The middle day of the weekend at The Masters sees the second round of the tournament being played out across two sessions of action in Milton Keynes on Saturday, on a day where the seeded players enter the competition.
That means that we get to see the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Michael Smith and the world champion Luke Humphries for the first time on what looks like a particularly good day of darts now that the format has gone up to the best of 19 legs.
It is probably the lesser heralded member of the top eight in the world rankings who gets the action underway on Saturday afternoon as Danny Noppert goes on against the man who has twice been to the final of this competition in Dave Chisnall. When they are done Rob Cross will grace the Milton Keynes stage when he takes on Damon Heta before Peter Wright will look to turn his form around when he goes up against the Polish star Krzysztof Ratajski before Daryl Gurney will look to make full use of his chance given to him when Gerwyn Price pulled out. The former winner Joe Cullen stands in his way.
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We have a sizzling evening session to enjoy over the course of what looks like a really entertaining Saturday night. It begins with the World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall going up against a Dirk van Duijvenbode who looked much better than he has done in recent times in the opening round on Friday night. The world champion Luke Humphries then opens his Masters campaign in the second match of the evening as he goes up against a Stephen Bunting who came from 5-2 down to beat Ross Smith 6-5. The penultimate match of the day sees Michael van Gerwen taking on the defending champion Chris Dobey before a good day of action concludes with the former world champion Michael Smith meeting Dimitri Van den Bergh.
I’ll go with a couple of bets over the course of the Saturday action and they both come along in the evening session where the first one is for Dirk van Duijvenbode to hit more than 3.5 180s. I suspect this line is as low as it is because of his injury issues but he looked much better in beating Ryan Searle on Friday night in terms of his throw and he ploughed in five 180s in 11 legs and no matter how well he does or doesn’t play here he is likely to get that many legs and a couple more at the very least. We know when Dirk is fit and playing competently that he is one of the heavier 180 hitters in the game so I’m more than happy to take him to hit four maximums against Nathan Aspinall to open up the evening.
The other bet I like is for Michael Smith to average under 97.5 in his match against Dimitri Van den Bergh. Smith comes into this event having won the Premier League night on Thursday but his averages there were 94.12, 98.04 and 98.11 and that was in short course darts so over a longer format against an opponent who won on Friday night but didn’t really perform to the extent where you would imagine Smith will be under pressure to hit big checkouts or doubles regularly which is often the difference between an average of 98 or more and one under it. Prior to Thursday night we know Smith had been struggling. He lost to Gian van Veen with an 88.22 average in the Dutch Darts Masters and in Bahrain two of his three matches there went under 97.50 in terms of his average. I think this line is a fraction too high.
Back D.van Duijvenbode – Over 3.5 180s for a 3/10 stake at 1.85 with Coral
Back M.Smith – Under 97.5 average for a 3/10 stake at 2.00 with Bet365