The European Tour is in full swing once again as another event takes place this weekend when the leading lights in the game head to Mannheim in Germany for the European Darts Matchplay, the eleventh tournament of the European circuit.
As is so often the case on the European Tour, Michael van Gerwen defends the title this week and he’ll be smarting from losing in the final last weekend. A pretty decent field will be looking to get him beat though.
2018 – Michael van Gerwen
2017 – Michael van Gerwen
2016 – James Wade
2015 – Michael van Gerwen
We are using the same format as last season for these tournaments which means that the last 32 of the tournament is played over two sessions of action on Saturday, with the last 16 on Sunday afternoon and the quarter finals on Sunday night. They are all the best-of-11 legs with the semi-finals also on Sunday evening. They are the best-of-13 and then the final in the same session is the best-of-15 legs. The draw has been pre-determined and is played in a straight knockout format.
Unlike last week the number one seed is in the top half of the draw here which means that Michael van Gerwen is the main draw at the top of the bracket. His draw looks much tougher though as if he wins his first match against Michael Smith he would run into the man who beat him last week in Mensur Suljovic, who unlike Smith is seeded. The other seeds in the top half of the draw are Adrian Lewis, Krzysztof Ratajski, Daryl Gurney, Rob Cross, Dave Chisnall and Ricky Evans so this is an absolutely loaded section.
As well as Smith there are a couple of capable qualifiers in this part of the draw as well. John Henderson is very much one of those and he averaged a ton on Friday to prove it. Kim Huybrechts is another leading name while Keegan Brown is in this section as well. Dirk van Duijvenbode, Ryan Meikle, Marvin Wehder and Karsten Koch make up what is a little bit like a mini tournament within the overall one.
The number two seed once again is Ian White who has enjoyed a wonderful European Tour campaign to date. In terms of the number by the name he leads the way in the bottom half of the draw but Peter Wright is probably the biggest name in it even though he is only seeded 6. There are some other decent seeds in here though including James Wade and Gerwyn Price. Jonny Clayton, Nathan Aspinall, Joe Cullen and Glen Durrant make up another competitive half of the draw seeds wise.
There is no doubt the qualifiers are among the weaker set of the two though although the home star Gabriel Clemens could do some damage this weekend. Jamie Hughes is another recognised name while William O’Connor, the beaten finalist 12 months ago, is also in this part of the draw. The other qualifiers are Scott Taylor, Bradley Brooks, Wayne Jones, Simon Stevenson and the New Zealand World Cup ace Cody Harris.
Although he has got a tough draw I’m not taking Michael van Gerwen on until the final this week. Instead I’ll take a couple in the other half of the draw with the first of those being the current BDO world champion Glen Durrant. We saw just how good he is at the World Matchplay where he made the semi-final and where it took the best of Michael Smith to beat him and if he plays to anything close to that standard this weekend he is going to take a good deal of shifting. I wouldn’t say Durrant has an easy draw but it is one which could quite easily open up as the weekend goes on and so at 25/1 I think the BDO champ is worth a bet here.
I’ll also take a punt on the home man Gabriel Clemens to do a bit of damage in possibly the weaker quarter of the draw. He will need to take care of Ian White in the last 32 but if he does that there isn’t a huge amount of form in the third quarter so someone will make the semi-final at a big price. With the home crowd behind him there is no reason to think that can’t be Clemens, who is gaining experience on the big stage all the time and who scores as heavily as anyone. We saw in that World Series event in this part of the world that he can beat the big names and at 80/1 I’ll pay to see if he does it this weekend.
Back G.Durrant to win European Darts Matchplay (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 26.00 with Bet365 (1/2 1-2)
Back G.Clemens to win European Darts Matchplay (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Betfair (1/2 1-2)
Back him here: