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World Darts Championship - Thursday Nights 1st Round Matches

2017-12-14 00:00:00 (This report was created at 2017-12-12 15:32:11)

Steve Beaton vs. William O’Connor

Steve Beaton is a veteran of sixteen PDC world championships, winning eleven first round matches. He arrives with mixed form. He enjoyed a good run in the Players Championship, losing to eventual runner up, Jonny Clayton, in the quarter final. However he was in poor form before that and has won just four of his last ten matches. Beaton won their only 2017 meeting, 6-2, but it must be said O’Connor was on a run of poor form at that time. Beaton leads O’Connor 5-3 in their career H2H.

O’Connor is in decent form, winning six of his last ten, reached the semi-final of Players Championship 21 and he has taken a few notable scalps recently, beating Dave Chisnall, Peter Wright and Joe Cullen amongst others. Facing Beaton will hold no fear for O’Connor but this is his first world championship so nerves could play apart.

Beaton has the edge on experience and has had a decent season. O’Connor has done enough to keep his card for 2018, won the Tom Kirby to qualify for this and he only just missed out on a quarter final in the Players Championship, going out 9-10 to Justin Pipe.

I can’t see much separating these two at the present time and the sensible thing to do is to back the outsider to small stakes.

1 point William O’Connor to win @ 2.62 with Skybet, Bet365

James Wilson vs. Krzysztof Ratajski

Fans of Ratajski might have hoped for a better price but the bookies are getting wise to the Polish Eagle. European Tour followers will have seen plenty of Ratajski this season and he has been impressive. He recently won the Winmau World Masters, beating Glen Durrant in the quarter finals, Cameron Menzies in the semi-final and Mark McGeeney in the final. That was the biggest win of his career and was quickly followed by him qualifying for his first PDC world championship. I imagine he is in a happy place and his career is going in the right direction.

Wilson qualified for the Grand Slam of Darts, but lost two of his three group matches. He did reach the final of Players Championship 22 back in October but he has lost three of his last four matches, including a first round loss to William O’Connor in the Players Championship finals. He does struggle against the top players and while Ratajski is only ranked 77th by the PDC, the reality is that he is a lot better than that.

Both players will be nervous, Ratajski is making his debut and Wilson trying to improve on his debut last season when he lost 0-3 to Kim Huybrechts.

Ratajski just has a bit more class and he should be able to justify his odds of 1.91.

1 point Krzysztof Ratajski to win @ 1.91 generally available

Michael Van Gerwen vs. Christian Kist

Kist was last seen playing in considerable pain due to gouty arthritis in his throwing hand. Take it from me, that hurts and makes throwing a dart all but impossible. The thing about gout is that once diagnosed it is easily treated and it shouldn’t be a long term problem. His form has been dreadful, losing eleven of his last twelve matches and two of his last three he lost 0-6. At least he will go home £11000 better off but if for some reason he hasn’t had his gout treated and is still in pain he loses this 0-6. He might even lose 0-6 if fully fit. MVG to win, no bet.

Gerwyn Price vs. Ted Evetts

The match of the day. Gerwyn Price is the 1.40 favourite. He is ranked 16th in the world, is on the fringe of the elite group and has plenty of big stage experience to call upon. This will be his fourth world championships but he has yet to win a match at Ally Pally, in fact he has only won one set. I suspect he will be determined, but also nervous. He has no positive memories of the venue. His recent form isn’t impressive either with just four wins from his last ten.

I am a big Ted Evetts fan. He is still only 20 years old, the youngest tour card holder and he is not the finished article yet but when he is, this guy will be winning tournaments. He has a great throw, he can score very heavily, hit nine darters the lot. He qualified for this by winning the PDPA qualifier and he did it in style. He had to win seven matches to qualify, a long day at the oche, but he never looked anything but the winner. His win over Robbie Green was particularly impressive, averaging 106 if I recall correctly.

