By Alex Moss
7 APRIL 2017 • 3:47PM
There was no post-match joint-interview between the two like there was last time, but could last night have been the final time we see Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld face one another on the big stage?
When Taylor got the better of his old rival van Barneveld when the two met in the Betway Premier League in Leeds in early February, some were billing it as the last televised ‘El Dartico’.
Few seriously predicted that either Taylor or van Barneveld would be eliminated on ‘Judgement Night’ from this year’s Premier League, thus, the two rivals would play each other again in the second phase of the tournament.
But now Taylor has prevailed once again, in their second regular season Premier League meeting last night, will the two meet again on the big stage before the 16-time world champion retires at the end of the current season?
Since van Barneveld switched over from the BDO to the PDC in 2006, the Dutchman and Taylor have faced off an average 4.5 times each season in front of the television cameras.
A total of 49 clashes in 11 years heading into this season suggests that the two will go toe-to-toe on the big stage again before Taylor puts his darts away, but when and where could their next possible meeting come?
The first opportunity would be on May 18 in the Premier League Play-Offs at The O2. After last night’s fixtures in Dublin, the two both currently occupy places in the top four and are, as of writing, on course to qualify for the end of season finale.
If the table stays as it is after the final regular season night in Aberdeen on May 11, Taylor would have to beat Michael van Gerwen, and van Barneveld would have to oust UK Open champion Peter Wright, to set up a final between the two.
While Taylor has severely reduced his playing schedule on the Pro Tour, he will still be involved in this year’s World Series, and both he and van Barneveld are in the field for events in Dubai (May 24-25), Shanghai (July 7-8), Las Vegas (July 14-15).
The line-ups for the World Series events in Auckland (August 11-13), Melbourne (August 18-20) and Perth (August 25-27) have yet to be confirmed, but it is expected Taylor and van Barneveld will both be involved, so it brings up three more televised tournaments for the two to face off in.
Before the PDC’s trip to Australasia in August, the World Cup of Darts will be staged once again in Germany in June, with Taylor and Adrian Lewis the defending champions from last year.
While Taylor is currently the fourth highest-ranked Englishman on the PDC Order of Merit, it would be a surprise if he does not partner Lewis in the England team and attempt to defend the title they have won for the last two years.
Van Barneveld is just ahead of his fellow Dutchman Jelle Klaasen, by only £3,250, as the second highest-ranked player from the Netherlands, but even if Klaasen climbs above him, it is highly doubtful that he will partner van Gerwen, instead of van Barneveld, for the World Cup.
The prestigious World Matchplay in July presents another opportunity for Taylor and van Barneveld to lock horns on TV, especially if Barney (9th) climbs up a spot in the rankings or Taylor (7th) drops down one place.
If that was to happen, the pair would be seeded in the same quarter of the draw and would face each other as early as the last 16, if they both won their first round games on the Winter Gardens stage.
Later on this year, the Champions League of Darts will return to our screens on the BBC, with Taylor hoping to defend the title he won in the tournament’s inaugural year in 2016.
The field for the new event was restricted to the top eight on the PDC Order of Merit last year, and if it remains the case for this year, Taylor and van Barneveld are both in the running to make the cut.
Then, as we enter the final three months of the season, the World Grand Prix and European Championship are both held in October, the World Series of Darts Finals, Grand Slam of Darts and Players Championship Finals in November, before the big one, the World Championship, played across December and early January, which will be Taylor’s last tournament of his professional career.
Could last night have been the last time we see Taylor and van Barneveld face each other on the TV? The odds suggest not, but stranger things have happened!
Televised matches between Taylor and van Barneveld (since van Barneveld joined the PDC)
2017 – 2* so far
2016 – 5
2015 – 5
2014 – 4
2013 – 5
2012 – 2
2011 – 3
2010 – 3
2009 – 6
2008 – 4
2007 – 6
2006 – 6