Perth Masters: first round picks see Barney battle The Wizard
Michael van Gerwen has barely had time to polish his World Matchplay trophy before the PDC’s finest have been whisked-off for an Australasian adventure.
Here the Perth Masters takes centre stage, while Sydney and Auckland await later in August, and the first round promises some fascinating fixtures.
Seeded superstars, the PDC top eight, including Van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor, take on regional qualifiers and Oceanic underdogs such as Simon Whitlock, on the opening day.
Who is facing who? Coral experts preview Perth’s curtain-raising clashes…
The Machine (1/16) will have a point to prove after being beaten emphatically in Blackpool, so punters will hopefully see more of the form that saw him dismantle then-champion Taylor in the semi-finals.
The world number two (1/25) started the year in style, but has fallen off the pace recently, with The Flying Scotsman shockingly ousted in the World Matchplay second round, so will be aiming to poach another PDC trophy here (which he is a 9/2 chance to do).
Adrian Lewis v Loz Ryder
English-born Australian darting star Loz, grandson of former footballer Arthur Groves, currently calls Perth home, so should have the backing of locals, though is a rank outsider at 13/2 to sink Lewis.
Jackpot, odds-on favourite at 1/14, was another eyebrow-raising early exit from the Winter Gardens and has proven to have chinks in his armour, but should still secure safe passage smoothly. Customers can take odds of 3/1 for a resounding 6-2 scoreline in Lewis’ favour.
Canterbury Open champion Caldwell is 10/1 to scalp the darting great, but The Power would be shocked not to push on to the quarter-finals in Perth, which he is a heavy 1/33 favourite to do.
The Stoke superstar also has a penchant for nine-dart finishes, so take a 28/1 price for one to occur in this match-up.
Another Perth native, The Original fell in the first round in 2014 and will want to make strides this time, though his hopes seem slim as The Bullet holds the head-to-head record with four wins to one.
Three of their last duels have ended with a one leg difference, so back the outing to end 6-5 in Bunting’s favour (11/2) for the second time on the trot.
Peter Wright v Paul Nicholson
The Asset is another English-born player who swapped sides and, at 3/1 for victory should be no walk-over, as he and Snakebite both have five wins apiece against each other.
On current form also-ran Wright (2/9) has been rampant, however, so should not slip up in his Australian opener, as he continues to threaten to claim a big PDC title soon. Another close scoreline at 5/1 for Snakebite to triumph 6-4 is possible.
Raymond van Barneveld v Simon Whitlock
Embattled Barney is off to see The Wizard in this headline tussle, with 2014 quarter-finalist Whitlock a tempting 11/10 for victory in front of home fans.
Dutch giant Van Barneveld has had a torrid time recently, but is odds-on at 4/6 to progress here. Backing Barney may not prove fruitful though as, despite his superior reputation, The Wizard has worked his magic on the decorated Dutchman 12 times to 14.
This tie should be tight, but Barney is well overdue due a better performance and has taken the spoils from his past three duels against his Australian opponent, so the fan favourite is 5/1 to win 6-4.
Michael van Gerwen v David Platt
Mighty Mike eventually stormed to World Matchplay success in the Winter Gardens and will be looking to continue his winning streak here, where he is heavily odds-on at 1/33 to take Platt (10/1) to task.
Van Gerwen is 6/4 favourite to snatch yet another title from holder Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor’s grasp, and should make light work in his opener against the unseeded Englishman.
Betting tip: Bunting @ 11/2 to defeat Anderson 6-5