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We’ve hit form at just the right time in darts, with our tips for Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright coming good in the World Series of Darts last weekend. Along with backing MVG to take the title we also recommended an each-way punt on Wright, and it was smiles all round as the pair fought out the final, with van Gerwen eventually beating Wright 11-10 in a thrilling encounter.
There’s no let up in the calendar though, and next up its the Players Championship Finals to be held at the Butlins Minehead Resort from 27th to 29th November. The complete tournament will be televised on ITV4 as Mighty Mike goes in search of his fourth successive televised final victory. The dominant Dutchman has already wrapped up the European Championship, The Grand Slam of Darts, and now the World Series of Darts titles, and he will have his sights set on a record-breaking season.
Both MVG and Wright are worth following again in this tournament, with both in great form and question marks surrounding most of their main rivals.
The Players Championship Finals (otherwise known as the Cash Converters Players Championship) is a 32-strong tournament that includes the top 32 players from the Players Championship order of merit – a separate merit system that takes in the non-televised Players Championship events on the PDC tour.
The first round begins on Friday afternoon’s session, with games played over the best of 11 legs. The second round and quarter finals follow, over the best of 19 legs; with the semi finals and final to be played over the best of 21 legs during the concluding session on Sunday evening.
The most eye-catching of the first round matches has to be the clash between last year’s champion Gary Anderson, and sixteen-time World Champion Phil Taylor. The way that the draw is based on the Players Championship tour events only, has meant that the field has been seeded rather differently to most other competitions, and that has thrown up some very interesting matches.
Michael van Gerwen will open his account against World Youth Champion Keegan Brown, in the top half of the draw which also features Taylor, Anderson, Wade, Chisnall, and rising Dutch star Benito van de Pas.
The bottom half of the draw sees Peter Wright open his competition against Steve Beaton, with Adrian Lewis and Ian White perhaps the biggest dangers in that side of the draw. Also featuring in the bottom half is former Youth Champion Michael Smith, who has been seeded 2nd for this tournament based on winning two European Tour events and a UK Open Qualifier. He will begin against Jamie Caven, and will have eyes on causing an upset with a fairly reasonable path to the quarter finals ahead of him.
Michael van Gerwen’s victory in the World Series of Darts was his third tournament success in a row, after taking the Grand Slam of Darts and the European Championship. It was hard luck on Peter Wright, who had performed with superb consistency throughout the tournament, and who might have easily won against any other player.
Wright beat James Wade 10-6 in the quarter final of the event, before going on to beat a resurgent Phil Taylor by 11 legs to 9 with an average of 104.93. He raised his game again in the final to achieve an average of 106.40 against van Gerwen, but the Dutchman recorded a slightly higher average and his unerring ability carried him through to an 11-10 victory.
Another point of note was a return to form by Phil Taylor. He beat Dave Chisnall 6-1 in the second round, before dispatching Stephen Bunting by 10 legs to 3 in the quarter final. He averaged over 104 in that game and in the semi-final defeat to Wright, and looks to be coming back into form just at the right time for the upcoming World Championship.
Mighty Mike is as short at the odds as one would expect, but he has given us a nice return over the last three tournaments, and there’s no reason to abandon the top man now. In terms of the draw, he should have it all his own way until the semi final at least, where he could potentially face one of Taylor, Anderson or Wade. However, if he maintains the level of form he has displayed over the last few weeks, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to stop him.
Taylor’s return to form last weekend was something of an eye-catcher, and if we were offered these sort of odds on The Power this time last year, we’d have bitten the layers hands off. If he is back to his best those odds will look ridiculous in hindsight, but with a first round match against Gary Anderson, and a potential meeting with van Gerwen before he even reaches the final, there’s enough to put us off backing the Stoke legend.
The odds on Anderson might also look generous in light of the fact that he is the reigning World and Premier League Champion, but he has been in less than stellar form of late, and didn’t do anything last weekend to press his claims here.
Lewis at least showed something last weekend, beating Keegan Brown and Terry Jenkins en route to an 11-5 semi final defeat to van Gerwen, and he is in the preferred bottom half of the draw to boot.
Peter Wright – 11/1 12.00 +1100 11.00 11.00 -0.09 with Skybet
However, we’d rather stick with Wright for the second week running after he almost gave us a 20/1 21.00 +2000 20.00 20.00 -0.05 payday last week, and still returned a healthy profit on the each way bet. He has a very reasonable-looking route through to the final, with the likes of Ian White, Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld his most high-profile rivals in the section, and he is worth another each way bet at a decent price.
Michael van Gerwen to win the Players Championship Finals
Friday 27th November – Sunday 29th November
Odds: 13/8 2.63 +163 1.63 1.63 -0.61
Peter Wright to win the Players Championship Finals – Each Way
Friday 27th November – Sunday 29th November
Odds: 11/1 12.00 +1100 11.00 11.00 -0.09