We're right in the middle of the busy season for the PDC, and I know there's a lot of you out there that pencil in the PDC World Matchplay as the highlight of your year until the World Championship starts. The UK Open was back to somewhat familiar territory, with Phil Taylor yet again doing his thing and picking up the win, this time defeating Andy Hamilton in the final. I had a good friend of mine describe Hamilton as "the new Terry Jenkins", and after the UK Open Final, I'm inclined to agree with him.
Again, I'll be running the Premium Darts Betting Picks service, so if you'd like to sign up, it'll cost you less than a bottle of gin (unless you insist on drinking Smart Price gin, of course), and you can sign up below.
Anyway, without further ado, let's look at the 2013 PDC World Matchplay.
Change In Format.
Yes. while in essence the format will stay the same (first to x legs wins), the rule that made the World Matchplay interesting has been changed so that Sky Sports don't have a huge overrun. So, where it was once that case you had to win by two clear legs, and the match could continue infinitely, now they will play a maximum of 5 extra legs to decide the winner, before it goes to sudden-death. Why tinker with something that made the Matchplay so exciting? Well, it's all down to television coverage. I'm not a fan, and I doubt you are, either. Still, what's done is done, it's not going to change this late in the day.
Change In Sponsor.
This move isn't one that's going to set tongues wagging, but it's worth pointing out that Bet Victor are the new sponsors of the PDC World Matchplay. It seems to be hard for the tournament to keep one sponsor since Stan James parted ways with the tournament. After SJ, it was Skybet, then Betfair and now Victor Chandler and his team. what does that mean for you? Well, Bet Victor will be running a more focused campaign to get you to be with them. So what are the offering you to bet with them?
Well, first of all, all new customers get a free bet up to £25.
Second of all, place a bet on the outright market, and if Michael van Gerwen wins the tournament, they'll refund your bet up to £50.
And finally, if your match goes to sudden death and the player you backed loses, they'll refund your bet up to £50.
By now, you know who The Favourites are going to be. Yes, we have The Power and Mighty Mike. And, what a surprise, the bookies are taking no chances on them, but the general consensus being that 5/2 either man is fair. Some books have the Dutchman a marginal favourite, while Taylor isn't a clear favourite on any book that I can see.
There's nothing I can't tell you about the form of either man that you don't already know. Van Gerwen won the Premier League, Taylor won the UK Open. Van Gerwen is cleaning up in the ProTour events, and Taylor isn't playing that many tournaments. If you think it's down to the two of them, and as this tournament is seeded it could well be, then dutching them at the current prices isn't a bad option, especially as if you back Taylor with Victor Chandler, and Van Gerwen wins, not only do you get your winnings for Van Gerwen, but you get your money back on your Phil Taylor bet, too.
You can't look past either man, especially given Taylor's draw, and it's not been the most unpredictable of tournaments in the last few years either, as it's usually kind to the seeded players. So, if you fancy backing the favourite, I won't dissuade you. It's not for me, but it's not the worst prospect in the world.
The Usual Suspects.
Step forward The Usual Suspects - Adrian Lewis, Raymond van Barneveld, James Wade and Simon Whitlock. These are the men that the bookies see as the main threats to The Favourites. All four men have been playing well at times, and they've also been playing poorly at times. James Wade made the final last year and gave Phil Taylor a challenge, but it just enough. Whitlock and Lewis contested the final of the European Championship, with Lewis emerging victorious, and Barney has just been playing solid darts. The average prices are:
Adrian Lewis - 8/1
Raymond van Barneveld - 14/1
James Wade - 16/1
Simon Whitlock - 18/1
The one that jumps out at me is the price of Adrian Lewis, but for all the wrong reasons. Lewis in single figures while last year's finalist is twice the price is laughable. That's not to say Wade is the wrong price, but Lewis is far too short - I can't be having him in single figures, especially as he's got a tricky first round match against Ronny Huybrechts, then a potential showdown with Robert Thornton or Andy Hamilton in the quarter-finals should he made it past the Belgian and the winner of Dolan/Beaton. His draw, in short, stinks. The draw was far kinder to Van Barneveld, especially if Taylor slips up along the way. The Dutchman looks good for a quarter-final berth and if he gets through that, his semi-final draw looks decent, too. Sure, you're looking for a Taylor defeat in the first two rounds, but Stuart Kellett is no mug, and Terry Jenkins can push The Power on his day. Wade and Whitlock have awful draws, simple as that.
In short, I'd rather be taking the 14/1 about Raymond van Barneveld than I would the 8/1 on Adrian Lewis.
The Best Of The Rest.
Like most tournaments, I like to find a couple of tasty priced outsiders to give me a run for my money. This tournament gives me a lot of options, especially with so much money going to the players at the head of the market. Gary Anderson and Andy Hamilton are the two big names that are big prices. I think Anderson couldn't have hand-picked a much worse draw, and given the form he's in, 33/1 looks skinny. Put a 0 on it and we'll talk. However, Hamilton has an extremely winnable quarter, and if something unforeseen was to happen to Michael van Gerwen, his half of the draw suddenly becomes wide open. 33/1 for Hamilton might be just a bit big, given the fact he loves the venue, as is evident with his two semi-final berths in 2006 and 2011. It screams value, and might just be worth a nibble.
I had a friend recommend Peter Wright to me, but I don't like the Scotsman's draw compared to his price. Not only does he have one of the toughest lower-seeds to beat in Kim Huybrechts, but then the reward for winning is a potential second round match against Michael van Gerwen. I think he has to be a bit bigger than the 40/1 on offer.
The other two I'm interested in are Jamie Caven and Jelle Klassen. Yes, Klaasen would be the most unpopular winner of a PDC tournament ever, but when his price is 66/1, I don't care. Both men have been playing well on the floor, especially Caven, who's picked up a couple of floor tournament wins recently. My only worry is that when the cameras turn on Caven, he becomes a mess. However, it has to click for him eventually, much like it did for Justin Pipe. Given Caven's draw, with three out-of-form players in his quarter in the shape of Chisnall, Nicholson and Newton, he looks good for a quarter-final berth to me. And Klaasen, he's a former World Champion and he put in some vintage performances at the UK Open, before going down narrowly to Ronnie Baxter, which isn't a bad way to go out. He's also notching up some wins on the floor, and maybe his enforced sabbatical has done him the world of good. If he can get past Simon Whitlock, I think that part of the draw is wide open for a player of his calibre. He'll have to fight, but I think 66/1 is a shade of value for a player that's been averaging over 100 in recent matches.
Like any good piece (and a lot of rubbish ones, too), here's the conclusion. If you think it's going to be a battle of Taylor and Van Gerwen, get yourself over to Victor Chandler and back them both there. You'll get your stake back on Taylor if MVG wins, and you get a profit if Taylor wins. Easy. However, there's not enough value for me, and I like the look of Andy Hamilton, Jamie Caven and Jelle Klaasen for a spot of value.
Klaasen is also 9/1 to win his quarter, Caven is 10/1, but the terrific value must be Andy Hamilton to win his quarter at 4/1.
As always, I'll be running the Premier Picks service for the PDC World Matchplay, and I'll be casting my eye over every match and trying to sniff out every angle. If you'd like to sign up for them for the cheap as chips price of £10, you can sign up below.