Upon Phil Taylor’s declaration of his intention to retire at the end of the 2017 darting season, the focus of the sporting world seemed drawn upon him. The main contributor to this seemed to be the wide array of achievements which the Englishman has amassed throughout his career, with these ultimately contributing to the high regard in which he seems to be held. Yet, whilst his performances may naturally be at the forefront of focus, his retirement may present opportunities to other players, with the chance to replace him at the pinnacle perhaps the overarching goal for all. Whilst the seeds may have aimed to achieve this, it was Rob Cross who ultimately took the glory, and considering 2017 was his first year as a professional, the foundations for a fruitful future may be being laid.
Considering the Championships’ position in the calendar, it seems superiorly placed in comparison to its counterparts, as players may have attained the necessary experience throughout other contests whilst also being highly motivated by the tournament’s high status. When coupled with the vast prize money available, and the wide array of previous winners given an influx of opportunities as a result of their performance, it seemed a multitude of fixtures may have provided intriguing contests. This seemed to be echoed in the early rounds, as whilst the final was contested by two seeds, multiple qualifiers emerged victorious versus higher ranked opposition. Furthermore, the semi-final between top seed, and ultimate favourite, Michael Van Gerwen, and eventual victor Cross solely served to cement this suggestion, with this pivotal in bypassing sporting boundaries, and enabling the competition to be well received by all.
Entering the final, it seemed Taylor may have been regarded the favourite, with his vast experience placing him in superior stead. Yet, Cross seemed to use his billing of underdog to his advantage, playing with drive, most notably with a 140 finish to conclude the match. This trait seemed highlighted by Taylor in his interviews, and therefore whilst this may motivate Cross to continue to succeed, it may also showcase the high regard in which Taylor may be held, as he seems to hold gravitas and possess dignity after any tie.
This may have been the prime contributor as to why the crowd seemed to be favouring a Taylor victory, as this may have naturally enabled him to conclude his career with the most recognised accolade in the sport. Yet, Cross’ victory may superiorly impact the sport, as with the most successful player in history soon to be absent, opportunities may have arisen for another player to take the reins, replicating, and in turn surpassing, his achievements. Whilst this win may naturally, therefore, pay dividends in advancing Cross’ career, it may be pivotal in showcasing the strength in depth which darts possess, with this potentially resulting in an influx of support for the sport. With it thus requiring a new talisman to lead it in its new, innovative era, Cross may have showcased the reasoning behind him possessing the credentials to boost the position.
Ultimately, Cross may claim the plaudits, with his consistency across the entirety of the tournament a key focal point. In addition, he seemed to remain faithful with his ideologies, consistently striving to conclude matches at a rapid rate, and if he may continue to find the perfect balance with his philosophy, he may add further trophies to his cabinet. Yet, Cross’ fruitful future may be secondary to the focus surrounding Taylor himself, as whilst he concluded the fixture on the receiving end of the score-line, his legacy seemed to already be cemented. His accomplishments, including playing a key part in establishing the PDC, may have been the catalyst in players such as Cross originally striving to have a career in the game, and thus whilst darts may be looking for a new talisman, Taylor’s impact may consistently be remembered.