2016 World Matchplay – Final Preview

After a week of darting action at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool we are now down to the final two players and they are arguably the two greatest players ever to have played the game – World number one and defending champion Michael van Gerwen vs the 15 time World Matchplay champion Phil Taylor.

Along with my usual preview I have some added tournament stats for both players.

Firstly the head to head comparison

van Gerwen v Taylor

van Gerwen

  • Michael van Gerwen had a relatively easy win over Lewis in the semi-finals, defeating Jackpot 17-9. MVG never trailed during the match, starting by winning the first 3 legs, although Lewis levelled at 3-3 van Gerwen then won 5 legs in a row to really take control of the game, Lewis fought back to 12-9 down and did have some good chances to win the next 3 legs but some missed doubles were punished by MVG.
  • His overall passage to the final has been untroubled and he has broken his opponents opening throw in all 4 matches to establish control of matches early on. He has never been behind at any point during the tournament.
  • van Gerwen has a tournament average of 101.29 and a checkout percentage of 45.8% on his run to the final. He has averaged over 100 in 3 of his 4 matches and his doubles success % has been over 48% in 3 of his 4 matches.
  • This is van Gerwen’s 3rd consecutive appearance in the final of the Matchplay having won one last year vs Wade and losing in 2014 to Taylor.
  • MVG has won 6 of the last 8 TV ranking tournaments and overall has won 10 of the last 16.
  • van Gerwen has played in 14 PDC TV ranking tournament finals and has won 11 of those finals (Taylor inflicted 1 of those defeats in the Matchplay final 2 years ago).

Taylor

  • Taylor was in imperious form in his semi-final win over Gary Anderson, Taylor looked sharp from the off and a 5 leg winning run from 2-2 gave him a hold on the match he never relinquished, he extended his lead to 10-3 and never let his performance levels drop, eventually running out a 17-8 winner.
  • Taylor has averaged over 101 in each of his 3 matches in the tournament and his double success percentage against Anderson of 50% was his highest of the tournament so far.
  • He has hit the most 180’s of anyone in the tournament, a total of 34 which is 9 more than van Gerwen, although Taylor has played 14 more legs his 180 ratio is still superior.
  • It’s Taylor’s 16th appearance in a Matchplay final and he hasn’t lost in any of the 15 he has played.
  • This is only his 3rd TV ranking final since he won the Matchplay in 2014, he lost those previous 2 finals to Anderson (World Championship 2015) and van Gerwen (Grand Slam 2015).
  • Taylor will be playing in only his 4th TV ranking final in the last 16 played since December 2013. To put this into perspective he reached the final in 11 of the previous 16 TV ranking tournaments and won 9 of those.

Head to Head

van Gerwen and Taylor have played 52 times previously with Taylor leading the head to head record with 28 wins to 22 (they have also drawn twice). Taylor’s superiority was in the early years, he won 16 of the first 18 matches they played including a 16 match unbeaten run against MVG from December 2007 to November 2012. Taylor has won only 2 of the last 14 matches against MVG. Taylor won the last time they met though that was over the first to 4 at the World Cup. Taylor had failed to beat van Gerwen in 9 TV matches prior to that dating back to August 2014.

Significant recent matches in the later stage of singles tournaments have seen van Gerwen dominate with wins in the Premier League and Grand Slam finals and wins in the UK Open and Masters semi-finals all over the past 9 months.

 

Now for the extra stats.

These first charts show how dominant they have been on their own throw throughout the tournament with amount of times they have won legs when throwing first.

Legs Won & Lost Own Throw

As you can see there isn’t a lot to separate them, they have both been very dominant on their own throw as you might expect.

Now onto the legs won and lost when their opponent has thrown first in legs.

Legs Won & Lost Against Throw

This comparison is more interesting as it shows that van Gerwen has won 61% of legs against throw whereas Taylor has won less than 40% against throw. MVG has been putting more pressure on and breaking his opponent’s throw more often than Taylor, will this be a factor tonight?

This next chart shows the number of darts thrown in winning legs by them both throughout the tournament.

Darts in Winning Legs

This shows that Taylor has won more of his legs in fewer darts than van Gerwen, the total of 6 legs won in 12 darts or less is quite low for van Gerwen, in the Premier League at times he had won nearly 30% of his legs in 12 darts or less. Taylor has won more legs in 12 darts or less and also within 13 to 15 darts. If these stats continue across the final Taylor could have the edge.

My next two charts focus on the finishing of both players.

Here’s the comparison of checkouts.

Tournament Checkouts

From the above chart the figures show that van Gerwen has been more effective on checkouts over 100. In total he has 7 checkouts of 100 or more compared to 3 by Taylor. Taylor has had more checkouts in the 41 to 80 range with 20 compared to 12 for van Gerwen.

My last chart shows the most frequent doubles attempted by them during the tournament.

Most Frequent Doubles

What stands out to me here is the number of double top attempts from Taylor compared to his usual tournament stats, his D16 and D8 stats are normally the most frequent  but Taylor has opted to use D20 more during this Matchplay and it has worked well with over 56% success. Taylor hasn’t fared well when going for infrequent doubles and D12 certainly hasn’t been a friend so far. van Gerwen has been grateful for D8 during his run to the final, he has only hit 1 less D8 than he has D20 and that’s from 14 less attempts. Overall van Gerwen’s stats on D20 and D16 aren’t as high as they often are and has led to more attempts at D10 and D8.

Lastly here is my verdict on the match

Verdict

If I was writing this before the semi-finals I would say that van Gerwen is the definite favourite and Taylor would just come up short but having seen the level of Taylor’s performance against Anderson it would be folly to write Taylor off easily, the focus of Taylor against Anderson never faltered and significantly his doubles were clinical too. All through the tournament his scoring has been working and his tournament 1st 9 dart average is just ahead of MVG’s. Saying all of that van Gerwen hasn’t exactly been in sloppy form during his run to final, he has made easy work of his opponents so far and his finishing on the whole has been working very well.

It’s all set up for a final to remember, there is huge incentive for Taylor to prove he can still win big tournaments and beating Anderson and van Gerwen back to back to do so would be up there with his greatest achievements. MVG wants to dominate the game and retaining major titles is his big aim. van Gerwen has managed to get over the line in a few high profile matches against Taylor over the past 9 months but if Taylor’s finishing clicks like it did against Anderson things may be different.

I am torn between who I think will win, but I’m going to go with Taylor 18-15.

 

 

 

 

 

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