The 11th season of Premier League Darts starts on Thursday 5 February at the First Direct Arena in Leeds and PDC staff have programmed a world championship final rematch between Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor for the opening night.
But it not the Anderson versus Taylor clash that interests one from a perspective of siding with an outsider who has a better chance of winning than his odds suggests. Last week one picked out the AFC Asian Cup third-place play-off game between Iran and the United Arab Emirates to have over four and a half goals at odds of +1000 – the bet was won inside 57 minutes. This week one is keen on taking a punt on Kim Huybrechts upsetting Michael van Gerwen in the third match scheduled for the first round of Premier League Darts.
Huybrechts will be making his Premier League Darts debut but one does not expect that to faze the Hurricane, especially as competition organisers have paired him with Van Gerwen, his Benelux rival against whom he boasts a great record.
According to one’s research, Huybrechts and Van Gerwen have met 14 times, all over the course of the last three years. When one considers that Huybrechts has not made the final of a big PDC event and Van Gerwen has won seven premier titles, including the world championship in 2014, it is remarkable that their head-to-head ledger is tied at seven wins apiece. Moreover, Huyrechts has won three of his last four matches versus Van Gerwen and never has the Hurricane been on the end of a heavy loss to Mighty Mike, the darts prodigy who enters arenas to Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.
The most recent meeting between Huybrechts and Van Gerwen was in the PDC Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton two months ago. Huybrechts, who has earned a reputation as a player who produces his best performances on the biggest stages against the biggest names, blew away Van Gerwen in the opening stages, racing to a 6-2 lead and then putting his foot on the accelerator to go up 12-3. Van Gerwen was threatening to pull himself back into the contest before Huybrechts, whose on-stage antics have got up the noses of Taylor and other darts heavyweights, threw his first-ever nine-dart leg on television to lead 14-7. Huybrechts won 16-10, averaging 104.83 and hitting nearly 60 per cent of his checkout attempts. Van Gerwen averaged 103.87 but he could not stick with Huybrechts in that type of form.
Bookmakers have chalked up Huybrechts as the Premier League Darts outsider but only him and Taylor do not have a losing head-to-head record versus Van Gerwen. One is not claiming that Huybrechts should be the favourite to beat Van Gerwen on Thursday but bookmakers should be affording him much respect than they are. Betfred, Boylesports and Ladbrokes are offering odds of +450 about a Huybrechts win, while the Hurricane is trading at odds of +175 with Ladbrokes not to lose what will be a best-of-12-legs clash in Leeds.
Playing it safe is not the remit of this article so backing Huybrechts at odds of +450 to beat Van Gerwen is the call, while punters looking for an even more speculative Premier League Darts wager could try backing the Hurricane to win either 7-5 or 7-4 at dutched odds of approximately +775 .
The Premier League Darts will run over the next three and a half months, concluding with the final in London on Thursday 21 May. While Huybrechts is a Premier League Darts debutant, Van Gerwen is making his third appearance and he won the competition in 2013, beating Taylor in the title decider.
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