The first batch of quarter-finals gets underway at the Ally Pally this evening and, with all the big guns bar Gary Anderson remaining in the tournament, one of the most thrilling Ladbrokes World Darts Championship finales ever is certain to be on the cards.
Raymond van Barneveld (-1.5 sets) to beat Simon Whitlock @ 1/1
This match has the potential to be the highlight of the tournament as both are playing out of their skin at the minute.
Dutch master van Barneveld has dropped just one set on his way to the quarters and demolished fellow frontrunner Gary Anderson in his previous match in a 4-0 white wash.
The Wizard of Oz will no doubt put up a better fight than the Scot did, having lost just once in his last six renewals with Barney, but the imperious form he’s demonstrated so far in the competition means it’s easy to envisage him progressing by a two-set margin in the least.
Another sound bet on this one comes in the checkout market, where a price of 8/11 says the highest finish in the match will be north of 136.5.
Whitlock can always be relied upon for big finishes and is rarely phased by pressure, as proved with a clinical 152 to save his last-16 tie with Dave Chisnall. Barney is not as prolific when it comes to taking out the big numbers but, on this form, he’s capable of anything.
The 6/1 on offer for a 170-checkout here should not be ruled out either.
Phil Taylor to score more 180s than Andy Hamilton @ 13/8
Most players have shocking records against the Power, but Hamilton’s is probably the worst of the lot.
From 29 meetings, the Hammer has been dealt 28 defeats and a price of 3/1 in the match betting stakes suggests he has no hope here.
It’s common knowledge that Taylor has been, and still is in most cases, several cuts above the field in terms of ability, but far worse players than Hamilton have fared better against the Power.
His obvious tendency to go to pieces against his fellow Stoke native makes backing the tournament favourite at 1/4 hardly worth the bother, yet the 13/8 that says he’ll bag more 180s than the 2012 runner-up is very much worth a punt.
Usually a reliable scorer of maximums, the Hammer should better any total posted by Taylor, whose averages have been short of what you might expect in the tournament so far. Yet, if he implodes as he often does against this adversary, opposing his favouritism makes sense.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date