Welcome back to OpenOdds’ Darts Round Up, where this week we will be picking through the fallout from an eventful Judgement Night in Rotterdam. One player was eliminated, while the positions at the top of the table shifted and then shifted again over two evenings on the banks of the Meuse. We’ll also look forward to the first night of the second phase, which this week takes the players to the SSE Arena in Belfast; a homecoming for one of the eight remaining contenders.
As usual, we’ll take a look at the big fixtures of the week and see what the bookmakers are predicting; as we come into Night Ten of the Premier League of Darts, all of the players have played each other once already – who’s going to be out for revenge, and who’s likely to keep their run of dominance going?
Bye-Bye Barney: Home favourite bows out
Craig David’s 7 Days had nothing on the three experienced by Raymond van Barneveld last week; eliminated on Wednesday, he announced his immediate retirement from darts on Thursday, and by Friday he was retracting the previous night’s announcement. It could have been so different for the popular Dutch star. Having won for the first time in the competition a week ago, he had a couple of winnable fixtures at the Rotterdam Ahoy and an outside chance of catching and eliminating Michael Smith.
Unfortunately, RvB was out-darted by Daryl Gurney on the first night, losing 7-1, and was eliminated thanks to Smith’s surprise win over Gerwyn Price. Night two saw an all-Dutch fixture against competition favourite Michael van Gerwen; the younger man applied the coup de grace with another 7-1, after which Barney told interviewers he was bringing forward his scheduled retirement. The next day, through his manager, the popular 51-year-old retracted his initial statement and apologised to fans, reiterating that he would retire after one last World Championship in January.
For the remaining eight, on to Belfast
Belfast’s SSE Arena is the venue for the first night post-elimination, and it’s a home tie for Darly Gurney, whose win on Wednesday night started all of the Barney commotion. The Northern Irishman followed this up with a 7-3 win over Mensur Suljovic. Following on from a win in Berlin over van Gerwen, this very much makes Gurney the man in form; with three wins in a row, he has been catapulted into the top four and is now competing for a play-off spot. This Thursday, he will face a tricky battle against Rob Cross.
Cross came into the Rotterdam event with a narrow points lead over van Gerwen in first place. Night one saw that lead erased in a 7-5 loss to Suljovic. On night two, the Englishman faced Belgian challenger Jeffrey de Zwaan and, by winning 7-4, stayed level on points at the top. The bookies aren’t setting too much store in home advantage this week – Cross is 10/11 with BetVictor to sink Gurney in the heart of the Titanic Quarter, with the home boy a narrow outsider at 2/1.
Van Gerwen back on top
As one Dutch player left the Premier League scene, his compatriot moved back to the top of the table as MvG pulled out some of his best darts over the two nights in Holland. Before putting the full stop on Barney’s Premier League adventure, van Gerwen was equally ruthless the previous night against Peter Wright, dropping the Scottish player with a 7-1 schooling. Not only did last week’s showing bring the favourite level on points with Rob Cross, it also did his leg difference a power of good. With +22 from the first nine matches, the defending champion has some daylight over his closest challenger.
This Thursday, van Gerwen will face Gerwyn Price, just three weeks after their Night Six meeting in Nottingham. The Dutch star won that handily (7-2), making it fourteen victories over the Welshman in as many matches. You’ll get 13/2 with Betway on the underdog making it a lucky number 15, but we probably wouldn’t bother. While the pugnacious Price continues to insist he can beat van Gerwen, there is an increasing collection of evidence that actually, he can’t.
Wade stops the rot – for now?
James Wade remains in the top four of the league table, but it would be stretching things to call him a “form player” on the basis of his one win in four outings. The English player pulled out a 7-4 win over struggling Michael Smith, but that result followed a 6-6 draw with invited guest Dmitri van den Bergh, and a similar draw against Peter Wright – these results following a hefty defeat at the hands of Suljovic.
This week, Wade faces Suljovic again and, perhaps due to their respective league positions (it’s 3rd vs 5th, the English player is comfortable favourite with Ladbrokes. Your best bet might be to plump for Suljovic at 13/8 – he already owns a win over Wade in this competition and has been in far better form recently.
The remaining fixture pairs Smith with Wright; the player now bottom of the table meeting the most out-of-form (Wright has tailed off after a decent start, with not a single win in his last four matches). Smith is narrow favourite and if you can pick up an Odds Boost he’d be very decent value to beat a player who hasn’t beaten anyone still in the competition. The Scot’s first win was against invited guest Steve Lennon, and his only other victory came against the now eliminated van Barneveld. When Smith met Wright earlier in the season, they played out a 6-6 draw – but that was before Wright’s form fell apart.