Welcome to this week’s OpenOdds Darts Round Up, which this week focuses on one of the most tumultuous weeks in the Premier League. The action in Aberdeen brought us perhaps the biggest shock of the competition so far, delivered a four-way tie at the top of the table, and saw the first whitewash of this season’s tournament. We’ll have a look at the week ahead, which sees a guest spot for UK Open winner Nathan Aspinall and brings together Michael van Gerwen with his non-identical nominal twin, Gerwyn Price, in a top-of-the-table clash.
This past week also saw Raymond van Barneveld remain rooted to the bottom of the table and openly express his concern at the difficulty he has found in keeping the pace with the world’s best. As our round up will point out, the coming week is unlikely to make things much easier for the former World Champion – although Barney is likely to have company in the lower reaches of the table, given the form of a few other players.
Challenger Henderson Fights MvG To A Standstill
After his Week Four defeat at the hands of James Wade, the main consolation for table-topper Michael van Gerwen will surely have been the realisation that Week Five saw him paired with challenger John Henderson. With the bookies offering odds so short on the Dutchman that they could only be seen through a microscope, few viewers would have given Henderson a chance of getting any kind of result. In front of a roaringly partisan Scottish crowd, the challenger held his own though, and van Gerwen had to be satisfied with a 6-6 draw.
The Notorious MvG thus finds himself suddenly joined at the top of the table by no fewer than three other players. One of those is Gerwyn Price, who followed up his victory over Mensur Suljovic by declaring that he considers himself to be the best player in the world right now. Price will have the chance to prove that this week, as the Week Six fixtures bring him up against van Gerwen. It’s safe to say 888sport don’t agree with the Welsh player’s evaluation of his talents, as Price is 7/2 outsider while his opponent is at ½. That said, being favourite the last two weeks hasn’t changed van Gerwen’s results into wins.
James Wades Into Top Spot
Although the “Gerw(y/e)n Derby” represents a top-of-the-table clash, bringing together two of the four players tied on seven points at the summit, the real league leader at the moment is James Wade, who leads three other players by dint of a better leg difference than them. Wade has won eleven more legs than he has lost, and finds himself in this position as a result of a 7-0 pounding of Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney.
As lop-sided as that result looks, it did have a lot more to do with Wade’s excellent darts than a failure on his opponent’s part. The Englishman averaged 109.59 on his visits to the oche, holding his opponent to just two darts at a double in the entire match. More worryingly for Gurney, it means he has won just one of the last fifteen legs he’s played. Not the form he’ll be wanting to take into a contest with Peter Wright this week. Wade, meanwhile, will fancy his chances against Austria’s Mensur Suljovic. He’s Evens with Unibet and a few other bookies, and that’s without an Odds Boost; those are great odds on an in-form player.
Smith Remains Under Pressure, Barney Losing Hope
When Michael Smith reached the World Championship final, he probably didn’t envisage that his subsequent Premier League season would go quite so awkwardly, but at the present moment he finds himself separated from the bottom of the table only by Raymond van Barneveld, who’s having a slightly worse time of it than the English player.
Smith found himself out-darted by Rob Cross, who joined van Gerwen, Price and Wade in the top four with seven points. It must be pointed out that the losing World finalist has had a set of very tough fixtures so far, opening against van Gerwen and facing some of the world’s best players in the first five weeks. Week Six sees him in the position of facing this week’s invited challenger. Unfortunately for Smith, that challenger is Nathan Aspinall. Fresh from winning the UK Open, Aspinall is perhaps the best bet of all the challengers to actually win a match; and with Smith as 11/10 favourite, you might be a big fan of Ladbrokes’ 9/5 odds on the underdog – after all, winning and losing can both easily become habitual.
As for Barney – he could lift himself off the foot of the table by picking up a first win of the campaign, but he won’t find it easy against Rob Cross – most bookmakers have the Dutch master at 3/1 or longer. This week, “Barney” pointed out that as he prepares for retirement, he doesn’t feel that he has lost his touch. He’s still hitting 180s regularly, but a new generation of extremely sharp throwers means that the margin for error at the top is less than it has ever been. Recent upsets experienced by his compatriot van Gerwen would seem to back that up. Either way, RvB will need to start getting some results under his belt if he is not to be relegated before the tournament moves to his native Netherlands, and many fans of the game will agree that it would be a shame if his career were to end with a whimper and not a bang.