World Darts Championship: Five of the best comebacks

Rob Cross (Taylor Lanning/PDC)

Rob Cross produced a miraculous fightback to keep his Paddy Power World Darts Championship hopes alive on New Year's Day, battling back from the brink to stun Chris Dobey.

Cross - who lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy in 2018 - appeared in danger of suffering a whitewash defeat at one stage, only to complete a remarkable turnaround to preserve his title hopes.

The 33-year-old will now take on teenage sensation Luke Littler for a place in Wednesday's decider, and ahead of tonight's semi-final action, we've looked back at five of the best comebacks in the tournament's history.

Rob Cross v Chris Dobey - 2023/24 World Darts Championship

Rob Cross (Taylor Lanning/PDC)

Cross produced one of the greatest comebacks ever seen at the World Championship yesterday afternoon, becoming the first player in the tournament's history to overturn a four-set deficit in a quarter-final tie.

Dobey - who whitewashed defending champion Michael Smith in the last 16 - raced into a 4-0 lead against Cross to make it ten sets without reply on the Alexandra Palace stage.

However, Cross launched a phenomenal comeback to triumph in outstanding fashion, surviving a match dart at the bullseye in set eight, before going on to prevail in a gripping deciding-set tie-break.

Raymond van Barneveld - 2006/07 World Darts Championship

Raymond van Barneveld (PDC)

Raymond van Barneveld’s epic sudden-death victory over Phil Taylor in the 2007 World Championship final is widely regarded as one of the greatest games ever played, yet it wouldn’t have been possible without the Dutchman’s fightback against Colin Lloyd in the second round.

Lloyd was the number one seed at the Circus Tavern, and he underlined his credentials by racing into a commanding three-set lead against a struggling Van Barneveld, who was making his debut in the PDC’s flagship event.

However, the Dutch icon fought back to restore parity, before surviving four match darts across a nail-biting seventh and deciding set to triumph in a thrilling last-leg shoot-out, which laid the foundations for his iconic triumph against Taylor just days later.

Adrian Lewis v James Wade - 2011/12 World Darts Championship

Adrian Lewis (PDC)

Adrian Lewis produced one of the most unlikely comebacks in World Championship history on his way to retaining the sport’s biggest prize in 2011/2012, rallying from 5-1 down to deny a shell-shocked James Wade in an astonishing semi-final.

With Wade leading 2-0 in sets, the players left the stage amid complaints from both men surrounding a breeze on stage. The delay didn’t initially impact Wade’s momentum as the left-hander extended his buffer to 5-1, before the drama began.

Wade missed one match dart at double 18 for a 6-2 success, and incredibly, the ten-time TV title winner failed to win another leg, as Lewis reeled off ten consecutive legs to complete the comeback, sealing the deal with a roof-raising 161 finish.

Jose de Sousa v Ryan Searle - 2022/23 World Darts Championship

Jose de Sousa

'The Special One' Jose de Sousa lived up to his nickname at last year's World Championship, recovering from 3-0 down in sets to stun Ryan Searle and progress to the last 16 for the first time in his career.

The Portuguese star fired in nine 180s on his way to a dramatic victory, after Searle had punished a disastrous start from the former Grand Slam champion to move to the cusp of victory.

However, De Sousa responded in some style to turn the match on its head and set up a showdown against Gerwyn Price, but he wasn't able to replicate those same heroics against the Welshman, who went on to beat him 4-1.

Phil Taylor v Kevin Painter - 2003/04 World Darts Championship

Phil Taylor (PDC)

Phil Taylor celebrated his record-extending 11th World Darts Championship crown with a famous deciding-set success against Kevin Painter two decades ago.

The all-conquering Taylor was facing the prospect of a shock defeat after Painter raced into a 4-1 lead, but the Stoke-on-Trent legend fought back to triumph in a pulsating sudden-death shoot-out.

Taylor had been on the receiving end of a deciding-set clash 12 months earlier - succumbing to Canadian trailblazer John Part - but he returned to winning ways in a breathless contest to reaffirm his darting dominance.

Written by Josh Gorton & Tyler Habib