Darts guru Ben Levene (@benlevene96) looks ahead to week two of the Premier League of Darts.
Premier League Darts: Week 2| 8th February 2018, 19:00 | Sky Sports
Michael Smith v Daryl Gurney| 8th February 2018, 19:10 | Sky Sports
Offer me 11/10 about Daryl Gurney beating Michael Smith even a week ago, and I would have snapped your hand off. But Michael Smith put in some phenomenal performances this weekend, winning a UK Open Qualifier and losing the final of another.
I wrote in my Masters preview that I expect a big year from Bully Boy, and I’m still convinced. The minute his floor game comes out onto the stage, we have a serious player on our hands, and with the elite level experience he’s racking up, it’s only a matter of time.
Gurney beat Smith 6-0 on Saturday, before Smith went on to pick up Sunday’s title, so I think it’s wise to avoid the match market here.
Daryl Gurney’s rise in 2017 was phenomenal, he’s now amongst the best and most consistent on the tour. He’s a year ahead of Smith in many ways.
Super Chin reached the quarter-final of the World Championship’s just over 12-months ago, and followed up with impressive performances on the Euro Tour and at the World Series. It ultimately culminated in a TV major title in the form of the Grand Prix, and selection for the Premier League.
My point here is that this pair will be at the top of darts for years to come. Both are capable of outrageous stuff. They are amongst the biggest scorers on the tour, and that brings me to our angle of attack ahead of this Thursday.
In his draw with Raymond Van Barneveld, Daryl Gurney hit five 180’s. He hit four in 17 legs in his opening round defeat at the Masters. If we take a look at the Players Championship Finals and Grand Slam of Darts, two leg play events, Gurney hit maximums at a rate of 0.33 and 0.38 per leg.
Only Michael Van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Peter Wright hit more maximums on TV in 2017, and that trio all competed in more games through the Premier League and World Series. Super Chin showed signs of top form against Barney last Thursday, and reiterated his presence this weekend, with runs to the Quarter-Final and Last 16 in UK Open Qualifiers.
Michael Smith has at times struggled on TV, but he hit three 180’s in his 7-5 win over Gary Anderson last Thursday, in a game where he did not play particularly well. He hit a whopping 23 180’s in two games at the World’s, and hit 15 in 42 legs at the Grand Slam, giving a rate of 0.36 180’s per leg.
Gurney hit more 180’s than any player on the opening night with five, with Raymond Van Barneveld the only other player to hit more than Michael Smith’s three.
Sporting Bet have the total 180 line set at 6.5, and we can get 39/50 for the game to go over that. I’m keen.
The fast pace of both throws should suit, and elsewhere this bet is as short is 4/7 and 8/13. Sky Bet has this match at 2/1 favourite to be the game with the most 180’s too. Should we see at least 11 or so legs, we’ll get a decent run for our money.
Michael Van Gerwen v Peter Wright| 8th February 2018, 20:40 | Sky Sports
Michael Van Gerwen has started 2018 with a vengeance. He bounced back from World Championship disappointment with a win at the Masters, before demolishing World Champion Rob Cross 7-2.
This weekend, MVG won two of three UK Open Qualifiers, losing in the last 16 to eventual winner Michael Smith in the other. He’s looked in inspired form.
One of few players capable of causing Van Gerwen problems on their day is Peter Wright. Snakebite of course missed match darts to win the Premier League last year. I don’t think Wright is throwing poorly at the minute, but he seems to be lacking confidence and conviction.
Persistent chopping and changing of darts is a worry. Last Thursday he reverted back to a 2013/14 set in a 6-6 draw with Gerwyn Price where he averaged 93, hitting two 180’s.
I expect better from Wright this week, but MVG is capable of that extra gear to get him over the line. Michael has won with the most 180’s in each of their last three meetings on TV.
Both players hit two maximums’ last Thursday, but MVG was involved in three less legs. He hit 54 180’s in the group phase of last year’s Premier League, compared to Wright’s 46, and 62 compared to Wright’s 52 the previous year. Van Gerwen beat Wright 6-4 on the floor on Saturday, and we can get 11/10 for another win with the most 180’s.
Raymond Van Barneveld v Mensur Suljovic| 8th February 2018, 22:00 | Sky Sports
Although, he threw away a lead last Thursday, Mensur Suljovic showed promise on his Premier League debut. His finishing looked at its best and he averaged a commendable 103.
It took a valiant effort from a battling Simon Whitlock to steal the game 7-5. Mensur took out 110, 121 and 138 checkouts in that match, and these big finishes will need to be a theme in his game should he silence the big guns.
He’s checked out over 95.5 in 10/14 matches on TV since the start of the Grand Slam including each of his last four. He checked out over this mark in all four wins en-route his Champions League of Darts victory, and in two of three games in a run to the semi-final of the Grand Prix, so when at his best, combination finishes are not an issue.
This bet even landed in two 4-0 wins at the World Cup of Darts, an even shorter format. He beat Barney in both meetings in 2017, so there should be no fear for the Austrian coming into this game.
Suljovic to checkout over 95.5 is 5/6.
Michael Smith v Daryl Gurney – Over 6.5 180’s (39/50 Sporting Bet)
Michael Van Gerwen v Peter Wright – Michael Van Gerwen to win and hit the most 180’s (11/10 Sky Bet)
Raymond Van Barneveld v Mensur Suljovic – Mensur Suljovic highest checkout over 95.5 (5/6 Betfair)