Mighty Mike begins defence of darts Masters against Bunting
Holly Thackeray | January 28, 2016
- The Masters 2016
- First Round afternoon and evening sessions
- Saturday, January 30th
- Sessions from: 13:00-17:00 and 19:00-23:00
- Arena:MK, Milton Keynes
- Live on ITV4
Van Gerwen returns to the oche
Darts-starved fans rejoice! Your favourite PDC players are about to return to TV following a short break after a blistering 2016 PDC World Darts Championship, as January finishes with a flurry of arrow action at The Masters in Milton Keynes.
Across two days of tungsten tussles, from Saturday, January 30th to Sunday, January 31st, the top 16 Order of Merit seeds will duke it out for the fifth edition of The Masters, ensuring high-quality clashes. What better way to prepare for the upcoming Premier League Darts!
Here, Coral oche obsessives preview the afternoon and evening sessions of the opening day, as title holder and world number one Michael van Gerwen first faces Stephen Bunting amid a gaggle of duels pitching giants of the darting world against one another from the off…
Robert Thornton v Dave Chisnall
Now this is one which could go to the wire, as promising talent Chizzy dusts off his darts to duel with veteran and World Grand Prix winner The Thorn. Currently, it is 10 wins apiece from 20 meetings between this pair, though maximums man Chisnall is 1/2 odds-on favourite with Coral and 4/6 to score the first 180.
It could pay dividends then, to instead plump for pro Thornton, as the Scot won their two most recent wrangles in 2015 and is tempting at 13/8 to reach the quarter-finals, with even better odds of 9/1 for a 10-9 result in his favour.
James Wade v Terry Jenkins
Another interesting opening encounter here as Wade faces Jenkins in the first round. An Englishman will certainly make it through to the second day then, though both performed poorly at the Worlds.
The Machine may have looked rusty against eventual retaining champion Gary Anderson, but he should be able to creak through the gears to take out The Bull and is 2/5 to do so. At 2/1 to win by comparison, Jenkins looks a little too short, having shocked Wade in just two of their last six dust-ups.
Instead, why not take odds of 7/1 for a 10-7 victory for Wade, with this fixture finishing with a three set difference in as many of the previous five.
Peter Wright v Ian White
This is an achievable title crowd-pleaser Wright (2/5) should be going all out for, to shake his nearly-man tag. Another Scottish powerhouse, exuberant exhibitionist Snakebite edges Diamond in head-to-head duels but there has been just one set between them in three of the pair’s past four frays.
A 17/2 price for this to end 10-9 to Wright is tempting, then, and he certainly has the stamina to see off White (2/1) and make it to the business end at Arena:MK.
Michael Smith v Raymond van Barneveld
A repeat of one of the World Championship’s most riveting rumbles awaits to end the afternoon in style, and viewers can only hope it will be another tungsten treat between master Van Barneveld (even-money for victory) and apprentice Smith (4/5 favourite).
Barney’s famous comeback against Bully Boy at the Ally Pally will go down in darts history, and the Dutch great is certainly worth a flutter at evens to win and 14/1 to go on and reach the final for the second time on the trot, though flashier Smith is a shout at 8/13 for the fist maximum in this match.
Adrian Lewis v Kim Huybrechts
Lewis (1/3) was unlucky to lose in the recent Worlds final, but surely has enough in the tank to take out stumbling Belgian Huybrechts. Dangerous on his day, The Hurricane last swept away Jackpot back in 2013, so is unfancied at 9/4.
Instead, Lewis looks good at 11/5 to start how he means to go on and be crowned King of the Oche (player to win match, most 180s and highest checkout. If any of the markets are tied, bets will be settled as losers), with Huybrechts to fall at the first hurdle.
Phil Taylor v Jelle Klaasen
Taylor has an ideal chance here, to silence the doubters and critics who have crept out of the woodwork to question his future. The Power was knocked out early at the Alexandra Palace by cooler Klaasen, but is 2/5 to wreak revenge.
Their last meeting was a close thriller for all the wrong reasons, so The Cobra is not necessarily value at 2/1 to strike again, having been humbled by Gary Anderson when last on the oche.
Gary Anderson v Vincent van der Voort
Fast thrower Van der Voort’s speed did little to help him against The Flying Scotsman last time out, and exceptional Anderson is understandably 1/7 to defeat the Dutchman again.
Though, another whitewashing (40/1) in this longer format is unlikely, with the Dutch Destroyer likely to be defiant, so world champ Anderson at 6/1 in the correct score market to demolish his familiar foe 10-3 is tastier. The sublime Scot is also worth a cheeky punt at 33/1 to replicate his majestic nine-darter from the Worlds.
Michael van Gerwen v Stephen Bunting
Bunting (11/2) has lost seven scraps in succession against darting juggernaut Van Gerwen, who is expected to bounce back to defend this title with vengeance after his unexpected early Worlds exit to Barney.
This does not bode well for The Bullet, who has had a poor year, with Mighty Mike heavy odds-on 1/9 match favourite and 12/1 for a 170 checkout, and 6/4 to eventually retain this trophy.