It's double-in, double-out time in Dublin, and Jaymes Monte has picked out his best bets for the World Grand Prix outright winner market...
"At odds of 3.02/1 or more Taylor has to be backed, simply because he is Taylor"
As is tradition with a darts preview, we'll begin by assessing the credentials of the world number one. Phil 'The Power' Taylor comes into this tournament on a poor run of form having lost in the quarter-finals of the recent European Championships and struggled in the Internet-streamed Championship League at Crondon Park.
In each of the previous four years of Championship League darts Taylor has qualified for the Winners Group on either the first or second day of competition, while he has never failed to reach the final of a group stage. This year, however, after three rounds, he has yet to progress, and even missed out on the semi-finals in Group 3 having finished in 5th place with only three wins from his seven matches.
Hence the reason we are getting unusually inflated odds of 3.39/4 on Taylor to win the Grand Prix this week.
On the flip side to his poor form, this is Phil Taylor we are talking about. A man who has lifted this title 10 times (it has only been played 14 times); a man who has repeatedly bounced back from poor runs of form to take major titles; a man who does not settle for second. At odds of 3.02/1 or more Taylor has to be backed, simply because he is Taylor and he rarely adheres to the logics of form analysis.
With Taylor in such questionable form we will of course look for some alternatives, and I am going to suggest a punt on Gary Anderson at odds of 24.023/1. The Scot missed the recent European Championships having picked up a three-event ban from European tournaments following an incident in Berlin in June.
The decision to ban Anderson is open to debate, but I'm not going to get bogged down in that here. However, I do think that the enforced absence may be a blessing for Anderson; giving him some much needed extra time off following a difficult year.
In the Championship League a couple of weeks ago he certainly looked a lot fresher, and with those games at Crondon Park under his belt, plus last weekend's Players Championship, Anderson could be in a much better position going into the Grand Prix than he has for every other major this year.
Of course, the double-to-start format isn't ideal for a man that notoriously struggles to hit his doubles. But Anderson's problems on doubles often only surface in patches, and if he gets on a role he can be just as lethal on the outer ring as the treble ring. He also has a potentially favourable draw. First-round opponent Brendan Dolan will be carrying the weight of expectation following last year's success in this event, then the out-of-form Vincent van der Voort or inexperienced William O'Connor await in round two.
If Anderson can rediscover his best form after an extended break from the game, that 24.023/1 could look very big, very soon.
A plucky outsider
Finally, a player at much bigger odds, and worth keeping on side, is Mervyn King. 'The King' has also had a couple of years to forget having lost his father, suffered a subsequent dip in form, then wrestled with an elbow problem that restricted his practice regime for a long time.
Back to full fitness and confident with his game once more, King is once again a force to be reckoned with. He hasn't quite had the run of things in recent majors, falling to narrow defeats at the hands of Taylor and Kevin Painter in the last two events, but I get the feeling that a good run is just around the corner.
King kicks off with a first round match against Terry Jenkins, a player he is more than capable of beating, then would come up against either Dean Winstanley or Dave Chisnall; two of the most flaky double hitters on the tour.
Phil Taylor is a potential quarter-final opponent but by that time King would be in his groove. Back the former World Masters champion at odds 70.069/1 to end his long wait for a PDC major title.