scotsman, is a former BDO and WDF world number one. He is currently playing in the PDC and ranked 5th in the world.   Most recently became the PDC World Champion, defeating Phil Taylor in 2015, he then won it again in 2016.

He has also won 30 PDC Pro Tour events as of June 2019, putting third on the all time list behind Michael van Gerwen on 75 and Phil Taylor on 70.

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Eric Bristow

Know as the “The Crafty Cockney’, Former professional English darts player Eric Bristow was the biggest draw in darts in the 1970s and 1980s and helped make the sport mainstream.

He was the World No. 1 three times during his career in 1980 to 81, 1983 to 85 and again in 1990 and achieved World Championship titles and World Masters titles five times each and played a key role to turn darts into a worldwide spectator sport.

Michael van Gerwen

The Dutch “dartist” won the World Masters at just 17 years old, then became the youngest dart player to win the PDC World Championship at the age of 24.  He’s been world number one since 2014 and MVG is still only 30 years old.  Given the physical toll darts has on the body (we’re being sarcastic!)  he has many more years left at the top and is sure to be a challenger to Phil Taylor’s record.  He’s is the second most successful player in PDC history, behind Taylor.

The fearless MVG is known for his exuberant celebrations – big sudden short-range headbutts and a bouncing double fist-pump.

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Raymond van Barneveld

Another Dutch player, “Barney” is a real crowd favourite and always attracts big audiences, his fans turn up en mass to events in the famous orange clothing to show support for their countryman. Barney is probably the most successful player out there in terms of players who played in both the BDO and PDC.

He is a 4 time BDO World Champion but shifted from the BDO to the PDC after winning four World Championships while playing in the BDO for twenty years on 15 February 2006.  He is a one-time PDC champion, a two-time UK Open Champion and a former winner of the Las Vegas Desert Classic, the Grand Slam of Darts and the Premier League. He is also a twice-winner of the World Masters and the World Darts Trophy, and a three-time winner of the International Darts League and the WDF World Cup Singles event.

Barney retired in March 2019.

Phil Taylor

Phil “the Power” Taylor is the undisputed heavyweight darts champion.  He won his first trophy in 1990 and dominated darts for over two decades, “The Power” has won 214 professional tournaments, including a record 85 major titles and a record 16 World Championships.

Taylor earned his first world number one spot in 1996 and was world number one all the way from June 2008 to Jan 2014.   He retired from professional darts after the 2018 World Championship.

Darts is one of these few sports where men and women compete equally.

 

To date only nine players have been PDC (WDC) World No One:

  • Raymond van Barneveld
  • Rod Harrington
  • Colin Lloyd
  • Peter Manley
  • John Part
  • Dennis Priestley
  • Phil Taylor
  • Michael van Gerwen
  • Alan Warriner-Little

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