Van Gerwen could seize Power
Knockout darts returns for out viewing pleasure as the group stages come to an end at the Grand Slam and the live or die nature of the last 16 begins this evening in Wolverhampton.
The short format of first to five is also at an end as these tussles now stretch to a best of 19, supposedly favouring the more experienced and higher ranked players, but there will always be someone who disproves that theory.
First up will be one of the comeback kids of the group stage Dean Winstanley against the youngest man left in the competition Arron Monk. To lose your first match and still make it through the group stage takes some doing and Winstanley’s 5-1 win over Simon Whitlock to make it through and eliminate the Wizard was one of the performances of the tournament so far. He will be brimming with confidence after that and admitted after the game that he is ready to unleash his ruthless winning side to go deeper into this tournament.
It has been something of a coming of age for Monk this week having been in this tournament twice before and never having won, his two victories to see him through his group could be a turning point in his young career. The odds are stacked against him as he faces Winstanley though and although the Yorkshireman hasn’t been around that long, his added big stage experience could prove to be a massive factor and he should win fairly comfortably. Some bookies are offering evens for Winstanley (-3.5) but some creep into odds against and we should take them up on their kind offer. Two last 16 matches last year were won by that margin or more and five the year before, this looks the most likely to go down that route this time around.
Next is a really classic battle between two warriors of the professional circuit Mervyn King and Kevin Painter. With both at their best there would be little to choose between them but at the moment there looks like only one winner and that is the King. He was one of only four men to win all his group stage matches and whilst Painter only crept over the 90 mark in terms of averages once in the group, Mervyn was comfortably over every time including a 99.53 and a 97.78.
The Artist will battle away though and after scraping through the group thanks to Winstanley’s final win may relax and see this as a bit of a free hit so King shouldn’t run away with it. King is one of the best 180 hitters in the game and in a match that should last at least 16 legs and probably more the offer of evens on over 7.5 maximums from Paddy Power looks good, especially as it is odds-on in many places.
The undoubted highlight of the night, if not the entire year comes when Phil Taylor meets Michael van Gerwen for a place in the quarter-finals. This really is old versus new school as the man widely tipped to eventually take the Power’s place at the top of the darting pile has a chance to prove he is worthy of the title. The Dutchman has been on rampant form for two or three months now and has won all three of his games here amassing the best leg difference in the competition along the way.
This is just the kind of game that the Power loves, whenever there seems to be a lot of hype around a contest, Phil just calmly puts people away with minimum fuss and apparently minimum effort, there is a different feel about van Gerwen than many other contenders though. Taylor looked powerless against Scott Waites as the BDO man scored consistently heavily and this is something MVG is more than capable of. Taylor may make us look stupid as he has done many before, but backing van Gerwen at 2/1 looks a good bet.
Finally a match that could steal the show is Waites against Robert Thornton, two men in good form and hungry for more success. Waites is the favourite after dismantling Taylor in his last match and of course reaching the final in Wolverhampton twice before, but the Thorn cannot be written off as he has proven time and again this year. This could easily go all the way to 19 legs and will certainly be 10-7 or closer either way so the 10/11 on over 16.5 legs may not make you rich but is a good safe bet.
Dean Winstanley (-3.5) to win @ evens with Coral
Mervyn King v Kevin Painter over 7.5 180s @ evens with Paddy Power
Michael van Gerwen to win @ 2/1 with William Hill
Scott Waites v Robert Thornton over 16.5 legs @ 10/11 with sky BET
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• Dutch to make short work of Englishmen
• Kist to topple Barney again
• Anderson to face Hammer blow
• Nicholson and Dolan to take qualification to the wire
• Expect big scores as the Count meets Mighty Mike
• Harms good value on current form
• Must win matches for Saturday's losers
• A little bit of history repeating
• Artist and Webby offer Grand Slam value
• Plenty of value on offer at the Grand Slam