The biggest darts tournament of the year got underway as the World Darts Championship returned to Alexandra Palace on Thursday—but Phil Taylor is unlikely to be among those watching.
That's despite the fact 'The Power' won the competition on 14 occasions—11 more than anyone else—and is largely considered the best darts player of all time. Taylor may have held a reputation as one of the larger personalities of his era, but the 62-year-old can't stomach some of the current generation's biggest characters.
While he may cast a customary glance over the scores at Ally Pally, Taylor once suggested he's more into his soaps or Top Gear (presented by Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff) these days. The Power retired from PDC competition after finishing runner-up to Rob Cross in his 19th WDC final in 2018, and he's no longer as invested in the who's who of today.
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“I won’t lie to you, I’m not a big darts watcher now. I’m not a big fan of some of the characters in the game," Taylor confessed to the Daily Mirror in 2018, not long after stepping back from the elite end of the sport. “I’m a channel-hopper.
"I sit at home with the TV remote, put on the Premier League to check the scores, and if certain players are on I’ll watch their games. But certain players will do something and off it goes – I’ll turn over to Coronation Street or Top Gear.”
Taylor paused to beat his chest in an attempt to mock one of world No. 3 Michael van Gerwen's mannerisms. Some might be surprised to learn The Power doesn't favour the more charismatic displays on stage considering he himself could be prone to a taunt and had several notable rivalries over the years.
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It was in the semi-finals of the 2013 World Darts Championship that he and Raymond van Barneveld almost came to blows, while John 'Darth Maple' part was another of his nemeses. Taylor also warred with former protégé Adrian Lewis at his peak, while there were tensions with three-time world champion Van Gerwen during the latter stages of his PDC career.
“Darts is the same as boxing: It needs big games, big rivalries, like Eric [Bristow] and Jocky Wilson all those years ago," Taylor added. "It needs its own version of Benn v Eubank, or Joshua v Fury now, because needle matches put bums on seats and make great TV."
It remains to be seen whether he believes the current crop of darts stars fit that bill in terms of headliners worth watching. For what it's worth, The Power has tipped Northern Ireland's Josh Rock as one talent worth keeping an eye on, telling Belfast Live: "He hasn’t just got the skill, he’s got a nice attitude to go with it. He’s good to watch, the crowds are going to love him."
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