There’s not much better than watching some top quality darts over the Christmas period, and the PDC World Championship hasn’t disappointed so far. The first round matches have been completed, and while there have been no huge shocks yet, the best of the action is still to come.
The field of 64 has been whittled down to 32 for the second round, which runs from Friday 23rd December to Wednesday 28th. At present the tournament remains wide open, and although the imperious Michael van Gerwen is the hot favourite, there’s plenty of value in the each-way markets if you’re prepared to take him on. Mighty Mike may win the vast majority of competitions he enters, but he has just the one World Championship title to his name – won in 2014.
Gary Anderson has won the last two renewals, and he made light work of his first round clash with Mark Frost, cruising to a 3-0 victory. The Scotsman is a live contender once again this year, but it’s a huge ask to make it a hat-trick of titles. Unsurprisingly, Phil Taylor is the only man to win three consecutive World Championships, and Anderson’s odds are prohibitive enough to be off-putting.
So where does the value lay in the outright betting? Most bookmakers offer half the odds for a top two finish, so if you can pick out one of the finalists there’s a tidy profit to be made. We backed James Wade to be ‘the other’ finalist in this year’s Grand Slam of Darts at +3400 , and although he eventually lost to van Gerwen, it represented a massive profit at half the odds.
Our current favourite left-hander is good value again at this tournament, and a two-pronged approach can be taken with a bet on Peter Wright on the same each-way basis. Snakebite is yet to win a major tournament but his time will surely come. He has form here after reaching the final in 2014, eventually losing 7-4 to van Gerwen.
Van Gerwen, Taylor or Anderson?
It’s always difficult to look beyond Michael van Gerwen at any tournament, such is his ability when on song. He’s having one of his most successful seasons, and the Dutchman will be delighted if he can add a World Championship to his tally of title. Realistically he should win, but odds of -133 are hardly inspiring.
Phil Taylor has been the best player in the world for a number of years, but as my colleague alluded to when laying the former champion in the second quarter, he is not at his best at the moment. A return to top form would be welcomed by any darts fan though, and there’s a tempting +1000 on offer if you fancy the Power to roll back the years.
Gary Anderson is rightly feared having won the last two World Championships, but he’s made just one other final appearance in 2016 – in the World Grand Prix. At a best price of +700 the Flying Scotsman is just a bit too short to make an enticing each-way bet.
Wade has reached the quarter finals at least in four of the last five years, twice going on to the semi finals in 2012 and 2013. It’s a long time since he won the 2014 Masters, but the left-hander has performed consistently well this year, reaching the semi-finals of the Masters, the World Grand Prix and the European Championship, and most recently the final of the Grand Slam. There was no disgrace in losing 16-8 to van Gerwen on that occasion, and he landed odds of +3400 on the pre-tournament each-way market.
A 3-0 win over Ronny Huybrechts in the first round pitches him against Steve Beaton in the second. Victory there would see the winner of Michael Smith or Mervyn King standing between Wade and a quarter-final spot. His likely opponent in that quarter final is Peter Wright, but that shouldn’t dissuade from backing both men.
Peter Wright is +1200 with Betfair and assuming both players make it that far (yes, I know about assumption..), we would be guaranteed a semi-finalist.
Wright beat Jerry Hendriks in the first round to set up a meeting with Jamie Lewis in the second, and his biggest danger for a quarter final place if he wins that one, is Ian White. Snakebite has also been in very good form of late, beating Phil Taylor 16-10 in the quarter finals of the Grand Slam, before losing out by the same score to van Gerwen in the semi-finals.
If the formbook brings both players comfortably to the quarter final, a meeting with the winner of the third quarter will await. On form that should be Gary Anderson, but other players in that section include Dave Chisnall and Benito van de Pas. That would be a tough semi final for either of Wade or Wright, but one win would secure a final place and a profit.
James Wade – Each Way
PDC World Darts Championship 2017
Peter Wright – Each Way
PDC World Darts Championship 2017