GARY ANDERSON enjoyed the greatest moment of his career as he was crowned as the William Hill World Darts Champion with a glorious 7-6 win over the legendary Phil Taylor in a thrilling final at London’s Alexandra Palace on Sunday night.
The Scottish star, a runner-up in the 2011 World Championship, produced a performance filled with quality, guts and 19 maximum 180s as he claimed the prestigious Sid Waddell Trophy, £250,000 in prize money and darts’ greatest prize.
Stoke legend Taylor had been seeking an incredible 17th World Championship title and hit back from 3-1 behind to lead 4-3 as he strung together nine legs out of ten in a three-set burst.
Anderson, though, punished him for missed doubles as he won the next three sets to take a 6-4 lead, only for a game of outstanding quality to take another turn as Taylor missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish as he hit back to take the game into a deciding 13th set.
The Scot found one final burst of energy as he took the opening two legs of the final set, and opened the third with his 19th maximum of the game before sealing victory on double 12.
“Me and Phil have had some battles over last five or six years, he’s won a lot of them but I’ll take my win now!” said Anderson as he lifted the giant trophy.
“Phil is the best, he always will be the best – even 100 years from now – so that makes winning this against him that bit more special. I think it’s going to take a while to sink in.
“When Phil got back and won those two sets to make it 6-6 I thought the game was gone – Phil’s been there 16 times and knows how to win it from there, but I came out strong in the last and managed to take it in the end.”
Anderson – who had been given the advantage of throw despite losing the pre-game bull-off to Taylor – claimed a tight first set in a deciding leg, following up a 120 finish in the opener with a 121 checkout on the bull to draw first blood.
The Scot also led 2-0 in the second before Taylor, inspired by an 11-darter to break, edged set two in a deciding leg as he levelled the contest.
Anderson, though, found another gear as he took the third set 3-1 – despite a 127 finish from Taylor – before taking the fourth set against the throw as the Stoke great was punished for a string of missed doubles.
Another 11-dart leg from Taylor saw him kick-start his challenge as he claimed the fifth set without reply, before extending his winning run of legs to six as he squared the game at three sets apiece.
Anderson hit back with scores of 177 and 180 as he took the seventh set’s opener, but Taylor levelled before landing a maximum to break and move 2-1 up, and a 70 finish in leg gave him a third successive set as he moved ahead for the first time at 4-3.
Taylor came from a leg down to lead 2-1 in the eighth set, but Anderson levelled with the aid of two 180s in the fourth before punishing his opponent for three misses at double 12 in the decider to post double eight to level the contest again.
The ninth set began in dramatic fashion as Anderson saw a possible 180 wiped out when his third dart knocked the previous two out of the bed, and Taylor pounced to lead 2-0.
However, Anderson punished missed doubles from Taylor in leg three and then levelled with an 11-darter before finishing 64 in the decider to regain the lead at 5-4.
The Scot then came from a leg down to take three legs in a row – including teeing up a possible nine-darter with back-to-back 180s – as he took the tenth set against the throw 3-1 to move a set away from glory.
Taylor stormed through the 11th set to reduce the gap to 6-5, missing double 12 for a nine-dart finish along the way, and also led 2-1 in the next before edging a dramatic deciding leg to take the game into a final set.
Anderson kicked off the deciding set with a 72 finish, broke Taylor’s throw in leg two after three further misses at double 16 from the Stoke star before landing his 19th maximum and double 12 to seal an amazing triumph.
Taylor uncharacteristically missed 55 darts at doubles during the game, and admitted: “It was doubles that cost me a couple of sets.
“I could have pushed ahead a little bit after getting back to 2-2 but he took advantage of it. The misses at double eight and double 16 really cost me – they were awful tonight to be honest.
“When I got it back to 6-6 I had him. I got my energy levels up as well and I thought I was on for it, but credit to Gary because he beat me up in the last set and did a job on me.
“He dealt with it well and played great in that last set. He’s a cracking player and he deserved it.”
The 32 maximum 180s in the final took the total for the tournament to a new record of 625 following the 71 matches which have taken place over 14 days of play at London’s Alexandra Palace.
In addition to the £1.25 million prize money paid out, the nine-dart finish landed by Adrian Lewis earned him a £10,000 bonus, as well as a £9,000 charity donation from sponsors William Hill to both the PDC’s official charity, Haven House Children’s Hospice, and Parkinson’s UK, who are supported by Sky Sports presenter Dave Clark.