OpenOdds Darts Round Up 26th FebPublished on: February 26, 2019Author: Antonia Kelly
Welcome to OpenOdds’ weekly Darts Round Up – a look back at the past week, and a glance ahead to the one in prospect. This week, it’s about the UK Open in Minehead this coming weekend, and Round Three of the Premier League of Darts, which took place in Dublin last Thursday. There’s no surprise as to who’s clear at the top of the league, but as we’ll soon see, the identity of the player propping the table up will be a shock to many. As we prepare for Round Four in Exeter, three players are still looking for their first win – and two of them are facing one another at Westpoint.
Can anyone stop bookmakers’ favourite Michael van Gerwen from running away with the title? Can Michael Smith find the touch of luck that seems to have been eluding him in three exceptionally close matches so far? Can guest star Luke Humphries put Gerwyn Price’s exuberant celebrations on ice and inflict a first defeat on the Welsh star? All will become at least a bit clearer as we look at the latest news. But first, a gobbet of surprise news about a returning big name.
Anderson Back At The Oche
After Gary Anderson’s defeat at the hands of Michael van Gerwen in the semi-finals of the World Championship, the Flying Scotsman announced he would be taking time away from the game to deal with a back injury that had been affecting his game. He withdrew from the Masters and from the Premier League, and it had been assumed he would be out of action until later in the year. However, the field for the UK Open has been announced, and guess who’s returning to Minehead to defend his title?
It remains to be seen whether the injury is 100% healed, but Anderson evidently feels it can stand up to the rigours of this weekend – and as one of the top 32 players in the world, he has an immediate bye to the Fourth Round starting on Friday evening. The Scotsman’s return comes too late to play any part in the Premier League, but perhaps that lighter schedule will help him ease back in. 888 have faith in him – he’s 8/1 second favourite for the title. You know who’s favourite, don’t make us type it.
Yes, It’s Obviously Michael van Gerwen
The increasingly dominant World Number One is now ⅖ with William Hill to retain his Premier League title, a bet which seems safer than ever after he extended his 100% record in this season’s competition by flaying Rob Cross at Dublin’s 3Arena. MvG got out to a 6-0 lead, his touch momentarily deserting him as he missed two checkouts to make it a whitewash, before he wrapped up a 7-2 victory. With two points for a win, the Dutch master now sits on six from three, two clear points ahead of a small pack including Price, Peter Wright, and surprise bolter Daryl Gurney.
Next up for the favourite, it’s a meeting with James Wade, currently sat in mid-table with a win, a loss, and a draw (seventeen legs won and an equal number lost). It would be a major upset if Wade were to do anything other than lose, something reflected by the Englishman’s 6/1 odds with Ladbrokes – the longest price on any player in this week’s fixtures.
The Chasing Pack Look To Keep Pace
While first place seems, for the moment, to be locked down in this season’s table, the play-off system does mean that any player in the top four at the end of the league fixtures has the chance to play in a knockout tournament to win the overall title. The players in prime position for that outcome right now, 33% of the way through the league stage, are Price, Wright and Gurney. Price dropped a point – in theory – with his draw against James Wade in Dublin. For Wright and Gurney, last week’s fixtures were more profitable.
Wright saw off guest star Steve Lennon, albeit in a tight contest where the home favourite was roared on by a partisan Irish crowd; the Scotsman emerged with a narrow 7-5 win. Meanwhile Northern Ireland’s Gurney, an outsider at the start of the competition, stacked up his second straight victory in the League with a surprise 7-5 win over Michael Smith. Of the chasing pack, Price is deemed most likely to keep his run going; he’s facing rookie Humphries, and at odds of 4/6 with Unibet is a clear favourite. Gurney is underdog to take out Rob Cross, while Wright faces Mensur Suljovic.
A Small Change At The Bottom
With Suljovic and Raymond van Barneveld entering Round Three locked with Smith on a single point, the fixture between the Austrian and the former PDC champion was viewed as a chance for either player to get their first win of the league campaign. In the end, twelve legs of darts couldn’t separate the two, as they darted each other to a 6-6 draw which, in a surprise twist, took both above Smith. The Englishman was strongly favoured, even without an odds boost, to knock off Daryl Gurney, and led 5-3 going into the ninth leg. However, four straight legs went to the underdog – leaving Smith pinned to the bottom of the table on a single point.
With Suljovic facing Wright, the key fixture at the wrong end of the table is between Smith and van Barneveld. The Englishman is hugely favoured by Betway at 8/13, but “Barney” is stubbornly refusing to lose even when a major underdog, so his odds of 7/2 might be worth taking for a small punt.