Our in-form darts tipster Chris Hammer previews this week's World Series of Darts Finals in Vienna and picks out his best tournament bets.
The formula to last week's profits at the European Championship was essentially opposing Michael van Gerwen and I'm going to adopt a similar approach at yet another tournament he just keeps winning.
Aside from Joe Cullen successfully winning his quarter at 7/1, I went in confidently on backing anyone from the whole of the bottom half of the draw to lift the trophy in Dortmund at 11/4, which was always going to look a big price come the final as long as MVG wasn't in it. And he wasn't. Steve West of all people doing the job in round two!
It was the first time MVG had lost in 12 meetings with the journeyman Englishman, who has yet to win a PDC title in his career albeit enjoying one of his best ever seasons, while this shock 9/1 defeat ended his 11-game winning streak overall that included title runs at the World Grand Prix and the final European Tour event of the season.
Those trophies - his 17th and 18th of 2018 - silenced those who thought his dominance was on the wane but this latest upset can't be seen as too much of a surprise given it's happened at three other high-profile events this year - the UK Open and World Matchplay - while he also slipped up at the Champions League of Darts.
I don't doubt for one iota that his best is still always good enough to win but there evidence is building up that a) he's not at his best quite as much as he was and b) Players don't seem to have the same fear factor against him.
In the end James Wade went off marginal odds-on favourite to beat Simon Whitlock in the final and the Machine delivered us profits with a fine victory under pressure to land his first TV title since 2014.
The same bet isn't available for this ITV4-televised event, which runs from Friday to Sunday (November 4), but even if it was the odds wouldn't be anywhere near as appetising given Gary Anderson and Peter Wright are in the opposite half to the world number one.
The alternative is the 'MVG vs the Field' market for which the latter is 5/6 but that doesn't interest me.
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World Series of Darts Draw
- (1) Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price/Royden Lam
- (8) Simon Whitlock v Steve Beaton/Daryl Gurney
- (5) Michael Smith v Ian White/Kyle Anderson
- (4) Gary Anderson v Dave Chisnall/Max Hopp
- (2) Rob Cross v Jamie Lewis/Dimitri Van den Bergh
- (7) Mensur Suljovic v Ross Smith/James Wade
- (6) Raymond van Barneveld v Raymond Smith/Keegan Brown
- (3) Michael van Gerwen v Maik Langendorf/Damon Heta
* Max Hopp replaced Dawson Murschell, who withdrew due to illness
The Dutchman has won all three previous stagings of the World Series of Darts Finals, which is the culmination of the six World Series events which take place around the globe as darts continues expands its horizons, but with the quarters, semis and final being best of 19 and 21 legs, the likes of Gary Anderson, Peter Wright, Rob Cross and Mensur Suljovic won't be fazed if they come up against him.
In terms of picking out my bets in Vienna, I'll go through each quarter then select an outright winner and a couple of 100/1 specials.
- Daryl Gurney
Daryl Gurney flopped at the European Championship when losing to Ricky Evans in the first round but I fancy him to bounce back at quite a generous 5/1.
He has a tricky first-round match with Steve Beaton on Friday night which is only best of 11 legs but if he comes through that he'll come up against European Championship runner-up Simon Whitlock.
You could say the Wizard is on a high after such a good weekend, which included a win over Peter Wright, but ultimately he fell short and maybe those efforts took a lot out of him.
Up next will probably be Peter Wright if he comes through a likely second-round clash with Gerwyn Price but Snakebite has lost a little form since reaching the World Grand Prix final while Gurney did beat him in this event in the quarters last year.
If they do meet again, you'll need to know that Wright has beaten him twice in 2018 but Gurney did win the first and the others were two draws in the Premier League. So not much between them.
- Dave Chisnall
(Written before Chisnall's opponent Dawson Murschell withdrew due to illness and later replaced by Max Hopp)
I actually had a dream last night that Dave Chisnall wins this event for his first TV title and boy was it emotional! I don't usually (ever?) dream about professional darts players so read into that what you will!
Joking aside, I was as disappointed as many darts fans when he was unable to find his best against Gerwyn Price at the European Championship at a stage when MVG and Peter Wright had already been knocked out and must have felt he had a golden opportunity on his hands. Especially given he was in the 'softer' half of the draw and nailed a showstopping 157 checkout in a deciding leg to beat Adrian Lewis. Wow!
