Bank on Anderson to come out fighting
Outsiders worth chancing in quirky draw
Gary Anderson hasn’t had long to dwell on his Grand Slam meltdown at the weekend and he can use his semi-final collapse against Peter Wright as motivation to go all the way in the Players Championship Finals.
The Scot had a final place in his pocket at 14-8 up against Snakebite, but duly lost eight of the next nine legs to miss out on a Sunday night showdown with Michael van Gerwen in Wolverhampton.
Mighty Mike, predictably enough, went on to beat Wright to claim his 18th title of another extraordinary year and he goes to post in Minehead the odds-on favourite.
The Dutchman is the defending champion and has won the competition three times, but local hero Anderson has a real chance of landing the odds and making a serious statement of intent heading to Alexandra Palace next month.
Anderson, who lives just up the coast in Burnham-on-Sea, should be strolling along to Butlins in good spirits. He says he hasn’t been at his best in recent months and that may be so, but four ton-plus averages in six matches at the Grand Slam suggest there’s little wrong with his form. The defeat by Wright was an aberration – it can happen to anyone and rarely these days happens to Anderson.
The first two rounds of this 64-man event are best-of-11 races, short enough to trip up even the top players. Anderson found that out 12 months ago when he was pipped by Ron Meulenkamp in the last 32.
But he should have far too much for Mickey Mansell and either Jermaine Wattimena or Keegan Brown and then the games get longer.
A finalist in both the Champions League and World Series this autumn, the former world champ is doing most things right and will win a big tournament again soon, hopefully very soon.
The seedings are interesting as well. Rankings for this event are worked out solely on performances in the current year’s 22 Players Championship competitions which is why Rob Cross is top seed and Daryl Gurney is number two. Phil Taylor, who has removed floor events from his schedule, is, therefore, not in the field, while Raymond van Barneveld, who barely turns out for minor tour contests, has scraped in at number 56.
Because of the quirkiness of the rankings it means that Van Gerwen and Wright, numbers one and two in the PDC’s Order of Merit but seeded six and three here, are in the same quarter.
Anderson’s quarter looks the softest even if it does mean – if the seedings are right – a quarter-final clash with the dangerous Mensur Suljovic.
The open nature of this event means there have been plenty of big-priced finalists and unfancied semi-finalists over the years. Darren Webster made the last four 12 months ago, and whatever became of Steve Farmer and Scott ‘Cool Hand’ Rand, semi-finalists six years ago?
So this is definitely an event where you can look down the list for a dark horse, especially in quarter betting. Two to consider are Jeffrey de Zwaan and Joe Cullen.
De Zwaan, aka The Black Cobra, is in good form having qualified for the Grand Slam (where he would go on to beat Dave Chisnall, one of three matches in which he averaged well into the 90s) and he also reached the semis at a Players Championship qualifier last month, Stephen Bunting and Michael Smith among his victims.
The 21-year-old is a winner on the Development Tour in 2017 and looks pretty fearless. He’s got to get past Gurney in his opener, hence his 80-1 quote to win his quarter, but he’s beaten the Northern Irishman before and would rather play him over 11 legs than 21.
Joe Cullen, twice a winner on tour this year, is the pick to finally confirm his star quality in quarter one.
2pts 6-1 BoyleSports
J de Zwaan to win third quarter
1pt 80-1 Coral, Ladbrokes
J Cullen to win first quarter
1pt 12-1 Betway
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