BLACKPOOL, UK - Saturday night is Semi-Finals night at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. In the first match of the evening, Phil ‘The Power' Taylor will look to claim yet another finals berth in the BetVictor World Matchplay Championship as he faces James ‘The Machine' Wade in a best of 33 legs contest.
In the event that the match is tied at 16-16, there will be a tie-break scenario with either player needing to win by two clear legs to claim victory. If that margin is not determined by 19-19, the 39th leg will be a sudden-death, one leg shootout to force a winner.
If we look towards the Win Market, it shows that Phil Taylor is once again a very strong favourite with the bookmakers to qualify for his sixth successive World Matchplay final. ‘The Power' is a top priced 1.29 (place $7 to win $2 profit) with Boylesports to progress, while Wade - winner of this tournament back in 2007 can be backed at the best odds of 4.50 with the sponsors, BetVictor.
Phil Taylor has been in excellent form in all three of his previous wins to get to this stage of the competition. In each match, he has a 3-dart average of over 100, and on that basis, it makes Taylor a difficult opponent to beat. Round One was a cakewalk for Taylor with a 10-1 victory over Stuart Kellett, but then Terry Jenkins gave the current 5-times World Matchplay Champion a fright to lead 10-9, but was eventually defeated 14-12 in a tie-break. Ninth seed Justin Pipe was Taylor's opponent in the Quarter-Finals and once again ‘The Power' had to perform to near his best to claim a 16-10 victory, which in fact flattered a little.
James Wade's path to the Semi-Finals has also been a hard-fought battle. A 10-8 win over Canadian, John Part was followed with a 13-10 victory against Scotsman Gary Anderson. Wade's finest hour in the tournament thus far was in his Quarter-Final match with Australian, Simon Whitlock. Looking beaten, Wade found a 135 finish of the highest quality, when staring a 15-13 deficit in the face to level the tie at 14 legs apiece. The match went to sudden-death at 16-16, but Wade found the extra intestinal fortitude to advance 18-16.
In the Handicap Market, there is a difference of opinion with certain bookmakers. Ladbrokes and Stan James offer Taylor to cover a -5.5 leg handicap spread (has to win 17-11 or better) at the odds of 1.91. However, Boylesports are the same odds of 1.91 for Taylor to cover just a -4.5 leg deficit, which is the bet to go at for fans of Taylor in this market. From Wade's side, William Hill and BetVictor go 1.83 for ‘The Machine' with a +5.5 head start (Wade could lose 17-12 or better for punters to collect) but for the more braver backer amongst you, bet365, totesport and Betfred are 1.91 for just a +4.5 legs lead.
The Total Legs betting is set around the same figures as the handicap betting with Skybet and BetVictor offering 1.73 on over 27.5 legs, which equates to a 17-11 win in either direction for punters to collect. Both of these firms are 2.00 for fewer than 27.5 legs. Boylesports, Stan James and Coral are offering 1.91 for over 28.5 legs, while bet365 and William Hill go 1.83 on under 28.5.
Both of these players are not the most potent maximum throwers, and in the Total 180's betting, the offer of 2.00 on over 13.5 maximums with bet365 and Coral looks to be worth consideration. The under 13.5 can be had with Bwin at 1.85. The Most 180's market is close to call with Wade the slight leader in the market at 2.10 with several firms including Skybet, Betfred and Paddy Power, while Taylor can be had at 2.25 with Coral and Sportingbet.
In Conclusion, Taylor is a very likely winner especially if he maintains the form that has got him this far in the competition, although Wade is the call in the Handicap market with the 5.5 legs head start. Wade has performed admirably in this tournament and although he may not beat Taylor, the compensation for punters is in the handicap bet.
Coverage of the nights' action will begin at 19:00 UK time on Saturday 27th July, and will be televised live on Sky Sports 1 HD. The players are expected on stage and ready to play around 20 minutes after the coverage begins.