UK Masters Betting
The Premier League may dominate this time of year on the darting calendar but there is some big money to be won elsewhere, and nowhere more so than at the first European Tour event of the season this weekend at Minehead.
After the success of the Players Championship Finals at Minehead last year the PDC have decided to add a UK leg to the European Tour at the Somerset venue and the newly dubbed UK Masters will be the first of the events to boast a whopping £20,000 prize for the winner. The European Tour events had serious consequences for the Order of Merit last year, Justin Pipe being the main beneficiary, but they will have even more impact now with the boost in winnings.
The tournament kicks off on Friday with the bumper field of 64 players all competing in round one, with seeding based on the Pro Tour Order of Merit from the end of last year, making Dave Chisnall the number one seed.
The top 32 from that Order of Merit are joined by 32 qualifiers from events held in Crawley and Hamburg making up a competitive and eclectic field.
As ever it is Phil Taylor who is favourite to lift the trophy at a best price of 9/4 with Bwin followed by Michael van Gerwen whose 7/2 with Sky Bet looks quite tempting given his outrageous form of late. MVG is yet to be beaten in the Premier League (as is Taylor) but having won both UK Open qualifiers two weeks ago in Crawley his unbeaten run actually stretches past the 20 match mark meaning he will take some stopping.
Raymond van Barneveld is then in at a best price of 12/1 with Sporting Bet followed by Chisnall and Simon Whitlock who are both available at 16/1 before the odds start drifting out to quite long.
Of the long shots Robert Thornton looks a very decent price at 28/1 with BetVictor given his tremendous form in the Premier League. If he beats James Wade on Thursday night then he will be going into Minehead full of confidence and has an excellent chance of winning the competition.
Kim Huybrechts also looks a great price at 40/1 with Bet Victor having reached the final of the Players Championship Finals on the same stage just four months ago and Justin Pipe is an incredible price at 50/1 with Bwin given that he won one of these events in Austria last year, if anyone is worth a couple of quid then it may well be The Force.
The seeding is a bit unusual due to it being on the Pro Tour Order of Merit, but the cast majority of the big players are in the top 32 so there are not any blockbuster encounters in round one, however there are some intriguing ones.
Ian White will not have been too pleased to be drawn against Arron Monk first up and that one could really go either way although it is Diamond White who is the odds-on favourite.
John Part is the highest profile name not seeded and he takes on Huybrechts in what is the most attractive first round battle of the lot. The Belgian is the big favourite for that one, but you can never rule out the three-time world champion.
Hunting for some value from the first round matches; Mensur Suljovic is always capable of pulling off an upset and could well do so against Colin Osborne on Friday. The Austrian is 11/8 with Sportingbet which looks a decent price on a talented player.
Jyhan Artut is also a dangerous foe and given how much Wayne Jones has struggled over the last year it would not be a big surprise if the German were to make it through and at 13/8 with Sporting Bet he is very tempting.
Finally Michael Smith is often worth a few pounds in tournaments such as these. He has a difficult task first up against Mervyn King who is the better player but on his day Smith can beat anybody and at 7/4 with Coral it may be worth backing Friday to be his day against the King.
We are set for three exciting days of darts in Minehead as proper knockout tournament action returns in style and with the huge first prize as a carrot there should be some thrilling encounters along the way.