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The 22nd edition of the BetVictor World Matchplay is set to take place at Winter Gardens in Blackpool from the 18th to the 26th of July, and as ever it promises to be an action-packed tournament. Phil Taylor is the undoubted King of World Matchplay, and he’s bidding for an eighth consecutive win, which will take his tally to an astonishing sixteen titles.
The Power is clearly at home in the North of England, but he’ll face the challenge of Triple Crown hunting Gary Anderson who already has the World Championship and the Premier League titles under his belt this season; and of course, world number one Michael van Gerwen, who will be hoping to win his first World Matchplay trophy.
The competition is a long-haul for the eventual winner, and that might give a clue to Taylor’s success over the years. The first round is played over the best of 19 legs, with the second round the best of 25. The Quarter-finals are the best of 31, the semi’s the best of 33, and the final the best of a grueling 35 legs. Each match must be won by two clear legs, and if there is no winner, an additional five legs can be played before the sixth extra leg finally becomes ‘sudden death’. There will be some lengthy games over the course of the tournament, and there are bound to be some classic encounters.
32 players will compete for the $450,000 prize fund, and Taylor will open his defence of the title against Scotsman, John Henderson on Monday night. Michael van Gerwen is the top seed for the competition, with Taylor second, and he’ll be in action on the opening night against his compatriot, Benito van de Pas. Gary Anderson takes the number three seed and he’ll be a man to watch out for when he takes to the oche on Sunday evening. Adrian Lewis is seeded fourth, and he’ll be hoping to put an inconsistent season behind him, starting with a first round match against Joe Murnan. Another player to look out for could be Dave Chisnall, who is in the top eight at number seven seed after a sterling performance in the Premier League which saw him reach the semi-finals.
The Outright Winner:
The world number one might have been put in the shadow this season by Gary Anderson, but only just. Mighty Mike has won the UK Open and the Masters this season, and will be hoping to go one better than his runners-up spot last year. He opens against his countryman Benito van de Pas, ranked 4th of the qualifiers, but van Gerwen can be expected to sweep him aside en route to the business end of the tournament. He finished top of the Premier League for another season this year, but went down to Anderson in the final, and he should be good for a semi-final spot here at the least.
Phil Taylor’s record here is simply remarkable, and it takes a brave man to back against him in this competition. He hasn’t had the best of seasons by his own high standards and missed out on the Premier League play-offs for the first time in it’s 11-year history. He bounced back to reach the final of the Dubai Masters and take the World Cup alongside Adrian Lewis, and will surely be looking forward to this event to salvage his season. The bookies may be taking him on, but we’re taking the price on offer of another Taylor World Matchplay win.
Gary Anderson – 6/1 7.00 +600 6.00 6.00 -0.17 with BetVictor
Gary Anderson will have other ideas of course, and there’s nothing wrong with the price on him making it an incredible season. He won the World Championship in January, beating Taylor 7-6 in the final; before adding the Premier League title in May, beating Michael van Gerwen in the final, in an 11-7 thriller. He kicks off against Steve Beaton, ranked 8th of the qualifiers for the tournament, and can be expected to find his way to the later stages. It would crown an incredible season if he can pull it off, and we’d be kicking ourselves a little if he does, because world champions are rarely such a big price for this event. However, he may have to get past both Phil Taylor and van Gerwen if he is to take the trophy and that’s a tall order.
Adrian Lewis is another man looking to put an indifferent season behind him, and he;s in with a chance at fourth seed. His best success this year came in the world cup alongside Taylor, but he says he’s a player who plays best under pressure, and it will be plenty tense enough in Blackpool. He failed to qualify for the Premier League last four, and it’s been a host of near misses this year, with final, semi-final and quarter-final appearances, but no big wins to his name. He’ll be looking to hit the jackpot here, but it’s a leap of faith to back him in such a tough field.
Dave Chisnall makes a little bit of appeal for each way backers, in the hope that he can carry his Premier League form into this competition. It’s a hugely different format, but if he can keep playing the darts he has been playing, he might have an outside squeak. He’s seeded 8th for the tournament, and opens his account against Jamie Caven on Monday evening.
Phil Taylor has won every World Matchplay tournament since 2000, except on two occasions. Colin Lloyd in 2005 and James Wade in 2007 interrupted his dominance, but it’s been all the Power since then. It’s hard to back against him, and with the bookies offering what looks a fair price, he’s worth a punt to make it sweet sixteen.
World Matchplay Darts, Winter Gardens Blackpool, 18th – 26th July