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Old Father Time catches up with everyone sooner or later and it has finally reeled in the greatest darts player ever, 16-time world championship winner Phil Taylor.
Taylor, who won the PDC World Darts Championship for eight years in a row from 1995 to 2002 inclusive, has had to give way to Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Peter Wright at the top end of the rankings and he will play the Alexandra Palace event as the fourth seed. Taylor has been drawn in the second quarter of the 2017 PDC World Darts Championship, which means that he may have to beat Kim Huybrechts and one of Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld to reach the semi-finals of the biggest tournament on the planet.
Taylor has beaten Huybrechts in 10 of their 11 meetings but their head-to-head score stands at 1-1 over the 18 months and, if there is one darts player on the circuit who gets under the skin of The Power, it is The Hurricane. Taylor criticised the antics of Huybrechts during their 2015 PDC World Darts Championship clash that went right down to the wire – The Power trailed three times but re-energised himself to take out the deciding set to love and triumph 4-3. The media will make a big deal out of Taylor playing Huybrechts if both darts players qualify for the PDC World Darts Championship third round shortly after Christmas.
Like Taylor, Van Barneveld is a fading force but Barney does have a knack of lifting his game to another level when the major events take place so he will be no easy picking for Taylor if they were to lock horns in the PDC World Darts Championship quarter-finals. For example, Van Barneveld has lost only one of his last seven PDC Premier League matches versus Taylor dating back to the 2014 all-star competition.
And then there is Lewis, the two-time PDC World Darts Championship winner who was a protege of Taylor in their home city of Stoke-on-Trent. Lewis has won five of his last eight games against Taylor and, unlike so many of the darts players whom The Power encounters, Jackpot is not beaten mentally before the match begins. Lewis defeated Taylor when the The Power was at the top of his game so he knows that he can take out the darts legend now that he is on the wane.
Since Taylor won the 2010 PDC World Darts Championship, he has competed in six editions for one victory, one runner-up prize, one quarter-finals exit, one third round elimination and two second rounds defeats. Jelle Klaasen knocked out Taylor in the third round of the 2016 PDC World Darts Championship and he is seeded 10th this season, compared to Lewis (5th), Van Barneveld (12th) and Huybrechts (13th).
Taylor is odds on across the board to qualify for the PDC World Darts Championship last four and one thinks that the bookmaking fraternity is overrating The Power. One’s idea of a decent PDC World Darts Championship futures bets is to dutch Lewis at odds of 5/1 6.00 +500 5.00 5.00 -0.20 with many bookmakers, including 888Sport, Unibet and BetVictor, Van Barneveld at odds of 6/1 7.00 +600 6.00 6.00 -0.17 with William Hill and Huybrechts at odds of 14/1 15.00 +1400 14.00 14.00 -0.07 with several firms, including Coral and Unibet.
Dutching odds of 5/1 6.00 +500 5.00 5.00 -0.20 , 6/1 7.00 +600 6.00 6.00 -0.17 and 14/1 15.00 +1400 14.00 14.00 -0.07 generate a wager at 83/50 2.66 +166 1.66 1.66 -0.60 .
The PDC World Darts Championship will start on Thursday 15 December and reach its climax on Monday 2 January.
Dutch Lewis, van Barneveld and Huybrechts to win 2nd Quarter
PDC World Darts Championship
15th December 2016 – 2nd January 2017
Odds: 83/50 2.66 +166 1.66 1.66 -0.60