Take a punt on Bunting

  • By: Carl Longhawn
  • Last Updated: July 19 2014, 17:13 BST

Carl Longhawn is backing Stephen Bunting and James Wade to shine in the World Matchplay darts in Blackpool.

Bunting: Can go well at a big price in Blackpool
Bunting: Can go well at a big price in Blackpool

The World Matchplay is the highlight of PDC summer schedule and is considered to be second only, in terms of importance, to the World Championships in the calendar.

The event is in its 21st year and, as has been the case in all previous renewals, Blackpool's Winter Gardens plays host - an iconic venue to match up to an iconic event with a roll of honour to match its standing in the game.

The name of Phil Taylor appears 14 times and he has won here for the last six years. His form entering this week is perhaps at its lowest point for the past five years though, so his appeal as a 7/2 shot is very limited indeed.

Taylor should never be written off but he has struggled throughout 2014 with the flight of his new darts and, in my opinion, his price doesn't match his chance.

With Taylor overlooked, the bottom half of the draw seems wide open, particularly the fourth quarter which features Gary Anderson, Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis.

All three of these men would have to be considered to have a big chance but Stephen Bunting could be surprise package in this part of the draw.

'The Bullet' has made a solid start to his PDC career, a regular in the latter stages of floor events, winning one along the way.

The shorter format of the floor events is not Bunting's strong suit, having shown his liking for longer battles at the Lakeside in the BDO World Championship and Hull in the World Masters.

Whilst respect is given to the talent around him in the draw, 50/1 looks the best value on offer in the bottom half and I feel he can make his mark this week.

The top half of the draw is dominated by Michael van Gerwen and he looks likely to plot his way to the semi-final without too much drama. Whether he can go one better than last year and reach the final is a different question as he has been very difficult to predict this year.

Van Gerwen's biggest challenge may come from his opposing quarter, where Simon Whitlock, showing signs of a return to form in recent weeks, and 2007 winner James Wade are big threats.

Aldershot left-hander Wade was controversially omitted from the Premier League this year and has stated he will be looking to make a point. He has been notorious for his dislike of practising but has knuckled down this year and he has been refreshingly positive in his pre- and post-event comments.

His recent form has shown the fruits of his hard work and positive mindset. He was victorious in the Gibraltar Darts Trophy at the end of June and maintained that form in last weekend's European Open when losing to an inspired Gary Anderson in the last eight.

His record in this event is very strong. He has reached the last four six times since 2007, and the final on three occasions. At 16/1 he is taken to do so once again.

  • Posted at 1130 BST on 16/07/2014.