Dennis Priestley : biography
In the 2011 season, Priestley dropped out of the top 32 in the PDC Order of Merit meaning he would have to try to qualify for the World Championship via the PDPA Qualifying tournament and was narrowly beaten at the Quarter Final stage 5-4 by Joe Cullen after throwing away a 4-0 lead in that match. This meant that Priestley would not be taking part in the World Championship for the first time in 20 years despite still showing some world class form at the previous months Championship League of Darts.
In 2012, Priestley qualified for the 2012 UK Open, where he lost in the fifth round to eventual winner Robert Thornton. He also qualified for his first European Tour Event, the Dutch Darts Masters, and was beaten 3–6 by Andy Smith in the first round. In November, Priestley reached the final of the Players Championship 17 in Crawley, where he was beaten 2–6 by Simon Whitlock, having defeated an in-form Michael van Gerwen 6–1 in the semi-finals, despite his opponent averaging 105. His run to the final and successive quarter-final defeats in the last two events secured his qualification for the World Championship in December through the ProTour Order of Merit. He played Ronnie Baxter in the first round and lost 1–3.
Setbacks and bouncebacks
The World Matchplay is perennially considered as Priestley’s ‘bogey’ event, as he has never won it despite reaching the first three finals of the tournament. In the 1994 final, he held a 6-1 in legs lead over Butler when the American alerted Priestley’s attention to a distraction in the arena; Butler’s wily intervention had a noticeable effect on Priestley and the American won 15 of the next 21 legs to seal victory.
The following year, Priestley suffered the first of five final defeats to Taylor 11-16 in legs. The Matchplay appeared to be Priestley’s for the taking in 1996 when hot-favourite Taylor was knocked out by Peter Evison, but Evison in turn edged Priestley 16-14 in a dramatic final. Priestley also reached the semi-finals of the event in 1999 but lost to eventual winner Rod Harrington. In recent years, Priestley has contested some thrilling Blackpool encounters with Taylor. His 13-15 loss to Taylor in the 2nd round of the 2005 event was followed by a 13-16 defeat in the Quarter-Finals the following year, and his 2008 campaign came to an end courtesy of an 8-17 semi-final exit.
Priestley’s failure to win the World Matchplay is all the more surprising given that he has won several other Matchplay titles including the British Matchplay, the Skol Matchplay, and the UK Matchplay.
Though he has won a number of non-televised ranking events over the years, Priestley has underachieved and on some occasions underperformed on the big stage; his perennial struggle to turn great performances into World titles shows this. Indeed, Priestley was close to quitting darts in 2004, unhappy with his form and had problems with his sight, but in typically determined style he returned to top form in 2005. That year he reached his first major semi-final in 5 years at the World Grand Prix in Dublin. Priestley repeated that feat the following year and ended 2006 with a top-three ranking.
World Championship Results
- 1991: Winner (beat Eric Bristow 6-0)
- 1992: 2nd Round (lost to Alan Warriner-Little 2-3)
- 1993: 2nd Round (lost to Steve Beaton 1-3)
- 1994: Winner (beat Phil Taylor 6-1)
- 1995: Last 24 Group (lost to John Lowe 0-3) & (beat Jocky Wilson 3-2)
- 1996: Runner Up (lost to Phil Taylor 4-6)
- 1997: Runner Up (lost to Phil Taylor 3-6)
- 1998: Runner Up (lost to Phil Taylor 0-6)
- 1999: 1st Round (lost to John Ferrell 0-3)
- 2000: Runner Up (lost to Phil Taylor 3-7)
- 2001: 1st Round (lost to Keith Deller 2-3)
- 2002: Quarter-finals (lost to Dave Askew 2-6)
- 2003: 2nd Round (lost to Dennis Smith 1-4)
- 2004: 4th Round (lost to Phil Taylor 1-4)
- 2005: 4th Round (lost to Phil Taylor 0-4)
- 2006: 2nd Round (lost to Adrian Lewis 2-4)
- 2007: 3rd Round (lost to Andy Hamilton 1-4)
- 2008: 1st Round (lost to Steve Maish 1-3)
- 2009: 3rd Round (lost to Paul Nicholson 2-4)
- 2010: 1st Round (lost to Kevin McDine 2-3)
- 2011: 2nd Round (lost to Gary Anderson 2-4)
- 2012: Did Not Qualify
- 2013: 1st Round (lost to Ronnie Baxter 1-3)