When you think of the Ladbrokes Darts Worlds Championship at Ally Pally, it’s hard not to allow Phil Taylor to enter your thoughts as the latest odds are released.
The “Power” has played a huge part in the redevelopment of the sport to wider audience in recent years, due to his sheer dominance of all the major titles in the last 15 years.
He, arguably, is the best ever Darts player to have graced the oche, and his record at the top level backs up that claim. Taylor has unbelievably, won over 180 titles since turning pro, but not only does he win the minor trophies, like any champion of their art, he peaks when the major tournaments come around.
The Stoke-on-Trent thrower has won the Ladbrokes Darts Worlds Championship 13 times, and is ante-post favourite to make it a magnificent 14 in 2013.
But there are question marks surrounding the multiple champ this year, as he is arguably going through the toughest period of his career this year. The standards he has set over the last 20 years have been neglected and he seems a bit lost when appearing in the big matches – something that usually Taylor prides himself on.
Not since the summer at the World Matchplay has Taylor been successful in a major. His subsequent performances, where he has been a well-backed ante-post favourite to succeed on each occasion, have been a bitter let-down.
First, falling at the quarter-final stages at the European Championship and then losing last 16 of the World Grand Prix and the William Hill Grand Slam of Darts.
His performance in the William Hill Grand Slam of Darts, especially, will be playing on the minds of hardened Taylor followers. He lost twice in the competition, first to Scott Waites in the group stage, where he usual sizzling double went amiss, and then to new kid on the block Michael van Gerwen.
The Dutchman, who is being touted to knock Taylor off his pedestal at Ally Pally too, beat Taylor rather easily 10-5 at Wolverhampton and once again showed that Taylor these days has major chinks in his armour.
These recent slumps have drifted the 13-time champion out to, what is in Taylor terms, a massive price in the betting markets. Usually the “Power” is available to be backed around odds-on quotes, but here he is well odds-against.
The 5/2 available on Taylor could end up to be a late Christmas present for many backers at the end of December. We all know that Taylor saves his best for the World Championships.
There is something about Ally Pally that Taylor thrives on. He is a man for the big occasion and it won’t be a surprise to hear that he has been very well backed, and will continue to do so, ahead of this tournament.
Taylor hasn’t won this title since 2010 though, after his prodigy, Adrian Lewis, has twice beat him to the punch. In 2011 he was stunned by Welshman Mark Webster in the quarter-finals before limply being eliminated by Dave Chisnall in the second round in 2012.
That performance against Chisnall, especially, was hugely disappointing and there are some pundits that reckon he his game has never been the same since.
So the big question is – is Taylor good value at 5/2 to land the tournament?
In our opinion, it’s a big, fat, no.
Some, in fact, many will disagree and see it completely differently but it doesn’t matter who you are, if your confidence is low on a sporting arena you are not going to play anywhere near your best.
That is the case with Taylor at the moment, and players will not fear facing him at Ally Pally when he’s in this kind of form. Better to look elsewhere in the win market instead of Taylor.