Phil Taylor plays John Henderson in the World Matchplay Darts tonight
Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis are all through to the last sixteen at Winter Gardens, although it’s reigning champion Phil Taylor who takes to the oche this evening.
The Power is not only the holder of this title but a 15-time winner of this Blackpool major, having won the last seven renewals and he’s second favourite to claim an overall victory again.
Taylor begins with a match against big John Henderson, a big Scot who reached the last sixteen of the World Matchplay in 2011.
Henderson did stun Dave Chisnall by beating him in the first round of the 2014 World Championship although this is a tall order to beat Taylor at an event where he clearly flourishes year-on-year.
Here are our verdicts on tonight’s action.
Robert Thornton v Keegan Brown (7pm)
A horrible draw for Thornton who has a miserable record in this event. The Thorn has never been beyond the first round and he faces a youngster who gave Adrian Lewis a real game at the 2015 World Championship before losing 4-2.
This will be the first World Matchplay experience for Brown although he demonstrated at Ally Pally that he thrives on the big stage and we’re happy to back a closely-matched encounter with SkyBet.
BETTING TIP: Total Legs +16.5 @ 10/11 with SkyBet
Dave Chisnall v Jamie Caven (7.45pm)
Chizzy is bidding to reach the last eight for a third consecutive occasion, with the likeable player now among the elite players in the world. Some of his performances in the Premier League were outstanding although there are question marks over his temperament in big matches.
Caven will need something special to beat Chisnall and we’re happy to include Dave in our accumulator for the evening.
Phil Taylor v John Henderson (8.30pm)
The reigning champ kicks things off in Blackpool against Henderson and it’s a decent draw for Taylor. The Power has shown few signs of slowing down, even if his absence in the final four of the Premier League was a notable surprise.
We could see Phil get this game by the balls against a player who has little in the way of experience, with his part-time status likely to be exposed against the very best of flat-track bullies.
BETTING TIP: Phil Taylor to win 10-4 @ 5/1 with Paddy Power
Raymond van Barneveld v Andy Hamilton (9.15pm)
Barney will probably get the biggest cheer of the night during the walk-on and the crowd will also hope that the Dutchman can bring his A Game to Blackpool.
It’s been five years since Raymond’s solitary final appearance at Winter Gardens, with three consecutive second round exits being suffered, although his form coming into the tournament is strong.
Hamilton had an underwhelming 2014 and is starting to slowly recover the form that saw him have memorable tournament runs in 2012 and 2013.
Van Barneveld to win
Taylor to win
Chisnall to win
Over 16.5 games in Thornton v Brown match
Pays over 2/1 with Sky Bet