There’s trouble a t’mill. As the 2012 World Grand Prix moves into the quarter final stage Phil Taylor is still picking thorns out of his arse and James Wade is back on the couch.

Wes NewtonThere has been a very definite plate shift in pro darts over the last couple of years and this week is looking like the defining watershed moment.

Wes Newton, 6th on the PDC Order of Merit, goes into tonight’s quarter finals in uncharted territory as the highest ranked player left in the tournament. This does not make The Warrior favourite.

1993 was year zero for the PDC and since the dawn of PDC-time Phil Taylor has been there or thereabouts in major tournaments – if Taylor misses one of his closest rivals hits.

Adrian Lewis taking the last two World Championships, James Wade with his seven major titles, Part & Barney in their pomp – rarely does the top of the PDC pyramid crumble in the early stages of a tournament.

Until now.

The last time the world’s top five failed to make the quarter finals of a major PDC tournament?

I’m not exactly sure as I don’t have historic Order of Merit rankings to hand. But I can tell you that the last time none of the current top five – Messers Taylor, Lewis, Wade, Anderson and Whitlock – made the quarter finals of a PDC major was eight years ago.

The 2004 World Grand Prix was the year that Andy Callaby sensationally knocked Phil Taylor out in the first round. Colin Lloyd beat Alan Warriner-Little in the final to take full advantage of a rare occurrence. Jaws was world number one at the time (Lewis was 19, Wade was 21) so we can exclude this from the list.

So we have to go back to 2001 where the eight quarter finalists were John Lowe, Martin Adams (honestly!), Roland Scholten, John Part, Alan Warriner-Little, Dave Askew, Dennis Smith & Kevin Painter.

Although there was no Phil Taylor I’m pretty certain that at least one (if not all) of Part, Scholten & Warriner-Little were in the world’s top five at the time. Iceman beat Tripod in the final for his lone major PDC title.

The only other time this has EVER happened in the modern PDC era is the 1996 World Matchplay.

Phil Taylor lost 8-1 in the last 16 to eventual champion Peter Evison who denied perennial nearly man Dennis Priestley in the final.

The quarter final line up in 1996 comprised of Sean Downs, Jamie Harvey, Dennis Smith, Bob Anderson, Alan Warriner-Little, and Rod Harrington in addition to the two aforementioned finalists. At least two of this octet were in the world’s top five at that time.

To frank the point, this has never happened before in the World Championship, or any of the more recent majors – the UK Open, European Championship, Players Championship, or the Desert Classic.

So what this all distils down to is that what we are witnessing this week at the Citywest Hotel in Saggart, County Dublin is a bona fide PDC first. Never before has the world’s top five failed to make it to the quarter finals of a blue riband PDC event.

This is history folks and whether it is the true dawn of a new era or a minor blip we should embrace it and savour it.

Best of luck to the eight remaining ‘lucky’ players. They will never have a better chance to win a major title.

Of the eight left standing only two are PDC major winners – Paul Nicholson at the 2009 Player Championship Finals and Rob Thornton with his remarkable triumph at this year’s UK Open.

Below is a run-down of the eight quarter finalists with their current world ranking, major title count and tournament odds.

Where will your money be going??

Name PDC Ranking Majors WGP Odds
Wes Newton 6 None (2 x runner up) 4/1
Andy Hamilton 7 None (3 x runner up) 9/2
Justin Pipe 11 None 15/2
Paul Nicholson 15 1 – 2009 Player Champs 14/1
Mervyn King 18 3 – 2005 IDL, 2005 Zuiderduin, 2004 World Masters 13/2
Robert Thornton 19 2 – 2012 UK Open & 2007 World Masters 9/2
Brendan Dolan 22 None (1 x runner up) 14/1
Michael van Gerwen 23 1 – 2006 World Masters 4/1


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