OpenOdds Darts Round Up 23rd JulyPublished on: July 23, 2019Author: Antonia Kelly
Welcome back to the OpenOdds Darts Round Up, which this week looks at the state of play after the opening round of the World Matchplay. There are plenty of questions to answer – such as who has exited the tournament after a surprise first-round defeat, what the draw looks like after everyone has played their opening match, and whether the tournament favourite, Michael van Gerwen, is showing signs of breaking his recent run of poor form. We’ll also be able to give a more in-depth look at the bookmakers’ odds for the tournament, with some of the fancied outsiders having negotiated an opening round that provided a searching test for everyone.
With the next few days devoted to whittling the field down for the semi-finals on Saturday, leading to Sunday’s final, the action really hots up as of now. As we’ll see, some of the seemingly decent outside bets for the tournament have already fallen at the first hurdle – so we’ll also evaluate the chances of the non-seeded players who knocked out those fancied names, as they try to build a surprise run to the business end of this demanding tournament. Odds will only get shorter from this point on unless you can find an odds boost, so now might be the time to get on a possible bolter – we’ll see who that might be.
Six seeds fall over the first three days
Sixteen first round matches, sixteen seeds – the maths are pretty simple there, and all things being equal, we should be looking at eight second round matches, all with a pair of seeds involved. However, this year’s vintage of the World Matchplay saw no fewer than six of the top sixteen come unstuck, with the highest-ranked of those being Gerwyn Price. The Welshman was eliminated after a marathon tie against Stephen Bunting, losing a sudden-death decider on his own throw. As a result, Bunting now faces Ian White – who whitewashed Joe Cullen 10-0 – in the second round.
Another unseeded first-round winner was Glenn Durrant; the PDC rookie faced 16th seed Adrian Lewis in Round One, and averaged 101.05 as he comfortably usurped his opponent. Durrant now moves on to face van Gerwen in a clash of the PDC and BDO World Champions; we’ll come back to that tie later in the piece. Perhaps the shock of the first round, though, was the elimination of fancied outsider Nathan Aspinall. The UK Open champion has been having a fine season, but fell at the hands of Mervyn King. King’s reward? A second-round tie against the reigning champion Gary Anderson, who is 2/7 favourite with tournament sponsors Betfred to move on to a quarter final against either Michael Smith or Max Hopp.
Wright lays down a marker with stylish opening win
In the bottom half of the draw, Peter Wright continued his fine run of post-Premier League form with a confident display against Vincent van der Voort. Averaging 102.04, the highest three-dart average for any of the first-round winners, the Scotsman has improved his standing as a potential outside winner. If you fancy him for the title, you’d be well advised to get on him now – he’s rated a 13/2 chance by Betfair and those odds will slide in a lot further if he wins an all-seeded second round match with Simon Whitlock. The Australian underperformed but came through an opening tie with Wright’s compatriot John Henderson; he’ll struggle to out-throw the World Cup winner over the best-of-21 in this round.
Speaking of World Cup winners, Anderson secured his spot against King by winning over Dutch also-ran Danny Noppert. The holder threw an average of just 93.75, but threw well when it came to finishes and won 10-6. Anderson will fancy his chances of reaching the quarter-final, where his opponent will be either Michael Smith or Max Hopp. That’s a much easier last-eight tie than the one which awaits van Gerwen should he defeat Durrant. The remaining second-round tie in that area of the draw is between James Wade, who has a surprisingly tough run in the first round to beat Jeffrey de Zwaan 13-12, and Mensur Suljovic, 10-1 winner over Jermaine Wattimena.
That latter tie led to some controversy, as Wattimena criticised Suljovic’s methodical, slow throwing style and called the Austrian a “cheater”. The Dutchman later retracted his comments, possibly a sign that they were borne of frustration after such a one-sided defeat.
So what about van Gerwen?
It’s fair to say that much of the attention coming into this competition has fallen on MvG, whose run of five tournaments without a win has led some viewers to question whether his form could spell trouble in such a huge event. He opened his race for the title against Steve Beaton, and won 10-6. A solid win, but it’s worth looking at the Dutchman’s throwing average, which again fell well below 100 at 93.00. Of course, it didn’t need to be any higher to win the match – but can he throw like that and overcome second-round opponent Durrant?
In truth, if van Gerwen averages such a low score against Durrant, there is a real chance that the latter (a 9/4 outside bet for the match with Betway) could spring a surprise. However, we’d expect MvG to elevate his game enough to see off the competitor, although we would be far from shocked if Durrant were able to make it a much closer match than would have been expected pre-tournament.
If Durrant can bring down van Gerwen – and it’s a less fanciful notion than it would have been a few weeks ago – then what price a shock overall tournament win? William Hill have him priced at 16/1, and with an excellent start to the competition there’s every reason to have a small punt on the BDO World Champion.