The PDC darts circuit continues its tour Down Under and after a successful tournament in Auckland last weekend, we now make the trip across the Tasman for the second ever staging of the Melbourne Masters.
The reigning champion is Phil Taylor who took out the inaugural event in 2017 but following the Power’s retirement, we will be welcoming a new champion. The action in Melbourne starts on Friday August 10 and runs through to Sunday and while a number of throwers are finding form, there is a familiar face at the head of the outright betting.
Michael Van Gerwen has experienced some mixed results in recent weeks but he is our most recent winner on the PDC circuit, having beaten fellow Dutchman Raymond Van Barneveld by a convincing 11-4 scoreline in the final of the Auckland Masters last weekend.
MVG now goes off at best odds of 3/4 with SportingBet for a follow up win in Melbourne and he will get plenty of support in the markets, even at an odds on price. Twelve months ago, MVG was absent from the list of qualifiers so we have no indicators from last year’s tournament but while he has shown some vulnerability this season, Mighty Mike remains the best player in world darts.
Gary Anderson has enjoyed a very productive year on the PDC Tour and prior to the Auckland Masters, the Flying Scotsman beat Mensur Suljovic in a thrilling final of the World Masters. Anderson is available for the Melbourne tournament at a top price of 11/2 with Black Type and having won two of his last four tournaments, Anderson looks good value at that price.
We’re less enthusiastic about Black Type’s best industry odds of 15/2 next to the name of Rob Cross although, as the reigning PDC World Champion he will always attract interest. Cross hasn’t enjoyed the best of years since winning at Alexandra Palace in January but in a small field he has a better chance.
Peter Wright then follows at a top price of 10/1 with Betway and 188Bet followed by Michael Smith at at a best of 16/1 with SportingBet. Snakebite Wright is just starting to show some form again after a slump during the Premier League while Bully Boy Smith, who impressed in that same competition, is starting to deliver on his potential with victory in the Shanghai Masters last month.
A total of sixteen players will be involved in the Melbourne Masters this weekend and behind Michael Smith the field starts to ease out. Local boy Corey Cadby is available at best odds of 22/1 with SportingBet and then we come to Raymond Van Barneveld who impressed in Auckland before running into the steamroller that is Michael Van Gerwen.
Barney is on offer at a top price of 25/1 with MarathonBet and then we have two more Australians – Simon Whitlock at 33/1 with SportingBet and Kyle Anderson at 50/1 with 888Sport. Beyond those names, we’re in amongst the qualifiers and those who are far less likely to make an impression. At the very bottom of the market, there are a host of players available at 500/1 including Mike Bonser and Ray O’Donnell who can be picked up at that figure with Black Type and 188Bet.
A total of 16 players will take part in the 2018 renewal of the Melbourne Masters. The top eight seeds are determined by the current Order of Merit and they will be joined by a further eight who get into the main competition via regional qualifiers. There will be some unfamiliar names and while we wouldn’t necessarily rule out a shock, the format is likely to prevent any real upsets.
In the very first round, the games are best of 11 legs and over those longer matches, we don’t tend to see the surprise outcomes that can occasionally drop in when it’s best of seven.
Following that first round, we move into the quarter finals which are best of 19 plus the semis at best of 21 and then the final on Sunday August 12 which is also best of 21. It’s a quick and simple structure but the important question is – who’s going to win?
Based on the format that we’ve outlined here, we can probably look to exclude any of the regional qualifiers such as Corey Cadby or Raymond Smith. They are useful darters but over a long match the stronger players should be coming through.
That theory also applies at the business end of the tournament where the lengthy matches should be a bonus for the top seeds, including Michael Van Gerwen and Gary Anderson. MVG is the obvious favourite but while he is our most recent winner on the PDC circuit, that victory at the Auckland Masters was his first in four tournaments so the Dutchman hasn’t been quite as dominant as in previous seasons.
The best value may lie with Gary Anderson who started the year in good touch and claimed the UK Open in March. The Flying Scotsman also has that win in the World Masters but perhaps the only worry is the tendency to lift his game only when the Majors come along.
Despite that, we’ll keep faith in Gary Anderson – as opposed to Kyle – this weekend and if you can get an Each Way market as some bookies have win only options, the dangerous Michael Smith is a strong punt for an E/W stake.
Best Bets for Melbourne Masters 2018
- Gary Anderson to win at 11/2 with Black Type
- Michael Smith Each Way at 14/1 with Betway