His form of the last two months was a clue as to how he would get on in the qualifier. He won his first Development Tour title at the start of November, he then reached the semi-final of Development Tour 20, reached the quarter final of the PDC youth world championships, beaten by eventual winner Dimitri van der Bergh, before his run to the world championship first round. He has won nine of last ten matches but more impressively he has won twenty seven of his last thirty one matches.

OK, this is a jump up in class but he isn’t playing mugs, just young players who are starting out. He is just one of the very best of the youth players and he will be able to make a good living at the game. He has his head screwed on the right way and the talent to go with it.

Big stage nerves could be his weakness but winning his first development title has given his confidence a massive boost, as has qualifying for his first world championship. He is in great form and will pick up £11k if he loses. There is no real pressure is on him, he just has a great opportunity.

It’s different for Price, he is 16th in the rankings but hasn’t kicked on as much as many expected this season. From looking like a good bet to be picked for the Premier League, he now needs a good run at Ally Pally just to get back on the short list. The pressure is all on the favourites shoulders. If he loses this I can’t see a PL place for Price.

The bookies have to make Price the odds on favourite, I don’t.

3 points Ted Evetts to win @ 3.42 with Marathon Bet

-JamesPunt


World Darts Championship - Friday nights 1st Round Matches

2017-12-15 00:00:00 (This report was created at 2017-12-13 14:29:32)

Seigo Asada vs. Gordon Mathers

The Japanese champion vs. the winner of the Australian pro tour face each other in a best of three sets pre-qualifier. Asada has been to the championships on three previous occasions, losing all three matches but he has never been white washed.

Mathers is good enough to have beaten Corey Cadby three times in 2017 which is some sort of form line. The standard of competitive darts is higher in Australia than Japan and I would expect Asada to continue his losing run at Ally Pally but he win can one set as usual.

Stephen Bunting vs. Dimitri van der Bergh

This is one of the highlights of the first round. Former BDO world champion Bunting has returned to form after really losing his way for a couple of seasons. He was never the mentally toughest player in the professional game but his spell in the Premier League destroyed his confidence to a degree where he was very close to quitting the sport. That said it is a return to decent form not a return to his best form. He is still struggling against the top players, He has suffered comprehensive defeats to Peter Wright, Daryl Gurney and MVG in the last couple of months but he is beating the likes of Chisnall, Cullen and indeed Dimitri van der Bergh (6-5 in October).

Dimitri van der Bergh recently won the Youth world championship and he is ready to make the next step and become a tour winner in the foreseeable future. The last time we saw Dimitri on TV was at the World Series of Darts finals were he thrashed Michael Smith 6-1; beat Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 before losing to James Wade in the quarter finals (6-10). He isn’t overawed by playing a top player and he has the scoring power to compete. Consistency is a weakness but that will come in time.

Both have won eight of their last ten matches so both are inform and confident. I would have preferred these two players not have been drawn together as they would be great value underdogs against higher ranked players. Bunting is the 1.73 favourite having won their previous two meetings, Van der Bergh 2.30. Perhaps Dimitri is a fraction too big but the odds are not wildly wrong. Perhaps backing the match to go to five sets at 2.77 is logical but I will watch and enjoy rather than bet on this match. No bet.

Phil Taylor vs. Chris Dobey

Taylor will have the advantage here. The crowd will be on his side, he is in good form with seven wins from ten and Dobey isn’t a top player. Taylor does struggle vs. the very good players and he has suffered defeats to MVG, Anderson and Peter Wright in the last few months. Playing against an up and coming player? Taylor will have him pouring his drinks, maybe ironing his shirts at the break, polishing his shoes etc. Taylor demands respect from lesser players which is effectively making his opponent surrender before the start. Give him the respect he demands and your beat.

Dobey has shown some potential but he is not a player I expect to see closing in on a top 16 ranking or winning televised events. He has lost five of his last ten matches which sort of sums him up. He might make a living at the game but only as a fringe player, not a lead character.

These two have met twice before and Taylor has won both. Taylor has never lost a first round match in the PDC world championships and I don’t expect that to change. No bet.

