OpenOdds Darts Round Up 9th JulyPublished on: July 9, 2019Author: Antonia Kelly
Welcome back to OpenOdds’ Darts Round Up, which this week will take a look back at the action in Las Vegas, where European players dominated the US Masters. We’ll also look ahead to the action this weekend in Cologne, where defending champion Mensur Suljovic is aiming to retain his German Masters title. There will also be a little more on the form of Michael van Gerwen, still favourite with the bookmakers to win every tournament that matters, but experiencing some very real turbulence in PDC tournaments.
With just under a fortnight to go until the World Matchplay event, we’ll also cast an eye over the key names and see who, if anyone, is in line to succeed Gary Anderson as the champion at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens. With the season beginning to really heat up, we’ll look into whether you’re best looking for an Odds Boost on the obvious favourite, or picking from the crowd of players sitting just outside the top spots in the betting. But first, let’s see what happened when the PDC went Stateside last week.
Stars and Stripes lowered as Aspinall continues excellent season
As the old saying goes, whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and this will at least be good news for the American darts fraternity, as the US Masters saw eight North American players lined up against eight European stars from the PDC rankings. Eight of them entered the competition, and all eight lost in the first round, although special mention should go to Canada’s Jeff Smith, who took Peter Wright to a deciding leg before losing 6-5.
The American showing meant that the quarter-finals were an all-European affair, with van Gerwen facing Smith in a Clash of the Michaels. Averaging just 88.59, the Dutchman capitulated 8-6 to his opponent, leaving Smith to go on a run to the final after also taking out Gerwyn Price. In the other half of the draw, Nathan Aspinall belied his unseeded status, removing Rob Cross and Peter Wright to face Smith in an all-English final. Playing stunning darts, Aspinall won a thrilling final 8-4, hitting an average of 106.70 as he did so.
Aspinall will be sitting out the German Masters but, having made the semi-final at the World Championship and won the UK Open, he’s looking like a potential star of 2019.
German Masters Draw made
With the players back on this side of the Atlantic, attention now moves on to Cologne where the German Masters start this Friday. The tournament will be a chance for the best German players to make some kind of mark against the bigger, seeded names, and an interesting first-round tie pits Max Hopp against Rob Cross. The talented Hopp was an invited contender at the Berlin leg of the PDC Premier League, but fell 7-3 to Raymond van Barneveld. Sportingbet have the German priced at 2/1 to defeat Cross, and with the Englishman having played little in the way of competitive darts recently, Hopp may be well priced.
Also of note at the Cologne tournament, we will see the return of van Barneveld to action. Having missed recent competitions for personal reasons, Barney will be absent from the World Matchplay. Here, he is a slight outsider against Germany’s Gabriel Clemens, but with the pressure of seeking a place in the Matchplay now lifted there could be a chance for the former World Number One to shine – a second leg tie with Hopp or Cross awaits the winner in this showdown.
Is MvG OK?
With the Matchplay just around the corner, it bears remembering that Michael van Gerwen’s record in big competitions this year has been pretty stellar, and he merits the 11/10 favourite tag that Betway have bestowed upon him for the competition. However, it is also worth noting that, with his shoddy display against Smith in Las Vegas, the World Champion now hasn’t thrown a match average above 100 since the end of May. In losing to Smith, he slipped below 90, and the Englishman’s comments after the match indicated that he felt van Gerwen “couldn’t be bothered”.
The ultra-professional Dutchman is known for picking up form when it matters most, but it’s much easier to continue playing great darts than start again suddenly. Even the greats have poor runs sometimes, but it needs to be pointed out that ten matches with a sub-100 average is concerning. If you’re fancying a bet on the World Matchplay, then for once it might be a good idea to look beyond the obvious abilities of MvG and look at someone else.
In that light, you could likely to a lot worse than back Nathan Aspinall to win as an outsider. He’s 25/1 with most bookies including William Hill, and his first World Series involvement ended well in Las Vegas. He’s already had a long run in a major tournament – that aforementioned semi-final at the World Championship – and right now, he has no reason to be scared of any opponent.