The World Championships begin on December 18 at Alexandra Palace so an excited Wayne Mardle has scoured the Betfair market for his best outright bets...
"The most likely winner for me is Phil Taylor, we all know that the chances of him becoming world champion for the 17th time get less likely with every passing year, so this is a massive for the best player the sport has ever seen. If he wins I think it'll be his best ever achievement."
Here we go, the main event is upon us. The World Championships will begin on Thursday (December 18), with the final being played on January 4 at Alexandra Palace in London.
There are a few lively runners this year. The normal names crop up obviously - Taylor, MVG, Adrian Lewis, James Wade - while in-form Gary Anderson has come in to third favourite at 13/2. But what about a bigger priced winner this year? Barney at 33/1 maybe, Simon Whitlock is a big price at 40/1, Stephen Bunting could prevail and would be a handsome winner at 16/1.
This is one that counts, win this big boy once and you're a master, your name goes down in history.
Here are my thoughts on who wins.
Due to the long format the proven winners are always difficult to beat at the Worlds. Beating a thoroughbred over best of nine legs is more than doable, but beating one over a seven or nine setter is like a different sport. The way the top seeds play over a long distance is what makes them special, the consistency and ability they show is sometimes quite unbelievable.
Looking at the draw I find it hard to envisage Wade winning, we know that seeds will fall but IF the seedings go according to plan he'll have to beat Bunting, Brendan Dolan, Lewis, Taylor and MVG and I just can't see that happening.
I make Gary Anderson a certainty to get through his section, this year has been one of his best ever and I think he can have a deep run this time round, maybe go one better than 2011. Peter Wright is the highest seed (4) in this section but I'm hoping Anderson comes through it.
After backing Raymond Van Barneveld to win the Premier League this year I feel I should stick with him, this is a venue he likes and if he can keep his head from dropping he can go all the way. From the bottom half I think Adrian Lewis or Barney are the most likely to make the final, apart from the number two seed Phil Taylor.
And on the subject of The Power, he looks a good thing to make the semi-finals at least as his draw is decent. Yes, we know upsets can and will occur - Taylor lost to the then unseeded Michael Smith last year for example - but I can't get past Taylor in the third quarter. It's a fantastic draw for the 16 time world champ. The main danger in this quarter for me is Whitlock, who usually plays well here.
From the top half it looks to me that 5/2 second favourite MVG hasn't had the best of luck with the draw. From his quarter he'll have to outlast Terry Jenkins, Justin Pipe, Dave Chisnall and Robert Thornton. It could have been a lot easier for the man looking to retain the Sid Waddell Trophy. I'm going against MVG, only for price reasons. This is a a tough quarter and I think Chisnall can come through it, his bad games are no longer always matches he loses.
The most likely winner for me is Phil Taylor, we all know that the chances of him becoming world champion for the 17th time get less likely with every passing year, so this is a massive for the best player the sport has ever seen. If he wins I think it'll be his best ever achievement.
I still think Thornton and Anderson will have a say in the outcome of this magnificent event, they both have the game and for normally play well on the biggest stage of them all.
My main bet in the outright market has to be Taylor, but I'm happy to throw a few quid at two outsiders trading at big prices - Barney and Chisnall.
Best bet: Back Phil Taylor to win at 2/1
Other bets: Back Raymond van Barneveld at 33/1 and Dave Chisnall at 40/1
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