Last weekend saw the kickoff of the 2014 Darts Premier League, and defending champion Michael Van Gerwin took centre stage and handed Phil Taylor his first ever Premier League whitewash whilst scoring a 109+ average to put his marker on this years tournament.
MVG wasn’t the only player to hit the ground running as Raymond Van Barneveld turned the clock back with a 7-2 destruction of Gary Anderson scoring a 108+ average and hitting 6 180s in the process. If the Dutch maestro can keep this sort of form up, he’ll no doubt be a challenger for a title that has so far eluded him.
Another player in fine fettle was Adrian Lewis who raced into a 6-0 lead versus an ill Simon Whitlock but was denied only the 5th whitewash on Premier League history as Whitlock secured a consolation leg to stave off the bagel, but he couldn’t stop Lewis completing a 7-1 rout.
The 2 new guys to this years Premier League, Peter Wright and Dave Chisnall both kicked off their campaigns with victories over Robert Thornton and Wes Newton respectively. None of the 4 players were at their absolute best, so they all have room for improvement but Wright and Chisnall have justified their selections thus far and they will hope to build on it going forward.
So how is the betting shaping up?
Well the defending World and Premier League Champion MVG is still available at 11/8 at Betfed/Coral and a host of other places. He is undoubtedly the best player in the world at the moment and it will take something special to stop him, so you won’t do much wrong by sticking a chunk on him at that price. He will be expected to beat Thornton and Chisnall in the next 2 weeks before he meets Van Barneveld, so it could be a while before his price gets any shorter, if at all.
Taylor signed the biggest deal in darts history this week when he signed for Target for a reported £3m over the next 5 years. His first outing with his new darts didn’t go anywhere near he expected which has been his odds drift from 2/1 to 11/4, but he doesn’t become a bad player overnight so he will make the final 4.
The other 2 spots in semi’s are expected to go to Lewis and Van Barneveld, so it will be a surprise if we see anyone but the big 4 at the final stages. Barney has yet to make it past the semi-final stage but this could be his year to go 1, possibly 2 steps further. He was a bigger price pre tournament, but he’s still available at 16/1 with Boyle Sports and PaddyPower.
If he makes the semi’s and meets Taylor or Lewis having an off day, then 16/1 seems like a big price for what could be a real possibility so he’s worth a punt. Lewis needs to prove that he belongs with the best after picking up only 4 wins in each of the last 2 years. He had more off days than on days, but he is in much better form in the last 6 months so he’ll be hoping to build on that.
The ‘finish in the bottom 2’ market offers some potential value. Gary Anderson won the title in 2011 but since then, he’s won just 5 of his 24 matches, finishing bottom of the table for the last 2 years. He can’t seem to find that missing spark, and with others around him seemingly able to up their games when needed (Thornton/Newton possible exceptions), then the 5/2 with Boylesports is worth a bet.
I’m also going to have a small punt on Barney to score the most 180s @ 16/1 with BetVictor. I think it’s a really big price for such a prolific maximum scorer. Barney hit 53 last year, which was only 4 short of MVG’s total, and he had 48 the season before and finished behind Taylor and Lewis. Considering he started off with 6 at the weekend, and he’s sure to be there or thereabouts come the end, then you’re sure to get a decent sweat considering the same bet is 7/1 in other places.