BACK IN THE DAY: Phil Taylor throws the first nine darter on live UK TV at the 2002 World Matchplay

In 2002, history was made at the World Matchplay. In his quarterfinal against Chris Mason, the legendary Phil Taylor threw a nine-darter, the first to be broadcast live on UK television.

The fans at the iconic Winter Gardens in Blackpool watched as Taylor took on his big rival 'Mace the Ace' in the last 8. It was 2-2 in legs (in a best of 31 match), when Taylor set the crowd on fire by throwing a 180 with his first three darts. He then also threw a 180 with his next turn and the excitement in the venue was tangible.

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The spectators, roared with excitement as he successfully followed the traditional nine-darter route of treble 20 and treble 19, before finishing on double 12. It understandably earned 'The Power' a standing ovation and a massive hug of congratulations from Mason, who seemed just as swept up by the moment as everyone else was. Taylor thus became the first person to throw a perfect leg, live on UK TV (Shaun Greatbach threw a nine-darter at the 2002 Dutch Open on live Dutch TV), a moment that has gone down in darting history.

BACK IN THE DAY: Phil Taylor throws the first nine darter on live UK TV at the 2002 World Matchplay
Phil Taylor dominanted at the World Matchplay, lifting the title 16 times in his career.

For his incredible achievement, the PDC's chairman, Barry Hearn presented 'The Power' with a cheque for a whopping 100,000 pounds. "They (the players) are all characters and that's something we have a shortage of in the sport. These dart players are good, but they are also funny, they are willing to get involved and they realize that their lives have changed. Someone who was making maybe 20 to 25 thousand a year is now making 250,000 a year," Hearn revealed at the time.

If anyone were to repeat Taylor's feat of hitting a nine-darter at the upcoming 2024 edition of the World Matchplay, the prize money on offer as a reward for striking perfection? Absolutely nothing. In the modern game nine-darters are hit so often that the PDC simply doesn't offer big cash bonuses anymore. Notably, since Taylor hit his historic nine at the Winter Gardens in 2002, Raymond van Barneveld at the 2010 World Matchplay against Denis Ovens, John Part against Mark Webster in 2011, Michael van Gerwen and Wes Newton in 2012, Taylor himself again in 2014, Gary Anderson in 2018 and Gerwyn Price in 2022 have all hit nine darters on the iconic Blackpool stage.

Taylor also eventually won the tournament in 2002 by defeating John Part 18-16 in the final. In total, he would win the World Matchplay no less than 16 times, including in his final season as a full time professional in 2017.

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