Widely regarded as one of the biggest PDC tournament on the calendar, the World Matchplay will be held at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens from 16th to 24th July. 32 players will line up for the competition, with the top 16 in the PDC order of merit joined by 16 qualifiers from the PDC Pro Tour.
The prize fund for the event is a whopping £450,000, with £100,000 on offer to the winner. Michael van Gerwen is predictably the favourite for the tournament after a brilliant year which culminated in him taking the Premier League title in May. He won this competition for the first time last year, beating James Wade in the final, and will be expected to give a good account as he tries to retain the trophy. Wade is one of the only other winners in the line up, as he looks to repeat his win of 2007, while Gary Anderson has been given the number two seed. Phil Taylor won his first World Matchplay in 1997, but since 2000 he’s claimed top spot in Blackpool in an incredible 13 of 16 renewals. He’s number 3 seed and after reaching the final of the Premier League in May, he looks ominously back to form.
World Matchplay Tournament
The tournament is played in a leg format, with the first round staged over the best of 19 legs. In previous years it has been a requirement of World Matchplay darts that a match must be won by two clear legs, but since 2013 (partly due to TV scheduling) a new rule was introduced whereby if there was no clear winner after a maximum of six extra legs, a tie-breaker leg would be played. The second round is best of 25 legs, the quarter finals best of 31, with the semi finals best of 33, and the final best of 35 legs.
Van Gerwen Holding the Aces
The draw has been made for the tournament, and it certainly gives MVG every chance of making it a second win in two years. Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor (the 2nd and 3rd seeds) will compete in the bottom half of the draw, with van Gerwen in the top half where his biggest challenger will be number four seed Adrian Lewis. The Jackpot has been to a final of the World Matchplay before, when he was beaten by Phil Taylor in 2013, but he will have to overcome Mighty Mike if he’s to repeat the trick, with a semi final collision course on the cards.
James Wade, who has an excellent record at Winter Gardens, is also in the bottom half of the draw, leaving the way clear for van Gerwen to cruise to the final. Wade has appeared in three of the last five finals, losing out to Phil Taylor in 2011 and 2012, then to van Gerwen last year. He’s rated an +1000 shot to reach the final again with BetVictor, but he could be looking at a run to the final which includes games against Raymond van Barneveld, Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson, so that tempers enthusiasm a little.
Taylor’s Blackpool Record
It’s Taylor who has by far the best Blackpool record, and that’s why he’s worth an each way punt at +700 with BetVictor to win the tournament.
As stated he’s won 13 of 16 titles since the year 2000, with five in a row up to 2004 and an astonishing seven in a row between 2008 and 2014. He lost the trophy last year, bowing out 17-14 to James Wade in the semi final, but his difficulties over the last 12 months have been well-documented and as we’ve been saying in recent columns, it’s only a matter of time until he rediscovers his form.
That looked like it was happening throughout the Premier League season as he got better and better during the campaign. He qualified for the play offs with ease and although beaten 11-3 by an outstanding van Gerwen performance, he can be pleased with the improved showing. After a relatively barren period Taylor will be keen to get another title under his belt as soon as possible, and he is right at home in this venue.
Most bookies are offering 1/2 the odds for two places, so an each way bet at +700 is effectively a +250 punt that he’ll get to the final, and will produce a profit even if Van Gerwen beats him there.
Might Mike is the +125 favourite, and although plenty will be happy to back him at short odds, we’d rather look at a bigger price on Taylor.
Phil Taylor to Win the World Matchplay
16th – 24th July, 2016