Lockup Dave’s Betting Column: Painter to get the better of Caven on opening night at Ally Pally

By Dave South
15 DECEMBER 2016 • 10:26AM 

According to the odds compilers, Jamie Caven could be the first casualty from the William Hill World Darts Championship as the narrow underdog versus Kevin Painter, who made the tournament by virtue of Kyle Anderson’s absence.

Caven has been lacking form in 2016, but so has the Artist, so this game is massive for both players.

I do think Painter will get through this, as the pressure will be off him compared to Caven who is trying to save his top 32 status.

Both players will be ready for the fight and I think this will be closer than most expect.

I expect both to win a set and think Painter will edge this 3-1 or 3-2 and do not see either going down 3-0.

Mick McGowan and Jamie Lewis should be as interesting as the Caven/Painter encounter, with the Welsh maestro 4/6 and the Irish thrower 11/8.

I do think there will be a few maximums in the game but see a cagey affair similarly. I think Lewis should edge this!

Gary Anderson will look to make light work of Mark Frost.

No disrespect to Frosty, but Anderson will be all business here and will want to get the job done quickly.

Although Frost has played on the circuit for many years, he lacks the experience of the Ally Pally stage and the pedigree of the defending champion should be enough to see a comfortable win.

For the accumulator backers, all four favourites on the night (Painter/Anderson/Lewis/Smith) to all win pays 4.20 with Marathonbet.

Tonight’s recommendations

Painter to beat Caven and both to win a set – 5/4 Betfred

First leg 180 NO – Painter and Lewis games – 11/10 Paddy Power and Betfair

Prices correct at time of publication

Lockup Dave’s Betting Column: Anderson to beat Frost 3-0 on opening night offers value with Bwin

By Dave South
13 DECEMBER 2016 • 3:10PM 

With the biggest event in the darting calendar nearly upon us, it brings betting opportunities for all the fellow punters out there.

There are plenty of ante-post betting opportunities. Michael van Gerwen is no bigger than 8/11 with Paddy Power to win his second World Championship.

Gary Anderson is 13/2, Phil Taylor is 9/1, Peter Wright is 12/1 and the rest are 33/1 and higher.

An interesting price of 8/13 for a nine-dart finish is quoted by Coral.

With a nine darter being thrown at Ally Pally every year since 2009, bar the 2012 tournament, it will see appeal, with 6/5 for no nine darter.

Betfred offer 4/6 on a nine darter and a 170 finish, which is a slight enhancement and it may interest you that the 170 has been hit at least once every year since the 2002 World Championship, and it’s 1/25 on there being a 170!

My advice as an ante-post bet is on total sets played with Coral.

Even is just 4/9 with odd at 13/8 and it must be a play, as this bet will go right to the end and I just think the 4/9 quoted price is too short!

My ante-post tip on my website at lockuptipster.weebly.com was Peter Wright at 16s but he has since shortened to 12/1.

Night one has all four favourites priced at just over 3/1 with Marathonbet, with enhancement possible nearer the time.

I am not an accumulator tipster, but like the price of Anderson to beat Mark Frost 3-0 at 7/10 with Bwin, with Bet365 just 1/3 on the result!

Make sure you keep tabs on the Darts Weekly website for our daily update if you fancy a flutter!

Prices correct at time of publication

Ally Pally Classics: Simon Whitlock edges past Raymond van Barneveld in semi-final thriller

By Alex Moss
12 DECEMBER 2016 • 9:15AM 

The latest entry into our Ally Pally Classics series sees us move forward to the 2010 PDC World Championship.

Seven years after his last, and only, appearance in the PDC’s World Championship, Simon Whitlock returned to the field for the 2010 championship.

Having qualified as one of the International Qualifiers, the Australian was unseeded for the tournament and had to get past the third, sixth and 11th seeds on his way to reaching the semi-finals.

