Wade Worth It For World Matchplay
The 2014 World Matchplay kicks off on Saturday with a wide open field providing a couple of selections at big prices.
Of course two men dominate the market; the usual suspects of Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor. But for the first time, MVG is the clear favourite at odds of 2/1, with The Power a considerably larger 7/2 – one of the biggest prices that I ever remember seeing Taylor pre-tournament.
The winds of change have been blowing in darts for some time now. And in the past few months that wind has developed into a gust. Taylor lost in the semi-finals of the Premier League to Raymond van Barneveld – the first time the Dutchman had beaten Taylor in the tournament’s history – then lost his only match at the Dubai Masters, was blitzed 4-0 by MVG at the PDC World Cup, lost to Jamie Caven in the quarter-finals of the Austrian Darts Open and most recently was defeated by Michael Smith – the man who beat him at the 2014 World Championships – at the last 32 stage of the Gibraltar Darts Trophy.
The Power is still a challenger and major player in every tournament he enters, but no longer commands an aura of invincibility and is in fact looking increasingly vulnerable.
MVG also comes into the World Matchplay amid a disconcerting run of form. Defeat in the Premier League final was followed by triumphs in the Dubai Masters and World Cup of Darts, but recent losses to Ronny Huybrechts, James Wade, Benito van de Pas and Jamie Caven show that the Dutchman is not quite on top of his game.
If he turns up at the Empress Ballroom and plays the way that we know he can, then he’ll obviously take some stopping. But at odds of 2/1 he’s another one to stay clear of.
The Chasing Pack
We haven’t seen James Wade on our television screens for a few months now after he was – in the opinion of yours truly – disgracefully shunned from this year’s Premier League line-up. That snub does, however, appear to have rejuvenated The Machine and given him a point to prove.
One has to assume that the second most decorated player in PDC Major history has stepped up his practice regime in recent weeks, as results are beginning to echo that. Wade ended a three-year trophy drought with a win at the Gibraltar Darts Trophy, and then was a narrow 6-5 loser to Gary Anderson at the European Darts Open. This, having previously reached the final of a tour event where he beat MVG, Dave Chisnall and Robert Thornton en route.
Wade is one of only six players to have won the World Matchplay in its 20-year history, and has reached five finals in the last eight years.
He’s already been backed in from odds of 22/1, but at 12/1 still represents some solid each-way value.
One at a much bigger price who I fancy this week is a man that I’ve mentioned a couple of times already in this preview – Jamie Caven. Jabba has beaten Taylor, MVG, Stephen Bunting (twice) and Peter Wright in recent weeks, and also reached the final of the Austrian Darts Open.
He’s been knocking on the door at these major championships for sometime now and, as a genuine top quality player, just needs a little slice of luck in order to reach the latter stages of one. At odds of 100/1 the Derbyshire man is worth taking an each-way punt on this week.