There are many that love him and others that loath him, but if you’re a fan of darts there’s no denying the impact Phil Taylor has had to make it the globally loved sport it is today. A founding member of the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) in 1993, Phil Taylor has paved the way for professional darts that now sees several sponsored televised events every year including the William Hill World Championship, Coral UK Open and the Betway Premier League Darts.
It wouldn’t be discourteous to assume that a 55-year-old man, who made his debut in 1987 and won his first World Championship in 1990, would be nearing the end of his career, but as always Phil Taylor continues to buck the trend. ‘The Power’ proves to be a threat in every tournament he’s involved in; illustrated by the fact he is currently ranked third in the PDC system and looks like a man still hungry for silverware.
Unfortunately, his lack of major tournament successes in recent years does tell the story of a man who is beginning to lose his finishing touch, an asset that has been revered by all throughout his playing career. Taylor’s last major tournament success was at the BetVictor World Matchplay in 2014, where he convincingly beat a below par Michael van Gerwen 18-9, however, in 2015 the darts community witnessed the first time in 21 years that he didn’t win a major title during a darting season.
Michael van Gerwen, the new face of darts and the man who has won the first two major tournaments of 2016 (UK Open, Unibet Masters), is Phil Taylor’s benchmark nowadays. Thursday 12th May sees the final set of matches in the Premier League, with all but one of the Semi-Final places already confirmed, and a potential line-up that could see Taylor and van Gerwen meet in this year’s final. The two players will meet each other next week before the fourth semi-final place is decided, where a win for either man would see them confirm the top spot; their 6-6 result back in March was only the second time the two have drawn in career head to heads so backing either to come away with a narrow win is the safest bet. I believe Taylor will take it 7-5.
Can Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor win the Premier League title? The statistics show that he hasn’t done so since 2012, a long wait for a man of his prowess, but this season has seen a consistency from Taylor that is making him believe again. I do believe Taylor will win next week; van Gerwen hasn’t been at his usual best in the latter stages of this tournament, but for ‘The Power’ to then go on and win the title is a different kettle of fish. It would be foolish to write Taylor off; he is the greatest darts player of his generation and will most likely never be surpassed and I can easily see him causing an upset in this year’s Premier League. If I was put on the spot, however, and I do believe it will be a Taylor vs. van Gerwen final, I’d have to reluctantly give van Gerwen the win, but it will be a tight affair.
It’s difficult to predict exactly what the knockout rounds will bring in the Betway Premier League this year, however, I believe Phil Taylor is and always will be a major threat within the sport until he decides to give it up. Speculation around his levels of play have risen out of a lack of titles in recent years, but when you’ve won 69 major titles, any drought will inevitably incite scrutiny. I think the main thing is to enjoy the master at work because when he does decide to retire his absence in darts will be irreplaceable.
Premier League Money makers – The bookies believe van Gerwen is the favourite at 8/13 to lift the crown, and rightly so, but when a man as experienced as Phil Taylor at winning major titles is given 10/3 odds a £20 bet is definitely worth the money. At 6/4 for there to be a 9 dart finish in the tournament, given the standard of this year, I’d say once again a £20 bet would be a smart call. If you were to bet £20 on both as a two-fold accumulator it would give you winning of £216 – worth a thought.