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World Matchplay - Friday's Quarter finals

2017-07-28 00:00:00 (This report was created at 2017-07-28 14:40:00)

Alan Norris vs. Adrian Lewis

These two have met just three times with Lewis winning all three. However it’s been over a year since their last match, a Players Championship qualifier, which saw a 6-5 win for Lewis. On their only big stage match it was easier for Lewis, winning 10-3 in the Players Championship finals in 2015.

It is hard to get a firm grip on Lewis’ form at the moment. He was off for a month, underwent back surgery and he wasn’t able to do much practice during his recuperation. He looked a bit rusty in his first round win over Steve Beaton but certainly not miles away from being good. He was better when beating in the in-form Rob Cross and he seems to be fully recovered.

Norris came into this tournament not in great form but he has played solid darts, checking out at 43% and 44% with averages of 91 and 99. That’s good enough to give Lewis a game and while Lewis is the better, classier player, we haven’t really seen enough of him recently to be sure of his form.

Lewis is the 4/9 favourite which is short for a player who lacks match fitness. Norris, the 11/5 outsider, has his chance but with his losing record against Lewis and with less experience on the big stages and long matches, Lewis must be expected to win. Is Lewis value? Not at that price. No bet.

Michael Van Gerwen vs. Phil Taylor

Like Lewis, we haven’t seen a lot of Taylor this year as he winds down his schedule ahead of his retirement. However he has played well in his two matches so far and vs. Barney he averaged 102 and checked out at 50%. That is good enough to at least test Van Gerwen who hasn’t really been put under any pressure whatsoever so far. MVG has even said that his first two matches were too easy and it was clear he wasn’t even out of 2nd gear in either.

Taylor is still one of the players that Van Gerwen can get a bit nervous against. Taylor hates to lose but especially to the man that has taken his crown as the best in the world, so he will be trying extra hard. Add to this the fact that this World Matchplay tournament has been won fifteen times by Taylor and you can see that The Power will be fully motivated, retirement or not. Yes his darts aren’t as good as they were at his peak, but he can still find the kind of form required to beat MVG.

Most recently they faced each other in the Shanghai Masters when Taylor raced off to 6-2 lead and looked have the match won but MVG came back to win 8-7. That sort of sums up why Taylor wants to retire. He just wouldn’t have let a lead like that slip even just a couple of years ago. It may also set the tone for tonight’s game. MVG might not have quite as much fear of Taylor now that he came back to win that match. He knows Taylor is much like an old Lion, proud but no longer able to keep the young studs from his pride.

That said in the last 12 months these two have played five times with MVG edging it 3-2. Had he won in Shanghai it would have been 3-2 to Taylor, so it is fair to say that we should have a game on our hands tonight. The problem for Taylor is that MVG just doesn’t do losing very often. He is on a run of 10 wins in a row and has lost just once in his last 26.

Taylor needs to get under MVG’s skin quickly, get the crowd behind him and put some pressure on. If Van Gerwen gets a good start it’s unlikely he is going to let Taylor back in and as we saw in Shanghai, Taylor still wasn’t able to kill off his rival despite a big lead.

This is Taylor’s last World Matchplay; a tournament he believes is his by divine right. He wants to sign one more board, who knows maybe two. I can’t see him winning the tournament but I expect a big effort from Taylor, a big effort to remind the world about just how good he was, and can still be. If I had to pick two players who MVG wouldn’t want to play if his life depended on it, they would be Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor.

Taylor is the outsider here, everybody is vs. MVG, but given how close their H2H’s have been this year, his odds of 4/1 are too big. Yes MVG should win, probably will win, but 4/1 is being disrespectful to the old boy.

1 point Phil Taylor to win at 23/5 with Marathonbet

-JamesPunt


The World Matchplay

2017-07-30 00:00:00 (This report was created at 2017-07-17 12:38:01)

It’s one of the biggest sporting events of the season and the world’s elite players will descend on the North West coast of England for……The World Matchplay. There is some other big competition down the road but the real atmosphere will be found in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens where 64 players will fight it out for a share of the £500000 prize fund. The top 16 ranked players as of last Monday qualify automatically the other 16 come from the top of the Pro Tour order of merit.

The favourite and defending Champion is Michael van Gerwen, fresh from his US Masters victory on Saturday night. MVG is due to become a first time dad next month and will be taking some time out, which will give the others a chance to win a few tournaments, but in the meantime he seems determined to fill his bank account with as much cash as possible. Distracted? Not a Chance and he was in fine form in Vegas, dropping just one leg in three matches until he was given a real test in the final by Daryl Gurney (8-6).

It was good final, a very entertaining match with MVG going 2-0 up before Gurney hit back to lead 5-3, forcing MVG to engage top gear to win 8-6. However it wasn’t all about MVG and despite the chances of being biased, the eye catching form in the US Masters was that of the runner up.

His job on Saturday was to beat the world number three, Peter Wright, which he did in an 8-7 thriller. After that he had to beat the world’s number two, Gary Anderson, which he did 8-4 having been 1-4 down. The final leg of the journey was to beat MVG, the hardest job in darts, and he very nearly did and MVG knew he was in a game.

Having officially made it into the world’s top 16 ranked players last Wednesday, Gurney flew off to America in fine fettle and happy players are good players. If he was happy last week he will be buzzing this week. Getting that top 16 was a big target for this season, getting an invite to a World Series event was a bonus and to get so close to winning it was huge. It was Gurney giving notice that he is ready to move up to the top level and beat the top players. The ability is there and when he combines his heavy scoring with +40% checkout rates, he will be very hard to beat. That’s what happened in Vegas, the perfect preparation for the big one in Blackpool.

