Posted on July 18th, 2012
July 2011 – Phil Taylor leaves the Winter Gardens, Blackpool weighed down by silverware and £100k, taking the spoils for the fourth consecutive year. The Power has made this tournament his own with a staggering 12 titles to his name. In addition, since Taylor first lifted the trophy in 1995, it has seen only four other names, with Rod Harrington being the only other man to successfully defend the title back in 1998 & 1999.
Therefore we begin our preview with Taylor to take a 13th World Matchplay at 13/8, and work our way back from there. After claiming back the Premier League honours from Gary Anderson this year, Taylor was stunned by Robert Thornton in Bolton and thus the UK Open trophy eluded his cabinet for the second year running.
A wounded Power is a dangerous animal, and as I write Phil is probably tormenting himself with a challenge of hitting 50 180’s before breakfast. And if the darts aren’t finding their target in practice, perhaps this explains his recent weight loss? A first round encounter with old adversary Mervyn King is by no means straightforward. Notwithstanding King’s recent form, over a race to 10 (or more, remembering the 2 clear leg rule) you still have to fancy Taylor to prevail. Last time the two met on the Blackpool stage in 2009’s semi-final, Taylor won by an 11 leg margin.
Speaking of The Thorn, despite hitting a rich vein of form at the Reebok, it seems almost inconceivable that he could replicate the feat in Blackpool. In the modern game, nobody wins back to back majors, except Phil. He may go deep if he can maintain that UK Open form, but a second major in two months for the unseeded Scot is as likely as finding a pork chop in a synagogue. The bookies agree and you can take Thornton at 66/1 to win outright. His first hurdle is a 2 times World Champion from Stoke…..
The tournament is second only to the PDC World Darts Championship in terms of tungsten prestige, and is one that Adrian Lewis would love to add to his CV. Whilst successive World titles are more than impressive, Jackpot needs consistency in his game and another solo major to silence his most vociferous critics. With tournament winning odds of 10/1 Jackpot could be worth an each way punt, despite never flourishing at Blackpool to date, and we fancy him to start by doing a job on Thornton.
Elsewhere inside the top 5 of the PDC Order of Merit, James Wade, Simon Whitlock and Wes Newton are all capable of throwing the darts to trouble anyone. But of these three, only 2007 Champion and twice runner up Wade has the pedigree. Newton does have a major in him though, and being a local(ish) player, lifting the trophy at The Winter Gardens would be extra special. James Hubbard is the man (boy?) who stands in his way, despite making great strides in the senior game, beating the World No. 5 is a big ask for the Youth World Champion on his Blackpool debut and 20th Birthday. At 25/1 for the title, Newton, should he progress faces a potential meeting with Taylor at the semi-final stage, a repeat of their 2011 quarter final fixture.
Third seed Wade takes on an unpredictable first round opponent in The Prince of Wales, whilst Whitlock should get past his initial fixture with van Gerwen, as he seeks to advance on his Premier League runner up spot, alas something we don’t foresee him achieving at the Winter Gardens. The bookies have more confidence though, and have The Aussie Wizard 5th favourite at 10/1 outright. If Wade can negotiate Richie Burnett, I suspect we may see him reach the final from that side of the draw.
The real local lad is Ronnie Baxter; Born and bred in Blackpool the Rocket can be unbeatable on his day, as demonstrated brilliantly in Birmingham on the Pro Tour just a few weeks ago. Baxter is not always first in ones consciousnesses when talking of darting greats. However, he ranks 10th in our new all time player ratings. In part due to the sheer number of competitive games he has played, coupled with his near 67% career win rate and number of final appearances.
The 51 year old has an enviable record and could pull off a ‘Thornton’, should he eliminate first round opponent Dave Chisnall, the quiet man from St. Helens, who started 2011’s Blackpool campaign at 50/1. With just over an 80% hit rate this year, it’s no surprise that he is 4th favourite in 2012 at 9/1. With no less than 3 Pro Tour titles, backed up with UK Open Qualifier and European Tour runner up spots, Chisnall currently leads the Pro Tour OoM, almost £12k clear of third place Justin Pipe, last year’s floor success story.
