Michael van Gerwen took the Grand Slam of Darts last week, and as we move closer to the World Championships at the end of the year, the next big tournament is the Unibet World Series of Darts Finals, which will be held at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow, and televised live on ITV4.
The inaugural event will be staged over Saturday 21st of November and Sunday 22nd, with the 16 unseeded players first to do battle on Saturday to fight for the right to face the top eight seeds in the second round. The criteria for seeding means that Michael van Gerwen will come into the competition as number three seed, but the world number one has been exceptionally consistent this season; reaching the final of every major tournament he’s appeared at since bowing out of last year’s World Championships at the semi-final stage. He’s a short price, as we’ve come to expect, but there’s no valid reason for deserting the Dutchman when he’s in such imperious form.
The competition brings together 24 top players, with eight seeded stars and 16 players from international prospects, PDC invitations and qualifiers. Those 16 will face off on Saturday afternoon’s session with the eight winners progressing to face the 8 seeded players in Saturday night’s second round.
The top eight players are seeded according to performances in the five World Series events on the 2015 PDC calendar, in Dubai, Auckland, Japan, Perth and Sydney. Phil Taylor is given the number one seed after winning the events in Sydney, Japan and Perth, while his sparring partner Adrian Lewis takes the number two spot. Peter Wright, James Wade, Raymond van Barneveld, Gary Anderson and Stephen Bunting make up the top eight along with Michael van Gerwen.
Invited players include Michael Smith and World Youth Champion Keegan Brown, while qualifiers like Robert Thornton, Dave Chisnall and Simon Whitlock add to a strong field.
Grand Slam of Darts Pointers
The stand out piece of information to take from the recent Grand Slam of Darts tournament, was Phil Taylor’s return to form as he made his way to the final against van Gerwen. Taylor beat Terry Jenkins, Robert Thornton and Raymond van Barneveld en route to the final, and he even took a 7-3 lead at one point to put himself well in charge. Thankfully for our tip, however, van Gerwen came flying back, winning six legs in a row to surge ahead 9-7, and never looked back as he went on to win 16-13 in a brilliant match. Taylor can take a lot of heart from that performance though, and the Stoke-based legend is sure to have one eye on the upcoming World Championship.
Michael van Gerwen was ruthless in his own journey to the final, beating Kim Huybrechts 16-4 in the quarter-final, then dishing out a 16-6 beating to Michael Smith in the semi-final. There are very few players who can hold a torch to MVG when he hits his stride, and if he plays to his best, he wins – it’s as simple as that. Michael Smith and Raymond van Barneveld both did extremely well to reach the semi’s, and the pair could be worth keeping an eye on if they continue in the same vein in this competition.
Here are the odds for the top six players competing in the tournament, according to the bookies:
Michael van Gerwen has won five major titles this year – the Masters, the UK Open, the World Matchplay, the European Championships, and the recent Grand Slam of Darts. He also finished runner-up in the Premier League and the World Grand Prix, with his poorest performance in a major tournament the semi-final exit in last year’s World Championships.
Phil Taylor has had a poor year by his standards, with his best performance the runner-up spots he managed at the World Championships and the Grand Slam of Darts. His return to form in the latter competition could be a signal that he is ready to return to his place at the top of the sport, and he is a dangerous foe for MVG. Had he held his nerve a little better at 7-3 we could easily be talking about him as the winner of that tournament, but such is van Gerwen’s consistency that any mistakes are routinely punished. The Power will have to be back to his best to take this title.
Scotsman Gary Anderson will appreciate the strong support he’s likely to receive on home soil, and he’s coming off the back of a successful year which saw him take the World Championships and the Premier League. He was also runner-up in the European Championship and reached the semi-finals of the Masters, but has suffered early exits in all other competitions, including a second round defeat at the hands of Mark Webster in the Grand Slam of Darts.
James Wade – +1600 with Bet365
James Wade has had a pretty poor season, with a runner-up spot in the World Matchplay a highlight. He has more ability than most at the oche, but it would be a huge leap of faith to back him here.
A similar statement could be made about Jackpot Adrian Lewis, with semi-final appearances in the Masters and the European Championships the high point of his year.
Peter Wright – +2000 with Bet365
A player who might offer a better each way punt is Peter Wright, who has been performing to a high standard over the last couple of years, without quite getting his nose in front. The colourful character has been runner-up to van Gerwen in the 2014 World Championships, and the 2015 UK Open, and sooner or later he is bound to go one better. He’s on the opposite side of the draw to Mighty Mike, and it always pays to have a ‘runner’ in both halves of the draw.
Michael van Gerwen to win the World Series of Darts Finals
Saturday 21st / Sunday 22nd November
Peter Wright to win the World Series of Darts Finals – Each Way
Saturday 21st / Sunday 22nd November
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