So, for the fourth time in seven years the World Matchplay showdown will feature an all Unicorn clash between Phil Taylor and James Wade.
‘The Power’ who is chasing that remarkable 13th Blackpool title was far too good for Ronnie Baxter, while Wade reached his 5th Winter Gardens Final in seven years after winning an absolute thriller 17-15 against Terry Jenkins.
Wade has been beaten by Taylor in their three previous Blackpool finals....18-11, 18-9 and last year 18-8.
‘The Machine’ is hoping to switch off ‘The Power’ for the very first time in a big final.
Taylor was impressive again in his 17-10 triumph over ‘The Rocket’
He was 6-0 up on Baxter in no time at all, hitting six 180s in as many legs and the first of four 11 darters on his way to victory.
Baxter deserves credit though for refusing to buckle under the pressure. As Taylor started to miss, ‘The Rocket’ started to fire and he won six out of the next eight legs! Baxter also missed a dart to get it back to 7-8 before Taylor found his range again.
The local star hit finishes of 97, 92 on the bull and 110 but he was left with far too much to do after being blown away in the early stages of the match.
You always felt that Taylor had a few extra gears should he need them and a 103 average was enough on the night.
From 10-7, he coasted towards the finishing line and a 10th maximum took him to the verge of victory before he won it in style with a 118 check-out.
“In my mind, I was trying to hit Ronnie with a load of 180s because I knew he would come at me.”
“It is fantastic to be in another final and another Matchplay final. It is a brilliant venue. It is a special tournament and I want to win this again, make no mistake, but James is hungry and he will want to beat me after the previous finals between us.”
“I know I am lucky to be here doing this again and I intend to make the most of it,” he added.
Wade recovered from a slow start to book his ticket to the final, but only after an hour and 40 minutes of fabulous darting entertainment.
For Jenkins, a tale of missed chances ultimately cost him a tilt at the final and he will be desperately disappointed.
He looked comfortable until he started missing key doubles at key times....Wade actually hit four 180s in the first five legs but found himself trailing after he couldn’t buy a finish.
The tungsten pendulum swung one way and then the other in the most dramatic of semi-finals.
A run of three fantastic finishes from Wade got him back into the match....164, 103 and 127 on the bull. Jenkins first blow out came when he missed five darts to lead 7-4
From 3-6 behind, Wade reeled off SIX legs on the spin! But it was his turn to miss – two chances to lead 10-6 and back came ‘The Bull’!
He then won FIVE consecutive legs to retake the lead at 11-10....it was a Blackpool rollercoaster!
Wade broke back with a 130 check-out and when he nailed an amazing 144 finish to move 12-11 in front, he has won half of those dozen legs with ton plus check-outs.....sensational!
It was nip and tuck....13-11 Wade became 13-13 and after five more missed doubles from Jenkins, ‘The Machine’ edged closer the finishing line at 15-13.
But back came Jenkins to level at 15-15 and he was completely in charge in what turned out to be a crucial 31st leg.....then it all went wrong as he missed SIX more darts at doubles and Wade stole the leg.
And the world No.3 followed up with a 6th maximum and D6 took the honours.
“I am exhausted after that,” he said. “I felt like I was playing desperation darts and Terry kept letting me in. I had to hit all those big finishes just to keep pace. It was extra hard because most of the crowd were against me and my concentration went at times. I will have to play a lot better in the final.”
Terry Jenkins 15-17 James Wade
Phil Taylor 17-10 Ronnie Baxter
Betfair World Matchplay Final – Sunday (best of 35 legs)
James Wade v Phil Taylor
By STUART PYKE at World Matchplay
Photos courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC