PDC Premier League Darts – Betting Preview by James Lincoln.
BANK Holiday Monday (5th April) sees the PDC Premier League get underway at Milton Keynes in what all darts fans hope will be the last major event played behind closed doors for a long time. The tournament is reverting to a ten-player format with no ‘contenders’.
Two players will be eliminated after nine weeks, with the remaining eight players battling it out over another seven weeks to try and reach the play-offs. Three men will make their full Premier League debuts in Jose De Sousa, Dimitri Van Den Bergh, and Jonny Clayton. They will be worth keeping an eye on, particularly given two debutants battled out the final last year, where Glen Durrant was crowned champion.
Michael Van Gerwen heads the betting in the outright market at 5/2 generally, followed in by world number one, Gerwyn Price (11/4, generally), and Peter Wright (6/1, Skybet). Remarkably, current champion Glen Durrant is available at 66/1 with Spreadex; this reflects the Teessider’s struggles since he was diagnosed with Covid-19 back in October.
MvG can no longer boast the dominant profile of old, but the scale of his decline is a topic that provokes fierce debate. Using Darts Orakel, a darts statistics resource that includes extensive performance data, rankings, probabilities, and predictive tools, it seems that purely from a 3-dart average perspective van Gerwen sits second in 2021, averaging a healthy 99.48.
On this metric alone it is understandable to a point why he heads the betting, for all he is yet to win a trophy in 2021 and, by his standards, had a lean 2020. Sitting top of the tree on that metric with 99.65 is a player who looks overpriced in the form of Welshman, Jonny Clayton. The Ferret has been the hottest player on tour this year having won the Masters as well as two events at the Super Series. He also reached a further two finals at Super Series 1 and has recorded 23 ton-plus averages so far this year.
He may be the lowest ranked player in the event (17 in the Order of Merit), but he is arguably the most in-form. Darts Orakel’s ‘FDI Rankings’ which is a statistically generated system that ranks players on current form has Clayton behind only Gerwyn Price.
With two major events now under his belt (The World Cup of Darts and the Masters), it is hard to see Clayton being overawed on his Premier League debut. Of course, he must prove that he can sustain his current form levels over the unrelenting schedule this Premier League will demand, but that could work in his favour as he could secure enough early points to see him sitting comfortably in the league table, particularly as he avoids facing either van Gerwen or Price in the first batch of five matches.
Darts Orakel’s ‘Probabilities’ feature gives Clayton a 23.57% chance of winning this event, which backs up my thoughts; he simply has to be an each-way play at the prices available.
Back Jonny Clayton to win the PDC Premier League
1 point each-way at 12/1 (William Hill, BetVictor, Unibet and more)
Elsewhere in the outright market, Jose De Sousa (18/1, Skybet, Betway) looks potentially interesting if he takes to the format, whilst it is hard to know which Gary Anderson (14/1, Boylesports) will turn up. It is worth remembering that The Flying Scotsman has reached the final of both the Matchplay and the World Championship recently without being anywhere near his best. Gerwyn Price has an obvious chance and should be around a 2/1 favourite according to Darts Orakel; I would therefore not put anybody off the 11/4 despite his mediocre Premier League record.
Another outright market I want to have a play in is William Hill’s ‘To Finish Bottom’ offering. They have Glen Durrant (11/8) and Rob Cross (7/4) dominating this market and, in the case of Durrant, it is easy to see why as he has really struggled since landing this event last year.
In 2021 Duzza is averaging just 90.61, which ranks 80th on the tour and is a full 7 points below what he was averaging across the first half of 2020. In the case of Cross, he looks far too short in the market. Of course, he suffered a steep decline in 2020 and was relegated early from this event last year, but his recent form has been decent, if not spectacular and there have been some glimmers of a resurgence.
For example, Darts Orakel’s ‘171-180s per leg’ metric reveals Voltage is recording a score of 171-180 every four legs, which is nearly one and a half times higher than in the last three months of 2020. His three-dart average has also gone up nearly two and half points in that time and sits at a respectable 94.89 (25th on tour). That number is clear of Nathan Aspinall (93.52) and the Stockport man is the one that looks considerably overpriced at 6/1.
Last year’s finalist has had a difficult last six months, suffering early exits in all the major events in that time. The Asp started 2021 with new darts and renewed optimism and reached consecutive semi-finals at Super Series 1, but that is something of a red herring as he did not record any average over 96 across those two days.
Recording just a brace of victories across Super Series 2 and suffering a first-round exit at the UK Open, he has now decided to go back to his old darts having said he would ‘never use them again’. Aspinall is an admirable character, but all does not seem well at the moment and it is hard to understand why there is such a disparity between him and Cross in the market.
Of course, Durrant is going to have to find some level of resurgence to compete at all given his recent numbers, but it is not hard to see that happening given his drive and tenacity, plus he will want to defend his title with pride.
Back Nathan Aspinall to finish bottom of the PDC Premier League
2 points at 6/1 (William Hill)
In the Most 180s market Peter Wright is the 7/2 favourite to hit the most maximums across the entire tournament. According to Darts Orakel’s ‘180s per leg’ metric, Snakebite is averaging 0.340 180s per leg across the last year. This is excellent and only behind Michael Smith, Devon Petersen, and Jose De Sousa on the tour. De Sousa tops this metric, averaging 0.367 and, if you reduce the sample size to just 2021, The Special One is even more impressive, averaging 0.371.
This year Wright’s average 180s per leg has dropped to 0.297, while Gerwyn Price (11/2) has surged above him on 0.306. Jonny Clayton is also worthy of note on 0.288. De Sousa is 4/1 to win this market, but based on this statistical evidence, he should be clear favourite. Of course, you must factor in that, going by the outright market, both Wright and Price have a significantly better chance of reaching the play-offs than De Sousa, but even allowing for that, assuming De Sousa plays the full 16 matches in the league phase, he could be some way clear. Michael Smith showed last year that qualifying for the play-offs is not a pre-requisite to winning this market.
Another factor that could well be in De Sousa’s favour is he tends to start matches relatively slowly, so it may be that he ends up playing more legs than his market rivals.
Back Jose De Sousa to hit the most 180s in the PDC Premier League
2 points at 4/1 (William Hill, Skybet)
After looking at the Night 1 markets, there is nothing glaringly obvious that takes my fancy. There is a strong argument that Jonny Clayton is overpriced at 7/4 to beat Peter Wright and to hit the most 180s in that match (19/10). I am expecting that to be a tight affair that could well be a draw, or 7-5 either way. I am happy enough to leave those markets alone from a betting perspective and did not think I would be having a Night 1 bet.
However, I stumbled across the fact that Star Sports are generously offering each-way terms on their ‘Player to hit the most 180s on Night 1’ market and, for the reasons already mentioned above, both Jonny Clayton (15/2) and Gerwyn Price (7/1) represent the potential for some each-way thievery.
I am reluctant to back Price as I am just not sure which Gary Anderson will turn up, but with Clayton currently hitting maximums at the fourth highest rate in the field and with the prospect of a tight match and plenty of legs, I think he is certainly worth an each-way play.
Back Jonny Clayton to hit the most 180s on Night 1 of the PDC Premier League
1 point each-way at 15/2 (Star Sports)
Images by Taylor Lanning.