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Michael van Gerwen
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Players Championship 3 & 4 preview: Michael Van Gerwen eyeing Leicester success

It’s off to the Mattioli Arena in Leicester for two more PDC Pro Tour events when the Players Championship 3 & 4 competitions take place on Monday and Tuesday.

Prize money for the floor tournaments has been bumped up this season, with £125,000 distributed across each event, a 25 percent increase from last term.

There is a total of £3,750,000 available in the 30 Players Championship events this year, and with competition open to all PDC Tour Card holders, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up all-important ranking points.

Littler could win a second Players Championship crown

Littler took down the opening Players Championship event in Wigan and the 17-year-old will be looking for more glory in Leicester.

It’s fair to say that the Nuke rode his luck in the season opening event and he could have fallen to Alan Soutar at the semi-final stage. The same can be said in the final, where Ryan Searle averaged a massive 111 against Littler.

However, it’s a measure of the maturity of the 17-year-old that he was able to keep his composure and get the better of his more experienced rivals to seal his first Pro Tour title.

It’s also worth remembering that Littler hit a nine-dart finish in the Players Championship 1 tournament, he averaged 109 in probably the best final ever played in the series of events and his efforts in the weekly Premier League have continued to be at an extremely high level.

Littler started the opening event of the season as a 6/1 shot, he was in to 5/2 after he claimed the day one crown and now the Nuke is back rated as a 6/1 chance for glory in Leicester.

It’s worth noting that there was no Van Gerwen in the field for the opening two Pro Tour events of the season, but the Dutchman is back in town for Players Championship 3 and 4.

Much will depend on the draw in Leicester, as there are no guarantees of an easy ride for Littler, who doesn’t hold a high ranking in these events, but there is certainly no doubting the fantastic talent of the Nuke.

Michael van Gerwen expected to challenge

Van Gerwen is the 11/2 market leader for the Players Championship 3 event.

The Green Machine declined the invitation to play in the opening two Pro Tour events of the season, but MVG has already taken down two Premier League nightly titles this season and the Dutchman has also claimed Dutch Darts Masters trophy.

Perhaps consistency has been lacking in Mighty Mike’s efforts, but MVG is still capable of some outrageously brilliant performances and the Dutchman has beaten Littler and world champion Humphries in the final of Premier League events this year.

Van Gerwen won a Players Championship event in Hildesheim last season and it’s 11/2 that MVG opens his account this term in Leicester.

Top performers searching for form

Peter Wright and Nathan Aspinall are two top-level arrowsmiths and with that comes a high profile. The Asp and Snakebite have both been competing in the Premier League this season with limited success.

Wright, as ever, has been tinkering with his equipment and set up, but Snakebite has twice averaged in the low 80s in the Premier League this term and the Scot failed to win a game in the opening Players Championship event of the season.

Aspinall has been suffering from clear issues with his throw and the release of the dart, but there have been glimpses of brilliance from the former UK Open champion.

The Asp was averaging in the high 100s in the early part of his Premier League showdown with Van Gerwen last week, but a whole host of missed doubles saw the Stockport man lose out to the Green Machine.

Aspinall is 33/1 for Players Championship 3 glory, and if he can tighten up on the outer ring, there may be some good times ahead for the Asp.

Ross Smith set to star in Leicester

No player was able to match Ross Smith in terms of maximum hitting on the tour last season, the Kent arrowsmith has delivered a major title in the European Championship and Smudger has to be given a serious chance in any event that he enters.

The Dover thrower wasn’t at his best in Wigan for the season opening Players Championship events, but Smith was under the weather on that occasion and there may well be a better showing now the illness has passed.

Smith is 35/1 to take down the third Pro Tour title of the season and that looks a fairly generous offer.

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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