Thursday 31 August 2017

Five things to watch for in Maastricht

Finally back to competitive darts, and we've just closed up with the European and domestic qualifier (which, following the announcement of the 2018 schedule, the Dutch will have two of next season, something I called out for a few weeks ago - taking one off Germany is fine, but I do have to wonder about Denmark as a new venue for an added country unless the home nation qualifier is actually for the SDC as a whole), so with the draw done, here's what I'd look for:

1) How does Michael van Gerwen bounce back?

This is kind of key from a betting standpoint, as he's taken time off for the birth of his kid, and took a beating from Phil last time out, but in terms of the draw it's not the nicest - Michael/de Zwaan should be OK, but then the possibility of King/Kyle Anderson/Pipe followed by Daryl Gurney in a quarter final could be a tricky one.

2) How does Justin van Tergouw perform in the senior ranks?

I was a bit surprised to see him take part in the qualifier, and was more surprised to see him take out Vincent van der Voort in the final round to get a first round tie against Christian Kist, which should be a good test for the youngster.

3) How do the Germans do when not on home soil?

They took a good contingent to the qualifier, and Hopp, Schindler, Blum and Berndt got through, which is a decent return - Blum's drawn Beaton, which should be a win for the Adonis, but the rest have winnable games against Jimmy Hendriks, Chris Quantock and Kirk Shepherd. They all need to start doing it when not taking the free money at home and this would be a good place to start.

4) Grand Prix deadline closing in...

With money in the bank counted, Richard North and Ronny Huybrechts are very close, North had made this event and the next one already, but Ronny did the double this evening to keep him alive (despite facing a nine darter from, of all people, Robert Allenstein) and just a grand behind North if Burton's maths is right, which it usually is. Just a monkey ahead of North is Steve West, for whom this is his last event. He has Ryan Searle, who I fancy for a bet at the odds offered - 0.25u Searle 9/4, while Huybrechts has a tough match against John Henderson, while North faces Mike de Decker. van der Voort not making it today in the domestic qualifier probably puts him too far back, a double could have given him chances. Above the first three mentioned, there's a near four grand gap to Pipe/Henderson, both of whom play here but not in Mannheim, so it's likely two from three barring something extremely crazy.

5) Who can make first round statements?

There's quite a few decent games in the opener between quality players, who are either in the lower ends of the top 32 or on the fringes - Huybrechts/Henderson I've mentioned already, Rowby-John Rodriguez against James Wilson is an interesting one, John Michael and Jeffrey de Zwaan could be fun lower down, as will Steve Lennon and Ratajski. Jamie Bain against Robert Owen shouldn't be a bad opener either.

On the betting side I fancy a couple of micro plays - 0.1u Harry Robinson 9/2 v Jamie Lewis, Lewis shouldn't be that big a favourite against anyone, 0.1u Ulf Ceder 19/4 v Nathan Aspinall for similar reasons. Oddschecker is missing the van Tergouw/Kist, North/de Decker and Wilson/Rodriguez matches for some reason, I'd have guessed bookies were slow at picking up the home nation qualifer, but they've got de Zwaan's game up and the European qualifier was from the same source so...

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