Neither of these floor performers can be discounted from reaching the latter stages, as relative newcomers to the PDC they both hit the ground running and have excelled. Heading up a leader board that is predominantly contested sans the World No.1 is one thing, however Chizzy Rascal currently basks in the glory of a superior record against Taylor, including knocking him out the Worlds. When everything clicks into place, Chisnall is a world beater, and could meet The Power should both players reach the semi-final stage. Putting tour form to one side, this pair earn their Matchplay places as members of the PDC top 16 proper – seeded 13th and 12th respectively. In stark contrast to Chisnall taking on the vastly experienced Baxter, Pipe kicks off with a first round clash against youngster Joe Cullen.
What about the rest of the field? Well the darting world is still waiting for ‘The Asset’ to consistently walk the walk, and Blackpool offers Paul Nicholson an opportunity to let his darts do the talking for a change. Like many, we are not enamoured by his less than convincing bad boy stage persona. In fact our first hand experience is that he is actually an all round good egg! There is a clever undercurrent to Nicholson’s nonsense though. Like him or loathe him, we talk about him, and as they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Again, we will tell anyone who will listen. There is more to this ‘game’ than just throwing darts, but there is also a fine line which is often crossed. And darts fans seem to be more fickle than most.
Nicholson journeys to Blackpool, hopefully on the right side of a dodgy shoulder, but with his tail between his legs; after being subjected to another heavy defeat by Kim Huybrechts in Dusseldorf. Huybrechts leads 4-0 in the head to heads making him The Asset’s Belgian Bogey. Nicholson and Huybrechts feature in the same half of the draw and could potentially meet in the Quarter final provided they can topple first round opponents Smith and Jenkins respectively, and push on from there. The Pieman and the Bull will not roll over and have their tummies tickled though, and bring plenty of experience to the Winter Garden stage. Interestingly in four attempts Huybrechts is yet to defeat Jenkins, meaning he faces a Bogey Bully himself.
Kevin Painter throws his hat in the ring as the 11th seed, still dining out on his Players Championship finals win. That, and the experience gained contesting this year’s Premier League will see him looking to do an ‘Artemis’ on the Adonis in the first round. Steve Beaton has won all six of their last meetings though, and will want that trend to continue.
Fellow Premier League debutant Andy Hamilton takes on Brendan Dolan, it’s not a matchup we can get too excited about, but we do fancy Hamilton to take the honours. With Dolan as long as 125/1 outright and The Hammers previous of 5 wins out of 6, on paper it looks a one-sided affair.
Having retired and withdrawn from recent events, Gary Anderson will keeping everything crossed that his eye problem eases to allow him to compete against Dean Winstanley in the last of the round one matches on Tuesday 24 July. Since Over the Top joined the PDC in January 2012, the pair of not met in competition, and under normal circumstances you wouldn’t look past Anderson. Given his lack of pre-tournament preparation though, 100/1 shot Winstanley will fancy his chances against the 4th seeded Scotsman who can be taken at 20/1 to lift the trophy.
There is little more than a fag paper separating Walsh and Osborne, even their career stats are closely matched. With neither player particularly showing consistency, this match could easily go into extra time and sudden death. We can’t pick a winner here.
Colin Lloyd appears to be peaking at the right time, with a Pro Tour victory under his belt, he will enter the Winter Gardens full of confidence hoping to repeat his 2005 exploits and once again get his name on the trophy, although at 100/1 with most bookmakers this optimism isn’t shared. Mark Webster stands in his path, Spider v Jaws could be a low budget movie title, but we expect to see high quality tungsten thrown by this pairing.
It is well documented on DartsMad (thanks to the Suit’s inside information) that Ian ‘Diamond’ White is having a good run this year, he and LPKD stable mate Mark Hylton have parallel careers but White has achieved the greater success in the first half of the year and enters the fray thanks to his fifteenth placing in the Pro Tour OoM.
Hylton will be cheering from the sidelines this year; you may recall he pushed Taylor all the way in the first round last year, eventually losing out 8-10. However, he has been punished by illness and some unforgiving draws on this year’s circuit and misses the cut. White’s first assignment in Blackpool is to restrict 16th seed Vincent van der Voor’s progress. VvdV currently has the better record winning 2 of their previous 3 floor meetings, however the Dutchman’s ‘bish bash bosh’ approach may let him down over the longer format of a race to 10. The winner of this match is likely to face Taylor in the last 16.
