The Premier League Darts is back which finally means that getting hammered on a Thursday, dressed as a nun, singing the tune to Seven Nation Army is acceptable again. Just make sure the arrows are on the TV somewhere in your vicinity. The top 10 players in the world are going to-to-toe on the oche, and the madness all begins in Leeds this week.
Michael van Gerwen is the only odds-on shot of the night, and in three of the five matches, Paddy’s traders can’t split the players. That shows just how tight this tournament is going to be, and that also means there is plenty of value on offer for an eagle-eyed punter. We’ve picked out three of the best bets for Thursday night that you could punt in singles, or if Lady Luck is on your side and you fancy an accumulator to get the drinks in, the treble pays 14/1. Yabadabadoo.
Dave Chisnall v Peter Wright
Chizzy Rascal had a poor World Championship run by his high standards, but the man from St Helens absolutely loves pounding the treble bed, and that’s why he’s kicking off night one of the Premier League.
In last year’s event he won just three games, but not one player could match Dave Chisnall’s 180 count of 64. The line for his opening game on Thursday is 3.5 and it is well worth going over that considering the arrowsmith’s recent form. He played 34 legs in the Masters over the weekend and hit a staggering 18 180s – an average of better than a maximum every other leg.
Crucially this should also be a close game, providing Chisnall enough legs to get his scoring in. 10 of Chizzy’s 16 Premier League matches last year went to 12 legs, and in 70 per cent of those games he hit over 3.5 180s. On the other three occasions he fell just short hitting three.
His checkout success might be as unreliable as David Cameron’s political policies, but win or lose, you can count on Chizzy to bury the tungsten into the red bit.
Kim Huybrechts v Michael van Gerwen
I have a lot of love for Kim Huybrechts. Anyone who can bounce around the stage like the Duracell Bunny on pills, drag the most evil stare from Phil Taylor’s soul, and still back it up with some power darts, is a welcome addition to the Premier League. However, with all that being said, he is stepping into a baptism of fire against Michael van Gerwen.
MVG won the Masters over the weekend and is the red-hot odds-on favourite to beat Kim Huybrechts. But rather than take the odds-on punt, the 9/4 for Mighty Mike to win, hit the most 180s and the highest checkout is far more appealing.
In the World Championships Van Gerwen hit 43 180s, at an average of a maximum ever 3.2 legs. He then followed it up by hitting 30 180s at the Masters, an average of a maximum ever 2.3 legs. The Hurricane could only manage a 180 every seven legs at the Alexandre Palace, giving MVG a clear lead when it comes to heavy scoring.
As for check-outs, The Green Machine hit eight 100+ finishes at the Masters – and was on for a nine-darter on two occasions – while in almost the same number of legs, Huybrechts managed just four 100+ finishes at the World Championship. MVG is in scintillating form, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he took the Hurricane apart in Leeds.
- Advised bet: Michael van Gerwen to win, hit the most 180s, and the highest checkout at 9/4 – Desktop | Mobile
Gary Anderson v Phil Taylor
There is a perception among the darting world that players who win the World Championship for the first time will go through a minor dip in form in the immediate aftermath. The myth is founded on the belief that by becoming the face of darts, the increased publicity events, promotional guff and general high demand to have your face plastered everywhere, inevitably eats into valuable practicing time.
That may be the case, but the confidence that comes with winning on the biggest stage of them all is equally as important and Gary Anderson is worth a punt at 11/8 to beat Phil Taylor.
The Power reached the 2015 World Championships Final and was playing some fantastic darts along the way. However desperately sad personal circumstances in the last three weeks have seen Taylor pull out of an exhibition tour of Australia and New Zealand, before crashing out of the first round of the Masters to Terry Jenkins. A 10-7 defeat doesn’t look too bad on paper, but Taylor missed seven darts at doubles as he went 5-0 behind, and in a race to seven on Thursday, that’s hardly the best preparation.
Throw into the mix that the three most recent ‘first-time’ PDC World Champions (Raymond van Barneveld 2007, Adrian Lewis 2012, and Michael van Gerwen 2014) all won on their opening night of the Premier League as Champions, combined with the fact that Taylor hasn’t won on the opening night since 2010, and Anderson would appear like a solid investment.