Our resident Darts expert Keith Deller provides his best bets across the weekend as Butlins Minehead plays host to the penultimate tournament of the calendar year, the Players Championship Finals.
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Michael van Gerwen v Luke Humphries
Michael van Gerwen to win 11-9 @ 17/2
Over 11.5 180s in the match @ 4/6
One or more bullseye finishes in the match @
It's the final that we have all been hoping for! The serial winner of this competition in Michael van Gerwen against the best player on the planet right now, Luke Humphries. This is going to be an absolute cracker. The pair have been hitting 100+ averages all weekend, and in Michael's instance, he has been going through patches in excess of 124 - it's been incredible to watch. Make no mistake about it, this is the game they both wanted. MVG will want to remind everybody that he's the man to beat at Ally Pally next month, whereas Luke will be desperate to extend his winning streak. I am actually backing Michael to win the tournament, and capture the trophy for an eighth time. It's going to be close, it's going to be high-scoring and it will be dramatic. I'm expected maximums aplenty with the pair bringing the best out of each other. I also like the look of the bullseye finish in any leg. Don't let us down now lads!
Michael van Gerwen v Gabriel Clemens
Michael van Gerwen to win 11-5 @ 7/1
Michael van Gerwen to land the most 180s @ 5/6
Michael van Gerwen to land Over 5.5 180s @ 1/1
I know that Gabriel Clemens is playing well but Michael van Gerwen, in patches, has been absolutely unplayable. That period from the 16th leg onwards against Stephen Bunting this afternoon was unbelievable. He averaged 125 in those final four legs and I am expecting him to come flying out of the traps tonight. I feel he will take care of Gabriel in very comfortable fashion, scoring well on the 20s and taking out his finishes with ease. I wouldn't be surprised to see him land or come close to a nine-dart leg in this game. I think the Dutchman is going to take some beating tonight!
Luke Humphries v Ryan Joyce
Luke Humphries to win 11-5 @ 6/1
Luke Humphries to land Over 6.5 180s @ 6/5
Another game that I feel is going to be one-sided. Ryan Joyce has done tremendously well to reach the semi-finals, but Luke Humphries is a player on a different planet to anybody else he has faced this weekend. His confidence is sky high, he's reaching finals on an almost weekly basis now, and he also knows how to win them. Luke will come through this game and look exceptionally good in doing so too - hitting seven or more maximums along the way.
Damon Heta v Ryan Joyce
Damon Heta to win 10-7 @ 13/2
Over 16.5 legs in the match @ 4/5
Ryan Joyce had a good win in one of the floor tournaments five or six weeks ago, so I'm not surprised one bit to see him go deep down in Minehead. He's a very good player, he can score well and finish well, but Damon Heta has been in great form himself of late, especially on the TV. He's a very consistent player, he beat Michael van Gerwen in the Grand Slam and I feel that confidence will spur him on here. Ryan, as I say, is a very good player too, so this will be close; I personally think it goes beyond 16.5 legs.
James Wade v Luke Humphries
Luke Humphries to win 10-6 @ 6/1
Luke Humphries to win the match, highest checkout & most 180s @ 6/4
We'd barely heard a peep out of James Wade on the TV this year, but he's burst back into life over the last couple of months, reaching at least the quarter-finals of the last three televised majors. Luke Humphries however, is playing with so much confidence and over 19 legs it's so difficult to look beyond the tournament favourite. I think he will get that early break and really start to motor. We know that Luke has the scoring power, and we know he can take big finishes out too - any combination that involves a treble 20 or two, he's all over it. I also like the treble of Luke to win the match, land the most 180s and score the highest checkout.
Luke Woodhouse v Gabriel Clemens
Gabriel Clemens to win 10-8 @ 7/1
Gabriel Clemens to land Over 4.5 180s @ 4/5
Gabriel Clemens was sensational to beat Josh Rock, who hit a 108 average, and he was brilliant in his last 16 tie too, winning 10-1! Luke Woodhouse is a good player in his own right though; he dumped Dave Chisnall out on Saturday night and he will be fancying his chances. Gabriel though just has a bit too much power for Luke and I feel that will give him more chances to win more legs. If he is on his doubles he will come through this game and move through to the semi-finals. The German, as I say, is a power scorer and I think the 4/5 on offer for five maximums or more looks a very good value bet.
Stephen Bunting v Michael van Gerwen
Michael van Gerwen to win 10-7 @ 13/2
Michael van Gerwen to lead after six legs @ 1/1
Michael van Gerwen is back with a bang after a couple of disappointing weeks on the TV. That 118 average - a new Players Championship record - was something else; he looks in absolutely brilliant form just in time for the tournament that matters most, the worlds! He's clearly trying to send a message out. He wants Luke Humphries in the final on Sunday night, and I think we will see that match. Michael will race out of the traps again and lead after six legs, and I think he will have the scoring power and the finishing percentage to see off a really in-form Stephen Bunting.
