PHIL TAYLOR produced a scintillating night of darts to claim glory in the inaugural Zipang Casino Japan Darts Masters as he defeated plucky Peter Wright 8-7 in a thrilling final in Yokohama on Sunday.
Taylor followed up Saturday's win over Masumi Chino with victories over Raymond van Barneveld, Gary Anderson and Wright to pick up his fourth PDC World Series of Darts title.
However, Taylor was pushed all the way at the Osanbashi Hall in Yokohama as the PDC's inaugural televised event in Japan produced a sensational second night of action.
The quarter-finals had initially seen Michael van Gerwen defy a ten-dart finish from Stephen Bunting to average 106.34 in a superb 8-5 victory, before Wright averaged 103 and hit two 121 checkouts in seeing off Adrian Lewis.
Taylor then saw off great rival Raymond van Barneveld 8-3 - aided by taking the game's opening five legs without reply - before Anderson was at his clinical best to overcome James Wade 8-1.
The semi-finals proved dramatic as Wright firstly edged out van Gerwen 8-7 in a classic to win through to his second World Series of Darts final.
The Scot leg 3-0 before van Gerwen hit back to move 6-4 up - but Wright drew back level and took the game into a decider before finishing a spectacular 141 checkout to emotionally snatch victory.
The second semi-final proved equally dramatic, with World Champion Anderson leading 3-1 against Taylor before the Stoke legend hit back to move 4-3 and 6-5 up in a see-saw contest, taking out a party-piece 125 checkout which included two bullseyes before the Scot took out 140 with two double tops.
As the game headed into a decider, Taylor landed a crucial 180 before finishing double seven for a 13-darter to move into the final.
Taylor continued that momentum as he took a two-leg lead over Wright, who hit back to level at two-all with the aid of a brace of 180s in an 11-darter.
Taylor, though, took the next five legs in ruthless fashion, including a 120 checkout, as he moved to the brink of the title at 7-2 - only for Wright to mount a fightback which brought the 1,000-strong crowd to its feet.
Wright took out finishes of 108, 121 and 129 to keep his hopes alive and then finished double eight and tops as Taylor was punished for missing three match darts.
Taylor, though, again proved too strong in a deciding leg as he recovered from two further missed match darts - at tops - by landing double ten to gleefully claim the trophy.
"It's very special to be the first winner in Japan and I've put a huge amount of effort in this week," said Taylor. "The semi-finals and finals were two of the toughest games I could have had and it shows how darts is progressing now.
"The Gary Anderson game was an incredible match and the win over Peter was very special and very tough. He did brilliantly to beat Michael van Gerwen and gave me a real run for my money in the final.
"When he was coming back at me in the final, even though I was trying to win every leg it was in my mind that I had the throw in the final leg, and it went to the last leg!"
Taylor's win added to his previous World Series of Darts double in Sydney and last year's Perth triumph, as he claimed glory in Japan for the first time.
"I've loved every minute of it and the crowds were brilliant," he added. "I didn't think they'd be as animated as they were and it was like a rock concert at times, and they gave every player fantastic support."
Wright's loss means that he has now been defeated in all four televised finals he has reached, but he is aiming to bounce back to silverware in August's treble-header of World Series of Darts events in Australia and New Zealand.
"I can't be too disappointed - I'll get Phil next time!" he said. "I'm getting closer to a big trophy and hopefully it can be when the World Series visits Australia.
"I started off too slowly in the final and when I was 7-2 down I didn't want to roll over because I knew I was better than that and I deserved to be in the final. I never gave up and I came back at Phil, but it was a little bit too late."
Wright had received incredible support from the Japanese crowd throughout the event, and broke down in tears as he celebrated his stunning semi-final triumph.
"It was a fantastic crowd and the support they gave me was like nothing I've ever received before," he added.
"The 141 was one of the best shots I've ever hit. I knew I was going to get it, and I just wanted to get a shot and I did it - and that was for the fans really.
"They picked me up when I went behind against Michael. He played some fantastic darts after I went 4-2 up and showed what a great player he is but the fans carried me through."
World Champion and Premier League champion Anderson missed out on a World Series of Darts win for the second successive event in the semi-finals to Taylor, but said: "I enjoyed it.
"I didn't give James a chance in the quarter-finals and that was a good performance, and Phil just edged it in the semis.
"It's been a good tournament but I made a couple of mistakes against Phil - miscounting being one of them - and he punished me. The miscount put me off for a couple of legs but in the last leg I had the throw and made a mess of it, and Phil did what he does."
Anderson added: "We didn't know what to expect coming over here, but the crowd has been absolutely fantastic. I very much hope we come across here again, and hopefully it will encourage more Japanese people to play the game too.
"The Japanese players did really well. Yuki Yamada, who I played in the first round, is a classy player who's played soft-tip and is now on the steel-tip, and he's talking about playing in Q School. If you give him a year we could have another professional Japanese darts player."
Van Gerwen had been bidding to continue his amazing 2015 by following up his recent Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters win with another title, but was left to rue his narrow semi-final defeat to Wright.
"The tournament was fantastic but I wanted to win here and I didn't do that," said van Gerwen. "I wasn't good enough tonight.
