The 2013 Darts World Matchplay continued on Tuesday, July 23, as the second round provided the thrills. Four players advanced in riveting fashion, taking home close matches to keep their dreams of matchplay supremacy alive.
After yet another dramatic victory, however, Phil Taylor remains a notch above the rest in pursuit of his 14th career World Matchplay title.
Taylor—and no, not the Cleveland Browns' first-round selection from the 2011 NFL draft—is widely regarded as the best darts player of all time. He has nearly 200 career tournament victories, a record 16 World Championships and multiple titles at virtually every major PDC tournament.
That includes 13 at the World Matchplay, 10 at the World Grand Prix and six Premier League crowns.
Not only has Taylor established himself as the face of professional darts, but he's one of the more popular personalities in Great Britain. He was the runner-up for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 2010 and has maintained that status.
Taylor is the only the only darts player to ever crack the top three of the voting process.
In 2013, Taylor is showing the world that the years that pass are only making him stronger in the craft that he's perfected. He remains a recognizable face, is the five-time defending PDC Player of the Year, owning six awards overall.
If he keeps playing like this, that streak will be extended for another year.
Escaping An Upset
During the second round of the BetVictor World Matchplay tournament, Taylor was tasked with an upstart opponent in Terry Jenkins. Despite being expected to win big, Taylor nearly faced defeat as Jenkins, a two-time World Matchplay runner-up, took him to the limit.
In the end, Taylor escaped with a 14-12 victory.
The last time Taylor lost at Winter Gardens was 2007, when none other than Jenkins defeated him in a memorable semifinals bout. After going up 9-5 in this one, it appeared as if Taylor was too focused to let history repeat itself.
Just like that, Taylor won five consecutive legs to take a 10-9 lead.
Taylor evened things, but Jenkins quickly responded to earn the 11-10 advantage to put victory in sight. With the battle stuck in a 12-12 deadlock, it went to a tiebreaker, only for Taylor pull out a dramatic finish to take the 14-12 win.
According to the official PDC website, Taylor called it the best winning leg of his illustrious career.
I'm absolutely delighted to have come through that. It was probably the best winning leg I've played, to hit two 174s in that situation.
We were nicking legs from each other and a ton was a bad score in the end. I was thinking I might be going home tomorrow but I had to dig deep and take advantage when he made a mistake.
That's exactly what Taylor did.
With his back against the wall, Taylor came up big, capitalizing on three poor throws from Jenkins to win one of the best matches of the year. In turn, he continued this magical run and affirmed his status as the front-runner in this tournament.
What else is new?
With his victory over Jenkins, Taylor moves on to the quarterfinals of the 2013 Darts World Matchplay tournament. It's there that he will meet Justin Pipe, who won an instant classic against Raymond van Barneveld by a score of 13-9.
Yet another competitor that's proven to be equally as resilient as Taylor.
This won't be any easier as the clash with Jenkins was, albeit less emotionally driven, but that doesn't mean Taylor can't do it. The professional darts world has been aiming for Taylor's perch for years on end, and, thus far, no one has been able to catch him.
Pipe could change that with a monumental upset in the quarterfinals.
Taylor may have a tough mountain to conquer, but we're talking about the Michael Jordan of professional darts. If there is a man capable of overcoming this tough road to the title, it's the one who has dominated this event for so many years.
What's next? More of the same for Phil Taylor.