I know the US Masters was on free to air TV, I watched it all, but you have to think that the bookies didn’t even know the result based on the odds for this week. Yes MVG is the 4/5 favourite, but why is Daryl Gurney still 100/1? In last the weekend before the event he beats the world’s number three, beats the world’s number two and rattles the cage of the world’s number one…….but he is still rated as the 12th favourite and 100/1? James Wade is rated a 50/1 shot! Sorry but that is just plain wrong.

I am a fan of recent form over past reputation but it seems bookmakers are past form junkies. Take Wade for example. He is in arguably the worst form of his life, he lost to a local qualifier in the first round in Vegas, his fifth defeat in his last ten matches. He hasn’t been anywhere near his best since last November yet he is rated twice as likely to win than in form Gurney. Wrong.

Gurney doesn’t have the greatest draw with a likely meeting with Gary Anderson in the 2nd round but with that 8-4 semi-final win over the Scotsman on Saturday that is a match that looks more winnable now.

1 point e/w Daryl Gurney to win the World Matchplay @ 100/1 with Betstars, Betvictor

MVG deserves his 4/5 odds, he is the king of the darting jungle, but after that there are some odds I just don’t get. Anderson is 5/1 second favourite which is understandable but he has had two heavy defeats recently. Thrashed 8-0 in Shanghai by Van Barneveld and that 8-4 semi-final defeat in Vegas on Saturday, especially after being 4-1 up. In his favour, Anderson is a big stage player, he gets himself up for the really big events and has the game to go all the way. However those two defeats make odds of 5/1 look a bit short.

Third favourite is Peter Wright, well he is the world number three so I suppose that’s the reason. The problem is that he isn’t in his best form. He won the European Darts Open in Germany a few weeks ago but since then he has lost to out of form James Wade in Shanghai and Gurney in Vegas, two matches he was odds on to win. There are too many loses coming into his game and he has been pissing about with his darts again. At his best Wright could win this, but is he at his best?

Phil Taylor is the 25/1 fourth favourite based on the fact he has won this event 15 times, an incredible record but it’s old news. Taylor is retiring from competitive darts next year because he is getting on a bit and finds it hard to keep up with the touring schedule and inevitable decline in his skills as time passes by. He knows he is no longer the top dog. He has lost six of his last ten matches, didn’t travel to Vegas due to illness and even though he will be giving this his best shot, there are better bets around.

Dave Chisnall is rated a 33/1 shot. Dave Chisnall had never won a televised event. Dave Chisnall reached the final of the Shanghai Masters. Dave Chisnall lost 0-8 to MVG. Dave Chisnall still hasn’t won a televised event. This is harder to win and he has been losing to a lot of different players recently. He can be very good but his throw doesn’t stand up to pressure. He has made the quarter finals here for the last four years in a row and he could do again, but reach the final, or win it? Can’t see it.

Adrian Lewis is a 40/1 shot despite not having played competitively for a month. He had surgery on an unknown ailment that was causing him pain so that might make up for any rust that will have settled in on his game. His wife is also expecting shortly and it’s hard to see how Lewis will be totally match fit for this big event.

James Wade is a 50/1 shot but please do not ask me why. Maybe because 250/1 was already taken? Raymond van Barneveld is also 50/1 but what sort of form is he in since changing his darts? He has now lost five of his last ten matches, an improvement on the eight consecutive defeats in April, May and June, but hardly inspiring stuff.

Michael Smith, who is enjoying his return to form, looks very tempting at 50/1. The talent was always there but the mental attitude was poor. He beat himself more than his opponents did but he has learned his lesson and is playing with a little more joy and allows himself the odd bad dart. The result is he hits more good ones and wins matches and titles. He has had the call up to play in the Australian and New Zealand World Series matches in August, he won the Gibraltar Darts Trophy back in May, reached the semi-final of the European Matchplay, was runner up in the recent Austrian Open and was a semi-finalist in the European Darts Open. He suffered two surprise defeats in Players Championship 15 and 16 but my guess is that he wasn’t that bothered and he is now more focused on the big events again. He has had the week off to prepare for this and has a decent draw.

0.5 point e/w Michael Smith to win the World Matchplay @ 55/1 with Betstars (1/2 the odds 1-2)

PDC newcomer Rob Cross has to be considered at 66/1. He has recently beaten MVG, Daryl Gurney, Peter Wright, Suljovic and Michael Smith amongst others and is one of the rising stars of the game. He’s not quite the finished article but it would be no surprise to see him progress to a semi-final against MVG, who he beat 6-2 in the European Darts Open.

0.5 point e/w Rob Cross to win the World Matchplay @ 66/1 generally available

The final selection goes to another in form outsider at a huge price. Joe Cullen was one of our selections to win the European Darts Open but he had to withdraw after his father was taken ill at home. Fortunately the news is better now with his dad on the mend. That shock to the system didn’t put him off his game as he returned to action in the Players Championship 15 and 16, winning the later. He has been going well in tournaments recently, winning Players Championship 8, a quarter final in the European Darts Grand Prix, quarter final of the European Matchplay, the semi-final of the Austrian Open before winning Players Championship 16. He has won nine of his last ten matches and he will no doubt pick up some motivation from seeing Daryl Gurney do so well in Vegas last week as Cullen has beaten him in their last two Players Championship meetings, a final and a semi-final.

0.25 point e/w Joe Cullen to win the World Matchplay @ 300/1 with Paddy Power, Skybet, Betfair sportsbook

I will be looking at some of the stand out first round matches later in the week.

-JamesPunt