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Nordic Darts Masters preview: Michael Smith aims to continue sizzling streak

A week after Michael Smith triumphed in Bahrain and three weeks after he was crowned world champion in London, he can complete a January TV treble by winning the Nordic Darts Masters in Copenhagen.

World No.1 Smith, 3/1 to triumph in Denmark, can do no wrong at the moment and is going to take some beating at the Forum Copenhagen.

The Nordic Masters is the second of five events in the World Series which culminate in the finals in Amsterdam in September.

WhatNordic Masters
WhereForum Copenhagen, Denmark
WhenFriday January 20th - Saturday January 21st, 2023
How to watchITV4
OddsMichael van Gerwen 11/4, Michael Smith 3/1, Gerwyn Price 7/2, Jonny Clayton 15/2, Rob Cross 10/1

Northern Europeans look to improve on Asian blank

The Nordic Masters is a 16-player event featuring eight PDC stars against eight regional qualifiers.

It's the second event in the World Series, the first having taken place in Bahrain last weekend when eight Asian stars all lost their first-round matches against the PDC's big boys.

This time round, however, Smith, Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price and the other top aces can expect sterner first-round tests from far more seasoned players. Bully Boy, for example, has been paired with former World Championship quarter-finalist Darius Labanauskas.

Dimitri van den Bergh has to take on Madars Razma, a real steady dangerman who is on the periphery of the world's top 32, while Daniel Larsson - a four-time Nordic Tour finalist in 2022, winning once - is more than capable of running Jonny Clayton close.

Van Gerwen returns to issue a reminder

Van Gerwen sat out the trip to Bahrain, preferring a family holiday instead, which means he is already playing catch-up if he wants to top the World Series rankings.

One of his record 17 wins in this series was at the Forum Copenhagen two years ago, when he memorably fended off a brave challenge from Fallon Sherrock in the final, running out an 11-7 winner.

Back and sufficiently refreshed after losing to Smith in the world final at Alexandra Palace less than three weeks ago, he is 1/33 to see off Andreas Harryson - aka Dirty Harry - in round one and while those odds are prohibitively short, it's hard to see the 47-year-old Swede giving Mighty Mike too many frights.

Van Gerwen, unseeded in Denmark, is likely to meet Peter Wright in the quarter-finals and then Smith in the semis, in what would be their first meeting since Ally Pally.

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Bahrain Darts Masters preview: Smith kicks off new world order in the desert

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Smith seems almost unbeatable

Van Gerwen, who threw beautifully in London until running into an inspired Smith on finals night, is 11/4 to collect a second Nordic Masters title, though Bully Boy must be feeling nigh-on unbeatable right now.

Smith saved his best until last at Alexandra Palace and carried that form to Bahrain last weekend where he thrashed Abdulnasser Yusuf before beating Van den Bergh, Raymond van Barneveld and Gerwyn Price - all by two-leg margins - to lift the trophy.

Barney, incidentally, is the member of the PDC's elite eight who played in Bahrain to make way for Van Gerwen's return in the Danish capital.

Smith had already won the Grand Slam, the penultimate event before the Worlds, and his confidence is through the roof.

The Englishman is 1/12 to beat Labanauskas, who he beat in both of their two meetings during 2022. Next up would then be Luke Humphries, who should have far too much firepower for one-paced Finn Marko Kantele.

Bottom half may yield a surprise or two

If there's a big-name PDC scalp to be claimed in Copenhagen, it may well be in the bottom half of the draw.

Larsson, for example, would need Clayton's level to dip, but they do from time to time and the Swede looks a fair price at 6/1.

And then there's Razma against Van den Bergh. The Belgian was the one top dog who was almost upstaged in round one in Bahrain, pipping Alain Abiabi from the Philippines 6-5 with an 88 average. And he averaged even less losing to Smith in the quarters.

Van den Bergh can produce ton-plus averages at a whim, but he didn't last weekend and will find 3/1 poke Razma a tough man to beat.

Razzmatazz stunned Ryan Searle and Daryl Gurney at last October's Grand Prix before succumbing to Price in the last eight and, as a winner on the Nordic Tour, the Latvian won't fear anyone.

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