Taylor seeks seventh straight PDC World Matchplay title in Blackpool.
It’s the 20th edition of the World Matchplay Darts this year and it’s already been a great tournament with some upsets and some high quality darts.
Phil Taylor has won the title an amazing 14 times and the former world champion has won the event in each of the last six years.
Can The Power secure a seventh straight title? Or will one of his challengers take home the £450,000 first prize? Keep reading for our preview of all the action from Blackpool.
The Power keen to add a seventh title
Saying that Phil Taylor has dominated this event in recent years is something of an understatement. The Power has won the title for six consecutive years and believes he is in good shape for an unprecedented fifteenth World Matchplay title.
However, things have not gone all Taylor’s way over recent months. He lost in the second round of the PDC World Championship to Michael Smith and then lost four of his first five Premier League matches before eventually losing in the semi-final to his old rival Raymond van Barneveld.
Taylor looked in decent shape in his opening win over Darren Webster, averaging over 101 in a 10-4 victory. He then hit a spectacular nine dart finish in a comfortable 13-6 win over Michael Smith and believes he is approaching his best form.
After the win, Taylor said:
“It was a phenomenal game. It’s a memorable night for me and for everybody who supports me and I’m pleased as punch. I thought that there might be a nine-darter against Michael because he’s a really good, up-and-coming player and one to watch for the future – he doesn’t give in.”
“The three 126 finishes were the killer and the nine-darter was the icing on the cake. “Towards the end of the game I relaxed a little bit and that’s not like me, and I won’t do that again. I think I can improve further, especially on my stamina, but I’m improving and I’ll get myself ready now for the quarter-finals on Friday.”
Taylor’s biggest challenger is likely to be the top seed and world champion Michael van Gerwen. After his 13-4 win over Ian White the Dutchman admitted that he had ‘not been tested too much yet’ after two straightforward victories.
Van Gerwen plays Dave Chisnall next and then faces either James Wade or Simon Whitlock in the semi-final. He should have enough in the tank to reach his first World Matchplay final.
Outsiders to follow in the betting
With van Gerwen seemingly on course for his first Matchplay final, the bottom half of the draw is where the value could lie – if Phil Taylor were to slip-up.
Adrian Lewis was in absolutely imperious form in his first round match, obliterating Andrew Gilding 10-0. The former world champion averaged 110 in his whitewash and followed it up with a 13-8 win over Mervyn King.
After taking out 45 per cent of his darts at a double, Lewis was pleased with his form after and up and down year. He said:
“I ground out a good result there. I wasn’t up to scratch scoring wise but I got the job done and finished well tonight.”
“Mervyn’s a classy player and he picked out some good shots early on. If you give him chances he’ll take them, but I kept him under pressure and to come out of the game with an average just under 100 is steady.”
It may also be worth keeping an eye on Gary Anderson who was the form player in the second half of this season’s Premier League. The 11th seed reached the finals night of the event, pushing eventual winner Michael van Gerwen all the way in the semi-final before losing 8-7.
Anderson’s best performance at the Matchplay is the last 16 and so he has already bettered that in 2014. He could be a lively outsider to keep an eye on and he plays Lewis next up in Winter Gardens.
You can bet on the World Matchplay Darts live and in-play on our darts betting page at https://www.betbright.com/darts