Top 10 Darts Players Of All Time
Comparing sportsmen across different eras is not easy. Standards change, equipment changes, levels of professionalism generally increase. Believe it or not, you can say these exact things about darts which makes it equally difficult to draw up an all-time list of players. But here we have one nonetheless. The best 10 players ever to to grace the oche.
10. Adrian Lewis
Is Adrian Lewis an example of unfulfilled potential? Have we already seen the best of him? It is impossible to know this just yet, but at just 32-years-old and with two world titles under his belt he is doing alright. His back-to-back world titles in 2011 and ’12 made him only the third man to retain the World Championship after winning it for the first time. In that 2011 final he become the first player in history to hit a 9-darter in a world final and saw off the significant challenge of Gary Anderson to win that game. Outside of the worlds, he has appeared in the final of every single PDC major except the Grand Slam. He has not quite picked up as many trophies as he would have liked but his European Championship and UK Open titles confirm what a superb player he has been over the last decade and there could be much more to come.
9. Martin Adams
Because of the great darting divide we will never truly know how good Martin Adams could have been, but even with our limited framework, he is a legend of the game. Wolfie has played in some PDC events and performed well in the Matchplay and the Grand Prix in 2001, but he has largely been confined to the BDO system for his long career. At Lakeside he has won the world title three times and similarly picked up the World Masters trophy on three occasions. His longevity and success earn him a spot on this list. If he had taken on and beaten the PDC boys during his peak, he would certainly have been even higher.
8. John Part
John Part is such a tough player to rank in the greatest ever debate. He has achieved incredible things, but has not been consistent through his career and actually not won that many tournaments at all. His 1994 BDO world title will be forever tainted by being the first in which the PDC World Championship existed at the same time, so the standard was lower. Some will even denigrate his 2008 PDC win for being the first on the return to Alexandra Palace and most of the big names struggling as a result. However, his 2003 victory, in which he beat a peak Phil Taylor in an epic final cannot be questioned. At that point and for a year either side, Part was on par with Taylor and that is some achievement. Outside of the worlds he has not achieved what he should have – finishing runner-up in five majors, but his three world titles and form at his peak mean he stands eighth greatest darts player ever.
7. Gary Anderson
The greatest Scotsman to ever chuck the tungsten, Gary Anderson feels like he should have won more with the talent he has, but nevertheless has achieved an awful lot. Two PDC World Championships to his name and two Premier League titles puts him right amongst the elite of all time. He was inexplicably incapable of winning the big ones whilst in the BDO, but the talent was there for all to see and he still picked up four BDO majors, just not the world title or the Masters. He might not quite have the trophies to show it, but his skills when on form are second to none. He has hit a 9-darter at the World Championships and the UK Open. He shares the world record for most 180s in a match (22) and he holds the record for the highest losing average in a world final (104.93). On paper, maybe he shouldn’t be ranked this eye, but watch him and you will struggle to argue the point.
6. John Lowe
The first man to win World Championships in three different decades and one of the original pioneers of the game on television. It is a testament to his skill that you can say this about John Lowe because he was not about the glitz and the glamour, he was not particularly exciting to watch, he was just very, very good. He won the BDO world title in 1979, 1987 and 1993 and twice won the World Masters as well. Arguably more famously, he became the first man ever to hit a 9-darter on television, at the 1984 World Matchplay. Lowe’s longevity was remarkable as he still reached the semi-final of the PDC World Grand Prix in 2001 and then the same stage of the Matchplay in 2002, 26 years after his first BDO tournament win.
5. Dennis Priestley
Many people can say, ‘if it wasn’t for Phil Taylor, I’d have won a lot more,’ but it could not be more accurate than in the case of Dennis Priestley. The Yorkshireman battled it out with the Power for years and often came up just short. However, he still managed to pick up two world titles along the way, beating Taylor in one final, but losing to him in four more. In many ways he was the nearly man as he also finished runner-up three times at the World Matchplay and also never got his hands on the Grand Prix title. He doesn’t have the silverware to show for it, but for years he was better than everyone except one man, and that should not taint our opinion of him. Priestley averaged 101.4 when he lost to Taylor in the 1996 PDC World Championship final. It was not until 2007 that anyone other than him and Taylor averaged three figures in the showpiece match, when Raymond van Barneveld managed it.
4. Eric Bristow
The Crafty Cockney is still who people of a certain generation think of when you mention an oche or a set of arrows. Eric Bristow was a genuine superstar during the 1980s, earning fame and fortune for his skills on the dartboard. You could argue, and he certainly would, that he was the best player on the planet for a decade. From 1977 when he won the first of his five World Masters titles to 1986 when he won the last of his five World Championships he almost certainly was. It could have been an even longer spell at the top if it wasn’t for Bristow’s insurmountable dartitis that ruined his action and ended his spell at the pinnacle of the game. But what he managed in those 10 years, and how he brought the sport into the public eye, he will always be remembered as one of the very best.
3. Raymond Van Barneveld
The Dutch legend is (arguably) the man who has achieved most success on both sides of the PDC/BDO divide. Raymond van Barneveld won four BDO world titles between 1998 and 2005 and 11 more BDO majors between 1995 and 2006. It was that year he moved over to the PDC with the sole aim of taking down Phil Taylor. At the 2007 PDC World Championships he managed just that, beating Taylor in the greatest darts match ever and putting himself at the top of the sport. He could not maintain that and Taylor eclipsed him once again, but what he managed at that stage was monumental. In total Barney has won six majors in the PDC and is still a serious force in the big tournaments. He has been competing at the elite level of darts for over 20 years and has achieved more than almost anyone else to ever pick up some arrows.
2. Michael van Gerwen
Currently the best player on the planet by a long stretch and Michael van Gerwen looks set to hold that position for a very long time. MVG showed the world what he could do when he won the World Masters at just 17-years-old back in 2006. There was then something of a lull as he struggled with the move to the PDC, but when his natural talent came back to the fore in late 2012, he became almost unstoppable. Including that 2012 Grand Prix victory, MVG has now won 23 major PDC titles and an endless stream of minor ones at the same time. He now goes into every tournament he enters odds-on to win it and it takes an enormous shock for him to be beaten. Other than the recently added Champions League, Mighty Mike has won every PDC major at least twice and at just 28-years-old, the only question left is whether he can surpass the man who tops this list?
1. Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen has achieved a lot in a short space of time, but Phil Taylor has achieved a lot more over a lot greater period of time. MVG is reaching great heights, but Taylor still sits atop the mountain as the most-decorated and undoubtedly best player to ever play the game. Taylor’s list of title make the rest of the men on this list look a bit daft. He has won 16 world titles. 16! The Power has picked up the Matchplay 16 times as well, the Grand Prix 11 times, the Grand Slam and the Premier League six times each and the UK Open five times. He lifted his first major trophy in 1990 and his latest in 2017 and for almost all of the intervening period he has been regarded as the undisputed world number one.