Who is the greatest darts player of all time? Who would form the top ten? It’s a debate that rages throughout forums and social media on a regular basis, but following on from my Fantasy World Championship, I’ve compiled my list of the ten greatest darts players of all time.
In similar style to the PDC’s Walk-On World Cup, the Fantasy World Championship was a competition determined purely by social media polls and rather fittingly, on the second anniversary of his passing, Eric Bristow was voted as your winner.
There are so many candidates to make the list of top ten greats and some notable names have narrowly missed the cut, including two-time world champion Adrian Lewis. ‘Jackpot’ clinched back-to-back Ally Pally titles in 2011 and 2012, but has since failed to fulfil his enormous potential.
Nine-time major winner James Wade also came close, but his failure to win darts’ holy grail just counted against him and there’s also an honourable mention for three-time BDO world champion Martin Adams – another legend of the sport.
Do you agree with my Top 10? Scroll down to discover my selections and please let me know your all-time list via the comments section. (Photo Credits: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
10) Bob Anderson
My top ten kicks off with a former great of the game – Bob Anderson. ‘The Limestone Cowboy’ claimed World Championship glory in 1988, defeating John Lowe in a thrilling finale at the Lakeside following previous near misses.
However, Anderson’s finest accomplishments arguably came in the preceding years as he secured three consecutive World Masters crowns in a period which coincided with him being ranked world number one for almost four years.
He was named England captain in 1992 – a huge honour given the pedigree of his compatriots and further demonstration of his brilliance was his longevity. Bob reached back-to-back PDC World Championship semi-finals in 2004 and 2005 – over two decades since his debut; a class act.
9) Jocky Wilson
Along with Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson was one of the sport’s greatest characters and a world-class operator in his own right. Wilson was involved in a golden era featuring the likes of Bristow, Lowe, Anderson and Deller and the amiable Scot certainly enjoyed his fair share of glory.
Wilson was the original trailblazer within Scottish darts, lifting two world titles in 1982 and 1989. Nevertheless, his tremendous consistency also deserves recognition – he incredibly appeared in 13 consecutive World Championship quarter-finals between 1979 and 1991.
Jocky’s haul of titles included four British Professional titles and three Scottish Masters successes, whilst he was twice a runner-up in the World Masters. Wilson played an instrumental role in the inception of the PDC and the diminutive Scot’s indubitable popularity speaks volumes.
8) John Part
John Part doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his achievements. Taylor, Bristow and Van Barneveld are the only three men to have won more world titles than ‘Darth Maple’, who became the first player in history to win his titles at three different venues (Lakeside, Circus Tavern, Ally Pally).
Part exploded on to the scene with victory on his BDO World Championship debut in 1994 and he’s established himself as one of the most tenacious characters in darting history – evidenced by his memorable 2003 triumph which saw him deny Taylor a ninth successive world crown.
Along with his three World Championship successes, Part also lifted the Las Vegas Desert Classic title in 2006 and throughout a career spanning almost 30 years, the Canadian has been a vital figurehead for North American Darts, which continues to develop apace.
7) Dennis Priestley
There will be a multitude of players that reflect on what could have been without the dominance of a certain Phil Taylor and none more so than Priestley – potentially the biggest victim of The Power’s unprecedented success.
‘The Menace’ was the first player in history to win both the BDO and PDC World Championship, following up his 1991 Lakeside success by thrashing Taylor in the inaugural PDC showpiece in 1994. His old foe certainly gained retribution however, beating Priestley in four finals between 1996-2000.
Priestley also finished as runner-up in the opening three editions of the World Matchplay – one of those defeats at the hands of Taylor, who cited the 69-year-old as his toughest opponent. Priestley enjoyed a stellar career, but his performances merited more silverware.
6) Gary Anderson
Anderson is one of the game’s modern greats and undoubtedly the greatest Scottish arrowsmith of all time. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was consistently touted as a potential star in the BDO but failed to cross the finishing line, although he’s certainly made amends during a prolific PDC career.
