Michael Smith has a great chance of instant redemption when televised PDC Darts returns from a post-Christmas break on February 1st. The top 16 players in the rankings head to Milton Keynes for the 2019 BetVictor Masters with a nice £60K pot for the winner. Bully-Boy Smith at has the best of the draw again, much like at the William Hill World Championship in December. Tipped up by my colleague Eric Roberts he marched to the final before putting in a disappointing performance against the great Dutchman Michael van Gerwen.
(1) Michael van Gerwen v (16) Johnny Clayton
(8) Mensur Suljovic v (9) Simon Whitlock
(5) Daryl Gurney v (12) Dave Chisnall
(4) Gary Anderson v (13) Darren Webster
(2) Rob Cross v (15) Joe Cullen
(7) Gerwyn Price v (10) James Wade
(6) Michael Smith v (11) Ian White
(3) Peter Wright v (14) Adrian Lewis
The format is decent with Best of 19 legs for the first two rounds, then Best of 21 legs from the semi-final onwards.
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The peerless MVG heads the betting at a tight +100 . It’s hard to find many negatives against him even at that price. He has won the last 4 renewals of The Masters so it appears rustiness is not going to be a factor. He will likely go well again.
Double World Champion Gary Anderson finds himself in the same half of the draw as MVG and is passed over at +500 . He looked out of sorts at the Alexandra Palace in December.
There were some promising signs from Rob Cross at the Worlds before a tame exit to Luke Humphries. No longer being the World Champion may take some pressure off him, but at 11.00 he looks one to swerve.
Peter Wright has had a dismal time recently with early exits at the Ally Pally, Grand Slam of Darts, Players Championship and European Championship. Snakebite remains a capable player on his day, but he needs to find a set of darts and stick with them.
So it’s Michael Smith who’ll carry our punting hopes at a tasty +900 . Ian White in the first round should be a comfortable opener. A quarter-final against the winner of Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis looks tricky on paper but Smith will expect to prevail here. Whoever comes through Quarter 3 will provide semi-final opposition and none of those players are feared. Then maybe a revenge mission against MVG in the final?
There are some interesting first round contests to look out for. It’s great to see Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis back in the Top 16 and his match-up against Peter Wright looks tasty. Also fascinating for different reasons is Gerwyn Price v James Wade. This is truly an ‘anything can happen’ tie. Price was recently fined a massive £21K for incidents during his victory at the Grand Slam last year (linked). Wade can also be a controversial character. His game against Seigo Asada at the World Championship is under investigation by the Darts Regulation Authority (linked) after some unsavoury scenes on and off the oche. It’s genuinely hard to know which of this duo the crowd will be cheering for. I will definitely be glued to the TV for this encounter.
TOP TIP! – Michael Smith to Win quarter final at +900
Live coverage will be provided by the excellent ITV4 team. It all starts on Friday evening (1st of February) and continues throughout the weekend with the final on Sunday evening. As that final ends we can switch over to the BBC for maybe one last Tom Brady master-class as the NFL season finishes. Can Terrific Tom lead his Patriots to yet another Super Bowl?
Now that’s a great evenings sport. Don’t forget to book Monday off. Enjoy.
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