Darts fans, the 2018 Premier League Darts season is officially underway. All ten contenders, as previewed by 888sport before the start of the competition, will be confident of reaching the playoffs and there were a few shocks on opening night. Read on for our best bets ahead of Week 2; Gary Anderson is my top tip on Thursday’s 15/1 five-fold…
MICHAEL SMITH vs DARYL GURNEY
Smith was 5-1 down against Anderson before rallying to claim six legs on the spin; delighting many punters who backed the former youth world champion. Inconsistency continues to hinder Bully Boy’s progress; one week he is thrashing Van Gerwen and the next he is losing to Benito Van de Pas. Let’s wait and see which Smith turns up on Thursday evening.
Often described as one of the bad boys of darts, Gurney is making strides in the PDC – he was simply sublime in 2017. The Northern Irishman came within a whisker of beating Van Barneveld and he could go close again. He did lose his throw three times during that clash though; 3/4 for under 11.5 legs is a good shout ahead of what is a tough contest to predict.
TIP: Under 11.5 legs @ 3/4
ROB CROSS vs Simon Whitlock
Cross had no answer for Van Gerwen in the first round, losing his throw on two separate occasions. That was something of a revenge game for the Dutchman though and it would be foolish to back against Cross here. Whitlock shocked Suljovic last week but this is Voltage’s time to shine on the big stage. All of the attention will be on Rob Cross.
Like Cross, Whitlock also lost his throw twice in the opener. The Australian cannot afford to make too many mistakes against the world champion or he WILL be punished. Suljovic is on the rise but Cross is one of the most consistent players in darts right now. 3/5 for Voltage to snatch the first break of the game is an excellent price.
TIP: Cross to break throw first @ 3/5
Michael Van Gerwen vs PETER WRIGHT
We’re running out of superlatives for Van Gerwen. The 2018 Masters champion won a UK Open qualifying tournament at the weekend; a nice way to follow up that demolition job on Cross. ‘Mighty Mike’ held his throw in every leg last time out and he will be very difficult to stop in his pursuit of another Premier League Darts title.
Wright gave up the darts three times last week and he cannot afford to perform poorly on Thursday evening. Looking at the statistics from his game with Price, you could argue that Wright was somewhat fortunate to nick a draw. Luckily for him, I think the world number two will improve ahead of this clash and the +3.5 legs handicap is tasty at 8/11.
TIP: Wright +3.5 legs on the handicap @ 8/11
Gerwyn Price vs GARY ANDERSON
There will be a strong Welsh contingent behind Price on Thursday evening, especially after Wales’ Six Nations victory over Scotland. Price, one of the sport’s most entertaining characters, will be fired up and ready to go at his home event. Unfortunately, that could backfire if he is too psyched to perform well in Cardiff. This has the makings of a really good contest.
The Scot will be seething with himself after allowing Smith to get back into the game last week. Anderson hasn’t been at his brilliant best in recent times, perhaps still struggling with that niggling back injury. However, I still fancy the two-time world champion to get off to a fast start in Cardiff and the 4/6 for him to pip Price to three legs is very reasonable indeed.
TIP: Anderson to win three legs first @ 4/6
Raymond Van Barneveld vs MENSUR SULJOVIC
Van Barneveld will fancy his chances in this battle of the fan favourites. Suljovic is improving whilst Barney is in his twilight years. No matter what happens in 2018, the Dutchman will go down in history as one of the greatest players of all-time. He will need to improve this week though, averaging 93.78 won’t be enough to keep Suljovic at bay.
Suljovic didn’t too much wrong against Whitlock in Week One. Yes, the Austrian gave up his throw on three separate occasions but he was able to break back. In addition, Suljovic averaged 103.71 and had a 55% success rate on his doubles – a draw would have been a fair result. I like the world number six at 4/6 to nick a positive result here.
TIP: Suljovic to win OR draw @ 4/6
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*