Rob Cross vs. Asada/Mathers

Rob Cross gets a nice gentle introduction to the PDC world championship with a first round match against the winner of the earlier pre-qualifier. Cross has proved himself to be one of the top players in the world, is the 5th favourite to win the title and unless a very uncharacteristic attack of nerves gets the better of him it’s very hard to see an upset here. No Bet.

-JamesPunt


World Darts Championship - 3rd Quarter betting

2017-12-29 00:00:00 (This report was created at 2017-12-05 13:48:09)

World Darts Championship – To Win the 3rd Quarter

The outright market is dominated by Michael Van Gerwen as usual but the quarter betting is a little more interesting and there could be a surprise in the third quarter.

It has been well documented that the 11/10 favourite to win the 3rd quarter, Peter ‘Snakebite Wright’, was rushed to hospital a few days ago with a Gallstones/Gallbladder problem. A painful condition which usually requires surgery to remove the gallstones and or gallbladder. Keyhole surgery is the norm, day surgery followed a two-week convalescence period. A change of diet can also be recommended, less fat and less alcohol are often advised along with losing some weight.

The fact that his odds haven’t shifted an iota makes no sense to me. Wright is a workaholic. He grew up the hard way and knows that he is fortunate to be able to make a lot of money playing darts. He hardly ever takes time off and if there are no tournaments on he will be doing exhibitions to keep the money coming in.

For him to have to cancel all his exhibition appearances in the run up to the World Championship means that he really must not be very well. Most of the top players are preparing for the World Championship by playing exhibitions. It keeps them sharp and the competitive juices flowing, as well as being very lucrative. We can only speculate but his practice regime will have been affected as well. Taking a 2-3 week break from his routine is the very opposite of what he would ideally be doing. He should be fit enough to take part, its £11k just for losing a first-round match, but he will be underprepared. Underprepared but still 11/10 favourite. There could be value elsewhere.

Adrian Lewis is the 7/2 second favourite but he has missed a lot of playing time in the second half of the season due to injury, surgery and (his wife) having another child. His form suffered a lot and he is/was looking at a very steep drop down the rankings. The pressure is on him to have a good tournament and run deep into the prize money.

There are signs of a return to form. He has changed his darts and is very happy with his new set (Van Barneveld’s darts) but he is still a bit rusty from his lack of tournament play. He has won five of his last ten matches and isn’t back to his best, for the mean time at least.

Simon Whitlock had a great start to the year, winning two UK Open qualifiers and a Players Championship qualifier and he was runner up the World Grand Prix, moving back into the top 10 in the world rankings as a result. His most recent form hasn’t been good however winning just four of his last ten (losing five of his last six), and struggling to average over 90. He is 11/1 to win this quarter which is very short given his form. Playing the useful young German Martin Schlindler in the opening round is also a big test of hid form.

Kim Huybrecht’s is another player who is less than fully fit and he needs some surgery on his throwing arm. That will have to wait until after this tournament. He is a talented player but inconsistent, has lost six of his last ten matches and makes no appeal at 16/1.

Alan Norris, yes he isn’t fully fit either. Carpel tunnel syndrome will require wrist surgery at some point. It bothers him more at sometimes than other s and he is not at the Christian Kist level of injury, far from it, but it’s not ideal. His recent form is not great, five wins from ten, losing his last three and he faces the tricky Kim Viljanen in the first round. Odds of 18/1 look a bit short to me.

Darren Webster can be anything. He has won six of his last ten and to be fair three of those defeats came against MVG, Phil Taylor and Daryl Gurney, so no shame in that. He did make the quarter finals back in 2007 but hasn’t gone beyond the 3rd round in the last five years. Odds of 25/1 aren’t bad, but they are not great either.

Which brings me to Jonny Clayton. The Welshman will come to Ally Pally on a career high. He won his first PDC title back in October (Player Championship 22) and ended November by finishing runner up to MVG in the Players Championship Finals. He won £40000 for that performance, his biggest cheque ever and beat the very hot Rob Cross in the semi-final. His recent form is excellent, winning twenty one of his last twenty six matches so having good runs in tournaments is no surprise. He is scheduled to meet Peter Wright in the second round and if Wright is rusty from his enforced time out, Clayton has the game to beat him and that would leave him just two more wins way from winning his quarter. His odds are fantastic and offer a real value bet. He is a low as 16/1, which I agree with, is available at 40/1 with a couple of bookies, but the fastest punters can get some of the 50/1 available.

