The five biggest upsets in darts history

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September 8th, 2020

The sport of darts is a unique battle of mind and psychology. The board never changes, you’re always throwing at the same target – but the mental gymnastics the players go through on the oche of the Gods is enough to make you dizzy. The pressure involved in the sport is often underestimated and can lead to some wild and shocking results.

Off the back of outright favourite Michael van Gerwen being knocked out of the Premier League before the playoffs it felt only right to take a look at some darting duels that have gone the way of the underdog. Here are the five biggest upsets in darts history.

World Championship 2012 First Round: James Richardson upsets Raymond van Barneveld

Dutch Darting legend Raymond van Barneveld is a five-time World Champion, so heading into his first-round match on darts’ biggest stage nobody envisaged any worries from James Richardson. A bricklayer by trade, Richardson was in his first year in the PDC and ranked a lowly 85 in the world.

But "Ruthless Richardson" shocked the Alexandra Palace crowd as he dropped just four legs, thumping Barney 3-0 in sets and taking out two 145 finishes along the way. The Barney Army could do nothing but sit and watch as the Dutchman’s doubles evaded him, and he crashed out at the first hurdle.

World Cup of Darts 2010: Spain downs England

There isn’t much team-play in darts, but the World Cup was a welcome introduction in 2010. Putting two players from each nation against each other, there was little doubt who the favorites were going into the tournament.

England were represented by Phil Taylor and James Wade, ranked 1 and 2 in the world at that time, and had a swagger in their step. But World Cup success is not England’s forte in many sports, and darts was swiftly added to that list.

The Spanish duo of Toni Alcinas and Carlos Rodriguez were relatively unknown, but they dished up a stunning average of 107.3 as they won a decider against England in the second round.

World Championship 2018 First Round: Kevin Munch shocks Adrian Lewis

Only a handful of players can claim to have won back-to-back world titles, so despite not being at the height of his tungsten powers at the back end of 2017, nobody saw Munch as much opposition for Jackpot Lewis – the Ally Pally’s king in 2010 and 2011.

But the unknown German qualifier was throwing some inspired arrows and with both men averaging over 93 it was a high-quality affair. Despite being a dual champ Lewis could not put Munch away, and he hit double 8 to shock the world.

UK Open 2014 Third Round: Aden Kirk 9-7 Phil Taylor

There’s no doubt that Phil Taylor’s air of invincibility was coming to an end in 2014. He had struggled at the start of the Premier League, losing four of his opening five matches, but it was this result that really sent shockwaves through the sport.

Kirk was ranked 141 in the world, while Taylor was a 14-time World Champion and had won the UK Open five times. Kirk had done only just enough to qualify for the event – reaching the last 64 in two of the six UK Open Qualifiers.

But in his first ever televised match "Captain Kirk" was all business as Taylor suffered his worst ever result in UK Open history.

World Championship 2007-08 Semi-Final: Kirk Shepherd upsets Wayne Mardle

"Hawaii 501" Wayne Mardle pulled off the greatest win of his career in this World Championship as he knocked out the apparently unbeatable Phil Taylor in the quarter-final – ending a 14-year run of Taylor being in the final. But Mardle’s darting dreams came crashing down at the hands of the "Martial Dartist", karate-loving Kirk Shepherd in the semi-final.

With a place in the sport’s showpiece final up for grabs Shepherd – a man who had been a rank outsider at the start of the tournament – out-battled Mardle and claimed a 6-4 win. Unfortunately for Shepherd he would go on to lose the final to John Part but his run to that match will live long in the memory.