Who can be darts' George Best?
Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts
Published 31/12/2013 | 01:30
Darts is experiencing some short-term pain – but it should result in long-term gain.
Phil 'The Power' Taylor's surprise early exit from the £1m Ladbrokes World Championship at Alexandra Palace was a blow to broadcasters Sky Sports as well as the tournament itself.
Taylor has dominated darts for well over two decades – succeeding Eric Bristow at the head of the sport – winning an incredible 16 world titles in the process.
But for a man who will be 54-years-old in a few months time to be by far the best player does nothing for efforts to portray darts as a legitimate sport.
So although the World Championship has obviously lost some of its gloss with Taylor's departure, having a new champion will certainly do the image of the sport the power of good and no doubt help it grow in the longer term.
Taylor has indicated he could go on for another four years, but darts needs a new star to propel the game forward.
Finding the 'next' Phil Taylor has proved as elusive as finding the 'next' George Best.
The likes of Adrian Lewis and James Wade have both threatened to take over from Taylor without quite managing to scale the peak, even though the former did win back-to-back world crowns.
Michael van Gerwen has also been tipped as the next big thing in darts, but he lost to Taylor in the final 12 months ago.
Darts needs its new champion – and a new direction.