The World Series of Darts heads to Warsaw for the first time for the inaugural Poland Darts Masters.
There’s a sell-out crowd at the Central Sports Centre Torwar and Friday’s first round will see eight PDC stars take on eight East European representatives.
It’s an intriguing event, with a strong home challenge including useful performers Krzysztof Ratajski, Boris Krcmar and Karel Sedlacek.
Following Friday’s opening night, the Poland Darts Masters concludes on Saturday with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final all played in what promises to be a bumper session of high-quality darts.
|What||Poland Darts Masters|
|Where||Central Sports Centre Torwar, Warsaw, Poland|
|When||Friday 7th June - Saturday 8th June|
|How to watch||, Viaplay, ITV4|
|Odds||Gerwyn Price 2/1, Michael Van Gerwen 10/3, Michael Smith 10/3, Luke Humphries 8/1|
Michael van Gerwen skipped last month’s World Cup of Darts, but the Green Machine returned to action at the European Darts Match play last week.
The Dutchman had undergone dental and jaw surgery and it’s understandable that Mighty Mike would have been feeling the effects of those procedures.
Van Gerwen was beaten 6-3 by Raymond van Barneveld in the European Matchplay and an average of just over 91 suggested that MVG may still be a little short of his best.
Van Gerwen faces Adam Gawlas in the first-round in Warsaw and Gawlas isn’t the type of character to back away from a challenge.
Michael Smith is the other seeded player house in Mighty Mike’s half of the draw.
The big news for Smith in the build-up to the Poland Darts Masters is a change of darts manufacturer. Bully Boy had a long and successful relationship with Unicorn and it was an association that saw the St Helens man lift the PDC World Championship for the first time this year.
However, Smith has made the switch to New Zealand-based company Shot Darts. Bully Boy has stated that proposals regarding a move to Shot started two years ago and, while it's a period of uncertainty, it’s expected that the reigning world champion will be well practiced with his new equipment.
Smith takes on Krzysztof Kciuk, who starred as part of Poland’s team in the recent World Cup, but Bully Boy is 1/12 to move into the quarter-finals.
There’s potential for a second-round tie against Danny Noppert, but the Dutchman has been way short of his UK Open-winning form of late and, with uncertainty of Van Gerwen’s preparation, Smith looks a tidy each-way bet at 10/3 to go all the way.
Ratajski, Krcmar and Sedlacek all look capable of causing the PDC select problems in round one. Ratajski opens up against Cross and the Polish Eagle looks a serious danger at 13/10.
The 46-year-old is a five-time PDC major quarter-finalist, he had made the semi-finals of the World Matchplay and also reached the last-four of the World Series Finals.
Sedlacek is a useful arrowsmith and at 2/1, it would be no surprise if Evil Charlie upset Van den Bergh, who is becoming increasingly disappointing.
Many will remember the Croatian’s costly mis-count at this year’s PDC World Championship, where the Biggest had the Asp in all sorts of trouble.
Krcmar is inside the top-40 on the Pro Tour averages this season and there is no doubt that he has the game to upset Aspinall.
The Asp lost to home challenger Jeff Smith in the North American Darts Masters, another of the World Series of Darts events, and the Stockport thrower could have problems again.