It was as raucous and as atmospheric as you’d expect in Leeds on night one of the Premier League Darts, and bar the shock defeat of Michael van Gerwen to James Wade it was otherwise as expected for the top ten tungsten tossers on the planet.
Round two takes us to Newcastle, and a collection of mostly 50/50 fixtures that could go either way.
Michael Smith v Robert Thornton
Michael Smith lived up to the stereotype of ‘nervy debutant’ unfortunately on night one, with two defeats from two matches. He only managed to hit 25 scores of 100+ in that pair (for context Adrian Lewis threw 19 in his one match alone) and averaging 86 and 80 simply won’t be good enough to get the job done. Newcomers to this format are allowed a few weeks to get used to the unique atmosphere, but Bully Boy will be hoping to get some points on the board sooner rather than later.
The form of Robert Thornton would have been of huge concern to everyone, not least the Scot himself. Just ten scores of 100+ in that 0-7 rout at the hands of Dave Chisnall is a worry, particularly as the Thorn hasn’t been playing well for a number of weeks now.
This is such a hard game to predict given that we don’t know how Smith or Thornton will play, and the head-to-head record doesn’t offer us anything either. Perhaps it’s best to simply sit back and enjoy the game here.
Raymond van Barneveld v Peter Wright
Barney will have been delighted with his win over his old nemesis Phil Taylor in week one, with power scoring matched by an irrepressible 78% checkout success rate. You always fancy Barney to raise his game against certain opposition, so it will be interesting to see which RVB turns up for this contest with Wright.
Peter Wright did what Peter Wright does best in his opening day 7-2 win over Michael Smith in Leeds last week: play consistently good darts. He admitted to nerves afterwards, but a 99.16 average and checkout success rate of 37% implies the Scot is playing some decent stuff at the moment.
This is another tough one to call as we never know which Barney will turn up, but we know exactly what we’re getting from Wright and that’s solid darts. He is perhaps the smart bet then at 11/10/
Adrian Lewis v Dave Chisnall
Adrian Lewis is in fine form at the moment. He dismantled Smith in Leeds last week with a 100 average, and continued where he left off on Friday with an exhilarating display in the weekend’s first UK Open qualifier, beating Phil Taylor in the final with a 110 average.
It was business as usual for Dave Chisnall in his 7-0 romp against Thornton, and Chizzy has gone from being a talented player to title contender with ease in the last year or so. The format of this tournament seems to suit him, and many fancy the man in yellow as a dark horse for this crown.
Another tough game to call then – we’ve been a bit unlucky with that this week – so instead we’ll take there to beat Over 7.5 maximums given the form and prolific 180 hitting of the pair.
Gary Anderson v Michael van Gerwen
Gary Anderson is expected to return in Newcastle after a bout of flu that kept him out of last week’s fixtures and also the UK Open at the weekend. The Flying Scotsman’s last competitive performance came in his surprise defeat to Vincent van der Voort at the Masters, and so he will be itching to get back on the winning trail.
It was double trouble for MVG in his shock defeat to James Wade – four from seventeen is not the Dutchman’s usual modus operandi. However, he won Saturday’s UK Open qualifier by playing some scintillating darts, so we don’t need to worry too much about him.
It’s almost unheard of for Anderson to be as long as 11/4, particularly in a best-of-12 leg encounter, so he’s worth a small stake as a covering bet. But really, you have to fancy MVG given his form at the weekend and the fact he has had more match practice.
Phil Taylor v James Wade
More woes for Phil Taylor in Leeds, and while the 2-7 loss to Van Barneveld would have hurt his numbers – 92.34 average, 33% on the doubles – would have given the Power the most pain. Those are simply not Tayloresque statistics. Mind you, he’s just getting used to a new set of darts, and on Sunday he obliterated the field in the UK Open qualifier, defeating MVG 6-2 in the final with a 109 average. Perhaps somebody has switched the Power back on?
James Wade was fantastic in his 7-4 win over Van Gerwen in Leeds; a checkout rate of 54% is hard to live with in this short format, and the Machine also fired five maximums – the most on the night. It is clear that the inconsistent Wade has found some form at just the right time.
Wade hasn’t beaten Taylor in the Premier League since 2009, could that be definitive? Who knows, but we do like the look of Wade at the moment. Backing him with a +2.5 leg handicap at 1/2 looks smart.