The Premier League Darts champion will be crowned on Thursday at the O2 Arena with Phil Taylor the favourite to take the title.
Four players square off in an exhilarating play-off series and, though ‘The Power’ enters into the evening as overwhelming favourite, each of his three challengers have warned observers against writing them off.
Taylor is priced at 4/11 with BetFred to turn his dominance throughout the regular season into silverware, Aussie Simon ‘The Wizard’ Whitlock is rated as his closest challenger at 5/1, while James ‘The Machine’ Wade and Andy ‘The Hammer’ Hamilton are available at 7/1 and 14/1 respectively in the outright betting.
And despite entering into his semi-finals clash with Whitlock as a 6/4 outsider, Hamilton says he is confident of defying the form book and springing an upset.
“Nobody expected me to get here, and whatever happens now is a bonus to me. I’ll keep playing darts and keep fighting like The Hammer does,” said Hamilton, who got the better of his opponent during the regular season following a draw between the two earlier in the year.
“I’ve got nothing to lose and I’ve got a lot to gain. On my day I can beat anybody, I know I can.”
Whitlock is the heavy favourite for the tie at 1/2, but Hamilton’s determination ahead of the clash should not be ignored.
And if he can produce the form he is capable of then he has every chance of knocking the Australian out of the competition, and if he doesn’t then there is still a possibility that Hamilton can deliver a return in the handicap market.
Whitlock also still carries the scars of his infamous 15-8 defeat by archetypal grinder Hamilton in the World Matchplay last year and this could affect him if put under pressure.
The 45-year-old is Evens to win the match with a handicap start of 1.5 and, despite the narrow odds, this particular selection undoubtedly represents value.
In the other last-four showdown, first meets fourth as Taylor takes on Wade.
‘The Power’ was a comfortable winner over Wade both times these two players met during the regular season, and shouldn’t have any trouble producing the goods again at this crucial point in the campaign.
Taylor is the overwhelming favourite to win the semi-final, priced at 1/6, while his opponent Wade, who lashed out at fans who booed him in Newcastle last week, is not fancied at 4/1. The pair have met 42 times, with Potteries legend Taylor winning 34 and Wade only five – the other three ended in a stalemate. Wade has also only ever beaten Taylor twice in 11 Premier League meeting between the two.
Crucially, Taylor has beaten Wade in two Premier League finals – in 2008 and 2010 – and has also won the last 10 meetings between the pair.
“There’s a sense of satisfaction getting through, but also disappointment with the way the crowd are,” said the left-hander, winner of the tournament in 2009.
“They are entitled to boo and cheer for everybody, that is what they do and pay their money for. If they cant do it in a fair way and an equal mannered way then they should stop. If they want to boo me fair enough.”
Wade’s outburst suggests he is susceptible to outside influences but he must focus all of his attentions on the task in hand if he is to overcome ‘The Power’ and go on to win the tournament.