We are in the middle of a busy period in the darting calendar with another European Tour event taking place this weekend. The Dutch Darts Masters will be played out in Zwolle as we reach the halfway point of the 2018 Tour.
The Order of Merit for the European Championship is beginning to take shape and after this event there will be just six chances for those not in the qualifying reckoning to get themselves into it. Michael van Gerwen goes in search of a fifth straight win in this event this weekend.
2017 – Michael van Gerwen
2016 – Michael van Gerwen
2015 – Michael van Gerwen
2014 – Michael van Gerwen
2013 – Kim Huybrechts
2012 – Simon Whitlock
As I said last weekend this format is well enough known now that there isn’t much need to expand on it. The last 32 takes place on Saturday afternoon and evening with the last 16 in the afternoon session on Sunday. The quarter finals kick off Sunday evening with all three rounds over the best of 11 legs. The semi-finals and the final are the best of 13 and 15 legs respectively in the Sunday evening session. The draw has already been drawn and the tournament is a straight knockout event.
It is Peter Wright who gets the honour of being the leading seed in the top half this weekend. He is the number two seed and received a boost to his chances of going deep when he saw Rob Cross pull out on Friday. That leaves Mensur Suljovic as the next ranked player with John Henderson, Simon Whitlock, Kim Huybrechts, Joe Cullen and Gerwyn Price the other seeds in the top half.
Cross pulling out was happy days for Steve Lennon as he receives a bye into the last 16 as a qualifier. Adrian Lewis and Jonny Clayton were meant to be in this section but Jan Dekker and Josh Payne beat them respectively to take their place instead. James Richardson, Jermaine Wattimena, Wayne Jones, James Wilson and Dragutin Horvat make up the numbers.
It is the bottom half of the draw for the winner of last week’s tournament Michael van Gerwen. He is a huge favourite to make it five titles in a row in this event but the likes of Michael Smith and Daryl Gurney will be out to stop him, as will Dave Chisnall and Ian White. Jelle Klaasen, Mervyn King and Darren Webster will look to take advantage if the draw opens up.
There are some decent qualifiers in this part of the draw with Steve Beaton, Terry Jenkins and Kyle Anderson all capable of huge performances on the biggest of stages. Cameron Menzies made it through on Friday as did Ryan Joyce but James Wade was beaten by Cristo Reyes. Stephen Bunting and Krzysztof Ratajski make up a hugely competitive section should something happen to MVG.
I’ll go with one outright bet this weekend and it comes in the top quarter where we need to take advantage of Rob Cross pulling out. The seeds that are left are Mensur Suljovic, Simon Whitlock and John Henderson. In fairness I would have happily taken Adrian Lewis or Jonny Clayton had they come through but they didn’t so it is the Austrian for me.
Suljovic made the semi-final in Austria last month to show that he can still deliver the goods in this event and given that he won’t face another seed higher ranked than him until at least the semi-final he certainly has the draw to emulate that performance at least. If he can build up a head of steam and some scoring power then even a semi-final against Wright wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. It may be that the draw opens right up in which case 20/1 is good enough value on the Austrian this weekend.
Back M.Suljovic to win Dutch Darts Masters (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 21.00 with Betfred (1/3 1-2)