THE fourteenth staging of the glorious “FA Cup” of darts will see Butlins Minehead host for the third successive year when the tournament kicks-off on Friday. Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen is the red hot 13/8 favourite with Boylesports to retain the crown he won a year ago.
Previous champions such as James Wade, two-time champion Raymond van Barnveld, Robert Thornton, Adrian Lewis and Phil Taylor, who won the very first event will be looking to re-capture the title.
The 128 man tourney will begin over eight stages on Friday, where qualifiers will be expected to compete through two gruelling rounds before they qualify for any prize money. Rounds one and two will kick off Friday afternoon with the top thirty-two qualifiers entering the third round stage Friday evening.
This is an open draw, which will take place on the TV stage by the former World Champion Keith Dellar and two-time semi-finalist Chris Mason, as they look to draw some juicy ties. The format for the tourney is thus:
- First Round – Best of 11 legs
- Second Round – Best of 11 legs
- Third Round – Best of 17 legs
- Fourth Round – Best of 17 legs
- Fifth Round – Best of 17 legs
- Quarter-Finals – Best of 19 legs
- Semi-Finals – Best of 19 legs
- Final – Best of 21 legs
For an event of this magnitude the chances of special markets coming home make it more than likely. It is no wonder Coral are just 1/12 for us to see a 170 check out over the weekend and 6/1 for no 170. The same firm bets 4/5 on a nine-dart finish and 10/11 for no perfect finish. The last three stages have all gone without this feat.
You must agree with the standard more recently and the number of legs possible, someone is bound to get close to nailing this prestigious finish. If you think there will be exactly one, Coral are 7/4 and 7/2 for two or more. The same firm offer 7/4 for a first time winner, so without Wade, MVG, Lewis, Barney, Thornton and Taylor, so it is 2/5 any of the six named win the event.
Coral also goes 8/15 on the field, versus 6/4 for MVG!
Some firms are offering each way for the first four, so effectively giving players a chance to take some BIG prices and see their bet with mileage towards a semi-final appearance. With an open draw this could be as much of a minefield for punters as it is with layers.
BIG prices spring to mind did include Mark Webster, but the firm that quotes 100/1 is paying just two places. Last years finalist Peter Wright is 16/1, but again no firm offering four places are any higher than 14/1. Two-time back-to-back winner Barney is 33/1 with Betfred, which may spark some interest. Alan Norris at 100/1 will give some interest to punters, and even Mensur Suljovic may raise an eyebrow at 80/1.
MVG is the favourite at boylesports and Betvictor at 13/8 and is this price through his superb form, including a world record average. The format on offer will be tough for any opponent to take on MVG, so less chance without the banana skin best of eleven format.
The opening afternoon will see a number of names less familiar to some although some of the names that do feature are incredibly short prices and the under estimation of the underdog could bite. Alex Roy and Dennis Smith could be a cracker with layers favouring Roy ever so slightly at 19/20 with smith at 21/20. This could be a game that goes the distance, but would have to side with Roy at 19/20 as smith is past his best now, but an absolute delight to watch!
Andy Smith can boost confidence in beating Jermaine Wattimena in a game where Jermaine is ranked in the mid-sixties in the order of merit. Andy Smith slipped out the world thirty-two but have to admit that for someone to be in this elite is not there by luck and with Jermaine having limited PDC experience, this game in my opinion could be decided on the environment that will suit Smith. For the game to see ten or eleven legs is 5/6 with sponsors Coral will also be worth a look.
Irishman Mick McGowan is too big at 7/5 to beat youth star Nathan Aspinall, which is worth a look, although to 10/11 with Coral for a 6-4, 6-5 either way is surely the route to go here. Wayne Jones should be evens to beat Andy Jenkins, but across the board is as short as 8/11 in places as Robbie Green will surely be in peoples accumulators for Friday with a win over Meeuwisse although people betting blindly on Green may not know Yordi has a few maximums in him, so a game probably worth missing out on. Joey Ten Berge to beat Mark Dudbridge will be another close one, with Dudbridge suffering a poor 2015 and players the entertainer looking to make more of an impact. Both players most significant achievements in 2015 was Dudbridge making one European Tour event in September last year and Berge making a last sixteen at a pro-tour event.