HELLO, good evening and welcome to my latest blog. Now-defunct red top News of the World recently announced Blackpool as the new holiday destination of choice for stay-at-home UK tourists in the face of the increasing strength of the Euro. While this will be great news for visitors from the Netherlands and other parts of the Eurozone heading to the Empress Ballroom, a similar power shift is occurring in the darts world. Phil’ The Power’ Taylor has looked more vulnerable on the oche in the last six months than he has for over a decade and the chances of a non-Englishman (particularly if you count assimilated Aussie Paul Nicholson in their number) taking the World Matchplay title on July 24 are much higher than this time last year.
The 18th World Matchplay tournament takes place from July 16-24, with a £400,000 purse as 32 of the world’s best players battle for the lucrative £100,000 title, which has been won 11 times by Taylor. ‘The Power’ is the current holder of the title and, predictably, the favourite, with in-form Scot Gary Anderson the second favourite, closely followed by James ‘The Machine’ Wade.
As for round one, expect most of the big guns to cruise through, although there’s value to be had if you look hard enough for it. Alternatively, simply read the next few sentences and follow the advice within.
Bronzed Adonis Steve Beaton can give Terry Jenkins a run for his money – and not just on the facial hair front. Alan Tabern, meanwhile, is fearless enough to give Vincent van der Voort a fright and Denis Ovens has been cooking on gas lately and will fancy his chances of upsetting Ronnie Baxter. Finally, depending on which Colin Lloyd turns up, John Henderson is more than capable of springing a surprise. The big Scot has already hit a nine darter in competitive play this year at Derby and would love to make a mockery of his lowly PDC ranking of 83.
Good luck and happy punting!
Remember: It’s trebles for show, doubles for dough