Four of darts’ finest reach PDC World Championship semi-finals
If you were to pick the perfect semi-final line-up before this year’s PDC World Darts Championship, it is doubtful that you’d have been able to choose a better quartet than Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Raymond van Barneveld and Gary Anderson.
But these colossi of the game, who were also in the final four play-offs of the prestigious Premier League Darts event last summer, give viewers a perfect Saturday night of top tungsten action.
Taylor, the 16-time world champion, faces his old friend, rival and five-time winner Van Barneveld, right after title holder Van Gerwen’s duel with in-form 2011 runner-up Anderson.
These are also the same semis fixtures as the 2014 Premier League, where Dutch duo Mighty Mike and Barney came through their respective battles to meet in the final, and it will be intriguing to see if they manage that feat again.
But the final of this PDC competition has always had a British representative, and back Taylor and Anderson for revenge and be the victors on Saturday night to fight for the Sid Waddell Trophy on Sunday. Read on to find out why.
Michael van Gerwen (1) v Gary Anderson (4)
In the first tasty tie of the night, Mighty Mike (6/4 to defend his title) meets the Flying Scotsman (4/1) for the second year running in this competition.
Van Gerwen (1/2 favourite) won that last 16 battle 4-3, and is a 13/2 chance to beat his upcoming opponent (who is 13/8 for victory) 6-5 this time.
Although the Dutchman defeated Anderson in the semis of the Premier League in May, which was their last meeting, the Scot did claim a convincing victory in the group stage. The latter was tipped for the title by many before this tournament, due to his form leading up to it, and he is an 8/1 shout to edge this encounter 6-5.
Mighty Mike had to face another Scot to get to this stage in Robert Thornton in the quarters, where he beat him 5-2, recording his highest ever average at this tournament (105.25) as well as getting a 170 checkout. Van Gerwen, who has dropped just five sets so far, is a 7/1 chance to get another in this match.
Anderson had a tricky first couple of fixtures this competition, but came through his following two tests, against Spanish preliminary qualifier Cristo Reyes and then compatriot and last year’s runner-up Peter Wright, with ease.
Phil Taylor (2) v Raymond van Barneveld (14)
Although the Dutchman (7/1 tournament outsider with Coral) defeated The Power (6/4 joint-favourite) in last year’s Premier League semi-final on his way to claiming the title, he has won just 12 of their 64 encounters.
The duo have met since, however, with Taylor (odds-on at 2/7 for victory) knocking Barney (11/4) out in the quarters of the World Series of Darts in August.
Their recent head-to-heads suggest that this will be a close match, with The Power winning just four of the last eight, four of them being draws.
Taylor and Van Barneveld have met at this stage before at the PDC World Championship back in the 2013 tournament, and twice in the final here prior to that (with the pair claiming a title apiece). But it was the Englishman who came through that last four duel two years ago 6-4, and he is a 6/1 chance to win by that scoreline once more.
No doubt these titans of the game will bring out the best in each other, and, with Barney managing two nine-darters at this tournament in the past and Taylor getting one against the Dutchman before, back either to pull another off in this match too at 7/1.
The Power got to this stage after edging out another Netherlands player Vicent van der Voort, who was leading 3-2 at one stage, in the quarters, but he is still yet to record a checkout of more than a hundred. Barney, therefore, is a tempting 11/8 chance to get the highest of the match.
Van Barneveld, meanwhile, had to come through tough tests against Jamie Caven, two-time winner and world number three Adrian Lewis, and then finally BDO world champion Stephen Bunting, all by just one set.
It seems that defeating Taylor too is one step too many for Barney, who has had to dig deep perhaps more than he has ever had to do in a tournament. But if he does manage to match The Power all the way, he is an 11/1 chance to beat him 6-5.
This match, along with the Van Gerwen/Anderson clash, will be close to call, so expect emotions to be high in roller coaster rides on a night that promises to excite.