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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 21 February, 2020

Taylor ready to thrill Ally Pally crowd again

The Power is aiming for 17th world title.

Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

PHIL TAYLOR HAS issued an ominous warning to his PDC World Darts Championship rivals as he eyes the £250,000 prize for winning the title.

Final preparations are being made at London’s iconic Alexandra Palace ahead of the 16-day event that starts this evening and concludes on 1 January.

Defending champion Taylor has won the tournament a staggering 14 times and been crowned world champion on 16 occasions. As the greatest darts player of all time, Taylor heads to ‘Ally Pally’ wary of being on the receiving end of a shock result in the early rounds, although his imperious form in 2013 firmly suggests he is the man to beat once again.

Rob Szabo or Ian Moss are first up for Taylor, who is keen to avenge defeat in the final of the Players Championship Finals at the start of this month at the hands of Michael van Gerwen, the man he beat to win the World Darts Championship back in January.

Taylor said: “You’ve got to get out of the blocks fast because any top player is going to be vulnerable early doors. “I’m very motivated and I’m really looking forward to this World Championship. “My parents always told me that you’re only as good as your last tournament, and I just got beaten in the final, so I’ve got to move on and enjoy it at Alexandra Palace.

“It should be a great tournament.” At 24, Van Gerwen is the most exciting young player to burst onto the darts scene in years and is arguably Taylor’s main challenger for the world title. The Dutchman, who recently celebrated earning over £1million in prize money so far in his fledgling career, came agonisingly close to hitting back-to-back nine-dart finishes in last year’s competition, a feat that will ensure the explosive Van Gerwen will get plenty of support from the boisterous crowds expected to descend on Alexandra Palace.

Having recently beaten Taylor in Minehead to win the Players Championship Finals, Van Gerwen is confident of his chances of going one better than reaching the final 12 months ago.

“Winning the Players Championship Finals was great for my confidence and it showed everyone that I can still win tournaments, and they need to watch out for me in the World Championship,” he said.

“There are so many good players, though, that anything can happen and you need to play really well to win.”

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