The big names have been tumbling all week. On Sunday we lost reigning champion Rob Cross, on Monday we lost Grand Slam champ and world number three Gerwyn Price. By Tuesday, the best player in the world, Michael van Gerwen, was eliminated at the hands of Simon Whitlock and a day later world champion Peter Wright was a goner.
Those eliminations, and quite a few others, leaves a semi-final line up which will see Michael Smith, the top seed left in the competition, take on two times world champion Gary Anderson and another which pits former BDO hero Glen Durrant against debutant Dimitri van den Bergh as the players duke it out for the next two nights in order to get their hands on the Phil Taylor Trophy.
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Has Bully Boy’s moment finally come? (9/4 Outright Winner Price)
Michael Smith takes on close friend Gary Anderson and, after years of playing the bridesmaid might finally feel like his time has come. Bully Boy is now the top seed left standing in this year’s tourney and has met his former mentor in a semi before.
The pair met in the 2018 Darts Premier League semi-final when Bully Boy went through as the underdog before losing to Michael van Gerwen the final. Should the St Helens chucker proceed again it would mean a sixth televised major final and another opportunity to finally get that elusive major title under his belt.
Smith, of course, has famously been runner-up in the World Championship (2018), World Matchplay (2019), Premier League (2018), Darts Masters (2020) and the World Series of Darts Finals (2018).
Michael Smith to win semi-final: 4/5 at bet365
Old Master Anderson To Rewind The Clock (9/4 Outright Winner Price)
As for The Flying Scotsman, it would represent a 19th PDC major final and a chance to lift his ninth TV trophy in all. And, lets be honest, few would back against him picking up his second ever World Matchplay.
Anderson has admitted to struggling while playing without a crowd in attendance, although his performance here and on the PDC Home Tour, not to mention when winning the 2018 UK Open say differently.
On that note, next Saturday, the Glorious Goodwood horse racing festival will be trialing crowds on its final day for other sports to take note so perhaps some form of darts crowd in attendance may not be so far off.
Back to Anderson though and he has so far seen off Justin Pipe, James Wade and Simon Whitlock which, coupled with his winner’s experience, make him a dangerous member of the last four. Can he produce the old magic over 33 legs against a younger, hungrier opponent? I wouldn’t bet against it.
Gary Anderson to win semi-final: Evens at bet365
Duzza Ready For PDC Glory (9/4 Outright Winner Price)
Glen Durrant is playing in his fourth PDC semi-final since joining the tour at the start of this year. Duzza needed to show all his grit and determination to hang on in there in a bad-tempered semi-final against Vincent van der Voort, where he was at one point trailing 10-5 in an initial race to 16.
The three-time boss of the BDO kept in there though and clawed himself back into the game with two back to back 23 darters to cut the gap to 12-10 after which the Dutchman lost his cool completely and shot an illegal, not to mention dangerous, underarm throw for which he really should have been penalised.
From there though, Duzza had it in the bag despite putting in a less than vintage performance. Despite that, he still managed an average of 95.21 compared to his opponent’s 93.79.
Three-time world champion Duzza knows how to win and the longer this game goes on, the more likely Duzza is to make his first-ever PDC final, something which I think he will achieve.
Glen Durrant to win semi-final: 1/2 at bet365
Dancing Dimitri Looking Sharp (5/1 Outright Winner Price)
Young long shot Dimitri van den Bergh started out at odds of around 200/1 before a dart was thrown last week and has seen off some pretty big names on his relentless march to the last four. The Belgian spent three months staying at world champion Peter Wright’s house during lockdown which must have paid off as he has outlasted Snakebite by some distance.
The uber-confident two-time world youth champion who likes to boogie his way up to the oche has gone deep before reaching four major quarter-finals in the last two years – and third in a row given his deep runs at the World Championship and UK Open at the outset of this interrupted season – so a semi appearance isn’t really that surprising.
The Dream Maker saw off Nathan Aspinall in a comfortable 10-5 victory before beating Joe Cullen 11-9 and two-time world champion Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis and is unlikely to be fazed by Glen Durrant who recently admitted to being thoroughly outplayed in practise by the 26-year-old. Don’t rule out Dimitri.
Dimitri van den Bergh to win semi-final: 13/8 at bet365
QUICK GLANCE AT WORLD MATCHPLAY DARTS
Venue: Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Format: Best of 31, 33
Current Champion: Rob Cross
Where To Watch: Sky Sports
When To Watch: (1800 GMT)