With Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor dominating the market, Jaymes Monte selects two players that shouldn’t be considered outsiders...
Since regaining the world title here 12 months ago, Phil Taylor hasn’t looked back, re-establishing himself at the pinnacle of the sport by winning the UK Open, World Matchplay, World Grand Prix, The Masters and the Grand Slam of Darts, amongst other minor-tournament wins.
He did falter ever-so-slightly in losing the final of the Players Championship Finals against Michael van Gerwen at the beginning of this month, but still arrives at London’s Alexandra Palace as a deserving odds-on favourite and the man that they all have to beat.
The problem for those looking to take Taylor on in the betting is that all those that can beat the Power, are crammed into the opposite half of the draw.
The darting gods have conspired to hand the 16-time World Champion a dream draw and pitted him in the opposite half to Michael van Gerwen, Adrian Lewis, Raymond van Barneveld, James Wade and Gary Anderson; arguably the five most viable threats to Taylor’s world crown.
So, while The Power’s biggest challengers all take each other out of the equation one by one, Taylor himself can coast into the final. Which is why, at odds of 1.83, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor is a worthy odds-on favourite and a bet I wouldn’t put anyone off backing.
Only two other players go into the tournament at single figure odds and, unsurprisingly, they are the world’s number two and three. Van Gerwen (4.50) has shown on multiple occasions now that he is capable of beating Taylor and winning major titles, all that remains is to do it on the biggest stage of them all. Lewis (7.50) has arguably been more consistent than MVG in recent months, has the better of the major head-to-heads between the two and, perhaps most importantly, has won this title twice before.
Both are worthy contenders, and each would be more than capable of beating Taylor in the final, but given the draw and their potential semi-final meeting, I wouldn’t be backing either of them at pre-tournament prices.
The Outside Bets
It feels a little unnatural to talk about James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld as ‘outside’ bets. However, Wade - the second most decorated player in PDC history - and Barney - arguably the second greatest player ever to pick up a piece of tungsten - are priced at such big odds that we have to, at least in betting terms, consider them as such.
The Machine has had some well-documented problems of late and admittedly hasn’t been at his best in recent months, but can still boast six semi-final appearances at Major tournaments in the 2013 season. We’re still talking about one of the undisputed top five players in the world, and a man who has reached the semi-finals at Alexandra Palace in each of the last two years. Yet he’s priced at odds of 31.00 to win the World Championships.
As Wade has, Barney has repeatedly alluded to the World Championships being his main focus this season. And again like Wade, this hasn’t been the Dutchman’s most productive season, although he has also reached three semi-finals and a televised final in 2013, including the 2013 PDC World Championships semi-final. At odds of 36.00 the five-time World Champion is massively overpriced and looks to be outstanding value.
James Wade - 31.00
Raymond van Barneveld - 36.00