Taylor hopes to prove he is still king of Blackpool
For the first time in many a long year Phil Taylor is not going into this year’s World Matchplay as the bookmaker’s favourite as the world number one will have to make do with being behind Michael van Gerwen in the odds.
Having won the Premier League and a whole host of floor tournaments this year it is no surprise that MVG is fancied for success but he failed to pick up either the UK Open or the European Championship so there won’t be quite as many cueing up to back him as there were a couple of months ago.
The Dutchman comes in at a best price of 11/4 with Paddy Power with Taylor just behind him at 3/1 with Bwin. So far this year these have been the only two prices that anyone has really been interested in with the world’s top two monopolising nearly all the tournaments of any note in 2013, but now there is another name to take note of: Adrian Lewis.
The double world champ has seemingly been struggling for form for well over a year now and has consistently been taken to task for not performing away from the Alexandra Palace. However, this has been dispelled as he romped to victory at the European Championship, knocking in ton-plus averages for fun and hammering an on-song Simon Whitlock in the final.
It will take a monumental effort from Jackpot to repeat this success in Blackpool but he has got a favourable draw and seems to have less trouble with MVG than most, the man who he should meet in the semis according to the seedings. Lewis beat Mighty Mike in the Gibraltar Darts Trophy and at the European Championship so he certainly looks a decent bet at 8/1 with Betfred.
Outside those three names it is something of a punt but, of course, when it comes to the Matchplay James Wade can never be written off. He won the title back in 2007 and has been in no less than four other finals in Blackpool so it would be foolish not to mention his name but at the same time when it has come to competing with the likes of MVG and Taylor in recent times he has come up short consistently. His 16/1 with Sporting Bet does look big but at the same time there won’t be many backing the Machine.
Picking a dark horse from the pack, a man who is nailed on for a major title at some stage is Kim Huybrechts and is available at a huge 50/1 Bet365. He is likely to have to get past MVG in round two but if he could do this early on then he could well go all the way. It might still be a bit early for the Belgian and could have to wait until he gets a more favourable seeding but he is massively over-priced for a man of his quality.
The man to beat in Blackpool though is still Taylor who despite being knocked off his perch in plenty of tournaments is yet to be de-throned at the Matchplay where he has emerged victorious 13 times and on each of the last five occasions. MVG has been superb this year but has perhaps just dropped off a bit since the UK Open and Taylor remains the yardstick.
• Taylor powers to 14th Matchplay title
• Taylor v Lewis: Power unbeatable in Matchplay finals
• Van Gerwen v Lewis: Classic semi-final in prospect
• Taylor v Wade: Machine can out-180 the Power
• Van Gerwen v Chisnall: Mighty Mike makes maximums
• Lewis v Hamilton: Jackpot building up nicely
• Taylor v Pipe: Force to push the Power
• Wade v Whitlock: Wizard can Wade into semis
• Chisnall v Caven: On song Jabba to chop down Chizzy
• Wade v Anderson: In form duo could produce epic
• Lewis v Huybrechts: Rebel no walkover for Jackpot
• Van Gerwen v Lloyd: MVG a maximum machine
• Huybrechts v Wright: Expect maximums aplenty
• Whitlock v Klaasen: Matador can oust the Aussie
• Averages and nine-darter markets look profitable
• World Matchplay: Round One Betting