PDC world darts: Phil Taylor beats Michael van Gerwen to win 16th title
Phil 'The Power' Taylor won his 16th world darts title by beating Michael van Gerwen 7-4 in an absorbing PDC World Championship final.
Van Gerwen started brightly, shrugging off a 170 checkout from Taylor in the second leg to lead by two sets to nil.
Taylor, 52, battled back to level, but fell behind again as the Dutchman surged 4-2 ahead at Alexandra Palace.
''Just when you think Phil Taylor cannot possibly improve on an already unparalleled legacy, he goes and does that. Five sets on the trot, a 16th world title. MVG is the future, but The Power refuses to become the past. Roll on the Lakeside. PDC? BDO? It's all darts. An amazing tournament to honour the memory of a genius. RIP Sid.''
Undeterred, the Englishman won the next five sets as Van Gerwen's form fell away, sealing victory with a double 16.
Taylor, unusually, had entered his 19th world championship final as the underdog after Van Gerwen's scintillating recent form. 'Mighty Mike' had beaten his opponent in their last two meetings and won his first PDC major , the World Grand Prix, in October.
The 23-year-old from Boxtel in the Netherlands also came within a hair's breadth of back-to-back nine darters in his semi-final against James Wade .
In a whirlwind first set, Taylor started stronger, laying down an early marker with a 170 finish in only the second leg of the contest, but Van Gerwen snatched the set in a deciding fifth leg with a 140 checkout.
The Dutchman, showing none of the finishing frailty of earlier rounds, broke Taylor in 11 darts on the way to taking the second set 3-1.
Two: Taylor came second in the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.
Nine: The number of televised nine-dart finishes he has recorded.
16: The number of world championships won.
52: Taylor's age on winning his 16th world title, the oldest ever PDC winner.
74: The total number of BDO and PDC major events won.
100: The total number of matches played by Taylor at the PDC World Championship
118.66: Taylor's average score - the highest in the game`s history - against Kevin Painter in 2010.
119: Other tournaments won by 'The Power'.
£5,250,006: Taylor's total career earnings after taking the £200,000 winner's cheque.
At two legs all in the third, Taylor broke the Van Gerwen throw for the first time to claw back a set. The fourth set also went to two legs apiece, with Taylor levelling up the match by hitting tops after Van Gerwen had narrowly missed a 116 outshot on the same double.
Van Gerwen, however, quickly re-established a two set cushion, winning the fifth set in a deciding leg and breaking Taylor early in the sixth.
In what was developing into a see-saw encounter of high scoring and clinical finishing, Taylor wiped out the deficit once again to restore parity at 4-4, taking advantage of Van Gerwen's failure to land two doubles for a 5-2 lead in a pivotal seventh set.
With the crowd turning in his favour, Taylor then reeled off three more straight sets to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy and claim his 16th world title, 23 years after his first.
A 13-dart finish at the start of the ninth set was followed by two 11-dart finishes from Taylor as he moved ahead 5-4 to lead the match for the first time.
Van Gerwen, visibly rattled, began to score less heavily as Taylor notched yet another 11-darter to move within one set of the title at 6-4. He wrapped up the match 3-1 in the eleventh set, taking out 91 with a double 16.
An emotional Taylor said: "I'm probably the proudest man in the world. I've got to give Michael everything, he's phenomenal that kid. Michael is one of the best players I've seen in my career.
Averages: Taylor 103.04, Van Gerwen 100.66
180s: Taylor 5, Van Gerwen 9
Highest checkouts: Taylor 170, Van Gerwen 140
Finishing percentages: Taylor 42%, Van Gerwen 53%
Breaks of throw: Taylor 10, Van Gerwen 6
"I couldn't seem to crack him and I thought Sid Waddell [former BBC and Sky darts commentator] might be up there watching. The crowd won it for me and Sid was like a father figure to me, I loved him to bits.
"I'm absolutely over the moon - it's the biggest night of my life. I really don't know how long I can keep going at this but I'll be back next year to defend the title at 53."
There will be live text commentary of the BDO World Darts Championship final on the BBC Sport website on Sunday 13 January 2013