Stephen Bunting v Gian van Veen
Stephen Bunting to win 6-5 @ 11/2
Over 4.5 180s @ 4/10
There's not much between these two players at present. They are both playing really well, they are both finishing well and I believe this one will go the full distance. If it does, then I feel Stephen's experience will stand him in better stead and he will just about see the job through and move on to the last 16. If we get the 11 legs then I think we will see five or more maximums scored too.
Dave Chisnall v Chris Dobey
Dave Chisnall to win 6-4 @ 5/1
Dave Chisnall to win the match & score most 180s @ 7/4
I was delighted to see Dave Chisnall notch up his first opening round win in a televised tournament since January, and it could breath real life into the number one seed. He impressed me on Friday - scored well and finished well, and whilst this will be a tight match with Chris Dobey - a player who has proven he can mix it with the very best this year - I just have a feeling that Chizzy will gain some momentum after getting that monkey off his back on Friday night.
Josh Rock v Gabriel Clemens
Josh Rock to win 6-3 @ 9/2
Josh Rock to lead after four legs @ 6/5
Josh Rock produced a really good run in the Grand Slam - reaching the quarter-finals of a televised major for the first time and missing darts to reach the last four. He will be in a really good place on the back of that, and, of course, his first round win on Friday. I fancy him to win the game in comfortable fashion, and I think a strong start, in which he will win at least three of the first four legs, looks a good bet.
Rob Cross v Luke Woodhouse
Rob Cross to win 6-4 @ 9/2
Rob Cross to win the match & land the highest checkout @ 12/5
Rob Cross is playing superb darts at the minute - he reached the final in Wolverhampton and he will be targeting another deep run with the World Championships just around the corner. Rob should have just a bit too much for Luke Woodhouse, who is a good TV player nowadays, and I like him to win this match by a couple of legs. We all know how good a finisher Rob is too - he is very good at those combination finishes, and he loves that bullseye too. I will be backing him to land the biggest checkout.
Gary Anderson v Dimitri van den Bergh
Gary Anderson to win 6-4 @ 9/2
Over 5.5 180s in the match @ 4/5
Gary Anderson isn't feeling 100 percent, he said that after his game on Friday, but hopefully he will be back more like himself on Saturday. Dimitri van den Bergh will be delighted to finally get that win on TV after enduring a tough few months on and off the big stage, but I just think Gary will be too strong for him in the second round. Gary won't play as bad as he did in the first round, and if he can add three or four points to his three-dart average and get towards the mid-90s he will come through this game for me. They both like that treble 20 bed too, so there's value to be found in Over 5.5 180s.
Ryan Searle v Ricardo Pietreczko
Ryan Searle to win 6-4 @ 9/2
Ryan Searle Over 2.5 180s @ 1/1
This could be a cracking encounter on the second board on Saturday afternoon, between two players who can hit very big averages. Ryan has bounced back from a couple of disappointing results of late to secure a second round spot, whilst Ricardo Pietreczko bounced back from his humbling defeat against Beau Greaves in the Grand Slam with an impressive win of his own last night. That said, I think Searle will just about win the game - maybe taking the bull and finding that crucial break. Now Ryan may not be the most prolific 180 hitter, but he really does group his darts well. I was impressed by him in the first round and feel he has a chance of scoring three or more maximums if we get nine or ten legs in this match.
Callan Rydz v Michael van Gerwen
Michael van Gerwen to win 6-3 @ 15/4
Michael van Gerwen is the strong favourite in this one, but there's no doubt that he is lacking a little bit of confidence and swagger after being dumped out of the last two televised tournaments early on. Callan Rydz is very streaky, but when he is at his best he can score well and take out big finishes. This is a game that has the potential for an upset, but I am backing MvG to come out firing and progress through to the next round.
Chris Dobey v Raymond van Barneveld
Chris Dobey to win 6-5 @ 5/1
This could be a cracker. Chris Dobey was disappointing in the Grand Slam of Darts, whilst Raymond van Barneveld has been showing real signs of improvement - albeit without doing anything of note on the TV stage. Dobey, for me, will be a little too strong, but there's no doubt that if Barney can take his floor and practise form onto the big stage, then he could upset the odds. I envisage this one being very close.
