Phil Taylor is the World Matchplay Champion for a 13th time.
In one of the best finals in Blackpool history, he edged out James Wade 18-15.
It is also a fifth straight Matchplay crown for ‘The Power’ but the all Unicorn final meant more Winter Gardens heartache for Wade, who had now lost four finals- all to Taylor in seven years.
And he came so close, time and time again coming back into the match when it looked like Taylor would race away.
But for Taylor, total jubilation.....
“I can’t tell you how much this means to me,” he said. “It has been a tough week but I have worked very hard. I love this tournament and it always brings the best out of me. I have to give James all the credit in the world, because he played brilliantly.”
Wade was understandably disappointed. “I gave it my all but in the end left myself just a little too much to do. I played well this tournament and I know I will come back and win it again one day. I am getting closer.”
Taylor used every ounce of his experience to finally shake Wade off after Unicorn’s World No.3 had threatened to turn it around several times during the final.
There were several breaks of throw in the early stages....Taylor led 4-2 only to see Wade come back to level at five apiece.
‘The Power’ then raced into a 10-7 advantage, but yet again Wade responded! He won three legs on the spin, taking out D5, then hitting a 180 followed by a 92 finish and in the next leg a 177 set up a 67 check-out.
At 10-10, it really was anyone’s final.
Next on the Winter Gardens agenda was a ‘Power’ surge....four emphatic legs, including two 13 darters and at 14-10, Taylor was odds-on favourite again.
Wade though wasn’t finished, as yet again he summoned up a special spell.....at 11-15 down, he hit finishes of 112 and 114 in winning three consecutive legs.
But crucially, in the next he just missed D10 for a 140 check-out to level at 15 all and Taylor edged ahead again at 16-14.
Taylor never trailed in the final....the next two legs were shared and after Wade failed to hit D12 for a 144, Taylor nailed D10 to complete a 13 darter to win his 13th Matchplay.
“I shall have a bit of time off now,” he said. “I will spend time with the family and look forward to the challenges for the rest of the year but this title is precious and to win it again is special.”
It is the closest that Wade has come to beating Taylor on the Blackpool stage. It was a great effort, although that will be of little or no consolation at the moment.
Wade will win many, many more ‘Major’ PDC titles.....but he wants to beat Taylor in one of them, that’s for sure.
And they will meet in many more big games over the next few years.....for now, Wade has to be content with reaching another Blackpool final.
Taylor will enjoy his celebrations of that magical Matchplay victory No.13!
Betfair World Matchplay Final:
Phil Taylor 18-15 James Wade
Winner - £100,000
Runner-up - £50,000
By STUART PYKE
Photos courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC
James Wade receives runners- up trophy from PDC Chief Executive Matt Porter