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bet365 US Darts Masters: Stateside shocks for Michael Smith and Peter Wright

There was a major shock on the first night of the bet365 US Darts Masters in New York as Canadian veteran Jim Long defeated world champion Michael Smith 6-2.

Long's reward is a quarter-final clash with Michael van Gerwen at Madison Square Garden and he is 14/1 to claim another huge victory.

Jeff Smith, another Canadian, also seized his chance to shine, upsetting the odds in his first-round win over Peter Wright, and he is 7/2 to beat Nathan Aspinall in the last eight.

Veteran Long hoping for another giant-killing act

A meeting with Michael Smith in the first round of the bet365 US Darts Masters looked a tough assignment for 55-year-old Jim Long given that Smith had won the tournament in 2022, beating Michael van Gerwen 8-4 in the final.

The St Helens hero also went on to defeat Van Gerwen in the PDC World Championship final at London's Alexandra Palace in January and was a hot favourite to come through his opener at Madison Square Garden.

Despite hitting five 180s, Smith slipped to a 6-2 defeat to Long, who nailed checkouts of 97 and 115 during an inspired performance in New York.

Smith, beaten in the 2019 US Darts Masters final by Nathan Aspinall, fell at the first hurdle this time around, but Long has the chance of another memorable win when he faces Dutch master Van Gerwen in the quarter-finals.

The Canadian is a 14/1 outsider with Van Gerwen 1/33 to reach the semi-finals but nobody will be taking Long lightly after his first-round heroics against the 2023 world champion.

He described his triumph as "the biggest win of my career by far", hailing Smith as "the cream of the crop", and he returns to the oche to face another superstar in the form of Van Gerwen.

The Dutchman started his 2023 run in convincing fashion, defeating Canada's Jake Macmillan 6-2 and sealing the win with a 141 checkout. Van Gerwen is 11/4 for a 6-0 victory against Long.

Canada's Smith shows off finishing touch to down Wright

Michael Smith wasn't the only big name to suffer a first-round exit in New York as Peter Wright, Bully Boy's predecessor as PDC world champion, was beaten 6-2 by Jeff Smith.

Next up for Canadian Smith is a quarter-final against Nathan Aspinall, the US Darts Masters champion in 2019. He is 7/2 to beat 1/5 Aspinall, having been pleased with his finishing against two-time world champion Wright, he will be hoping to maintain those standards in the last eight.

Punters expecting a competitive quarter-final between Smith and Aspinall can take the 6/4 about Over 9.5 Total Legs.

That would have been a winning bet in Aspinall's first-round clash with Canadian number one Matt Campbell, who came from 4-2 down to level the match at 4-4 before slipping to a 6-4 defeat.

Cross and Van den Bergh set for competitive quarter-final

Rob Cross, the 2018 world champion, is 4/6 to win his quarter-final against Dimitri van den Bergh after comfortable first-round victories for both men in New York.

Cross breezed past Jason Brandon 6-2 and Van den Bergh saw off JT Davis by the same scoreline, but a tighter contest is expected when they meet in the last eight and Over 10.5 Total Legs – effectively a bet on a 6-5 win for either player – is 11/4.

The other quarter-final sees 1/2 Gerwyn Price take on 13/8 Luke Humphries, who won 6-2 against Alex Spellman in his opening match.

However, Price is full of confidence after a 6-1 rout of Jules van Dongen, in which the Welshman averaged 105, and he is 10/3 in the Match Treble market to win the match, have most 180s and the highest checkout against Humphries.

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