Whitlock’s lowest average so far in the tournament had been 99.24, while his semi-final opponent Raymond van Barneveld, despite only dropping one set at that point, had yet to hit top gear.

The two players could hardly be separated on the Alexandra Palace stage, as the match went all the way to an 11th and final set.

Please note: The other parts of the video are available on YouTube

Dave McNally: Lakeside still the spiritual home of darts for me

By Dave McNally
11 DECEMBER 2016 • 6:44PM 

Surely it can’t just be me? There was a certain glow about watching the Winmau World Masters last weekend at the Lakeside.

This isn’t a debate about whether the PDC or the BDO are the best, that’s been done a million times.

It’s more to do with the venues and how, despite the popularity of darts as a spectator sport has increased and various venues have been introduced, the Lakeside, to me at least, will forever be the spiritual home for darts.

And it’s not just nostalgia clouding my judgement.

I’ve been to a good few venues watching darts over the years and often they have big crowds, but are soulless venues.

Sheffield’s Motorpoint for example, is like thousands of people getting drunk in the cinema, it just doesn’t work.

The same can be argued for the Echo Arena in Liverpool, loads of noise and singing, but it’s all spectacularly dull.

Blackpool. Now this is a good venue for darts. The Winter Gardens, mainly one levelled seating, near to the action and within touching distance of the players.

It’s got character befitting of a proper sporting venue, creates a superb atmosphere and allows the players to mingle with the fans after matches.

It all adds to the sense of theatre and apart from a select few at the front as in the usual venues, the Winter Gardens leaves the spectator feeling as though they have been part of the event, rather than a casual observer.

The Lakeside in my eyes was made for darts. Large, round tables for seating on the ground level, offering perfect views of the stage.

Plus, a chance to get to know strangers on the tables, who by the end of a session are one of your mates for the rest of the week.

The layered balconies are even close to the action, not high up in the gods with no chance of seeing anything that is going on.

Atmosphere is created because of the low ceilings and its original design for bands and cabaret acts, allowing the acoustics to resonate in the venue, plus the bars are tucked away but allow for watching of the arrows while in the queue.

The newer venues are concrete palaces of identikit design, the equivalent of Bolton Wanderers or Huddersfield Town football stadia for those who have followed their team or go there regularly.

Unique to nobody and offering little in the way of creating a superb sporting venue with the emphasis on the experience, settling rather for a cram them in at all cost approach and an ‘it’ll do’ mentality.

I know the Lakeside wasn’t built for darts and either were a lot of the other venues, but surely a bit more thought could go in to where the events are going to be held.

Take it around the country by all means, but let’s not sacrifice the experience by filling characterless bleak venues week in week out.

Christopher Kempf’s Match of the Week: Harms falls to Durrant in Lakeside last-leg decider

By Christopher Kempf
10 DECEMBER 2016 • 5:06PM 

MATCH OF THE WEEK: Glen Durrant 4-3 Wesley Harms (Winmau World Masters quarter-finals)

Is Glen Durrant coming to the end of his time in the British Darts Organisation?

Duzza certainly seems to have no qualms about encouraging such speculation.

His triumph at Lakeside this past weekend certainly had an air of finality to it, for with one notable exception, Durrant steamrolled the BDO field en route to a spectacular defence of his World Masters title.

That exception was Wesley Harms, who looked for the first half hour of the match as if he was about do to the BDO number one what Duzza had done to so many opponents in 2016.

After wiring the dart at the bull for a 12-dart 170 finish, Durrant’s scoring dropped off dramatically.

Harms responded to losing the first leg with a 180 in the first visit of each of the last two legs of the first set, smashing through the Englishman’s anaemic attempt to hold throw in 13 darts and comfortably holding his own in 17.

Harms would only give Durrant one more dart at the double in the first two sets as he opened up a 2-0 lead.

Although Harms, after five legs, had seemingly made it halfway to the semi-finals, the World Masters’ first to four best of three leg sets format in the quarter-finals, like a funhouse mirror’s distortion of one’s reflection, makes large leads seem small and blows small leads out of proportion to their surmountability.

