As far as dazzling summer sporting spectacles are concerned, you might not immediately think of the World Matchplay Darts when conjuring up iconic images in your mind’s eye. But you will struggle to find many venues as gloriously well put-together as Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, and as ever this tournament offers punters plenty of money-making opportunities as we all await the new football season with bated breath.
To Win Outright
At the moment you’d do well to see past Michael van Gerwen as a tournament winner; the Dutchman remains almost invincible.
After a trophy-laden 2016, MVG has carried on where he left off, winning the World Championship, Masters and Premier League already this year. In fact, the only major he hasn’t won – the UK Open – he missed through injury!
Mighty Mike won both of the international events in Shanghai and Las Vegas earlier in July, and really will take some stopping here. His probable route to the final – Bunting-Whitlock-Taylor-Lewis – will not be keeping him up at night.
In the final he could meet Peter Wright (woefully out of form), Gary Anderson (never made the final of the World Matchplay) or somebody like Mensur Suljovic or Daryl Gurney; neither of whom are experienced in major finals.
So when you put it like that, Van Gerwen’s price of 8/11 to win this thing does not look too short at all – far from it, in fact.
Match Winner Bets: Tuesday July 25th
It’s not often that Mensur Suljovic plays somebody with an even more idiosyncratic throwing style than his own, but that’s exactly what he will face in the second round against the limpet-like Justin Pipe. Perhaps that ruffles the feathers of the Austrian, because Pipe holds a 9-2 head-to-head lead.
It would take a brave punter to back Pipe to win against Suljovic, who has improved markedly in the past 18 months, but at the prices the 11/10 on Over 18.5 Legs – we’ve gone up to the best-of-21 for the second round remember – is worth a try.
Darren Webster against Steve West is a bit of a pick ‘em’ match, so we’re happy to leave that one untouched, but Gary Anderson versus Daryl Gurney is of interest.
Up until Monday’s first round matches, only two players had averaged more than 100 over the weekend – Anderson and Cristo Reyes, while the next best was Christian Kist (99.96); whom the former beat in their opening clash.
So despite his protestations to the contrary, the Flying Scotsman is in good touch, and he will be up for it against the Irishman. Gurney is in good nick but only just squeaked past Benito van de Pas in the opening round, who averaged 88, so the numbers suggest a comfortable enough Anderson win. We’ll back him with a -3.5 Handicap at Evens.
And finally, Peter Wright needs to improve to get past that man Reyes. The Spaniard was hugely impressive in his first-round victory, and each of his last four matches against Wright have gone to a final leg decider. We were delighted to get 8/11 on Over 17.5 Legs in this one.
Match Winner Bets: Wednesday July 26th
We’re always happy to avoid betting on Dave Chisnall; he can be world class or pub class in any given game. He could blow Alan Norris away or taste defeat, it’s as simple as that.
Much more appetising is Phil Taylor vs Raymond van Barneveld; one of the most legendary darts rivalries in the sport’s history. They tend to bring the best out of each other, although Taylor has won five of their last six meetings.
Factor in that Barney doesn’t seem to enjoy playing at the Winter Gardens – he’s only reached one final here in a prestigious PDC career dating back more than a decade – and we’ll take the 4/6 on offer for the Power to complete another historic victory over his old adversary.