DARTS expert expert Kyle Brown (@Kyleianbrown) talks us through the opening night of Premier League action, picking out his favourite fancies.
Premier League Darts 2019 | 7th February – 23rd May 2019 | Sky Sports
The Premier League Darts makes its return this week but will be without two-time former winner Gary Anderson following his withdrawal due to injury.
Surprisingly, rather than replace him with the next ranked player, he will be replaced by nine ‘one-off’ contenders, who can’t score points in the league table for themselves but can prevent their opponent from collecting maximum points on the night through a victory or draw in the standard format.
The one-offs were picked on their marketability (Max Hopp will feature in Berlin and Steve Lennon in Dublin, for example) rather than their merit, but I don’t imagine any of the nine will be pushovers, and they will be keen to represent themselves in a positive manner. The games featuring those nine should be an intriguing watch.
Winner of the last three Premier League titles, Michael Van Gerwen, is now as short as 4/9 with some bookmakers to retain his crown following Anderson’s departure. January marked five straight years as the world number onr and it doesn’t look like changing any time soon.
Smith an appealing second favourite
Michael Smith is second favourite, a long way back at 8/1 (Boylesports). I can’t rave enough about Smith. He’s exciting, a consistent scorer and has looked better with every outing. I backed him each-way on three separate occasions during the World Championships (partly because MvG was on the other side of the draw, partly because of how highly I rate him) and he delivered up until the final where he was simply outclassed by the Dutchman.
Each-way in the Premier League is a bet I have my eye on, but it may be beneficial to wait a few more days. Smith kick his campaign off against the world #1 and I expect MvG to best him over the course of 13 legs. Losing, even though it’s expected, should bump his odds up ever so slightly, maybe even around the 10s. *Queue a 7-0 upset and the odds shortening to 4s.*
Best of the rest
Elsewhere, you have James Wade back in after missing the 2018 season, and Raymond Van Barneveld will be making his 14th and final appearance as he winds down for retirement at the end of the year. Sadly, for fan-favourite Barney, he is favourite to be bottom of the table come judgement night – as short as 2/1, best priced at 5/2 (BetVictor).
Barring a miracle, I have to imagine he will indeed finish dead last. His wealth of experience and previous accomplishments are admirable, but his talent has undeniably declined.
In the 2018 season, RVB’s average (95.01) and checkout percentage (38.28%) were both third last in the league (which featured a winless Gerwyn Price who was always going to bottom the list) and it has been on a steady decline since. I understand why Sky decided to give him a ‘farewell invite’ to this year’s competition, but I am worried it may back fire and end in humiliation.
Week 1 – Tuesday 7th February 2019 | Newcastle
- James Wade (6/5 BetVictor) v Raymond van Barneveld (15/8 Betfair)
- Gerwyn Price (9/5 Unibet) v Daryl Gurney (11/8 William Hill)
- Chris Dobey (3/1 Bet365) v Mensur Suljovic (4/5 Betfair)
- Michael van Gerwen (1/2 Ladbrokes) v Michael Smith (9/2 Unibet)
- Peter Wright (17/10 Betfair) v Rob Cross (7/5 Unibet)
*Predicted winners in bold, neither indicates draw.
The Week 1 Betting Angle
For me, this is a must win game for Suljovic against Chris Dobey. He only had two wins from nine during the competition last season but he couldn’t have gotten a better start than to play the #35 ranked Dobey.
It’ll be interesting to see how the original league invitees play against Anderson’s replacement(s). It should shape up to be an easier match than playing the former world champion, but Dobey and co have no pressure and expectations.
That said, Suljovic will be keen to make up for his poor display last year, knowing fine well that another early elimination would all but end his chances of being invited again for 2020, barring a top four placement in the rankings come the end of the year. I fancy him to win 7-4 or 7-5, and 4/5 (Betfair) odds on an outright victory is too good to pass up on, for me.
I’ve already given my two cents on what I make of Barney’s chances this year, so James Wade to win outright at 6/5 (BetVictor) is also a generous price on offer.
As a double with Suljovic, the best odds can be found on Betfair, paying out at 3/1.
Secondly, I have to go with Michael van Gerwen for most 180s on the night at 4/1 (SkyBet). Nobody has a tougher opening game than MvG (other than his counterpart, Michael Smith), so the Dutchman will need to be at his absolute best to ensure his title defence gets off to the perfect start.
Smith should challenge him enough that MvG will have to find the big scores, and as they both play at a similar pace they should find their rhythms early on.
Premier League Darts – Michael Smith to win outright (8/1 each-way Boylesports)
Premier League Darts – Raymond Van Barneveld to finish bottom (5/2 BetVictor)
Premier League Darts – James Wade and Mensur Suljovic win double (3/1 Betfair)
Premier League Darts – Michael van Gerwen to hit most 180ss in Week 1 (4/1 SkyBet)