'Barney' beats 13-time world champion Phil 'the power' Taylor in thrilling final
Raymond van Barneveld claimed his first PDC World Championship title after defeating 13-time world champion Phil Taylor 7-6 in a thrilling final.
The Dutchman had to come from behind after Taylor produced a storming opening to take a 3-0 lead.
But Van Barneveld, who defected from rival organisation the BDO in February, fought back to level the match at 5-5.
The pair then traded sets before Van Barneveld edged a nervy sudden-death leg to take the crown in Purfleet.
The contest was billed as a dream final as that was how it panned out with both players producing stunning performances.
Taylor, sporting a snazzy orange shirt, had won the right to throw first after getting nearest the bull backstage but, as usual, gave the honour to his opponent in a bid to make an early breakthrough.
And that is what he did as he recorded checkouts of 164 and 111 in an awesome start to leave Van Barneveld reeling 3-0 behind.
It's an unbelievable start to the new year for me
Raymond van Barneveld
The 39-year-old from The Hague finally got on the scoreboard with a whitewash in the fourth set with the help of a 170 checkout - the first time that had been achieved in the tournament.
Barney then took the next set but Taylor restored his two-set advantage at 4-2 before making it 5-3.
Van Barneveld, a four-time winner of the BDO version of the world title, refused to buckle and levelled the match at 5-5.
He then took the lead for the first time after fighting back from 2-0 down but Taylor dug in as the tension mounted to take the match into a decider.
The first 10 legs of the final set went with the throw but as Taylor had to always chase the game, Van Barneveld had four darts for the match.
The Dutchman missed them all but after winning the honour for the sudden-death leg, he produced some high scoring.
He missed a double top at his first attempt but returned to the board with Taylor well adrift to seal a dramatic victory.
"It's an unbelievable start to the new year for me," said Van Barneveld.
"In the first three sets I hardly won a leg and I just wanted to get one or two sets. Taylor was just not missing any doubles.
I tried my hardest but couldn't quite get over the last hurdle
"I missed darts for the match and Phil was unstoppable in the legs when he threw first, even though I put lots of pressure on him."
Van Barneveld fired 21 maximum 180s and admitted producing a top-draw performance was his only chance of victory.
"That says a lot about what you need to do to defeat this man," he added. "Maybe I was the better player today.
"We are very close friends and I think when Phil stops playing a statue should be made of him because what he has done for the sport is unbelievable."
Taylor said it was probably the finest match he had contested in 18 years of World Championship action.
"Of all the finals I've played in, I would probably put this one as the best," he said.
"In the last leg, when I kicked in with 180, I thought 'I've got you now, you little bugger' but he hit a 180 back.
"It was probably the best final leg I've ever played in.
"He has got loads of bottle and came back well. I was cruising at 3-0 up but fair play to him.
"There's nothing I could do. I tried my hardest but couldn't quite get over the last hurdle."