For the fourth time in a row, Michael van Gerwen, the world’s number one darts player, was crowned the Darts Masters champion at the Arena MK. This victory came via a brilliant 11-9 win over Raymond van Barneveld in a thrilling final in Milton Keynes on Sunday night.
In truth, it was a hard-fought battle as the 28-year-old came from 4-1 and 8-5 down against his fellow Dutchman, averaging 100 across all four of his Masters’ matches in total.
On the way to Sunday’s showdown, MVG had overcome Kim Huybrechts, demolished James Wade 10-2 before dispatching Gary Anderson in the semis.
50-year-old van Barneveld, who started out at the weekend as a 33/1 outsider, showed the form of his younger years when he too was world number one, beating Dave Chisnall, Peter Wright and Mensur Suljovic, who had eliminated Rob Cross in the quarters along the way.
In the final, Barney raced into an early 4-1 lead thanks to checkouts of 72, 76 plus a 13-darter. The gap remained the same after seven legs (5-2) before van Gerwen galvanised a response from himself and hit back to level by landing two 177 scores in an 11-darter and break-of-throw before scoring a 137 finish for a 12-dart leg.
However, RVB wasn’t giving up his well-earned lead without a fight, taking down another thee legs to maintain an 8-5 advantage, only for van Gerwen to strike a 124-bull finish. This was followed by a 12-darter allowing him to finally move ahead for the first time in the contest, from where he closed out the match courtesy of an 81 finish making for a title winning 12-darter.
In the end, van Gerwen posted a final average of 105.85 and a checkout percentage of 47.83%, compared to Barney’s 100.55 and 47.37%.
Darts Premier League betting tips
Defending champ Mighty Mike, bidding to win his fourth Premier League Darts title, now heads into the opening night of the new Premier League season in Dublin on Thursday as the Betway favourite at 4/5. No surprises there. Elsewhere, things have a fresh feel this year as the League welcomes a few debutants. World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney, Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljovic and 2017 UK Open finalist Gerwyn Price all come in for their first Premier League, as does World Champ Rob Cross.
Former champions Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld are joined by last year’s runner-up Peter Wright, while Simon Whitlock and Michael Smith both make a return. Making way are James Wade, Adrian Lewis, Jelle Klaasen and Kim Huybrechts.
World champion Rob Cross is second in the outright betting at 7/2 at Betway, while Gary Anderson can be picked up at 6/1. Backers of Peter Wright can do so for 9/1 before the long-range picks can be found, starting with Raymond van Barneveld at 33/1. He is followed by Daryl Gurney at 40/1, Mensur Suljovic at 50/1, Michael Smith at 80/1, Gerwyn Price at 125/1 and Simon Whitlock at 200/1.
The first matches
The night’s opener pits Mensur Suljovic against Simon Whitlock, for which we fancy the Austrian over the Australian, who could suffer against Suljiovic’s slow throws. Gary Anderson is next out against Michael Smith, and I can only see one winner – The Flying Scotsman. That is, of course, so long as his increasingly problematic back holds out.
Matchday one, game three sees the return of Barney fresh from his final appearance in last week’s Masters. His rival here will be Daryl ‘Superchin’ Gurney and the Northern Irishman should be able to get Dublin’s support behind him to make it an uncomfortable night for Barney, who should expect to win regardless.
MVG goes in the night’s fourth match of five, an intriguing re-match with newly crowned World Champion Rob Cross. The Englishman has something of an upper hand over the Dutch number one, something that van Gerwen must recognise as he has let his composure slip against his younger rival in the past. Cross’ inexperience at this weekly format might mean he takes a while to settle into the swing of things. If MVG plays to his usual ability, it should be enough to see him bank his first points on the board.
Up last is Peter Wright and Gerwyn Price. A lot is expected of Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright as he looks to avoid becoming one the game’s great “nearly” men. The Premier League suits him though and he should be backed to make the cut after judgment night. Snakebite has a great record against Price, and I’m going to back him in the last of the night’s action.
- (10/11) Mensur Suljovic v Simon Whitlock (11/5)
- (8/15) Gary Anderson v Michael Smith (7/2)
- (13/8) Daryl Gurney v Raymond van Barneveld (5/4)
- (4/6) Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross (3/1)
- (8/13) Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price (3/1)
TV Channel: Sky Sports Action HD (1900 GMT)