World Matchplay final: MVG and Winter Gardens wonder Wade collide
Michael van Gerwen would’ve perhaps assumed that before this year’s World Matchplay, he’d probably have to beat the almost immortal 15-time champion Phil Taylor at his favourite event to claim his first Winter Gardens crown.
Instead, it is The Power’s 17-14 conqueror James Wade that takes to the oche to challenge the world number one and heavy 1/4 odds-on favourite with Coral.
However, although Van Gerwen will be more pleased with his final opponent, The Machine (3/1) happens to be the only other participant this year in Blackpool to have won the title before.
In fact, the Englishman has reached this stage five times before, second only to compatriot Taylor’s 15 (all of which he triumphed in), and he’ll be fired up to claim his second World Matchplay trophy, after his success in 2007.
This tournament is one of the most prestigious in darts, and this match will mean all the more to Van Gerwen and Wade as they are both tied on eight career PDC major titles apiece.
Mighty Mike has been by far the in-form player of the two in recent years, though, almost taking the mantle off The Machine of being the next biggest thing in the sport in the process, and it is hard to back against him.
Wade may have largely got the better of the Dutchman in their early meetings, but Van Gerwen has won each of their previous eight clashes and 13 of their last 14.
The 26-year-old, who looked fairly comfortable defeating Peter Wright 17-12 in his semi, leads their head-to-heads now 16-10, and is temptingly priced at 10/1 for an 18-12 victory.
The Machine, though, can boast the fact that he has won their only duel at the World Matchplay, back in the 2012 quarters 16-13, and he is a more enticing 22/1 shout for a repeat result by that deficit (18-15) once more.
Wade certainly looked good in his semi-final once he got going, particularly being clinical with his checkouts, despite averaging just 97.85. Surely anyone that can beat the 15-time champion and winner of the last seven editions of this event cannot be underestimated?
Amazingly, despite this tournament having had five nine-darters in the last five years, we are yet to witness one this time around. There are odds available at 12/1 for a perfect leg on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, if you fancy taking a Coral match special (maximum stake of £20), then take a tempting price of 6/4 for Van Gerwen to be winning after six legs and go on to lift the trophy.