Today we will be discussing the BetVictor World Matchplay with Sky Sports very own darts pundit and commentator Rod Studd, of course Michael van Gerwen came out on top to retain his World Matchplay title becoming only the third player in history to acheive that. Van Gerwen won the final 18-10 against Phil Taylor who lost his first ever World Matchplay final out of 16 finals.
Thanks for joining us Rod, so then it has been a terrific tournament, early exits for Wade, Klaasen and RvB, what has surprised you the most about this years tournament ?
RS: Given his superb Winter Gardens record, you’d have to say James Wade’s first round exit was an eyebrow raiser. He’d never been knocked out prior to the quarter finals before and I fancied his chances of reaching the final for the sixth time. Given how close some of the matches appeared on paper, it was surprising that none of the games ended up going to extra legs.
It has been a breath of fresh air to see Steve Beaton back to his best, can we see him go far in more TV tournaments this year ?
RS: I hope so. Steve’s performances against Jelle Klaasen, Michael Smith and Gary Anderson were brilliant and it was fantastic to see a sportsman show such genuine joy and excitement after matches. It was like being transported back to 1996 again. I hope the Adonis can show similar form in the upcoming TV tournaments.
With the standard set so high in the game these days, can we expect to see a lot of the seeds falling at the early stages of TV majors like we di this week with Wade, Klaasen, RvB ?
RS: I’d say it’s certainly more than possible in the next big event on Sky Sports – the World Grand Prix. None of the big boys enjoy the first round there with the double in format combined with best of five sets. Anyone can lose under those circumstances as we saw last year when Wade and Taylor were both beaten.
Phil Taylor in his interview with yourself after his matchplay final eluded to the fact that players need to get better and better to beat him, do you think anyone can knock him off his perch so to speak ?
RS: MVG has won every big event since his surprise loss to Barney at the Worlds but no player in any sport is unbeatable. Anderson, Taylor, Lewis and Wade have all beaten him in either the World Cup or World Series this year. The Worlds is the one Michael wants and they will all be gunning for him there.
Taylor also hinted to managing a player in the future, any potential candidates ?
RS: I’m not sure who Phil had in mind but any young player would benefit from having The Power as a mentor.
Van Gerwen trailed just once all tournament, can he continue to dominate darts matches without playing his 100% best, in his last 4 major wins including the Matchplay he has averaged 102.53 (WMP) 107.48 (PL) 103.07 (UK open) 105.08 (Masters) can Van Gerwen maintain or even improve this phenomenal standard tournament after tournament ?
RS: We know he can average 123.4 in a one off game and possibly he could go higher in short course matches. Posting 105+ tournament averages is a big ask but it’s within his compass particularly if pushed by opponents playing at the top of their game.
There were 299 180’s in this tournament with Phil Taylor hitting the most with 41, he normally gets overlooked as one of the top scorers, do you think he will keep improving his scoring power ? there are claims he is finished, these claims are ludicrous after this weeks performance don’t you think ?
RS: The Power’s maximum hitting was one of the features of the week – 14 against Mervyn King equalled his best in one match at the Matchplay. Only time will tell if it was a blip or a new found scoring power.
What did you make of the whole Lewis/Price saga ?
RS: Rivalries are good for sport. They create interest and sell tickets. It was a shame the match didn’t live up to the hype – perhaps the players were more focused on the war of words than throwing darts.
What did you make of Taylor getting the crowd involved during the match, many people seem to say that it took his concentration off the game, your thoughts ?
RS: I think Phil thought desperate times called for desperate measures. He was well behind at the time and when he fired himself and the crowd up, he had a decent two or three leg spell. It was very unlikely to shake Michael out of his stride and his antics were ultimately irrelevant.
Why does the older generation still seem to be getting the better of the younger guys despite the sheer talent and experience they now have ?
RS: We shouldn’t forget that Michael Van Gerwen is only 27!
Generally it’s very difficult for young players to break through – the pro tour is relentless and some get the stuffing knocked out of them but some are beginning to make their mark.
23 year old Benito Van Der Pas will definitely be in the top 16 soon and he’s certainly capable of rattling the big boys cages.
Further down the list many of the top players are tipping Chris Dobey for big things.