Welcome to another edition of OpenOdds’ Darts Round Up, which looks back at Night 13 of the Premier League of Darts, a week which was unlucky for anyone hoping to see a decisive match. We’ll look forward to Night 14, a slate of fixtures which could see the top two officially confirm their place in the play-offs, and also ensure the elimination of the bottom two. We’ll check in with the bookmakers to see who’s favoured to win on a night that pits favourites against hopefuls, and contenders against also-rans.
Night 14 takes us to Manchester, with a knife-edge tie between James Wade and Gerwyn Price potentially the showdown of the night. Those players occupy third and fourth places in the table respectively, and with three weeks of action to go their match has plenty riding on it. We’ll look into what defeat and victory would mean for each player – and also have a realistic look at whether Daryl Gurney can turn over the tournament favourite in a bid to keep his play-off hopes buoyant.
Not much changes on a stalemate night in Brum
While the top two in the table have been pretty much clear of the back since the get-go, the middle of the standings has continued to be congested. In the closest Premier League since the tournament’s inception, no fewer than six players are still at least in with a chance of a play-off place. Beneath van Gerwen and Rob Cross, the order of those players has repeatedly changed. However, in Birmingham it was very much a case of “as you were”, with three draws in the night’s four matches.
That meant that James Wade, perhaps the best bet for one of the two spots still realistically up for grabs, could not advance his cause on a night when he ended up drawing 7-7 with van Gerwen. A creditable result it certainly was, but Wade, who had previously defeated the Dutchman in this season’s competition, will be disappointed. Having won on van Gerwen’s throw to go 7-5 up, he had an immediate chance throwing first to take all the points. MvG is champion for a reason, though, and took the last two legs.
Wade will now face Price, who had an impressive night to pick up a point against Cross. The Welshman trailed 3-1 and 5-3, but four straight legs put him in a position to win the match. Price had four match darts, but missed on each as the second-placed Englishman secured the draw.
As such, the two matches involving the tournament’s top four ended honours even, leaving the top of the table looking the same as it did before anyone got to the oche. Wade and Price will finish off the night’s action in Manchester, and the betting is close. Betway have Wade as marginal favourite, 5/4 against the Iceman’s 6/4. This season has taught us to take nothing for granted, but getting Wade for any price better than Evens is a shot worth taking.
Smith off the bottom after Suljovic battle
When Raymond van Barneveld departed the competition after the Rotterdam double-header, England’s Michael Smith immediately inherited the bottom spot in the table, and held onto it firmly through four punishing weeks. However, Smith had some good news last Thursday when a draw with Mensur Suljovic lifted him above Peter Wright on leg difference. It could have been better for the Bully Boy, too, as he led the Austrian 6-2 after eight legs. Suljovic, however, put in a stunning comeback to take the next five before Smith belatedly got his groove back to secure a point.
Despite moving to seventh place, the World Championship runner-up has openly conceded he won’t make the playoffs; he needs three consecutive wins and an improbable sequence of favours from players above him. He’s likely to see that bid fall at the first hurdle as his Manchester opponent is none other than Rob Cross. “Voltage” is available at Evens with Betfair and has the significant motivation of being able to seal his play-off spot with a win over a player who is now simply playing for form. Smith could make a contest of it, but surely won’t win.
Gurney the night’s only winner
On a night where everyone seemed reluctant to upset the applecart, Daryl Gurney kept his play-off hopes very much alive by defeating the utterly out-of-form Peter Wright. Coming into the night two points behind each of Price, Wade and Suljovic, the Northern Irishman shared the first eight legs with his Scottish opponent, but then turned on the afterburners. After breaking throw with an excellent 12-dart finish in the tenth, Gurney mopped up the final two legs to win 8-4. Wright now sits level on points with Smith and will be eliminated if he fails to beat Suljovic which, on recent form, he almost certainly will.
Gurney can get himself into the top four if other results go his way and he wins in Manchester. The one issue with that plan is that his match is against van Gerwen, who’s ⅓ favourite with Paddy Power. The Mallusk man will need to remember that he won their previous meeting in this competition, 7-5 last month in Berlin. If he can reproduce that kind of form, he could make his own 5/1 odds with the same bookmaker look like an accidental odds boost – MvG has been far from infallible in this year’s competition, and Gurney has more momentum than anyone else right now.