1 point Jonny Clayton to win the 3rd Quarter @ 50/1 with Betstars

-JamesPunt


World Darts Championship - Outright betting

2018-01-01 00:00:00 (This report was created at 2017-12-11 14:32:51)

World Darts Championship 14th December – 1st January

The biggest darts tournament in the world kicks off at The Alexandra Palace, London, on the 14th December for two and a half weeks of top quality darts to decide who will be crowned World Champion and pick up a cheque for £400000. The real question is….can anyone stop Michael Van Gerwen? The reigning world champion returns to defend his title in fine form having won four consecutive tournaments in the last six weeks and starts as the 1.73 favourite.

That is a very short price to win six matches, in a long, set based format against the best players in the world. However MVG is the world number one, is in unbeatable form and is supremely confident. Since becoming a first time dad in late summer he has benefitted from ‘the nappy factor’, he is even more motivated than before, which appeared to be impossible.

Of course he loses matches….just not very many. He is on a run of twenty eight consecutive matches won so just winning six is not a problem for Van Gerwen. He has lost a total of twenty matches in 2017, twenty defeats from one hundred and seventy three matches played. So that’s 11.5% of his matches that can be expected to end in defeat and his most recent form is better than that. That is very scary but while he has won six major titles in 2017, he has missed out on three. He didn’t play in the UK Open, was soundly thrashed by Phil Taylor 6-16 in the World Matchplay and was knocked out of the Grand Slam of Darts by John Henderson.

His record at Ally Pally is very good but nowhere near the level of dominance which Phil Taylor had back in the day when he won fourteen titles and eight in a row at one point. Van Gerwen has won this title twice, 2017 and 2014, was runner up in 2013 and a semi-finalist in 2016 and 2015. That’s a good record but what is worse for his opponents is that he is in arguably the best form of his life right now. Illness or injury may be his weakest link. He has had to pull out of two tournaments this year. Some reports were that it was due to gout, others went for bursitis. Both are very painful conditions and can flare up at any time.

There are a few players that can rattle Van Gerwen’s cage, especially in a sets based format. Phil Taylor is the best example. He embarrassed MVG in the World Matchplay; he beat him in the Champions League and the Premier League. Taylor is retiring after this year’s world championship, he will want to go out with a final win but he is not the player he once was. Gary Anderson can beat MVG, especially in this format, but Anderson has had a very interrupted last few months and seems to be a little off top form. Peter Wright has beaten Van Gerwen three times this year including in two European Tour finals. Rob Cross has beaten MVG in a floor tournament but has lost their last six meetings. Raymond van Barneveld has had his moments vs. Van Gerwen but Barney hasn’t been in good form this season.

Sometimes the first round can be a nervy time for the big names, shorter matches giving the outsider a chance but the draw has been kind to MVG who faces the injured Christian Kist on the opening night. With Kist’s injury making it hard for him to hold and throw a dart, that is effectively a bye into round two (Kist can be backed at 26.00!). There are some decent players in his quarter of the draw but nobody that will worry MVG unduly.

Gary Anderson starts as second favourite (8.00) and having won it in 2015, 2016 and being runner up in 2017 you can see why. He likes the sets format and he has been able to peak for this tournament in the last three years. However, is he peaking this year or is he coming here in mixed form? He has played some good stuff, has won seven of his last ten but he has lost some big matches. He lost the final of the Champions League to his nemesis, Mensur Suljovic, lost the semi-final of the Grand Slam of Darts to Peter Wright 15-16 having led 13-7 and ‘lost’ in the first round of the Players Championship to Mikey Mansell. Was that a defeat or was he just in a hurry to get out of the tournament and be able to spend time with his baby daughter who was ill in hospital?

