The final of the Grand Slam of Darts last week has got everybody nicely in a lather ahead of the business end of the PDC campaign. So, here are the Players Championship Finals 2018 odds.
The encounter between Gary Anderson and Gerwyn Price in the finale of the GSOD will live long in the memory for a number of reasons. The shenanigans on stage were unlike anything we’ve seen before; as if to confirm what a divisive figure Price continues to be just type his name into social media and enjoy the polarising views his behaviour has warranted.
Either a master of the dark art of gamesmanship or a bit of a pillock – take your pick. The Welshman did a job on Anderson on Sunday to claim his first major darting title. Something tells us that if his machismo-based antics are allowed to continue, it won’t be his last.
In fairness, the Flying Scotsman did not help himself in reacting to Price’s goading; at one point he actually physically pushed the Ice Man on the oche. That was an unexpected loss of control from one of the gentlemen of the game. There can be no doubt it ultimately cost him the chance to get his hands on a trophy that has so far eluded him.
All of which sets us up rather nicely for the final weeks of 2018. We will see the premier airing of the extended World Championship format, starting in mid-December, as well as this week’s hotly anticipated Players Championships Finals.
Anderson and Price could meet in the final at Butlins Minehead come Sunday evening; who wouldn’t want to see those foes going at it once more?!
Tournament History & Format
Since 2009, all of the Tour Card holding professionals in the PDC have competed in Players Championship events, the so-called Pro Tour, throughout the year.
Ranking points are dished out based on performance; after the final meetings of the season, those who rank inside the top 64 of the standings head to Minehead for the straight knockout Finals.
There are no formal seedings, as such, with each player given their rank based on their efforts on the Pro Tour. That’s why Ian White is seeded number one this week, with Michael van Gerwen as low as three and Adrian Lewis as high as five. And so White will take on the player ranked 64 (Scott Taylor); Gary Anderson, ranked second, takes on Alan Tabern (63), and so on.
It’s a trophy that has all of the usual names etched upon it, with messrs Taylor, Van Gerwen and Anderson winning eight of the ten editions so far.
But with some rather more unexpected former champions in Kevin Painter and Paul Nicholson, and vanquished finalists including Jonny Clayton, Kim Huybrechts and Mark Webster, punters will observe that there’s a strong chance of an unheralded type breaking through the field this week.
The qualification system for the Players Championship Finals dictates that all of the best players in the world will be present this weekend in Minehead, with Raymond van Barneveld – who simply didn’t play in enough Pro Tour events to qualify – the only notable absentee.
The points-based system rewards consistency, and that’s why Ian White finds himself inked in as the number one seed.
But otherwise, it’s all of the usual suspects with MVG, Anderson, Peter Wright, Rob Cross and Michael Smith all ensconced inside the top ten.
The Pro Tour events are played behind closed doors, with no crowd and no real TV presence other than a few live streams on the official PDC website (the Finals will be broadcast on ITV4 for UK viewers). As such, big stage players like Simon Whitlock (31), Mensur Suljovic (35), and Gerwyn Price (37) struggle, and it will be interesting to see if their low seedings have any impact on how far they go into the tournament.
The Betting Favourites
Despite his relative struggles of late, Michael van Gerwen will still toe the oche as a super-short favourite at 6/5 with Ladbrokes.
We backed Mighty Mike to win the Grand Slam; while he muscled his way through to the semi-finals the Dutchman looked badly exposed there against Gary Anderson. The 12-16 scoreline is a close one on paper, but some ‘weak’ darts from MVG – i.e. those which fell way below their intended target – indicate a player perhaps lacking his customary confidence at present.
Anderson (4/1 with Royal Panda) will surely be desperate to avenge his defeat in the GSOD final. He lost his cool against Price, it’s as simple as that, and his darts suffered accordingly. A steady draw in the third quarter here keeps him away from similar boisterous characters; however, a potential quarter-final meeting with Michael Smith – who has beaten the Flying Scotsman in four of their last five encounters – will not fill Anderson’s fans with joy.
Peter Wright desperately needs to find some form ahead of his Alexandra Palace assault; at 9/1 with Betfred, Snakebite simply holds no value in an event where he will need to win six matches in the space of three days to get his hands on the trophy.
James Wade’s glorious run came to an abrupt end in the last 16 of the Grand Slam; in his 6-10 defeat to Michael Unterbuchner he was flat both in his performance level and in his demeanour. The Machine will need to recharge his battery if he is to add a third major title to his collection in the space of a month, as odds of 16/1 with Bet365 attest.
Rob Cross has been single digit odds in every single tournament he has played this year; however, a complete lack of form sees him edged out to 25/1 with Coral this week. In fairness to the bookmakers, you can’t really argue with their pricing on the world champion at this moment in time.
Of much more appeal is Michael Smith (25/1 with Royal Panda), who lost in the final of the World Series of Darts earlier in November and who only lost out at the GSOD to an outrageous performance from MVG in the second round. Bully Boy will win plenty of majors in his career, and perhaps the Players Championship – with others distracted by a World Championship tilt in a few weeks’ time – is his best shot.
Answers on a postcard for this one, but the bookies consider Adrian Lewis (28/1 with Bet365) a better chance of winning this week than Gerwyn Price (33/1 with Ladbrokes). Meanwhile the number one seed Ian White (40/1 with Betfred) is given minimal chance of taking advantage of his lofty status.
For a myriad of reasons, this really is an event that is too tough to call a winner.
Right now, there is simply no basis for backing MVG at around the even money mark. His aura of invincibility has been well and truly eroded….
Given the events of Sunday, normally we would be rushing in to back a Gary Anderson with the bit between his teeth. But look at his quarter of the draw here: Simon Whitlock, Joe Cullen, Jonny Clayton, Jeffrey de Zwaan and Michael Smith are all lurking; that’s before a potential semi-final clash with Van Gerwen. At 4/1, the numbers simply don’t add up for Anderson.
Opportunity knocks in the top half of the draw then, away from such illustrious names, and there’s a trio which certainly catches the eye.
Be under no illusions, Gerwyn Price won’t be toning down his robust approach to the game any time soon. The Welshman has hit upon a winning formula, and he is starting to become the darting equivalent of Millwall away: the match nobody really fancies. As a PDC major winner in the easier half of the draw, his odds of 33/1 represent value.
Back More than One?
And here’s an odd betting strategy, but one with some merit. Dave Chisnall and Jamie Lewis play each other in the first round, but nevertheless we’re happy to back both in the outright market.
Chizzy is playing well and is nicely rested having missed out on the GSOD, while eagle-eyed punters have been waiting for Lewis, the World Championship semi-finalist, to find his form again.
The Welshman certainly did that at the World Series, averaging 110 to beat Dimitri van den Bergh before knocking out Rob Cross in the next round. At 150/1, he could be an enjoyable flier to follow….should he get past Chisnall, that is.
Best Bets for the Grand Slam of Darts 2018:
- Gerwyn Price each way (33/1 with Ladbrokes)
- Dave Chisnall each way (33/1 with Royal Panda)
- Jamie Lewis each way (150/1 with Bet365)