PDC World Darts Championship betting: Perfect timing for Taylor to get back to his best

Time to turn on The Power - Phil Taylor in action
Time to turn on The Power - Phil Taylor in action

Nearly three weeks of fun, fancy dress and one-hundered-and-eighties starts at Alexandra Palace tonight. Ralph Ellis says it's the right stage for an old favourite to get back to double top...


"The point about this tournament is that if anything can focus your mind, it is the exhilarating atmosphere at Ally Pally. Nobody will feed off that raucous, happy pre-Christmas party noise better than The Power."

Barry Hearn has always been good for a quote. It's one of the reasons he's made himself a millionaire a few times over promoting snooker, darts and boxing.

Maybe that's why the 67-year-old made me chuckle so much this morning when I read his thoughts on Phil Taylor's chances of winning the World Darts title. "To still be competing at the highest level aged 55 is almost unheard of in sport, and even King Canute wasn't able to turn back the tides forever."

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the whole point of the King Canute story was that he wasn't able to turn back the tide at all. Anyway, put the history to one side for a minute, and you understand what Hearn is saying about the 16-times world champion who has dominated the game for so long.

The Power begins his bid to make that 17 titles at Alexandra Palace on Saturday night when he plays either Japan's Keita Ono or Filipino Alex Tagarao. And while he might have suffered what by his standards has been an ordinary year, but he will still be the man nobody wants to face.

That's why when you look down the betting for who wins the PDC World Championship, Taylor at 5.69/2 has to be the outstanding bet.

It has been a tough 2015 for him. Last year he played at Ally Pally in a daze, driving a couple of hundred miles a day to visit his mum in a Stoke hospital as she battled a lung infection which ultimately claimed her life. Yet he still got all the way to the final.

He was on an exhibition tour in New Zealand when his mum finally lost her battle for life, and admits he's not been able to get his head round his darts since.

That's probably why he hasn't won a televised tournament all through 2015, making it the first time in 21 years he'll have started the world championships without a major trophy in his possession.

But the point about this tournament is that if anything can focus your mind, it is the exhilarating atmosphere at Ally Pally. And nobody will feed off that raucous, happy pre-Christmas party noise better than The Power.

James Wade, who has the backing of darts legend Eric Bristow, could be a big threat in his half of the draw - but like Wayne Mardle I'd expect Taylor to at least get to the final again (you can back him at 3.211/5).

The stats tell you that he is returning to his best form. At the European Championships last month he threw averages of just over 100, then 105, then 106 before losing his quarter final 10-9 to Adrian Lewis. Since then he's been practising and working harder to get better again for the big one.

Let's face it, being 55 is hardly a big issue when it comes to playing darts. You're not asking him to run, or tackle, or twist and turn, or jump. And he remains arguably leaner and fitter than 90% of the rest of the line-up when it comes to the need to stop your mind becoming tired.

Despite such an indifferent year he's still ranked number three in the world. So, despite what Barry Hearn says, you are not even asking him to turn back the tide.


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