Durrant won the subsequent two legs in five visits, halving Harms’ lead in just over five minutes and nearly equalising the two darters’ averages.

Just as it seemed that Durrant, throwing first in the third set, would begin to take the advantage over his lower-ranked rival, he failed to check out from 58, sticking his tongue out in disgust as two leg-clinching darts missed their mark.

Duzza abandoned the second leg, and with it the fourth set, to Harms with four indifferent visits.

Yet at this point Durrant was still only four legs behind. And gratifyingly for the defending champion, Harms began to feel his nerves with the finishing line in sight.

In an unexpected display of weakness, Harms proceeded to lose those four legs to his opponent, finding only one visit of 140 and never once attempting a dart at a double to win any leg.

Durrant did not produce any great heroics to erase the Dutchman’s advantage, indeed, his average improved only slightly over those four legs as he needed six visits to win two of the legs.

It was Harms whose performance fell significantly below par in finding only 14 trebles over the course of 20 scoring visits.

If the two darters had not fiercely contested sets their opponents had, to this point, they did battle in the deciding seventh set as much with themselves as with their opponents.

Harms raced ahead in the first leg, earning for himself six darts to win the leg from 83.

A dart well to the inside of the double five thwarted his efforts, allowing Duzza to come back from a poor position to break throw.

Then, incredibly, Durrant foundered on his own throw, failing to check out from 68 in two visits in almost identical fashion.

In the decider, with the Lakeside crowd cheering his comeback, Durrant finally turned up the heat with a score of 140 followed by an elusive maximum in his third visit, leaving Harms too far behind on his own throw to trouble his top ranked opponent.

With a Dutch thorn removed from his side, Duzza went on to claim a second World Masters title. He will have a fond memory of this triumph at Lakeside, even if it is indeed his last.

Ally Pally Classics: Paul Nicholson’s dream debut continues with last set victory over Adrian Lewis

By Alex Moss
8 DECEMBER 2016 • 8:40AM 

The latest entry into our Ally Pally Classics series sees us move forward to the second year the PDC World Championship was held at the Alexandra Palace.

The 2009 tournament marked the World Championship debut of Australia’s Paul Nicholson, who enjoyed a memorable run to the quarter-finals before losing out to James Wade.

On the way to the last eight though, Nicholson and Adrian Lewis met in the second round, where no fewer than 17 180s were hit in a match which went all the way to a seventh and final set.

With the final set tied at 4-4, Nicholson produced back-to-back 100+ finishes of 129 and 121, the latter of those on the bullseye, to knock out Lewis.

Please note: The other parts of the video are available on YouTube

Dave McNally: Darts shirts the next boom in sporting attire?

By Dave McNally
6 DECEMBER 2016 • 6:19PM 

Darts was always unfashionable, both on and off the oche. The perception of ‘fat blokes’ in tatty t-shirts, half drunk, smoking, throwing at a dartboard will always be etched in some peoples’ minds, but times are changing.

The old 70s and 80s players togged out in polo shirts with the odd sponsor on for TV tournaments used to grace the stages worldwide.

Add to this, a player’s name sewn onto or beneath the pocket and it is still not the sort of thing the man in the street would be wearing, it was strictly dart players only attire.

The odd bootleg market stall churned out a shoddy copy of Eric Bristow’s Crafty Cockney shirt, but by and large people wouldn’t be seen dead wearing one.

As darts has grown in stature and received more exposure both here and on the continent, a whole new audience has become available to exploit in marketing terms. Darts is trendy now, you know.

Using the blueprint normally assigned to football clubs, sponsors and players alike have spotted an opportunity to make darting apparel acceptable, if not fashionable on the streets.

As obvious as spotting a Manchester United shirt while out and about, more and more lime green Michael van Gerwen tops are appearing along with various horrendous designs depicting flashes of lightening, garish smattering of luminous colours and everything from bullets through to fake muscles etched onto the shirts.

