The first world champion of the New Year will be crowned on Monday night when the PDC World Darts Championship draws to a close with a final between Phil Taylor and Rob Cross inside the Alexandra Palace in London.
We are guaranteed a wonderful story whoever wins this final. If Cross is victorious then he will be crowned the champion of the world just 11 months after earning his first money as a professional while if Taylor wins he will end his career as the world champion and holder of the two biggest titles in the game.
Round 1 beat Seigo Asada 3-0 – Ave: 104.12 180s: 6
Round 2 beat Michael Smith 4-3 – Ave: 102.65 180s: 16
Round 3 beat John Henderson 4-1 – Ave: 99.77 180s: 7
QF beat Dimitri van den Bergh 5-4 – Ave: 97.13 180s: 11
SF beat Michael van Gerwen 6-5 – Ave: 100.97 180s: 15
What a year it has been for Rob Cross and now he has the chance to round it off in style by being the first man since Christian Kist to win the title at his first attempt. The standard Cross has played at in this tournament has been very high and he deserves his place in this final even though Michael Smith, Dimitri van den Bergh and Michael van Gerwen all pushed him all the way.
Cross leads the 180 count in this tournament but it hasn’t just been his high scoring which has got him here. He has produced some brilliantly timed checkouts, none better than the 161 in the semi-final against van Gerwen and he will need more of those if he is to get his hands on the trophy. He needs to stay focused throughout too.
Round 1 beat Chris Dobey 3-1 – Ave: 96.33 180s: 3
Round 2 beat Justin Pipe 4-0 – Ave: 99.37 180s: 2
Round 3 beat Keegan Brown 4-0 – Ave: 101.34 180s: 4
QF beat Gary Anderson 5-3 – Ave: 102.02 180s: 12
SF beat Jamie Lewis 6-1 – Ave: 99.87 180s: 5
Phil Taylor goes in quest of world title number 17 in this final and were he to regain the title at the age of 57 in the era of the young brigade it might just enhance a legacy that few believed could be enhanced. I always thought Taylor had a chance in this tournament and while his numbers haven’t been explosive his play has been so solid.
The format has suited Taylor brilliantly and his experience has come to the fore when he has needed it. He has taken out some key checkouts and his combination finishing is as good as it has ever been. He might not have the 180s that Cross has but he has looked good on the scoring. This is the final match of his career and you know he’ll be bang up for it.
Head to Head
This is the first time these two have met and it will be the last time they meet too with Taylor retiring after the match. Cross will be competing in his first world final and only the second TV final of his career. Taylor is looking for world title number 17 and if this comes down to experience there will be only one winner.
What an epic best of 13 set final we are set for. We will witness either the greatest ever going out on top of the world with a fairy tale world title or the best debut year ever seen being crowned with a magical world title.
The day off between the semi-final and the final adds an interesting dynamic to this match. After the emotional effort and elation of the win over Michael van Gerwen in the semi-final Cross needed the day off to have any chance of performing to his best here but on the flip side of that he has had 48hrs where his mind could get away from him and allow him to dream of winning the title or thinking about playing in his first world final. Taylor will also have appreciated the day off to regroup and make sure he is at his best here.
The big question is can Cross perform to his best in this final or has his route here or the occasion got the better of him? If he does we’re in for a great final. If he doesn’t we know Taylor will perform and he will win. I’m already on The Power at 12/1 having backed him outright and I’m happy to let that ride.
That means for a bet on the final we are left with a trip to the side markets but I don’t mind that. The one in question is the total 180s where there is a 27.5 line doing the rounds which looks a shade on the high line to me.
The match against Anderson aside, Taylor hasn’t hit many 180s in the tournament and if Cross is nervous and struggles early on then we might get a couple of early sets without many 180s. Even if this goes 13 sets, and I don’t think it will, we would need an average of more than two per set to reach 28. Taylor has only once averaged more than one per set in the event so Cross is going to have to hit a heck of a lot to cover this. He has to be nervous at some point in this final. It is only natural so I’m on the unders here.
I’ll also have a unit on the match winning double. Both men might need a few darts to get the winning double here given what the match means. Cross must get nervous if he gets a chance to win his first world title and this would probably mean more than most to Taylor too. Both like to leave D16 but it could be worth chancing they fail on that and on D8 before pinning D4 for glory.
WON – Back Under 27.5 180s for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Coral
Back Double 4 – winning double for a 1/10 stake at 17.00 with Betfred
Back it here: