There will be a fairytale ending to tonight's World Darts final, whoever wins, as debutant Rob Cross takes on 16-time world champ, and the retiring, Phil Taylor. It should be a close affair says Wayne Mardle, but experience could win on the night...
"I’ve a feeling the experience, consistency, pace and double hitting, and occasion, may be enough for Phil to triumph in a real close match."
We have a final between a debutant, and a man who's playing in his 29th and last ever World Championship.
Rob Cross (21/20) has had to fight his way through to this point, he's needed composure, skill, timing and a bit of luck. Michael Smith had two darts at a double to beat him in the second round, and then in the semi-finals, Michael Van Gerwen missed six match darts to remove him from the draw, in one of the most memorable matches of all time, let alone this championship.
Phil Taylor (17/20) on the other hand has dished out punishment unanswered. No one has got within two sets of The Power. He's invariably led and not been caught up, let alone overtaken.
So, who wins?
The overall tournament averages do not give us any clues, Cross 100, Taylor 99.
Phil hits a 180 every 4.5 legs on average, Cross hits a maximum on average every 2.7 legs. 140+ scores, Phil hits one on average every 1.6 legs, Cross hits one with the exact same regularity as the Power.
With all the 100+ scores as well, 169 for Phil and 174 for Rob, the scoring phase should be slightly won by Cross.
The finishing stats belong to Taylor, hitting the requisite double 52% of the time, that's excellent, compared to Rob's 41%.
But with all the data in the world at our finger tips, it can't tell us who has the best timing and luck.
Phil's timing against Jamie Lewis in the semi final was the difference. Jamie missed darts at a double to win four of the six sets he lost. While against MVG, Cross hit a 161 finish to save a set, and win a set at the same time, and has also had to survive those aforementioned eight darts at a double to knock him out of the tournament.
On the night, all of the above will come into play.
Phil will slow it down ever so slightly. While I don't think it'll bother Rob mentally, I don't think it'll help him throw in his aggressive manner. He needs to be fluent to throw aggressively.
Phil has the better doubling percentage, and if this continues, Rob will be under pressure often.
Experience will play a part, of course it will, but Cross has dealt with everything admirably so far. That said, when under pressure against Michael, I thought he had a few grip issues, if he has any of those he may lose a little confidence.
I've a feeling the experience, consistency, pace and double hitting, and occasion, may be enough for Phil to triumph in a real close match.
Rob will give himself chances but he can't keep relying on opponents missing crucial doubles.
Can The Power retire on the greatest high or can the debutant, Rob Cross win? I fancy it will be the former, perhaps by a scoreline of 7-5.