A new name will be engraved onto the Phil Taylor Trophy on Sunday evening when the final of the World Matchplay is played out as Nathan Aspinall faces off against Jonny Clayton inside the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
We have seen a number of shocks and surprises over the course of the week but we are left with two Premier League players and former TV tournament winners to battle it out for the second biggest prize in the sport.
When it comes to TV tournaments, Nathan Aspinall has been one of the most consistent players of the last 12 months or so. He reached the final of the World Grand Prix and the Grand Slam of Darts and the last eight of the UK Open as well as missing out on the Premier League play-offs by one spot. The thing which would have disappointed him is he hasn’t won any of those titles and now he has another shot at the biggest tournament win of his career.
Aspinall has looked very good this week. He has come through his four matches with the minimum of fuss. If there is a concern it is that he hasn’t really been behind in the tournament and only had to battle against Danny Noppert so if this is a tight final it will be interesting to see what he finds under pressure. The other thing that is starting to worry me is the regripping of the dart before a double is returning to his game. The positive though is he is scoring arguably better than ever.
The year before the resurgence of Nathan Aspinall, it was Jonny Clayton who was doing the business in the TV tournaments. The difference is that he won the Premier League, The Masters, the World Grand Prix and the World Series Finals so the Welshman knows how to win a major TV title. He won the World Cup earlier in the year and has been building towards something special and is now on the verge of the biggest win of his career.
Clayton has been made to work a lot harder this week but he has faced the tougher opponents. He has had to take care of the World Championship semi-finalist Gabriel Clemens, former winner Dimitri Van den Bergh, Ryan Searle and one of the more promising stars in the game in Luke Humphries and while he has had to battle, the thing to like about Clayton is in each match he was playing his best darts when the finishing line was approaching. That bodes well for him.
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Taking their two meetings in the PDC Home Tour out of the equation, these two have met on 10 previous occasions and it is Jonny Clayton who holds a 6-3 advantage. There has also been one draw in the Premier League. This will be their fourth meeting in 2023. The previous three came in the Premier League where Clayton won the first two and Aspinall the latest one. In all they have met six times on TV with Clayton 3-2 up with that Premier League draw. This will be the first time these two men have met in a major tournament outside of the Premier League and the first time they will play a final against each other.
Those of you who have followed us throughout the week will be holding onto a ticket for Jonny Clayton to win this match at 18/1. That is because we backed him before a dart was thrown in this tournament and I’m happy enough to let that bet ride, certainly at the outset. If he goes a few legs in front I might look to get out but for now that outright bet is the first piece of interest I am going to have in this final.
I think Clayton will win this so he will win at least 18 legs and when you consider in the last three matches he has won 44 legs and hit 10 ton plus checkouts in that time at one every 4.5 legs on average, if he performs to that average and wins he will have four of them in this match so the 11/8 that he hits three of them looks juicy enough to me. Clayton is one of the best finishers on tour with the 121 finish his signature dish and he’ll need to pin a few of these because Aspinall is likely to outscore him at times. Tom plus checkouts are the forte of the Welshman so I’ll back him to hit three of them at a decent price.
Back J.Clayton – 3 or more 100+ checkouts for a 3/10 stake at 2.38 with Betway