The 2018 Unibet Premier League of Darts regular season is drawing to a close with just two more rounds before the Playoffs get underway. We were unable to get an article out last week, but it was probably a blessing in the end, with a few surprise results that left the race to the final four down to just five players.
Michael van Gerwen is the only player assured of his Playoffs spot with 21 points atop the leaderboard. Michael Smith and Rob Cross are next with 18 points, with Gary Anderson in fourth place on 17 points after a shock loss to Simon Whitlock last week. The only player who can climb into contention from outside of those four is Daryl Gurney who is sitting with 14 points. Gurney will need points from each of his last two matches and hope other results fall his way to be a chance. Raymond van Barneveld (13), Simon Whitlock (12) and Peter Wright (11) are all mathematically out of the running.
We have to be careful betting on some of the Week 13 matches that have little to play for. The first match of the night is a classic example with Peter Wright taking on Simon Whitlock. You feel that Whitlock probably gets more out of playing for pride than Wright at this point, who is probably counting down the days until his horrible Premier League campaign is over. Despite that logic, Wright is the $1.66 favourite to win. You’d have to think that Whitlock is the value here, so you could perhaps entertain Whitlock +2.5 if you’re adventurous.
A battle between the top two players in Rob Cross and Michael van Gerwen should be one of the highlights of the night. MVG is safe but no doubt he’ll want to finish the season on top, while Cross should also be safe but mathematically can miss out if things go pear-shaped. This is definitely a battle for the psychological advantage heading into the Playoffs. Over the short format of the Premier League, Cross hasn’t shown his absolute best, but there have been glimpses of magic. He’ll need to really bring it here if he’s going to beat MVG who starts the $1.40 favourite. Cross wasn’t at his best when they met in Week 1 with a 7-2 loss, but still averaged 98.85. Your average is always inflated against MVG as he is so good, so I am tempted by the over 98.5 average line for Cross. If you think he can keep it close, the games line is +2.5, or alternatively take the over 10.5 games line.
The next match is a crucial one with Daryl Gurney and Michael Smith both desperate for points to secure their Playoff spot. Smith has been phenomenal this season and deserves his spot, while Gurney was slow to start but has been pretty solid throughout. The bookies are finding it hard to split them and I can understand why. I think this will go right down to the wire and so I like the over 11.5 legs bet. Remember, if Gurney doesn't get at least a point here, then he can't make the Playoffs, so I don't see him laying down easily! Gurney has also hit 57 180s this season compared to Smith’s 36, so I think Gurney is a great bet to win the most 180s.
The final match of the evening will see Gary Anderson take on Raymond van Barneveld. Barney showed some really poor form early in the season, and mixed that with some brilliance that included a win over MVG. We were quite keen pre-season on Barney to have a big Premier League, and he really could’ve reached the Playoffs if he had been more consistent. On the other side of the coin, Gary Anderson has played some of the best darts of the season, so it was a real shock to see him lose last week to Whitlock. He’ll want to bounce back here and assure his Playoff spot. I can’t really see Ando dropping this one when it’s so important to him and means nothing to Barney. It’s not a great price but I don’t like betting too much else with this match.
Peter Wright vs Simon Whitlock – No Bet
Rob Cross vs Michael van Gerwen over 10.5 legs - $1.70 at CrownBet
Daryl Gurney vs Michael Smith over 11.5 legs - $2.00 at Unibet
Daryl Gurney Most 180s vs Michael Smith - $1.97 at CrownBet
Gary Anderson win vs Raymond van Barneveld - $1.62 at Unibet
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