If he can overcome dangerous Canadian outsider Dawson Murschell over 11 legs on Friday, he'll come up against Gary Anderson which seems daunting but I'm not sure whether we should expect a fresh and fired up Flying Scotsman or a rusty one given he's only played one tournament since 'that' bad defeat to Daryl Gurney at the World Grand Prix. Chizzy has played in four and continues to show signs he's getting back to somewhere near his best.
Admittedly the St Helens thrower hasn't beaten Anderson since the summer of 2016 and has lost five and drawn once in the six matches since, but I can't help but think this could be a more ideal time to take on the world number four than usual.
After that he'll more than likely be up against either Michael Smith, who is also a decent bet at 3/1 to win this quarter if you're unsure of Chizzy, or Ian White and neither player does he have any mental barriers against.
Following the birth of his son Arthur two weeks ago, James Wade promised he was going to be a dangerous, motivated player again who enjoys his darts. And sure enough he was right!
Almost five largely difficult years had gone by since his last televised major at the Masters in January 2014 but almost as soon as he becomes a happy dad he wins the European Championship in Dortmund and rises up to sixth in the world rankings.
He showed the tremendous fighting spirit like the old Wade too, coming through two final-leg deciders against Gerwyn Price and home favourite Max Hopp, who led 10-8 and missed three match darts, before a hard-fought victory over Simon Whitlock in the final.
However that weekend has surely taken a lot out of him and I'd expect him to come unstuck in the second round against Austrian star Mensur Suljovic, who is playing in front of his home fans in Vienna and also won a World Series event in Germany earlier this year.
The Gentle, who has won two PDC titles this year, soundly defeated Wade en route to the World Grand Prix semi-finals earlier this month and I think it's fair to write off his shock first-round defeat to Cristo Reyes at the European Championship off as a blip.
Suljovic is 15/8 to win this quarter and to seal the deal he'll probably have to defeat Rob Cross although the world champion could find himself in danger against either Jamie Lewis or Dimitri Van den Bergh in round two.
I wouldn't be opposed to anyone taking a chance on rising star van den Bergh in this quarter at 10/1, especially because he thrashed Suljovic 4-0 in the World Championship. But the Austrian got his revenge in the final of the aforementioned World Series event in Germany, winning 8-2.
As for Rob Cross, he's still not playing how he wants to be and he's not great value at 6/4.
Raymond Van Barneveld
I won't spend too much time on quarter four because it's basically, you'd assume, going to come down to Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld.
There's not much more to say on MVG so what about Barney? We haven't much vintage darts from the Dutchman in the big events this year although he did win the World Cup with van Gerwen and also beat his compatriot on that raucous Premier League Darts night in Rotterdam.
Apart from that, Barney has lost six of the last seven 'Dutch derbies' including this year's Masters and Auckland Darts Masters finals, which means he still hasn't won an individual title since the 2014 Premier League.
As I mentioned earlier, MVG isn't immune from shock defeats anymore so backing van Barneveld at 4/1 wouldn't be without out. However, I think it's more likely the world number one will lose in the semi-final or final against one of the current in-form giants of the game.
Tournament winner & specials
Mensur Suljovic 20/1 each-way (1/3 first two places)
Suljovic v Chisnall final at 100/1
Suljovic v Gurney final at 100/1
With all the above in mind, I'm going to side with Mensur Suljovic each-way to claim an emotional victory in front of his own fans.
He's a big price at 18/1 mainly because he's in the same half of the draw as van Gerwen but in one of these small field tournaments packed full of star talent, no half would be easy.
If he can reach the final he won't fear anyone except perhaps Gary Anderson who has beaten him four times in a row. That said his slow style still makes life difficult for the Flying Scotsman, who only just won 21-19 in that epic World Matchplay final.
Should he meet Peter Wright then he'll have the confidence knowing that he's won five of their last six meetings, albeit the only defeat coming so heartbreakingly at the World Grand Prix semi-finals, while he's got pretty good records against either Gurney or Chisnall.
I'm just going to chuck a couple of small speculative bet in there, because if my quarter bets come in and Suljovic does reach the final, then it makes sense just to take a chance on him meeting either player there at a huge 100/1.
Recommended bets: World Series of Darts
1pt Daryl Gurney to win first quarter at 5/1
1pt Dave Chisnall to win the second quarter at 6/1
1pt each-way Mensur Suljovic to win the title at 20/1 (1/2 1,2)
0.5 pts Suljovic v Chisnall final at 100/1
0.5pts Suljovic v Gurney final at 100/1