"The fans were great but I feel like I let them down and I need to play better next time we're here."
Zipang Casino Japan Darts Masters
Sunday June 28
Michael van Gerwen 8-5 Stephen Bunting
Peter Wright 8-4 Adrian Lewis
Phil Taylor 8-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Gary Anderson 8-1 James Wade
Peter Wright 8-7 Michael van Gerwen
Phil Taylor 8-7 Gary Anderson
Phil Taylor 8-7 Peter Wright
All games are the best of 15 legs
Michael van Gerwen v Stephen Bunting
0-1 - Bunting makes an explosive start with an outstanding ten-dart leg, scoring 125, 180 and 180 before hitting double eight - with van Gerwen firing in a 171 score in vain.
1-1 - van Gerwen levels by finishing double 16 for an 11-dart finish.
2-1 - Bunting misses the bull to take out 123, and van Gerwen breaks throw with double 18 for a 13-darter.
3-1 - van Gerwen's superb opening continues as he lands a 177 and double four to take a two-leg lead.
3-2 - Double 16 sees Bunting win his first leg in four.
4-2 - Bunting lands another 180, but van Gerwen finishes another 13-darter on tops.
4-3 - van Gerwen misses double 12 for a 144 finish, allowing Bunting in on double ten for a 14-darter.
4-4 - Bunting levels the game, hitting two 180s in the leg and double three to square the contest.
5-4 - The pair trade 180s - Bunting with his sixth, van Gerwen his first of the game - before van Gerwen edges back ahead.
6-4 - Double 18 sees van Gerwen regain a two-leg cushion.
6-5 - Bunting responds in style to hit back with the throw.
7-5 - van Gerwen moves one leg away from the semi-finals with a superb 124 finish on the bullseye.
8-5 - Bunting opens with his seventh 180 before van Gerwen lands a 180 and 177 to raise hopes of hitting a nine-darter - but he is unable to take out the 144 finish. However, Bunting misses double 16 to keep his hopes alive, and double eight seals van Gerwen's semi-final spot with a brilliant 106.34 average.
Peter Wright v Adrian Lewis
1-0 - Wright's miss at tops is given a let-off when Lewis is unable to land double 12, and the Scot returns to finish double ten for an immediate break.
2-0 - Lewis lands a 180, but Wright is first to a double as he lands double eight to move two legs up.
2-1 - Lewis hits seven perfect darts, with two 180s and another treble 20, but misses out on a possible nine-dart finish when he is unable to land the treble 19 on the 141 finish - although he eventually takes the leg on double four.
2-2 - Lewis hits double 16 to level the game.
3-2 - Wright finishes 121 on the bull to regain the lead.
4-2 - Tops gives Wright a two-leg cushion.
5-2 - Wright fires in a 180 before hitting the bull for a second 121 finish in three legs.
5-3 - Lewis responds in style with a 120 checkout.
6-3 - Lewis misses tops, allowing Wright in for a key double 18.
7-3 - Wright moves a leg away from the win by finishing tops, after a further two missed doubles from Lewis.
7-4 - Lewis lands a 180 and tops to keep his hopes alive.
8-4 - Wright seals victory in style, opening with two 180s and responding to missing out on a nine-darter by finishing 86 on the bull to seal a semi-final place.
Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld
1-0 - Taylor holds throw to claim the game's opening leg.
2-0 - An edgy second leg is eventually taken by Taylor on double one as he breaks.
3-0 - Taylor lands a 180 and double 16 to claim a third successive leg.
4-0 - van Barneveld lands a 180 but fails to give himself a dart at a double when needing 80, allowing Taylor in to clinicaly finish 72 for a fourth straight leg.
5-0 - van Barneveld misses double five to finish 130, and Taylor's charge continues with double 16 to move five legs clear.
5-1 - Double 16 for a 52 finish sees van Barneveld finally get off the mark.
5-2 - The Dutchman's revival continues as he takes out 116 on tops to break throw.
5-3 - van Barneveld wins a third successive leg, initially missing five darts at doubles only for Taylor to miss the bull and two further doubles to allow his rival back in on double two.
6-3 - Taylor takes out 68 on double four to claim his first leg in four.
7-3 - Four missed doubles from van Barneveld are punished as Taylor clinically finishes 98 in two darts on double 19.
8-3 - Taylor initially misses the bull for a showpiece 167 finish, but returns to land double eight for a 14-darter to move into the semi-finals.
James Wade v Gary Anderson
0-1 - Anderson takes out 76 on tops to claim the opening leg.
0-2 - Wade misses the bull to punish two misses from Anderson, who returns on double one.
0-3 - Double six gives Anderson a third successive leg.
0-4 - The World Champion breaks throw by finishing 32 to take a fourth leg.
0-5 - Anderson lands a 180 before finishing tops to move five legs clear.
0-6 - Wade's opening 180 is followed by a maximum from Anderson, who returns from a missed bullseye to take the leg on double 12, after the left-hander is unable to hit tops to complete a 117 combination.
0-7 - Wade kicks off the leg with another maximum, but can only wait on a finish as Anderson takes out 78 on double six to move a leg away from victory.
