It’s rare for a sports event to have such a clear favourite with the bookies, but at 10/11, Michael van Gerwen could hardly be more fancied to retain his Premier League title.
The championship format is what makes the Dutchman such a cert. In a one-off, knockout format, anything can happen; a player can have an off day, a relative unknown can play out of their skin. Knockouts tend to have more generous odds as a result.
But with the Premier League, the format is different, played out over a season with points racked up to find the champion. After a wobbly month, Van Gerwen was confident of success before the Premier League started.
A man of his quality is unlikely to have many “off days”, so the bookies, who generally know a thing or two about predicted sporting outcomes, have priced him accordingly. Wherever you look, you won’t see too many generous odds for him, but find a good darts betting comparison site to see if you can spot some value.
The odds on Van Gerwen are a mark of respect. You would never have Premier League football predictions with such an outright favourite, with Liverpool and the big clubs like Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea generally fighting it out between them.
You only need to look at Van Gerwen’s Premier League record to see why the bookies are so sure of themselves. The man has won the last four Premier League titles, and five in total. That, as they say, is as much of a walkover as you’re ever likely to see.
The contest began in Aberdeen, and Van Gerwen wasted no time in getting up into top gear, beating world champion Peter Wright 7-5. It was a close match, but there are no points for second place in the Premier League – although legs won/lost difference does work like goal difference in football.
The flying start, averaging 104, was certainly impressive for the Dutchman, who has new arrows this year and is showing his new tools of the trade are just as reliable as his old ones.
Van Gerwen was pumped up after the victory, so it’s good to see there is no complacency. He told Sky Sports on stage: “I can’t complain, to be fair. I had to work really hard; I have to say it was difficult. I’m going through a tough time at the moment; I want to have perfection every time.” Commenting on shifting to new darts with Winmau, he agreed it was a big decision. “I think it was time for myself for something really professional. I want to play darts for another ten or 12 years, so this is not a short-term plan. It is the right choice for me, but of course it will take some time.”
The thumping start to his Premier League assault was just what Van Gerwen needed after losing 10-6 in the Masters to Jonny Clayton. That shock result followed Peter Wright’s world championship victory against the Dutchman.
A strong start to the Premier League is just what he needs to get his game back on track, and those bookies’ odds don’t lie.
The bookies reckon Peter Wright is his closest contender, currently at 5/1 with Gerwyn Price at 13/2. Prices then fall away down the nine-man field, with Daryl Gurney currently bottom of the pile at 33/1.
Interest in the Premier League is always high, and there was added excitement at the second night of the league at Nottingham, when Fallon Sherrock, who became the first woman to beat a man at the PDC World Championship, entered the fray as a challenger. She won’t be in the main league standings, but her appearance is a massive step forward for the women’s game and a sign of things to come.
van Gerwen is never one to let any added media interest get to him. He was due to play Daryl Gurney at Nottingham.
As each Premier League night completes, and van Gerwen notches up victory after victory, his odds are going to get shorter every week. It might take a brave man to “bet the house” on him making it a sensational five Premier League titles in a row, but really, is there anyone out there likely to stop him? It’s likely he can afford one slip up and still walk away with the title.
You can follow all the Premier League action as usual on Sky Sports.