Welcome back to OpenOdds’ Darts Round Up. Since we’ve been away, plenty has happened in the world of darts and we’ll catch you up on that in a moment. We also have the up-to-date news on the PDC World Championship, kicking off at the Alexandra Palace in London on the 13th of December. It finishes, once again, on New Year’s Day and, no doubt, you can guess who the bookmakers have as favourite.
We’ll cover the draw in greater depth shortly, as well as catch you up with the Champions League, World Series, Grand Slam and Players Championship finals, so there’s a decent form guide as we look ahead to the big one in a fortnight’s time. Who’s hitting the mark right when they need to be, who is falling away, and who’s at risk of an upset in the early stages of the World Championship? All will be revealed…
Van Gerwen completes the set in Leicester
Coming into the Champions League at Leicester’s Morningside Arena, Michael van Gerwen was one title short of the complete set of PDC premier titles, so it was no surprise that all eyes were on the Dutchman as October drew towards a close. Drawn in Group A, which also featured Michael Smith, James Wade, and defending champion Gary Anderson, MvG moved comfortably to the semi-finals by beating all three men, and saw his hopes rise even further as second- and third-seeds Rob Cross and Daryl Gurney failed to progress from Group B.
Van Gerwen, who is 6/5 favourite with SportingBet to win the World Championship, then had to be very much at his best, edging out Gerwyn Price in the semi-final before moving on to face Peter Wright for the title. Wright, who had easily defeated Smith 11-5 in the semis, led 10-7 and had a throw for the match – and therefore the trophy – but passed up the chance and was punished for it. You’ll rarely get two chances against a player of MvG’s quality.
Price retains Grand Slam title against the odds
From East Midlands to West the tour moved, and the Grand Slam of Darts provided eight packed days of action at Wolverhampton’s Aldersley Leisure Village. With 32 players involved, the tournament was split into eight groups of four, which passed off with little major incident. No seeds were knocked out, and the last 16 then took very much its expected shape. James Wade was eliminated by qualifier Adrian Lewis, while Rob Cross’s discontent continued as, due to placing second in his pool, he was drawn to face Peter Wright, who won 10-3.
The big story of the knockout stages came as Gerwyn Price gained a measure of revenge in a semi-final showdown with van Gerwen. In a match of stunning intensity, Price triumphed 16-12 to finally overcome his hoodoo against the Dutch master. Clearly, nobody beats Gerwyn Price 20 times in a row. Buoyed by this success, the Welshman then went on to defeat Wright 16-6 in the final and retain the only premier title he has ever won. He’s now 9/2 second-favourite with Unibet to win the World title.
MvG strikes again in Players Championship
Most recently, the Players Championship finals took place at Butlins’ Minehead over the weekend, with the defending champion Daryl Gurney hoping to follow in the footsteps of Price and retain his title. This dream lasted for as long as it took outsider Luke Woodhouse to pull off the shock of the tournament, taking Gurney out 6-5 in the first round. Badly scrambling for form right now, the Northern Irish star is available at 40/1 with Betfred to lift the World Championship title, a set of odds that would have seemed unimaginable just a few months ago.
Along with an impressive showing from Raymond van Barneveld, whose jaunt to the quarter finals took in wins over Nathan Aspinall, Joe Cullen and BDO champion Glen Durrant, the Players Championship was most notable for the final being yet another meeting between MvG and Price. Right now, the two men appear almost psychically joined, and as they have been kept apart in the draw, it would be little surprise to see them face off again at the Ally Pally as 2020 gets going.
Ah, yes… the World Championship
So the draw has been made for the big one, which will take place over nineteen days, spanning Christmas, in London. Scanning the horizon for potential upsets, the first thing to notice is that MvG is unlikely to be genuinely tested until the semi-final, as the highest other seed in his quarter of the draw is an underperforming James Wade. A potential semi against Smith or Gary Anderson may be more of a test. As for “Barney”, his farewell sees him face America’s Darin Young in the first round, with compatriot and protege Jeffrey de Zwaan awaiting a round later. The reward for winning both those matches is a likely third round tie with Peter Wright.
Aside from those already named, is there a standout bolter among the crowd? Well, Durrant could be worth keeping an eye on. His first season on the PDC Tour has been impressive, and if he can hold off likely second-round opponent Jose de Sousa he’ll likely face Gurney in the third. A complication arises in the quarters, when he would be due to take on Price – but at 33/1 with Grosvenor, Durrant may be worth backing each way in the early stages.