DARTS expert Boring Winners (@BoringWinners) shares his view the upcoming World Matchplay action.
World Matchplay Darts | 22nd-30th July 2017 | Sky Sports
The World Matchplay kicks-off on Saturday with the top 16 players from the PDC Order of Merit being joined by 16 qualifiers from the one-year ProTour Order of Merit to compete at Winter Gardens in Blackpool for a £500,000 prize fund.
All 31 games will be live on Sky Sports from 22nd-30th July with all the sessions starting at 19:00, with the exception of an extra session on Sunday at 13:00.
Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen, who defeated Phil Taylor in the final last year, is the bookies hot favourite to retain his crown; but the main story is that this will be ‘The Power’s’ last appearance here, in a tournament he's won 16 times.
Since 2000 there have only been four holders of this title: Taylor (2001-2004, 2006, 2008-2014), James Wade (2007), Colin Lloyd (2005) and van Gerwen (2015, 2016).
Outrights is hard in any sport but in darts, you rarely get a huge odds winner in a Major so the main selections will be match bets rather than tournament winning selections.
MVG is the short odds favourite at 4/5 (Sportingbet) to win the competition; to claim a major tournament over five games, that's way too short an outright price to take.
If I had to put my life on one player to win, it would be MVG, but as a betting man, the price just isn’t worth it.
Gary Anderson and Peter Wright are the other fancied darters at 5/1 (10BET) and 7/1 (Paddy Power) respectively. Wright has a great chance given the form he's been in this year but I've looked further down the market for some value picks.
It’s worth noting, each-way on out rights gives you 1/2 odds pay-out if your selected player reaches the final.
Phil Taylor (25/1 Betfred)
The best darts player ever and probably one of the most decorated sportsmen of all-time. To win this would be the dream send off…
This is Phil's tournament – he's won it 16 times and been runner-up once. So in the 24 previous Matchplay events, ‘The Power’ has at least made the final on 17 occasions.
Taylor made it all the way to the final last year beating Gary Anderson 17-8 in the semis and averaged over 100 in four of his five games.
He narrowly missed out on a Premier League final earlier this year losing 10-9 to Peter Wright in the final-four and a fortnight ago he had MVG on the racks in the Shanghai Masters when leading 5-0, only ending up losing 8-7.
First, up for is Gerwyn Price in Round 1 (who I think is overrated) and he should win that well; he would then face Raymond van Barneveld or Joe Cullen – RVB is out of form and still getting to grips with his new darts so don't be surprised if Cullen beats him.
Van Gerwen is forecast to oppose Taylor in the quarter-finals; Phil beat the Dutch superstar 7-4 in the Premier League this year and as well as coming close to a repeat just two weeks ago.
If Taylor overcomes MVG, it's anyone's guess whom he meets in the semi as the quarter below is very open. Van Gerwen is his main hurdle but if anyone can beat the world number one, it's Phil Taylor at the Matchplay.
Michael Smith (66/1 188BET)
Michael Smith has rediscovered his form from three years ago and since February he's really kicked on.
Smith has been one of the best players in the European Tour events this year. In his last four tournaments he's won 15 matches and lost just three – twice to Van Gerwen and once to Mervyn King.
He won European Tour event five beating Rob Cross, Peter Wright and Mensur Suljovic on his way to the title, he then lost in the semis to MVG on European Tour even six and the same man again in the final of European Tour seven event.
King ousted Smith in the final four of European Tour event eight earlier this month also, so he's been very consistent.
Smith’s in the bottom half of the draw, away from MVG so that's a plus. He faces Steve West in Round 1, then either James Wade or Darren Webster before a likely meeting with Wright in the quarter-final (whom he beat last time they met in May).
Bully Boy is full of confidence and I expect a big tournament from him.
Daryl Gurney (80/1 888)
This is my favourite outright pick for the tournament.
Daryl Gurney is a quality player who could be lining out in the Premier League next season with his recent performances. He went all the way to the quarter-finals of the World Championships last year but since then he's really improved and is a smarter player.
Last week he competed in his first World Series event and he didn't disappoint. He averaged 98 in the quarter-final when beating Wright 8-7, beat Gary Anderson 8-4 in the semis averaging 102 and then lost to MVG in the final 8-6.
So Gurney has played the top three in the world in the last week, beat two and probably should've beaten the world number one also. That World Series event will give him huge confidence.
Another point to note is that most of the darts tournaments so far this year have been over a first to six legs format, Matchplay format is nearly twice as long so the longer format games he played in the World Series last week gave him a great warm-up coming into the Matchplay.
It’s a warm-up that the majority of the players did not have as only six of the other 31 players competing in the Matchplay also took part in the World Series event last week – and that’s a positive.
The draw has also been kind; Gurney faces out-of-form Benito Van De Pas in Round 1, then Gary Anderson in Round 2 (whom he comprehensively beat last week in the World Series event 8-4).
This is a tournament Anderson has really struggled with in the past – he's only made the semi final once here and has said publicly last week. “I don't feel comfortable here”.
Should Gurney progress, he’ll then more than likely meet Mensur Suljovic in the last eight, and Wright or Smith in the semifinal if the competition goes to form. So he hasn't the worse draw and as the tournament progresses he will grow in more confidence.
World Matchplay – Phil Taylor (25/1 each-way Betfred)
World Matchplay – Michael Smith (66/1 188BET)
World Matchplay – Daryl Gurney (80/1 each-way 888)
World Matchplay – Mervyn King to win the 2nd Quarter (20/1 Bwin)
World Matchplay – Daryl Gurney to win the 3rd Quarter (9/1 Ladbrokes)
World Matchplay – Michael Smith to win the 4th Quarter (6/1 Bwin)