We end our look at the 2012 World Matchplay with Raymond van Barneveld, written off by many with some suggesting he didn’t deserve a Premier League Place, the Dutchman is slowly clawing back some form and is long overdue another major. Fresh off the back of triumphing at the European Open, Barney takes on Michael Smith in round one, another youngster who is making the transition from the Youth Tour. A must win game for van Barneveld, should he progress through the tournament we could be treated to yet another Power v Barney final! At 12/1 for title he’s also worth a couple of quid each way.
We will sign off with a bit of statto information for you; of the 32 players contesting the Matchplay, 10 have achieved tungsten perfection already this year. Will anyone join the nine dart club in Blackpool? We say yes…….
Winner – Phil Taylor
Final: Taylor v Wade
Semi-finals: Taylor v Chisnall/Newton & Wade v Barney
Each way value – James Wade, Raymond van Barneveld
Long shots – Ronnie Baxter & Colin Lloyd!
Beat The Tipster!
Don’t forget there is still time to enter our Beat The Tipster competition. All you have to do is predict the outcome of all the matches in Blackpool and should you beat our Tipster you will be in with a chance of winning some great prizes courtesy of Unicorn – The Big Name in Darts. The Tipster’s first round predictions are below so get your thinking cap on and perhaps take a cue from our preview above.
|Adrian Lewis (2) v Robert Thornton||10-7||see head 2 head|
|Paul Nicholson (15) v Andy Smith||10-8||see head 2 head|
|Raymond van Barneveld (7) v Michael Smith||10-6||see head 2 head|
|Terry Jenkins (10) v Kim Huybrechts||8-10||see head 2 head|
|Simon Whitlock (6) v Michael van Gerwen||10-7||see head 2 head|
|Kevin Painter (11) v Steve Beaton||8-10||see head 2 head|
|James Wade (3) v Richie Burnett||7-10||see head 2 head|
|Mark Walsh (14) v Colin Osborne||7-10||see head 2 head|
|Phil Taylor (1) v Mervyn King||10-4||see head 2 head|
|Vincent van der Voort (16) v Ian White||10-8||see head 2 head|
|Andy Hamilton (8) v Brendan Dolan||10-7||see head 2 head|
|Mark Webster (9) v Colin Lloyd||8-10||see head 2 head|
|Wes Newton (5) v James Hubbard||10-6||see head 2 head|
|Justin Pipe (12) v Joe Cullen||10-6||see head 2 head|
|Gary Anderson (4) v Dean Winstanley||10-7||see head 2 head|
|Dave Chisnall (13) v Ronnie Baxter||10-7||see head 2 head|
Betfair Outright Fixed Odds
|Phil Taylor 13/8||Mark Webster 40/1||Richie Burnett 150/1|
|Adrian Lewis 9/1||Terry Jenkins 40/1||Brendan Dolan 150/1|
|James Wade 11/1||Paul Nicholson 40/1||Ian White 250/1|
|Simon Whitlock 12/1||Colin Lloyd 80/1||Michael Smith 250/1|
|Dave Chisnall 14/1||Andy Smith 150/1|
|Raymond van Barneveld 12/1||Ronnie Baxter 66/1||Robert Thornton 50/1|
|Gary Anderson 20/1||Justin Pipe 50/1||Steve Beaton 100/1|
|Wes Newton 28/1||Mark Walsh 66/1||Colin Osborne 150/1|
|Andy Hamilton 50/1||Michael van Gerwen 80/1||Mervyn King 66/1|
|Kim Huybrechts 28/1||Dean Winstanley 66/1||James Hubbard 250/1|
|Kevin Painter 28/1||Vincent van der Voor 80/1||Joe Cullen 100/1|
