There’s no rest for the wicked, as the old saying goes; with the bumper festive schedule of darts barely behind us we’re already into the 2019 campaign. Check out The Masters 2019 betting tips and odds as follows…
The first tournament of the year, The Masters, will be hosted by the MK Arena in Milton Keynes from February 1-3. It brings together the top 16 players in the world – according to the PDC Order of Merit – for what is, bizarrely, still a non-ranking event.
Michael van Gerwen will defend the title he has won on four consecutive occasions; he will be introduced for the first time as a three-time world champion following his exploits at Alexandra Palace over the festive period.
Revenge will be on the mind of Michael Smith, the vanquished world finalist, and Gary Anderson, who was surprisingly lacklustre in his semi-final clash with the Green Machine.
Will they, or somebody else for that matter, knock MVG from his perch in Milton Keynes?
Tournament History & Format
The concept of The Masters was dreamed up by Barry Hearn in 2012 as a reflection of the same tournament played in his other major sporting concern, snooker.
Quite simply, the top-16 players in the PDC Order of Merit lock horns in a straight knockout format, with the number one seed playing sixteen, two playing fifteen, and so on.
The opening round and the quarter-finals will be played over the best-of-19 legs, with the semis and final played out over 21 legs on a chaotic Sunday.
As mentioned, Van Gerwen has been the master of Milton Keynes with four straight wins in this event, twice defeating his old mucker Raymond van Barneveld in the final. In their 2015 clash, MVG averaged the small matter of 112.49.
Before the Dutch dominance, both Phil Taylor and James Wade got their hands on the trophy after finals that couldn’t be any more contrasting. The Power demolished Adrian Lewis 10-1 in 2013; meanwhile, 12 months later, The Machine produced an almighty comeback from 2-9 down to win 11-10.
It’s a field made up of all of the usual suspects, as you would expect for a tournament of this nature. However, there is one rather notable absentee.
Raymond van Barneveld will be missing from the Masters field for the first time since the tournament’s inception. The Dutchman’s world ranking has fallen to such an extent that, given his impending retirement, it is unlikely that the good people of Milton Keynes will see him at the oche again.
Elsewhere, the field takes care of itself. The world’s top 10 (MVG, Cross, Wright, Anderson, Gurney, Smith, Price, Suljovic Whitlock and Wade) will be joined by the rest of the PDC’s elite: Ian White, after his fantastic year in the floor tournaments; Dave Chisnall; Joe Cullen; Darren Webster; Jonny Clayton and the resurgent Adrian Lewis.
The Betting Favourites
Given that his aura of invincibility has seemingly returned, we shouldn’t be surprised to see Michael van Gerwen installed as the red-hot favourite at an industry best price of 19/20 with Betsafe.
Perhaps the best betting value lies in the bottom half, where Adrian Lewis will capture plenty of attention at 28/1 with Bet365.
The mini section featuring Cross, James Wade, Gerwyn Price and Joe Cullen looks wide open, and perhaps Wade (33/1 with Betfred) is best placed to put his World Championship misery behind him.
You should never judge a book by its cover, and so by the same token we should never judge a darts player solely on their performance at the 2019 World Championship.
Set play doesn’t suit everybody, nor does the pressure of playing in front of a raucous Ally Pally crowd. Add into the mix the scrutiny of challenging for a world title and you can see why so many talented players crumbled at this year’s event.
There were derisory performances from the likes of Whitlock, Price, Webster and Suljovic, and all-in-all nine of the sixteen-man Masters field failed to make it past the third round of the Worlds. That makes judging form here tricky!
By that token, we should simply back players in the ascendancy while steering clear of the top half of the draw featuring Van Gerwen, Anderson and co.
And so by a simple process of elimination, our outright picks are Michael Smith and Adrian Lewis.
It’s funny, because in the long run we suspect the set format will suit Smith better than straightforward leg-based matches. Bully Boy is prone to spells of missed doubles, and while he can shake off a lost set here and there, losing three or four legs on the spin is typically disastrous.
But on the other hand, many players in this Masters field are heading to Milton Keynes *looking* for form, whereas Smith has in abundance. A World Championship finalist, relaxed and refreshed after honeymooning in the Dominican Republic….well, there really are no worries for Michael Smith right now!
And Lewis looks back to somewhere near his best form. At the Worlds he averaged 97.20, 97.43 and 101.16 – that will be too hot for many to handle in Milton Keynes, and in their fourth-round clash he forced MVG to post an almost obscene average of 108.08 across five sets, such was his competitiveness.
By simple continuation of that thought process, we also have to back Lewis to oust Peter Wright in their first-round meeting at 6/5 with William Hill. Jackpot beat Snakebite in their only clash in 2018, and right now Peter is reeling: 2019 could be the year that makes or breaks his career.
And finally, many pundits expected Jonny Clayton to enjoy a dark horse run at Alexandra Palace.
It didn’t work out that way, but remember it took Dimitri van den Bergh averaging 104 in the second round to end the hopes of the Ferret.
He will enjoy a return to leg play, and won’t be daunted by tackling MVG; after all, of their five meetings in 2018 Clayton won two of them, and in their most recent collision the Welshman put in a sublime performance before going down 12-16 in the last eight of the Grand Slam.
We’re not suggesting he will beat the Dutchman, by the way, but with a +5.5 leg handicap in a best-of-19 game the Evens offered by William Hill looks tremendous value.
Our Best Bets for the Masters 2019:
- Michael Smith to Win (10/1 with Unibet)
- Adrian Lewis to win (28/1 each way with Bet365)
- Lewis to beat Peter Wright (6/5 with William Hill)
- Jonny Clayton +5.5 Handicap against MVG (Evens with William Hill)