Return of the King? Phil Taylor out to reclaim World Matchplay crown from MvG
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | July 14, 2016
There are not many darts tournaments in the world that Phil Taylor hasn’t triumphed at, but he’s always had a special affiliation to the World Matchplay largely down to it being staged just down the road from his home town Stoke.
His love of the Blackpool event at the iconic Winter Gardens clearly shows, as he has incredibly won 15 of the 22 editions since its inauguration in 1994.
On top of that, he claimed seven straight victories from 2008 until 2014, but that run was eventually stopped when Michael van Gerwen become the first non-Englishman to lift the title since American Larry Butler’s shock 1994 triumph.
Are Taylor’s Powers waning?
Unfortunately for The Power (tournament 6/1 third-favourite with Coral), though, he has only won one Major televised event since last tasting success in Blackpool, when he was victories at the cross organisation Grand Slam of Darts later that year.
Taylor will be happy that he’s been placed on the opposite side of the 2016 World Matchplay draw to Van Gerwen, though may still have to contend with the likes of world champion Gary Anderson, Raymond van Barneveld or 2007 winner James Wade.
You can back the all-time darting great to emerge from his quarter (4) unscathed, featuring the latter duo, odds-on at 8/11.
Possible Taylor opponents
First round: Robbie Green
Second round: Stephen Bunting
Quarters: James Wade
Semis: Gary Anderson
Final: Michael van Gerwen
Rub of the Green for Taylor
Taylor begins his campaign this year in Blackpool on the final day of the first round (Monday, July 18th) against another who’s fairly local to the tournament, Robbie Green, who he’s heavily odds-on at 1/12 to beat.
The world number 56-ranked Liverpool native has not quite established himself in his second stint in the PDC, after being a twice Major tournament runner-up in the BDO, and shouldn’t prove too much of a test for The Power.
In two previous head-to-heads, Taylor has triumphed in both, including at last year’s Grand Slam Of Darts 5-2. He is 5/1 to win 10-4 this time around.
The Power managed to reach the semis in his seventh straight attempt of defending the title, but eventually went out to Wade in a close 17-14 encounter.
The Power hoping to break The Machine
He is set for a quarter-final rematch with The Machine, which could be an intriguing occasion with Taylor having won four of their seven meetings since.
But, going by his performances this year compared to 2015, the Stoke-born arrowsmith has certainly regained his fire.
After exiting in the first round at the World Grand Prix, The Masters and Players Championship Finals last year, he has since made semi-final appearances at the The Masters, UK Open and was runner-up in the Premier League Darts.
Taylor is a tempting 2/1 chance just to reach the final again at the World Matchplay, though if he goes on to lose it would amazingly be the first ever time he has done so here in 15 attempts.
Van Gerwen going through mini-slump
Though, if he does meet Van Gerwen, the 55-year-old just so happens to have beaten the Dutchman in their last outing, which came in the final of the recent World Cup of Darts in a singles match.
England, who boasted Adrian Lewis too, went on to lift the trophy, and Mighty Mike has not really looked his usual self since.
The usually dominant Dutchman claimed the Premier League, UK Open and The Masters earlier on in the year, but has won just one of the three World Series of Darts tournaments since, losing out to Anderson on the other occasions.
So, with no dead cert to win the World Matchplay this year, Taylor looks in a good position to prove doubters wrong yet again that age is just a number and he still has what it takes to win a Major title.