BLACKPOOL-LOVING darts champion Phil Taylor may consider changing his nickname from ‘The Power’ to ‘The Tower’ after his 12th triumph in the Sky Bet Mobile World Matchplay in the resort last night.
The world No.1 demolished James Wade 18-8 in the final at the Winter Gardens to take the title for the fourth successive year.
Taylor has had an indifferent 2012 by his own sky-high standards but he was again at his brilliant best in Blackpool to win only his second major ranking title in 12 months.
After trailing 2-1 early on, he took control by winning eight successive legs to lead 9-2 and then fought off a Wade fightback as the 2007 champion won five of the next seven seven legs.
Taylor dedicated his win to former mentor Eric Bristow, the five-time World Champion who brought Taylor on to the professional circuit in the 1980s and has remained a driving force in his amazing career since.
“I’m overjoyed to win this,” said Taylor, who route to glory included a quarter-final win over Fleetwood’s Wes Newton. “I didn’t think I’d win anything this year, so to keep this title is brilliant. This is probably the second-biggest title behind the World Championship.
“I’m grateful to Eric Bristow for his support and this is dedicated to him. He’s been texting me for the last few weeks, when I’ve been losing my Premier League and UK Open titles. He’s been pushing me and he’s always behind me.”
There were few signs of what would follow in the early exchanges as Wade opened strongly in his bid to avoid a third defeat by Taylor in this final.
He won the opening leg on double top, and after Taylor checked out a brilliant 135 in the second leg the left-hander won the third in 11 darts.
However, he missed a double to win each of the next two legs as Taylor edged 3-2 up.
Legs of 12 and 11 darts, which included scores of 180 and 174 as well as a 90 finish, moved Taylor 5-2 up, and despite a 180 from Wade in the eighth he landed double top to lead 6-2.
Taylor broke throw again with a killer blow, following an earlier 180 with a bullseye finish of 86 as Wade waited on 32, and the reigning champion posted another maximum and a 100 finish for successive 12-darters to lead 8-2.
An 87 finish gave Taylor an eighth successive leg before Wade finally hit back, finishing 100 for a 12-darter. Taylor replied in style with legs of 13, 13 and 14 darts to take a 12-3 lead before double 12 put him ten legs clear.
A double six saw Wade hit back and he powered in 180s in the next two legs to threaten a fightback at 13-6.
But he saw a chance to win the 20th go begging, with Taylor missing double top for a 110 finish only for the left-hander to miss the same bed and allow the Stoke legend to go 14-6 up with a double five.
Taylor also shaded the next leg after Wade missed double 19 for a 158 checkout, but the Wale followed up a double top finish in the 22nd leg with back-to-back 180s to set up a potential nine-darter.
He hit a seventh treble 20, but was just off-target on treble 19 before returning to win the leg in 12 darts, pulling back to 15-8.
However, that would be his final leg as Taylor hit a brace of double top checkouts to move 17-8 up before posting a 74 finish to claim the title on double 16.
Taylor had been priced at 7/4 to take the title with sponsors Sky Bet ahead of the tournament, having found himself odds-on for most events in recent years.
“I doubt I’ll be that price again in a hurry!” Taylor joked. “But it’s not about trying to prove anybody else wrong – it’s about trying to prove myself right, trying to believe in myself and still win major tournaments.”
Wade admitted: “I wasn’t good enough. I played all right later in the game but the first half was diabolical and Phil showed why he’s the best player in the world. I missed a few shots but Phil outplayed me and deserved to win.”
Taylor and James Wade ensured a repeat of their 2006 and 2008 final showdowns with semi-final wins over Andy Hamilton and Adrian Lewis respectively on Saturday.
The champion gave a powerful display at overcome Hamilton 17-9, taking over half of his 30 chances at doubles and winning seven of the final eight legs.
Wade won through with a 17-10 victory over Lewis, who never recovered from a run of five successive legs which saw his opponent take a 10-4 lead.