The final is not always the best match of a tournament but there were some World Championship finals which count to the best matches in the history of darts. I picked three and checked them out.
My pick number three is the final of the PDC World Championship 2003.
The final of the PDC World Championship 2003
The final of the PDC World Championship 2003 counts - as the inaugural world championship final and the Women's final 2008 - among the best darts matches in the history of the sport and as in the Women's final it at least interrupted an era. And there is another parallel - for the first time a player not from England - not even from Europe in this case - won the PDC World Championship.
2003 the PDC World Championship still took place in the Circus Tavern in Purfleet. Smoking was still permitted, international fans were rare and most people who watched in TV were from the UK .
The number of participants was 40; there were a few international qualifiers- one from Australia, one from the Netherlands and one from the USA. As today a PDPA Qualifier was played by which that year four tournament places were allocated. Qualified as well was the winner of the SP 9-Dart Challenge. The other participants (32) had qualified by the Order of Merit. The top 16 were seeded and entered the tournament in the Second Round.
Interesting at the side-line: the Australian Qualifier was Simon Whitlock who joined the BDO only 2004 and he defeated in the Second Round Peter Manley before he was eliminated Third Round by Richie Burnett. Beside Steve Beaton Whitlock was the only player who still took part in the PDC World Championship this year.
Interesting as well: among the PDPA Qualifiers was Al Hedman, the brother of Deta Hedman who was Deta's inspiration to take up the sport of darts. He's retired for a long time already. So Deta is already the second Hedman playing in a PDC World Championship.
And quite interesting as well, John Lowe who lost back in the inaugural World Championship final 1978 against Leighton Rees, was still among the participants of a World Championship 2003 though it was the PDC World Championship now, as he was one of the players who in 1993 turned away from the BDO to found the PDC (at that time WDC).
While in the BDO Women's World Championship it for many years was quite clear Trina Gulliver would win it, it was no question in the PDC World Championship Phil Taylor would win the title. With the exception of the inaugural tournament Taylor had won all eight editions and everybody awaited he would win his ninth title in a row. Taylor had lost a lot of weight before the tournament; he had added blond strains to his hair and wore a golden earing in his ear. Except of the weight loss that probably didn't affect the result of the tournament.
Taylor went into the tournament as the number 1 seed, his later opponent in the final John Part was the number 2 seed. When you look at the 16 seeded players you'll see quite a lot of well-known names like John Lowe - who at this time was the number 13 in the PDC Order of Merit - Kevin Painter, Colin Lloyd, Roland Scholten, Wayne Mardle, Cliff Lazarenko, Bon Anderson, Steve Beaton. Rod Harrington, Alan Warriner (at that time the number 4 of the world) and Chris Mason changed from active player to commentator as did Wayne Mardle and John Part. Roland Scholten who was for some time the darts expert on Sport 1 now is the German national coach, Keith Deller at least was the manager of Adrian Lewis.
As always in a World Championship there were some upsets in the Second Round in which the Top 16 entered the tournament and Peter Manley, Andy Jenkins, John Lowe and Peter Evison didn't survive their first match.
From the qualifiers only Simon Whitlock survived the First Round, Deta Hedman's brother Al lost with 0:4 to Bob Anderson.
Phil Taylor started his challenge to defend the title with a 4:1 win against American Steve Brow. His average was 103.44. John Part played in the lower half of the draw first against Cliff Lazarenko. He won 4:1 as well but his average was only 88.67.
In the next round Taylor played against Wayne Mardle. It was not an easy game - Mardle won three sets - but in the end Taylor won 5:3 and his average dropped to just under 100.
Part's second opponent was Scotsman Jamie Harvey. Part won 5:3 as well and he improved his average to 97.
In the quarterfinals Phil Taylor defeated Dennis Smith - who was well known for his interesting throwing style - with 5:3 too and his average was back to over 100. Part's quarterfinal opponent was Chris Mason and Part on this day was just too good for Mason. He defeated him 5:0 - might be a first warning to Taylor that there could be a problem for him. But probably he didn't think about it as he had destroyed Part two years ago in the final and had beaten him 2002 both in the World Matchplay and the World Grand Prix.
On the fourth of January was semi-finals time in the Circus Tavern and Part was the only player not from England still in the tournament. This time Taylor had an easier time than Part - he played against Alan Warriner who had no chance to keep up with Taylor. Warriner lost 1:6 and probably Taylor was not even tired after the match. For Taylor the win over Warriner was a satisfaction as Warriner had before the tournament lamented that the PDC only revolved around Taylor and that he was fed up with it - something Taylor usually put right with his darts
Part had with Kevin Painter a much tougher opponent, but won with 6:4 and for the second time progressed into the final.
The final took place on the fifth of January - it was a memorable final and it lasted almost three hours. The Canadian stormed into a 3:0 lead but after that took a break and Taylor had the advantage. But this time he couldn't get rid of Part while Taylor started to feel tired. The match went into a deciding set. Part won the final 7:6 and at least interrupted Taylor's dominance in the PDC for some time. Taylor averaged in the final 99.89, Part 96.86.
In the following year everything was back to business as usual...
Taylor won the title after this six more times, the last time in 2013 and beside twice stood in the final. Part won the World Championship once again in 2008, in the year when the tournament for the first time took place in Alexandra Palace, a completely different world then the smoky Circus Tavern, in front of international fans who have a party in the Palace which is televised all over the world. 2003 610 000 Fans watched the final on TV, most of them in the UK and Part earned 50 000 pound in price money.
1998 Part had qualified for the first time for the PDC World Championship and till 2016 every year took part in the event. In 1998 he lost in the first round to Paul Lim, who contrary to Part qualified for this year's World Championship once again.
But beside Part over the year's many other Canadian players qualified for the PDC World Championship as well - 1999 it were Scott Cummings and Gary Mawson, Cummings returned 2001 together with the first woman in a PDC World Championship Canadian Gayl King. Gerry Convery qualified from 2005 - 2008. Rory Orvis appeared in 2004, John Verwey 2005. 2008 there was David Fatum, Ken MacNeil 2020, Dave Richardson 2015, Ross Snook 2017, Jim Long 2019 and Matt Campbell 2020 and 2021. He played a great match against Scott Waites this year.
Beside Campbell Jeff Smith stood at the oche this year who reached the final of the BDO World Championship in 2016 but then switched to the PDC. He qualified 2018 and 2019 as well for the PDC World Championship and got himself a Tour Card in Qualifying School 2020. Smith seems to improve more and more - as far as one can assess it in this Corona year. In the Summer Series he for the first time stood in a Players Championship semi-final. Together with Matt Campbell he reached the quarterfinals of the PDC World Cup and he for the first time qualified for the PDC World Championship by the Pro Tour Order of Merit. He won his First Round match against young Irishman Keane Barry but lost Second Round in a good match to Chris Dobey. So far Smith looks like the first Canadian who might be able to follow John Part's footsteps though it is still a very far way to get there.
You can watch the complete final on youtube: