The PDC World Series makes the hop from New Zealand to Australia for the Melbourne Darts Masters.
The 2018 Melbourne Darts Masters kicks off on Friday. Before the eight PDC invitees and eight regional qualifiers battle for supremacy, Dartsnews.com takes a look back at last year’s event. Though it was a normal event in the World Series calendar, the 2017 Melbourne Darts Masters will always have a special place in history.
Of the 16 competitors, 15 of them came from Great Britain or Australia. There was one exception, Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld. And soon, he wasn’t an exception any more. Corey Cadby, fresh off a run to the Auckland Darts Masters final a week previous, edged out Barney 6-4.
Cadby proved to be the only regional qualifier to go through. Kyle Anderson, a wildcard, was beaten 6-1 by Simon Whitlock. But that only tells half the story. The Original averaged 103.37 but Whitlock blew him away with a stunning 107.69 average. Gary Anderson also managed to hit three figures, while Phil Taylor, Peter Wright, James Wade, Daryl Gurney and Michael Smith all secured a spot in the quarter-finals.
It turned out to be one of the most hotly contested rounds in World Series history. Three of the four games went all the way; Taylor’s win over Cadby was the highlight. It featured an incredible run of seven breaks in the space of eight legs, culminating in Cadby reeling in a stunning 121 finish on the bull. The game went all the way, but it was the Power who rounded off the win to avenge a New Zealand defeat to the King a week before.
Whitlock also edged out a thriller, after surviving two match darts from Wade. Timely finishes of 130, 128 and 108, plus six perfect darts to open the decider, was the magic the Wizard needed to claim the win. Wright looked to be cruising to victory over Smith, but Bully Boy recovered from 8-4 down to make it 9-9. He couldn’t quite complete the turnaround, and Wright found tops to take the match.
Gary Anderson was the odd one out, winning a mere eight legs against Gurney. Even still, he missed darts to both take a 9-8 lead, and to force a final leg showdown. Gurney pounced to seal a semi-final berth.
The semi-finals didn’t live up to the dramatic standard set by the preceding round. At 2-2, Taylor and Whitlock were evenly matched. When Whitlock proved unable to convert his chances, Taylor taught him a lesson. The 16-time world champion won nine of the last 11 legs, breaking seven times in total and finishing his masterclass with a 144 finish.
What Taylor to do, Wright…couldn’t quite do better. But Snakebite could match it, at least. A 95.27 average was more than enough to put Gurney away. The Scot didn’t manage a single maximum, but a 55% success rate on the doubles was more than enough to see off the Northern Irishman.
The final of the 2017 Melbourne Darts Masters is a significant moment in the history of darts. It marked Phil Taylor’s final televised title win, at the back end of a stellar career.
It was a tightly contested match, packed with flashes of quality. Twice Wright completed a double-double checkout – 17s and 20s, and a pair of double 18s – and he racked up seven 180s. Taylor managed none, but didn’t need them.
Finishes of 124 and 112 helped Taylor on his way, but Wright refused to budge until the very end. With the tie level at 8-8, Taylor took charge. He rounded off an 11-8 victory thanks to a late burst, and picked up his seventh Australian PDC World Series title.
He won’t be back to defend the title this year, so it now remains to be seen who will take over from the Power.
Melbourne Darts Masters 2017
Gary Anderson 6-2 Justin Thompson
Daryl Gurney 6-0 Dave Marland
Peter Wright 6-2 Rhys Mathewson
Michael Smith 6-3 David Platt
Corey Cadby 6-4 Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor 6-3 Cody Harris
James Wade 6-3 Koha Kokiri
Simon Whitlock 6-1 Kyle Anderson
Daryl Gurney 10-8 Gary Anderson
Peter Wright 10-9 Michael Smith
Phil Taylor 10-9 Corey Cadby
Simon Whitlock 10-9 James Wade
Peter Wright 11-4 Daryl Gurney
Phil Taylor 11-4 Simon Whitlock
Phil Taylor 11-8 Peter Wright
Author: Edward McCosh