Not particularly stylish, much like the average football shirt (Everton excluded!) but allowing people to show their allegiances to certain players. Who’d have thought this only a few years ago?

Producers, organisations and players are filling their websites with these shirts and releasing them as exclusives on launch days, along with matching darts so you can support your player in “style.”

Weighing in at roughly the same price as a Premier League football top, fans are snapping up the replica shirts online and at venues the length of Britain and beyond.

Dart players in pubs are also seen wearing professional players’ “colours”, which would have been laughed at a few years ago.

There are even suppliers who allow the supporters to create their own shirt, complete with logos and nickname emblazoned across the back.

The old guard, still cynically perhaps, still rubbish the replica top brigade, while the producers take advantage of newer trends and the new breed of fans across the globe desperate to proclaim their adherence to all things darts.

That’s not all. Players’ fans t-shirts and polo shirts are available and common sight at venues.

There’s even kids wandering around with the stuff on. How times have changed from the 70s and 80s.

Are darts replica shirts set to become the newest big boom in sporting attire? They are certainly cropping up a lot more these days.

Ally Pally Classics: Wayne Mardle produces stunning comeback to knock out Phil Taylor in 2008

By Alex Moss
6 DECEMBER 2016 • 4:52PM 

“This is a bit different. This is the World Championships, and I’ve played Phil so many times and got close to him and should have won a few, but I didn’t. So maybe this is redemption time, you never know.”

Those were the words uttered pre-match by a confident Wayne Mardle ahead of taking on Phil Taylor for the fourth time in a World Championship.

The previous three encounters, all played at the Circus Tavern, had all gone the way of Taylor. But when the two players faced off on the Alexandra Palace stage for the first time, there was to be a different outcome.

As we get ready for the 10th year of the PDC’s World Championship being held at the Ally Pally, relive this classic quarter-final from the very first year the tournament moved over to the north London venue in 2008.

Christopher Kempf’s Match of the Week: Partisan crowd aids Peter Wright in last-leg victory

Peter Wright’s dramatic 11-10 win over Phil Taylor in the Ladbrokes World Series of Darts Finals was Christopher Kempf’s Match of the Week CREDIT: STEVE WELSH/PDC

By Christopher Kempf
11 NOVEMBER 2016 • 3:53PM

The PDC promotes a competitive atmosphere at its stage events in which spectators are allowed to take part in matches, should they choose to do so.

Apart from the occasional mild approach of “thank you, best of order, please” from the referee, fans can effectively whistle, cheer, jeer and call out to the players – even when they are throwing – with the intent of distracting a disliked player or spurring a favoured player on to win.

The extent to which players and commentators view this behaviour acceptable depends on their opinion of what a fan’s obligation is.

Some think that the punters, by means of paying to watch the match in person, are entitled to do as they please.

Others decry the lack of respect to the players that inevitably results from that sense of entitlement.

And some profess both opinions as the situation dictates.

The extent to which a boisterous crowd can influence the outcome of a match is incredibly difficult to analyse in a statistical way.

But there is no doubt that Phil Taylor, in his semi-final loss to Peter Wright this past weekend in Glasgow, reacted and performed directly in response to provocations from the partisan Scottish crowd.

That Taylor missed seven match darts over the final three legs is simply a fact.

But it is to Wright’s credit that he produced a sensational performance, averaging 105, in spite of The Power’s relentless scoring and ruthless finishing.

Between his results in the European Championship and the World Series of Darts Finals, Taylor has made a case for himself as the most consistent performer – and most difficult opponent – in darts.

In his past six games, consisting of 78 legs, Taylor failed to reach a finish only twice.

He had darts at double in 55 of those legs, won 45 of them, and checked out in 15 darts or less in 40.

Sunday’s performance at the Braehead Arena against Wright continued in that same vein of excellence and surpassed the highlights of his other recent matches.

