A Sussex man completed a sporting fairytale by winning the 2018 William Hill World Darts Championship.
Rob Cross, from St Leonards, produced an outstanding performance to see off 16-time world champion Phil Taylor by seven sets to two in the final tonight (Monday).
It’s an extraordinary achievement from Cross, who was playing in his first World Championship and only last year was working as an electrician.
The 27-year-old’s remarkable 107.67 average was the third highest ever recorded in a World Championship final. He landed 11 maximum 180s and hit three outshots of 140 or more.
Cross got off to a splendid start, winning both of the opening two sets 3-1 and the third set 3-0.
In the opener, he checked out 84 in two darts to win the first leg and after Taylor held throw in the second, Cross hit two 180s en route to a 12-darter in the third leg. Cross then hit 171 and finished 47 in two darts to clinch the set.
Aided by a 180, Cross broke Taylor’s throw at the start of the second set and then finished 68 to go 2-0 up. Taylor held throw in 14 darts to pull a leg back only for Cross to hit a superb 167 checkout - his highest of the tournament - to hold throw in 12 darts and seal the set.
Another 180 helped Cross hold throw at the start of the third set and he reeled off five consecutive treble 20s en route to an 11-darter in the second leg. Cross continued his amazing standard with a 153 checkout to lead by three sets to nil.
Not to be outdone, Taylor checked out 151 to hold throw at the start of the fourth set. After Cross narrowly missed the bull for a 127 outshot, Taylor broke throw for the first time to lead 2-0 and in the next leg checked out 80 in two darts to get his first set on the board.
Taylor narrowly missed double 12 for a nine-darter at the beginning of the fifth set and Cross hit 83 in two darts to steal the leg. Cross produced an 11-darter, featuring another 180, to break throw in the next leg and then held throw in 14 darts to win the set 3-0 for a 4-1 lead.
Cross won the opening leg of the sixth set in 11 darts and the second leg in 13, hitting 180s in both, to leave his average touching 110. After Taylor landed a 123 outshot for a 12-darter to hold throw in leg three, Cross checked out 84 in two darts to claim the set 3-1.
The first three legs of the seventh set went with throw. After Taylor missed the bull for a 161 checkout in the fourth leg, Cross - averaging more than 70% on his doubles - finished 93 in two darts to win the set 3-1 and lead 6-1 in sets.
Aided by a 12-darter in the second leg, Taylor kept his slim hopes alive by winning the eighth set 3-0 as Cross averaged less than 100 in a set for the first time in the match.
But it merely delayed the seemingly inevitable as Cross took the ninth set 3-0 for a life-changing victory. After a 13-dart opening leg and a 177 in the second, Cross closed out the match in style with a brilliant 140 outshot.
Cross, nicknamed Voltage, won six matches in all to clinch the title, beating world number one Michael van Gerwen in an epic sudden death leg semi-final and then Taylor - the greatest player of all time in his last ever match - in the final.
As well as claiming the £400,000 first prize and the Sid Waddell Trophy, Cross earned a coveted place in the 10-man Premier League, which will run from February 1 until May 17.