I suspect the later but she is well again and out of hospital so hopefully he can fully focus on the job in hand. However he did have a month off the darts from mid-September to mid-October and it’s a valid question to ask just how well prepared he is. There are also reports that he is suffering with a bad back and there are plenty of questions to be asked about Anderson’s form and fitness. His draw however is very good and unless in he comes in cold he looks to have a quarter final berth booked. His is the easiest quarter and the bottom half of the draw is the place to be.

Peter Wright is the 13.00 third favourite and while his record in this event isn’t hugely impressive (runner up 2014 and a semi-finalist last year) his form this year has been so good that he is now the world number two. He has won nine titles and won his first TV major so you can’t knock his form. His most recent form has seen four defeats from his last ten and perhaps that could have been more, Anderson really should have beaten him in the Grand Slam. He wins a lot of games he should have lost. I prefer the moniker ‘Houdini ‘to Snakebite as he escapes defeat just when it looks he is defeated. It is an admirable ability and one that will serve him well in the longer matches.

Snakebite was admitted to hospital at the start of the month with gall stones and was forced to withdraw from his planned exhibition matches. It’s virtually unheard of for Peter Wright to take time off so he must have been properly crocked. It’s certainly not ideal preparation for the biggest tournament of the year. If he had a normal preparation he would be an attractive e/w bet at 13.00 but having to take a time out so close to the events is enough to give him a swerve this time.

Phil Taylor will be very motivated to win his final tournament as a professional. A final curtain call on his amazing career. You simply can’t knock is record, fourteen finals in a row between 1995 and 2007 and fourteen titles in total. Age and better competition has meant pickings haven’t been so rich in recent years and his last title was back in 2013. This is a long tournament with long matches and at the age of 57, its hard work to keep his concentration at 100%. He regularly loses to the top players nowadays and he has lost that ability to intimidate most of his biggest rivals. MVG, Peter Wright, Gary Anderson, James Wade and Barney have all beaten him recently. He has a decent draw, Dobey could be a banana skin in the first round, but I would expect him to reach the quarter final. If he got Gary Anderson there that would likely be that but if Anderson goes out maybe a semi-final is achievable but there are just too many strong opponents now.

New kid on the block, Rob Cross, starts at the odds of 17.00. This will be his first World Championship, a new experience and his lack of experience is inevitably a weakness. He has had an exceptional debut season, winning four Players Championships, was runner up in the European Championship and made the final of two European Tour events. All his final defeats were at the hands of MVG, no shame in that but you have to think that if he did make the final that would be his likely opponent. He lost the semi-final of the Grand Slam to Jonny Clayton, a player who has also gotten the better of him more often than not this season. Cross is a great player with huge potential but to win the World Championship in his debut year? Raymond van Barneveld did it in 2007 but nobody else. He does have a chance and those smart punters who took fancy prices even just a couple of months ago are sitting on great value bets but his odds now are just about right or even a little on the short side.

World Grand Prix winner Daryl Gurney (41.00) is another player who has had a phenomenal year. This time last year he came here ranked 24th in the world. This year he arrives as the world number 4 with his first professional title and first major title already under his belt. He has reached at least the quarter final of every major this year so he has to be a contender this year. This will be his 5th World Championship so he has served his apprenticeship. He got the draw that nobody wanted and is set to face Rob Cross in the 3rd round. One of the top contenders has to go out at that early stage.

Gurney now has the B game to get him past many opponents and he goes deep in most tournaments. His A game will need to appear at some point and if it does then he is a very dangerous opponent. He has it all, heavy scoring; big checkouts and his checkouts have been much improved this year. There have been big defeats recently; Taylor did what he does to the ‘youngsters’, he made a prick of himself, but he beat Gurney 16-4. There was also a big loss to Rob Cross 3-11 in the European Championship but there have also been plenty of big wins. Odds of 41.00 are much more generous than the 15.00 about Rob Cross.

