THE UNIBET Masters Darts kicks off the new darts season Saturday hosted again at Milton Keynes.
The tournament features the top 16 players in the world based on the final order of merit at the end of the 2016 William Hill World Championship. The format has the top eight seeded facing players 9-16
First Round Draw & Tournament Bracket
- Michael van Gerwen (1) v Stephen Bunting (16)
- Michael Smith (8) v Raymond van Barneveld (9)
- Phil Taylor (4) v Jelle Klaasen (13)
- Peter Wright (5) v Ian White (12)
- Gary Anderson (2) v Vincent van der Voort (15)
- Robert Thornton (7) v Dave Chisnall (10)
- Adrian Lewis (3) v Kim Huybrechts (14)
- James Wade (6) v Terry Jenkins (11)
MVG is best priced 9/5 with 10bet to retain the title he won twelve months ago, with World Champion Gary Anderson at 4/1.
Phil Taylor is out to 9/1 with the next batch of players with compilers feeling less confident of a power surge and perhaps this is the start of the end of Taylor domination. Taylor has not won a major in 18 months now and has been priced accordingly.
If you fancy Anderson and MVG to go the distance it is 3/1 they meet in the final, although there is stiff competition with the world’s elite looking to pocket the £60K first prize.
The players competing would have taken different routes since the World Championship with some players taking a break, and others heading off to the exhibition scene. I do anticipate that Phil Taylor may not fly out the blocks although the format will suit Phil, hence the price of evens he makes the semi-finals.
Maximum markets will be popular this weekend. With the Premier League starting next Thursday, all participants can use this event as a good on stage practice to brush off any ring rust.
Afternoon Session (12.45pm-5pm)
First Round x4
Robert Thornton v Dave Chisnall – Players tied 10-10
I have voiced my concerns on Chisnall in the past that although he is the favourite he cannot usually be depended on. We have seen many short prices where he has fallen over the line. The format should be comfortable with both. Thornton on the other hand did not end on the highest note at the end of the year, although his major accomplishment cannot be taken away.
Some firmed make Chisnall out at evens to win this 10-7 or better. I anticipate Chisnall will be popular at 7/10 to hit the most 180s. Chizzy is trademarked for his 180 hitting and boasts one of the highest per leg averages. When compiling my personal stats I anticipated the 180 line to be set at 5.5 and wanted 4/5-10/11 on the over line. Compilers have this covered with most firms no better than 8/11 for six or more.
Now to consider this market will help on the rhythm of the match. Both players can feed off one another, hence the pricing and would find it hard to make a case to back fewer than six at evens. There again Chisnall’s price is skinny for six or more based on the average. Compilers take a similar price on thornton but to hit five or more. Again, traders have this covered.
The checkout lines do not appeal as bookies look to set this on a safe line with a high three dart finish required to win this with bookmakers 108% books. There may be some interest on Chisnall hitting less than a 97.50 average at 6/5 with Bwin, although we will need Chizzy to miss doubles to get this bet home.
The pair have met twice in this competition, where one headed over and one under on the legs. On the best of 19, to see this going 10-7 or better either way is the way to play this with Hills and BetVictor offering evens.
Peter Wright v Ian White – Wright leads 6-4
Wright can come through to 2016 with confidence on building on a good 2015. Wright who is known for changing his darts as often as people eat Sunday roasts appears to have a set where he is confident with the scoring power of this. In addition Wright can be relied on as a player that can get the job done.
White, although fairly consistent can hit the maximums on demand. I couldn’t touch the match pricing, similar to the Wade game. Nor can I touch the most 180 market where White is not big enough in price to win this. I would look at the total 180 line, set at 9.5, but over a 19 leg format requires a maximum in less than one in two legs assuming it goes the distance.
I am confident Wright can net some 180s with compilers pricing similarly on the over 4.5 to under 5.5 considering that 5 is seen as the number that will be met.
Considering everything I might play safer with this, with Wright reigning supreme on winning this 10-8 or better and will double up with another market to form a nice priced double.
Michael Smith v Raymond van Barneveld – Barney leads 6-3
Barney can add a touch of class as he ends the afternoon session by beating Michael Smith. Barney leads this 6-3. Barney will continue to play as he did closing out last season and plays Michael Smith sho is not as raw as he was and is improving. Smith’s issue is more around missing key doubles. His scoring is good, and Barney will simply play the board. A couple of key checkouts will keep this match in the balance as we get to the half way stage.
This is a game I expect to go the distance and playing safe on Barney with the positive handicap with Wright pays a little over 5/4 with Betfred to give us ammunition for Saturday night.
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Gary Anderson v Vincent van der Voort – Anderson leads 9-2
This will be a good chance for Voort to make an impact as he looks to over turn his bad luck versus Anderson. I suspect Anderson with his post World Championship commitments as champion has meant that practice has not been a top priority. Gary is that good, and will face a flying Dutchman who if he takes his doubles can make an impact.
With the unknown here, taking Voort on the maximums is not a strong contender, although is in with a chance of taking a few legs. Looking at the checkout line, backing Voort to hit over 98.5 checkout is in with a fair chance on the basis that Anderson may be a little complacent and Voort with the chance to fly out the blocks.
For interest I am willing to take a small bet on this with the anticipation that Voort should win at least four legs and Anderson may take some time to get going.
Vincent has shown some good scoring power and up against Anderson will not be able to rest for a second, thus believing the checkout line is in with a shout.