Taylor bullied and beaten by Smith
The Sky Sports team spent the first half of the programme explaining how the second round is when the World Championships come alive and they were proved right on Friday night as Michael Smith caused one of the greatest shocks in the tournament’s history by defeating defending champion Phil Taylor.
Many will see it is a symbolic changing of the guard as the reigning world youth champion eliminates the world champion but what is much more important in the short term is what it means for this tournament. Taylor had been odds-on favourite to lift the trophy yet again and with him out of the picture the competition is blown right open, well, sort of.
Michael van Gerwen said earlier in the week that only he, Taylor and Adrian Lewis can win this event and that is difficult to argue with really as the Dutchman goes favourite at 15/8 with Sky Bet with Lewis just behind him. It would now be a huge shock if one of those two men did not become world champion, but with them in the same half of the draw there is some serious value in backing a player in the other half to reach the final.
The favourite to do just that is Simon Whitlock who has been in two world finals before so knows how to navigate his way through the field and looked very strong in his first contest against Ross Smith. The Wizard is now 12/1 with Bet365 for the title and is one of the few who has the game to keep up with MVG or Lewis if he were to meet them in the final.
Peter Wright’s form has been so impressive that he is now just 16/1 with Betfred to win the World Championship. Everyone expected him to be facing Taylor in the third round but he now meets Smith and has every chance of victory if he can repeat the 98-plus average he has produced in his opening two bouts. Smith himself is now in to 56/1 with Bwin and will be attracting some custom after his historic win over The Power.
Our each-way pick in the competition before a dart was thrown was Robert Thornton and that selection has not changed. The Scotsman was solid enough in round one against Max Hopp and should have no trouble seeing-off Beau Anderson next up. He has been remarkably consistent over the last 18 months or so and has the game and the form to defeat anyone in the top half of the draw. The Thorn is 28/1 with Stan James for the title and is certainly worth backing each-way at that price.
As far as choosing between MVG and Lewis in the bottom half of the draw it is extremely difficult as there is so little between them when both at their best. Given his experience of winning this tournament it is more tempting to lean towards Lewis though and he looks good value at 5/2 with Boyle Sports to claim a third world title.
• MVG must hit the heights to beat Wright
• Lewis to get the better of MVG
• Wade and Lewis set for another classic
• Newton can out-180 Wright
• Saturday afternoon to be a 180-fest
• Whitlock and Painter to fire in the maximums
• Pipe to win dance-off with Petersen
• Jackpot and Dutch Destroyer to turn on the style
• Part no pushover for Newton
• Painter and Nicholson to go all the way
• Burnett can push the Hammer in round two
• Barney and Caven could produce classic
• Webster in trouble against Suljovic
• Bomber Brown to destroy Smith
• MVG and Whitlock to stroll through
• Baxter to be swamped by Evans
• Caven to out Klaas Jelle
• Nicholson and Kellett could go all the way
• Walsh in trouble against Komula
• Wright and Cullen can steal the show
• Taylor will prove he is still King of the world