Darts: whether you consider it a sport or not, it has to be said that Michael van Gerwen is surely one of the best ‘sportsmen’ on the planet.
Since January, he has won every single televised ranking event title – that’s 12 in total – and the Green Machine really shows no signs of slowing down. He bagged his twelfth title of the year at the weekend at the Grand Slam of Darts, and with the World Championships – the one MVG wants to win more than any other – on the horizon, the Dutchman will be readying his arrows for a tilt at a second world crown.
In the meantime there is this Players Championship event which kicks off on Friday at Butlin’s Minehead; the home of British sport, surely!?
Van Gerwen will be in the field looking to make it lucky number 13, and as such we simply cannot have a flutter on the outright markets. If MVG wants to win this event, the form he is in he surely will.
But a large field of 64 players clearly gives us plenty of betting opportunities in the first round, and we have rounded up a steady 6/1 acca to get the ball rolling:
Leg 1: James Wilson to beat Vincent Kamphuis
Wilson has really found his feet of late in the PDC after switching from the BDO, and in the past three months alone has featured in two Players Championship event semi-finals and three quarters. But the icing on the cake has been his progress in ranking tournaments, with last eight appearances at the International Open and the European Championship an indicator of how well ‘Jammy’ is throwing.
Little is known about Kamphuis, the world number 90, whose entry to Minehead has basically been secured by simply turning up to all the events and trousering the prize money!
Leg 2: Joe Cullen to beat Steve Brown
Cullen has had an outstanding year on the tour, which was kickstarted way back in March when he reached the quarter finals of the UK Open. Since then a couple of semi-finals in Players Championship qualifiers have kept the purse strings open and a couple fo eye-catching performances in the past month alone, including a quarter final at the World Series of Darts, offer plenty of confidence in ‘Rockstar’s’ ability.
Steve Brown is a wily old campaigner but his best days are gone, and his attendance in Minehead is – because like many others – he simply played in ore vents than most other players.
Leg 3: Chris Dobey to beat Mick McGowan
Dobey recorded the best performance of his young career at last week’s Grand Slam, reaching his first major quarter-final. He has recently gone pro, having quit his job maintaining the roads of the North East, and with more time on the practice board he is starting to reap the rewards.
McGowan got knocked out in the first round of 9/20 Players Championship qualifiers, and his presence in Minehead can be put down to the prize money accrued from those second and third round appearances.
Leg 4: Jelle Klaasen to beat Simon Stevenson
Klaasen is a former BDO world champion who perhaps hasn’t achieved all he should have in the PDC, but since becoming a father things appear to have turned a corner for the Dutchman. A world semi-finalist last year, in October 2016 alone he has reached the final of the German Masters and the last eight of the European Championship. His throw is strong right now.
Stevenson has a solitary quarter-final appearance to his name in 2016 in a Players Championship qualifier, and it was only a mildly consistent run to the last 16 of the qualifying events that has carried him through to the weekend.
Leg 5: Steve West to beat Jan Dekker
What a great few months it has been for Steve West, who is in the top 20 maximum hitters on the planet since September. Strong showings in the majors like the World Grand Prix and a final appearance in a Player Championship qualifier confirm that confidence is high in the West camp.
Jan Dekker is a decent young thrower that has yet to really take off since switching to the PDC. The Dutchman has not gone past the last 16 of any event in the past 12 months.
Leg 6: Daryl Gurney to beat Ronnie Baxter
It’s a case of the master against the apprentice here as Gurney, knocking on the door of the world’s top 20, takes on former world finalist and British Matchplay champion Baxter.
Baxter, the 50-year-old, has tumbled to number 60 in the world, and the fact that the best ten performances of his career came prior to 2011 speaks volumes. Gurney, the improving youngster who nearly beat eventual winner Gary Anderson in last year’s World Championship, is a safe bet here.
Leg 7: Gary Anderson to beat John Henderson
The Flying Scotsman and reigning world champion seemed to be getting used to his new spectacles at last week’s Grand Slam, and he will have been furious not to have gone all the way to the final after succumbing to James Wade in the last four. With his world title defence around the corner Anderson will be desperate to go deep in this event; watch out ‘Hendo’.
Leg 8: Stephen Bunting to beat Ron Meulenkamp
The Bullet is back and firing on all cylinders, as confirmed by a run to the last 16 at the recent European Championship. His opponent here, Ron Meulenkamp, showed talent in the BDO but is still ranked a lowly 80 in the PDC after a full year of tournaments.