You Bet’s preliminary look at the runners and riders in the PDC’s second most prestigious event. Doubtless, things will change after the Summer Series but our ‘punter’s friend’ gives us the ‘skinny’ as things stand:
The 2020 Betfred World Matchplay has to be the most intriguing darts betting market in recent memory. ‘Real’ darts resumes with nobody quite knowing what to expect when the action gets underway in July. Uncertain atmospheric conditions and doubts surrounding the make-up of the field help create a cocktail of unpredictability for both punters and bookmakers. Then there is the absence of any reliable indicators of current form. Does the Home Tour carry any weight? Very little seems to be the consensus.
As ever, MvG leads the betting at 15/8 at the time of writing (various), with his price quietly drifting north since the market opened on confirmation of the tournament going ahead. This is a player who has better than a one-in-two ratio at landing majors since the turn of 2015. That said, 2019 was an off year by his mighty standards and with the competition around him increasing, one can appreciate the reticence. It is hard to ignore the manner in which he secured the UK Open title in March though – not just winning it but averaging in excess of 105 for the entire tournament – a level not seen since he was obliterating everybody in sight in 2016/17. Add the fact that he was less than three months into an equipment switch at the time of victory, and 15/8 starts to look generous.
Next up are World Champ Peter Wright and Gerwyn ‘Gezzy’ Price (both 6/1 with Betfred). Wright’s consistency in the last twelve months is compelling. He has captured more tournaments than anyone, including MvG, and is only a fraction of a percent behind him in averages over that period. In 2020 so far, albeit a peculiar year to judge, there is nothing to separate them on any key statistics. With this in mind, Snakebite has to be the better option at more than four points longer than Mighty Mike.
Gezzy is also a man who has been simmering for a while now and has smashed his way into the game’s elite. Prone to being the pantomime villain, there is the additional hope that a lower-key environment will suit him. Ultimately, these factors are not enough to justify his chances as being equal to those of Wright.
The Danger Men
Reigning champ Rob Cross has shown he has the mettle to close out majors under pressure. Based on pre-lockdown form and without knowing how his game is shaping up behind closed doors, he looks a long shot and at 22/1 (Boyle Sports) that’s exactly where the market has positioned him. Nathan Aspinall (11/1 with Paddy Power & Betfair) will rightly command more interest. Winning the Home Tour was probably more of a novelty than a serious statement but there is no doubt The Asp is a man for the occasion and an absolute handful in any setting. He seems to get better and better and has the ability to hit purple patches that could put opponents out of sight in a matchplay format.
Gary Anderson, Glen Durrant, Michael Smith, James Wade and Daryl Gurney are all serial winners with the pedigree to threaten. The only one I’ve looked twice at here is Anderson. Unquestionably in a class that few can live with, it remains to be seen whether The Flying Scotsman has returned to pre-injury levels. If he has, you can expect his double-figure price to come tumbling down early on when the signs start to emerge. Some of the others will be in the mix but I can’t see them having enough to respond to the frequency of scoring surges that are likely from the favourites as they peak over the course of the week.
Apart from Aspinall, I’d swerve the second group and give a closer look to some less-fancied contenders, in particular Ian White and Krzystof Ratajski. ‘Diamond’ White’s floor abilities are well-known and people will scoff at the suggestion he can win the Matchplay given his historic inability to produce at the majors. In 2020 White has the highest aggregate average of any player, including MvG and Wright. This has involved throwing ton-plusses in a staggering 56% of matches he has played (MvG has done so in 55% over the same timeframe). The tide could be turning in his big-stage form too – since a disappointing exit at last year’s Matchplay his performances are revealing glimpses of a breakthrough. A reversal at the hands of Peter Wright in a high-quality affair at the UK Open (Diamond averaged 99) is hardly discouraging and his surprise World Championship defeat to Darius Labanauskus was despite a 100+ average. Prior to that he made the Players Championship semi-final and went down with a 102 against van Gerwen, having dispatched Michael Smith with a 108 in an earlier round. At 50/1 (William Hill), Whitey is too long to be overlooked.
Ratajski comes in at 40/1 and whilst I can’t understand his price relative to White’s, he still represents good standalone value. He has arisen out of nowhere to become a consistent tour winner and doesn’t seem to be afraid of beating the big boys. His trajectory over the last two years is astounding and he has the game to go deep into the tournament if he can get on a roll. You can count on one hand (literally) the number of players in 2020 who can boast both a better overall average and checkout percentage. Assuming he’s there, I’m looking forward to seeing how far he can go. Don’t be surprised if The Polish Eagle does some damage.
- · Peter Wright 6/1 (Betfred)
- · Nathan Aspinall 11/1 (Paddy Power)
- · Ian White each way 50/1 (William Hill)
- · Krzystof Ratajski each way 40/1 (various)