Phil Taylor's reign of terror at Winter Gardens in Blackpool came to an end on Saturday, as the Power was knocked out of the 2015 Darts World Matchplay by James Wade, 17-14. It was Taylor's first defeat in World Matchplay since 2007, breaking a 38-match undefeated streak, per Infostrada Sports.
In the second semi-final, Order of Merit leader Michael van Gerwen dispatched of Peter Wright, winning 17-12. Mighty Mike has won most of the PDC's top tournaments, with the World Matchplay event one of the few major holes on his resume. With Taylor suffering an unexpected loss at the hands of Wade, Sunday's final appears to be Van Gerwen's best chance of finally winning the tournament.
Here are the results from Saturday's semi-finals:
|2015 Darts World Matchplay Shedule|
|Saturday, July 25||Semi-Final 1||James Wade||17-14||Phil Taylor|
|Saturday, July 25||Semi-Final 2||Michael van Gerwen||17-12||Peter Wright|
|Sunday, July 26||Final||James Wade||tbd||Michael van Gerwen|
The full bracket for this year's tournament, courtesy of the PDC's official Twitter account:
To call Wade's semi-final win over Taylor an upset would be a disservice to the Machine. After all, the 32-year-old won the tournament back in 2007, the last winner before Taylor started his incredible streak that came to an end on Saturday.
Upset isn't the right description, but you could certainly call it a shock. Sky Sports Darts didn't see it coming:
Fans were treated to a fantastic game of darts on Saturday, with Taylor dominating early before a fantastic run from Wade put him in the driver's seat. The Power actually held the advantage with a 103.7 average, almost six points higher than the Machine, and the two sat only three percent apart in checkout percentage.
Taylor broke throw in the first leg and quickly established a two-leg lead, containing Wade's explosive scoring during the first few legs. Wade managed to pull even to end the second session, but two quick frames for Taylor restored the gap to begin the third.
Unfazed, the Machine went on a four-leg run, taking the lead for the first time, per the PDC's official Twitter account:
A missed double gave Taylor the chance to finish 97 and pull within one, and three legs later, the two were tied again. The Power missed tops to gift the next leg to Wade, who suddenly found his groove, broke throw and built a three-leg gap. The Winter Gardens started to taunt the Power, per Live Darts, as Wade continued to build his lead:
Up 16-12, Wade had several golden opportunities to end the match, but the 2007 champion missed eight match darts in three trips to the board to allow Taylor to steal the leg. The pressure now seemed to be getting to Wade, who surrendered the two following legs to the defending champion as well.
But throws of 140 and 174 set up a fantastic final frame for the Machine, who produced a 12-darter and finished double tops to end Taylor's run. The PDC's official Twitter account shared the final throw:
Speaking to reporters after the match, Wade had difficulty putting into words what the win meant for him, per Live Darts:
For Taylor, this was obviously a devastating defeat. Widely regarded as the best player in the history of the sport, the Power has seen the competition catch up to him in recent years, with Van Gerwen firmly holding onto the top spot in the world rankings.
Winter Gardens was his venue, the one place where he was simply untouchable. But with the end of his fantastic career drawing ever nearer, the streak had to come to an end at some point.
Wright and Van Gerwen served up another fantastic semi-final, and while Snakebite actually finished with the higher average and checkout percentage, per the PDC's official Twitter account, it was Mighty Mike who advanced to the final:
Snakebite had the early advantage and seemed to be on the verge of something special when he took the lead with a 14-darter in the fifth leg. But Mighty Mike showed why he's the World No. 1 immediately after, bouncing back with a 90 finish in the sixth and taking five consecutive legs.
As shared by Live Darts, his performance on the doubles was stunning:
Snakebite maintained a 102 average and clawed his way back into the match, but every time he managed to break throw or produce something special on the doubles, Van Gerwen struck back immediately.
Up 14-8, Van Gerwen appeared to be cruising to a spot in the final, but Snakebite wasn't done yet. Wright took the next three legs, the last with an 11-darter, and the Winter Gardens started believing in a major upset.
William Hill Betting still backed Van Gerwen, however:
Mighty Mike responded by taking out double four and moved within two legs of the final, and he was never troubled from that point on. All in all, it was a fairly comfortable match for Van Gerwen, and the final score of 17-12 reflected that.
Wade has won the World Matchplay championship before, while Van Gerwen suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the final last year against Taylor, who played arguably his best match of the season and finished with a ridiculous average of 107.
Both understand the pressure they'll be on when they take to the stage, and both have featured in plenty of finals before. Wade carries the momentum of beating Taylor, but Van Gerwen has looked like an unstoppable machine at times this season, and you have to give the edge to the talented Dutchman.