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Unluckiest arrowsmiths: Darts stars who came close but no cigar

Holly Thackeray | 2 January 2017

Coral’s 10 unluckiest darts players

Darts fans will have watched with bated breath during the latter part of 2016, as the likes of Peter Wright and Dave Chisnall fell short once more in the World Series of Darts Finals and Players Championship Finals respectively to leave them still in search of a maiden televised title.

Although the former is not officially recognised as a major, it was still important silverware that looked to be within the Scot’s grasp, and is just one of many Snakebite has been unable to hold onto.

Will Peter Wright make our list of 10 unluckiest darts players?

Will Peter Wright make our list of 10 unluckiest darts players?

So, that got Coral darts writers thinking about the sport’s unluckiest arrowsmiths (or serial big game bottlers if you prefer) and we’ve come up with 10 names that repeatedly fell at the final hurdle, many of which feature at the upcoming 2017 PDC Worlds….

Peter Wright

We had to start with Snakebite, as his recent runners-up exploits are still fresh in the mind. Though, this is far from the first time Wright has had fans on the edge of their seats only to end up being the bridesmaid once more.

In fact, this autumn it was a case of history repeating itself, as the 46-year-old also came second to Mighty Mike in the 2015 World Series of Darts Finals, but that time by an agonising 11-10. Wright led at the last but MvG did force a sudden death decider and took his chucks more ruthlessly when down to the wire.

Poor Snakebite has also taken the runners-up prize in the PDC World Championship (3/1 to reach the final again) and UK Open but that’s just majors, never mind the rest – as Wright also lost finals in the German Darts Masters and European Darts Grand Prix across the past two years.

Though, let’s not forget perhaps the most agonising defeat to Phil Taylor in the Japan Darts Masters, when Snakebite fought back from 7-2 to level, winning five legs on the trot, only to then lose the deciding leg again!!

Relive that moment below:

“Many people out there believe that when I win my first TV title I’m going to win lots after that, and I believe that too,” said Snakebite after his most recent loss. When will it be the ‘Wright’ time?

Terry Jenkins

The Bull is another fan favourite that has repeatedly failed to charge with enough force at the final hurdle. Jenkins’ tally will be tough for even Wright to beat, with nine losses alone in major finals. Phew.

Jenkins’ jinx has extended to finals of tournaments such as the Grand Prix, Premier League, World Matchplay, Grand Slam, European Championship, UK Open and the Las Vegas Desert Classic. What a list!

A perennial runner-up, what a difference one PDC premier event victory could have made to The Bull’s career. It was unfortunate he played his best darts at a time when Phil Taylor was most rampant, and you can see how The Power punished him below…

Dave Chisnall

Chizzy is still young for an arrowsmith at the age of 36, but his pattern so far suggests he is another player inexplicably unable to keep their cool when in the final two.

Second place in the 2010 BDO World Championship promised bigger things in the PDC for Chisnall, but the St Helens star has only gone on to taste more trophy heartbreak with final losses in the Masters, Grand Slam, World Grand Prix and now Players Championship Finals.

With so many lethal 180s up this maximums man’s sleeve and a noticeable improvement to his finishing, there is hope yet. But that 2013 World Grand Prix finale whitewashing by Taylor, in which Chizzy lost each of the five opening sets without winning a leg, must weigh heavy.

Mervyn King

To be fair to King, the English arrowsmith bagged plenty of trophies when in the BDO – but switching sides to the PDC caused his luck to run out rather swiftly, despite arguably still being a hit.

From a regular winner to frequent runner-up, The King lost his crown with World Grand Prix, Premier League, Championship League, Masters and Players Championship finals losses. That’s five pieces of silverware!

In particular, the 2010 Players Championship Finals defeat must have rankled after King had slain all of James Wade, Jelle Klaasen, Wayne Jones and Colin Osborne along the way, only to lose to British-born Aussie Paul Nicholson 13–11 in the showpiece.

Ronnie Baxter

Blackpool lad Baxter was another who just couldn’t quite cross the finish line. The Rocket failed to fire in both BDO and PDC finals, including the BDO World Championship and the cross-organisation competition the World Matchplay among others.

Having now fallen to 59 in the world rankings, The Rocket’s last chance at major glory came way back in 2002, when he first crossed over, as Baxter fell to Taylor in the PDC’s Las Vegas Desert Classic.

Remember way back when Baxter and Taylor both set-up nine darts in the 2012 UK Open?

Wes Newton

Newton is another of Lancashire’s finest, though has now fallen to 45th in the pecking order – a far cry from his heydey when The Warrior threatened to win big.

Runner-up spots arrived in the UK Open and European Championship in 2011 and 2012 respectively, plus plenty of semi-finals – but Newton never went the distance.

John Henderson, Van Gerwen, Raymond van Barneveld, Chisnall and Denis Ovens were all scalps taken by The Warrior in the UK Open, but Wade stood in his way of a major win. Could triumph then have changed his trajectory?

Wayne Mardle

Nearly man Mardle brought plenty of sunshine to the stage as Hawaii 5.0.1, but never lifted a premier event or major trophy before retiring in 2012.

In what was nicknamed ‘Mardle Drift’, the colourful character was known for hitting treble 5 when he needed a treble 20. Second place in three majors, plus mumps seeing Mardle eliminated from the 2009 Premier League due to too many missed matches make him one of our unluckiest darts heroes for sure!

But you must remember his walk-on…

Vincent van der Voort

The Dutch Destroyer was another who promised more than he delivered to die-hard fans. Widely regarded as one of the fastest throwers in darts, Van der Voort made for a compelling watch.

Though, the Dutchman would miss just as often as being deadly with his arrow bursts, leading to him never bettering his second place finish in the 2007 UK Open, where he was bested by then more-composed compatriot Van Barneveld.

See the whole showdown again:

Kim Huybrechts

A true almost arrowsmith, Huybrechts is only 30 but, despite being highly-rated, The Hurricane has failed to land a big prize yet for fans back home in Belgium.

Now out of the top 10 in world rankings, the PDC star never came closer than in 2002 in the Players Championship finals.

Van der Voort, Michael Smith, Wright and Justin Pipe were the big names swept aside then as Huybrechts scored his debut major final appearance. But then, you guessed it, The Power piled on the pressure and The Hurricane was halted 13-6.

Tony O’Shea

O’Shea only crossed over to PDC waters to take part in the Grand Slam of Darts as a BDO representative, but plenty of fans will remember Silverback’s hardships in the latter organisation. A runner-up in all of the BDO World Championship, World Masters, World Darts Trophy and International Darts League.

Still going strong, it is unfortunate O’Shea’s long and illustrious career will likely be remembered for second spot finishes!

See some of Silverback’s talent:

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