Warrior and Flying Scotsman set for big score feast
The big boys really come out to play on Friday night as all the stellar names of the sport take to the stage for a place in Saturday’s second round. There are some brilliant matches to look forward to, but the most attractive of the lot looks to be Wes Newton facing Gary Anderson.
Newton has been talked about as a guaranteed major winner for at least a couple of years now, but is yet to deliver. He’s solidified his place in the world’s top eight but is yet to really join the top table of darts. Anderson’s Premier League win and World final appearance has seen him dine at that table but his unpredictability is still an issue and this one could easily go either way. Whoever wins it, it will be a tight one and easily 10 legs; given Ando’s propensity for hitting maximums, six 180s in this time is a real possibility and Stan James are offering 11/10 on over 5.5 maximums, which looks good.
The man everyone is talking about at the moment is Michael van Gerwen and he is roundly expected to end Kevin Painter’s defence of his trophy at the first hurdle. It is hard to see anyone beating MVG at the moment and with Boylesports the only bookie brave enough to offer evens on the Dutchman with a -2.5 handicap I think it’s best we take advantage of their generosity. Painter will be determined to hang on to his only major title, but there will be little he can do against the van Gerwen onslaught.
Most people’s tournament favourite Phil Taylor faces Mark Webster who has been having something of a torrid time of it over recent months. The Welshman has gone from consecutive world semi-finals to barely troubling the latter stages of tournaments of late and he will struggle against the Power who will be desperate to prove he is still the best. It could be a tough night for Webby and the 6/5 on Taylor winning with a -3.5 handicap looks about right as he could hand out a bit of a pasting.
An interesting contest is Simon Whitlock facing Jamie Caven who has been showing something of a revival in his form recently. Whitlock has had a thoroughly successful year as well but he has that irritating habit of messing up on the big stage still. It would be no surprise to anyone if the Wizard won this one comfortably, but the value bet of the day could just be Caven to sneak a win at 11/4 with William Hill. If Jabba starts well then he could be at the finishing line in no time over such a short format in round one.
The buoyant Raymond van Barneveld will be in action following his incredible Grand Slam and he takes on Steve Beaton. The Adonis could not have had a more different time of it in Wolverhampton, losing all three of his matches, and he will almost certainly do the same here. However, and this may sound a bit counter-intuitive, he is a great 180 hitter whereas Barney doesn’t hit too many so even if Beaton does lose, his price of 11/5 with Bet Victor to hit the most maximums is a pretty good one.
Our pick for the tournament Dave Chisnall should have no problem in seeing off Wayne Jones and could well dish out something of a hammering. Sky Bet have Chizzy at 7/4 to win with a -3.5 handicap and that looks like a good price to me.
James Wade takes on Brendan Dolan and although the Machine is apparently back to full strength it is hard to have confidence in him at the moment. He went out in the group stage at the Grand Slam, and Dolan has become a really top player over the last year or so and his price of 7/4 with Bet Victor looks a good one.
Finally the world champ Adrian Lewis faces Richie Burnett in a repeat of a first round match from the Grand Prix last month. Jackpot has been so unpredictable of late it is hard to say what he will do, but similarly Richie has not performed too well recently, and has lost every time he has faced Lewis. I’d back Lewis, but not by much, it might be best just to leave this one alone.
Brendan Dolan to win @ 7/4 with BetVictor
Michael van Gerwen to win (-2.5) @ evens with Boylesports
Wes Newton v Gary Anderson over 5.5 maximums @ 11/10 with Stan James
• King locks horns with the Bull
• Chisnall could make major breakthrough
• Tension surrounds Metrodome ahead of final Players Champs
• Whitlock & Van Gerwen continue dominance
• The Wizard is in magical form