One of the best tournaments of the year hits our screens at the weekend and our man Wayne Mardle believes that defending champion Phil Taylor is in for a rough ride should he meet youngster Michael Smith in the second round...
"The draw on paper has been kind to the 14-time champ but I think his World Championship conqueror Michael Smith (81.080/1) can get the better of him in the second round should their paths meet."
The World MatchPlay commences Saturday at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, for me the best championship venue on the calendar. The atmosphere is unique, the noise levels are incredible, and you'll go a long way in any sport to find a venue that rivals this one.
I'm sure Phil Taylor will agree also - the 14-time champion is bidding for his seventh successive win here having triumphed last year with a 111+ three-dart average over Adrian Lewis in the final.
Can the legend reign again, or will we crown a new winner in just over a week's time?
It's easy to pick the favourites, and most of them will undoubtedly win, but every year there are a few shock results so hopefully we can get on the right side of a few of them.
Wes is struggling of late whilst Ronnie has been playing some decent stuff. I think this is a game that will got the way of the outsider, and at around 2.77/4 Baxter has to be supported.
For those who follow just the TV tournaments it's probably hard to imagine that Jenkins is the outsider here, especially as he has such an impressive record at the Winter Gardens.
But Terry hasn't beein in great form over the last few years whereas White has been catching the eye. However, The Bull comes alive at Blackpool, it's a stage where he has played in some fantastic matches and will have high hopes of doing so again. He reached the final in the last major he played in, the UK Open in March, so he'll be confident of going a long way here.
Ian is yet to play his very best darts on the big stage so at just over even money I have to side with Jenkins.
The top half is stacked with potential finalists such as Michael van Gerwen - available to back at 3.02/1 - James Wade, 15.014/1, Raymond van Barneveld, 13.012/1, Simon Whitlock, 29.028/1, and Dave Chisnall, 29.028/1.
I think MVG will make it through, the World Champion is a formidable opponent over such a long format.
The bottom half is a punter's minefield however, so go easy. That said I think I've got a good-un at a massive price.
Taylor (4.03/1) is unbeaten at Blackpool since 2007, but I'll be very surprised if he even reaches the final. The draw on paper has been kind to the 14-time champ but I think his World Championship conqueror Michael Smith (81.080/1) can get the better of him in the second round should their paths meet.
Adrian Lewis (9.08/1) is always a huge threat and cannot be overlooked.
Back Michael Smith e/w on the Sportsbook @ 81.080/1