Betfair First Round Matches Fixed Odds
SATURDAY 21th JULY 2012
MONDAY 23th JULY 2012
|Paul Nicholson 1/2||Andy Smith 7/4||
|Andy Hamilton 2/5||Brendan Dolan|
|Terry Jenkins 10/11||Kim Huybrechts 19/20||
|Vincent van der Voort 4/7||Ian White 6/4|
|Adrian Lewis 33/100||Robert Thornton 5/2||
|Phil Taylor 4/25||Mervyn King 9/2|
|Raymond van Barneveld 1/6||Michael Smith 9/2||
|Mark Webster 8/13||Colin Lloyd 11/8|
SUNDAY 22nd JULY 2012
TUESDAY 24th JULY 2012
|Mark Walsh 19/20||Colin Osborne 10/11||
|Justin Pipe 11/25||Joe Cullen 19/10|
|Kevin Painter 1/2||Steve Beaton 7/4||
|Wes Newton 33/100||James Hubbard 5/2|
|James Wade 2/7||Richie Burnett 29/10||
|Gary Anderson 2/5||Dean Winstanley 21/10|
|Simon Whitlock 1/3||Michael van Gerwen 5/2||
|Dave Chisnall 1/4||Ronnie Baxter 16/5|
PDC Order of Merit at July 8 2012
|Previous Position||Current Position||Name||Nationality||Total Prize Money|
|7||7||van Barneveld, Raymond||Netherlands||£217,100|
|17||16||van der Voort, Vincent||Netherlands||£125,500|
Latest 2012 ProTour Order of Merit (July 8 2012)
Befair World Matchplay Qualifiers marked with a *
|2||van Barneveld, Raymond||Netherlands||£44,000|
|9||van Gerwen, Michael *||Netherlands||£19,000|
|11||Baxter, Ronnie *||England||£17,500|
|12||Lloyd, Colin *||England||£16,900|
|13||Burnett, Richie *||Wales||£14,200|
|14||Smith, Andy *||England||£14,100|
|15||White, Ian *||England||£13,800|
|16||King, Mervyn *||England||£13,600|
|18||Dolan, Brendan *||Northern Ireland||£13,400|
|19||Smith, Michael *||England||£13,200|
|23||Thornton, Robert *||Scotland||£10,100|
|24||van der Voort, Vincent||Netherlands||£9,800|
|25||Osborne, Colin *||England||£9,600|
|28||Winstanley, Dean *||England||£9,500|
|29||Beaton, Steve *||England||£9,100|
|30||Cullen, Joe *||England||£9,000|
Schedule of Play
Saturday July 21
7.10pm Paul Nicholson v Andy Smith
8.00pm Terry Jenkins v Kim Huybrechts
9.00pm Adrian Lewis v Robert Thornton
10.00pm Raymond van Barneveld v Michael Smith
Sunday July 22
7.10pm Mark Walsh v Colin Osborne
8.00pm Kevin Painter v Steve Beaton
9.00pm James Wade v Richie Burnett
10.00pm Simon Whitlock v Michael van Gerwen
Monday July 23
7.10pm Andy Hamilton v Brendan Dolan
8.00pm Vincent van der Voort v Ian White
9.00pm Phil Taylor v Mervyn King
10.00pm Mark Webster v Colin Lloyd
Tuesday July 24
7.10pm Justin Pipe v Joe Cullen
8.00pm Wes Newton v James Hubbard
9.00pm Gary Anderson v Dean Winstanley
10.00pm Dave Chisnall v Ronnie Baxter
Wednesday July 25
7.10pm Whitlock/van Gerwen v Painter/Beaton
8.20pm Wade/Burnett v Walsh/Osborne
9.30pm van Barneveld/M Smith v Jenkins/Huybrechts
10.40pm Lewis/Thornton v Nicholson/A Smith
Thursday July 26
7.10pm Hamilton/Dolan v Webster/Lloyd
8.20pm Newton/Hubbard v Pipe/Cullen
9.30pm Taylor/King v van der Voort/White
10.40pm Anderson/Winstanley v Chisnall/Baxter
Friday July 27
Saturday July 28
Sunday July 29
First Round – Best of 19 legs
Second Round – Best of 25 legs
Quarter-Finals – Best of 31 legs
Semi-Finals – Best of 33 legs
Final – Best of 35 legs