1-7 - Wade finally gets off the mark with a fine 113 finish, ending on tops with only his third dart at a double in the contest.
1-8 - Anderson's 180 is followed by a 162 score from Wade, who is unable to take out 140 to allow the World Champion back from a missed bullseye to seal victory.
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
0-1 - Wright finishes 96 on double 12 to break throw in the opening leg.
0-2 - van Gerwen lands a 180, but Wright finishes double four to claim a second leg.
0-3 - van Gerwen misses double 14 to finish 121, allowing Wright in on tops.
1-3 - van Gerwen hits a 180 and then takes out 120 on tops to claim his first leg of the game.
1-4 - Wright misses the bull to finish 90 but returns to land double four to restore his three-leg cushion.
2-4 - Wright's 180 is followed by back-to-back maximums from van Gerwen, who posts double 16 to claim his second leg.
3-4 - van Gerwen finishes 66 on double 18 to claim a third leg.
4-4 - van Gerwen levels in style, following a 177 score with a 124 bullseye finish.
5-4 - van Gerwen hits a 180 before finishing 92 on double eight to lead for the first time.
6-4 - The world number one wins a fifth successive leg, punishing a miss at tops from Wright by landing double ten.
6-5 - Misses from van Gerwen at double 18 and nine allow Wright in to finish 76 in two darts to hit back.
6-6 - Wright levels superbly, hitting a 180 before taking out 64 on double eight.
7-6 - Wright hits a 180 to leave 81, but misses the bull to break throw as van Gerwen returns on double 18 for a 13-darter.
7-7 - van Gerwen hits his seventh 180 of the game, but Wright finishes 66 on double 16 to send the game into a deciding leg.
7-8 - van Gerwen leaves 44 but can only watch on as Wright takes out a stunning 141 checkout to claim the victory and a place in the final - before tearfully celebrating his victory in front of the Japanese crowd.
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
0-1 - Anderson lands a 180 and tops to kick off the game with a 13-darter.
1-1 - Taylor levels in 13 darts, hitting a maximum of his own and double 16.
1-2 - Anderson takes out 104 to regain the edge.
1-3 - Taylor opens with a 180 but pays for three misses at double 18 and nine, allowing Anderson in on double 13 to break.
2-3 - Tops sees Taylor break back immediately.
3-3 - Anderson misses a golden chance to regain his two-leg lead when needing 83 - miscounting and finishing treble 17 and double 18, instead of double 16 - and Taylor takes out 108 on tops to level the game.
4-3 - Taylor moves ahead for the first time as he follows a 180 with a sensational 125 checkout of bullseye, 25 and bullseye.
4-4 - Anderson hits a 180 before replying with a showpiece finish of his own, stepping in after Taylor misses the bull for a 121 checkout to take out 140 with treble 20 and two double tops
4-5 - Anderson moves back ahead by taking out 80 on double ten.
5-5 - A third-dart double 18 from Taylor sees him level.
6-5 - Taylor scores 180 and 170 during the leg before punishing misses at double 12 and six from Anderson with double 16 to move back ahead.
6-6 - Anderson lands a 180 before returning on double 12, after both players initially miss the bullseye.
6-7 - Anderson hits a 180 before finishing double five to wrestle back the lead and move a leg away from the final.
7-7 - Taylor finishes double eight for a 14-darter.
8-7 - A score of 41 from Anderson is followed by a 180 from Taylor, who is first to a finish before taking out double seven for a 13-darter to win another brilliant contest.
Peter Wright v Phil Taylor
0-1 - Taylor holds throw to take the final's opening leg.
0-2 - Double four sees Taylor break throw to claim a second leg.
1-2 - Taylor wires tops for a 120 checkout, and Wright lands double three to get off the mark.
2-2 - Wright lands back-to-back 180s before finishing 81 on double 12 for an 11-dart leg.
2-3 - Taylor moves back ahead by landing tops.
2-4 - Taylor lands a 180 before finishing 84 on double 12 to regain a two-leg cushion.
2-5 - Taylor posts another 180 before taking out 120 to move three legs clear.
2-6 - Taylor wins a fourth successive leg as he finishes 86 on the bull.
2-7 - Taylor opens with a 180, and though Wright responds with a maximum he is unable to prevent the Stoke great finishing double 16 to move a leg away from the title.
3-7 - Taylor sees two match darts, at double top and ten, go begging before Wright finishes a superb 108 on double 16 to keep alive his hopes.
4-7 - Wright's revival continues with a 121 checkout as he lands double 14.
5-7 - The Scot hits a third successive ton-plus finish, defying a 180 to take out 129 with treble 19, double 16 and tops.
6-7 - Wright misses double 16 to finish 101 for another big checkout, but when Taylor misses double five to finish 90, he returns to land double eight to win a fourth straight leg and cut the gap to one.
7-7 - With Taylor waiting on 32, Wright lands tops to send the game into a decider by winning his fifth successive leg.
7-8 - Taylor initially misses two more match darts, at tops, but Wright is unable to finish 156 as his fightback is ended by double ten from the 54-year-old, who claims the title.