You don’t get to be ranked the world number four by accident. Gurney’s record in major tournaments has been excellent this season and his odds do look to be on the generous side. Yes, he is in the hardest side of the draw. A likely 3rd round match with Rob Cross is the key to this quarter. Cross is having a brilliant debut season but we also know that Gurney’s A game is every bit as good as Cross’ and Gurney has the edge in terms of experience. Is Cross really three times more likely to win the title than Gurney? Not in my opinion.

Two times World Champion, Adrian Lewis starts at 41.00. He hasn’t had a good year, injuries, time out of the game for recovery and family reasons and things like moving house all have made playing darts difficult. However there are signs of a return to form. He has only won five of his last ten but is visibly playing better. He can’t be written off as one of the old guard but he does need to get more competitive matches under his belt. A good run here might do the trick and he has sorted out a new set of darts with which he is very happy. However he arrives here returning to some sort of form, not in good form. His last title was six years ago (he was runner up in 2016) and there are just too many good players in better form than Lewis. He has a decent draw and a quarter final is doable so his odds should come in after a few wins.

Mensur Suljovic (51.00) has broken through this season in much the same way as Daryl Gurney has, winning his first Players Championship event and a TV tournament, the Champions League of Darts. He is now the world number 5. His recent form is OK six wins from his last ten but his record at Ally Pally isn’t great. He has made the last 16 twice but has failed to get past the second round on seven of his nine appearances. His draw looks to get him to the 3rd round were he may well meet the very exciting Dimitri van den Bergh.

Raymond Van Barneveld won this on debut in 2007 and has made five semi-finals, including the last three in a row. That makes the 67.00 look very generous but they are more a reflection of a disappointing season. This time last year Barney was in really top form, played his very best, made the semi-final, averaged 109…and was humped 6-2 by MVG. That knocked the stuffing out of him, there was talk of retirement but he decided to carry on. It has been a winless year however (outside of the World Cup of Darts with MVG) and his last major singles title was the Premier League 2014. Yes he likes Ally Pally and goes well here but he has lost the knack of winning. His recent form is five wins from his last ten.

The rest look to be making up the numbers. We could see someone hitting top form and going unexpected high like Jelle Klassen did in 2016 reaching the semi-finals or number 16 at the time, Peter Wright reaching the final in 2014 but generally this long format allows the cream to rise to the top.

It is very hard not to reach the conclusion that MVG will win another world championship. He is the best player in the world, has an easy first round match and he is in top form. However he has never defended a sets based tournament and is yet to defend a World Championship title. That may just be clutching at straws of course. His odds of just 1.73 offer no value. He has to win six matches to win the title and putting money on a six match accumulator to win a 1.73 bet is not my idea of sanity.

The problem is that he is that much better than the rest at the moment. There are injury doubts about world number 2 Peter Wright and world number 3 Gary Anderson. Taylor will likely struggle with the longer matches. MVG has had the measure over Rob Cross in their recent meetings, Gurney can rattle his cage but he hasn’t beaten MVG for quite a while.

It’s all about the odds however and I will make two selections.

1 point e/w Gary Anderson to win the world championship @ 8.00 with Betvictor

The winner of this title in 2015 and 2016 and runner up in 2017. That speaks volumes for his tournament pedigree; he has the best record over the last three world championships. But for concerns over his fitness it would have been a bigger stake but I am not totally convinced he comes here in the best nick. He has played plenty of exhibitions recently so he is probably just fine.

1 point e/w Daryl Gurney to win the world championship @ 41.00 generally available

At least we know he is fit and raring to go. Wright and Anderson may not be and even MVG is prone to the odd health problem. Gurney is now an accomplished big stage player. His progress to make the world’s top four is based on winning his first grand slam event but also his consistency in all the other majors. He was so close to making the final of the Matchplay and his form for the six majors played in 2016 is SF/SF/W/SF/QF/QF. He is never far away and 41.00 seems a dismissive price for a player who has done the business this season. Yes a likely 3rd round match vs. Cross is a tough one but Cross is not invincible and this is his first PDC world championships so it’s another learning experience for him.

First round match previews will be posted in the coming days.

-JamesPunt