We’ve recently made a list of the best darts players to never win a major.
To be considered a “best player” that never won a major can be both a compliment and an insult.
Your darting ability is appreciated but it also highlights lacking that 1% needed in either skill, consistency, or mentality to go all the way in a major tournament.
Well, there’s another type of player that falls into this category.
What about the players that dominate majors throughout the year but failed to do it on the biggest stage possible, the World Championship?
It turns out there are some players just like that!
In this article we’ll look at the best dart players to never win a PDC World Championship.
Table of Contents
Best Dart Players to Never Win a World Championship (PDC)
Just note, this isn’t highlighting any faults in players but you’ll be surprised by some of the players that are consistently high ranking in the PDC Order of Merit, dominate in Majors but just never win that coveted World Championship.
See also – Darts biggest underachievers
4) Dave Chisnall
Dave Chisnall is an ever present when we make lists on “best players to never win X”. His ability is both clear and easily recognised, however, when it comes to Chizzy there’s always the feeling that he should win more.
HIs highest finish in this tournament is a semi-final in 2021 so there are definitely players who have had higher and more consistent placings than Chizzy but it’s his annual performances that have people wondering how he’s never come close to winning the World Championship.
He’s had 6 runners-up placing in PDC Major finals which is the most of any active player (without winning one) and he also has 22 non-televised wins along with being an ever present in the top world rankings.
Chizzy even made it to the final of the BDO World Championship in 2010 so he clearly has the ability to push the best of them when he’s on form.
Everyone knows how good Chizzy is, for whatever reason though, he’s just a player that can’t seem to get over the final hurdle and while he’s never made a final appearance, few would argue that he’s one of the best to never win it when looking at ability/talent alone.
3) Simon Whitlock
Simon Whitlock, AKA “The Wizard” is one of darts most recognisable players of the last 20 years and likely the greatest Australian darts player of all time.
He’s had an incredibly successful career in terms of accolades with 8 runners-up placings in major tournaments and a PDC Major win (Premier League in 2012) but he was also competitive enough to earn enough to move to the UK and compete on the pro tour.
It’s hard to get onto the pro tour without sponsors due to the traveling needed so to be an Australian competing would make it significantly more expensive to compete at this level compared with other players.
Therefore, it’s worth mentioning how good and consistent he is to make this a career.
The reason Whitlock gets bumped ahead of Chizzy on this list is because Whitlock is the only player to have finished runner-up in both the PDC & BDO World Championship without ever winning it.
We cover the BDO later on this list but had to mention him coming up short in both championships.
Besides Kevin Painter, he’s had the most appearances in this tournament.
To only earn a runners-up medal so there’s a 1% missing from his game to make him one of the best players, however, he’s noticeable when it comes to quality of players to have never won it.
2) Peter Manley
Peter Manley has the record for most PDC World Championship finals appearances without ever winning.
His 3 x runner-up placings show a unique consistency as no other player has made it to the finals as many times without winning it, the next closest is players who have only ever made it to a single runner-up spot.
Many people have Manley down as the best player to never win the World Championship but for whatever reason, this was the only Major that he really seemed to ‘show up’ for.
He won the Las Vegas Desert Classic and was a runner-up at the World Matchplay but our number 1 selection has 26 major finals appearances with 11 wins so Manleys career accolades are nowhere near this.
Manley held the number one ranking for a period during 2003 and with three World Championship finals appearances, his darting ability is clear to see.
Unfortunately for Manley though, he couldn’t make it past a seemingly immovable object…
Taylor beat Manley during each of these finals on what was a run for Taylor of 14 consecutive World Championship Finals appearances in which he won 11 of them.
No one can blame Manley for coming up short to what was an absolute wrecking ball at the time taking out anyone put in front of him.
Just making it to three finals though puts Manley down as one of the best players to never win it as there have only been four players to appear in more finals than him!
It’s definitely a shame that he was never able to win one.
1) James Wade
It’s not even debatable when it comes to dart fans, James Wade is easily considered the best player to never win a World Championship.
Whenever Phil Taylor or MVG were knocked out of a major tournament, Wade would clean up.
He was a flat track bully for most of his career but you can see from his extensive finals appearances that Taylor and MVG were a stumbling block for him.
With that said, Wade has had 26 Major Finals appearances with 11 titles and 15 runners-up positions making him one of the most decorated players in PDC history and arguably a top 10 darts player of all time.
His consistency over a close to 20 year career at the time of writing is remarkable and his career earnings from tournaments only puts him in the top 5 meaning he is no slouch when it comes to competing.
The most peculiar thing however is that he has been successful in pretty much every major PDC tournament EXCEPT for the main one, the World Championship.
He’s been to the semi-finals on four occasions and quarter-finals on five occasions but has never made it to the finals in 19 attempts.
It’s his bogey tournament and that’s a shame because never winning (or even coming runners-up) will be a stain on what has otherwise been an unbelievable career.
He’s definitely not a choker but for some reason he’s never been able to perform as well as he should in this tournament and for that reason he’s easily considered the best player to never win a World Championship.
There are two people in particular, John Lowe and Eric Bristow who are arguably the best players to never win a PDC World Championship but both come with a caveat.