Ricardo Pietreczko v Christian Kist
Christian Kist to win 6-4 @ 7/1
Look, Ricardo Pietreczko is the big favourite here, and he's had a cracking couple of months. But, did we start to see him crumble a little bit at the Grand Slam where he lost his rag during the match against Beau Greaves. The fans turned on him there and I think he could get a bit of stick from the vociferous Butlins crowd too. That will affect him in this game against Christian Kist - a BDO World Champion let's not forget - and a player who has been in very good form on the floor in recent months.
Dimitri van den Bergh v Jim Williams
Jim Williams to win 6-5 @ 11/2
Dimitri van den Bergh is the ever so slight favourite in this one, but all the signs point to a win for Jim Williams. Dimitri has never been prolific on the floor, but he has always had a knack of picking up results on the TV stage, but that hasn't happened this year for him. He's really struggling and the pressure is on him to start turning things around. Jim has been playing superbly well and has scored some very big averages. I think this one goes to the wire and the underdog will just edge it.
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Jermaine Wattimena
Dirk van Duijvenbode to win 6-5 @ 6/1
Dirk van Duijvenbode - the number six seed - against Jermaine Wattimena - the number 59 seed, but it's Jermaine who is the favourite. That tells me that Dirk is still suffering with his shoulder. He didn't play well in the Grand Slam; he was struggling to reach the 20 bed, and maybe he should have taken this tournament off to recuperate. But he's here and he's giving it a go, and I will be backing him to come good - the value is certainly with him, given the undoubted quality he possesses.
Luke Woodhouse v Simon Whitlock
Luke Woodhouse to win 6-4 @ 4/1
Luke Woodhouse is always improving on TV - he has a great throw and is very straight. But Simon Whitlock is a big time player - he loves being on the TV and we all know that he can absolutely hammer those treble 20s. If he does that then he will cause Luke all sorts of problems, but I just don't feel his game is in the place it needs to be, and I will be backing Luke to secure himself a second round spot.
Ross Smith v Scott Williams
Ross Smith to win 6-3 @ 9/2
Ross Smith has picked up a major title in the last 12 months and is starting to show what a classy operator he is. Scott Williams is a good player in his own right, and when he is bang on it, a tremendous scorer. He has those ever so long points on his darts, and when he lands a 180, it looks as though there is room for another nine in there. He's just gone off the boil recently though and I think Ross will win this quite comfortably.
Joe Cullen v Jamie Hughes
Joe Cullen to win 6-4 @ 9/2
Joe Cullen is my outside pick this weekend. He's not done a lot recently, but his natural ability means he is always a livewire. Jamie Hughes has had injury problems and whilst he is starting to get over them, it may be another year or so until we see him back at his best. This is an ideal opening game for Joe, and I just think he could very well click into gear in Minehead and cause a bit of a stir at 40/1 in the outright winner market.
My pick for the Players Championship is Gerwyn Price, who is 5/1.
This year he’s been playing brilliantly and the averages have been high with 115s and 113s, yet he’s not winning the tournaments.
At the end of the day, averages don’t go on a trophy.
But I feel that he knows he’s playing brilliantly, he’s always confident and I’m taking Gezzy to be the champion.
Gerwyn Price (To Win Outright) - 5/1
Luke Humphries, the guy who’s been on a different planet to all the other players.
With this format being a lot shorter, I just feel that Luke Humphries believes that whoever he plays, he is going to win.
The way he beat Rob Cross in the Grand Slam final showed that you can put a 100 average against him and it doesn’t matter.
But Price can put that 115 average in and I think Price will beat Humphries in the final.
Gerwyn Price v Luke Humphries (Forecast the Finalists) - 8/1
My outside pick is Joe Cullen, who is 40/1.
Now Joe Cullen has already won a major before, he’s played in the Premier League and has a brilliant throw, but he’s gone quiet in the last few tournaments and this is not the right time to go quiet.
The World Championships is just around the corner and if Cullen can get off to a good start, he could do some damage.
Joe Cullen (To Win Outright) - 40/1
I’m going for Rob Cross and I just feel that, for me, Rob Cross has been in the top three players all year.
His scoring has been unbelievable and he’s finishing when he hits it, he’s got a fantastic game.
He’s played brilliant all year, he played great at the Grand Slam and I can see Cross having another big tournament.
Rob Cross to Win Quarter 2 - 11/4
I’m going with Michael Smith, the world champion and world number one, to win Quarter 4.
Smith’s gone a bit quiet. I still think he’s getting used to the new darts. They’re different, players will say there’s no difference but in the mind there is.
I just feel that in the last couple of tournaments Smith has not been playing like the world’s number one and with the World Championships ahead, he’s defending that title and he has to be ready.
He needs to say to people that he’s going to win this and stake a claim to retain my world title.
Michael Smith to Win Quarter 4 - 5/2
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