Christmas at Alexandra Palace will have a very different feel to it this year as defending champion Phil Taylor was shockingly dumped out of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship in the second round.
The Power, who made hard work of his opening round match against qualifier Rob Szabo, was sent packing by world number 32 Michael Smith in a thrilling 4-3 encounter, leaving Michael van Gerwen as the new 13/8 favourite for the title.
That Taylor was the 1/80 pre-match favourite for his clash with Smith indicates the size of the feat the 23-year-old has pulled off, with Ladbrokes revealing after the match that confidence was so high in the 16-time world champion that a bet of £100,000 was placed on him at 50/1 on.
The final set victory that Smith eventually snared was chalked up at 80/1 prior to proceedings and his magnificent triumph has seen his odds to win the entire tournament slashed from 250/1 to 28s.
Jessica Bridge of Ladbrokes said: “The script has been ripped apart. No one expected the defending champion to exit the tournament in the second round, but hats off to Smith, he has blown the competition wide open.”
She added: “The odds now suggest it’s Mighty Mike’s turn to go one better from last year’s final.”
While Taylor heads home to have Christmas is different surroundings, Smith moves on to a third round match with Peter Wright, who beat Per Laursen 4-2 on the same night. Smith once again finds himself priced as the outsider albeit at the slightly narrower odds of 13/8.
Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld also had a nervy night, although he managed what Taylor couldn’t in beating Jamie Caven in the final set to advance to a third round match with either John Henderson or Mark Webster.
Ladbrokes World Darts Championship:
13/8 Van Gerwen
14/1 van Barneveld
14/1 P Wright
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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