We’re at the business end of the darts season now and the major contenders are looking to put down markers for the World Championship. It’s just a matter of weeks until Rob Cross looks to defend his title and the rest of the world do their best to stop him. We’ve just had the European Championship – won by James Wade, and we’re now looking forward to the World Series Finals in Vienna. Before we get to that let’s have a look at the tournament just gone to see what pointers it provides for the weeks ahead.
This event started with Michael van Gerwen a prohibitive favourite as usual. It was hard to really argue with that given that he’d just won the World Grand Prix, beating Daryl Gurney – the 50/1 Sportsvox pick, in the semi-final. He looked to be back to his best but sadly for him it was not to be this time. I’ve generally opposed MVG in the last few months to some success. I left it on this occasion as Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld rarely play European events and therefore did not earn the ranking points to participate.
You would think van Gerwen’s exit would have left the way clear for Peter Wright, Michael Smith, Rob Cross or Mensur Suljovic to take advantage but they fell by the wayside too. That left the semi-final spots occupied by local boy Max Hopp, Joe Cullen and Simon Whitlock who joined Wade in the final. Of those four only Whitlock and Wade are eligible for Vienna and both should take a lot of confidence into this weekend. Each made stunning comebacks, surviving match darts in last leg deciders to go through.
World Series Finals
From a betting perspective things are as you’d expect with MVG the odds-on favourite followed by Gary Anderson, Peter Wright and Rob Cross. The draw is as below with the seedings in brackets.
(1) Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price/Royden Lam
(8) Simon Whitlock v Steve Beaton/Daryl Gurney
(5) Michael Smith v Ian White/Kyle Anderson
(4) Gary Anderson v Dave Chisnall/Dawson Murschell
(2) Rob Cross v Jamie Lewis/Dimitri Van den Bergh
(7) Mensur Suljovic v Ross Smith/James Wade
(6) Raymond van Barneveld v Raymond Smith/Keegan Brown
(3) Michael van Gerwen v Maik Langendorf/Damon Heta
The standout thing here is that van Gerwen is shorter in price for this than he was last time and that’s with Anderson and van Barneveld back in the field. It’s also strange given his performance in Germany and how he’s played overall in the last few months. Should things play out as expected he will need to beat Barney, followed by Suljovic, Wade or Cross and then Peter Wright or Gary Anderson. Personally I can’t see that happening even though technically the bottom half of the draw might be the easiest.
You could argue that MVG has won all three previous instances of this event in the past but he’d also won the last four European Championships prior to last weekend. His doubling isn’t cutting it right now and he doesn’t have the luxury of set-play to cover for his poorer efforts, every leg will count this week.
There are a few weaker links in the field overall but there’s no easy ride for anyone so if I’m going to back someone outright the odds will need to be decent. I will be laying MVG for the reasons above but as an outright bet I’ve got to go for James Wade at 40/1. He’s always had a lot of bottle and while his averages are rarely stratospheric he’s often there with a killer blow when he needs to be, as shown several times last weekend. The nappy factor is not to be discounted and nor is the way he coped with the hostile German crowd in lifting the trophy on Sunday night.