It’s Week 14 and that means it’s the final week of the 2018 Unibet Premier League of Darts regular season! The final four are virtually settled but there is still a slim, mathematical hope for Daryl Gurney to squeeze his way into the Playoffs.
Michael van Gerwen (23 points), Michael Smith (19 points) and Rob Cross (18 points) are assured of their spot at The O2, with the final spot coming down to Gary Anderson (17 points) or Daryl Gurney (15 points). There is a 12-leg differential between the two, so that means Gurney will need Anderson to lose at least 7-2 this week and then Gurney will have to win 7-0 to level the differential. Gurney would then proceed to the Playoffs with a better “Legs Won Against Throw” number.
It’s a long shot for sure, but anything is possible I guess!
Michael Smith will kick off the evening against Raymond van Barneveld. Earlier in the season, my biggest bet of the season was on Smith to defeat Barney, and when they met, Smith towelled him with a 7-0 whitewash. Things are a little different now. Barney is playing with renewed confidence now and has definitely found his rhythm. It’s a lot slower and more controlled, and it’s clearly working for him with wins over MVG and Anderson, and a draw against Cross in his last three weeks. That’s superb form. Smith has done nothing wrong all season, but considering he is virtually guaranteed of 2nd or 3rd place (and seemingly destined for a showdown with Rob Cross in the semis), the result of this match really doesn’t matter too much to him. That makes betting tricky and the bookies are struggling to split them. I think it’s a little tough to bet on the match result, but I don’t mind the under 97.5 average line for Smith.
Simon Whitlock takes on Rob Cross in a match which does have some importance for Cross. If Anderson defeats MVG tonight, then Cross will need to win here to stay in 3rd place. That is important because he’ll want to avoid MVG in the semis. If Anderson draws, then Cross will also need at least one point to stay ahead. With this match on first, Cross can’t afford to drop his guard here so I expect him to be on. It’s been a great season for the Aussie Whitlock who stuck it right up to the best in the world. He proved himself worthy of a Premier League spot, and although he won’t make the finals, he should be satisfied with his season. He’ll want to go out on a high but I find it hard to see him getting past Cross here. Unfortunately all the lines look pretty solid here and Cross to win is too short, so we will have to reluctantly pass on betting.
Peter Wright has had a terrible season by his standards and he’ll be happy to close the door on the 2018 Premier League. He just hasn’t played up to his ranking and only four wins in 15 matches tells the tale. He comes up against Daryl Gurney here who has been the far better player for most of the season. Gurney also only has four wins this season, but has backed that up with seven draws, proving that he has been difficult to beat. As we mentioned earlier, Gurney has to win this at least 7-2 to have a mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs. So does he drop his bundle if Wright wins 3 legs? Perhaps, and that’s the only reason why I am holding back at unloading on the price we’re getting for Gurney. For some reason, Wright is the favourite and I just can’t have that. If this was during the year, I’d happily back Gurney here, but the emotional down that might come if he doesn’t thrash Wright might affect the end result. I think it’s still worth a bet, but we’ll take the “Draw No Bet” for a bit of insurance. I’ll be backing Gurney to once again have the most 180s as they keep giving us a great price on this, and I also think the average line of 98.5 is a little high for both players. So I think it’s worth a nibble for Wright who has only passed that figure once in the last five weeks and that was against MVG.
The final match of the evening will see Michael van Gerwen clash with Gary Anderson. Regardless of how the other results play out, this one will be an interesting match. Firstly, Anderson will know that he only has to get to three legs to be assured of a spot in the Playoffs. If results go how we think, that’s likely to be his focus, and he probably won’t be able to improve any better than fourth which would mean a semi-finals showdown with MVG again next week.
From van Gerwen’s perspective, I’m certain he sees Anderson as his biggest threat in the Premier League. MVG also can’t be removed from top spot so the result here doesn’t affect him. I’m sure he’d like to inflict some psychological damage, but at the same time, I wouldn’t put it past MVG to tank in a spot like this to get the result he wants. If Cross loses or draws his match, all Anderson needs to do to get to third is to win this match, and that would probably be in both players’ interests here. For that reason, I’d approach betting in this match with caution and perhaps wait until the other matches have resulted first so we know what the deal is.
I think the safest betting play before the night starts is to play the Anderson average line. If the match is live, he’ll be bringing his A-game, and if it’s a dead rubber, he’ll want to also ensure MVG is pushed to the limit before next week. The 100.5 line isn’t small, but Anderson averaged 110 last time they played, so we’ll back the overs and hope for a big scoring match as usual.
Michael Smith average under 97.5 vs Raymond van Barneveld - $1.83 at Sportsbet
Simon Whitlock vs Rob Cross – No Bet
Daryl Gurney to Win (Draw No Bet) vs Peter Wright - $2.00 at Sportsbet
Daryl Gurney Most 180s vs Peter Wright - $2.00 at Sportsbet
Peter Wright average under 98.5 vs Daryl Gurney - $1.83 at Sportsbet
Gary Anderson average over 100.5 vs MVG - $1.83 at Sportsbet