Anderson lifted back-to-back World Championship titles in 2015 and 2016 – defeating Van Gerwen and Taylor en route to 2015 glory, and he almost completed a hat-trick of titles in 2017, only to lose out to Van Gerwen in a spectacular final despite averaging over 104.
The 49-year-old has also claimed two Premier League titles and his 2018 World Matchplay success saw him complete the PDC’s coveted triple crown. He led Scotland to World Cup glory last year despite being plagued by injury and he remains one of the few players capable of challenging MvG.
5) John Lowe
‘Old Stoneface’ is the epitome of darting royalty – having been awarded an MBE for services to the sport of darts and to charity last year. He boasted remarkable consistency throughout his decorated career which makes him a deserving candidate in my top five.
The 74-year-old was crowned BDO world champion in 1979, 1987 and 1993 – the first player in history to win World Championship titles in three different decades. His relentless nature also saw him win two World Masters and two World Cup singles titles.
As well as being a founder member of the PDC, Lowe was ranked world number one on four separate occasions, yet incredibly despite his array of achievements – he was arguably most well known for one leg of darts – when he became the first player to hit a televised nine-darter in 1984.
4) Raymond van Barneveld
Raymond van Barneveld – the doyen of Dutch darts. Van Barneveld is rightfully regarded as a transformative figure in the sport – he put darts on the map in the Netherlands and inspired a generation of incredible talent throughout Europe, whilst winning 26 major titles. What a legacy to boast.
Having dominated the BDO circuit with four World Championship titles in seven years, Barney crossed the darting divide in 2006 and made a stunning impact – defeating Taylor in a sudden-death World Championship epic on debut and becoming world number one in the space of 18 months.
The five-time world champion’s mercurial nature could be infuriating and fascinating in equal measure, yet despite enduring a tough period between 2007-2012, he demonstrated his unwavering class with famous Grand Slam and Premier League triumphs, cementing his status as an all-time great.
3) Eric Bristow
Bristow may not statistically be the most successful player of all time, but there’s a compelling argument to say he was the most influential. ‘The Crafty Cockney’ was darts’ original superstar, transcending the game to new heights.
Bristow was the first man to win five World Championship titles and he also scooped five World Masters crowns – a record unmatched to this day. His well-documented battle with dartitis blighted his bid for further glory, yet he still remarkably recovered to regain his world number one ranking.
As well as being the sport’s most iconic character, Bristow was the man responsible for launching Phil Taylor’s career. He sponsored the Stoke-on-Trent ace during the 1980’s and the rest as they say is history. Darts owes an enormous debt to Eric Bristow MBE.
2) Michael van Gerwen
Van Gerwen has been the premier player in world darts since 2013, curtailing almost two decades of dominance from Taylor in the process. ‘The Green Machine’ burst on to the scene with World Masters victory at the age of 16, yet struggled to make an impression upon switching to the PDC.
Nevertheless, Van Gerwen’s 2012 World Grand Prix triumph proved to be the catalyst for his unbelievable resurgence and he hasn’t looked back since, amassing an astonishing 54 televised titles along with 77 non-televised tournaments.
The three-time world champion’s success in October’s Champions League of Darts saw him complete the full set of televised titles, and whilst Taylor’s World Championship haul may be an unrealistic target, he’ll be bidding to usurp his rival’s record of major honours.
1) Phil Taylor
Taylor’s dominance throughout his illustrious career was unparalleled. The Stoke-on-Trent legend secured an astonishing 85 major televised titles – made even more remarkable considering the lack of major competitions held in the PDC’s infancy.
It would take something extraordinary to usurp Taylor’s haul of 16 world titles but The Power’s legacy is more significant than his trophy cabinet alone. He possessed an aura of invincibility that saw him lose just 16 major finals in 27 years – posting countless records in the process.
His longevity is testament to his unrivalled mental strength and desire, and whilst some argue with justification that Van Gerwen has elevated the game to new heights, Taylor’s consistent brilliance makes him my undisputed king of darts.