After the 18th leg of the match, which saw him win his seventh leg out of the previous nine, Taylor was averaging over 109 and reaching a finish, on average, after 9.2 darts.

Taylor responded to pressure from Wright in the 15th leg with a magnificent 149 checkout, and to the suddenly crestfallen crowd with pantomime yawns.

Wright, who fell 10-8 behind after a spectacular 6-3 start, finished the final three legs to win one of the most suspenseful finishes of 2016.

A Wright dart at double 16 to steal the 19th leg made a visible dent in the wire as it bounced out.

But as Taylor attempted three match darts, the Scottish fans laid it on thick. The bravado with which Taylor had reacted to the crowd noise evaporated as he repeatedly failed to close out the match.

Wright goaded on the fans with a nine darter attempt which did not result, alas, in the perfect leg, but gave him a break of throw and the advantage in the deciding leg.

After surviving a dart at the bull from Taylor, Wright finished the match with 16 darts to a roar of approval from the crowd.

It was the second TV semi-final of the year in which Taylor missed seven match darts and lost the 21st leg.

That he did it once with the crowd cheering him on, and once under duress, perhaps indicates more about Taylor than it does about the punters.

Dave McNally: A contrast of throwing styles on the oche

Jamie Lewis has a throw which is done in one really fast, jerky movement which seems to work for him CREDIT: LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC

By Dave McNally
11 NOVEMBER 2016 • 9:18AM

Chris Mason and Alan Warriner-Little suggested that they would spend some time during a match watching Mensur Suljovic’s throw on TV at the weekend.

It has got people talking about some of the more unorthodox darting styles.

We’ve had all sorts of throws, from Colin Monk opening his mouth after every thrown dart, to twists of the shoulders and body like Jocky Wilson.

It is often described as unique as a fingerprint and once you have a throw it is extremely difficult to change.

Those old enough to remember Ceri Morgan will have noted the almost spear-like approach to throwing the dart, bringing the dart in from the side of his head and throwing it before it barely entered his line of vision.

This style looked to be disastrous and certainly someone studying the game would have struggled to pick out anything technically virtuous in the throw.

It worked for Ceri, as he made the BDO World Championship quarter-finals on a few occasions and was World Masters runner-up in the 1980s.

One of today’s throwers, Jamie Lewis, has another unique style, aiming higher than the target before bringing the arm back and throwing it from a lower place than where he set his aim.

Jamie’s throw is done in one really fast, jerky movement, suggesting that accuracy would be reduced, but it seems to work for him.

When it comes to throws that don’t extend the arm, the prize surely goes to Aleksander Oreshkin.

The Russian brings his arm back, and then flicks his wrist to throw the dart, in what is probably the strangest throw imaginable.

No follow through with the arm, not even bringing it up straight. It really is a throw that would have the purist scratching their heads with disbelief.

Dennis Smith was also renowned for his peculiar throw, not with the way he released the darts, more with the way he set himself up before the throw.

Dennis twists the dart 180 degrees in his hand, spinning it around to the front then bringing his arm back to throw.

This often contributed to a slower style of play as he had to do the same thing methodically for every single dart, often frustrating both the opponent and the crowds.

Mensur Suljovic, some have argued, has took this to a new level.

Known for his slower style of play and meticulous attention to the whole throwing process, to set up his arm and aim with precision.

Then as he takes aim to throw, he thrusts his whole body forward almost to the point of falling over in some instances, raises his trailing leg from the floor and jolts his whole body.

It defies all the scholarly articles written and science behind throwing a dart, but it is without doubt successful as recent events have proven on the PDC circuit.

Whatever way you throw, it seems that it could be more a case of what is comfortable as opposed to the suggested ‘correct’ way.

Whether this will prove to be the case when the body needs to adapt, who knows?

One thing for sure is that it makes for an interesting contrast of styles on the oche and has started discussions among the darting fraternity.