Welcome to OpenOdds’ weekly Darts Round Up, looking back at the past week and ahead to the coming week of action from the oche. This week, we’re taking a look at the UK Open, which delivered a surprise winner, and the latest action from the Premier League which last week visited Exeter. As we’ll soon see, there were some surprises there, too. Of course, we will also be looking at the upcoming Week Five Premier League fixtures, and seeing what odds the bookmakers are offering on any more shock outcomes.
As the Premier League table gets a little more competitive, and its travelling roadshow heads back to Scotland, we’ll get into how this week’s fixtures could affect the standings as we pass the halfway point. We’ll see how defending champion Michael van Gerwen, and the chasing pack, fared in the West Country and how they’re likely to do in Aberdeen, as well as a few words about this week’s guest player John Henderson, who faces a tall task in the north of his native Scotland. But first, the UK Open…
Open Glory For Aspinall
In January, 27-year-old Nathan Aspinall made it to the semi-finals of the PDC World Championship before being taken out by eventual runner-up Michael Smith. On Sunday, Aspinall continued his rise to the upper echelons of world darts by picking up his first title in a televised event, knocking off former World Champion Rob Cross by an 11-5 scoreline in the final. With years ahead of him in the game, the young Englishman is clearly one to watch for the future.
Given his run in the Worlds, Aspinall’s victory clearly hasn’t come out of nowhere, but he was something of an outsider given that van Gerwen started as odds-on favourite even with an Odds Boost. In the end, though, the Dutchman was knocked out on the opening day, with defending champ Gary Anderson and contender Peter Wright joining him in failing to make the last 16. With the field opening up, a chance presented itself for the other elite players, and it was Aspinall who held his nerve to win through a semi-final against Gerwyn Price and then sign off in the final with a 170 checkout.
A Rare Sub-Par Week For van Gerwen
In losing 10-6 to Mervyn King on Friday, Michael van Gerwen experienced what for him must feel like an existential crisis, suffering his second defeat in consecutive matches. The previous day, in Premier League action, the world’s top player bowed to a 7-3 defeat against 6/1 outsider James Wade – who won the last five legs to secure the most shocking result the Premier League has seen so far this season. This win catapulted Wade into the top four, now just a single point behind his vanquished opponent.
Van Gerwen will fancy his chances of resuming normal service this week. Tournament sponsors Unibet have him at 2/13 to defeat this week’s guest contender John Henderson – and no matter how much you check our Odds Comparison page, you’re unlikely to see those odds get a lot longer. Henderson is ranked 20th in the world and has drawn the shortest of straws by being chosen to face van Gerwen – although with his own odds being 10/1, and given the week the Dutchman has had, the upset could be worth a speculative and very small punt.
Cross And Price In The Chasing Pack
After a bruising 7-2 defeat to the front-runner in Week Three, Rob Cross faced another of the early pace-setters in Daryl Gurney. The Englishman wasted no time in bouncing back, delivering the heaviest winning margin any player has had so far this season by winning 7-1, a result that catapulted Cross into the top four at the expense of his beaten foe. Along with Wade, the top four is completed by Gerwyn Price, who could have moved level on points with MvG but was held to a 6-6 draw by guest Luke Humphries.
Price narrowly missed a nine-dart finish, and with the crowd on his back seemed to lose focus against the World Championship quarter-finalist, falling 5-4 behind. In the end, the Welshman retained his unbeaten record, and will be looking to justify Ladbrokes’ tag of 13/10 favourite to win in Week Five against Mensur Suljovic. Fellow chasers Cross and Wade face Michael Smith and Gurney respectively – Cross starts as narrow favourite, while the bookies struggle to separate Wade and Smith – 888 have both at 29/20.
First Wins For Suljovic And Smith
Having been a World Championship finalist as recently as January, Michael Smith would have been irritated to find himself bottom of the table as Week Four of the Premier League rolled around. On Monday, he would have been even more annoyed, as emergency surgery was required to remove a painful abscess on his groin; Smith was still limping as he took to the stage to face Raymond van Barneveld. A gilt-edged chance for a first win it may have appeared for Barney, but as it turned out, Smith was the one to get off the mark, winning 7-4 despite his evident pain.
Also winning for the first time, and condemning RvB to bottom spot in the table, was Austria’s Suljovic. He faced Peter Wright, who sat just two points behind van Gerwen in the table. With their match immediately preceding that of the league leader, Wright could have gone joint-top for a while (and as it turned out, stayed there after the Dutchman’s loss). However, Suljovic produced his best darts of the campaign so far to achieve an unlikely 7-4 win. As we’ve already heard, the Austrian faces Gerwyn Price next, while Wright can stay in touch with the chasing pack if he lives up to his 8/11 favourite tag with William Hill against an increasingly forlorn van Barneveld.