FDI’s Top 10 Greatest of All Time

A formulaic view of the GOAT debate.

The GOAT discussion always provokes plenty of argument, regardless of the sport in question. Even the definition of GOAT can’t be universally agreed upon. Is it about who won the most, who had the greatest impact, or who produced the highest standard at their peak? If it’s the last one, how long is a peak measured over? One year, two years, three years? And is it determined by absolute numbers (win percentages, averages, for instance) or relativity to peers?

FDI gives us something objective and relative – it rates players based on their performance levels in comparison to the results and performance levels of those around them. It isn’t an opinion, it is an auto-generated formula. Criticise and argue away with the robot. For a full explanation you can read our earlier blog on the subject: https://dartsorakel.com/blog/2022/04/23/what-are-fdi-rankings-and-how-are-they-determined/

FDI calculations cover matches from 2003 so, unfortunately, we aren’t able to include the likes of Eric Bristow, who undoubtedly would have made this list. Here are the top ten ratings that separate individuals have held in the last 21 years.

#10 – Adrian Lewis (1903)

Lewis is best recalled for his back-to-back World Championship triumphs in 2011 and 2012. According to the algorithm though, his performance levels peaked in early 2016. This got him to the lofty heights of number two – he won three titles in 2015 (one of them on TV at the Auckland Masters) during a chapter of darting history when Michael van Gerwen was emerging as the dominant force and Phil Taylor was still pretty handy. It was all downhill for Jackpot from there – his rating now stands at 1700. Prime Lewis would have been 38 points behind today’s FDI #1 Luke Humphries, which is a smaller gap than Humphries currently has over his nearest rival.

#9 – James Wade (1905)

Wade is a serial winner. The beauty of FDI is that it is biased towards getting the job done. Averages as we know are not everything and if they were, we probably wouldn’t see The Machine above Aidy Lewis on this list. Wade’s 1905 rating was in 2009. He was notorious then for cleaning up whenever Phil Taylor exited an event and although he didn’t pick up a ‘major’ that year, he was constantly there or thereabouts when Taylor was playing some of the best stuff ever known to man.

#8 – Rob Cross (1922)

Like Wade and Lewis, Cross has never been FDI #1. After winning the World Championship at the turn of 2018 though, his rating soared. He destroyed Taylor in the final at Alexandra Palace, producing a breath-taking display after already seeing off the bona fide number one, Michael van Gerwen, in the semi-final. His average against the Power remained his highest on TV until he beat Gary Anderson in 2023 at the Masters.

#7 – Gerwyn Price (1932)

Price being at number 7 on this list might surprise people, but his form for a period between late 2019 and 2021 marked him almost unquestionably as the best player on the planet. Price picked up major title after major title in that spell and reached number one in the PDC Order of Merit. Much of that TV success was behind closed doors and Price hasn’t really been the same since crowds returned (in terms of titles, at least). Is it coincidence or more? Are we going to see a title-winning resurgence from the Iceman? The competition is getting stronger.

#6 – Peter Wright (1945)

The biggest shock about Snakebite’s story is maybe not his position in this list but the timing of his peak rating: 2017. He won his first World Championship in 2020 and his second in 2022. He produced his best ever tournament at The Matchplay in 2021. However, 2017 was when he hit 1945. Wright won the UK Open that year, five European Tour events, a Players Championship and a World Series of Darts tournament. Crucially for the rating system and how it works, this success came when Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson were serving up something close to their highest ever standards and Phil Taylor was wreaking havoc during his swansong (he beat Wright in the final at Blackpool that year).

#5 – Gary Anderson (1954)

Anderson’s army of fans would surely like to see him above number five, but the system is what it is. Ando’s best form by the FDI calculation was, like Wright, in 2017 – the same time van Gerwen had turned into a monster. Who can forget that world final at the beginning of the year? To this day, Anderson’s performance that night stands as the highest TV average in a ranking final by a loser (over 104, and he lost by four sets). Heaven knows how many titles The Flying Scotsman would have won that year, and the years before and after, if he hadn’t had the terminator edition of van Gerwen to contend with. One thing we can all agree on, is that it would have been more.

#4 – Luke Humphries (1959)

This will raise a few eyebrows. Do not underestimate just how good Luke Humphries is. Only Taylor and van Gerwen before him managed to win as many TV ranking titles in one year. The idea of Humphries being the top dog on earth is a new one, but make no mistake, he truly is. In well over 80% of his matches in the last 15 months he has averaged in excess of 95 – more than any other player. Cool Hand has demonstrated extraordinary levels of consistency. His rating since January has dipped a little (1939, which is still #1), and his best could yet be to come.

#3 – Raymond van Barneveld (1989)

One of the flaws of the FDI model, as well as being one of its strengths, is that it is relative to the competition. In 2004 when RvB reached his highest ever rating, he was still in the BDO and making mincemeat of the opposition. Who knows how that would have transferred to the PDC? What we do know is that despite holding the third highest rating ever, Barney was subservient to a certain Phil Taylor (Taylor held the #1 spot). We also know that RvB defeated Taylor in one of the most memorable matches ever in the world final, when he eventually made the switch in 06/07. Many will dispute Raymond’s position at number 3; not many will dispute a place for him somewhere among the very best of all time.

#2 Michael van Gerwen (2089)

Wow. Just wow. How good was van Gerwen from 2015 to 2018? Some will consider this patch of darts to be the finest the world has seen. MvG reached 2089 at the back end of 2016, a year in which he won an astonishing 25 titles including every major that season. World records were set and opponents were obliterated. The Green Machine harboured a fear factor as intimidating as anything we’ve witnessed. As Sky Sports commentator Rod Studd eloquently put it, it was like observing Usain Bolt in his pomp – we weren’t watching the race, we were watching the clock. It was about seeing what records would be beaten, not whether or not he would be beaten.

#1 Phil Taylor (2124)

Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor is officially FDI’s GOAT. The question is when was the 2124 rating? The answer: 2011. Interestingly, he didn’t win the World Championship that month – hats off to another Sky Sports commentator, Mark Webster, who can boast knocking out the best version of any player that has ever existed according to these ratings. Taylor averaged 102 on TV for the whole year in 2010, when he famously hit two 9-darters in the same match against James Wade in the final of the Premier League. We could go on all day about Taylor’s achievements, some of which might never be matched. To put the 2124 rating into perspective, it’s almost 100 points more than Luke Humphries right now, and 30+ points more than 2017 van Gerwen. Will anybody ever topple it?

Editorial Staff

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