Taylor still looks unstoppable on route to Minehead
Most people’s attention may have turned to the imminent World Championships but there is one more competition before it all kicks off at the Ally Pally as 32 men make their way to Minehead for the Players Championship Finals.
It is a unique tournament in that the seeding is based on the Pro Tour Order of Merit which is significantly different to the regular Order of Merit. In this event the likes of Jamie Lewis and Stuart Kellet are in the top 32 whilst Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld are 19th and 22nd respectively.
Whatever seeding he may be though it is still the Power who will go in as favourite and he does so at a best price of 11/10 with Boyle Sports. Given the relentless form of the world number one over the last six months this looks like a pretty decent price and it is no surprise he is odds-on in other places.
In truth he has rarely even come close to defeat ever since he romped to victory at the UK Open in June and he has certainly re-established the fear factor and intense presence on the oche that some suggested he had lost 12 months ago.
The man that has looked capable of challenging him recently is Adrian Lewis who performed superbly at the Grand Slam of Darts and was only narrowly defeated by Taylor in the semi-finals after turning in a sublime performance. Such is the dominance of the Power though Jackpot is out at 13/2 with Betfred to win his first Players Chamionship finals. With him in the kind of form he has been recently, this looks a good offer but Taylor will put most off backing the double world champ.
What will be giving the chasing pack some hope is that this tournament has thrown up some surprise winners in the past. Paul Nicholson and Kevin Painter both list this as their only major wins with victories in 2010 and 2011 and with the likes of Mark Webster and Kim Huybrechts also reaching finals it does have the reputation for producing the unusual.
Looking for an outside punt then the obvious choice seems to be another man who has lost in the final before, Robert Thornton. The Scot was runner-up at the Grand Slam two weeks ago and again fell only at the final hurdle in a Pro Tour event on Saturday. He is clearly playing near the top of his game and when on-song he is a good as anyone at hitting his doubles.
The only thing holding back the Thorn is that he is scheduled to meet Taylor in the last eight if all goes to plan. However, if anyone can beat the Power then it is Thornton after defeating him in both the UK Open and Grand Prix last year. He is certainly worth backing each-way at 33/1 with Bet365.
Phil Taylor to win @ 11/10 with Boyle Sports