Lowe and Bristow were coming to the end of their careers after dominating the 80’s and this was just as Phil Taylor was coming into his peak years so winning the World Championship over the likes of him or Dennis Priestley at that stage was just unrealistic.
While both stuck at the PDC for 6-10 years, they weren’t the same players which is why they make the honorable mentions list. The rest were competing in their prime so it would be
Best Dart Players to Never Win a BDO World Championship
These days, the PDC is THE organisation when it comes to highlighting the worlds best players and has been that way since around 2001 when promoter Barry Hearn became the chairman catapulted the PDC in terms of popularity.
Prior to however, the BDO was arguably the holder of that title.
Some of the best players of all time including Phil Taylor, Dennis Priestly, and Raymond Van Barneveld played in and won both the BDO and PDC World Championships.
So, just like the section above, that means there must have been some great players to never win the BDO World Championship?
Turns out, there were:
4) Bobby George
One of the biggest darts personalities of all time, the “Bobby Dazzler” also had the darts ability to match.
He only ever played in the BDO and never made the switch to the PDC like most others did in the 90’s but will certainly go down as a legend of that league – especially considering he became a presenter and commentator almost becoming the face of the Lakeside!
He makes it onto this list because he has two BDO World Championship runner-up placings and is joint 2nd for most finals appearances without winning it behind only one player (who is the top spot on this list).
That alone isn’t the reason he makes it onto this list though. Bobby won the Grand Master twice and also the News of the World Championship twice.
For anyone that doesn’t know, the News of the World Championship was essentially the first ‘World Championship’ and was recognised globally as such.
Therefore, Bobby winning this (twice) essentially means he had the ability and proven winning record to win the BDO World Championship – It was essentially the same tournament!
Two runner-up placings is nothing to discount but Bobby definitely could have won one of these and he will therefore go down as one of the best to never win it.
3) Ronnie Baxter
Like Bobby Geroge, Baxter had two runners-up placings in the BDO World Championship but he edges ahead of him on this list for a few reasons.
Firstly, Baxter went to back to back finals in 1999 and 2000 (losing to Raymond Van Barneveld and Ted Hankey respectively) and was playing during a transformative period for darts when the quality and standard of play arguably went up a notch from the 80’s and early 90’s.
This meant he had the momentum and after losing the first, many thought 2000 would be his year.
Not only that but Baxter had three other runner-up placings, two of which coming in the PDC so he wasn’t a one-hit wonder, he had the ability to win the BDO World Championship.
Most people believe he’s the greatest player to never win a televised major so it was hard to choose between him and George.
Because of the era that Baxter played in, we’ll bias it towards it being harder for him to win so to come close twice gives him the nod into 3rd.
2) Gary Anderson
Yes, surprisingly Gary Anderson, the 2 x PDC World Championship winner and 2 x runner-up spent 7 years in the BDO and never managed to make it further than the semi-finals…
It’s fair to say that Anderson was a late bloomer though, similar to Peter Wright.
He didn’t enter the BDO Opens until 2001 at 31 years old so to peak and become a dominant force in the PDC in his 40’s is a great example that it’s never too late to get into darts and have incredible success!
Disclaimer – the talent and lack of fear/nerves of some of the young dart players now is unmatched in previous generations so there’s also a chance that Anderson and Wright are the last breed of player that could do what they did.
Anyway, Anderson has had far more success in PDC and considering how long he spent playing in the BDO it’s astounding that he never completely dominated it.
Jelle Klaasen won it on his first attempt and quickly moved over to the PDC immediately after, however, both their careers show how deceiving one tournament can be.
Klaasen has had little success in the PDC with no major wins to his name.
Even though Anderson spent a long time in the BDO and it’s surprising he never won the World Championship, his 8 PDC Major wins and 13 runner-up positions make him one of the best PDC players of all time.
The only reason he’s not number one on this list is because of the person taking that position…
1) Tony O’Shea
Tony O’Shea is somewhat of a BDO legend.
The “Silverback” spent 17 years in the BDO from 2002–2019 and has had the most finals appearances without ever winning it at three.
Much like his best friend and training partner Darryl Fitton, he’s in a select group who stayed true to the BDO (others include Martin Adams and Andy Fordham) and also like Fitton, is well recognised as one of the best to never win the BDO World Championship
Not only that, I think O’Shea (similar to Chizzy in the PDC) might be the best player in the BDO to have never won a major.
Some players who may be considered better than O’Shea may not have won in the BDO but then went on to have PDC success.
For longevity and consistency though, I think Tony O’Shea is head and shoulders above everyone else as the best player to never win a BDO World Championship.
To make it so close on so many occasions without ever winning it is a shame.
Especially when you see how many tournament wins he had on the circuit during his peak years (mainly European opens between 2009-2013) it’s both surprising and disappointing that he was never able to get over the final hurdle.
That’s all for our rankings on the best dart players to never win a World Championship in both the PDC and BDO.
Do you agree with our ranking positions and more importantly, do you think we’ve missed anyone obvious or more deserving?
Let us know down in the comments below and for more interesting darts topics check out our “general discussion” page here.