As the 2018 Players Championship finals get under way in Minehead on Friday afternoon, let’s take a look at some of the first round encounters which could provide some great value.
Simon Whitlock vs Kyle Anderson
Live on ITV4
Well, this match has all the makings of a classic as the two Aussies collide in Minehead. Simon Whitlock is certainly in the better form of the two players as ‘The Wizard’ enjoyed a run to the final of the European Championship and a great showing at the Grand Slam as he was denied a place in the Semi-Finals by the eventual winner Gerwyn Price. In terms of head-to-head meetings, Whitlock holds a 5-3 advantage over his compatriot, and he’s tasted victory in their two previous meetings, but they haven’t met since September last year, so the form book goes out of the window really. I really fancy this one to go over 9.5 legs which is available at 10/11. I expect Whitlock to prevail in this one, perhaps by a 6-4 scoreline. You can get Whitlock at 8/11 to progress to round two.
Keegan Brown vs Benito van de Pas
Live on ITV4
Benito van de Pas snuck into the Players Championship finals this weekend following the withdrawal of Austria’s Mensur Suljovic. The big Dutchman was in the final position outside of qualification for the event. Van de Pas faces off with Keegan Brown who is probably playing the darts of his life over the past 12 months. The Isle of Wight star was very unfortunate not to make it out of the group stages of the Grand Slam as he averaged 102 in the group phase. In terms of their head-to-head encounters, Brown has won his last four matches against the Dutchman which will stand him in good stead. I do feel that this will be another close contest, Brown is the big favourite with title sponsors Ladbrokes, and you can get a Keegan Brown victory at 1/2, but the value is most definitely with ‘Big Ben’ as he good prove to be an interesting punt at 8/5.
John Henderson vs Joe Cullen
Live on ITV4
Now, this one could prove to be a very interesting contest indeed as Joe Cullen and John Henderson face off on stage two on Friday evening in Minehead. In terms of rankings, there are ten places separating the pair, but John Henderson has proved to be a handful for a number of the elite players in world darts in recent times. As for Joe Cullen, it’s been an up and down year for the Bradford man. Cullen’s been tipped for a potential Premier League spot due to his fantastic displays at the World Matchplay and the European Championship, but his floor form has suffered at the same time. Cullen lost in his opening round match to Arron Monk at the Grand Slam qualifiers, but with the Players Championship finals this weekend, it’s the perfect chance for Cullen to rekindle his form from the European Championships in Dortmund before the World Championship. In terms of their previous meetings, Cullen is yet to register a victory over the big Scot, but they haven’t faced off for seven years which sort of disregards their head-to-head record. I expect Cullen to come through this one, and you can get a Cullen victory at 1/2 which for me is good value.
In terms of good value odds-against selections, there’s quite a range of potential first round winners. For me, Jelle Klaasen is great value to see off Jeffrey de Zwaan at 8/5. Klaasen’s getting close to his best form as the Dutchman suffered a wrist injury in 2017, and I feel that ‘The Cobra’ has every chance of progressing. Gravesend’s Josh Payne has also been showing some glimpses of form as he reached the last 16 of the Grand Slam, you can get Payne at 10/11 to see off Ryan Searle. Now then, Michael Smith for me is massively overdue a major TV title. Smith missed five darts to win the World Series of Darts finals against James Wade, but Smith had a great Grand Slam as he pushed Michael van Gerwen all the way in their last 16 clash, and at 25/1, Smith is a great e/w bet to have for this event.
My recommended Acca
Whitlock vs Anderson : over 9.5 legs – 10/11
Joe Cullen to beat John Henderson – 1/2
Keegan Brown to win – 1/2
Josh Payne to beat Ryan Searle – 10/11
Jelle Klaasen to beat Jeffrey de Zwaan – 8/5
£10 returns £213.21