The business end of the first round sees the last eight players fight for the remaining places in the last 16 tonight.
Tonight’s order of play:
Simon Whitlock vs. Kyle Anderson – players tied 2-2
Adrian Lewis vs. Steve Beaton – players tied 6-6
Michael van Gerwen vs. Stephen Bunting – MVG leads 10-3
Ian White vs. Rob Cross – White leads 3-1
Simon Whitlock vs. Kyle Anderson
The battle of the Australians entertains the opener at the Winter Gardens with Simon Whitlock pitted against his World Cup partner Kyle Anderson, in which is one of my personal delights of the first round.
Whitlock begun 2017 in high spirits having won two UK Open Qualifiers in February and followed that up with a great run at the UK Open, getting to the quarter-finals in March.
A semi-final in a European Tour event around Easter saw consistency prevail until a dip in form from May onwards saw Whitlock bow out at the early stages of events.
Kyle Anderson’s temporary absence at the back end of 2016 has not done him many favours either nicely rising up the rankings at the time to be forced missing out on three big events including the World Championships.
A European Tour quarter-final and a Pro Tour semi-final more recently have been the main highlights with Anderson the 11/8 shot versus Whitlock at 4/6.
I find this game difficult to call in respect that either player is not going to let the other get too far ahead during the game. I really think if there was one game to nominate going to a tie-breaker this would be on the draft list.
On the betting market front I considered plenty, including the Whitlock three-dart average which was chalked at 11/13 for over 95.50, but the checkout line we wanted was 115.50, but the layers have priced up at 116.50, which was disappointing. Whitlock is capable of the higher average although at 8/11 is not ideal.
Adrian Lewis vs. Steve Beaton
Adrian Lewis will be making his first appearance on stage since being absent on medical grounds recently. We hope Adie is back to full health and will cheer you on as we always do.
His opponent Steve Beaton will no doubt be as consummate as ever, hoping to be able to recreate his magic from 12 months prior getting to the quarter-final and losing out narrowly to Gary Anderson 16-13 in the process in one of the memorable games from last year’s event.
Lewis is 4/9 with the Bronzed Adonis out at 5/2. With Lewis being off the stage for a little while he may produce some “ring-rust” as it might be described and playing Beaton over a dozen times previously knows Steve will just play his game.
The pair have not met on stage approaching three years now. No disrespect to Lewis, but going in blindly on how he may perform with his temporary absence and using reputation alone is not strong enough in my book.
I will be interested on a small interest bet on Beaton over 105.50 checkout at 11/13 with Bwin and I also liked 6/5 on Beaton to hit four or more maximums. With his smooth throw when he is in the zone the maximums do go in but often he can lose some rhythm on the third dart to deny a maximum.
Michael van Gerwen vs. Stephen Bunting
Michael van Gerwen faces off against Stephen Bunting in the penultimate game where MVG is a very heavy favourite to see off the Bullet. Bunting had recently spoken on the Weekly Dartscast and it is well worth a listen.
MVG is heading off as the 4/5 favourite for the title and goes off at 1/16 to win the game with Bunting out at 12/1 to cause a massive upset. There is no value in MVG on the match price and even considering the handicaps you are relying on MVG to win 10-3 or better.
Versus the correct scores of 10-0; 10-1; 10-2 or 10-3 the correct score price implies around a 60 per cent price versus the -6.5 price at 5/4 representing a 44.44 per cent chance.
Looking at the markets the only market that may seem any interest is an even money shot on MVG to win, score the most 180s and the highest checkout makes most sense to me as the game implies Bunting will not get many chances to win legs in the game and even if MVG is off the boil last time we saw Bunting he had real double trouble and I am not sure how his confidence really is going into this game.
Ian White vs. Rob Cross
The final game sees White and Cross with the Diamond with the 3-1 advantage on the head to head all played in 2017.
Cross has been one of the surprise consistent players of 2017 making the most of his tour card rising up the rankings fast. Cross plays veteran White who has been on the circuit for a long time and is no pushover.
Getting to the point here – both are strong on throw and taking this on board I was thinking the total leg price to be around 4/5 but is priced at 19/20 with betstars which is a pleasant surprise. I’d take this rather than the 8/11 on Cross or 13/10 on White.
Beaton – over 105.50 checkout – 11/13 Bwin 0.5 pts
MVG King of the Oche – Win game/most 180 and highest checkout – 1/1 Sky Bet – 1.5 pts
Cross/White – over 16.5 legs – 19/20 betstars 1pt